The vintage version:
Indeed, the opening is a beautiful lily-of-the-valley note, underscored by a touch of gentle mandarin, lilac and, later in the drydown, jasmine. The base has a pleasant sandalwood character, and the with a touch if white musk and still an echo of white florals.
Definitely a good spring scent. I get moderate sillage, good projection and a splendid longevity on eleven hours.
To correct the database, this was launched in 1936, not 1942 (reference Barbara Herman's Scent and Subversion). The perfumer was Henri Robert.
It is a light and lilting variation on the true essence of lily of the valley, which in nature tends to be sharp and strong. Mixed with jasmine, rose and cyclamen and resting on sandalwood and musk, this works as a spring and summer scent for women.
It most closely resembles Caswell-Massey's version of Lily of the Valley.
Perfectly nice, but hardly outstanding.
03rd March, 2014 (last edited: 26th May, 2015)
Top notes: aldehydes, orange, green leaves and bergamot
Middle notes: cyclamen, lilac, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and rose
Base notes: sandalwood and musk
This is a review, mostly, of the vintage EdT, but also layered with a touch of the vintage Parfum Extrait.
The jus is supposed to be a yellow/green color, not brown as the one in the photo.
The vintage bottle I have is the same, I am sure many many vintage versions of this fragrance are floating around.
Anyway, what is going on here? Well, MdB opens on a strong bitter/ green note, with lilac and bergamot, which may take you through WWII era romance. You could find yourself sitting under a tree in a forest, near a lily of the valley patch, wearing a ton of hairspray. This may not be your cup of muguet. Maybe not yet at least.
But, if you give it 20 minutes or so, you will start to get the Bois of MdB, along with some rose, more sandalwood, and more soapy lily. It's very nice. What it is NOT, is a sparkly, silvery or sheer Muguet. This is what I would call a wartime floral, similar to Caron's Muguet de Bonheur, but more with more woods. MdB has enough heft to withstand some times of hardship and desperation. It does transcend them.
I had worn this 2-3 times, but it wasn't until I decanted some out of the enormous, bell-shaped 4 oz EdT splash bottle into a little atomizer that I could experience some of the many other notes listed.
Somehow a small parfum spray, likely 1980s, appeared on my desk. No cap, dark color, a certain victim of oxidation. I expected the worst...but, despite this, it manages to be absolutely delightful! The alcohol takes a minute or so to blow off, and there is certainly a "boozy" quality thanks to the oxidation, but I still enjoy this deep rosy lily on a velvet background of green woods. I give this bottle in particular a 3 or 4/10, and I am still managing to enjoy it, so now I'm on the hunt for other vintages in better condition.
Make sure that you buy/sniff vintage Muguet des Bois. The vintage is just lovely...soft, sweet, innocent. The more recent flacon mist version is vile...combo of paint thinner and hair permanent solution. Truly a "singe the nose hairs" blast until it reaches dry down. Just tossed two bottles of flacon mist that I mistakenly picked up, but love my little vintage bottle of EdT.