Victoria Christian interview (with audio)
PUBLISHED: 12:36 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:41 20 February 2013
Few women would not relish the opportunity to spend their days around some of the most luxurious perfumes ever created. Victoria Christian, from Nantwich, is the woman lucky enough to do just that Narration by Sandbach and District Talking Newspaper
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It was one of those defining moments. When four-year-old Victoria Christian saw a small green bottle glinting through the floorboards of the Nantwich mansion she grew up in, she did not realise the jewel she had unearthed.
The bottle of Absolute English Lavender, with a stopper bearing the crown of Queen Victoria, is a piece of British history. But for 15 years the bottle, granted permission by the young Queen to bear her approval, sat on the kitchen mantelpiece simply to be admired.
Victoria, now 31, recalls: 'Because I was little I was much nearer to the ground. It could so easily have gone unnoticed for many more years. When I caught sight of it, I remember thinking it was some family treasure that was almost a little glimpse of times gone by.
'Some years later we researched the bottle and discovered it was the crown granted to a perfumery by Queen Victoria. It's just incredible. It's fascinating that the young Victoria would have singled out the quality of this perfume and allowed them to use her crown for the bottle. We managed to get the rights to the Crown perfumery which was fantastic. Otherwise it would have disappeared and that would have been a tremendous shame.'
From then on, Victoria's relationship with perfume has been a long and passionate one. She recalls cutting off the heads of her mother's prized roses to make her own fragrance, and the collection of scents developed by her father, the renowned British designer, Clive Christian, who founded his luxury interiors company during the process of renovating the family home. It is this collection - that carries that same crown stopper - along with the beautiful furniture and furnishings the company creates that Victoria now champions with vigour.
Her role to market the company takes her all over the world. She is responsible for promoting the Clive Christian brand as well as the organising of parties and celebrations. Recently, she joined forces with the team behind the film, Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt and produced by Martin Scorsese. Victoria threw an after-show party for the stars to enjoy after the premiere.
The down-to-earth eldest daughter of three is accustomed to rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous and many of her parties have a celebrity list like an Oscars' bash. But it is her father, the man who reinvented the traditional, basic kitchen into one that had crystal chandeliers, who leaves her starry-eyed.
'I grew up with this wonderful man who wanted to create a beautiful home for his family,' she recalled. 'He made everything fun and I would always be right beside him. I was like his shadow.
'It was only when I moved away from home that I realised just what an impact my father had made on other people. It was wonderful to get this different perspective on him.
'I would hear people saying how fabulous Clive Christian was. But he'd worked hard to do it. That first house he built in Nantwich was the one he decided he was going to build his life in. It was that house that brought about the wonderful designs. Who would ever have thought we would have crystal chandeliers in the kitchen? That just wasn't what a kitchen was in those days but my father transformed it all.'
Being the daughter of a globally successful designer does not automatically mean an easy ride. While Victoria admits she has had a blessed life she still had to persuade him to give her a job. He did. But the catch was that it was working on a perfume counter in Bergdof Goldman, a store 3,000 miles away from home in New York. It was here she sold a signature collection of luxury fragrances including No 1 which has been dubbed The World's Most Expensive Perfume in the Guinness Book of World Records.
She said: 'I loved working here because I loved watching women's faces change when they tried the perfumes. People would walk out of there feeling two inches taller. Goldie Hawn once came bouncing into the shop dressed head-to-toe in white pointing at the bottle of 'X' on the counter. She spritzed it all over herself. She came back later with Kurt Russell and they bought a bottle of it for each other for Valentine's Day.
'I persuaded Robert de Niro's wife to buy a bottle of 1872. She'd come to the store to buy the perfume she always did but there was none left. I happened to be there and once she had smelled it, she fell in love with it.
'There's also a wonderful little story of a woman, who'd stopped looking after herself, who had been married for 25 years. Each night she came to the counter and asked me why the perfumes were so expensive. I persuaded her to try one of the perfumes each day. One day she came in and said she was going to have one. Her husband had picked her up every day and said nothing. The night before she got into the car with 'X' on and he said whatever that smell is, you have to buy it and then he smiled at her. It turned out this was the woman that Dirty Dancing had been based on. To see the smile on her face was just fantastic.'
Today, Victoria still gets that same buzz from promoting the perfumes. She recently teamed up with the Royal College of Music and asked 50 student composers to create a piece of music to represent one of the Clive Christian fragrances. They chose No 1.
'I loved working in musical theatre. Music is very similar to perfume. It's just a sniff of a moment. One smell of a perfume you love and it can take you right back to a particular moment. Music is just like that, it's very powerful. It seemed like a fantastic thing to do.
'But I'm a very lucky person. I do realise that. My life has been extremely fortunate and I'm lucky to be a part of the family. Cheshire is where it all started. It all started with that home that was built in the 1860s. Cheshire is the centre of our family and our business and it's fabulous.'