Created in 1928 to apply to a sable fur, Martes Zibellina, to keep mustiness away, this a blend of bergamot, lemon, coriander and tarragon in the top notes, rose, jasmine, yang yang, orris, gardenia, hawthorn and muguet in the middle, and vetiver, civet, sandalwood, amber, musk, honey and tonka in the base.
It starts out with a cherry almond note, which is spicy and sweet, then moves to a rich floral melange that manages to smell vintage without smelling old-fashioned. The warm, balsamic base notes carry the floral medley into the dry down.
A true classic in its complexity, balance and beauty. They don't make them like this anymore.
What a treat. I never thought I would smell this amazing, rare perfume which was designed to be applied to fur. I carefully researched the notes, I applied it to my hand, I prepared to identify those which stepped to the forefront as most representative, and I inhaled. Imagine my surprise when I smelled… cherry almond. What is the matter with me? It’s similar to almond extract albeit fainter, richer, and more complex, maybe like heliotrope or scented tobacco. But I won’t lie; I don’t smell what I’m supposed to be smelling in here. If it’s any consolation to you Zibeline aficionados, I love this. I keep continually smashing my face into my hand for hours as it dies down to a delicious, sweet, but cryptic combination of notes. My nose totally flunked this test.
According to my 1964 Dictionnaire des parfums de France, Zibeline is a fruity, ambery and spicy aldehyde floral chypre (neroli, hawthorn, linden, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, incense, opopanax, oakmoss, vetiver, tonka bean and civet). Wow! You can hardly imagine a more complete olfactory palette than this. I adore this daring yet sophisticated composition. The opopanax/tonka notes give this elegant fragrance a warm and sensuous touch without making it too sweet or too powdery. Although there is no cinnamon, nutmeg or clove in Zibeline, I can smell a rich and delicious touch of spice in the dry down. The animal note (civet) does exactly what it is supposed to do, i.e. increase staying power without leaving a skunky "aftersmell". I have not seen Zibeline anywhere for over 20 years and I truly miss it.
Where to begin, describing this majestic, powerful beauty?
Well, firstly, it reminds me very much of Cuir de Russie and vintage Bal a Versailles, but it is categorically better than either.
We always hear talk of Chanel 5 and Arpege being incredible aldehydic wonders of the twenties, but the use of aldehydes in Zibeline must really have been the gold standard then; it is just brilliant: the aldehydes are really working to clarify, unify and lighten the notes, and it's perfectly pretty from the first sniff. The drydown is very beastly, though, and a wonderful surprise. It stays with you and has such a luscious and complex sillage.. What immense character and power this scent holds.
Zibeline was first used to scent furs, which is a wonderful accompanying fact, as it really drives home the impression of luxury. And luxury is the best word I can come up with to describe Zibeline.
Zibeline tells the story of pre-depression era excess, sophistication and "modern" party life of the most glamorous sort. I imagine it on a fur-wearing, 1920s goddess with fabulous money, (someone famous perhaps), and elegant but totally independent of spirit. This is what Lilian Gish must have smelled like.
I think it is the most evocative vintage fragrance I have ever smelled.
And yet it is totally wearable today because it is very very perfect-smelling.
I highly recommend this one to fans of vintage fragrances, looking to purchase a discontinued treasure for your collection. You really couldn't be disappointed with this one.
I am with Brielle87 on this one - marvelous - I am very LUCKY to have a bottle of this masterpiece in my possession. Without a single doubt, this goes right up there with Guerlain's Jicky as a true classic. I dare say that Jean Desprez's wonderful Bal à Versailles (in it's civet laden cologne concentration) harkens back to this as a possible influence . . .
The civet note in the base this is absolutely stunning AND made even better by a lovely ambergris! Absolutely amazing!! The bottle I have was from France - Pre New York Weil - brought to the states in 1932 (indicated from the papers that came with it). I have read that it had to be reformulated several times due to lack of materials and wartime problems when the company moved to the United States as a result of the Nazi occupation during WWII. Unfortunately, again, from what I have read, the civet/ambergris note largely disappeared in later versions of this - being replaced by more spicy elements and sandalwood. I am sure it was still nice, but an awful shame to loose them!! However, rest assured that If I ever find any of the newer formulations, I'll snatch it up! I am sure it is fantastic too!
A true marvel of the parfumeur's art. This is a wonderful aldehydic floral in the classic sense, but it has a surprising animal quality one would expect from a floriental dry-down. This scent is all furs and champagne; romantic evenings dancing under crystal chandeliers at a glorious ball. It truly is the essence of a bygone era, yet it has a thoroughly modern quality to it. It has a truly seamless transition from head, to heart, to basenotes. A masterpiece which, much like many others, has gone to the great fragrance Valhalla in the sky.