Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Decoration Day! Vintage Lubin Idole Perfume Review...

It's been so busy lately! I've begun and delayed several new vintage perfume review posts ...and I have some fantastic recent finds that I can't wait it share with you all. But since we are celebrating Decoration Day today, I've decided to pick a vintage gem that has been resurrected (and thereby honored) by 2 new, recently released perfumes from the recently reborn and now active niche perfume house, LUBIN. I find the resurrection theme a perfect salve in this bittersweet time of remembrance and loss. But life goes on and even a vintage lovin' perfume gal's gotta work to earn a living in this world (and sometimes fight to keep her self-respect intact). And over time I've found there are some battles you can win, but some you can only loose. Right now I'm in one of those loss cycles... Regardless of the cause, loss always produces a negative- an empty space, if you will- but it also creates a postive, the opportunity to do something new with the space that opens up in our lives. Ah, well that's enough ruminating, the sun has long gone down now on today.

Getting back to perfume... Our vintage perfume du jour is IDOLE by Lubin, a French House established by Pierre-Francois Lubin as Aux Armes de France in 1798. Lubin was successful; eventually becoming an important supplier of perfumes to French Royalty. By 1853 Felix-Andre Prot succeed Lubin. The company passed onto his heirs in 1885 and by 1900 it became called Paul Prot & Cie. Lubin had an early association with Princess Borghese as well. In any case Lubin has special significance to The Vault because according to Cleopatra's Guide to Vintage Perfumes (published under EBay guides), they were the first French perfume company (or cosmetics company, perhaps?) to "solicit the North American market, aiming particularly at the plantation culture of the South."! So we have at least this report of Lubin playing an early role in exporting French perfumes into America near the beginning of the 20th century, almost certainly impacting American taste and styles. What did American women think of these creations and how did they compare to the scented products these women had traditionally worn (and commonly made for themselves- more on this to come in later posts)? In case you aren't aware of the 2007 version of IDOLE perfume, it is an Eau de Parfum, the first I'd heard of being produced under the name of (a new) Lubin. This perfume is sophisticated and sheer, a spice/gourmand-ish/leather unisex scent composed by Olivia Giacobetti. I liked it enough to buy a bottle. The blurb I found on LuckyScent (where I purchased the scent), mentions there was a previous Idole perfume, but tells us only that the new IDOLE bears no similarity with the old Idole (according to them, released in 1962). I will mention also that the modern IDOLE bottle is fantastic. Designed by Serge Mansau, it bears a resemblance to an African or maybe Easter Island type figure, complete with beaded necklace, highly stylized head cap and it resembles no other perfume bottle that I have seen yet.

But as you can see from the photograph, the vintage IDOLE had a different bottle shape entirely. But what a surprise for me when I saw the newest L de Lubin and
Nuit de Longchamp Eau de Parfums released by Lubin. You can see them at http://www.luckyscent.com/. Released in 2008, they are in the exact bottle form of the 1960's IDOLE bottle with its stylized suggestion of the corseted feminine form. The top of the vintage bottle cap, which you cannot see, has LUBIN embossed on the gold disc under the Lucite. The newer bottles have LUBIN embossed on the metal ring at the neck, while on the older one, it is plain. But enough about the bottle! What of the vintage scent; what did IDOLE smell like in 1962?
According to the vintage IDOLE perfume advertisments I found, this perfume was touted as tres, tres, tres feminin, for those who "aime passionnement".

In short, and you would predict this if you have read Tom Robbins [partly hilarious and partly preachy] Jitterbug Perfume, it smells of Jasmine. A lot of jasmine. And that first hit ain't sanitized! It's a dirty jasmine and one with a little sharpness, which the sharp part seems to be mostly due to hyper- lily of the valley type of notes. It smells of really strong jasmine oils, for I can almost smell gasoline notes in it. And the dirty part, I read as having a strong, fishy undertone. But I wonder if this could have been so animal and frank , like it appears here to me? Were our noses more accepting of raw smells 45 years ago, that this IDOLE would been accepted, even sought out as a seductive offering back then? I'm picturing an archytypical 70's scene: Hair- the musical... with everyone's hair here, there and everywhere, a lot longer and well, maybe less groomed...

Moving on from that image... there is a vintage Jasmine soap by Jovan I think it was made with Tunisian Jasmine, that has this exact same type of gaseous, "on-steroids" type of effect. For me, it is a bit of a pushy scent, especially at first. Maybe a bit needy and attention seeking, too. But there are maybe some interesting parts as well, if you can stick around until things mellow out... Do I imagine notes of a savory green herb or slightly sour lime tucked in between the overly ripe, almost rotting blossoms? Over time, I must admit it becomes softer, easier to wear perhaps, more like an interesting fur and jasmine mix. But it's never for a moment sweet, or fresh or uncomplicated. And even though I usually do not particularly admire freshness in jasmine (or floral, in general). I really do appreciate it's fruity jammy side- for me it opens up a much more luxurious, nectar aspect of the flower. Ultimately, I have no list of notes for the 1962 IDOLE and so I may never guess the full nature of this scent, because when I found it (there is not much left, as you can see), it had partially spilled into a cardboard box and what was left in the bottle had a texture and appearance of cool honey, or thick high grade motor oil- thick and gooey, clear pale amber in color. This particular bottle has been in my collection a long while and it may possibly have begun to partially break down as well, as it seems also a bit thinner and maybe a bit more orange over time.

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