Post by Greg Young
When I visit op shops and second hand shops, I make a habit of scanning the place for bottles and fragrances, just in case. Mostly I find used minis of varying levels of desirability. Sometimes, very occasionally, luck can be a lot more generous. I was idly browsing through the cabinets in an antiques market a while ago. My eye was originally drawn to a large full flacon of Monsieur Rochas, which sadly turned out to only have coloured water in it. As I idly scanned the rest of the cabinet, I noticed this nestled amongst a few other nondescript empty bottles.
L’Heure Attendue by Henri Almeras for Jean Patou 1946
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Basenotes reviewer gives these notes:
Top: Lily-of-the-valley, geranium, lilac
Heart: Ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, opopanax
Base: Mysore sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli
L’heure attendue. The time that we’ve been waiting for. The name of this perfume celebrates the liberation of France from the Nazi occupation.
After many years of rationing and deprivation during the war years, the Parisian design houses burst forth with an exuberance that was designed to make people forget the hard times, and revel in finally having access to an abundance of pretty and beautiful things one again. Dior’s New Look of 1947 typified this trend, using swathes of previously scarce fabrics to create an ornate and romantic new fashion. The elegant amphora design of the original Miss Dior bottle also echoed a move towards the ornate from wartime-induced privation.
In the same sentiment, the house of Jean Patou released L’heure Attendue in 1946. As the photos show, the bottle was highly ornate and luxurious. This formulation of L’heure Attendue is very rare, being discontinued around 1956. As you can see, the bottle is intact, with even some of the decorative tassel left, and the stopper still fits tight. The bottle’s curves and detailing show clear influences of Art Deco design, but moving slightly in Dior’s direction; the stopper bears comparison with Dior’s, but I think Dior’s amphora design uses a feminine styling that reflected Dior’s wasp-waisted models, whereas Patou’s 1946 bottle design is clearly influenced by the geometric sweeps and fine detailing of classic Art Deco designs such as the Chrysler Building.
Photo Stolen WikiMedia
The box is in good shape apart from some peeling, but significant staining has occurred on the front. Shame, because it can’t be hidden if you want to display the interior of the packaging (which I do). I suppose I could always imagine that this is an antique coffee stain left by some chic French lady sipping cafe au lait on the Champs-Elysee. Like the bottle, this is very much an Art Deco design, but a lot plainer and more utilitarian. The cream, gold and royal blue of the packaging is very elegant, and complements the much more ornate bottle styling very well.
Most of the perfume remains in bottle. The colour of the juice is a deep amber and still looks attractive enough, compared to the inky murk of the vintage Gilvo I wrote about a while back on APJ. The juice is consistent and there are no sediments. Without another bottle to compare to, I can’t really say if this is the colour it is supposed to look like. I suspect not, as some degradation has almost certainly occurred in the 50-60 years since this was opened.
It’s described on Fragrancenet as a floral chypre. When I sniff my bottle, I get a big, deep blast of what seems to me to be rich, white florals; I think what I am smelling are the heart notes, made richer by the sweet myrrh. It seems very old-fashioned and feminine, but there doesn’t seem to be anything there that you would find objectionable. Not being a connoisseur, it’s a bit hard for me to say.
This perfume is so extremely feminine that I’m simply not game to wear it, so I can’t tell you if the base notes are intact. I guess I will need a Melbourne-based femme to volunteer and help me write a postscript to this story.
N.B. All photos by the author unless otherwise stated.