Memories of Lanvin and Cocktail Parties


Post by Azar


Hi  APJ,

Like most perfume junkies I began my fragrance obsession at my mother’s dressing table, re-arranging her perfumes, copping a quick sniff or just admiring the beautiful bottles. My mother would encourage my budding habit, buying smaller versions of her favorites just for me or padding my weekly allowance so that I could try something new on my own.

Memories of Lanvin and Cocktail Parties

Arpege Cocktail Dress Mccalls Laineys Repertoire  FlickrPhoto Stolen Laineys Repertoire Flickr

Mom’s mid-century fragrances were representative of what most American women were wearing at the time including, of course, Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, Arpege, My Sin, Diorissimo and Jungle Gardenia. To me her bottle of Germaine Monteil Royal Secret was not quite mainstream and there were a couple of others that my inexperienced nose perceived as downright odd! One of these was Lanvin’s Spanish Geranium, the greenest, spiciest geranium I’d ever encountered floating atop the unmistakable Lanvin accord. I still love it and wear it to this day. The other was Lucien Lelong’s Sirocco, a potent oriental with a triple dose of coriander. My mother’s favorite was (and still is) Ritual by Charles of the Ritz.

Mom’s room was filled with treasures. Not only did she have a cache of perfumes and costume jewelry but also a closet filled with shimmering cocktail dresses. Mom is a very tiny woman, petit size “00”. Her cocktail dresses were like gorgeous doll clothes, strapless, pencil thin (Barbie? – no, no!) and complimented by a collection of tiny, exquisite shoes. Cocktail dresses were, of course, to be worn at cocktail parties. In the 1950’s and 60’s formal and semi-formal cocktail parties were serious social and business obligations for my parents and their friends. Shopping for dresses, perfume and accessories was more than just a frivolous pastime for my mother and the women she knew.

Arpege RetroCocktailParty FormalFringePhoto Stolen FormalFringe

Today these parties are no longer part of my mother’s social life, or mine either for that matter. The last truly formal cocktail party I attended was over 40 years ago in Tehran, of all places! I wore dark green silk and Guy Laroche Fidji. Times certainly have changed.

Do you have memories of your mother’s perfumes? How has your mother’s taste in fragrance affected your own? Oh – and what did you wear to that last cocktail party?

Azar x

Giveaway Time sassisamblogPhoto Stolen sassisamblog


Eau de Lanvin RubyLanePhoto Stolen RubyLane


There are 2 prizes this week in our Lanvin Giveaway. Each winner will receive:

1 x 2ml Eau de Lanvin
1 x 2ml Lanvin Extrait


Open to everyone worldwide who follows AustralianPerfumeJunkies via eMail, WordPress, Bloglovin or RSS. Please leave how you follow in the comments to be eligible. I must be able to check that you follow so if you have an email address on your gravatar that’s different to your follow address then please email me so I know. Yes, you can start following to enter, in fact it’s encouraged.

All you have to do is tell me a favourite perfume from yesterday and who used to wear it around you: along with how you follow for you to be eligible for the draw.

Extra Chance?
Tweet: @OzPerfumeJunkie @LANVINofficial Arpege GIVEAWAY #Perfume #Giveaway


Entries Close Thursday 12th September 2013 10pm Australian EST and winners will be announced in a separate post.
Winners will be chosen by putting names on same sized papers, folded similarly, put on a tray and someone at Azar’s house will pick a winner.
The winners will have till Sunday 15th September 2013 to get in touch (portia underscore turbo at yahoo dot com dot au) with their address or the prize will go to someone else.
No responsibility taken for lost or damaged goods in transit.

62 comments on “Memories of Lanvin and Cocktail Parties

  1. patty P. says:

    Vintage Cristalle
    I’m an e-mail follower. =o|

  2. Jackie b says:

    DNEM as I am not USA, but have to admire your mother’s niche scents even back when!
    My mother loved Cabochard Gres, Ma Griffe, chant D’Aromes, and she was a cocktail party queen, being a diplomat’s wife.
    She always smelled good!

    • Azar says:

      Hello Jackie b.
      As part of a diplomats family you certainly know about the cocktail party scene! Your mother sounds like she was in the thick of it. It was almost a magical world, so unlike today. When I use those vintage fragrances I bring some of that atmosphere into the present moment. Ma Griffe is still a favorite of mine.
      Azar xx

  3. laniersmith says:

    I grew up in Southern California and in the late 50’s and early 60’s some cocktail parties were poolside and the grown ups wore…bathing suits! In a bathing suit or a Helen Rose cocktail dress my Mother always wore Chanel No.5. I follow on WordPress.

  4. Caryl says:

    Hi – I follow by email. My favorite is Norell – my mother used to wear it, followed by Chanel No. 5, worn to great effect by a dark-haired beauty I roomed with after college.

  5. Janet Hoover says:

    My mother swears she is allergic to all perfume and never wears it. But my best friend in high school used to bathe in 4711! Anytime I smell that it takes me instantly back in time.

    Thanks! I live in the US and follow by email.

  6. Nancysg says:

    My Mother never wore perfume. My Father did wear Old Spice on Sundays to go to church. Hence, it always surprises me that my Mother bought me a bottle of Royal Secret when I was about 13 years old. I smelled it from a department store catalog smell strip and had to have it. When I finished a bottle, she would buy me a replacement. I wore Royal Secret all through high school.

    I follow you through email.

    • Azar says:

      Hello Nancy,
      What a great mom! Do you ever wear Royal Secret these days? I still manage to keep some of the vintage around and wear it in the cooler months of the year. You are in for the draw (US?)
      Azar xx

  7. hotlanta linda says:

    My mom and her mom did not wear scents, period!! BUT grandmother had a friend that LOVED perfumes, Marge 🙂 Kindergarten yt started getting an occasional empty mini Prince Matchabelli crown flacon – I swooned. Marge was told so, and partially full minis replace empties – crowning gift was a new set of Ciro perfumes – a 6 piece, dram-size bottles, all boxed individually inside a larger box!!! My room & closet are bottle-cloistered top> bottom, even floor displays 🙂 THANK YOU Marge!! whatever you are doing in heaven!! 🙂 I bought myself the 1 oz black boule Arpege parfum when I turned 21 (working retailer`s discount helped!), so Lanvin ANYTHING is good 4 me!! I follow U on e-mail 🙂 in Atlanta, GA.

    • Azar says:

      Hi there hotlanta linda!
      Marge must have been a perfume fairy godmother! We should all be so lucky. You are in for the draw. Is Arpege you favorite Lanvin?
      Azar x

      • hotlanta linda says:

        Tied w/ My Sin 🙂 Need to have enough $$$ to buy vintage Lanvin in bottles that are not stuck!! lol!!

  8. susan says:

    Well, I hate to say, but no one really wore perfume around me growing up. I hear that my grandma wore Shalimar, but I never remember smelling it on her. Sorry that’s the best I can do. 🙁 I do follow on Bloglovin’ and I am in the US! 🙂

    • Azar says:

      You are in for the draw! Do you have a vintage favorite of your own? Obviously perfume deprivation in your formative years hasn’t had a negative impact on your nose because here you are with the rest of us perfume junkies!
      Azar x

  9. Tatiana says:

    I follow by email. My mother used to wear Diorissimo. For a long time it was one of my favorites. Sadly, it is now a sad, pale shadow of it’s former self.

    • Azar says:

      I agree, the new Diorissimo is just a “pale shadow” of the original. I manage to find some vintage around but most of it has not been kept well. Sadly the real Diorissimo has become just a lovely memory. You are in the draw (US I assume?).
      Azar xx

  10. poodle says:

    I’m in the US and follow on WordPress. My mom wasn’t one to wear perfume and I don’t recall any cocktail parties. She did however have a bottle of Tabu on her dresser along with a few Avon scents like Cotillion and Timeless. I remember sniffing the bottles but don’t recall smelling perfume on her.

  11. Azar says:

    Hi Poodle!
    You are in!!!
    I tried Tabu when I was in high school (the very vintage version of course). I can still remember the scent. After almost 50 years I think I’m ready for another sniff if I can find the vintage extrait. Two sniffs in total for a whole century should be enough Tabu for me. Do you have a favorite scent that is old or discontinued?
    Azar xx

    • poodle says:

      Old and discontinued that I like? The first that comes to mind is Victoria by Victoria’s Secret. I also remember liking a perfume called Scoundrel which is no longer around. I agree that two sniffs of Tabu in a century would be enough for most people. I do wish I had that bottle of it now though.

  12. My mother sold Avon, so there was lots to choose from on her chest of drawers. My favorite of hers was Hawaiian White Ginger, I used to sneak samples of Cotillion and my grandmother always wore Emeraude.
    I follow you via email. 🙂

    • Azar says:

      Hello there Murai! I liked many of the old Avon fragrances too and the bottles were so much fun. I still have some 50’s Emeraude around and will pull it out for a sniff. Thank you for these scent memories. You are in the draw!
      Azar xx

  13. Mary K says:

    My mom really liked Youth Dew. I also remember my grandmother wearing a lavender scent, but not sure which perfume it was. I follow via RSS (Feedly) and I live in the US. Thank you for the drawing!

    • Azar says:

      Hi Mary K!
      You are in! and Ah! Youth Dew! Also when I think of my great grandmother I see a lavender “being”. She wore lavender clothing, lavender scent, everything was lavender.
      Azar xx

  14. leathermountain says:

    My mother wore Chanel No. 5, and it’s the only scent I can remember on her. But I know she had others, because I did not stop at rearranging her bottles. I played Chemistry Set with them. Oops. No padding of my allowance for that behavior! I happily follow by email. What a lovely article.

  15. patriciaC says:

    L’air du temps is all i remember her wearing, i still have an old vintage bottle to this day she gave me. I follow by e-mail Thanks for the drawing!

  16. Monoatomic says:

    My mother wore Chanel No. 5, which I loved. I got a scented pen set featuring that and Arpege when I couldn’t have been much older than 7, and probably received my own bottle of Chanel when in my early teens.

    I’m in the U.S. and follow using Feedly.

  17. Azar says:

    Thank you for dropping by and entering the draw. You are in! Does anyone make scented pens these days? I mean the really nice ones like you describe. I haven’t seen any lately.
    Azar x

  18. cookie queen says:

    My mother wore Royal Secret for years. I loved the soap. Cocktail parties? Uhm – no. Never did. Lots of parties but none that fell into that category. Hahahaha! Great blog. Hugs. xxx

    • Azar says:

      Thanks Cookie Q! It was a different world for sure. I still have some Royal Secret, the vintage parfum version, that I wear in cold weather
      Azar xxx

  19. Undina says:

    My mother used to wear Miss Dior, Diorella and Dior Dior. The first two are my current favorites. The last one was sadly discontinued before I could re-try it.

    I don’t remember when was the last coctail party that I’ve attended (those aren’t a part of my regular life) but for just a party I wore Guerlain Cruel Gardenia.

    (no need entering me into the giveaway, I just wanted to comment on the topic – it was a nice story about your mother, thank you for sharing)

    • Azar says:

      Hello Undina,
      I’m so glad you liked the story. After I wrote this post I discovered that these parties are coming back into style, at least in the Seattle, WA area. People are writing books on how to throw the perfect cocktail party, what to serve, what to wear. Nevertheless, the cocktail parties of the past are a world away from today’s reality, just about as far removed as vintage fragrances from their contemporary versions, an entire aesthetic discontinued. And I suppose that’s the way it should be. No need to mourn Dior Dior if you wear Cruel Gardenia!
      Azar xx

  20. Lauren says:

    Hi Mom –

    My favorite perfume memory is you giving me a bottle of Lauren by Ralph Lauren. I loved the scent and of course having a perfume with my name on it:)!


    • Azar says:

      WOW! Hi there, Lauren. This IS a surprise! I hope you enjoyed reading these great memories of your grandmother. I love and adore you, but sorry, no draw for you (conflict of interest ?). I might send some vintage Lauren if you are up for it (and if I can find any in good shape).

      Oh, by the way, I’m thinking I’ll recruit Gomez to pick the winning names from the tray. That should be an interesting draw. Totally random. Just how I will convince him to release the papers from his large, sharp beak has me a little worried, though.

      Hugs and Love. Mommy Azar xxx and x

  21. Dionne says:

    I’m not in the US, and I really didn’t notice what my Mom was wearing until I hit my early teens, but I do remember White Shoulders and the celebuscent Forever Krystle. She didn’t have cocktail dresses, but for my own prom in the late 80s I wore one of the dresses she had from university in the 60’s: floor-length and sleeveless with a boat neck and beads on the bodice. I did retro before retro was in! 🙂

    • Azar says:

      I remember White Shoulders too! You must have been absolutely stunning in that dress!!! I’m glad retro is in. It makes my life easier somehow.
      Azar xx

  22. fleurdelys says:

    My mom wore Evening in Paris; that cobalt-blue bottle always fascinated me! I’m in the US and I follow via WordPress.

  23. Lauren says:

    I think you’re right about Gomez, he could probably pick a name – but what if he didn’t want to let it go?!

  24. Laurels says:

    My mother loved anything that smelled of lily-of-the-valley, and Faberge Woodhue. There was a review of vintage Woodhue on another blog; when I showed it to her, she said she’d given up buying perfume when they discontinued it.

    My aunt wore Royal Secret, and she smelled wonderful.

    It’s delightful that you bought your daughter Lauren some Lauren, and that she loved it. I think Comme des Garçons has a perfume called Laurel, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet.

    • Azar says:

      Hi Laurels!

      I didn’t know a thing about the perfume called Laurel. I just looked it up and it sounds gorgeous, more woods in it than the old Faberge Woodhue! I wonder if there is a scent called Azar that I could adopt as my own?

      Re Woodhue: I just went down to my stash of oldies and pulled out some Woodhue and, alas, it has faded. Sigh! But the vintage Royal Secret still smells brand new and I still love it! I can totally understand why your mother would give up buying perfume. It is such a disappointment when favorite scents are discontinued or reformulated past the point of recognition. By the way, I’m guessing you are in the US?

      Azar xx

      • Laurels says:

        Yes,I’m in the US. I also forgot to mention that I subscribe on Bloglovin.

      • Laurels says:

        Also, Azar would be a great name for a perfume. Someone should get on that!

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        Absolutely, Amouage Azar. Azar by DIOR,
        I am loving it
        Portia xx

      • Azar says:

        Also, Laurels, the word “Azar” refers to a type of fire (or a month of the year). Can you imagine perfume that smells like fire?

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        Azar, one of the British frags Celtic Fire definitely smells like fire at some points. GORGEOUS!!
        Portia xx

      • Azar says:

        I think the word “azar” can also mean a bad fever!
        It would be fun to try Celtic Fire. Is it smokey? Artemisia Natural Perfumer makes a scent called Drifting Sparks. A very pleasant scent, just a little sparky but nothing fire-y or feverish.
        Azar xx

      • australianperfumejunkies says:

        Yes, full of smoke and fire. I liked it but can’t remember the exact fragrance in my head, it all got used VERY quickly from my sample.
        Portia xx

  25. Sally McSweeney says:

    My mum wore 4711, Evening in Paris, Emeraude and on very special occasions, Shalimar, which is why I think I’m such a Guerlain gal. She would always let me have a tiny dab so I wouldnt feel “left behind” when she went to such a do 🙂 She didn’t go to cocktail parties per se, but I do remember a gorgeous deep green dress she wore (early 60s) with matching emerald ear rings which I still have. i would love to be entered for the draw – I’m in Oregon. thanks for this article – stirred some great memories…

  26. Nemo says:

    My mom has never worn a lot of perfume, I think, but as long as I can remember she’s had a small collection of gorgeous minis including Chanel No. 5 and Ysatis. I mostly associate her with the Chanel 🙂 I am in the USA, and I follow by email.

    • Azar says:

      Hi Nemo,
      Chanel No. 5 and Ysatis, wonderful! Also, minis are often more exquisite than the standard size bottles. Great memories. Your are in!

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