This is a very rich, very warm perfume. I sampled the pure extrait.
It is a leather-amber chypre, very much of the 1930s school of scent. It contains notes of castoreum, rosewood, hawthorn, narcissus, iris, oak moss, patchouli, amber, rose.
I don't care for either of Lanvin's other trio members, Arpege and My Sin, but I love Pretexte. Too bad the others are still out there and this one is discontinued.
I'll be searching for a vintage bottle of Pretexte on Ebay. Very worth experiencing.
My vintage sample smells nothing like the wonderful description below...sadly I guess it has turned. It is a very floral powder. It may start with some leather, but it muddies quickly to sweet, very dated powder. Negative review based on this, not what it was in its day.
30th July, 2010 (last edited: 05th February, 2012)
I was lucky enough to find a small bottle of this vintage perfume, with its intaglio black glass stopper and art deco lacquer-and-paper box. The extrait itself had darkened to the color of old cognac, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't disappointed: Pretexte announced itself with a rush of fine leather, followed by a spicy-herbal, ambery warmth. Sometimes, as the scent unfolds, I can detect a floral note, sometimes a whiff of vanilla. It seems very much a fragrance of its time (late 1930s) and place (France) and that's a good thing. For an approximation, imagine Messe de Minuit or Black Cashmere, left to mellow in an expensive handbag, and you might get some sense of Pretexte.