Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vintage Musk Oil by the House of Dana.

Musk is one of the most penatrating essences known to man. It's diffusive power is unequal- just a few molecules can scent literally millons of cubic feet of air. Perhaps that is why many animals and insects use this fragrant bodily secretion to send silent, invisible signals to lure mates or warn competitors. Humans are also exquisetly attracted to (and repelled by) the smell of musk. It is no wonder Musk has such an evocative allure when you consider the central role it plays in securing the survival of a great many different plant and animal species. (photo:

At the same time musk is incredibly useful in the construction of perfumes. It acts to chemically 'fix' or absorb and preserve the other volatile components-including the floral and vegetal essences of flowers, spices, grasses/herbs, and woods. It smooths and blends all of the other ingredients making it an excellent base material. In addition musk often imparts it's own scent into the perfume. How does just plain musk smell? Like sandalwood, urine and ambergris, it is very sharp at first, with a unique spicy quality that varies from musk to musk, followed by a sweet uncutuous finish. The synthetic musks translate that fatty quality into a more airy, powdery effect that is much clearer and more appealing to the modern nose. Some musk has a very floral-rosey quality as well but it smells as if the flowers had been cooked down into a tarry oil; musk has to be diluted to be appreciated. And when it is allowed to mix with air and other ingredients, it creates an expanding softness that travels on the air and enlivens all the others elements, enticing the nose and creating a longing to smell more.

There are several different types of musk but the most famous type for perfume comes from the moschus moschiferus or Musk Deer. These are strange little deer with no antlers, instead they have large tusk-like fangs. The musk deer eat mainly leaves, flowers, and grasses, with some mosses and lichens. This diet would be perfect for creating wonderful chypre-perfumey smelling deers! Little Musk deers were found across large areas of China and Russia but they were nearly hunted to the edge of extinction. People harvested both the musk glands and the tusks but today the animals are protected. The musk gland is located on the abdomen between the testicles and the umbilicus and in the wild, the deer just drop little 'musk pellets' on the ground as they graze. The scent of the musk wafts up inot the air and acts as a pheromone, transmitting subtle chemical signals to other deer. Hunters were too impatient and greedy to collect the droppings, so they simply gutted the deer and removed the entire glands, nearly wiping the creatures out. There are farms in Russia today were Musk deer are raised and their droppings are harvested but the quality of this farmed musk is inferior to the wild type. (photo:© WWF/H-W Schuldei/Leipzig Zoo)

The second type of animal derived musk that is widely used in making perfumes isn't really a musk but the secretion of the civet cat is commonly called civet musk. Produced in the male cat's perianal glands, the substance serves as territorial marker and is a potent aphrodesiac for the femal cat as well. Civet is classified as a feminine exciting scent. It is known to be especially penetrating and difficult to work with in it's raw form. Check out this advice about civet paste from : "Do not get frightened by the smell of Civet musk. Just put a little bit of the civet paste on a piece of paper and smell it after a few days. The delicious flowery tones are indeed surprising. This is a very effective aphrodisiac for women. if a husband wants to stimulate his wifes libido, let him spray the bed sheets with Civet tincture masked with a little bit of Ylang Ylang essence." (photo:

Besides civet and the musk deer, there are a number of plant based musks. Ambrette oil also known as "Musk Dana" and Abeimoshus Muschatus or Hibiscus Abelmoschus; these are the plant sources most perfumers prefer. However like musk animals such as the ox, rat, lorikette, beetle, duck and turtle, to name just a few, there are a number of musk plants including the cabbage, rose, thistle and okra. (photo: ag.ndsu.ed) But the largest catagory of musks are the synthetics. In 1888 the first synthetic musk was produced. This family was called the aromatic or nitro-musks, which were followed in time by several other large classes of unique musk compounds including polycyclic and macrocyclic musks. The polycyclic musks were developed after World War II. This is a photo of Galaxolide, a polycyclic musk. (photo:

Today most of the musks on the market are of the synthetic variety, and plant derived musks are popular as well. Perfumes may contain combinations of sythesized musks and natural products. Synthiesized civet and deer musk are also available as are more ecologically friendly farmed 'wild' types.

As far as my little bottle of Dana Musk Oil, I couldn't find anything about it in my research. I did find a reported release date of 1972 which I can't verify. In 1973, Dana did release another musk that I do remember, called Monseiur Musk.

It had a big square black glass bottle, very 1970's looking. (photo: The style looks nothing like my bottle below, which looks like it could be from an earlier era but who knows.

By the time Dana produced this bottle, it was a drugstore brand. There are remnants of a store tag on the back of the bottle, the price was $3.50 for 1/2 ounces. What makes this musk special to me is its strong animal quality which is another reason I thought it might be a few years older. In fact it was so goaty, so cat-boxy, that when I first tried it, I put off reviewing it. I sampled it again numerous times, trying a dot of it here or there, waiting for something to happen but it seemed rock solid. I figured the best thing to do with it was use it for layering with another scents. After all, perfumers often find adding a little bit of something noxious can impart highly desirable facets, giving a quality that enlivens the other ingredients in a perfume.

But the next time I opened the oil and applied a pin sized amount, touched my wrists together I was surprised to be greeted by a heavenly, fluffy, pillowy smell, all soft, creamy and dreamy, like a baby's head. The next day, it opened up further revealing buttery tuberose notes. What I thought was almost unsalvageable has been elevated to high art (in as far as musks go) a floral, spicy musk with creamy sandalwood, soapy facets, although lurking somewhere in there my nose still detects what seemed urinous before. It is positively magical, truely a chameleon scent that seemingly changed before my eyes. (photo: uncredited)

Post Note ~ Recommended Musks of Today ~

Luckily if you like clean, soft musks there are many to choose from. I especially like Jennifer Lopez's Glow, available in the drug store, department store catagory and it is still widely available. If however you want to sample some of the more adventurous 'perfumista class' musks, there are two that are really popular and widely lauded- Serge Lutens Muscs Kublai Khan and Frederic Malle's Musk Ravageur. Those are more niche, high end so you'll have to search harder to find them. If you like oils (my personal preference is for oils, they tend to wear more politely than proper perfumes), then one cult favorite that I really think is superior is Bruno Acampora's Musc Essence, an earthy, tangy musk that makes my mouth water sometimes. And if you can, go to Ava-Luxe's on-line store at and try some of her artful and thoughtfully blended musks such as Rasa, Kama, Madam X (especially love this one!) and Love's True Bluish Light (if you love your musk angelic) to give you an idea of the complexity and beauty of this scent material. If you really like to experiement, you can try hunting down some of the seriously exotic musks offered on EBay. They are pricy but worth knowing if you are serious about exploring musk. I always put in the search words "oud musk" to find the right kind. Try to find someone selling 1 ml or less to keep it affordable. I've tried both oud musk and oud free musk; I prefer the oud musk. (And remember with Ebay, it's all about the seller's feedback, so look for someone with 100%; that way you know they care about and work to maintain their rating, but as always be careful!)

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekend Getaway: Amway Miryoku Cologne

I'm away 'on vacation' and working on another post right now. Of course it's gotten a little more involved than I planned so in the meantime take a look at this unusual looking perfume bottle. It's an Amway cologne (yes, Amway) with an Asian name, Miryoku. It comes in an imp or pear shaped bottle that has dusty mauve paint undercoat with gray splatter finish. The effect looks interesting but it feels like someone crafted it to match their 1981 bathroom with spray paint. The cap resembles the roof of a pagoda; it's made of molded plastic with faux bronze/copper finish. According to the crimp pattern and spray nozzle style I'd say it is circa 1970's - 80's. Because of the name I hoped it might be a dupe of Mitsouko (Guerlain) but instead it's effervescent, lightly fruity/spicy with a very strong powdery-clean dry down that may include fresh calone notes, too. It remainds me of another Japanese cologne, Pola L'Azur French Bouquet (vintage 1960's) in scent but that one included far more aldehydes. Miryoku gets better as it dries down and I can see why someone might have liked this.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Perfume Bottle Copy Cats: Perry Ellis 360 and Lucien LeLong's Tailspin

Today I am bringing another example of copy-cat bottle designs. This type of perfidity seems widespread in the perfume world with numerous perfumes housed in bottles that are copied from other designers. In the past perfumers worked with the most accomplished glass artists of their time to create painstakingly crafted vessels deemed worthy of the juice contained within them. Check out the bottle I found on the on-line Shiseido museum, a beautiful commercial bottle, a copy of an even finer one made by Baccarat for Elizabeth Arden's "It's You" perfume in 1939. It is truely an exquisit presentation deserving of a high end luxury perfume. Yet predictably, there is a low end Avon copy of this design somewhere although I can't locate a photo for you.

A cheap container speaks volumes to the consumer and what is says is not good, especially if the perfume is touted 'high-end'. Perfumes have long been considered luxury products so it is a shame to see the declining quality of packaging; it hints at the same cheapening of the contents
inside. When niche or exclusive perfumes come to me in cheap packaging, I feel a stab of betrayal. I spent money for something I hope is a magical elixer that will transform me but the packaging rudely wakes me from the dream- it makes me feel that someone might be producing the whole thing in their kitchen sink and printing the label on their ink jet printer- which is definitely not what I want to think about when I'm buying something that to enhance me, seduce me with its mystique.

Today's example: Perry Ellis 360 parfum produced by Parfums Stern, Paris... At first
the bottle appears charmingly unique.

But then I happened upon the bottle shown below while shopping at Passion for Perfumes (see links, where to buy and no I'm not affiliated). Lucien LeLong's Tailspin is housed within a "gyroscopic" bottle nearly identical to the Perry Ellis one. In this case, there is a flat brass topped stopper and dauber, while the Perry bottle has a glass stopper and no dauber. Also the Lelong bottle is an actual gyroscope, while the Perry bottle follows the lines but the entire base of the container is filled with perfume and a small dimple on the bottom allows it to stand up.

The Perry Ellis perfume bottle is pretty but it's not original and knowing it is a copy, makes it even less appealing. The Lelong bottle is much more complicated (the perfume is housed within an inner bottle, so it remains upright while the gyroscope could be rolled across a flat surface) and it seems to be an original design, and therefore it seems more desirable and more luxurious, something one would want to hold, play with and contemplate with each wearing of the perfume. I hope modern perfumers learn the value of luxury and reach out to new designers to create more of the types of bottles that made bottle collecting such a passion for perfume lovers.

I have seen photos of some of the new Guerlains, which come in shockingly plain bottles, despite the little badge at the base, they look cheap to me.... I should not single Guerlain out, they are by no means the only ones, but honestly I would never spend big money on something that comes in a cheap rectangular bottle that could be hair spray, when I can go back into time to have something that was made with care, and is truly fine. Yet some of the modern perfumes smell wonderful, and they deserve the best in bottles as well. If not the future of perfume bottle collecting is going to be very dim indeed.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Continuing Search for Max Factor Geminesse...

There is a very interesting thread on a favorite vintage perfume of mine called Geminesse at Perfume of Life titled: In Search of Max Factor Geminesse( In that link, perfume lovers lament the loss of this scent and try to come up with suggestions of similar scents. Since Geminesse remains wildly popular yet rare and hard to find, many people would like to find a substitute. To get you started thinking about it, Geminesse is in the beachy and fresh aromatic realm of scents but there really aren't any modern perfumes I could compare it to. It is light and fresh in a totally different way than today's overly sanitized, ozonic and watery marine ideal.

In fact, today's perfumers might want to take note of how popular and really well done the older marine based scents were (and seemingly without the all too common water note of today, the molecule Calone!). Edit: I assumed Calone is newer than it is but turns out it was discovered by Pfizer in 1966, although I do not smell it in Geminesse. It is one of the unusual perfumes that represented the idea of a warm herperide-aromatic-marine scent for women. The mid stages of leather-floral mix found in Geminesse sit on top of a mild musky and ambery base, so there is an almost oriental feel to it as well, but the feeling it gives is much lighter and more transparent than many modern oriental scents. In 2008, someone started an online petition drive to bring Geminesse back, see Sadly this movement never got off the ground and right now the petition has stalled with only 50 signatures but maybe they could use a few more?? (Hint, hint.)

Notes listed for Geminesse over at Basenotes include jasmine, rose, ylang, muguet and tuberose supported by vetiver, oakmoss, amber, musk and leather. Given that list of notes, some people surmised Geminesse might smell a lot like Bandit since the list of notes is very similar. But the notes listed for Geminesse do not give a good picture of it. For one thing, lavender is perhaps the most prominent note in the composition but strangly it is not listed as a note anywhere! In fact, Bandit and Geminesse could hardly be further apart in spirit. Bandit puts its leather upfront and center- black and stiff and the whole perfume is done in a somewhat harsh, haute couture style (which I also happen to love) but Geminesse is much more relaxed- a hippie-dippy sort of leather, more like that of a soft, hand-tooled leather purse than Bandit's kinky mask and gloves routine.
The aromatics create a soft lemony haze that surrounds Geminesse, making it incredibly comforting to wear. I understand it was maybe not so popular here in the US originally(?!) but it was apparently a hugh hit in Europe and London in particular... Strange really, since it smells like exactly sort of thing a quintessential California beach-girl from 1973 would want to wear. It is very wholesome and actually smells very similar to the original 1979 Fabrege Wheat Germ Oil and Honey shampoo, if you remember that one.

In fact Geminesse smells similar to scents in the family of soft citrus, green and leather tinged chypre (the ambery oriental aspect is lighter, laid over that base). It really is wonderfully done, projecting a citrus, powdery and meadowy fresh vibe at the same time, recalling Jean Patou's Moment Supreme and especially resembling Prince Matchabelli's Abano more than any other scent I can personally think of...

Of course these perfumes are rare scents, all highly sought after. For comparison sake, Abano's notes are listed as oakmoss, orange, patchouli, lavender, herbs and grasses. Honestly those notes give you a much better picture of Geminesse than the much notes I found listed from Basenotes.

Of the three scents (Geminesse, Abano and Moment Supreme), Abano is actually the fragrance I most prefer - the citrus is just a bit greener and for some reason Abano has a mouth watering effect on me that I crave sometimes, but the other two are excellent perfume compositions. Geminesse is a stand out for me because it comes from the workhorse of cosmetics in American movie business in Hollywood's Golden Era, Max Factor. The brand was born in 1965, incvluding the perfume making it safe to say that Geminesse was not a modern Calone spin-off but an old school perfume with great bones. Both Abano and Geminesse were Mediterranean inspired. Abano being the name of a resourt town in the mediterranean and Geminesse showing its Grecian influence in the classic Greek art work that adorned early bottles. Each of these represents the extinct ideal of the European resort scent, a beachy, vacation scent but not made to reflect Miami or Tropical Pan Asian Island areas. Obviously marine scents can be handled in as many different styles as there are shore lines. Clean aromatics, vetiver and musky leathery notes were used instead of fruits, white flowers or big synthetics... to create the impression of wind and surf, transporting us back to the place where warm sun and the salty tang of sea air kissed the skin as fingery breezes teased one's hair. Geminesse takes you to that kind of a place, too so it is no wonder the scent is sorely missed!

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dana Voodoo Perfume- Cherries & Costus

I am back to report further on the identity of a little mystery perfume mentioned in an earlier post. It came in a plain looking, round bottle with a plain looking little black top, a micro mini with no label or design I could see... It held just a smidgen of thick red-brown juice in the bottom. Unmarked perfumes, especially those in undistinctive looking bottles, just aren't that interesting to me... In order to appreciate a perfume fully, it seems that you need to be able to identify where it came from, what's in it and who made it... and until you know it's name, you really don't know it at all. But the scent in this little bottle was different- really it was too good for me to let go. Once it got its hooks into my nose I just had to track it down. But there was absolutely nothing to be done about it so it lingered in its little spot and every once in a while, maybe if I felt in a bit of a funk, I'd put just a tiny drop of it on and enjoy the weird, cherry sweetness.

Then a couple of years later I bumped into another perfume that reminded me of the little mystery jus- Luctor et Emergo by People of the Labyrinths. When I stumbled onto POTL, I had no idea there was a 'perfume world', a world that could only exist because of and on the internet but I was captivated by the smell of it, white flowers and grasses which smelt nothing like how you thought it should. Somewhere between cherry pie and playdoh, it was the first niche perfume to catch my attention; but my preference for the old fashioned, passe and out of place grew, perversely perhaps, as I smelled more and more of the new niche fragrances. That's when I began to appreciate how much I really loved the past era of vintage perfumes which I'd always worn and had around, mostly due to finding the perfume incidentally while hunting for vintage clothing and other treasures!

So fast forward to a bleary eyed night when I staring at the monitor's alien glow, scanning through rows and rows tiny thumbnail photographs of vintage perfume bottles- when I found myself staring at a bottle of vintage perfume and thought, "Hey, I've seen that before". And sure enough, the bottle resembled my little mini but it had a name on the lid, Voodoo. Ah ha! Maybe this Dana creation was the answer to my perfume riddle... but without further evidence I remained sceptical. I soon began to notice other pictures of the Voodoo bottle in various collections but it was always empty, then just recently I managed to locate a bottle that still contained within it the magical cherry cola colored brew. Luck was with me and Voodoo was soon be within my reach although there were still some weeks of nail-biting, waiting for the package to arrive safely.

When I received the smallish black padded satin box and saw the beautiful little bottle of Vudu (the European spelling), my heart skipped a beat! Of course an immediate comparison with the dregs of my tiny sample ensued. I am pleased to announce: it's a match! Somewhat validated, I conclude my good eyes and a good nose lead me to the right place. But dear reader, since I do not have a classically trained nose, you may question how well I smell and my ability to describe accurately the perfumes I present here. I don't get to smell many of the recent released perfumes I read about either, and still I find when I do, if the writer has done their job well, that I am familiar with how the perfume is going to smell. Sometimes, as with Estee Lauder's Sensuous, I knew exactly how it would smell- just based on other writer's words ("molten river of woods"- it wasn't the biggest hit with me, honestly it smells like a base, not a fully formed perfume, imho). Anyway, I do have a good palate/nose and my mind still seems pretty good too so the bottom line is, you've just gotta trust me.

However, you were given a clue about this scent when I compared it to Luctor Et Emergo although there is more to it than that. The perfume I received this time is less dehydrated and better preserved than my original sample so I'm smelling several elements here for the first time. And this is what I smell: at the open, is a savory herb- tarragon, thyme or basil. I'm not able to tell these apart super well (in perfume form at least) but I smell a certain something, an unexpected turn away from the usualy fruity or floral citrus of most perfume openings... I'd assign to it a greenish/black color if various aspects of fragrances had colors. I always love the quirky akwardness I perceive from these herbal accents within a floral perfume, I find it surprising and it keeps things from becoming too conventionally pretty for me.

Amouage Jubilation 25 opens with tarragon and that smells similar to the herb effect I get here. Along with the tarragon comes a rapidly sweetening violet-cherry symphony, in which I find big heliotropin, with ionone, orris, jasmine, cassis, orange blossom and clove bud facets all present. As the scent progresses into middle and dry down, two different stories present... One is the story of french soap, a clean up involving creamy carnation, rose and a little vanilla. But the other side is far more disturbing tale, that of dusty dirty hair, old wax candles and muddy vetiver.
This is costus- a big part of the darker side of Vudu, whose scent recalls voo doo rituals replete with shrunken heads, dried chicken's feet and blood mixing with dirt and ashes.

Keep in mind also that while I compared it to Luctor Et Emergo, Voodoo does not really smell so alike to that perfume. It does not have the bright techno strength and modern pop of POTL's creation nor any of its heavy resinous wood/amber notes (the playdoh that some people so hate!), but also the cherries in Vudu are much more real, visceral. Here is heliotropin that I'll bet came from a nice hot purple-pink "cherry pie plant" variety of the Heliotrope flower, not the bluish or white types that can have a scent more like a wan vanilla cookie.

The history of Voo Doo perfume is interesting, too. Some sources date its creation to 1951, but this is wrong. Voodoo was trademarked as a perfume name by Dana in 1938/39. There was a court case in the USA involving the use of the name Voodoo for perfumes that reveals a little more of its history in America. Apparently a San Francisco shoe salesman by the name of Rolley who had a side line as an amatur perfumer claimed that he had used the name Voodoo for his perfume since 1940 and owned the name. But Les Arfumes de Dana Inc., would have none of it. Even though Rolley only sold his perfumes in only a few shops in the Pacific-Northwest, Dana sued him for trademark infringement in 1953 and when Dana produced the proof of trademark (sales bills from US going back to 1938), the courts decided in Dana's favor. Rolley tried to change his dates around but to no avail. It could not have helped that Rolley also had perfumes called Taboo and Forbidden Fruits when Dana had two earlier hits with Tabu/Taboo and Forbidden!

I'm not sure if the court case may have caused Dana to pull back on US distribution of Voodoo... It had apparently reached $250,000 in sales by the time of the trial and I don't know how big that was, given a 20 year span in which it has been made... but today Voodoo is undeniably scarce. Even advertisement images are scarce. I see only about three vintage ads out there that feature Voodoo and always it's shown with three or four other Dana perfumes.

I'm not about to go into collecting vintage print ads for perfume any time soon, so I do not own the ad and I've not been able to read the fine print describing Voodoo- I would LOVE to know what it says, though!

So this is how the story about my little mystery was solved and has ended. Happily, this acquistion helps form a memorable chapter of the history of early House of Dana Perfumes as featured here at The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Coryse Salome OPERA Perfume

This poster from a 1920s opera shows perhaps the archtypical dream of little babes tucked into their downy beds, left with visions of Mum, dressed like a Fairy Princess in whispers of satin and lace. Under the luxurious warmth of fur and amidst the soft clicking of her pearls, would be the intoxicating scent of her lipstick and perfume as you were tucked in and breathlessly kissed goodnight. You can see in the rosy cheeks, the glow imparted by the ritual. And what perfume did the dream creature wear? If you were as lucky as the churubs in this image, it would be none other than Coryse Salome's OPERA parfum!

Coryse Parfums was established by Maurice Blanchet at 64 rue de la Chaussee-d'Antin, Paris in 1919, then ten years later it became Coryse-Salome. Opera was released in 1932 and the last perfume from this great house was reportedly called Intrepid (1977), although if you look online you will find not one speck of evidence for this and only one perfume, Nuit D'Orient, by Coryse Salome. Nuit D'Orient is highly suspect to me, the advertisements bear no product information, not one review or customer comment, and appearing as if it is some generic made by a larger company fronting nameless faceless perfumes mass blended under psudeonames pulled from random lists that include a few vintage fragrance company names.

Even if you have never smelled OPERA, the juice itself is one you would know in an instant for it is a rather smart and rich smelling dupe of Chanel No. 5. I image that 1930s France must have been full of lush aldehydic floral bouquet perfumes inspired by the chicest original, never mind it had debuted a decade earlier in the early 1920s. At first I thought Opera might be a little less sweet than No. 5 but the Coryse fragrance is a dead ringer in every detail to the later 1950s vintage No. 5.

Why bother with a dupe when the first was so well done? Obviously everyone wanted that powdery scent with a furry animal base, even if they did not want to shop, or could not afford to shop, at Chanel. Yet Caryse Salome is said to have been a fine perfume house of the day, associated with Cartier and Baccarat. So what if I was initially a little disappointed with the lack of originality of this perfume compared to Chanel's materpiece? I am not especially well tuned into the family of aldehyde-laden floral mixes, so I'm sure some of the individual charm and subtlety of these perfumes still eludes me. And until I find a vial of Rose d'Ispahan, or one of the other mythical Coryse Salome perfumes, all I can say is- Welcome into the vault, Opera!

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Vetivert Perfume by LaValliere New Orleans

This is a photograph of vetiver growing along Southern California coast line to retard soil erosion. Vetiver grows in discrete clumps making it ideal for this purpose but traditionally it was cultivated because the root clumps made excellent thatching for rooves. Kept moist in the home, the bundles have a pleasing scent that repels insects and rodents. Along with several other "V" herbs vetiver is known for its calming and sedative properties; add valerian , verbena, vervain and violet (petals and leaves) to dried vetiver roots and you will create a potent sleep inducing sachet pillow.

Vetiver is a favorite perfumery note of mine and I've been seeking a modern day vetiver scent to suit my tastes. Many current vetivert fragrances feature the green-fresh qualities of the grass, or the salty earthiness of the roots. BBW version was the first vetiver fragrance I experienced. I loved it so that I began to search for my ultimate vetiver scent. Ultimately Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extraordinare became my favorite, an instant classic and the vetiver by which I now measure all others. But it is undeniably robust, a big fresh modern machine of a fragrance. If you like fresh and rooty style vetiver then you should try the one by Axe; they have a very fine smelling Vetiver as part of their Proximity line. It has poor lasting but it is a bargin that actually smells great. Try it as a room/car fresher, as it lasts better on fabrics than skin.
But the perfect vetiver perfume I have in mind would be just like the one pictured above: Vetivert by La Valliere. A long exitinct perfumery shop located in New Orleans, La Valliere produced perfumes between 1914-1922. This is one of their plainer bottle designs, a flared octagonal with three larger center panels and a small hexagonal stopper. But of course my main concern is the perfume contained within called simply, VETIVERT.

The juice has achieved a beautiful cherry amber color and smells extremely well preserved. Vetivert has a naturally sweet facet to it as most grasses do, but it's more grain like than candy like, with starchy/malty notes rather than the sharper, more concentrated notes imparted by honey or sugar sweetness in perfumes and without any of the associated animal or fruity tones. This perfume plays up that mild, tranquil facet of the grass beautifully. Steeped with other dry, smooth smelling greens, clary sage, clove and patchouli leaves along with cedar wood and rounded with benzoin, La Valliere Vetivert perfume is profoundly zenish and centered, a mellow, slightly exotic but laid back vetiver perfume- imagine the scent beckoning you from a fortune teller's tent.

The vetiver is still allowed to be earthy but in a delectible smooth way that suggests chocolate, pepper and toasted coffee, as well there is a leathery, sandalwood quality. Everything here is kept very dry and there is none of the watery, briney and salty notes associated with some vetiver perfumes. Oddly, I still enjoy the brisk, marine treatment of vetiver, as in Annick Goutal's ocean-side version, different than but still in a much more masculine vein just as the afore mentioned Malle version is... The one sweeter vetiver scent I have heard of but not tried is by Hermes, the one with Tonka but it sounds much more candied than the vetiver I crave. Now if only to find a chemist perfumer friend who will concoct the Fortune Teller's version for me...

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lazy weekend at the Vintage Perfume Vault!

Dreaming of summer has left me somewhat uninspired to do much posting this week... here is a 1970s Echt Kolnisch Wasser Doppelt, Johann Maria Farina's No 4 recipe original eau de cologne in a rather plain bottle and on the right an unusual (to me) decanter style bottle of 4711; the stopper is lucite or plastic and the paper label is all but gone.

My personal favorite of the great vintage chypre, this one is a spicy floral version with lovely plum and peach accents: Rochas Femme.

Fabulous Chanel soap eggs, a delicious way to smell vintage No 5; they provide extra creamy, dense lathering and in my small hands, a perfect fit!
Spring vacation is only 10 days away and I am awaiting several shipments of old books and a couple of other surprises (to share with you all!)
The Vintage Perfume Vault; where the vintage vogue lives.