Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vintage Cordon Vert eau de coty : How Coty did Cologne

Coty's Cordon Vert became famous to me because it is included in Guy Robert's Les Sens Du Parfum as one of the top must try scents of modern perfumery. One of only five Coty "must try" fragrances, Roberts places it alongside Chypre, Ambre Antique, Emeraude, L'Origan; Coty's Cordon series included Rouge and Vert. I believe both were both created in 1905, despite the oft given year 1909 (a bit of misinformation found in many reliable sources). I get the 1905 date directly from the label of a bottle of Cordon Vert in my collection- which plainly states "creation 1905" at the top of the label. I have seen images of Cordon Rouge with the same label style as my Vert bottle and those appear to share the date on the label but never seeing it up close I wonder if perhaps the Rouge date is marked 1909, whereas the Vert is certainly 1905. Not that those few years matter to you, dear reader, but the vintage nose around here obsesses about these things...

 I'm less clear exactly when Cordon Noir was created- was it in the early 1900s or much closer to 1939 as several sources claim? And if the latter date is correct, then were Cordon Vert and Rouge re-released or promoted along side of the newer Noir? I think they must have been. I recall hearing these scents spoken of as a trio; also I have seen versions of all three with identical bottle/label design- which makes them look very much like a trio.

But it isn't so simple since I find evidence of Cordon Vert and Rouge 'eau de coty' both in print advertisement and/or actual bottles, dating through 1900s to the late 1930s. But it's tougher to find much about Cordon Noir- except for the fact that I missed an auction for a bottle of it this week- you can see the photo of the Cordon Noir by looking it up under completed listings on I just can't make a direct link to the image or grab the image to show you here. But the item number is 300470570038, just in case you too wanna check it out.

Never-minding Cordon Rouge and Noir, I embarked on this journey because I wanted to smell Cordon Vert. I can report to you that it is a perfectly handsome cologne loaded with juicy but not sweet mandarin, touches of woody-green petitgrain and a whisper of patchouli. It is quite bracing and refreshingly lovely of course. I learned from Mimifroufrou at the Perfume Shrine that Eau Fraîche (EF) was commissioned for Dior in 1955 and that it was modeled around no one other than Coty’s Cordon Vert (CV) eau de cologne.

I haven't even ever smelt vintage EF, only vintage Eau Savage (ES). I hope the ES is close enough since that's what I used for the side-by-side comparison. Overall the CV stands up to ES very nicely, indeed. On skin the ES seems lighter for a good while. In fact it burns a little at first because its citrus opening is packed with bright lemon - lime notes. Meanwhile, the Vert has an almost momentary dusty note before the orange begins to bloom and come on really strong. At that point the orange nearly overwhelms, to the point of having turpentine-like overtones. Pouring both into clean cotton handkerchiefs and inhaling repeatedly, I eventually found more depth and polish in the Savage although they are strikingly similar. The lighter brighter citrus of ES paired with herbaceous and grassy notes (Vetiver perhaps) adds a distinctive (and masculine) edge to Savage. The Cordon Vert is more linear, smelling over time of a very true Mandarin citrus- bright and yes nearly harsh but fruitier due to the orange and with just a kiss of jasmine and the barest underpinnings of wood and earth. There may be a bit of lavender in there as well. It avoids being overtly floral, sweet or spicy.

My bottle is probably circa 1930s or possibly 1940s - the label boasts the concentration is 10% oils, made exclusively of essences of fruits from Sicily and flowers from France. The cap is emerald green plastic and besides the embossed Made in France on the bottom, there is an additional black ink stamp on the bottom repeating "Made In France"- making me think it may have been imported to USA post WWI (Bottle labeled  SDA NY 1345.

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

Cordon Rouge ad: cgi.ebay
Cordon Vert bottle:
Dior Savage ad

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