Le Galion timeline…a history lesson in Sydney

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Post by Ainslie Walker

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Nicolas Chabot (Ex-Dior/Givenchy/Estee Lauder-Paris) has painstakingly resurrected Le Galion Parfums. Nine original fragrances (tweaked for IFRA) were rereleased last year after a 30-year hiatus following Paul Vacher’s death in 1975. I met Nicholas at Libertine in Sydney where we sniffed through the historical collection recreated by nose Thomas Fontaine.

Le Galion timeline…a history lesson in Sydney

Le Galion Logo FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Le Galion was named after the seafaring vessels symbolic to Paris and has had quite some journey since 1930 when Prince Murat (Napoleon’s brother-in-law) founded the brand. In 1932 he created 222 based on sandalwood, myrrh, styrax, leather, vanilla, cedar and lavender. It remained unreleased until now, locked in an old box, abandoned. I love the soapy sandalwood note.

In 1935 Paul Vacher purchased Le Galion after already co-creating fragrances for Lanvin (Arpége, Rumeur and Scandal with Andre Fraysse) and working with Marcel Guerlain. In 1936, his first release for Le Galion, Sortilége, became iconic and remains the jewel of the brand. An extrait is to be launched later 2015. The 1960’s advert stated: “Sortilége, the fragrance that makes women faithful. To their fragrance.” Sounding so “Madmen” I absolutely love the back catalogue of Le Galion perfume adverts, and am keen to collect them.

Vacher, well known for his soliflores, released two in 1937: Tubereuse is feminine, sweet and green and predated Robert Piguet’s Fracas by 10 years. Mandarin, orange and galbanum sparkle with pink pepper and pear. Tuberose, rose, orange blossom and raspberry are sweeter middle notes. Cedar, amber and musk make up the base, a common pattern in Fontaine’s formulations.

Le Galion Ainslie & Nicolas 1Photo Donated Ainslie

I fell for Iris, the second soliflore, instantly. It’s buttery iris and green mimosa notes are enhanced with bergamot, citron, hibiscus lily, rose, galbanum and Fontaine’s cedar/ musk/ amber base. I could bathe in it!

By the 1950’s Vacher was considered a master of perfumery alongside Ernest Beaux, Ernest Daltroff, Jacques Guerlain and Edmond Roudnitska. It was the French “golden age of perfumery”. In 1946 he created Miss Dior and in 1963 Diorling for Dior fashion house. For 30 years following Le Galion provided raw materials to Dior Parfums also producing the concentrate for Miss Dior.

Le Galion Ainslie LibertinePhoto Donated Ainslie

In 1947 Special for Gentlemen was released, it was also the same year the stiletto heel was invented. Unique notes of citrus, lavender, cinnamon, amber, labdanum, oakmoss, patchouli mix with vanilla, castoreum, birch and opoponax. Easy to wear, distinctive and far from linear.

La Rose released in 1950 is not a soliflore, with notes of bergamot, violet leaf, rose, ylang-ylang, peach, water, lily, cedar, patchouli, vanilla and musk. To me it is sweet and dew drenched.

Beautiful and head turning, Snob was released in 1952 as “the most exclusive perfume in the world.” Containing Australian sandalwood, jasmine, rose, saffron, cedar, musk, mandarin, bergamot, apple, orange blossom, iris and tagetes.

Whip, released in 1953, predates Eau Sauvage by 13 years and yet has remarkable similarities. Tarragon, lavender and cardamom, jasmine, violet and iris, galbanum, oakmoss, patchouli, vetiver and leather give this real masculine beauty.

Eau Noble from 1972 contains citrus, spice, sage and leather, evidence the sexual revolution was in full swing! An extrait will be released in 2015.

Le Galion Ainslie and NicolasPhoto Donated Ainslie, taken by Clayton

Further reading: Australian Perfume Junkies and Colognoisseur
First In Fragrance has the Le Galion range €140/100ml

Which of the range would you like to try? Have you seen Le Galion’s fabulous vintage adverts? Do you own any vintage bottles from the brand?
Ainslie Walker xx

14 comments on “Le Galion timeline…a history lesson in Sydney

  1. australianperfumejunkies says:

    What a fun day that was Ainslie,
    How cute was Nicolas? So intensely interested in getting the story across and giving us all a feel for his new frag house. I re4ally loved how much he cared.
    Portia x

    • willa says:

      I agree. Nicolas is really passionate about the integrity of perfumery. We were so lucky to have him present it to us in Australia. It was a productive vacation for him!

      • Ainslie says:

        Yes I think the brand will do well since his visit-he is a great spokesperson for the brand. Love all the history!! X

    • Ainslie says:

      Yes it was really fun and so fascinating! I learnt a lot. X

  2. cookie queen says:

    I’ll need to order some samples. Very tempting. Your photos are gorgeous.
    Hugs. xxx

    • Ainslie says:

      Yes, try getting the sample set with reusable atomiser-they’re almost sold out but such a great design! I know Peony in Melbourne has some! X

  3. Tara says:

    This was really interesting Ainslie. Many thanks for the report.
    I’m a fan of Thomas Fontaine since he took our session at The Osmotheque. I bet he’s done a great job with these. Iris appeals to me the most.

    • Ainslie says:

      Wow! I’d love to meet Thomas Fontaine! You must write up your experience so we can live vicariously through you!! X

  4. Azar says:

    Thank you for another interesting lesson in perfume history! I love the vintage ads that I have seen.
    Azar xx

  5. Recently I visited
    Peony in Melbourne and there I got to try the range. My favs are Sortilege, Snob and La Rose.

  6. Fazal Cheema says:

    i own snob though have been meaning to get vintage sortilege

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