Friday, February 25, 2011

Perfume Bottles: J Viard H Benoit Amour en Folie

Bottles. Usually I can take 'em or leave 'em. However this one nearly brings tears to my eyes. For sale now on Ebay.

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

image: decadesgoneby

SOTD: Bijan for Men 1981, or is it 100% Bijan?

Chris von Wangenheim (1942-1981) 
EDIT: Bijan is a funny company- founded in 1987-ish, it is one that none of the usual suspects- Fragrantica Basenotes nor Perfune Intelligence, have well documented all of the various releases. So it appears that there may have been a pair of scents released in the mysterious "b" bottle I mentioned in this post originally- one for men, one for women. I believe this is the case, since I've had two 'b' bijan bottles, one distinctly masculine and one more ambery, oriental and complex- a feminine version or entirely distinct scent- called: 100% Bijan.

If you read far enough into the Bijan threads on Basenotes, the guys do describe such a 'b' bottle containing a masculine scent but in the post referred to it as 'Bijan 1981'- and then I see an entirely different bottle on Ebay, definitely one of the 1981 releases by Bijan for Men. But it comes with a swirled turban looking cap, and a fat round bottle (and looks quite feminine). So it's really kinda confusing. But here's a photo of that mysterious 'b' bottle, and so now you know. BTW: The bottle in the photo is EDP, whereas mine is EDT and the EDP was not made by 5 Star Fragrances , like mine. Can't say how it smells, though from text, it sounds similar and the juice color is right. An d now I can smell the tuberose, vanilla, rose etc... Still delicious, but guess I'm just not as manly as I thought!

Original Post:
It's raining cats and dogs this morning!  My scent of the day: I'm wearing the enigmatic, complex and controversial (does it or doesn't it?) Bijan for Men 1981. If you're not sure which Bijan this is- it's the one in the funny bottle- no, not the one(s) that look like a doughnut! It came in a bottle that looks sort of like the letter 'b'. I've had two bottles of Bijan for Men, both in the same bottle and both made by Five Star Fragrances but they smelled totally different. The first, fougere and tangy but this Bijan is more like it- for me anyway. It is robust, resinous, amber, patchouli, leather and waves of that well known barnyard lurking about, occasionally emerging from the cloud of incense and hints of other bits floating past like so much confetti after a parade. To me it smells wild and oriental like a midnight taxi ride through Chinatown, SF- circa 1981...
The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SOTD: Lanvin My Sin

As I'm rushing about getting ready for work I wanted to wish you all fragrant morning; I'm wearing My Sin. Anyone else wearing vintage today?

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jasmine perfumes to soothe the savage beast...

Can fragrance really be used as a mood enhancer for animals? Above, a tiger smells Obsession scented hearts to get in the mood for love.  See more here... 
The Minnesota and San Diego Zoo give their big cats sensory stimulation by scenting their environment with classic/vintage perfumes.  According to the Minnesota Zoo's web site:

lion eating flowers:
"A wide variety of scents are used for enrichment including spices, cooking extracts, perfumes and animal urine.  The tigers love "Obsession" and "Charlie" perfumes. The tapirs, tree kangaroos, binturongs and gibbons go for banana extract"
I've observed for years that my own domestic animals seem to love and respond to perfumes, too. We all know of certain perfumes that always seem to make us feel better. Do you seek those scents out whenever you need a lift? Well, if not, maybe you should. It turns out there is a scientific explanation for why some perfumes make us feel extra good. According to this article in the Telegraph, inhaling jasmine oil is as effective for stress relief as taking a Valium- which makes me really glad that I have a few good vintage jasmine scents on hand.

Next time things get a little too hectic, I'll just pop open a bottle and take a nice, deep whiff... It sure beats popping a pill, don't you think? Just thinking about the banana-jammy goodness of these vintage jasmine scents puts me in a good mood. Favorite vintage jasmine scents of mine:
Jean Patou Amour Amour (sweet and fruity floral, heavy on the jasmine)

Jean Patou Joy (the classic Jasmine lover's perfume)

M. de Tuvache Jasmin from Egypt (exotic vintage)

Nuits Folles by Mori of Paris (obscure vintage, fruity floral loaded with jasmine)

Vanly Jasmin (Oil), New York (vintage jasmine oil- straight forward, high quality especially for the cost compared to today's oils)
On the more accessible end of the spectrum: Coty's Nokomis or Sand and Sable. There are many others as well. Maybe I'll come back and add some more at some point.

If you're thinking of adding a vintage jasmine scent to your wardrobe, try searching Ebay but be sure to search using both spellings 'jasmine' and 'jasmin' to pull up the best selection.

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Guerlain Vetiver: Three-dux
Given that this is third go round with this tropic, I couldn't resist the photo above. The others, however, might take some explaining...
But first, go check out Suzanne's take on the vintage Guerlain Vetiver over at her Perfume Journal.  For Suzanne, this vetiver came off as more roaring lion than purring kitten. And now, since she's found a 1950s Quadrilobe bottle  with a label that looks nearly identical to my so-called 'ancient' vetiver, there may be good reason to doubt the age and provenance of Guerlain Vetiver's ancien.
Does it still deserve the tag ancien? Maybe, maybe not...

 Una and the Lion
In defense of the question still being a valid one, I'll throw this out there: What about the Guerlain New Mown Hay? Since the bottles and labels for the Vetiver and New Mown Hay are identical, if the Guerlain Vetiver is a 1950s vintage then the Guerlain New Mown Hay would also have to be a 1950s thing. Is it? Do we know or can we find out if Guerlain made or reissued New Mown Hay during the 1950s?

I will further stoke the imagination, and fill in additional details, to also say that the bottle has an applied top with no mold marks, which fade at the neck, as you'd expect on an older bottle. Now what I know about glass I learned crash course style, when we inherited a large lot of antique bottles several years back. The oldest piece we had was a Connecticut flask from the 1750s (the glass looked plenty ripply!), and we had several 1800s bitter's and poison bottles, and plenty of 1900s drug store, medicine, food and whiskey bottles. In the process of identifying, cataloging and selling quite a few of those bottles -- and whew! let me interject, that most of that old glass stuff was way too valuable and way, way too fragile to hang on to! -- I definitely only scratched the surface on the practice of dating old glass, labels and the like; but...

I picked up enough experience to say that the labels on the Guerlain New Mown Hay and Vetiver are really old looking. The paper has aged to a color of weak tea when you examine the labels under 10X, and you can see the extent of extreme wear, the little chips, the eveness and diffuse nature of the wear etc... which you can't see from a photograph. They really look much, much older than any of the labels on my other older perfumes in my collection (mostly 1950s-1930s) and look more similar to other early 1920s-1880's bottles I've examined.

On the other hand, and moving somewhat more out into left field, I think I may have also mentioned in the original blog on this topic, that I was bothered that the look and quality of the glass used for the New Mown Hay and Vetiver bottles. It just wasn't as fine as I might have expected. The glass on those bottles has an almost rippled quality, and it does not match the quality of glass used (for example) on the Kadine bottle (1911-1930s), which is the oldest Guerlain bottle I have to compare these with. The Kadine bottle was obviously hand cut, polished etc... and I see no signs of cut and polish on the vetiver/nmh. The label on the Kadine bottle also looks much fresher, the clay coating on the paper is still intact and there is far less oxidation than what I see on the Vetiver and New Mown Hay labels.
So has the question been answered? In the end, I don't suppose it much matters. Not only did I find a vintage vetiver that pleases me nearly as much as Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire, which I didn't think was possible, but I'm also quite happy to have found a perfume friend like Suzanne. And after reading her amazing ode to Guerlain's Vetiver, it might even be turning into a perfume crush:)


image notes: I'm not really sure about what captured me about the theme of the lion and the girl, other than picturing myself, wearing a manly thing like Guerlain's Vetiver and finding it 'fits' me better than most of the stuff I sniff! My husband got a kick out these pictures, and deemed them OK to use... so putting my concerns for all the poor lions aside, I hope you see the humor there, too. Site credits for the pictures are pasted just below the photos.

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Two Faces of Vintage Impudent Parfum de Charieres

The Dolly Sisters circa 1905; image vintage-spirit-blog

Impudent parfum was made by Charieres Parfums. Charieres, or Charrier Parfums is a French perfumery house operating from 1946 to about 1965. The adderss on my 1960s box set is 06220 Vallauris. Charrier specialized in producing various box sets of miniature perfumes. They gave the boxes titles like 'Parfums de France' implying these were assembled collections of popular French perfumes.

Above one of the Parfums De France box sets from Charrier. These were imported to USA via Ben Rickert Inc, a drugstore type chain that was sold to Azurel back in 1970. Ben Rickert Inc distributed these sets to American retailers in the 1950s - 1960s.
Below you can see one of the boxed sets that Charrier was duplicating:

Known as Les Meilleurs Parfums de Paris, you can see how closely Charrier copied the design of these box sets. Charrier's designs look almost identical but for one big difference- in Les Meilleurs, the perfumes are "real" names that you will recognize. The above set includes Jolie Madame, Antilope de Weil, Givenchy and more. I have a slightly newer Les Meilleurs Parfums de Paris box set that includes Carven's Ma Griffe, Caron's Fleurs de Rocaille, Balenciaga's Cialenga and seven other popular 1960s French perfumes.

Charrier actually made all of the perfumes featured in their boxed sets themselves. They further confused things by creating 'faux' perfume houses and printing the names on their bottle labels. Charieres appears to be the first name used by this company but they used many others including: Charles the Fifth, Charles V, St Sauveur, Bonnet and more. So for years as these perfumes leave their box sets, people find them as little orphans. Over time we seem to have forgotten that all of them came from but a single source.

Charrier/Charieres churned out a great number of fragrances to fill up all their boxes, many rather directly inspired by the best-selling perfumes of the day. In further attempt to dress up of their humble roots, the scents were packaged in bottles reminiscent of other popular perfumes. It made for a winning formula with many Americans who perhaps had only a vague idea of the real French perfumes and were easily duped. After all, the price was right and the packaging looked good. So we continue to find many vintage sets and even more of those orphaned minis in perfume collections and for sale in thrift and pawn shops all across America today.  These perfumes all date 1946 through ~ 1965 and my list is by no means complete:

Air de France
Ardent Love
Ballade Royal
C’est la Vie!
Cheval bleu
Cordon d’Or
Cordon d'Argent
Cordon Rouge
Devil Moon
Douce Faute
Eternal Fire
Fausse Audace
Jolie Valse
Parfum 1800
Parfum Alma
Parfum Anita
Parfum Clandestin
Parfum Pirouette
Parfum Versart
Porte Fermée
Tender Veil
Très Bien
White Lilac

Even though pretenders, Charrier's perfumes smell delicious and seem to 'keep' well. For today's fan of vintage scents that means many of them are worth smelling. They are reasonably well made, not great art but good copies of great art and lots of fun to try and wear. I was even more impressed when I discovered that Charieres might even have a few secrets tucked up it's sleeves- like this 1940's 'full sized' bottle of Impudent, shown below. It was sealed tight when I received it, but of course I opened it straight away. 

Cleopatra from Cleopatra's Boudoir mentions on her blog that she'd never seen a full size bottle of any of these little perfumes made by Charieres/Charles V and until I found this ~ 0.33 ounce bottle of Impudent de Charieres, neither had I. You might note if you do Internet searches on this house, that many people call it by 'Charles V', one of the more prominent of the faux names Charieres used. 

The packaging for this Impudent parfum is of good quality, you can see there is a pretty patterned fabric wrapped box tied up with a red suede ribbon that fits over a nested base. The bottle is simple but of nice quality, made in France, with a solid black crystal stopper. Even before I opened it, I ferreted out my little mini Impudent from a 1960s Parfums de France box set and prepared to do a side by side comparison: vintage and vintage-er. 

The vintage 1960s Impudent has a simple yellow oval label on a plain little bottle. It smells of a symphony of sweet flowers including orange, rose de mai, juicy jasmine, green violet leaves, velvety ylang-ylang, topped with candied amber on a pale sandalwood/vetiver/vanilla base. There is something a little rubbery smelling, too.

Vintage Impudent is soft yet saucy and not at all powdery. Really pretty, girly and flirty stuff but with a little wink of green and a hint of something frisky in the mix. Besides the rubbery bit, initially it seems to have little in common with the vintage-er 1940s Impudent. The younger perfume smells perfectly divine, a sweet lush green floral scent that reminds me of a relaxed, restrained predecessor of the 1980s classic by YSL, Paris.
But the original Impudent is a whole 'nother thing altogether...

A purring feline jumps out the bottle straight away. It smells of a leather-banded kitty whose slept on a thatch of smokey grass after rolling in oakmoss and padding through a forest of patchouli leaves before coming home to nestle with you. There's a trace of kitty's litter box, too, while the flowers smell faded, indistinct. A rubbery jasmine or could that be tuberose? and possibly some spicy smooth ylang-ylang and heliotrope come trailing along.

Time may have played some tricks, amplifying or forgetting certain flowers but there's been little evaporation, if any, in the past 70 years. At first I wanted to compare this Impudent to Cabochard. It has a similar nearly harsh structure but it isn't nearly so green. Spicy, leathery with a bitter-dry edge, something a girl in the mood for a cigarette and a cocktail would wear; the younger Impudent smells to me of a girl whose in the mood for champagne and a cupcake.

At first I thought the old school Impudent smelled nothing like it's nearly candy coated newer self. Everything seemed wrong for the two perfumes to be related; the one, bubbly yet shy and innocently flirtatious; the other serious, sensuous and full of mystery...

Until I smelled them farther into the wearing. Suddenly there was a common thread, a detectable similarity in the scent DNA. The older Impudent inherited every speck of sinewy stern chypre blood from her ancestors, while the younger had been gifted with a rounder, fruitier nature. But in the end they merge indicating their common point of origin. Both bottles were sealed, new old stock, so the differences whether due to age, condition or perhaps reformulation by their maker, are genuine enough. Maybe it all comes down to a mere roll of the dice.

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

images of boxed perfume sets from Worthpoint, EBay
images of the Redgraves from google image searches

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers...

Well, not really. Wait a minute... yes, I really do believe in the kindness of strangers; but then, we're not really strangers- how can you be when you've read each others journals? Which brings me to the lovely Suzanne of Suzanne's Perfume Journal. I'm a big fan of her writing which is always full of wit and insight, style and taste- naturally! Suzanne was kind enough to respond to my offer of (or pawning off of, depending on your point of view,) one of the Guerlain vetiver samples plus a couple of other funny/interesting little things from an earlier give-away... In return, she generously (very generously) gifted me with a number of goodies including samples of the entire Puredistance line (I, Antonia and M!) as well as a very lovely example of Caron's Tabac Blond. I wore the Tabac two days this week already and thoroughly enjoyed it despite suffering a wicked head cold. Today, I'm taking a break from all things scented but this may be just the excuse I've needed to turn my attentions back to the perfumes of Caron...

I'll be back with more details (on all of these perfumes) soon. But for now it's off to brave a wet and rainy morning- Happy Thursday to All!

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

image credit:
William Klein, Smoke and Veil, VOGUE, 1958

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day: Vanderbilt Perfume

Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl. Her parents were rich but that didn't matter to her... What did matter, of course, was what she couldn't have- namely, their love for her and more importantly, their love for each other. Instead Gloria grew up, as many children from broken unions of real wealth and import, a pawn in the lives of the adults around her, reared by a doting nanny or nurse. In this case, a nurse she nicknamed Dodo...

Of course she grew up and Gloria went on to do many marvelous things, including enjoying a career as a fashion designer and artist of some renown. But today, most folks know her best as the mother of the equally gorgeous and now inestimably more famous, Anderson Cooper. Not me, though; I came of age at the exact moment that Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans hit the scene. You say 'Gloria Vanderbilt' and all I see is a huge swan logo and a sassy lass strutting around in some tight-fitting denim.

And, of course, in this moment- my moment of revelry, the air is redolent of VANDERBILT PERFUME. I swoon, I float... I loose consciousness and come to in an embrace of scent. Released in 1982, Vanderbilt perfume was introduced to us arrayed in a hazy gauze of mauve, imposed over a regal and serene swan logo.

As I recall, the perfume was a smash success. It was everywhere in the 80s and I seldom left the house without a full size bottle of it sloshing around in my rainbow leather purse:

In many ways, I am a sentimentalist but I've grown beyond the bitter charms of Valentine's Day. Romance is a fickle thing and in my own experience, resents being nailed down to anything as trite as a day circled in red on the calender. But if I were celebrating V-Day, Vanderbilt is what I'd choose to wear. The sharp, melancholic yearning; the gentle gracious air of an ugly duckling transformed into a beauty; the misty powders of cherished memories; it's all there, in this one scent.

Vanderbilt is an overtly feminine scent composed by Sophia Grojsman in 1982. According to MsLeslie from BaseNotes:

Top notes: aldehyde, bergamot, green notes, lavender, orange blossom, pineapple
Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, orris, rose tuberose, ylang-ylang
Base notes: cinnamon, civet, musk, opoponax, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver

Some people find this scent difficult to wear but not me. Those who do have probably never smelled the vintage version and shame on them; it is not at all expensive or hard to find! As for the comments that it smells cheap, please... Ambroxan, cashmeran, galoxide, those are just a pile of cheap chemicals, too, but they go into some of the most costly and critically acclaimed fragrances made. If you find the genuine stuff, I promise you will not come away thinking or smelling of anything cheap.

I generally love sharp floral fragrances and the tension created when a dose of powder or other soothing agents are used to provide respite from the pleasurable pricks of flower and spice. Whether you celebrate with chocolates and champagne, feathers and leather, or powder and lace (or maybe a mash-up of all...), enjoy this Valentine's Day!

And if you're not too busy, why not let us know what you're wearing (vintage or not)...

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

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Abandon your cares to Abano; Prince Matchabelli's Spa Scent

Abano is one of the stealthy classics of vintage perfumery; it also happens to be one of my personal favorite scents. This Prince Matchabelli creation is ardently loved by its fans, who hold its secrets close. You will scarcely hear tell of Abano, yet if you check out some completed auction listings, you will see how much people are willing to pay for the pleasure of it.

What makes this scent so special? Part fragrance, part treatment, it was the first of the modern day "spa scents"; Clarins Eau Dynamisante and Lancome Aroma Tonic are two more recent examples of the type. But Abano was done in the old school tradition; it's more of a prototype. Released in 1931 (other sources: 1934), Abano was one of Prince Matchabelli's earliest scents. The Prince was in fact an amateur chemist, and there are some who believe he had a hand in formulating at least some of the early scents.

Guéorgui Vassilievitch Matchabelli (1885-1935)

The packaging for Abano features a Greco-Roman style mosaic of a seahorse wearing a crown, reinforcing the Grecian spa associations. There is a little blurb of information about Abano which appears, more or less as a direct quote, almost everywhere it's mentioned on the Internet. But you won't find much else written about it:
"Launched by Prince Matchabelli in 1931, now discontinued. Advertising slogan: "Abandon Your Cares to Abano." Named for the famous rejuvenation spa at Abano Terme, Italy. Made of a stress relieving blend of oakmoss, orange, patchouli, lavender, herbs and grasses."

Abano is named after the ancient sea-side community (now resort, town) in Northern Italy; for centuries people have traveled to Abano seeking out it's natural hot springs and healing mud baths.

The print advertising for Abano feature a photograph of a beautiful, serene woman swimming naked through crystal blue waters and the following text:
Drift in serenity ABANO bath oil smooths your body. It's fragrance soothes your soul. Does just what the ancients knew fragrance could do. Drift in ABANO. Slowly breathe in Abano's exotic fragrance and feel trouble-making tensions drift away. You find again your own true core of serenity. You emerge renewed for living wrapped in a silken robe of lasting fragrance.
Whenever it's offered for sale today Abano typically commands premium prices. There are two versions of Abano, one the bath oil and the other, perfume or sometimes a 'Cologne Parfumee' version. The perfume also comes in a Cologne Spray Mist and an After Bath Cologne.

If you are seeking Abano perfume, there is an Abano knock-off advertised online... If you've been curious about it or have been looking for a replacement scent, then this might be just the thing for you. I can't vouch for the quality of this pretender but once I exhaust my current supply for the vintage, and if I don't hear anything negative in the meantime, I just may give it a go.  However, I can't help wondering if this new juice has snuck it's way into any vintage bottles?

Quirky Finds

Most of the Abano that I see is the bath oil variety. It was widely available and sold well for many years, often in this column style bottle shown above. The bath oil seems to have a touch more animal characteristics, spice and bite compared to the cologne, which is sweeter with more orange and drier grass notes. But both smell intoxicating, breezy, and recall the feeling of being on a Mediterranean coast line. Or in my case, it's actually the Northern California coast line which is very similar to the Mediterranean. The bath oil ages from yellow to a deep coffee or cola color while the scent remains sweet and fresh.

The older perfumes I've seen are colored in the same way as the oil but the Cologne Parfumee tends to turn deeper and deeper shades of orange. The crown bottles like this one above (from Aunt Judy's Attic) usually contain the perfume or Cologne Parfumee. Another bottle style from the 1960s-1970s, shown below, holds the Cologne Spray Mist:

The plastic lids on this bottle often come up cracked or missing pieces and mine is no exception, so it's been taped up. On the reverse side of the periwinkle label reads: Prince Matchabelli ABANO Cologne Spray Mist. This is a 1.8 fluid ounce size. It is not refillable.

Back to the scent.That blend of oakmoss, orange, patchouli, lavender, herbs and grasses contains a special balance of benefits. It shares with many lavender based scents, an ability to stimulate the body while calming the mind. Many men and some women find the scent has an arousing effect as well. The orange enlivens and brings feelings of renewal and joy, the oakmoss and patchouli center the psyche, while herbs and grasses sweeten and fix the base. This quote from starchild,com describes the 'magical' benefits of oakmoss:
...grounding and sensual in an earthy sort of way. It enhances sensitivity and awareness and may be used by those who wish to listen to the nature spirits and the voice of Mother Earth...

Abano has been compared to other potent scented oils - Youth Dew and Weil's Bath oil scent Secret de Venus. However Abano has a much more rustic, aromatic and refreshing feeling to it than either of those heavier, oriental feeling scents. I think of it as a forerunner not only to the many spa and treatment scents we find today but also the hugely popular category of clean, oceanic scents. Calvin Klein's Eternity, similarly groundbreaking in it's own time creates the same clean, serene feeling of existing in wide open spaces as Abano. As Abano dries down, the spices, citrus and musky trace clings to your skin like a veil.

For the vintage perfume lover looking for more vintage scents with similar theme, try Azuree by Estee Lauder, Geminesse by Max Factor or Royal Secret Bath Oil by Five Star.

The model in all of the black and white photographs is Florette Lartigue. The photographs are circa 1940s taken by Henri Lartigue (her husband at the time).

I wonder if you recognize Florette Lartigue? She is my Google ID avatar; for some reason I have always felt deeply connected to her images. I know you must tire of my vintage perfume assignations, which perfume goes with which beauty... but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Florette wore Abano. Daring yet joyful, unisex yet uber-sexy, earthy yet delicate, Abano matches her laughing eyes, dashing modern spirit, lilting grace and tough, sarcastic side like nothing else could.

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Perfumes of the Desert

Cowboy Kate ~ Revelation ~ 1963

Any excuse for a beautiful vintage photo...
Scroll down to read the perfume review below. All of these images are from Sam Haskins blog. Gorgeous stuff, no?

 Lindy ~ Mesa Desert ~ Flowers

~ Red Rocks of Sedona ~

Lindy ~ Death Valley ~ Run

OK. Hopefully we can all channel some of that delicious desert mojo now, even if it's still freezing cold outisde! I mean, it helps to be in the right frame of mind for things, don't you agree?  This week I've had the delightful luck to discover Perfumes of the Desert.

Established in 1948, PotD rock because 1.) they still offer many of the same perfumes they started with way back then and 2.) you can order these perfumes online, today. And their prices might cause you to faint. Now I've never talked to these folks and I can't test these perfumes to be sure they're actually made from wild farmed, hand culled desert flowers, or if they just approximate the scents with regular old commercial flower essences. However, from their own information PotD seems to be much more along the lines of Natural Perfumery than what we usually see in vintage perfumes. I'm excited to have found a truly original American line of perfumes that is still being produced today.

I won't repeat all of the history since it's all there on their website. The perfumes of today still look almost exactly as they did way back then. In fact, the moderns look so similar to the vintage that I might have thought it all to be a send up of vintage perfume, if I hadn't learned of PotD after coming across an obviously authentic vintage sampler of their perfumes at a rummage. According to the company address, printed on the cute little pamphlet included in the box, this is a pre-zip code era set which means it dates from sometime within 1948~1960. The pamphlet that came with the perfumes is... well, just let me quote some of it here for you:

 From the desert vastness, warmth of sun, shadow of cloud, soft glow of moon, spring the flowers of the desert land. With them comes a perfume so rare, only the Indian has known its wealth until now. Rich in beauty when in bloom, these flowers are richer still with mysterious and exotic perfume. Each cactus and desert flower blooms in color, red, yellow, purple and white, against a background of turquoise skies, gold sands and ragged rich colored rocks. In this arid country, the desert blooms put forth supreme effort in producing perfumes that will be remembered forever.
So I've been playing with the set all week and smelling sweetly of authentic desert aromas. They are real perfume strength and last quite well. The texture on a few are a little oily, I can't say if that's from being older or if the fresh product is likewise. I haven't had time or motivation to do a full blown rhapsody on any of them but here's a quick run down on each with the pamphlet's description in italics, and my own take in regular font, following:

 Prickly Pear Flower by trerice
Cactus Flower: Sweet and clean, yet mildly spicy, this scent will linger in your memory forever. The theme of this perfume is based on the scent of the prickly pear cactus.
My take: a combination of butterfly flower and carnation, sweet and spicy with light clove rose notes. Light and pretty, makes any day feel like a perfect day in late spring or early summer. 

Yucca: So clean, so fresh, so different, this perfume will be as enchanting to anyone as it is to the natives of New Mexico who have chosen this bloom as their state flower.  
My take: light orange flower moving through to light lilac; almost fizzy, powdery, and suntan-lotion creamy all together. Hints of butter, coconut and pineapple give it more of a tropical lush feeling. Great in the heat but for nighttime, too; this one was a favorite!

Pinon: From the blunt needles of the twisted ground pine tree, along the mountain trails, comes a scent that is entirely different. It brings back a memory of the great southwest. It has a tang of the outdoors yet mellows into a fragrance that lingers and pleases. 
My take: woody pine/cypress, Canadian balsam fir; soft, balsamic - kind of like shaving cream and incense with a mellow leathery/powdery dry down. Also naturally sweet, fresh and clean; herbal, nearly medicinal, cooling and powdery with an almost zen like vibe. Really nice, unique and equally suited to men and women, this would make a superb signature scent.

Purple Sage: Dusty riders of the mesa, the Indian, and the lonely prospectors have experienced the early morning dry yet pungent aroma of the purple sage of the desert land. It will make you dream of hot days, and cool nights of the Land of Enchantment. An entirely different perfume. 
My take: I wonder if I didn't have trouble getting the full scent of this one? It seemed slightly aromatic, dusty, with sweet warmish mildly floral/honey undertone but is there something metallic, very faint and bitter, under there, too? It improved with time more of that floral, sweetness emerged. It does have an unusual edge but it was really too light for me, and from what I did smell, it's not really my thing.

Desert Rainbow: We have found that fabled "Pot of Gold" at the end of the Rainbow. The flower of the Rainbow Cactus of New Mexico and Arizona is the inspiration for this delightful scent. It is flowery, mildly sweet, very dainty, with a touch of deviltry in its undertones. To wear it is to love it.
My take: ylang-ylang, jasmine, tuberose like. Smooth, sexy and sweet; a skin lovin' scent with rubbery, musky, waxy honey facets. (I love!)

Midnight Cereus: This exciting scent will put stars in your eyes, and make you feel so feminine. The aroma will inspire the romance of youth and gaiety. It is described as exotic, spicy and mysterious, very long lasting and subtle. The story of the desert Night Blooming Cereus is unusual. This gorgeous flower blooms waxy white with thread like stamens that gives it the appearance of wearing a halo. The night that the MIDNIGHT CEREUS blooms is awaited by all who know of its existence. It blooms late in June and all through July, depending upon weather conditions. The buds unfold in the evening and by midnight they are in full bloom, scenting the desert with heavenly perfume.

My take: talk about white HOT flowers! Almost gardenia-like, creamy, high pitched, gaseous, narcotic; with hints of bright green and honey, verging into meaty territory. Incense/smoke on the dry down. This one is heavenly and heady, hot and heavy, but in a way that doesn't overwhelm you, even if you feel it should. My mom once planted a cactus that turned out to be Night Blooming Cereus and it is true that they bloom only once a year, at night. And in just that one night, they spend their entire perfume, filling the entire area with thick sweet scent. The blossoms wilt the next morning and drop off soon after. I recall the living scent to be more jasmine-like but it was so long ago...

Overall, these perfumes all smell of mellow, honey-sweet wild flowers; lightly spicy, balanced with incense and wood or musk. And I do actually get the feeling they are actually natural,  and so might wear well for those who find traditional vintage scents too chemical or "perfumey".

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

Images: sorry for some of the flower images, whose tags have been lost, neglected. Write me if you're interested, even in the comments section, and I can probably backtrack most of them.