'Frau Tonis Parfum,' A Perfume For The Individual

  • Playlist
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/144079951/144083363" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript
Frau Tonis Parfum is located on Zimmerstraße 13, 10969.

Frau Tonis Parfum is located on Zimmerstraße 13, 10969. Courtesy of Frau Tonis Parfum hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Frau Tonis Parfum

Most people know what Marlene Dietrich looked like, but what did the famous Berliner smell like?

Stefanie Hanssen, 43, knows the film legend smelled like violet.

"Marlene Dietrich loved violet," Hanssen says, "and she seduced her film partners with it. It's an exotic scent. It takes confidence to wear, and it makes people turn around because of its retro scent. Violet perfume is for people who want to attract attention."

Veilchen, violet is one of the 26 fragrances available in Hanssen's boutique "Frau Tonis Parfum."

All the perfumes are made in Berlin by the same company that served Marlene Dietrich in the 1920's.

The perfumes are combined with ingredients from France to create the secret mix that is Frau Tonis Parfum. The real Frau Toni is the grandmother of Stefanie Hanssen and her main inspiration.

"She is the one who planted this love for handcrafted products in me. Growing up in the 70's in a provincial, industrial town, there was no appreciation for this." People were working a lot. There was coal dust in the air, Hanssen says.

Hanssen was raised by her grandmother who had her clothes tailored and wore sophisticated fragrances. She emphasizes that she was different than other grandmothers she knew.

Frau Toni, now 83 years-old, visits her granddaughter's perfume shop near Checkpoint Charlie a couple of times a year, an elegant store with a white minimal interior lined with glass flacons.

No one ever sprays perfume in her shop; the customers are invited to smell the perfumes from the lids of the flacons.

This is part of Stefanie Hanssen's philosophy.

"To focus on the essential."

Hannsen offers an alphabet of 26 fragrances which can be worn as they are, but they are all combinable as well, and that's what makes it so special, she says.

Individualists can create their very own blend of perfume. Frau Tonis Parfum also offers workshops to assist people in developing a scent that fits their character. Larger women, Hanssen says, tend to like her lily of the valley perfume, a delicate and playful scent.

Stefanie Hanssen

Stefanie Hanssen Courtesy of Frau Tonis Parfum hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Frau Tonis Parfum

Smaller women often go for a more masculine, spicy scent.

Walking in on a grey December day, she immediately has a suggestion for the right pick me up fragrance.

She shows me orange blossom, her favorite. A scent perfect for depressing grey skies. She describes the fragrance as euphoric- a pure, fresh orange scent.

Hanssen wears orange until spring, and then she doesn't need it anymore. It's a remedy for mild depressions, she says.

Frau Tonis' creations are also available at the Ritz Carlton Hotel at Potsdamer Platz. They're not from a flacon, but out of a cocktail glass. The hotel bar offers Frau Tonis cocktails with orange blossom and lily of the valley flavor.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.