Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Faces of Givenchy L'Interdit

If you are intrigued by the thought of smelling as forbidden, as pure and austerely beautiful as Audrey Hepburn, then you should know which scent to buy. L'Interdit, the scent Givenchy had created expressly for Herpburn, has been released in three distinct versions.

Hubert de Givenchy commissioned Francis Fabron to create L'Interdit for Audrey in 1957. Does that make L'Interdit the first celebrity fragrance of modern times? While many perfumes are touted as the first celebrity fragrance, this scent lays rightful claim to ownership of the title.

Above is the original L'Interdit from 1957.  I have this version in my collection but the juice has not aged gracefully. I've heard there was a unique strawberry note wrapped up in L'Interdit but it is not apparent to my nose. I'm afraid all of the fruity top notes have all but vanished from both of the vintage examples I've encountered. But based on what I do smell, 1957 L'Interdit is the nearly twin, but more respectable, sister of Chanel No 5. If you took the upper and middle register of Chanel No 5- all the lovely aldehydic touches and the effulgent floral notes and threw them over a white-washed base, you'd have something like L'Interdit. Where No 5 offers a smoldering embrace, L'Interdit uses a light caress. The intoxicating foxy musk and civet touches that give the Chanel such luster have been replaced by refined sensations: the scent of amber scented French soap, the creaminess of the lather it creates when mixed with water on skin and the light musk of fresh cleaned skin, are used to achieve the seduction of L'Interdit.

In 2002, L'Interdit was brought back with a reinterpreted formula (noses: Jean Guichard and Olivier Gillotin) and a new look, shown above. I like the red label and gold top/gold neck band; otherwise it is identical to the older bottle, which had instead a gold foil label, a silver top/glass-neck combination. Many customers complained about this reformulation but I must confess to liking it well enough when it was first released. It struck me as a light and pretty fruity floral with leanings towards Estee Lauder's Beautiful, but done in a much sheerer style. Ultimately it failed to move me and has been ignored in a dark corner of the vault for the past several years. Such a sad fate for a scent whose only aim is to sparkle and enchant. A cross between strawberry lemonade and strawberry shampoo, the 2003 L'Interdit could have made a fine first perfume for a young girl. It's especially well suited to the mild days of spring and early summer.

Flagging sales and Givenchy's efforts to recapture history in the form of their best selling fragrances necessitated another shift for L'Interdit. In 2007, Bernard Arnault was tasked with recreating the scent for Givenchy. L'Interdit joined the Les Mythiques line where Givenchy has released new versions of all of their most widely sought-after discontinued scents (Organza Indecense, Givenchy III, Le De etc...). The feminine fragrances of the Les Mythiques line are all clad in lavender packaging as seen below.
The 2007 formula for L'Interdit is a throw back to the style of the 1957 original. The new L'Interdit is a powdery, spicy floral featuring, "red current, Bulgarian Rose and a touch of musk and incense".  While I continue to prefer Chanel No 5, I believe this version of L'Interdit is the most reliable and smells nearest to the spirit of the original, making it the one I'd choose for all my 'Audrey' moments.

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

SOTD: Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls

Released in 1996, Black Pearls isn't everyone's cup of tea. Maybe that fits with the story I heard- namely that Liz had BPs made specifically for herself.

Black Pearls notes:
Top: bergamot, peach, lotus, water lily
Heart: gardenia, lilac, white rose, jasmine
Base: spices, sandalwood, vanilla

Black Pearls had been discontinued but it has re-appeared en mass at online retailers, having been poorly reformulated (by who knows). The injection of heavy elements- syrupy fruit and amber by all accounts did not improve the fragrance. The new version has not been well received by most reviewers over at MUA and Fragrantica although I don't believe the original sold very well, either. Watery florals can be tricky- (edit: melon fruit/water flowers on top of woody oriental base).

I have a 1996 bottle of the pure perfume and find it beautiful, delicate and unique thanks to the succulent water flowers, restrained use of fruit notes and a well balanced base of wood, vanilla and spice. Worth seeking out, if you've the patience to look for a bottle of the older formula. Don't quote me, but I think I recall the older bottles (except the parfum) looked similar to the columnar style used for White Diamonds....

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Remembering Liz

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

SOTD: Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

No more experimenting with my skin! I'm back to vintage this morning and wearing Geoffrey Beene's Grey Flannel. Released in 1975, it's a wet/dry green violet with many subtle shades and tones thanks to a complex formula that marries woody, oriental and floral forms. Perfectly suited to cold and rainy spring days, this scent was made for men although I find it's one of the most wearable violet scents in my arsenal. Sillage and longevity are excellent! Some folks complain about the modern reformulations. My bottle is from a few years back- the label is stamped with maker 'Jacqueline Cochran, New York'.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SOTD PureDistance 1

Hard Rain by Gilad

Not that they don't deserve the attention-  thanks to Suzanne I've been sniffing all three current releases and feel quite impressed with the trio from PureDistance. I've been seeing a ton of coverage for them in the blog-o-sphere, how about you?? Not vintage, but of such quality that they are destined to be collected by vintage perfume perfume lovers of the future...

Today, it's PureDistance1 for me as I'm seeking serious shelter from the storms of NoCal today. The poor cherries are going to be toast this season as Mother Nature is certainly being fickle.

btw: Another recent SOTD, Chantelle's Eau de Desir, reminds me of PureDistance1 quite a bit;  PureDistance 1 is a changeling- today in the cold and windy rain, it's clear green and citrus nature comes to the fore- gone are any cumin-y, plummy aspects of my first dabbings...

I haven't given PD1 a full day's wear before so I'm interested to see how it goes...

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SOTD: Fath de Fath

Go to Perfumes Bighouse to read a splendid review of FdF and see all the olfactory information (I've written about it before, too). Suffice to say, Fath de Fath (1953) is a sharp yet soft snuggle-worthy oriental scent perfect for braving the unseasonal cold and wet of Northern California today.

Take care, darlings, and enjoy whatever it is that you're wearing!

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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Vintage Perfume Blog...

We're growing...Please go check out the Perfume Fountain, a new vintage perfume blog!

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

Vintage Perfume Posters

Happy vintage perfume dreamin'!

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

images: collected from assorted EBay sellers, google image search

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SOTD: Chantelle Beaute Eau de Desir

NOTE: edited 3/26/11-
Today I'm wearing the lovely Eau de Desir or EdD (2008) from nose Delphine Thierry. EdD has a strongly appealing retro vibe. It comes to us from Chantelle Beaute, the cosmetics line for Chantelle Lingerie (18. Eau de Desire is one of a line of four scents although I haven't tried any of the other fragrances. It was originally written about online by The Scented Salamander here.

Eau de Desir has been around for a couple of several years but with distribution limited to brick and mortar Chantelle retail locations; frustratingly, you can't seem to purchase it anywhere at all online. Chantelle Carré Sénart has been mentioned specifically as carrying the line so if you know someone who lives nearby, perhaps you can have it sent to you. Otherwise, chances are slim of finding it here in USA. Despite this limitation, Eau de Desir has already gained a cult-like following of admirers looking to re-purchase it.

From The Scented Salamander:
Eau de Désir is symbolized by red and announces an universe of "daring seduction". The perfume is described as a gourmand and sensual fragrance. Top notes are fruity with notes of yellow plum (mirabelle) and mandarine followed by a tender core including notes of chocolate, incense, rose, benzoin, and cumin. Base notes are amber, patchouli, cedar, and a soft vanilla....

(edit: I have since found alternative note list featuring jasmine and I smell jasmine prominently.) I nearly passed on this scent- having tested it, I promptly smelled the chocolate and musk, thought about Musc Maori and rejected it as being too similar to MM to merit much attention. But within probably 30 minutes, the plum began to assert itself and the base notes began their seduction. Within two hours, I'd actually made my way back to the store to purchase it; I haven't looked back since. Honestly, I get a gentle thrill each time I apply it, waiting for the perfectly ripe plum to make it's appearance. Set against the cradle of smooth rich chocolate and benzoin/incense, the plum is just perfect- dusted with the lightest touch of spices. I do not smell the cumin at all- just a succulent, spiced plum, kissed with jasmine, rose, amber, patchouli and cashmeran soft touches of cedar wood.

 Billy Dove

The eau de parfum wears like a very feminine rose-powder boudoir scent that's been fluffed up with plenty of skin-loving musks. I usually like plum in perfumes. Here it reminds me a bit of Marcel Rochas' Femme but this one is far more tender than that perfume. Patchouli, cedar, vanilla, amber form the delectable gourmand-oriental base, while incense, cumin and benzoin give it a Middle Eastern flavor. Eau de Desir combines relaxing scents associated with cosmetics and toilet rituals, pairing them with those used in seduction, to create a lovely, diffusive scent that is as perfect for date night as it is for a comforting bed-time, after bath scent.

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

images: pulled from tumblr search (red desire)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Perfume Review: Jean Couturier Coriandre

Mia Farrow by Roddy McDowall

If you read yesterday you already know that I choose to wear Coriandre for St. Patrick's Day. But I'd forgotten how stunning this unusual perfume is!

Brit Ekland

Released in 1973 by Jean Couturier, Coriandre is a rosey-herbal chypre that stands out for it's uniqueness. A quirky blend of green notes, playing up wood and floral aspects of the spice Coriander, the tone is deceptively light. As sheer and transparent as any scent I have, it plays coming and going tricks with you and sticks around forever. The aldehydes and orange blossom of its opening segue directly into a floral heart dominated by rose, lily of the valley and geranium. Geranium lends a leafy, prickly lemon-green giving the scent a garden freshness. The lily of the valley picks up the lighter rose notes giving the scent a high pitch and nice lift. The floral character of the scent is reminiscent of buds and early blossoms still tinged with green. The bouquet is anchored with the vegetal muskiness and sharp spice of angelica and violet roots.

Jane Birkin
Coriander is the star of this scent- warm, vaguely nutty, spicy and citrus in flavor, coriander is technically made of the dried, crushed fruits of Cilantro or Chinese Parsley. The seeds pods of this plant are packed with linalool and pinene, which give this spice it's characteristic lemon/orange flavor.  Traditionally coriander is combined with cumin in Marsala and Indian curries; I add it to spice cake, pumpkin pie and the like. The light citrus and floral nuances add a delicately spicy, slightly orange-rose tone to baked goods. In Russia, coriander is sometimes used instead of rye as a flavoring in their hearty breads. EDIT: People who don't like Coriandre invariably object to the coriander. I wonder if there is any relationship between those who don't like coriander and those who perceive cilantro as having a soapy or rank taste? Cumin is commonly paired with coriander in Indian curries and some people report coriander smells like cumin but I don't find the two similar. 

The transparency of Coriandre really shines in the base where sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver are the stars of this modern, light green chypre scent. The warm, sultry sandalwood compliments a leafy-green patchouli and grassy vetiver. Clean white musk ties the base together, and adds a smooth and radiant finish. Any civet in this scent is far hidden from my nose and must be included only for its subliminal effects.


Coriandre smells modern, fresh, young, and optimistic with a boundless energy and enthusiasm. It is green yet spicy but light- breezy and flirty without being fruity or overtly sweet. Not an easy wear for everyone, it must interact very differently with an individual's skin chemistry. When it works, it's as sweet and happy as the first breath of fresh spring air.
Faye Dunaway

Top notes: aldehydes, coriander, orange blossom and angelica;
Middle notes: violet root, lily, jasmine, rose and geranium;
Base notes: sandalwood, patchouli, musk, civet, oakmoss and vetiver.

I have a mini of the pure parfum and a 1 ounce spray edt, both light in color. The malachite style box of the edt isn't dated , but the center badge is white, not gold, as is the juice. There is a sparsity of text and lack of bar codes on the box which reads:
Ingredients: Ethyl alcohol (A) Demineralized water (E) Fragrance (D) Colorings: none/ Parfums/ Jean Couturier/ 75008 Paris/ 30 ml - 90% volume - 1 fl oz.
Both the parfum and edt smell very similar, the perfume wears a little greener, the edt has more of the rose/powdery aspect.; they layer very well for those seeking a full wearing experience.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Green Perfumes- Happy Saint Patrick's Day from the Vault!

Spring's first mushrooms are popping up in our lawn.... must be time for some green perfumes!

The oldest 'famous' green scent is Houbigant's Fougere Royal, released in 1882.

In 1921 Francoise Coty gave us his smoldering rendition in green- Emeraude...

Pierre Balmain released the green genie that is Vent Vert in 1945.

And Diorella made 1972 memorable with it's unrestrained green exuberance...

EDIT: I'm wearing the spicy complex green chypre Coriandre (1973). With top notes of
aldehydes, coriander, orange blossom and angelica; middle notes of violet root, lily, jasmine, rose and geranium; and base notes of sandalwood, patchouli, musk, civet, oakmoss and vetiver, you might think it heavy, but it's not. The pure parfum is the palest straw color. The scent is deceptively light and transparent but lasting with very decent sillage to boot. The pure perfume and edt are both 'under the radar classics' in my book.

Whatever your favorite vintage green is, wear it today in good health. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all from the Vintage Vault!

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