Friday, April 29, 2011

SOTD: Caron Bellogia

Perfect for a spring wedding, don't you agree?

My blog-cation is almost over and I've got so much catching up to do with you all.  In the meantime, 3 cheers for real-life fairy tales and happily ever afters!

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SOTD: Vintage Caron En Avion

...which I'm still working out; a proper review will certainly be forth coming...

(Aviatrix image by Starsinger Saathi)

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

SOTD: Donna edt Gherardini Firenze

No matter who your favorite 'Donna' is, you can't go wrong with today's scent -- DONNA, a powdery green chypre with ambery-leathery touches. From Italian leather goods makers Gherardini Firenz, released 1970s or 1980s (I'm guessing, no time to research today!) and of course, discontinued. I love this one- well worth a throw if you tend to like Italian style scents (refined, softish, skin-loving) and happen to see it! 
This photo of Donna is from Ebay seller Bonorman:)

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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Patrizier-Haus (Patrician House) Anonym Perfume

 Herbert Tobias photograph of Nico Paeffgen wearing a cocktail dress by Heinz Oestergaard, 1956

Patrician House is the modern name for the much older cologne manufacturer Younger and Gebhardt. Originally located in Berlin in 1873, the company moved to Cologne Germany after WWII and took up the rather more generic sounding Patrizier-Haus. The Patrizier-Haus name begins to show up on perfumes starting in mid to late 1940s and continued appearing on fragrances throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. Known primarily for traditional lavender based men's colognes, a number of women's perfumes were also released by PH. Their women's perfumes include Alita, Anonym, Corina, Filigram (Filigree) and Torero. The cologne line included Patrician Orange eau d'Cologne, Lavendel-Jasmin, Lavendel-Orangen, Patrizier Lavendel and Lavendel Tabac.

Junger & Gebhardt Berlin perfume bottle circa 1900s

Confusion abounds in researching the fragrances produced by Patrician House due both to the company name change and to the fact that many of the imported products bear Anglicized spelling. Products intended for domestic (German) sales and consumption were labeled under Patrizier-Haus-Koln. All hints of the earlier affiliation with Younger and Gebhardt name were dropped from the more modern releases sold under the 'Patrician House' label further muddling matters. Yet it appears that most of the perfumes and colognes imported into the US came directly from Germany into a single US distributor in Portland Oregon known as The Perfume House. The Perfume House is a well-known institution that has a long standing tradition around Portland, OR. Adding one more layer to the onion, The Perfume House was formerly also known as Tamak Inc; you find 'imported by Tamak Inc' stamped or printed somewhere on most of the vintage Patrician House fragrances that were sold in America.

Transition from Younger and Gebhardt to Patrician House- Lavender Orange

The perfume Alita deserves special mention due to a rather cryptic description of it that I found online. Affiliated with some now defunct (?) natural perfumery HealthPub blog that used the tag line: “The Age of the Foodie is passed. It is now the Age of the Scentie.", the mini review is most interesting:
"this rare rose perfume is made from enfleuraged rose oil that is aged 48 does smell glorious. Let me know if anybody has ever heard of it. If after I evaluate it and if I find it really, really excellent quality rose I may use it in some of my perfumes. Never heard of Schiras (sic) rose before…."

Perhaps the most storied Patrician House perfume is Corina. From "Secret Portland (Oregon): The Unique Guidebook to Portland's Hidden Sites" by Ann Carroll Burgess, Linda Rutenberg:
"You can even smell the exclusive and very expensive Corina from Patrician House, which was introduced at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 and is considered one of the greatest perfumes ever created..."
The rarest of the Patrician House perfumes may be Torero, which you can see below, but my bet is on perhaps the last release from Patrician House, Filigram (Filigree). Released in 1965, it's the one PH perfume I've never seen or heard referenced anywhere except for the briefest mention in the Perfume Intelligence library.

Thanks to Dimitri at Sorcery of Scent, you can see some wonderful examples from the artist whose work embellished the outer packaging of many Patrizier Haus fragrances.

Formerly my own experience with Patrician House was limited to their Patrician Orange eau d'Cologne, which I'll be writing up soon enough as part of an upcoming Cologne week celebration.

I've seen a few bottles of the perfume Anonym around, which leads me to think it was probably one of PH's most popular perfumes. After smelling it I find myself enchanted and curious about the scent. This is the same perfume Dimitri found, which was given a one line description: ' an oriental style perfume'.

My bottle of Anonym was sealed. According to what I smell, Anonym is a decidedly floral perfume through and through. It opens with brightly sweet and familiar notes of narcissus and jasmine, yet I catch hints of something -- is it a trace of ambergris (?)- (there are other perfumes around the desk-top...) From skin, it appears to be based almost entirely with a tenacious and high quality rose oil (like Alita?) A faint and vaguely spicy rose is all that lingers on your skin long after all obvious traces of the scent have vanished.

Patrizier Haus Anonym cologne

The box for my Anonym is a little plain- none of the pretty artwork you saw on the Torero box. Instead it is done in a dull gold tone bordered in shocking violet-pink and white touches (matches the label you see above). However, the bottle looks identical to the little Torero perfume- it has that same cute triangular shape with a brass screw-on style cap; it holds 1/5th ounce of pure perfume.  Whether you call it Patrician House or Patrizier-Haus, you really can't go wrong with one of these high quality vintage German fragrances. All the perfumes are highly collectible. I paid about $15 dollars for a 1/5th ounce, new-old-stock, boxed bottle- which comes out to about $2 per ml.

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

image credits:
all images of PH and YG fragrances are thanks to except
images of PH scents on pink satin from Ebay sellers JEWELRYandTREASURE (100% positive feedbacks)
image of Corina on blue from Ebay seller RARE PERFUMES (98.8% positive feedbacks)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SOTD: Ralph Lauren Safari for Women

Kitschy connotations and Colonialist aspirations aside, Ralph Lauren's Safari for Women (1990) has indeed suffered at least one cycle of oblivion - discontinuation and now possibly, a reformulation and silent re-release; has it quietly re-appeared anew on retail shelves or am I just seeing back-stock being sold as new? Diverging opinions of the scent's basic character make me think it's been reformulated somewhere along the line.

Perfumer Dominique Ropion created a master-work of 1990s sensibility- sharp, green floral with grassy/woody, amberic dry-down meant to invoke the scorching dry African Savanna. Unfortunately there's none of Bettie Page's tongue-in-cheek humor to lighten this one up - it is a dense and rather grand affair. Elegant and severe yet very feminine- dare I say, aggressive? That and it's imposing sillage make for the type of perfume your boss's boss would favor. Great for when you want to play boss, too- plus it smells really good.

You can see the full list of notes and pyramid details over at Basenotes.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Revlon Moon Drops Perfume

Moon Drops is a half-forgotten, half-hidden classic of modern American perfumery. Released by Revlon in 1970, the same year Prince Matchabelli debuted Cachet and Max Factor released Aquarius. The perfume landscape was changing once more although women who wore perfume still usually wore only one scent, typically something received as a gift rather than purchased. Many women stopped wearing perfume altogether and experimented with the exotic base oils- musk, patchouli, ambergris and civet were all popular.

Moon Drops was released as a drugstore fragrance, below the radar of those who preferred 'finer fragrances'. It may have been a drugstore fragrance but make no mistake- it smells much more expensive than you would expect. The opening is arrayed with seductive (i.e., grown-up, not too sweet) fruity touches of bergamot, raspberry and peach, all set aglow with aldehydes. The floral heart of lily of the valley, rose and jasmine lies couched within the balsamic golden-green depths of cedarwood, amber, styrax and moss. A creamy, spicy carnation, powdery orris and honey trio bind all the other elements together while the rubbery, slightly camphorous tuberose and sultry ylang-ylang give Moon Drops plenty of va va voom- it's sexy, but in a relaxed, earthy sort of way. You could call it a chypre, a green floral, a spicy floral or a floriental- it straddles all of these categories.

Barbara from Yesterday's Perfume gives us the notes list, as follows:
Top notes: Aldehydes, gardenia, peach, raspberry, bergamot
Heart notes: Lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, carnation, orris, honey, tuberose
Base notes: Sandalwood, musk, cedarwood, moss, styrax, amber, benzoin
Moon Drops was made for the woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to get it. It's gradual waning from American store shelves left many bereft and searching for a replacement- there are many scents done in a similar style but no really good dupes, I'm afraid. There are rumors Moon Drops is still made and sold in select foreign markets but I can't verify that information. Irma Shorell also has a Long Lost version- Luna Drops (I think?) but it is not thought of as a good representation of the true perfume. If you love rich, intoxicating scents, smoldering scents, spicy mysterious scents, then the vintage version is worth seeking out. If you look around and have a bit of patience you can usually pick up vintage Moon Drops for not too much money (as of today); this wasn't always the case, but the time is ripe for deals in vintage perfumes like never before. I have the parfum spray. If you get this version, try to spray it onto something rather than apply directly to skin.  Moon Drops benefits from exposure to air, particularly after unsealing a long kept bottle as well. Spray lightly and wait a few minutes for the chlorofluorocarbons to dissipate before smelling!

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

SOTD: Etienne Aigner No 2

Etienne Aigner No 2 (1976)

Another men's scent that gets a big thumbs up from me. Clean and soapy in the best way, as if woodland fairies had created a cleansing tonic made from all the finest pickings from some wild alpine meadow. No 2 is a eau de toilette but has a cologne feeling. It never fails to uplift, energize and calm me. Plus it has a wonderful soothing dry-down and packs great lasting power. Some sources claim No. 2 is still in production but after looking around a bit, I think it may be fading away. If you're looking for a cologne style scent for summer- and have been craving something off the beaten path, with a vintage flare, but still accessible online for a reasonable price of around $50, then look no further. Very 'unisex', if you believe in such male/female scent distinctions.

Top Notes: Lavender, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Lemon
Middle Notes: Geranium, Vetiver, Heliotrope, Fern, Sandal, Orris, Cedarwood, Rose
Base Notes: Musk, Moss, Vanilla, Tonka Bean, Labdanum

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lata Eau de Parfum

 Lata, on left.

Perfumes from other cultures always fascinate me. Today the 'vault is hosting Lata eau de parfum (released 1999/2000). Lata perfume is named after Lata Mangeshkar, the famous Indian 'playback' singer. If you've ever watched a vintage Bollywood film (1940s- present) chances are you've heard Lata sing. Her perfume came about when Indian chemist-entrepreneur-turned-perfume-manufacturer Deepak Ramrao Kanegaonkar began creating and branding perfumes around Indian celebrities; Lata was his second and, according to some sources, the most acclaimed of his scents to date. Yet according to other sources, the perfume was developed by Mr Charles Caruso of SFA, in Grasse, France.

Lata eau de parfum is made of 78 different essences. An emphasis was placed on sourcing and using only the finest quality ingredients; French rose and other floral and fruit essences and spices were blended with the best Indian Sandalwood and musk. The result is a unique scent built to suit Indian tastes and reflect Lata's attributes, since Lata was intended primarily for domestic Indian distribution. The spice note is unusual, very quiet and dry but persistent; grounding, meditative- maybe mace or nutmeg and a dusting of cinnamon. I don't detect much in the way of many of the spices I commonly encounter in perfumes such as pepper, clove or cumin. Everything is very well done, it's just slightly exotic to my nose- as different emphasis is given to familiar notes. Rose, jasmine and lilac (I think) dominate the floral notes. Musk gives this perfume a soft glow but the real star of the show is the sandalwood.

The dry-down is long lasting and blissful, a nearly perfect showcase of a bright and smooth mellow-tart sandalwood, that shines on and on especially on fabrics but on skin, too. Such high quality sandal is something I don't smell too often in perfumes - of any era, truthfully.  And even though I don't really connect with the whole story of Lata on a personal level, the quality and scent alone are reason enough to treasure Lata eau de parfum. The packaging is best described as well done for such an effort. It features a gold design of music staff, notes and a cameo of the image of Lata.

I do get a kick out of Lata, the singer. An icon in India, at one time it was said she held the World's Record as the single artist who had recorded the most songs. I gather some (or at least, one) of the younger Indian singers hate Lata vehemently; they say she kept many aspiring female playback singers from getting a chance to work, as she held exclusive contracts to do so much of the playback recording for females parts in Indian films.

Nevertheless, Lata won my heart when she explained that as she got older and found she wasn't able to wear the beautiful dresses any longer, perfume took on special significance for her. She said that as she traveled and performed all over the world, she always made sure, each place she went, to buy one very special perfume from that place, to add to her perfume collection. She joked that later on, her family and friends would tease her whenever there was an unexpected knock at the door- "Lata, hide your perfumes, it's the IRS (or Indian equivalent) calling...."- I hope I got all the details right for this story- it's so charming and endearing. And I can only imagine that Lata must have one fabulous perfume collection! But even so, Lata claims to love and treasure her namesake perfume on its own merits.

As time has proven, Lata did not sell as well as originally hoped- the price for the perfume was set too high- although the manufacturer claimed it was due to the cost of the materials themselves. Indian Sandalwood especially has also become nearly impossible to source over the past 10 or so years... and sadly, making Lata eau de parfum a permanent resident of the Vintage Perfume Vault.

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


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Scented wanderings: perfumes of tomorrow?

One thing I find interesting about perfume people is that we actually take the time to smell our world, stop and think about it. Every spring since coming to our 'forever home', I've taken to documenting some of the natural scented phenomenons I encounter.

Last year I noted that despite what's so often said - i.e., that Cherry blossoms lack any real fragrance - the truth is that cherry blossoms have a very lovely scent.  I can see why people might make the assumption that cherries are scentless, though. Last year, their odor was so fleeting that you could really only detect it on the first day of the tree being in full bloom. The fragrance, although not the flowers, had faded away completely by the next day.

But this year things were different with our cherry tree. A series of late season cold rain storms hit our area and caught the poor little cherry right at the start of her bloom. The bees wouldn't set so much as an antenna out of their hives as we sat watching the cold drizzle. The first blush and then the full bloom went forth, ignored. But with probably only a third of the blossoms left in bud (the rest had already withered and wasted), the sun finally did come out. And our tree responded with one of the strongest, sweetest fragrances I've ever smelled, and to imagine it was coming off our cherry tree. It filled the entire yard with its papery honey sweet scent. Very pretty. But it served an important purpose as well; every bee in the county must have known the cherry was desperate for their services.

I don't know that I think often enough about how much local conditions and practices impact the quality of the essences used for perfumes, and how much luck plays into building some of those stunning fragrances- whether extracted directly from plants, or, as technology advances, from specific head-space samples. But as consumers begin to demand more of a 'unique' experience from their fragrance choices, these types of specific scent portraits will strongly impact future perfumes. We will find more and more perfumers and companies seeking to design scents that capture these highly personal, idiosyncratic moments.

A harbinger of the trend is seen in Kenzo's collection of travel scents, e.g., 7:15 in Bali; 5:40 pm in Madegascar; 10:10 am in Sisley... which may go on to become highly collectible fragrances in the future. The forerunner of the trend is found in nearly every vintage perfume you've ever owned that contains naturally harvested flower essences.  The fact is that many of the essences we find in vintage scents have since become extinct... and that's something I'll be pondering the next time I reach for something to spritz (or buy).

If you find this topic interesting, please see a related post by Octavian of 1000fragrances where he gives details of his future vision for where fragrance trends are heading...

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

Kimika at Cherry blossom festival, from flickr
cherry blossoms from google image search
little geisha girls:

Verve Mist of Spring by Prince Matchabelli

Chesebrough-Ponds, now known as Unilever, acquired Prince Matchabelli in 1958. Following this change of hands, one of the first products debuted under the Prince Matchabelli name was their new line of VERVE colognes. Those familiar with Prince Matchabelli will recall the old PM Crown bottles- identical in shape and form, except for differently colored enamel or glass insets. The colors were used to distinguish between the various PM scents. The 1960 Verve scents came packaged similarly- plain glass columns with various pastel-colored plastic dispenser tops corresponding to the various scents.

Confetti: deep periwinkle blue
Misty Lace: true pink
Mist of Musk: clay pink
Mist of Spring: pale lavender blue
Softly Oriental: pale mauve pink
Twilight Mist: turquoise

I'm not sure how much effort Chesebrough-Ponds ever put into advertising the Verve line- it seems as if I can recall seeing some magazine ads for Verve Mist of Musk but I sure couldn't pull anything up online as of today. In any case, the line slipped away and was discontinued only a few years later.  Despite the lack of fan-fare, these scents were very well done for the casual cologne genre and many perfumistas have fond memories of the scents. I missed Verve by a few years and so I only knew of it by its reputation.

Recently I was delighted to spot the pale lavender top of PM's Verve: Mist of Spring during a vintage rummage. Luckily the Verve colognes have such generic, nondescript packaging that you can often find them lurking around thrift store shelves and the like, past by, forgotten or ignored. If you like the convenience and purchase protection of buying from an online source like Ebay, bottles of Verve scents sell for very moderate prices (around $35 dollars). 

I wasn't sure how good this scent would be given that the look of it is on the cheap, no-frills side but my fears were unfounded. While Mist of Spring is one of the less common Verve fragrances, it turns out to be is a perfectly lovely spring scent which opens up as a delicate but delectable hyacinth-iris scented cloud. Gentle touches of something like a diluted jasmine incense underline the misty quality of the scent. Everything settles down relatively early as it resolves into a gentle, clean herbal musk. At this stage it smells very similar to the old dark green Clairol herbal essence shampoo. If you recall the scent of this shampoo, it has become something of a Holy Grail, scent-fetish of mine. I'm always looking for a perfume dupe for it. But the finish of Verve Mist of Spring is super light. Overall, its not nearly as intense as I want it to be and for a hard-core perfume junkie, it's something of a frustrating tease. I love the notes but would probably need to huff a pure concrete of this scent in order to get much satisfaction from it. However, there are many fans of light scents who might find Verve to be a nearly perfect form of vintage perfume nirvana.

Note: Prince Matchabelli released a 1930s perfume called Verve but only the name was borrowed for the 1960s, not the scent.

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

image: Iris by Caroll Thayer Berry

Friday, April 1, 2011

SOTD: Fleur d'Interdit

Spring is on in a big way- suddenly we're surrounded by lilacs, cherry blossoms, the amaryllis is getting ready to burst forth it's show of fiery blooms- just too wonderful. But time has prevented me posting here (or reading elsewhere)- but all that should change this weekend... In the meantime, just one spritz of the [original, amber] Fleur d'Interdit (1996) by Givenchy.  The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.