This was the very first scent I ever wore on a regular basis - my voice teacher brought me back a little vial from France when I was 13! But that was the original formulation, back in 1961. I wore it as my "signature" fragrance until it suddenly became almost impossible to buy in the US - sometime in the 1990s, I think. (I switched to Lancome's Magie Noir, but that's another story.)
When I went looking for a new "signature" fragrance last year, I tried something that came in a familiar bottle labeled "Arpege". Alas, it wasn't at all what I remembered, and it smelled terrible on me. Why did they do that?
On me, this smells like a baby diaper if that baby ate nothing but jasmine. And yet I love it.
It goes fecal on me in the best possible way, dry, thick, indole, raspy, cold and dressy. It smells so vintage to me that it comes across as modern.
This could be said of Fracas as well, but on me Fracas is a screeching, needy, diva, attention-whore. Arpege, with its similarity to First by VC&A is more refined, confident and romantic.
It makes me feel rich.
Poor Arpège. As a dark, weighty, floral chypre, it belongs to a fragrance genre now so out of fashion as to be positively gauche. It lands on the skin potent and massive, arriving quickly at its central structure of a thick, rose-dominated floral accord and deep spices (the pyramid lists coriander, I smell cinnamon and nutmeg,) over an intense, earthy chypre. To contemporary sensibilities this sort of composition is liable to smell ponderous, “perfumey,” and hopelessly dated, but it’s really a better scent than that, and deserves to be judged on its own terms.
Even when met with an open mind, Arpège has a conspicuously awkward episode in its early development. Not long after application the floral accord mounts an enormous crescendo, during which an unfortunate combination of waxy aldehydes and a crudely artificial rose note makes for an embarrassingly crass, dowdy impression, the olfactory equivalent of Edna Turnblad answering the door in her housecoat. (I’m talking the Divine version here, not the scrubbed and sanitized John Travolta.) Then, somewhere between a half an hour and an hour’s air time, a sweet, smooth amber settles in to bind the ingredients and tilt the composition into balance. What remains is an appealingly spicy and somewhat sweet oriental-tinged chypre, that while still bulky and opaque, nevertheless manages a staid brand of poise and grace in motion.
The remainder of Arpège’s stay is very pleasant, especially once the ambery, mossy drydown sets in. In fact, the drydown exudes such elegance and understatement that the earlier clumsiness is forgiven, if not entirely forgotten. For those tolerant of its anachronistic style and patient enough to experience Arpège in its entirety, this grand old survivor offers some tempting pleasures.
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Lanvin – Arpege(pre-formulation)
A clean and tight perfume with a 'classic' structure that’s floating by like the Titanic on open sea - majestic and gracious. It got a compressed and concentrated feel about its aromatics with a great balance between flavour-efficiency and airy-expression; accelerating slowly with a smooth, trapless transmission from top, to mid and base. Very fresh and full flowery-flavored with the main-stage being taken by tuberose, beautifully accompanied by an orchestra of the other flowers, glowing and pulsating their flowery notes, dressing up the tuberose. It floats on a resinous-creamy sandalwood/patchouli/vanilla-base with powdery-iris and greeny notes: which already projects its light and warmth in this perfumes’ early start. Arpege is an incredible harmonious and very smooth blended perfume with a powerful, yet very elegant flow to it - never hurried, always in a constant pace that shows grace and dignity, wrapped in a mystical mist of knowing where its heading. A poetic masterpiece with no weak points and due to exquisite blending far more ‘easy’ smelling than how complex Arpege in reality is.
This rich, resinous, warm glow of a fragrance, is like the olfactory interpretation of a black, velvet cocktail dress. It's a theatrical, grande dame of a fragrance, with memorable personality, while not being shrieking and era-bound. It has the distinct, signature factor of a 1980's scent, like "Poison", with the reserved, whispering softness of a hotel soap from 1933 and the flamboyant, celebratory feel of the 20's scent that it is.
To me, the name "Arpege" couldn't be more perfect for this crackling fireside of a blend. It smells of beautiful places and joyful, social events. It smells like the dry, aged wood interior of a piano, with its polished keys. It salty-dry, yet soapy powdery scent of styrax, feels like a clean woman, dressed in a cedar-stored velvet gown or dress, warming a little, under hot lights. The creamy florals smell like the best, hard-milled, cold cream based soap. The shadowy -- almost murky -- textured greens, like herbally vetiver, evoke the feeling of standing on a veranda, looking out to the moonlit garden and grove of trees (with hidden benches, for snuggling lovers!) below. The dry, smooth, crumbly resin base notes, reminds me of the polished, sweet smell of violin rosin.
While "Arpege" contains some truly lovely, apricot-creamy florals, it's really a scent for those who love woods, resins and shimmering aldehydes. It's similar to "Mitsouko", in that it has a mossy, layered undertone of greens, herbs and tonic but where "Mitsouko" feels more like a bouquet of greens, ferns and incense, "Arpege" is mostly just sweet woods, shimmery, metallic florals and bitter incense.
That lovely, slightly bitter, dry bite is why I would settle on classifying "Arpege" as the quintessential "Oriental", while the wet, earthy mossiness of "Mitsouko" sets that squarely as "Chypre". Both have a similar heft and a romantic, otherworldy presence and feel curated, like a trunk of World travels but "Mitsouko" is sleek cat, mystery, while "Arpege" is glamour -- with a kick of sweetness. "Mitsouko" is Louise Brooks in "Prix de Beaute", while "Arpege" is Janet Gaynor in "A Star is Born".
Feminine, sexy, classic
„An elegant, beautifully balanced classic "
Over the years, I've read many reviews that suggest a close similarity between Arpege and Chanel #5 so I've assiduously steered clear of this fragrance. The famous Chanel has never shown its beauty to me; in fact I dislike it intensely. So why would I want to try it's "twin"? A silly prejudice on my part, for these two are not alike in any way except for their categorization as floral aldehydes. I've tested; I've bought the bottle. And I've been won over by this timeless beauty.
My review is of the current EDP formulation.
Aldehydes were fairly mild to my nose; I had expected something along the lines of Herme's Caleche. The sweetness of honeysuckle and luscious, juicy peach stood out most vividly. The heart notes were so beautifully blended that no one floral stood out on its own, all were interwoven in a seamless way. A slight powdery note came into play during the unfurling of the notes, the orris root I guess, but it was pleasant, never over-the-top. The drydown is so lovely; heavy on vetiver, musk, and sandalwood on my skin. A resinous drydown that is balanced and long-lasting. The entire fragrance is beautifully balanced to my nose. Sillage very good, longevity 9+ hours. I'm so glad I decided to give Arpege a try. (Thanks, Coutureguru for your dazzling review!) I know this will become a staple in my wardrobe. Suitable day or night, in my book. Perfect.
Pros: Balanced, complex
This is one of my very favorite scents. It does remind me of No. 5 but to me it's heavier in a way (maybe the choking aldehydes?), yet the dry down seems to be a bit lighter and, well, just different. I prefer No. 5 but the 2 alternating together satisfy almost all of my perfume needs. Nighttime needs, I should say. Arpege, to me, is a sexy scent for night only, and for cooler nights too. It's quite overpowering in a hot, humid climate like New Orleans. But I find most scents I like do better in cold weather though, except really citrusy ones. Arpege is a very sophisticated, grown-up, sexy, bold yet refined, classic lovers' scent that is always on my vanity. As with most fragrances, vintage is way better than the current formulation. My vintage sample seems a bit less choky/aldehydy and more restrained than my new bottle.
I'm ashamed to say I bought a bottle of this a while back and gave it away after finding the initial application too strong and 'choky'. Shame on me. I recently gave it another go and this time, after the first 5 minutes, discovered how much I love this fragrance. Like Shalimar, this reminds me of an old sweet lipstick smell from my nana's draw - Cyclax perhaps. I much prefer to spray a little distance away and walk into this one rather than a direct application. Love!
It is a musical, harmonious set of notes that play the Arpege. Sweet and delicate conjuring floral gardens, a hint of vanilla that remains in the dry down to hum in the background for hours. The mystery of an old instrument case, perhaps too! My first time buying this! I don't regret it. And don't feel old! What are they talking about, when they say it seems suitable as an old womans fragrance?! It fits me and I am nearing mid thirties!
Love this one. Has a nice complexity to it that I really like and reminds me of scents my mother and aunt wore years ago. I like "old lady" perfumes and this one has that mature feel to it.
I remember liking this as a child in the '60s, so when I had the opportunity to buy it several years ago, I looked forward with great anticipation to my adult perception of the scent. I opened it and sprayed it on, and Aaahhh!!!. So much better than I remembered. This scent is not for the shy or faint-hearted. It makes an assertive and gorgeous statement. Still scintillating after all these years!
I got a mini bottle of this on the recommendation of some of the lovely Basenotes members. I LOVE it, a really grown up scent, sparkling aldehydes and the perfect drydown reminiscent of No'5 but softer and more rounded to my nose. Its suitable for all occasions in my opinion, being noticeable without entering the room before you.
I have a full size bottle on the way.
I imagine I will always have a bottle of this from now on.
Perfume for real ladies. Never easy for women!
You must have courage to use this powerful scent, mysterious, dramatic and classic.
I can smell the powder, jasmine, rose, vanilla.
Ordinary people would find it "old." I think he's divine!
Never use in everyday life. I am Brazilian, here in Rio de Janeiro is very hot, so only use on winter nights in Rio de Janeiro on special occasions.
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A reminiscence of many following fragrances (also inspired by Arpege in my opinion and i mean Rive Gauche, Nina Ricci Fleur de Fleurs, Hermes Caleche, First V&A, Chanel n. 5 and others) this pillar of classicism combines all the elements that use to constitute the structure of a classic vintage floral-aldehydic-mossy-chypre and i mean aldehydes, bergamot, patchouli, rose-tuberose, neroli, the laundry neutral sophisticated chord of iris-ylang ylang, moss and vanilla. The combination of aldehydes and styrax holds on a certain level of soaring and balsamic gassy powder throughout the trip. The sweetness of neroli, bergamot, rose, ylang-ylang and amber is opaque and soapy with an hint of milkiness. The base of vanilla, patchouli and moss is shadowy and neutral. There is a sort of rosey-powdery-mossy-soapy kind of structure which exudes in the air anyway a spark of full classic aldehydic sophistication made of iris, lily, patchouli and bergamot. This fragrance is out of time and embodies that kind of bold, classic, balanced, neutral and mysterious temperament exuded by scents like Mitsouko, Aromatics Elixir, l' Heure Bleue and Eau de Soir.
I got a whiff of a vintage bottle of Arpege, which gave me an intense case of dèjà vu. On the bottle resides the iconic image of a robed figure hanging onto the bowed figure of a pulling child that looks, from a distance, like the billowing, triangular sails of a ship. Inside the bottle is an aldehydic floral with a great, big, breathtaking jasmine note that floats me back into the past. I smell all of the women I have ever known who wore cocktail dresses and spiked heels and red lipstick and beehive hairdos while accompanying their husbands who wore suits and ties to parties because it was de rigueur to do so. Somehow, I always remember them as “grown-ups” in my skewed perspective, although they were younger, then, than I am now. Iin my jeans and t-shirts, I remain childlike in comparison to those serious-minded ladies who not only looked the part but played the part of ADULTS, and smelled like them, too.
I haven't read all the reviews for Arpege but probably someone has already mentioned how much this perfume smells like Rive Gauche (the feminine version.) I wore Rive Gauche yesterday and Arpege today and I almost immediately realized that they are extremely similar perfumes. Even their listed notes are extremely similar though, so that is really not very surprising. I am pretty sure though that Rive Gauche must have been based off of Arpege.
I think I prefer Arpege a little more though (although I love Rive Gauche too.) When I wear Rive Gauche I feel like I am enveloped in a cloud of fragrance, but I don't get that sense from Arpege so much. It seems much more light and subtle, which is better for everyday wear. I think you could wear Arpege to the office or to a job interview and no one would be put off, but you might not get away with that with Rive Gauche..someone would notice it for sure.
Between the two of them I think I recommend this fragrance a little more, but honestly, they are still both really great classic perfumes.
One of my all time favorites. Elegant, mature, romantic and sexy. What more could I ask for?!
My mother only wore perfume occasionally. Out to dinner, to an event of some sort, to a family gathering she wore Lanvin's Arpege. To a wedding or Something Special, she wore the Eau de Joy that her brother had brought her from Paris immediately after WW II. She still had it in the 1970s. That's how infrequently she wore it.
God, that Joy was lovely. Put me on the couch, get me talking and you'll probably find that that's where the perfume fascination started. But it was the Arpege that suited my mother. It was simple, didn't require any effort or reaching. If the Patou was called Joy, the Lanvin could have been called Contentment.
As my mother's dementia advanced, I bought her a bottle of Joy EDP hoping it would prompt a reactions or that she'd simply enjoy it. I was disappointed when it didn't actually elicit any response at all from her. But then again, perfume is my thing. It was never hers. What I've done since is to buy an ounce of Vintage Arpege extrait. Every now and again I'll put it on, put my feet up, sniff my wrists and remember this remarkable woman.
29th July, 2011 (last edited: 10th September, 2011)
Arpege was an extremely surprising find for me.
I dismissed it before trying it because I had assumed Arpege was your classic, sharp aldehydic fragrance that only suited the more mature consumers. How wrong could I be?
This is no Chanel No.5. Arpege may be powdery and sophisticated, but it has such depth and elegance that somehow makes Arpege intriguingly sexy on the skin.
As a young woman, not even 20 yet, Arpege doesn't make me feel old or predictable. In fact, I feel very comfortable wearing Arpege, sexy almost.
It's mostly powdered jasmine, lily of the valley and ylang ylang to my nose, with a touch of spice. Very feminine and floral. I really cannot stop smelling my wrists with this one, which shows that aldehydic fragrances are really growing on me.
I must add that I am so much in love with this fragrance that I have ordered a mini straight away. However something tells me that a full bottle will be sitting on my dresser very soon.
Short review: excellent, must smell, trully a classic. Now, IMHO, avoid it if you are a man thinking men can pull this off.
Long review: Among BaseNoters it is widely assumed that scents are genderless and that men can wear blends sold under the tag "femenine" and vice versa. Still, there are recurrent threads on female scents that men can wear, of which many end up in heated debates. As per my experience, it is cristal clear that the right answer is personal: one should wear whatever the wearer feels worth wearing, so this review should be read with this idea in mind. Of course, the ones reading this review are free to disent.
Arpege is a floral aldehyde, so in this sense, the top notes, besides being as the descriptor says, are sort of taken to an extreme due to the presence of the aldehydes - I have to admit that I am using this term as per its analogies with the most famous floral aldehyde around, Chanel N° 5: it is the high loud notes the ones responsible for this common attribute. As I mentioned in a thread about Lanvin's most famous perfume, I don´t have anything against florals, but of these being sold for men, I really like a small amount of them. To my nose, florals widely used in femenine scents are too acute to my nose - I resort to this term because they feel like needles.
There has been many formulations and I am clueless as to the one corresponding to the sample I tried. In this case, I cannot give any account as to its complexity, it is rather linear. Thus, the mid notes don't evolve that much. Still, I can understand that comments about Arpege being suitable for men are based in the blend's base notes for there are some notes lurking around that have some sort of distant animalic character that are very nice. Now, be aware that these are rather subdued, thus men wearing it will end up with the feeling of having been forced through a floral journey taking hours in order to arrive to very shy animalic accords.
In summary, it is a classic, but not in the same fashion as the orientals, leathers and chypres blended in the first half of the XX century, the ones that many, even me, think that can be easily used by men, and thus, find them full bottle worthy. Thus, if interested, do sample it through a full wear before thinking about buying it, for it is the only way to find if you feel comfortable wearing it.
I used to wear this off and on in the 80's; a very elegant fragrance, silk scarves, cashmere, pearls, etc. I kind of miss it and I think I'll purchase a small bottle to use again.
I must say that I bought Arpege unsniff and i take some risk doing that, but when i try this perfume I knew it was worth every penny.
Arpege is all the chic and glamour of the 20's in one bottle, and i don't think this smell like oldlady cuz is so soft and sweet. A lot of overwhelming fragance from the 70's or 80's smell like the oldlady tipe but not this one.
Arphege is timeless.. a fragrance for luxurious events and for special occasions.. a little more sweet than Chanel N5 and more sophisticated. The powerlasting is great!
Every woman should have this fragrance!!
You are not going to believe my luck. I found a 4 oz bottle of vintage Arpege in ebay for almost nothing (identical to the bottle shown here at the top of the page). I bid just in case, and my bid was well under 20 dollars and never thought of winning the bid. Lo and behold, nobody else bid and I got it. When it arrived my heart skipped a beat, the box was all torn, stained and really pitiful to the sight and I my immediate thought was that the previous owner did not take good care of it and probably the perfume is spoiled, rancid, decomposed or, at the best, so faded it would not be worth at all. I brought it to my wife and very concerned we proceed to carefully open the screwcap (no spray bottle of course) and let me tell you, all my worries disipated when that glorious scent hit my (ours) nostrils, it is just SPECTACULAR, I am totally lost of words to describe it, it is the best scent my nose had the pleasure to experience (well, maybe without considering Black Orchid by Tom Ford LOL) This is heavens and my most effusive thumbs up
I've picked up many different vintages and concentrations of Arpege. Of course, they vary, but which differences are due to reformulation or age is difficult to say.
Is Arpege 'old fashioned'? I really don't think so. Clearly, it's not one of the pop-tart florals of recent years, but it is NOT outdated. Arpege is like a tribal carpet, a solid mahogany table, or a well-tailored wool suit. These things may not match the style of everyone... but none have ever been completely out of style, either. Like Arpege, these classics will always be in demand by those who understand them.
For the most part, other reviewers have captured the essence of Arpege. It's bright, subtly woody, and neither overtly floral or notably animalic, Arpege really is one for the ages... right up there with No. 5 and a few others.
I think the secret of using Arpege to it's best advantage is to use just a little. A small dab on the wrist, and then enjoy the evolution and the beauty of this fragrance while it gently radiates. Often it seems, there are more compliments when the volume is set to 'low'. Classics don't shout.
I find the opening quite radiant, and addictive enough that I can sniff under the stopper of my precious black boule for a few minutes at a time. On my skin, the vintage parfum quickly loses that bright opening to become a sweet floral.
But it's classy & reminscent of languid ages past.
Lanvin's Arpege is an warmer softer and
sweetish younger sister to Chanel no 5
The opening starts with an aldehyde note
but unlike Chanel's aldehydes which has an dryer more harsher drydown of citrus
and Bergamot. But in Arpege it's more
diluted and more softer to the senses'
The note of amber subdue most of the
aldehydes and an strong presence of
peach makes it sweet.
The powdery note of Irises raises above
the dominering note of amber the ellusive note of Lily of the vally and
the quietness of the elegant Calla Lily
floating though the notes
The bottom notes dries down to an dry
spicy coriander turnes to an powder
nuances of rose. after an hour or two
it turns to an fiery Sandalwood and the sweetness of vanilla the inner raisan
of benzoin and the very bottom of patchouli with it's grounded support
that comes in most perfumes.
Lanvin's Arpege with one spray conjours
images of the famous moniker Louise Brooks Lulu In Berlin i can picture
her wearing this in the movie Pandora's
Box a woman is sliped to an downward spiral into deprivaty and lust
walking though the shadowery streets of
One of the Grand dame of perfumes
along with chanel no 5 Guerlian's l'heure bleu shalimar and Vol de Nuit.
23rd August, 2010 (last edited: 09th October, 2010)
This is possibly one of the best perfumes for women. If I was a women I would wear Arpege.I have tried Arpege on myself but it's too feminine. This would be a great gift for your girfriend or wife. It's a dreamy fragrance. Promise her anything, but give her Arpege!
I checked this out as a possible masculine (it isn't). The opening notes take some time to sort themselves out and are quite dissonant, but later Arpege turned into an absolutely beautiful sweet, rich woody floral. I can't help imagining Joanna Lumley or Helen Mirren wearing this -- I certainly won't be, but it is stunning.
If this is perfume for grandma than she was one sexy beast. Think of those who wore in the 30's, they probably we'rent grandmas then. Ha.
The current formulation of Arpege starts of with a light aldehyde. Becomes a dark, floral with mossy drydown. Yeah, this is what PERFUME used to be exactly like. Something otherworldly, different and noticeable. Not fresh, clean and scared of it's own scent.
As a floral chypre for women, this is a very classic scent that has unfortunately gone out of fashion. It's a delightful scent. However, I'm not sure why Luca Turin thinks this will make a good masculine. On my skin it is more obviously feminine than Chanel No. 5. It has a very aldehydic top, an extremely feminine floral heart, and a unisex woody dry down. If I were wanting to wear this out, I'd have to apply it and wait a good 2 hours before the dry down started until I felt comfortable wearing it in public. By then the projection is very muted and it is a wonderfully unisex skin scent for several more hours. I'm giving Arpege a thumbs up as a classic aldehydic feminine floral, but I'm not convinced at all of it's usability as a masculine; not only does Turin like it as a masculine, but it's one of his top 10 feminines for men. ????