Perfume Reviews

Reviews by JackTwist

Total Reviews: 1238

Violette de Gueldy by Gueldy

GUELDY – VIOLETTE (1912/1921)

Gueldy was established in 1905 by Lelaurin and A. Sergent at 370 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore in Paris. Later Gueldy also operated a shop in New York City.

Gueldy released 50 perfumes between the years 1910 and 1935, winning a Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1925.

In the 1920’s, Violet or Violette, enjoyed a revival of popularity from its soliflore origins in the 19th century. Toulouse became the center of a vast industry, producing many perfumes with violet as the center inspiration.

Gueldy’s Violette, first released in 1912, then re-released in 1921 in an iconic bottle from which my decant is derived, is one among many presentations of this iconic flower.

Top Notes: Bergamot, Cyclamen, Violet Flower
Heart Notes: Violet Leaves, Almond Blossom, Muguet, Iris, Jamine
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Musk, Lilac, Orris

I am much taken by the contours of the small bottle and its very green coloring. The scent is not the typical powdery violet one expects from the era it was produced. This is a very dry violet, almost as if all the sweetness and powderiness had been drained from it, leaving its pure essence.

It reminds me very much of Shimy Brothers’ pure violet oil of the early 1920s and indeed Gueldy may have been influenced to tweak the original 1912 creation to adapt to then modern tastes.

This is one all lovers of violet should experience as a new and much welcome take on the earthy effluence of the violet flower. Still available from private sellers on the internet.

05th October, 2017

Fougère de la Couronne by Gueldy


Gueldy was established in 1905 by Lelaurin and A. Sergent at 370 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore in Paris. Later a house was opened in New York City.

Gueldy produced 52 scents from 1910 – 1935. Among the most popular are: Ador, Ambre, Le Bois Sacre, Le Billet Doux, Le Triomphe, Bal des Fleurs, La Lys Rouge.

Lavender, oak moss and coumarin are the usual three notes required in a typical fougere, but Gueldy’s take on the genre is far from typical. This is a restrained fougere, dry and earthy, with a subdued floral underpinning (violet and orris have been suggested). Cedar and sandalwood provide a soft base.

A combination of rose and carnation emerges during the dry down that give the warmth a certain spicy and sexy note, similar to what one might expect from the house of Myrurgia.

This is one fougere that does not smell “masculine,” and can be worn by both men and women in this modern age.

Thankfully still available from certain sellers on the internet.
05th October, 2017

Ambre by Cottan-Porte


Cottan-Porte, of 40 rue de Chateaudun, Paris, was established in 1832 by Docteur Cottan and named La Parfumerie de la Societe Hygenique du Docteur Cottan in 1840. The company manufactured perfumes, cosmetics and toiletries, and they produced unusual luxury presentations in the 1920s.

From their first scent in 1870 (Eau de Toilette Mandarine) to their last, Lilas Blanc, in 1930, they produced 55 scents.

Cottan Ambre was released in 1930 and was one of their last creations. It is quite modern in its bitter amber, patchouli, cedar and vetiver combination, reminiscent of modern oud compositions. My nose detects none of the sweet top notes on my skin, but on my spouse the sweetness of the orange, peach and ylang do come across nicely. The incense note of styrax and the dry spice notes of coriander and cardamom add to the depth of this scent.

It can certainly be considered unisex by today’s standards, although it is difficult to imagine this being marketed to and worn by women in 1930. Perhaps it was marketed to men; there is no way of knowing, as so little is known about this fragrance.

A very dry incense amber with a sweet overlay, which would be of great interest to those in love with either of these categories, worn close to the skin without much projection. Would that I could detect the top notes on my skin, but grateful I can experience them on another’s.

Top notes: Peach, Ylang Ylang, Orange Blossom, Aniseed, Neroli
Heart notes: Amber, Cardamon, Coriander, Cedarwood, Balsam, Styrax
Base notes: Labdamun, Vanilla, Patchouli, Ambergris, Vetiver, Tonka, Cistus (Rockrose)

05th October, 2017
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Tocade by Coryse Salome


Salomé was established in 1909 by Marius Cartier and sold perfumes, cosmetics and toiletries at his shop at 8 place de l'Opera, Paris. Salome was affiliated with Cartier. Coryse was established in 1919 by Maurice Blanchetat 64 rue de la Chaussee-d'Antin, Paris and also sold perfumes, toiletries and cosmetics. He purchased the perfumery Salomé in 1929 and the two companies merged into Coryse Salomé.

From 1920 to 1977, Coryse Salome produced 34 scents, beginning with Rose D’Isphan and ending with Ylanga.

Tocade means ‘Passing Fancy’ in French. In 1994 the House of Rochas produced their own Tocade, a dry rich oriental, which has become one of the great scents of that house.

This first Tocade is a fruity floral with a dark, warm base, reminding me of the fur chypres from the House of Weil. It is beautifully blended, round, deep and voluptuous. The combination of civet and cinnamon in the base make the dry down a particularly sensual experience.

A true throw back to the great chypres of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, it seems out of place in the late 1950s, but very welcome just the same. Happily, still available on the internet from private sellers. I can honestly say from my perspective that both Tocades are superb creations. This one being the rarest of the two is worth pursuing.

Top notes: Bergamot, Neroli, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang
Heart notes: Plum, Raspberry, Heliotrope, Honeysuckle, Violet
Base notes: Sandalwood, Musk, Vetiver, Cinnamon, Civet, Almond
28th September, 2017

Violette by La Ducale


The following information on this little known house is from the Perfume Encyclopedia:

Established by Giulio Fornari at Piazzale Staziano 8, Parma in 1917; became the luxury name of Borsari 1870. In 1975 Borsari and Ducale merged with Florbath of Parma. Launched Jasmin de Bois, Oriente, Poema Ducale, Poéme, Primo Incontro, Roma, Sogna Ducale, Tabaco d'Egizia, Vera Violetta di Parma, Violetta di Parma from c1924

L.T. Piver launched a Violette Ducale in 1896, reintroduced in 1922.

It is perhaps this 2 ounce bottle of Ducale Violette that I am experiencing. No elaboration here. Pure violet floral oil, light but not powdery. Not at all complex, simply pure. A very cleansing scent for the nose. Not romantic, simply very real. And most loved by myself, for whom violet is the most charming and eloquent of florals, shy and yet strongly ever-present.

A total delight.

28th September, 2017

Ambre Persan by Bryenne


Bryenne of Paris, France, was established in 1911 by Jacques Brach. The perfumes were imported into the USA by sole agents the Lionel Trading Co. Little remains written about this obscure perfume company, which produced only 8 scents from 1911 to 1929, except that there remains a history of the beautiful flacons that were made by Baccarat and Julien Viard for this perfumery. One of the most famous flacons was for a perfume called Chu Chin Chow, which was presented in an enameled Buddha flacon. These bottles and the boxes that housed them are collectors’ items that fetch high prices in today’s market.

Chu Chin Chow, by the way, was a British musical comedy from 1916, that broke all London box office long run records for its day, 2,238 performances covering five years, a feat not equaled until 1943’s Oklahoma! made its way across the ocean.

Ambre Persan is a warm, mellow and perfectly balanced combination of spices, resins and amber/musk notes. I detect none of the top notes, probably due to the age of the sample, although the peach is present in the dry down. The Ylang is still detectable, bringing a fruity lift to the composition. The incense/benzoin, patchouli/amber base is truly beautiful.

It is a unique scent. I’ve no memory of ever encountering one quite like it before. It has a gourmand effect, a rich honeyed aroma, probably due to the anonymous spice notes. I am reminded of a honeyed peach pastry left in the oven just a bit too long, not burned, but slightly darker and more redolent of the slightly over done crust.

Amazingly still available from private sellers on the internet, despite its rarity and age. Very worth seeking out as an unusual and satisfying vintage fragrance. Quite unisex.

Top notes: Orange Blossom, Peach, Lemon, Neroli
Heart notes: Aniseed, Ylang Ylang, Orris, Frankincense, Spices
Base notes: Clove, Benzoin, Amber, Musk, Patchouli, Incense

The eight perfumes of Bryenne: L’Heure Exquise (1911); Chu Chin Chow (1918); Le Lilas (1920); Mabrouka (1927); Sentimental (1927); Ambre Persan (1927); Fascination (1928); Brenny (1929).

28th September, 2017

Oeillet Rêve by Bourjois


The House of Bourjois was established by Alexandre-Napoleon Bourjois at 28 Place Vendome, Paris in 1886, when he purchased a toiletry shop from actor, M. Ponsin, the former established in1860. He expanded into cosmetics and perfumes. After his death in 1893, the business was eventually acquired by Ernest Wertheimer in 1900.

The Perfume Encyclopedia lists 163 Bourjois scents, stretching from the first, Essence Fougere in 1890 to 2005’s Masculin Barbare. The most famous of these is no doubt Evening in Paris (1928), with Mais Oui (1938) a close second, yet their Mon Parfum (1919) and Kobako (1936) were also stellar hits in their days.

Their Carnation (Oeillet Reve) from 1935 is little known and did not survive as a soliflore, yet it is still obtainable on the internet from private sellers.

This is a very light carnation scent. The clove support is not heavy handed and is only used to slightly deepen the similarity between the two, flower and spice. The neroli gives it a nice dryness and the floral bouquet adds sweetness, a touch of green, and a freshness. Still it is the carnation that is center stage.

A fine floral scent for the fiery personality to be used abstemiously as it projects quite powerfully. A little goes a long way.

Perfumista and collector, Alexandra Star, tells us: “Carnation is cultivated in many countries, but carnation absolute is produced only in the south of France. Carnation is often used in classical fragrances due to its spicy peppery scent, which deepens floral notes, and is especially effective when combined with rose.”

Top notes: Bergamot, Carnation, Neroli
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Honeysuckle, Violet
Base notes: Clove, Vanilla, Sandalwood

27th September, 2017

Royale Origan by D'Orsay


Origan or "Oregano” (also known as “Wild Marjoram”) was among the first of the 20th century’s truly great perfume notes and one of the very first of the “modern” perfumes. The fragrance swept Paris and helped consolidate the perfumer's reputation. First launched by Coty in 1905, Origan perfumes became increasingly popular, and several perfume houses developed their own model.

It is interesting to note that while the “fougere” note was named after a plant that had no scent of its own, the “origan” note was created with no use of the very pungent plant at all, the spicy carnation, supported by other spices giving the “effect” of the herb itself.

Sweet floral notes are combined with spicy and powdery woody accords, its composition including new materials for that time such as coumarin and vanillin. Royale Origan is for me an improvement upon the Coty original, as it emphasizes the spiciness for which the scent is named, without obvious recognition of the carnation note. This is the result of outstanding balance and blending, where my nose can detect none of the many particular notes involved in the composition, only the correct overall “effect.”

Royale Origan is a warm, rich, floral composition that is at the same time dense and light.

Top notes are Bergamot, Neroli, Mandarin, Coriander, Pepper, and Peach
Heart notes are Carnation, Jasmine, Rose, Violet, Ylang, Orris, and Orchid
Base notes are Coumarin, Vanilla, Cedar, Sandalwood, Benzoin, Musk, Labdanum

Happily still available on line from private sellers, this is one that all lovers of the Coty original should seek out for comparison and perhaps addition to one’s collection of great originals.

27th September, 2017

Vetiver by Shimy Brothers

The Shimy Brothers Perfumery of Cairo produced fine perfumes in exquisite flacons during the time period between 1906 and 1920. They emblazoned the words "The Artistic Perfumers" either on bottles or presentation boxes. These were created and sold in Cairo, Port-Said and Luxor.

The perfumes were compounded in Egypt, but the exquisite bottles were imported from Czechoslovakia. They were decorated with rich gilding and vibrant enamels of Egyptian gods and goddesses, or stylized Egyptian motifs.

Most unique is the fact that Shimy used no alcohol to dilute their fine oil compositions. The scents were rubbed into the skin and being so dense, became one with the wearer.

Their Vetiver oil smells like no Vetiver I've ever been exposed to. No green leaf notes, no sharp pungent root notes, this is an entirely different plant from what we are used to in perfumery.

This is dark, resinous, deep and smooth, with a certain leather-like warmth to it. It reminds me of so many bases in classic chypre compositions from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

I must wonder if what Egypt knew as Vetiver was an entirely different plant than that known to Europe, or at least a relation with a deeper, richer botanical past.

Shimy Brothers' Vetiver is a treasure to be sought by all serious collectors of vintage perfumes.
21st September, 2017

Heliotrope Blanc by Roger & Gallet

Heliotropin was discovered in 1869. Its synthesization into the "sweet pastry cream" note of the Heliotrope flower, for which it is named, made this scent available to perfumers for the first time. It was already in use by the 1880s. Heliotropin occurs naturally in a range of botanicals and is used for vanilla or almond accords. It also possesses powdery, floral aspects. Amazingly, this does not occur in the heliotrope flower itself, so cannot be extracted.

Heliotrope Blanc was a popular soliflore scent in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The Perfume Encyclopedia lists 20 Heliotrope Blancs up to 1920 with the following the most significant: Legrand (1886); Guerlain (1890); Lubin (1893); Coudray (1907).

Roger & Gallet's version is heavily laden with almond, with hardly any detectable vanilla. It is very dry and has a certain herbal edge to it, which keeps it from appearing too cloying and sticky sweet. I believe it is the astringent lilac note that provides this reigning in.

Oddly enough the fluid is dyed red, an odd choice for a "white" flower representation. A very nice take on the beautiful, dainty summer poesy it is named after.
21st September, 2017

Cuir by Plassard

I could find nothing about this scent on the internet, with the exception of its year of release. As such, the review is going to be based solely on interpretation of the olfactory experience without professional guidelines.

I have experienced seven Cuirs/Cuirs de Russie to date: Chanel; Lancôme; Floris; Bienaime; Guerlain; Piver; and now Plassard.

The scents have ranged from brutally masculine with birch tar prominent, to sweet and new (the scent of Italian leather jackets and new auto upholstery), to the comforting warmth of a new leather belt. The Plassard resembles none of these.

It is a complex mixture of unidentifiable florals (excepting rose and jasmine) and the softest, most buttery leather. The leather element projects, but close up only the florals are evident. There is a menthol/camphor note, which hovers over all.

It is quite spare and quite modern. Amazingly subtle and light. A true find, but maddeningly mysterious in its balance of contrasting elements. Very worth seeking out.
21st September, 2017

Eau de Cologne Majestic by Bienaimé


Bienaimé's Eau de Cologne Majestic is a beautiful citrus-based cologne with herbal notes.

This fragrance, with its Mediterranean freshness, projects a relaxed atmosphere, indulgent in florals, citrus and herbs.

The lemon and orange are sweet, rather than bitter. The petitgrain and rosemary give it a nice dry undercurrent (there may even be a small drop of lavender here as well), while the rose and carnation lend it a spicy, but subdued heart.

I find with a number of vintage eau de colognes that much more care was lavished on the herbal support for the citrus than one finds in modern edc splashes. Such is the case here. A lovely summer splash, soft, subtle and light.

Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Mandarin, Orange
Heart Notes: Neroli, Myrtle, Petitgrain, Carnation, Rose, Rosemary
Base Note: Sandalwood

Still available as of this writing from private sellers on the internet.
19th September, 2017

Cuir de Russie by Bienaimé


The following excerpt of Bienaime and his Cuir de Russie are from the writings of perfumista and collector, Alexandra Star. I agree totally with her review of the scent and cannot improve or dissent from her exemplary writing style and content. I therefore present her words (slightly edited), with her permission:

As perfumer for Houbigant from around 1910 to 1930, Robert Bienaimé created one of Houbigants all time best sellers, Quelques Fleurs, a floral bouquet. He continued to create for this house until sometime shortly after the 1929 stock market crash.

In 1935, Bienaimé launched his own Paris fragrance house, where he began to create fragrances under his own name. Bienaimé fragrances continued to appear during the 1940's and existed until 1950, but it would appear that the house did not survive for long after WW II.

Among Bienaime’s mostsuccessful scents was his Cuir de Russie. The"Russian Leather" theme was popular, having been used to great effect by Chanel, Guerlain, and others. Unlike today when fragrances must carry unique names, in France in the first half of the 20th Century, a number of marketers might hit on the same, or a similar, name.

After five to ten minutes Cuir de Russie recalls fumed rawhide, the soft scraped skin, smoked to a light brown color but not soaked in birch tar. Resinous notes of cistus and styrax, smooth and transparent, appear cautiously, and if smoked birch tar is present, it's in a very minor quantity. The animalic character is complemented by a very natural soft musk and warm civet. Later, beneath the resins are found bitter woody chords: notes of oakmoss and vetiver, with smooth warm balsamic notes and possibly orris.

In the last gasps the perfume gives a slightly sweet warmth, but not that of flowers. Instead it's the warm underside of a leather belt, just taken off the body, and a thin benzoin sweetness. The composition starts with aldehydes, moderated by a mild nectar of the classical trio of rose, jasmine and ylang-ylang. The ending comes as a smoky, animalistic note of dark leather.

Top notes: Orange Blossom, Bergamot, Mandarin
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Iris, Labdanum
Base notes: Oak Moss, Vetiver, Cedar, Styrax, Cistus, Leather, Amber, Civet, Musk, Vanilla

19th September, 2017
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Fleurs Joyeux by Plassard


The House of Plassard produced 35 scents from 1900 to 1945, of which Fleurs Joyeusses (1910), Oeilllet Noir (1940) and Cuir (1945) were among their best sellers.

Fleurs Joyeuses (Joyful Flowers) is a dry, crisp floral bouquet from the early 20th century that would work equally well for a man or a woman in today’s perfume world.

The florals are all strong contenders on their own but none of them are allowed to take center stage, all being enveloped in the warm base. I believe it is the judicious use of civet here that, along with the petitgrain and violet, provides the dryness. The dry down has a distinct similarity to the later Chanel No. 5.

Top notes: Orange Blossom, Lemon, Neroli, Petitgrain
Heart notes: Lily of the Valley, Violet, Jasmine, Rose, Honeysuckle
Base notes: Musk, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Civet

Luckily, bottles are still available, and even more remarkably quite affordable, on the internet from private sellers.

A little floral gem, especially noteworthy for fans of the Chanel icon.
16th September, 2017

Oeillet by Plassard


Oeillet is the French word for the Latin Dianthus (Carnation). Dianthis is derived from Greek, meaning di, Zeus and anthos, flower, “the flower of Zeus,” indicating its importance in the religious context of Ancient Greece.

Perfumista and collector, Alexandra Star, tells us: “In the Middle Ages, it was one of the most popular flowers for fragrance gardens. Its probably most interesting usage has been recorded in the late 1600s, when the Countess of Dorset, England made her own love potion, including carnation, lavender, bay leaf and marjoram. It is rather ironic that the flower of the most licentious of all Greek gods is supposed to have powers to cure wayward lovers. Interesting also to note is that carnation signified devotion and loyalty in a variety of traditions, from European to Asian.”

Although many countries cultivate the flower, the absolute is produced only in Southern France. Its popular spicy floral scent works well when paired with rose in vintage perfumery, and it is particularly prized in the composition of “oriental” fragrances, adding that veil of mystery and promise.

Released in 1923, Plassard’s Œillet (originally released as Oeillet Reve) is not a simple soliflore, as were so many perfumes named for the flower. This is a complex spicy floral chypre with deep patchouli and musk base notes. The orange blossom combines with the spices of clove and cinnamon, deepened by rose, and given an edge by violet leaf and marigold, to support the gorgeous, fresh and alive carnation scent which floats over all.

This is for the fiery, tempestuous temperament. Although it could be worn by a man, it seems more at home with a strong, independent feminine personality. Rosalind Russell and Joan Crawford could have pulled this off with flair.

Top notes: Osmanthus, Ylang Ylang, Orange Blossom, Bergamot
Middle notes: Carnation, Marigold, Cloves, Rose, Violet Leaf, Cinnamon
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Cedar, Musk

A gorgeous spicy floral chypre, quite a surprise, and from a house I had never experienced before. The vintage perfume world is full of such surprises. Happily, this is still available on the internet from private sellers.
14th September, 2017

Trophee by D'Orsay


Trophee is classified as a Chypre, and was designed with both men and women in mind, as women were beginning to assert themselves and enter the world of men in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

However, a number of surviving advertisements from the 1930’s target men alone. Its packaging boasted the silhouette of a gentleman with top hat, also used for D’Orsay’s Le Dandy.

To my nose this is a beautiful dry leather chypre with deep floral notes, supported by the saltiness of ambergris and the aromatic beauty of musk and patchouli. It is beautifully blended, a soft emanation. A very supple leather with a soft floral air to it. Restrained and timeless.

Very much a masculine, although I would also consider it unisex by today’s standards.

Top notes: Citrus, Bergamot, Neroli, Orange Blossom
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Lily of the Valley
Base notes: Sandalwood, Ambergris, Musk, Patchouli, Leather

This is one of D’Orsay’s best and I much prefer it to the better known Le Dandy. Worth seeking out from private sellers on the internet.
11th September, 2017

Canasta by Jacques Fath


Launched in 1950, Jacques Fath's Canasta is classified as a fruity chypre.

My vintage mini parfum smells initially of the suede note (lots of orris butter, no doubt) with the luscious and voluptuous fruit notes (peach, plum, cherry) held in check for a bit, then slowly floated atop the suede.

This is no girly fruity floral of the type that proliferates in modern perfumery. These fruits are stewed, not freshly bursting with juice.
As such, this is a scent for a mature woman, but one that can be worn on any occasion. Unisex by today’s standards as it is rich, but subdued.

Once again I find that Fath was a master conjuror with orris butter. So many of his great scents (Iris Gris, Fath’s Love) use it as a solid base around which to build an original perfume note tree. The orris even drowns out the usually dominant tuberose.

The base, except for the afore-mentioned orris, is not evident to my nose.
Very nice fruity suede effect. Still available online from private sellers.

Top notes: Bergamot, Peach
Heart notes: Herbs, Labdanum, Heliotrope, Tuberose, Cherry Liqueur, Plum
Base notes: Sandalwood, Suede (Orris), Oak Moss, Patchouli, Vanilla, Vetiver, Amber
08th September, 2017

Duo D'Orsay by D'Orsay

DUO by D’Orsay (1928)

Although the house never belonged to the Count d'Orsay himself, his perfumes and the romantic air of his name gave birth to the Compagnie Francaise des Parfums d'Orsay, founded in 1908 with the goal to preserve the Count's perfume heritage and develop an aristocratic luxury perfume house on its basis. Many of the perfumes developed in this great perfume house were designed for men.

Top notes: Neroli, Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Lemon
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Carnation, Clove, Honeysuckle, Ylang Ylang
Base notes: Sandalwood, Musk, Tonka Bean, Ambergris, Vanilla

There is a sparkling citrus opening, immediately followed by the floral mix, dominated by the rich rose and the spicy carnation. The base gives the impression of a fragrant leather, dark and smoky, although there are no notes to indicate this. I get the feeling of being in an automobile with well-worn leather upholstery, which has been host over its years to all sorts of fabrics, scents and floral bouquet deliveries.

Duo is an extremely self-assured scent, in the tradition of the contemporary creations of the house of Weil, designed for wearing with and on fur apparel. It is unisex by today’s standards and is very worth seeking out. It is well represented on the internet as of this writing from private sellers.

07th September, 2017

Les Violettes du Loup by Molinard


Violette was originally launched in 1917 by Molinard as Les Violettes du Loup, and is a floral, earthy, woody, musky fragrance. This rare and highly collectible perfume is made from the real thing, violet flowers and violet leaves. Re-formulated in 1994 with synthetics.

Violet leaf lends a cut grass and sliced cucumber note to fragrances, quite different from the sweet and powdery scent of violet flowers. Egypt is a major producer of violet leaf absolute today. The leaf is an exceptional addition to the perfumer’s palette and synthetics do not offer the same diffusion or colour. Along with galbanum it also offers the only other natural green tint that can be used in perfumery.

Today there is no sufficient cost-effective oil from the violet flower and perfumers routinely use synthetic molecules, called ionones, to render the violet note. The violet leaf note does yield a different oil, which can be used, but the effect is different.

Above historical information on this scent provided by perfumista and collector, Alexandra Star.

Top notes: Violet; Iris
Heart notes: Violet Leaf; Orris Root
Base notes: Heliotrope; Musk

This is quite a different violet scent, being strongly influenced by the dry suede note of orris root. One is reminded very much of Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist in its concentration of orris. The pure violet leaf oil provides a green freshness that does not hinder the true oil of the violet flower from floating over all.

The effect is that of violet oil having been rubbed into a suede jacket. At once green, powdery and dry, this is a very sophisticated and modern scent, which would be quite unisex and quite at home today in the upper echelons of fashion. Molinard would turn to the violet again in 1935 and yet again in 1994, but the second is more traditional in its feminine powdery violet sensation and the latest is all chemicals, more “suggested” than an actual experience of violet.

This is a very unique violet and worth seeking out among private collectors.
06th September, 2017

Partir by Roger & Gallet

R&G – PARTIR (1927)

Launched in 1927, Partir is classified as an oriental feminine floral.

Top notes: Grapefruit, Orange Blossom, Bergamot
Heart notes: Violet, Rose, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine
Base notes: Amber, Benzoin, Cajput, Myrrh, Frankincense, Ambergris

An odd name for a scent – partir means either the verb “to go” or is a command to go.

This is a rich, deep, fragrance, almost verging on the chypre genre, but with no bitterness or earthiness. Partir is so gorgeous one wishes one could eat it with a spoon. I have never experienced Cajput, so am not aware of what it adds to the blend, but research tells me it has a camphor-like quality.

The base notes are beautifully woven and balanced around the florals. This reminds me of many of the perfumes of the House of Weil, whose scents were designed to be worn on and with furs.

It is a shame that this has been long discontinued as it certainly ranks as one of the best florals I have experienced. Luckily, it is still available from private sellers on the internet. Since it has never been revived, one can be assured of vintage when buying.

Very worth seeking out for all lovers of vintage floral fragrances.
06th September, 2017

Five Fleurs by Forvil

FORVIL – 5 FLEURS (1926)

Parfums Florvil opened its doors in 1922, closing in 1969, having launched 20 scents. A number were produced in flacons created by Lalique.

Leo Fink, owner and director of a toothpaste brand, “Doctor Pierre Toothpaste,” created Forvil perfumes. The brand was responsible for a number of best sellers, including Poeme (1954), Les Yeux Doux, A Vos Ordres and Trois Valses (all three from 1937) and 5 Fleurs (1926).

Les 5 Fleurs is described as a sweet green floral for women. The Lalique bottle is beautifully etched with flowers.

Top notes: Bergamot, Neroli, Lemon
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Ylang, Sweet Pea, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Sandalwood, Musk, Vanilla, Ambergris

Sweet it is. The combination of sweet orange flower and the bitter compliment of neroli burst out of the bottle, reminiscent of 4711 and a few other top range eau de colognes of the 18th and 19th centuries. The citrus burst is aided by the bergamot and lemon contingent.

The five flowers in question form a mélange, but to my nose, none are able to really conquer the strong opening of orange flower and neroli. They settle back to a dry green accord, aided by the base notes. The effect is what is referred to often in perfumerie as a “soapy note.” Reminiscent of a splash of floral and citrus “toilet water” from milady’s boudoir.

It is quite simple and quite lovely. One can still find it inexpensively on the internet from private sellers.
05th September, 2017

Bouquet de Faunes by Guerlain


The 1920s saw a number of Parisian perfumes created as a tribute to Claude Debussy and his tone poem, Prelude A L’Apres-Midi D’Un Faune (Prelude To The Afternoon of a Faun). These were deep, dark, animalic chypres, keeping in mind Coty’s famous Chypre ingredients (bergamot, oak moss, labdanum) and attempting to replicate this effect with the animalic notes of civet, musk, ambergris and castorium added to the mix. The results were dark, moist, earthy and carnal.

Among these are Molinard’s Le Baiser du Faune (Kiss of a Faun) (1929), Blondell’s La Faune Des Bois (1928), and the Holy Grail and instigator of the tribute to that mythological creature (half boy, half goat), Guerlain’s Bouquet de Faunes (1922), which at this writing is the most expensive vintage scent in the world.

The container for this creation is a masterpiece of Lalique creativity. An urn with three sculptures of heads of fauns surrounding the top, with the urn itself poised atop a pedestal. The empty urns themselves have been selling for thousands of dollars. The scent, created by Jacques Guerlain himself, is nearly impossible to locate.

Top notes: Neroli, Suede (Orris), Jasmine
Heart notes: Iris, Marjoram, Lavender, Amber, Carnation, Rose, Ylang, Geranium, Violet, Rosewood
Base notes: Musk, Costus, Leather, Tonka, Vanilla, Tobacco, Civet, Castoreum, Vetiver, Patchouli

This is a rather indescribable scent, totally unique in my experience. The bottle sniff is one of spicy carnation, but once it is applied to the body, it is quite different. Warm, deep, earthy, yes, but with no sharp or strong effects as one might have expected from the animal notes. It has the effect of a very concentrated powder or a very well cured leather. The musky evidence of costus combines with generous amounts of orris to carry the scent through a long and close to the skin dry down.

Bouquet is a very personal scent, almost an emanation of one’s own body oils captured in a bottle. Deeply saturated florals with an almost fur-like concentration of resins and animalics – a totally original creation from a master perfumer.

Even if it were still available it would probably cost a small fortune in today’s market. Do, however, mortgage your home if you have to, to experience this. All true lovers of vintage perfume owe it to yourselves.

04th September, 2017

Geoffrey Beene by Geoffrey Beene

This is almost entirely immortelle, that garum masala, burnt caramel scent made so famous by Goutal with their Sables.

It has a very green side to it, which is emphasized, as it was in Millot's Insolent. It is a unique scent that most people will find intriguing, although that intrique can wear thin over time.

For those into immortelle, it is certainly more affordable than the Goutal and just as redolent. Wears strongly and with good longevity. Best worn outside for a sporty event.

Green, uplifting, with a reed-like dryness (artemisia?) underlying its structure.

Well done!
03rd September, 2017

Heure Intime by Vigny


Vigny was quite strongly associated with both Dana and Molyneux. His perfumes were designed by both Jacques Vogel and his brother Lucien. The business opened in 1919 and closed in 1974.

The original bottles, now sought after by collectors, were made by Baccarat and Lalique, presented in beautiful artistic ways devised by Charles Martin.

Heure Intime is an intensely rich, sweet and feminine concoction, hardly unisex by any standard. It is best worn by a young woman of sophistication for an evening out. Although it makes its presence known, it is at the same time a subtle fragrance. This gives it its unique projection, both light and strong at the same time. The muguet, carnation and lilac provide a strong, interwoven base for the soft florals to weave in and out of.

Top notes: Neroli, Orange Blossom, Bergamot, Muguet
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Carnation, Lilac
Base notes: Sandalwood, Musk, Vanilla, Ambergris, Vetiver

Still available on the Internet from private sellers and very worth experiencing.

03rd September, 2017

Velivole by Piver


Velivole by LT Piver was launched in 1910; other sources claim 1912, 1913 as the launch date. Velivole is the French word for "soaring" or “gliding.”

The perfume was presented in a clear crystal flacon manufactured by Baccarat (flacon model number 75). The bottle was beautifully decorated with gilded etching, which included the name Velivole.
L. T. Piver was one of the five greatest Parisian based perfume houses of the 19th century. Originating in 1774, they became best known from 1823 until the early 20th century, creating over a hundred scents from 1850 through 1930. The company closed in the 1930s, but has recently been revived with a few dozen of their original scents and labels, but the results have been all chemical-laden, smelling little like their originals, with some of the blends actually giving a burning sensation to the skin.
This is an original parfum from the earliest release. The scent is light and sweet, very spring-like. No note tree is available, but I can detect the usual rose, jasmine mix with the green of muguet and/or galbanum. Neroli adds the sweetness with its orange note. The base seems the usual trio of amber, sandalwood and vanilla.
A very feminine scent and for a young woman. The green notes gently hold in the other florals from emanating too strong a sweetness. Quite delightful and happily still available on the internet from private sellers.

02nd September, 2017

L'Ardente Nuit by Corday

CORDAY – L’Ardente Nuit (1930)

Released in 1930, Corday’s L’Ardente Nuit (“The Fiery Night”), is classified as an oriental fragrance for women. It was intended to be worn with rich fabrics and furs.

It was released in a beautiful tapered bottle with a fan-shaped stopper. One ounce of parfum sold for $18 in a 1936 advertisement.

Top: Neroli, Bergmot, Muguet
Heart: Cinnamon, Clove, Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine
Base: Tonka, Musk, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Vanilla, Civet, Ambergris

With its emphasis on orange, cinnamon and clove, I was expecting something like a medieval pomander ball, but no, the cleverest of balances keeps these notes, extreme on their own, well in check.

This is a fragrant floral mélange with a very subtle spicy, warm base, at times recalling a soft leather glove effect. Not an “oriental” in today’s perfume nomenclature, as the spice notes are not center stage, but certainly worthy of being called so at the time of its release, as it does invoke a deep, exotic impression. Hardly ardent in any sense of the word, though.

Timing of release just following the stock market crash may have been beneficial for those still able to afford perfume as L’Ardente Nuit has a reassuring, safe haven feel about it. Still available from private sellers on line and worth seeking out.
01st September, 2017

Violetta di Parma by Borsari


Borsari had perhaps the greatest number of scents based on the violet flower in perfumery. His Violetta di Parma originated in 1870 and was re-released in 1920. It is this pure parfum I will be reviewing below.

Borsari then went on to give us: Bouquet di Violette in 1890; Violetta Classica in 1928; Vera Violetta di Parma in 1940; and since then at least two (Borsari di Violetta and Miss Violet) for which I have no release dates.

The violet flower was first distilled by the monks at the Monastery of the Annunciata. The natural essence was created for Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma and second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, the woman he married to secure his throne by marrying into the Hapsburg dynasty. [Pauvre Desiree Clary, pauvre Marie Waleska; pauvre Josephine Beauharnais].

This distillation occurred somewhere between 1791 and 1847, her life span. Ludovico Borsari obtained the formula from the Annunciata and created his first violet scent in 1870. This was, unusually for the times to follow, not the simple combination of violet flower, violet leaf and orris, but a more elaborate formula, which added to these three ingredients the following: rose, jasmine, muguet, hyacinth, heliotrope, vetiver, musk and vanilla.

The result is the effect of the pure flower, dusty, dry and soft. There is no sweetness, nor darkness here, just a dainty and jaunty presence. Simplicity itself.

Borsari is still selling on the open market a scent entitled Violetta di Parma, but I imagine, though I have not sampled it, it is a modern chemical creation, suggesting violet. It seems quite popular and is well reviewed.

However, one can never better the use of pure oils in vintage formulae. Look for the vintage Borsari di Parma. You can still find it on the Internet.
31st August, 2017

Nikys / Byzance by Grenoville

Grenoville – Byzance (1926)

Little is known about the House of Grenoville. It was established in 1879, won a silver medal in 1925, and produced 53 scents from 1909 (Jasmin Blanc) to 1971 (XX Vincent). Its first bottles were housed in Baccarat designs.

Byzance is a floral fragrance for women, noted for its tuberose. It was released in 1926 under the name Nikys, but this was changed a year later to Byzance. The only other fragrance with this name is the famous Rochas Byazance. The name translates to Byzantium, the ancient civilization, and denotes in French “the height of luxury.”

Grenoville’s Byzance was its best selling fragrance, followed by Casanova (1929).

Top Notes: Bergamot, Mimosa, Heliotrope, Tuberose, Muguet
Heart Notes: Broom, Rosewood, Tobacco, Lemon Grass
Base Notes: Amber, Benzoin, Musk, Sandalwood.

Tuberose is the star here, front and center. Muguet gives it some greenery, but a fine tuberose oil carries with it its own green elements, as does a fine jasmine oil. The musk, sandalwood and amber soften the tuberose, but never take away from its star turn. It’s more a question of lighting, giving the tuberose warmth and a bit of dryness as it develops. The mimosa and heliotrope are too delicate for my nose to detect against the tuberose. Likewise, I get none of the heart notes, but it is interesting to note that they are there, contributing in some way.

Perhaps they are other players on the stage, but our nose is always riveted to the tuberose and is hardly aware of the others and their subtle contributions.

An odd choice of a name, since Byzantium conjurs for me the mystique of the orient, so one would expect an oriental perfume, surrounded by exotic spices and resins.

Definitely one for lovers of the voluptuous queen of white florals and worth seeking out.

Several bottles are available on the Internet as I write.
31st August, 2017

Amador by De Trévise

De Trevise – AMADOR (1920)

The following historical information on the development of “leather” in parfumerie and on deTrevise and its Amador in particular is provided by and used with the permission of perfumista and collector, Alexandra Star. My review follows.

De Trévise, also known as Detrévise, is an obscure parfumerie now, but was once well known in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. The de Trevise Parfumerie was also known as the Parfumerie Royal, because the company purveyed their products to the royal courts.

Amador De Trévise was launched in 1920, and was presented in a stylish black glass bottle that was disk shaped, with gilded lines radiating from a circle in the center (reminiscent of Guerlain’s presentation of its Vol de Nuit), and it sports a beautiful demilune stopper or bouchon, made of gilded black glass.

Amador De Tréviseis is a Peau d'Espagne or Spanish leather perfume. ‘Amador' means ‘Lover’ in Spanish. British sexologist Havelock Ellis esteemed Peau d'Espagne as "a highly complex and luxurious perfume, often the favorite scent of sensuous persons" and noted that "it is said by some, probably with a certain degree of truth, that Peau d'Espagne is of all perfumes that which most nearly approaches the odor of a woman's skin."

Historically, leather is one of the earliest notes in perfumery, rooted in the tradition of Gantiers Parfumeurs, a guild of Parisian glove makers who made leather gloves for the aristocracy. According to the fashion of the 16th century, the gloves were perfumed with oils, musk, ambergris and civet, to mask the scent of animal skin.

Much of the trend for Spanish Leather and Russian Leather or Cuir perfumes also arose from the great furriers of the day, who created Cuir perfumes to hide the smell of freshly tanned furs and hides. In the 1920s, a time when leather parfums proliferated, one of Coco Chanel's lovers was Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia, the cousin of Tsar Nicholas II, and, according to Chanel's biographer Justine Picardie, the Chanel Cuir de Russie was the "bottled ... essence of her romance with the Grand Duke.”

The first officially documented leather scent, Creed’s Royal English Leather (1781), was worn by King George III. Creed himself began as a royal glove maker.

In addition to the Chanel and Creed, other notable leathers have been: Guerlain’s Cuir de Russie (1872); Lubin’s Peau d’Espagne (1890) Roger & Gallet’s Peau d’Espagne (1895); Santa Maria Novella’s Peau d’Espagne (1901); Lancome’s Revolte (1936); Piver’s Cuir de Russie (1939);

Amador boasts the following note tree:

Top notes: Orange Blossom, Bergamot, Mandarin, Clary Sage
Heart notes: Iris, Jasmine, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla, Tobacco, Cassie
Base notes: Birch, Juniper, Myrtle, Labdanum, Castoreum, Cade Oil, Styrax, Cistus

My review: I have had little interaction with Spanish Leather. Most of my leather scent exposure has been to Russian Leather, which my nose detects goes in two directions: the soft sweet leather, reminiscent of automobile upholstery or thin French/Italian leather jackets; the birch tar laden combo with animalic extracts. The first is unisex; the second is completely and solely masculine.

I have known two Spanish Leathers: the Trumper is so spice laden, one can hardly detect any hint of leather at all; Santa Maria Novella’s is dark and dry, bitter, herbal, resinous, strong, black, smoky, meaty. What will this very rare Amador from deTrevise be like?

Well, like neither. It is quite civilized, reminiscent more of Guerlain’s 1870 Cuir de Russie, with no overtly dominant notes, just very well blended. Hard to believe all the notes in the note tree are involved to produce such a smooth and subtle scent. It is certainly unisex by today’s standards. It is dry, smooth and mellow. The birch tar is evident, but very restrained by softer notes such as the vanilla and tobacco. Castoreum, styrax and cistus provide the animalic presence, but these float in the background, letting us know they are there without rudely over-stating their presence.

There is an ambergris note that is not listed, but this may be due to the myrtle and cade, neither of which I know as an individual scent.

Too bad this is discontinued and rare. It would make a beautiful, sophisticated modern leather choice. Luckily, one can still find it for sale from private collectors. One very much to seek out for lovers of leather.
30th August, 2017

Transparence by Houbigant


I recently came across a one ounce parfum bottle of Transparence and wanted to say something about it. However, this proves next to impossible. There is practically nothing on the Internet about it. My five go-to collectors sites only tell me that it was discontinued in 1958 and that is was billed as being “bright, youthful and sporty.”

This is hardly the case when it comes to describing my bottle. A very rich, deep rosy chypre greets my nose, very plummy and dark. This is one to grace the furs of the 1940s.

There is of course rose and jasmine in the mix, but it’s the base that stands out. Animalic civet and ambergris ground this beautifully, and the amber is to die for. Tonka and vanilla soften it.

A perfume for the likes of Garbo and Dietrich, warm, sensual and very feminine, although in today’s world, the right man could get away with this. Practically impossible to find and impossible to afford once you find it, it is still one to look out for if you are into great chypres of the early 20th century.

29th August, 2017