Perfume Reviews

Reviews by JackTwist

Total Reviews: 1254

Devon Violets by Aidees


Aidees’ Devon Violets marketed in the UK under its own name and also did a thriving business for US based department stores, allowing them (such as R. H. Stearns of Boston, MA and Wanamaker’s of Philadelphia, PA) to release their scents under the stores’ names. The flacons were the same in all cases, lovely round clear bottles with white and yellow flowers, along with green stems and leaves, painted on the exteriors.

Devon Violets perfume is made from real violet flowers and leaves. Production began in 1880, and faded out around the time of WW II. In addition to its Devon Violets, Aidees also released Cornish Violets, Welsh Violets, Sussex Violets and Scotch Heather.

My stoppered bottle of parfum opens with a very strong concentration of violet, somewhat sharp, experienced only one other time with the Egyptian Shimy Brothers’ violet oil of the 1920s. Soon however the sharpness diffuses and I am left with a still strong, but now very true and beautiful violet scent. I do not find this powdery or “old lady” at all. There may be some orris present as well, lending it a soft suede impression.

Happily, one can still find these beautiful bottles of Devon Violets for sale on line from private sellers. It is one of the very best soliflore representations I have ever experienced and I highly recommend it for all lovers of violet.
21st November, 2017

Feu de Bengale by J. Lesquendieu

Although just recently (2015) the house of Lesquendieu has been revived with five released scents, sporting names from the original line, there is no indication if an attempt has been made to totally recreate the older fragrances, or simply go with new concoctions and attach old names to them.

Lesquendieu, for the record, released 21 scents between 1900 and 1953. The year for Feu de Bengale is not given in the Perfume Encyclopedia listings.

I have a bottle of vintage Bengale and can report that the first impression if of rose, amber and musk. This remains linear. The scent is quite strong and in my olfactory memory is almost identical to Raphael’s Replique of the 1940s.

For the record the note tree for Replique consists of:

Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Cardamom, Neroli, Coriander, Clary Sage

Heart: Ylang, Muguet, Jasmine, Mimosa, Tuberose, Heliotrope, Coumarin

Base: Oak Moss, Olibanum, Amber, Musk, Vetiver, Patchouli

As such, it is one of the most memorable and extraordinary floral chypres of the past century, one of my personal favorites, rich and sumptuous. Its unique scent has up until now been unchallenged. Not knowing the date release of Bengale, one can’t know for certain who copied whom.

Still, if you find vintage Bengale, be aware you are really buying Replique under a different name.
20th November, 2017

Jasmiralda by Guerlain

It is unclear why Guerlain had the urge to create a scent in honor of Victor Hugo’s gypsy heroine of Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) in the year 1917. The novel debuted in 1831 and although there was an early 1911 silent film version, the two other silent versions (Esmeralda and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) were not released until, respectively, 1922 and 1923.

This gorgeous scent opens with a fresh blast of jasmine and vanilla, sweetly intertwined, and oddly reminiscent of the luscious L’Heure Bleue of five years earlier. The rose is supportive, never intrusive, as are the lovely violet and musk. The orange notes of neroli and orange blossom add to the initial sweet impression.

The stars are however the jasmine and the vanilla/tonka bean combo, which continue to weave their way through the heart and dry down, where the civet mischievously joins to add an animalic impression, bringing this already luscious parfum into the realm of sexual intrigue.

A quite superb Guerlain creation, particularly for those who are fond of jasmine and vanilla, but also for those in love with L’Heure Bleue.
19th November, 2017
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Hiris by Hermès

Hermes Hiris is a rival in my list of olfactory delights to Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist. A blast of purely beautiful, dry, suede-like orris greets the nose on first exposure. This deepens, but slowly, with the coriander and hay notes very subtly supporting the orris. The reserved use of the cedar and almond woods gives it a slight edge, but never permits it to become bitter or off-putting.

I await the honey and vanilla dry down, but for me it never arrives. No matter, I am happy with what I have.

Orris based scents, when properly done, are entirely unisex, in my opinion. Depending on body chemistry the genre can seem cold and aloof, or warm and earthy. Hiris seems equally at home with both men and women.

As a rival to Iris Silver Mist, Hiris comes out ahead due to its very affordable price in comparison with the Lutens, and its availability since the Lutens has up until recently only been available as an import from Europe.

To summarize one of the very best iris based scents available, expertly balanced and blended and a joy to own.

18th November, 2017

Le Baisier du Faune by Molinard

The short-lived craze in the 1920s to create animalic chypres, devoted to the image of the mythical Greek faun, did spawn an iconic scent, Guerlain’s Bouquet de Faunes, perhaps their greatest achievement and today the most sought after of all their discontinued scents. This devotion centered around Debussy’s ballet and tone poem, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, as choreographed by Diaghilev and danced by Nijinksy.

Molinard’s interpretation is a complex mixture of heady florals and strong animalics. In fact the four standard animalics of perfumery (civet, musk, castoreum and ambergris) are all outstandingly present.

Upon applying, the ambergris is very strong, but is soon tempered by the other base notes. Sandalwood is practically lost to the animalic quartet. However, the beautiful floral quintet of rose, jasmine, ylang, muguet and gardenia does manage to lighten the effect somewhat and subtract from the over all heaviness of the base to balance the blend.

A very beautiful chypre, although not in the singular class of the Guerlain masterpiece. The Molinard is still very much worth seeking out for lovers of vintage perfume.

17th November, 2017

Origan by Valory

There is very little information available about the house of Valory (not to be confused with the house of Valroy with 8 scents released in 1900).

Valory seemingly created one scent, Origan, in 1928.

The original was of course Coty’s 1905 creation. In the early 1920s Myrurgia and D’Orsay both created versions. I was unaware until the past summer that indeed almost 50 “Origan” perfumes have been released since the Coty original (the Perfume Encyclopedia lists 47).

It is also interesting to note that the name “origan” translates to the herb, “oregano,” yet the original formula contains no herbal oils whatsoever. The “effect” of the formula notes, the “impression,” was that of a spicy herbal note, but no herbs were actually part of the formula.

The following quoted paragraphs are from an article currently on Basenotes, concerning the recent recreation of the Coty original and are presented here as background information.

“According to perfumer and perfumery historian Will Inrig, the ‘origan’ accord is a combination of several key materials: bergamot, neroli, linalool, benzyl acetate, jasmine, methyl anthranilate, carnation (itself a base made of ylang ylang, eugenol and iso-eugenol), rose, bouvardia (a base of methyl ionone, cinnamic alcohol and hydroxycitronellal), and amber (resinoids combined with coumarin and vanillin). It was widely used in perfumery, much like amber, chypre and fougère accords. That is “until perfumers started calling the genre ‘floral orientals’ in the 1970s.”

From: Ostrom: Perfume: A Century of Scents

“L’Origan is perhaps more important in perfume history than any of Coty’s other creations. It gave birth to the floral oriental (or floriental) family, based around the sweet powder of orange blossom and heliotrope with the spice of nutmeg and clove. Ostrom tells us in her book, Perfume: A Century of Scents, that “L’Origan was such a hallmark because, as well as being available as an extract and eau de toilette, it was used to fragrance numerous other products, becoming the smell of the pursuit of beauty itself. In particular L’Origan went into an early deodorant powder […] and, later on, Coty’s famous Air Spun face powder.” It was the precursor to Guerlain’s beloved L’Heure Bleue, beloved by perfumistas around the world for its old-world magic.”

Comparing the notes for the original Coty composition and the D’Orsay, which I reviewed recently, I note that the original Coty top notes were Bergamot and Neroli, to which D’Orsay added Mandarin, Coriander, Pepper and Peach. To Coty’s heart notes of Carnation, Jasmine, Rose, Violet and Ylang Ylang, D’Orsay added Orris and Orchid. To complete the expansion of the note tree, Coty’s original base of Coumarin, Vanilla, Iralia and Dianthene wer augmented by D’Orsay with Cedar wood, Sandalwood, Benzoin, Musk and Labdanum.

So, D’Orsay incorporated all of Coty’s original notes, but expanded the profiles, making their take (Royale Origan) even more complex and rich.

Now, coming to the Valory, we find a concentration of animalic notes, more evident than the floral. I detect cumin, civet, amber, vanilla and a very dry musk. This is a personal body scent with the over all effect of sweat (in a good sexy way) and leather. I would classify it more as a leather chypre than a floriental.

It is quite unique in my olfactory experience and a real “turn on” for those into leather and animalic chypres. I will now be searching the internet for more of this gem. Highly recommended and worth seeking out.
15th November, 2017

Kobako by Bourjois

Kobako was launched in 1936, and is classified as a Chypre Floral fragrance for women. The nose behind this fragrance is Ernest Beaux, the same perfumer who created Chanel No. 5. Kobako is Japanese for "Scent Box," which often contained incense, powders and oils.

Top notes: Bergamot, Neroli, Vanilla, Jasmine, Rose
Heart notes: Magnolia, Galbanum, Cloves, Cinnamon, Carnation, Tonka Bean, Lily
Base notes: Civet, Benzoin, Frankincense, Amber, Oak Moss, Musk, Leather

My sample is of the vintage and unlike the other review here from the Osmotheque, this contains no impressions of suede, leather or cinnamon that stand out as such. My impression is that of an enormous floral melange, the overpowering combo that in today's terms, is designated as an "old lady's perfume." This is not a chypre.

Therefore, I am baffled. Osmotheque should be definitive, but the reality of what I am inhaling has nothing to do with that description. Bottom line:
an old-fashioned "big" feminine floral. Decent, but not remarkable to my way of thinking.
31st October, 2017

Tabac by L.T. Piver

Piver’s Tabac is listed in the Perfume Encyclopedia as the very first scent on record named for “tobacco.” This would mean that it outdistanced the former record holder, Roger and Gallet, whose 1910 Cigalia has been considered the first in this arena, by a decade.

I have obtained a one ounce bottle of parfum in an early 20th century sealed presentation and am now trying to comprehend it.

The bottle sniff tells me it is a leather, not a tobacco, scent, smelling as Piver’s Cuir de Russie does. Yet their CdR was not released until 1939. Once applied to the skin it has more of a fougere feel to it, though not of the typical fougere blend. It is very light and sweetly dry, so tobacco leaf could certainly have been its source. It does not have the cherry pipe tobacco scent Cigalia, Habanita, and other “tobacco” scents have.

So, although it broke new ground, it is not as densely concentrated as either Cigalia or Habanita (1921) or the many other “tobaccos” that followed. It must have been designed for men, since ladies did not smoke, at least not in public, in 1900. Tabac Blond was twenty years down the road.

The dry down, in its blend of leather and tobacco, is a softly smoky scent, worn close to the skin, as of a leather pouch holding torn tobacco leaves. Very interesting to my nose and were the formula known, very worth a revival.

Highly recommended if you can find it.

28th October, 2017

L'Heure de Nuit by Guerlain

I am a big fan of L'Heure Bleue and recently became a big fan of Apres L'Ondee, both uniquely related in a fragrance category which seems to only exist in the world of Guerlain. After 1246 Basenotes reviews, I could safely say I have never found another scent that resembles either of these two icons.

Now, however, Guerlain itself has produced a third. L'Heure de Nuit begins with a dry anise predominating the initial impression. Then begins a very close approximaton to the original L'Heure Bleue. Nuit has far fewer ingredients than Bleue, but only the peach is "new." All others were part of the original Bleue formula (18 ingredients as compared with Nuit's 10).

Nuit is therefore less complex than Bleue, but close enough to approximate Bleue's effect to a lesser degree. The question is why would one want to pay three times the price for Nuit, when Bleue is better and less expensive?

The projection is great and the longevity excellent. A perfectly lovely homage to the original, but if anything, Nuit should be less expensive than Bleue in order to attract an appropriate audience.
27th October, 2017

L'Art et la Matière : Bois d'Arménie by Guerlain

I too would swear that there is a great deal of pure vanilla in Bois, although not part of the note tree. I have never encountered Copahu balm, so cannot speak to its influence here.

Whatever gaiac wood is present, it never intrudes, thank goodness, as I can not stand the heavy use of both this and oud in modern scents. I'd swear there is myrrh present as well, but perhaps it is the Copahu I am smelling.

Bois is amazingly rounded and sumptuously subtle. Guerlain once again reveals its masterly blending techniques. The over all effect is that of an incense vanilla with a slightly sweet dry quality, very restrained, very beautiful, and one of the very few modern incense scents (outside of the Serge Lutens line) that I have admired. More masculine than unisex to my sensibilities.

Bravo Guerlain! The first modern Guerlain for which I would consider shelling out the cash for a bottle purchase.
26th October, 2017

Les Elixirs Charnels - Floral Romantique by Guerlain

What can Guerlain be thinking, naming a series after a "house of death where bodies are deposited." This is the meaning of "charnel." Seems like shooting yourself in the pied, as a negative marketing tool. However, the perfume world has gone mad, so another lunatic fringe will hardly be noticed.

Floral Romantique is a light, clean breeze filled with some mighty powerful floral notes, very much toned down. Tiare is the South Seas gardenia. Ylang, lily and jasmine are strong white flowers as well. Very little of them seems to be used. One gets hints without experiencing fully. I get no orange or mandarin notes, nor spicy carnation. None of the base notes are evident.

This is almost an aquatic with light white florals added for interest.
It's pleasant, but noncommittal and hardly worth the price.

25th October, 2017

Coup de Feu by Marquay

Coup de Feu (1959): Translated as “Gun shot,” Coup de Feu is described as an exotic oriental. My nose regards it as a green floral with muguet and galbanum prominent. A somewhat laid back rose is given some bitterness with a combination of vetiver and oakmoss. As it develops, it becomes dark and plummy with sandalwood, amber and civet.

It has a certain metallic quality at the outst, which may just be the playful pun on the name, attempting to emulate gun powder freshly exploded. The vetiver and galbanum may give it this brief edge before it relaxes.

Interesting, but not great.
24th October, 2017

Les Déserts d'Orient - Encens Mythique d'Orient by Guerlain

Basically made up of base notes with rose and saffron added to lighten and intrigue, this is an "incense" scent, with frankincense at its center. The saffron gives it its edge and the amber rounds it out. Patchouli and vetiver are delicately supportive. The whole thing is very well balanced as one would expect from a Guerlain product.

However, I am not terrifically impressed. It's well done, but with so many incense products available, there are so many others as well done or better, primarily in the Serge Lutens lines, that Mythique does not break any new or intriguing ground.

Well done, but a bit pricey for what it delivers.
24th October, 2017
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Impact by Marquay

Impact (1950): This is a very light, sweet floral mélange, combining jasmine and honeysuckle with a touch of green muguet, violet and velvety dry orris.

There is an uplifting fizziness to it, ala champagne bubbles. It is feminine in nature, but unisex by today’s standards. A lovely, light, fragrant rose hovers over all in the extensive dry down. Very shy and retiring, but very pleasant.

The House of Marquay flourished between 1946 and 1959. Little is known of it other than it had two hits with L'Elu and Prince Douka. Early bottles were created by both Dali and Baccarat.
23rd October, 2017

L'Art et la Matière : Angelique Noire by Guerlain

Fresh and green, dry and slightly bitter, Angelique Noire begins nicely with an artemisia-like quality, conjuring dry beach grass blowing in the wind.

The vanilla slowly makes itself known, paired with a sweetly refined jasmine as the heart takes over. The cedarwood is used sparingly, simply to anchor the scent, not to overwhelm it as some bases can with such delicate heart notes.

This is lovely as a summer scent, making one smell fresh as a summer breeze and just as light and effervescent. For me it is the jasmine that is the star, not the angelica. Very unisex and a delightfully different and uplifting addition to the Guerlain roster. Recommended.
23rd October, 2017

Chamade pour Homme by Guerlain

Spicy and smooth, Chamade Pour Homme reminds me a great deal of Bel Ami without the heaviness of the latter. It is after all a Guerlain.

The nutmeg may be accompanied by a bit of unidentified cinnamon, as the spice effect is sweet rather than bitter. There is a bit of Oud in the "precious woods," for this re-release, but not enough to turn me off to it.

My nose does not detect the floral note of hyacinth, which surprises me, as it is one of my very favorite florals and I surround myself with the flowering plants every spring. Identifiable to me or not, the floral sweetness combines well with the spice notes.

An excellent masculine, not outstanding in any way, but perfectly decent. One wonders why it had to re-use the classic "Chamade" tag, and not just stand on its own. Worth a sniff.
22nd October, 2017

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

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

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 most successful 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

JackTwist notes a surprising carnation note that is not listed but that provides the "new leather" impression in the opening, soon settling down to a darker leather.
19th September, 2017 (last edited: 23rd October, 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

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