Sunday, October 31, 2010

9 Perfect Perfumes for a Happy Halloween from the Vintage Vault!

Today, I'm wishing a Happy Halloween to all the little goblins and ghoulies who will be roaming about our nations byways and neighborhoods this eve.... While you fill buckets with candy, barrels with apples and place the last of your decorations out for said visitors, what sort of perfume will you be wearing?  Whether your tastes run to the spooky, the vampishly sexy or to the sticky and sweet, there are plenty of vintage scents which fit the theme rather nicely.
First up: Dana's 1932 Tabu. Scandalous when it was released- the scent is still capable of for raising a few hairs. Best for releasing your inner vamp...
Also from Dana the hard to find but superbly named Voodoo. Also released in the 1930s, there is plenty of mystery surrounding this one. My own bottle is an old vintage example turned the darkest shade of red-brown and with a candy sweet bite, a fruity chypre with odd notes of oily hair or wool and herbs... To me, it has a cherry vibe (but then I associate cherry quite freely). In any case it is perfect for you Gothic, Marilyn Manson loving types and for goodness sake go put some on, now already- the Night approaches!

Bombi's Black Magic - musky, spicy and strong with a great name and a pretty bottle to boot (circa 1945)... If you've got it, why not flaunt it tonight?

Next is the similarly named but very different smelling Magie Noire (1978) "Black Magic" from Lancome- raspberry, ambers and civet weave quite a spell; this one has been a traditional Halloween favorite of mine, great for all sorts of bewitching situations.
Lanvin released Mon Peche (My Sin) in 1924 but it is still widely loved and more importantly, widely available today. Exquisitely soft, powdery and fiercely animal by turns, you could not go wrong with this one for All Hallows Eve, but the older versions (with more civet) are really better for tonight, imo;)
Faberge released Tigress in 1938 and discontinued it in the late 1970s. It's vanilla-amber musk base says it all: "My mood is purry... Wear Tigress!" For all you stay-at-home Halloween kittens handing out the candy, who want to steal some attention as well.

Max Factor's Hypnotique was reportedly America's best selling fragrance shortly after it's release in the 1950's. Check out that ad! I'm thinking why not bring back some of the Hitchock themed fun tonight? It's no mistake you'll find this one most often today cradled in a black cat's paws!

My last two suggestions for Halloween are more recent. Both are still available but in different forms from their originals and trust me, those originals are the ones destined to become 'Vault classics:

Yves Saint Laurent's Opium (1978). The original only, please! And the cooler the weather, the better to wear this enchanted smokey, spicy and dry fragrance. Perfect for bonfires and deep conversations had only by the dark of night...

And no Halloween could be complete without a dose of this classic. Dior released Poison in 1985-ish. Is sweet your poison? Then this one should be dead on for you tonight!

 Enjoy all this year's Halloween festivities in safety and good health and most of all, smell ravishing- no matter what you wear.

vintage girl photos: retrospace and cheeta velor
perfume ads- the usual suspects (i.e., google, mes-parfums and ebay)
The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cuir Caucasien by Geille A Paris- a tale of Vintage Leather

I can't say how thrilled I was to acquire another creation of  the mysterious 1940s perfumer Frédéric Geille. From the Seine (district?) of Paris, Geille is damned (or rather, any fruitful Internet search on the man is damned,) by anonymity. There are too many Geilles and too many Seines, to yield anything more than a passing mention of his name.

But after finding and falling in love with his superior Vrai Chypre last year, I learnt of one other Geille scent- the seemingly more famous (funny to call it's fleeting appearance fame)- Cuir Caucasien (CC). We have a lovely reference photo of a gorgeous presentation bottle of CC from  from Barcelona's Museu Del Perfum; it is the second bottle from the left.
I really never expected to see another example of this rare perfume, much less to have one fall into my hands, but a little less than a year after finding Vrai Chypre (VC), a pristine, sealed example of the Caucasien landed right there.

My own bottle of the Cuir is nowhere near as fancy as the one shown above... but it is comfortingly identical, although smaller in size, to my bottle of Vrai. Unfortunately the stopper on the Cuir was (sealed) frozen in place and the pressure of popping it open caused an ugly fracture to appear in the glass. I quickly decanted the contents into a couple of empty bottles I had laying around but it really was a shame that it happened.

By the way, I really love these square shouldered bottles with their hand-stamped and cut labels- so many WWII vintage perfumes were relegated to these plainer style bottles. They also remind me of the simpler 1920s style bottles, too... sort of old fashioned and almost barber-shopy.

But never mind about the outer details, what about the juice? Well, folks, this one is all about LEATHER (yes, it's that intense- it has to be in full on caps!). I already knew from my experience with the Vrai Chypre, that Mr. Geille bottled only a high quality perfume (not anything weaker, like an Eau Toilette) and his perfume was preserved well with both an amazing sillage and superior longevity. The Cuir is no different, a strong perfume with plenty of birch tar that scents paper strip and fabric for days. It smooths and silkens in the air and with time it becomes a pliable but thick second skin. However at the first, it is quite aggressive. No other way to put it, really. Even in the now empty original bottle, I can detect the BBQ, smoky and almost bonfire-y aspects of CC. Yet there is a delicate underside to this perfume at the same time, decorated with tenacious floral notes that smell to me by turns of lily of the valley and violets (tempered by rose).

I adore the scent of Cuir Caucasien clinging to scarves and fabrics and such. But on the skin, and for my taste, I find it really benefits from anything with a touch sweetness or amber in it. At this point in my relationship with CC, I need that addition of something sweet to help me find the spaces in between all that LEATHER. It is however ideal for layering when a strong does of pure leather is required. I also dotted some on my husbands arm and predictably, it read as slightly more floral on him but still very LEATHER!

In case you're wondering, I picked this bottle up from a junk-shop clearance house for under $10 dollars, and the stopper was correctly tied, frozen in place so I'm highly inclined to believe the contents are exactly correct... But I'm blown away by the style of this perfume, which make many (all?) of the niche leather perfumes of today seem wan and weak by comparison- Was it considered impossibly edgy and masculine, or perfectly lady-like and wearable back in it's day? Sadly, I can find no advertising imagery. So for now, we have a story of vintage leather unlike any I've experienced before (and as wild as it is, it's definitely what I'll be wearing this Halloween;)...

And here's a quickly little summary of how a few of my other vintage leathers compare -

Chanel Cuir de Russie- purrs like a kitten, a dream of iris refinement in softest leathers (and fur), for me the reference leather, never harsh, always a lady.
Cuir de Russie de Vonna- a lesser known example for sure, a very powdery violets and rose rendition, an almost cosmetic style mauve toned leather, and perhaps just a touch too shy when you're wanting a full-on leather.
Bandit- almost cruel, like crunchy, shiny patent leather cat suit but in a mossy shade of green; I love this one mostly for it's dank herbal kick.
Jolie Madame- a violet-leather chypre, more similar to Bandit in style (for me, at least) than the others but more of chypre than a true leather.

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


Scarlett Johansson - Iron Man promotional shot (from Google search)
Perfume Bottles from Museu Del Perfum
my own image of Geille perfumes

Cat Woman - Google images

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Friday from the 'vault!

Postcard featuring actress and singer Lily Elsie

Lots of catching up to do, but pressing schedules means it still be a few days before I begin to get to it. Oh well. In the meantime, the little scented goodies and goblins keep trickling in- and I can't wait to share them with you.

Today (and actually all week), I'm wearing a non-vintage Penhaligon's Lily & Spice. Really lovely if you like your lily a la Un Lys or Donna Karan Gold, but with the spice leaning towards saffron; it manages to be lighter and simpler than either of those. Well suited to the modern gal but I think it would've been worn equally well by a vintage beauty like the lovely Lily Elsie.

Some people think L&S suffers from poor longevity but it lasts and lasts (overnight, into the next morning) on me so I have to give it high marks all around.  I hope you're wearing something equally blissful today!

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