Monday, January 26, 2009

Vintage Lancome Tresor Perfume

Did you know there is a long forgotten vintage version of Lancome's famous masterpiece, Tresor? It's true, although I never imagined that the Tresor I knew, way back when (1990, to be exact), wasn't the original one! I should have known Lancome has a history but it isn't exactly the first name that pops into my head when I think of the grand old perfume houses of lore (Guerlain and Chanel have that distinction, still). But maybe it should be because the history of Lancome began when Armand Petitjean, a devote student of Francois Coty, determined to open the finest perfume house on his own in 1935. According to Lancome's website, "His passion for fragrances inspired Armand Petitjean to take a spectacular step: in 1935, he launched Lancôme with five great fragrances. Audacious? Yes, but Armand Petitjean was a product of the school of François Coty, the "father of luxury perfumes."Tropiques", "Tendres Nuits", "Kypre", and "Bocages" were among those 'first fruits'- his early perfumes that would be followed by so many others. Nearly all the early bottles were created by the great artist Georges Delhomme" The list of fragrances released by the venerable house is long. It includes: Tropics, the first and alleged favorite of Armand Petitjean, followed by Kypre, Tendres Nuits, Bocages, Conquest and Blue Seal, all in 1935! Black Label came in 1936. Peut-être, Maybe and Gardenia followed in 1937. Flèches 1938, then Cuir 1939 (renamed Revolt, then Leather) and le Faune, all in 1942. Blue Valley, The Nativity, Lavender, Marrakech, Bel Automne, And Happy all came out in the later 1940s. Then in 1950 came Magie and in 1952, the first Tresor was born.

Others from early Lancome include With Spring, Qui-Sait (aka Who Knows, or Maybe) and in 1957, Envol (Flight) and Fleches D'or (Golden Arrow) came. Then in 1959, Petitjean created what was to be his last perfume, Winter Festival. When he retired Loreal promptly purchased Lamcome. With Loreal, Lamcome entered into the American market and also into the modern era. A large corporation now owned and controlled all of their perfume and cosmetics releases. Yet during the next decades Lancome continued to enhance it's reputation as a great perfume house with a string of distinctive fragrances that remain popular and much sought after today including Climat, O de Lancome and Sikkim. Robert Gonnon brought the company continued success with Magie Noire, in 1978 and the 'new' Tresor of 1990, followed by the mega-hits Poem 1996 and Miracle in 2000. Their latest release is Magnifique, a late 2008 release.

Magie Noire was the first Lancome perfume I became acquainted with- it's soft yet highly sensuous trail explained the name 'Black Magic' ; the rasberry note bewitched me... tartly juicy with green nearly savory aspects over a purring ambery musk base. I even wore the much more modern Tresor. I used up every bit of it as well (rare), and I recall particularly liking the cedarish aspect that added a nice zing to the base, a nice counterpoint to the [much bigger] powdery musks and fruity aspects of this rose based scent. Chances are almost anyone reading this blog already knows the familiar rose, apricot and amber musk signature of modern day Tresor and almost everyone has a strong opinion on it. Many perfume lovers loath its tenacious sillage, somewhat chemical or plasticy notes and it has super lasting power. Yet as overwhelming as it can be, Tresor remains a 'soft scent'.

The original Tresor was released in the 50s (1952 or some sources say 1957), and it was composed by Jean Hervelin. I was so surprised when I found a bottle of vintage Tresor. When I smelled it, I just had to giggle because it smelled so much more raw and natural than the modern day version. The rose is otto just like in the modern Tresor but the vintage version has a much finer almost invisible dusting of dryness due to a restrained use of orris and maybe heliotrope. It's heavily honeyed but not cloying or even very sweet seeming. Instead of the vanilla, clean musk and amber base, vintage Tresor is grounded by strong sandalwood and leather notes and a delightful (but not too) animal musk.

Advertising for the vintage Tresor portrayed eastern, exotic imagery, and perhaps the images were intended to remind one of the rose, musk blends that Harem girls used to sweeten their tents. Trésor Elixir which came out in Oct 2008; it is said to be a woody fruity floriental that is based on Otto rose, with peach accents and according to OsMoz it is "... fuller-bodied, with woodsy, almost leather-like accents and a balmier trail (honey rose, vanilla absolute, heliotrope, sandalwood)". For me, it seems as if the big and supposedly heartless Lancome has proven they perhaps listen at least a little to what is being said by the vocal, perfume-loving internet crowd, and is giving maybe a bit of a nod to their own splendid history as well by including the leather, sandalwood and honey rose of the original Tresor into this new Tresor Elixir.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a wonderful history of Tresor. You have a beautiful way with words.

Anonymous said...

Very nice review. Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for a very nice review. I just a bottle for my wife. Now I can borrow your words and tell her about this wonderful perfurme.

Anonymous said...

My husband just came home with a bottle for me. It was a surprise just because gift...he smelled it and loved it, and I love knowing about it!

Wish they still sold the vintage version...

Excellent blog post!

p.s. my word verification was "fanta" - now isn't that funny?