Abano

When I first tried Abano (Prince Matchabelli 1931) I wasn’t expecting something so perfect for today. Today is a cool day in early October. But you see, Abano has a mix of lavender, oak moss and patchouli. The lavender is calming. The oak moss is uplifting. The patchouli feels oh so appropriate for an autumn day. It’s lovely! Actually, it reminds me a little of the smell of wool…and I think that is in part due to a warm floral/herbal accord. Again, it’s lovely. …And into the drydown it becomes a smoky and supple.

Notes: orange, lavender, patchouli, herbs, grasses and oak moss.

Vega (original 1936)

Like a sultry, honey-drenched version of Liu, Guerlain Vega (original formulation Guerlain 1936) opens with Guerlain aldehydes and warm florals. Bergamot adds a faint, demure, ladylike edge. Orange blossom a definite soapiness. And sweet, gentle, woody iris is the floral from the bouquet that eventually wins on my skin. Although, smoky jasmine, rose and lush ylang ylang quickly trail behind. Into the drydown it reminds me ever so slightly of very vintage Lanvin My Sin with its ripe, boozy quality. But still, that soapiness (orange blossom) re-emerges every so often and this takes on a very unique personality. Actually, more than any other vintage fragrance I’ve smelled I think this would be paired well with a long fur coat and evening gown… It’s something special.

Nose: Jacques Guerlain

En Avion

This sample of the vintage wonderfully displays this grand old dame’s saucy, totally sassy, and spicy floral heart, with particular emphasis on carnation (I also detect a very subtle lilac) (Caron 1932). Actually, I could easily see 1930’s or 40’s Katherine Hepburn in perfectly tailored pants wearing this one… En Avion has a lot of personality. And, the way the notes combine to create something similar to the smell of old school cigarette smoke lingering among well-coiffed florals tells a story in one whiff. The drydown is exquisite and very typically vintage Caron. …If you like 1980’s floral powerhouses then this one is surely worth seeking out for at least a sample.

Top notes: orange, carnation, rose, and neroli. Middle notes: jasmine, orange blossom and lilac. Base notes: opoponax, sandalwood and amber

Nose: Ernest Daltroff

Vacances

Lilac! Green (galbanum), fresh, sublime and totally elegant lilac (Jean Patou 1936). I am in love with this fragrance. It’s a woody lilac too. It’s just fantastic. 😍 With a somewhat delicate and perfectly paired musk at the base. This is now at the top of my list for a larger bottle.

Top notes: hyacinth and hawthorn. Heart: lilac, mimosa, and galbanum. Base: musk.

Nose: Henri Almeras

Normandie

This beauty (Jean Patou 1935) opens with an exquisite orange blossom and neroli. They’re slightly green and very creamy, gentle and pleasant. But then, as it continues, all the warm, richly hued carnation, jasmine and musk emerge. Actually, it’s one of the most noticeable progressions I’ve encountered and it’s lovely. Also, Normandie has one of my favorite notes: styrax. 😍 It would be easy to draw a comparison between this and Arpège, but intriguingly this feels much more dated and distinctly early Twentieth Century than Arpège, in my opinion and that is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It reminds me of when I used to go on explorations at my grandmother’s in her weave loom room, or in rooms with forgotten closets. Sometimes you’d find very old things that seemed familiar none-the-less, like an iconic pillbox hat or a classic pair of white gloves. But then occasionally you’d unearth something that required an open mind and a historical decoder. And when you held those pieces of the past in your hand you felt an enormous connection to a time long ago. Normandie is that sort of talisman.

Top notes: neroli and ylang-ylang. Middle notes: orange blossom, rose, orris root, jasmine, vetiver, styrax and carnation. Base notes: moss, vanilla

and musk.

Nose: Henri Almeras

Colony

For whatever reason I picture a 1930’s southern gentleman in a straw hat with patent leather shoes and rolled up khaki pants when I smell this. This fragrance is so unisex. The vetiver and leather arelike a manly tonic that play perfectly against the carnation and iris. And then there’s pineapple. Really though, if I had to pick a note that shines I’d say instantly, without hesitation that it’s pineapple. Sweet, juicy, delightful, authentic and vintage pineapple! Lovely!

Top notes: pineapple and ylang-ylang. Middle notes: carnation, iris, oak, vetiver and opoponax. Base notes: leather and musk.

Nose: Henri Almeras

Divine Folie

When I first smelled this one my reaction was, “Wow.” 😶 I’m not sure if reincarnation is possible but if it is I’d bet I wore this (and a few others) in a past life… I love this fragrance (Jean Patou 1933). How ironic the name is… The orris root is intoxicating in this one. It’s rainy, earthy, and sweet but very elegant and really just sublime. It blends magically with the musk and vanilla. I struggle to better describe this one… But I’ll also add that it’s one of the loveliest rose notes I’ve ever smelled and it’s a little reminiscent of Shalimar. There!

Top notes: neroli and ylang-ylang. Middle notes: orris root, jasmine, orange blossom, rose and vetiver. Base notes: musk and vanilla.

Nose: Henri Almeras

Cocktail

Fruity!! Oh my, how this one is fruity… But it’s in this delicate, sensual, honeysuckle sweet, jasmine-kissed, utterly vintage way. It’s very aptly named (Jean Patou 1930). Imagine the best, most talented bartender of the 1930’s mixing up a cocktail in Havana and you’ve almost got it… Again, it’s a cigarette smoke tinged fragrance, but its floral lightness and the way boozy yet still elegant lavender and petitgrain mix with a pleasant musk, amber and delightful oakmoss turn it into an olfactory party. Endearing, somewhat feminine and amazingly optimistic I quite like this (very vintage) scent.

Top notes: honeysuckle, petitgrain and lavender. Middle notes: hyacinth, rose, ylang-ylang, and jasmine. Base notes: amber, oakmoss and musk.

Nose: Henri Almeras

Shanghai 

Shanghai (Lenthéric 1911 and 1936) is a sweet, beautifully powdery citrus at the opening. But there’s also a spicy, herbal quality. Neroli is glazed. Lavender and rose are very cheerful. And a gentle, amber tinged styrax plays very well with the aldehydes. Intriguingly it’s almost too sweet for a hot summer day but only almost as it’s reminiscent of Aqua Di Parma Colonia and it refuses to be saccharine. 

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, cinnamon, clove, and citronella.  Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, geranium, and lavender.   Base notes: frankincense, cedarwood, tonka, vetiver, oak moss, myrrh, benzoin, amber, musk, and sandalwood

Indiscret 


A very vintage mandarin orange is flanked by a spicy, tea-like bergamot (Lucien Lelong 1936).   Green, slightly bitter galbanum meets a subtle tuberose, woody (and slightly funky) herbal jasmine, sugary ylang ylang, and rounded rose.  Indiscret is aptly named.  It’d be smoky but it’s too floral…  It is, however, fairly animalic and spicy.  It’s not an easy “day fragrance” although it is somewhat ladylike and soft.

Top notes: mandarin orange, galbanum and bergamot.  Middle notes: tuberose, iris, african orange flower, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and geranium.  Base note: woodsy notes.

Nose: Jean Carles