N’Aimez Que Moi by Ernest Daltroff for Caron 1916


Post by Willa Zheng


Hi reader,

“Love no one but me” from the venerable but nowadays much overlooked House of Caron is, in my humble opinion, one of the great romantic perfumes of 20th century. Launched during the height of WW1, it also happens to celebrate its 100 year anniversary this year.

N’Aimez Que Moi by Caron 1916

N’Aimez Que Moi by Ernest Daltroff

N`Aimez Que Moi Caron FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Lilac, violet, rose
Heart: Iris, cedar, vetiver, sandalwood
Base: Vanilla, amber, musk, oakmoss

Fittingly for a perfume that sounds like an Edith Piaf love song, N`Aimez Que Moi opens like an old skool rose fragrance – geraniumy and drenched in clove-like eugenols that IFRA could banish this juice at any moment. My 22 year old, Miu Miu wearing work colleague says it smells just like her grandma. Well darling, your grandma has excellent taste.

Five minutes in, powdery, cosmetic-like notes such as violets and lilac emerge to join in the waltz with garden roses. Ever prised open the lid of Caron’s famous loose face powders? This is its fragrance!

Ten minutes later, woody chypre base notes creep in to give the fragrance a bit depth and some character. The main experience of wearing N’Aimez Que Moi conveys a big, radiant rose fragrance sitting on a dry layer of sandalwood. Emotionally, it’s the olfactory equivalent of an operatic Aria. The wearer of N’Aimez Que Moi is beautiful, assertive and yet lamentful.

The drydown of N’Aimez Que Moi, which emerges after about 4 hours, is a classic vintage chypre-base comprised of amber, musk and oakmoss, not dissimilar to the base of vintage Arpege. It creates a heavy, dark, rounded base that is a nuanced melange of the sweet, the skanky and the dirty.

My N`Aimez Que Moi edp (vintage 2007) has moderate to heavy silage, depending on the body heat of the wearer. Like an olfactory forget-me-not, this edp sustains itself for an impressive 12hrs +.

Further reading:
LuckyScent has $100/7ml extrait
Surrender To Chance has extrait samples from $5/0.5ml

Do you have a favourite Caron?

Gucci No 3 by Gucci 1985


Post by Willa Zheng


It’s no great secret that I love feminine florals and my fragrance wardrobe at home is lined with them. However, every once in a while, a fragrance comes along that is such a departure from everything you already own and thought you liked, and yet you fall in love with it regardless. A love at first sniff. That’s the case with this dearly discontinued fragrance from the House of Gucci.

Gucci No 3 Gucci FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Aldehydes, coriander, green leaves, bergamot
Heart: Tuberose, orris root, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, rose, narcissus
Base: Leather, amber, patchouli, musk, oakmoss, vetiver

Gucci No 3 opens aldehydic, green and citric. Then, a melange of powder (orris root), white flowers (so heavy, so many that you can’t really tell apart the tuberose, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, and narcissus) and rose push through; and before you know it, you’re smelling like an expensive piece of soap, the kind you’d buy in department stores to give as gifts in yesteryear. Think vintage Arpege.

But whereas Lavin Arpege has a sweet sandalwood, ambery base thus classifying it as a floriental, there is no denying that Gucci No 3 is of the chypre family. Chypre fragrances are all about the balanced contrast between their fresh, sparkling opening notes and their bitter, dark, woody heart. Gucci No 3 is no exception.

Gucci No 3 Gucci schuetz-mediendesign PixabayPixabay

The heart merges about thirty minutes in when the fragrance pivots. It becomes darker, more bitter, as the heavy oakmoss base pushes through. On the skin, it’s warm (amber), deep (patchouli), slightly smoky (leather), dry (vetiver) and woody.

Gucci No 3 is the smell of a modern day Marlene Dietrich. She is a woman who is sure of herself and yet is a little bit mysterious. She is sophisticated, worldly and well-groomed. Who wouldn’t mind being a woman like that?

As mentioned earlier, this fragrance has been discontinued for about 15 years and full bottles, alas, are selling for a small fortune online. My bottle is a bit flat in the drydown due to its age. Depending on the condition of your bottle, you’ll get about 6 hours of strong wear and moderate to heavy sillage from the EDT.

Gucci No 3 Gucci Oak tree YouTubeYouTube

Further reading: Post Modern Perfume
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $6/ml

Gucci No 3 is truly the chypre for the woman who doesn’t normally ‘do’ chypre. It’s another reason, really, for us to toss Michael Edwards’ fragrance wheel to the wind and just smell everything.

Have you got a favourite Chypre fragrance?

Stella by Jacques Cavallier for Stella McCartney 2003


Post by Willa Zheng


There is something about Stella that makes grown men swoon and hearts aflutter. If I have a fragrance that elicits compliments from the opposite-sex more than any other, this is it. Interestingly, when I studied in Glasgow during the winter of 07, there was barely a day when I wouldn’t catch a whiff of Stella in the streets. For Stella is nostalgic, welcoming and yet modern.

Stella by Stella McCartney 2003

Stella by Jacques Cavallier

Released in 2003, at first exclusively amongst Stella McCartney’s fashion friends, it was a tribute to her recently-deceased mother, Linda McCartney. Stella McCartney’s inspiration was the big, fragrant, olde-worlde roses that her mother used to buy and fill the rooms with their scent. At the time, big bold rose fragrances had fallen out of fashion so Stella McCartney’s Stella was a standout in department stores and became an instant top-seller for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, which owns Stella McCartney brand fragrances.

Stella Stella McCartney FragranticaFragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Rose oil, peony, tangerine
Heart: Rose
Base: Amber

To the casual nose, Stella is dripping in rose oils and velvety rose petals. Stella is a big, heavy, wet rose. Rose fragrances can sometimes smell sharp and old fashioned. However, Jacques Cavallier (L’eau d’Issey, JPG Classique) circumvented that by softening it, making it more romantic and modern by adding notes of peony (which smells rosey but not really), galaxolide (an airy, clean, soapy kind of musk. Think shampoo and laundry powder. We are in the age of Sophia Grojsman and the monolithic fragrances she popularised, afterall), mandarin (so the fragrance opens citrusy and it adds a dash of the sweetness you’d find in real roses) and amber (to lock it all in).
Given that simple structure, Stella is a fairly linear fragrance. There is more zest and sweetness at the start, moving to a sheer, rosey, amber-musk drydown. At its core, Stella creates the olfactory effect of a plush, musky, live rose viewed through misty amber glass. You smell clean, classy, romantic and all woman.

Stella Stella McCartney Audrey Rose With Dew Drops FlickrFlickr

Given the romantic soft impressions left by Stella, you wouldn’t think it would have massive silage. But its scent molecules are heavy and are robust enough to be picked up and carried by wind to enthral your amore. Stella can be detected for 8-10 hours on my skin, but a re-spray is recommended after 4 hours to keep those compliments coming.

Of course, to trip people up, a man could totally wear Stella by Stella McCartney. A man who wears Stella knows how romance is done. He is sensual and frankly, irresistible. Just saying.

Unfortunately, like most great perfumes of the past, this fragrance has been reformulated. This review is based on the original version from my own personal collection.

Stella Maegan Tintari Stella McCartney spring 2010 FlickrFlickr

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Katie Puckrik
FragranceNet has $69/50ml before Coupon
My Perfume Samples have $3/ml

What do you think about Stella? Do you have another favourite amber-rose fragrance?

NB: If you shop at My Perfume Samples from an APJ link I get a kickback.

Parfum Divin by Jacques Cavallier for Caudalie 2014


Post by Willa Zheng


Hello APJ,

Often mentioned in the same breath as Nuxe’s Prodigieux Le Parfum, Parfum Divin is Caudalie’s capture, in spray perfume form, the scent of the brand’s cult dry oil. If Nuxe Prodigieux is a tropical beach vacation in a bottle, Caudalie Divin is a late-summer picnic in verdant wine country.

Whilst I am very ambivalent about the bottle packaging of Nuxe Prodigieux, I want to squee to the world that this bottle is très divine. It’s an understated, elegant, high-quality ombre-gold bottle topped with a wooden (non-cheap!) lid. The robust cylindrical shape makes this perfume perfectly portable to throw in your everyday handbag.

Caudalie’s website describes this as a ‘delicate, sensual’ fragrance. I think the good folks that write copy at Caudalie HQ do not know the difference between spicy and delicate. For Parfum Divin is a spicy scent; delicate it is not.

Parfum Divin by Caudalie 2014

Parfum Divin by Jacques Cavallier

Parfum Divin Caudalieb FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Grapefruit, rose, pink pepper, vanilla, musk, cedar

Parfum Divin opens as a blast of fruity, floral musk. It’s a dry, clean-skin kind of musk as opposed to a dirty, animalistic one. The fruity-floral notes are green, rosey and sweet, with an artificial-grape note floating at the top. About an hour in, the ethereal floral-top notes have faded, revealing a dry layer of vanilla pods. At the same time, the rubbery artificial grapes start to be pushed out by punchy, pink peppercorns At the two hour mark, this fragrance is in full flight – it is indubitably about spicy peppercorns and vanilla pods. The peppercorns are just enough to stop you from wanting to lick your yummy sweet self.

Parfum Divin Caudalie The Narratographer Freckles the Rotherham Cow Whisperer... FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Bath and Unwind say: The scent evolves into a sophisticated and sensuous blend with an exotic allure. Combining the essence of Moroccan and Bulgarian rose absolutes, its heady floral bouquet is tempered with sharp grapefruit and spicy pink peppercorn, warm sweetness from Uganda planifolia vanilla beans, deep Virginia cedar and a blend of musks. 

The overall experience of Parfum Divin is fresh, elevating but also comforting, like being nuzzled in your favourite clean, fluffy, bath robe. Accordingly, Parfum Divin wafts close to the wearer, for your own personal pleasure. Longevity is 8hrs+, however a mid-day top-up is strongly recommended.

Parfum Divin Caudali romantic Pexels

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Geek Wearing Make-Up
Sephora has the line but I can’t find it online
Bath and Unwind has AUD$76/50ml (Sadly NOT to Aus & NZ)

Nuxe or Caudalie? Which do you prefer?

This Works: Deep Sleep Pillow Spray


Post by Willa Zheng


Hello APJ,

“To sleep, the perchance to dream”, Shakespeare once wrote. But really often, the stresses of modern living and our habit of being glued to the monitors of electronic devices at night, mean we don’t get good quality, restful, deep sleeps that enable us to wake up in the morning feeling well-rested and refreshed.
Enter, this pillow spray invented by This Works. Comprised of the essentials oils from lavender, patchouli, ho wood, vetivert (better known to us as vetiver) and wild chamomile flower extracts, This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Pray is my stalwart bedside hero-product.

This Works: Deep Sleep Pillow Spray

This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray

The way this pillow spray works is that the scent quietens your mind. Think of inhaling a bowl of chamomile tea, infused with lavender and a dash of earthy patchouli. It’s instantly soothing and calming. Any thoughts and worries about the outside world gently float away. Deep Sleep Pillow Spray does the same thing to my mind as when I step into a clean, quiet, Jivamukti yoga studio.

Deep Sleep Pillow Spray is water based but dries fairly quickly, so there’s no wet pillow issues. The scent lingers on my linen for about 5 minutes – so I spray it just before I hop into my sheets.

This Works has also recently released a stronger, longer lasting, alcohol-based version of this spray, the Deep Sleep Plus+ Pillow Spray. The notes are still the same, but they’re encapsulated in special, slow-release molecules that break and get released as you move and fidget in your sleep at night. How clever!

This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray Sleepy Man Gisela Giardino FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

The only downside I can envisage to owning any of the Deep Sleep products is that you might become dependent on these sprays as a sleep aid. To that end, I don’t use it every night. Mainly for those tired, stressful days where every minute of quality sleep counts.

Disclaimer: It rarely takes me more than 5 minutes to fall asleep. If sleeping was an Olympic sport, I’d probably be an elite athlete. But even athletes have down days and are nevertheless always looking for ways to take their performance to the next level.

Of course, individual experiences will differ but it’s not too expensive to try it out yourself. Being able to drift off to sleep faster and at a deeper level is priceless, whether for an insomniac or sleep-athlete.

Mecca has $36/75ml
Willa Zheng

Escentric 01 by Geza Schoen for Escentric Molecules 2006


Post by Willa Zheng


Not to be confused with Molecules 01, its legendary single-note sibling, Escentric 01 (the one with barcodes printed on the bottle) is the most underrated ‘clean’ fragrance on the market. Yes, there is a devil-may-care overdose of Iso E Super (65% according to Luckyscent) but Molecules 01’s overlooked sibling is much much more (and superior) than that ol’ cedarwood note.

Escentric 01 by Escentric Molecules 2006

Escentric 01 by Geza Schoen

Escentric 01 Escentric Molecules FRagranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Amalfi lemon, pink pepper, iris, iso e super

Escentric 01 is a linear, long lasting (10hrs+) EDT that has become the everyday fragrance I reach for it when I want to smell clean, not distracting, and yet contains just enough soothing and grounding notes to make me feel contemplative. Yes reader, this is another study/writing scent.

Escentric 01 Escentric Molecules martini Lime Peel WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

It smells of a fresh, green (lime peel), woody-peppery, clean-musk fragrance that reminds you of laundry powder and good personal hygiene. It’s one of those skin-scent fragrances that meld with the chemistry of the wearer, but unlike normal skin-scents, this one you do not need to press your nose close in order to catch a whiff. Thanks to the high concentration of Iso E Super, Escentric 01 lifts and amplifies the natural notes contained on your skin (musk and amber in my case), projecting them with surprising tenacity. This is probably not a good fragrance to wear if you eat a lot of garlic and curry.

But make no mistake, this fragrance is very woody – like breathing in cedarwood dust if you were to press your nose to the sprayed surface. The dry, dusty woods is counterbalanced by a sheer, watery quality, not dissimilar to Jean-Claude Ellena. If Hermes and Jean-Claude Ellena started a diffusion line for the cool kids of Brooklyn, this might have been it.

Escentric 01 Escentric Molecules Jetty Unsplash PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

Further reading: Now Smell This and Katie Puckrik
First In Fragrance has €115/100ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/ml

From LuckyScent: Second only to its sister scent Molecule 01, Escentric 01 boasts the highest concentration of the aroma chemical Iso E Super ever to be used in perfumery (65%)…… The tart lime and zesty pink pepper are a sparkling shot into the dark heart of Escentric 01’s moody, soft wood nature, while orris incense adds a dash of smoky incense and turns up the heat. Emotional and dazzling.

Have you tried anything from the Escentric Molecules Escentric line?

Van Der Faun: New Australian Perfume House

Hello smellies,
Whilst having my dalliance with natural fragrances last month, I chanced across another Aussie player on the natural perfume scene, Van Der Faun. A Brisbane-based family business that launched with two organic perfumes (Hummingbird, River) in just April this year, it’s the new kid on the scene.

Van Der Faun Header

Van Der Faun has an incredibly hip website and brand design seriously targeted at the luxury, young, beautiful, health-conscious fashion set. Happily, perfume doesn’t judge if you’re not any of those things. We can all smell as desirable as Gigi Hadid, even though we may not look as fab in lululemon leggings and neon print crop tops.

Hummingbird by Van Der Faun 2015

Hummingbird Van der Faun

Van Der Faun gives these featured accords in one line:
Rose, Honeysuckle, Geranium, Bergamot, Palmarosa, Amyris, Patchouli

Miss Dior Cherie went to India and discovered Hinduism, meditation and yoga.

Hummingbird opens with a high concentration of rose oil. Initially, it’s like burying your nose inside a fresh open bloom but then it settles into a diluted rose otto scent. As you’re noticing the rose otto, a gourmand, juicy, sweet honeysuckle pushes through. A sprig of geranium and bergamot are then added to lift the rose and give it some structure.

Overall, Hummingbird is about green herbaceous citrus notes melding with sweet honeysuckle and deep sensuous rose petals that sit on a futon bed of patchouli. The combined effect is like visiting the floral-scented incense stall at the local Indian supermarket. Only the visitor is a trendy 2010s Instagram following female, rather than of the 90s Madonna Ray of Light era.

Hummingbird smells exactly like what I’d imagine Isabel Lucas or Teresa Palmer would wear. It’s fun to wear Hummingbird and briefly imagine yourself in the skin of those photogenic holistic lifestyle goddesses with sun-tanned yogalates bodies and perfect white teeth. Can a man wear Hummingbird? Only the Russell Brands of the world.

The sillage is moderate and stays robust for approx 3hrs, so definitely be prepared to top up during the day.

River by Van Der Faun 2015

River Van der Faun

Van Der Faun gives these featured accords in one line:
Neroli, Geranium, Bergamot, Sweet Orange, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Clove bud

River is exactly as it’s described on the website. “A warm, spicy scent with a fresh citrus overtone, soft wild flower notes and a solid earthy base.” It’s more unisex than the overtly sweet and feminine Hummingbird, and is geared towards those who like to line their bathrooms with apothecary-style products from Aesop.

I find River soothing. It’s a thinking, study scent; and also one that grounds me emotionally to send me to the land of sleep.
River is quieter and humbler compared to the showpony that is Hummingbird. But it projects further on warm skin, enveloping the wearer in a cloud of linalool (bergamot, orange, geranium) soft peppery spicyness. Unfortunately, River doesn’t hold for as long as Hummingbird. Less than one hour later, River has evaporated into a faint puddle of patchouli, clove oil and cedarwood.

Overall, I think Van Der Faun is an interesting offering for those who want to smell all earthy and as a ‘wellness’ lifestyle goddess, and those who aren’t put off by the short longevity of their sprays. The main effect of these natural fragrances is definitely in the first hour. Nevertheless, I have found a permanent place for natural perfumes in my life. They’re perfect for spraying before bedtime, as I would have drifted off to la la land by the time the notes are faded.

Van Der Faun has an excellent Trial Pack with both fragrances x 5ml/$20

Do you have any perfumes that you spray and pretend you’re someone different?
Willa xx

Thaleia by IME Natural Perfume


Post by Willa Zheng


Thesis writing is really boring, tedious work. To get myself in the right frame of mind to sit down and slog it out, I have to play really depressing melancholic music [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KylMqxLzNGo] – and calm my monkey brain from turning to the internet for blissful distractions at the first mental roadbump. Back in the days when I was a law student, I’d read unhappy 19th century novels to prep my mind for the cerebral aerobics ahead.

As most of my personal frag collection distract and uplift me with their beauty, I typically stay away from fragrances during exam or assignment writing crunch times.

For a long time, my study slog of choice had been Roger & Gallet Eau de Gingembre. But as it’s winter and there’s a certain chilly bite in the air, I find it’s not cutting the mustard any more. I need something more robust, to grab me by the back of my neck and force me to type type type the words I need onto the page. I am looking for something gloomy but not insipid.

Thaleia by IME Natural Perfume


IME gives these featured accords in one line:
Lime, Litsea Cubeba, Citronella, Pine, Geranium, Patchouli

My work scent at the moment is Ime natural perfume’s Thaleia []. Natural perfume? I can see you rolling your eyes. But hear me out, fellow fragrance connoisseur. All of Ime’s natural fragrances are actually worked on by a professional and skilled local perfumer with over 40 years of experience in the industry. The founder and creative director, Tonia Walker, uses her natural therapy background to create a range of perfumes that have notes that affect and alter our moods. In essence, Ime is an aromatherapy-fine fragrance hybrid. Emotion changing scents that don’t collapse or become undetectable half an hour later. They also comply with IFRA – which is no small feat since IFRA has restricted the use of so many natural materials.

Thaleia by IME Natural Perfume Sweet-lime WikiPediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Thaleia is fresh, lime-like, but has a herbal naturopathic undertone (Patchouli, Geranium, Pine) that really grounds me mentally. The top notes are reminiscent of Jurlique’s now discontinued Lemon-Lime Hydrating Essence. It’s like holding a fresh lime in your hand, peeling back the green skin, getting squirts of the green zest, then bitter white pith, to reveal the centre of the fruit as damp dirt-like patchouli. The overall texture is oily and powdery, so the Proustian effect is like walking into a dark, candle-lit 90s-era Perfect Potion store with citrusy essentials oils burning in oil burners on the counter. It has quite a New Age feeling – which is fitting for the Greek goddess theme that Ime tailors each fragrance around.

Thaleia by IME Natural Perfume Aurora_Greek_Goddess WikiMediaPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

Very linear, with moderate sillage. Even its the drydown, Thaleia is a green, citronol, patchouli scent. A two squirt blast on my neck region can keep me working for 10hrs +. Not bad for a natural, heh?

IME Natural Perfumes have $59.95/30ml and a great sample deal

Now tell me, fellow APJ-er, do you have a ‘deep thinking’ scent?
Willa Zheng xx

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil


Post by Willa Zheng


When it comes to personal fragrance, I don’t think perfume body oils get enough love. They condition your hair, give your skin a healthy fresh-from-vacation glow, and smell ah-mazing for hours. A good quality perfume body oil will outlast any cologne, and most EDP’s.

And that’s the one I’m going to introduce to you today – Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil, nosed by none other than superstar perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian.

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil EscentualPhoto Stolen Escentual

Fragrantica gives these featured accords for the fragrance:
Top: Mandarin orange, grapefruit, cumin
Heart: Fig leaf, fig
Base: Fig nectar, cedar, musk

Now, the deal with body oil fragrances is they’re pretty linear. What you smell from the first spray is generally what you’re still smelling 5hrs later. No hidden unexpected notes. I know that some connoisseurs enjoy the three-stage transformative experience à la Serge Lutens, I personally prefer honest, linear fragrances that can hit the mark from the get go.

So what does Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier smell like? Is it fruity and florally? Yes and yes, but in a classy, expensive and French kind of way. Fleur de Figuier is not a green fig that recalls Diptyque Philosykos, nor a sweet milky one like L’artisan Premier Figuier. If you’re after a photorealistic, heavy lactonic and green fig fragrance, look to those houses. Fleur de Figuier is the sweet juicy inside of a fig, combined with sweet juicy mandarin and some grapefruit so it doesn’t become too saccharine. It’s the fruity floral fragrance for the fruity-floral loving gal (and older woman) who doesn’t want to smell so mass market generic.

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil  Roger & GalletPhoto Stolen Roger & Gallet

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil is a dry oil so you can put clothes on right afterwards, and you’re not going to feel sticky or greasy. It’s made from a mixture of fruit oils and sweet almond oil. 96% natural origin ingredients, apparently. Sweet almond oil is thin and light, so it’s not as nourishing as other cult oils on the market but you shouldn’t use it primarily as a skincare product. This oil is so perfume concentrated, you’re going to knock your nose out.
Instead, treat it as a perfume body oil, another way to deliver fine fragrance to your person. I tend to do two sprays on each arm and get juicy sweet scent wafting throughout the whole day. And even picking up the bottle is nice because Roger & Gallet is a proud French company that cares about how its products are presented. This oil comes in an attractive, quality glass bottle with a solid clear Perspex lid. Very dignified.

Roger & Gallet does other fragranced body oils in its line. Even if you’re not a fruity floral person, I recommend giving the other dry oils a go. You might just get converted.

Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Ultra-Nourishing Oil   Figs _Nini_ PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

Further reading: Fluff & Fripperies and Make Up For Dolls
Escentual has £25/100ml

Now, do you have a favourite perfume body oil?
Willa Zheng x

SmackDown: Le Galion Sortilege (2014) vs Lavin Arpege (vintage)


Post by Willa Zheng


Psst, there’s quiet buzz about a new old perfume house on the scene. Two months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting creative director, Nicolas Chabot, whilst he was in town to promote the resurrection of the venerable but now largely forgotten fragrance house of Le Galion.

SmackDown: Sortilege 2014 vs Arpege vintage

sortilege Le GalionPhoto Stolen Le Galion

Owned by perfumer Paul Vacher (Miss Dior, Diorling) during its heyday (1935-1975), the flagship fragrance in Le Galion’s coffret is Sortilege. Sortilege was Vacher’s first creation for Le Galion when he purchased the house from a French prince. Prior to Le Galion, Vacher worked for Lavin and was one of the perfumers for Arpege. Now as the owner and head perfumer of his own perfume house, Vacher wanted to revisit his early work and create it now the way he would have it. Voilà, Sortilege, the unofficial “director’s cut” of Arpege.

Arpege Parfum Lanvin FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Unfortunately, with the restricted availability and banned use of certain raw materials, Nicolas had to enlist the help of perfumer Thomas Fontaine (Joy Forever) to reformulate Vacher’s 1935 masterpiece for the 2014 market. We know that Arpege is now but a wan spectre of its former glorious self but how does the new version of Sortilege compare to Arpege, as Paul Vacher understood it?

This month’s smackdown is a battle of the old verses the new. And to control for variability in vintage sample qualities, we’re smacking Sortilege (2014) against not one but two vintage versions, parfum 60s & edt 80s, of Arpege. Thanks Portia!

SmackDown Boxing Match tpsdave PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

SmackDown: The First Hit

Le Galion Sortilege (2014)
Sortilege opens like a fruity-floral lemonade. The aldehydic experience is not unlike Chanel No. 5 Eau Premier. It’s peachy, juicy white florals. Complex and beautifully blended, Sortilege smell like spring – late spring to be precise.
The opening notes, curiously, are best described in Fragrancetica’s top notes listing for Arpege – aldehydes, peach, lily of the valley, neroli, bergamot and honeysuckle. I could not detect any lilac nor much ylang ylang at this open.
Lanvin Arpege (vintage)
Arpege parfum opens to what seems to be leather and oakmoss. There is some aldehyde but it’s not the fizzy sparkling quality found in Sortilege or Chanel No. 5. I suspect this is due to age of the sample. Then the parfum starts to develop a green, woody character. Is it patchouli? Or coriander? It’s hard to tell for vintage perfumes, when the notes can just be bruised.
Portia’s vintage EDT also opens to oakmoss, and birch tar. There’s a dark rubbery quality to it, and the aldehyde is soft.

SmackDown: Round Two

Le Galion Sortilege (2014)
As the aldehydes soften, deeper notes like rose and jasmine come to Sortilege’s fore. It is strong, sweet and assertive.
Lanvin Arpege (vintage)
Within minutes after the parfum opens, clean bright jasmines begin to sing. As the jasmine flowers soar, they lift up and carry along with it other white florals. Lily, rose, geranium, lily of the valley… they’re all there. The experience is like inhaling inside a white wedding bouquet. Sweet, radiant, and beautiful. Arpege parfum is the bride in her wedding dress; she is the centre of attention and will compete with no one.
Arpege EDT changes her posture at a breakneck speed. Before you could even enjoy the deep, heavy opening notes, they vanish and are replaced by a clean, soapy (iris, geranium, lily) jasmine accord. But there’s still a slight rubbery quality to it. A darker, smokier white floral fragrance than the parfum. It’s reminiscent of YSL Opium, if Opium had been spiked with powdery, white floral notes.
Warning: There’s no gentleness about either Arpege samples. The white flowers are LOUD and will wear out your nostrils. It’s like Giorgio Beverly Hills, the 80s, all over again. NSFW.

SmackDown: The Knockout

Le Galion Sortilege (2014)
Half an hour later, the Sortilege experience becomes less juicy and the final base of sweet sandalwood, amber and musk is revealed. This base remains linear to the conclusion.
Lanvin Arpege (vintage)
In the parfum’s final phase, sandalwood and amber emerge to ground the white floral bouquet just before she has worn out her host’s patience. But there’s a medicine box, chypre (green-woody) quality to this base, echoing Clinique Elixir and Estee Lauder Youth Dew. Her last breath is civet.
The EDT is heavier on the sandalwood, and has noticeably more labdanum and civet. The effect is sharper and more tenacious than the parfum.

SmackDown: Verdict

Although Sortilege (2014) and Arpege (1927) can both be classified as aldehydic white florals with a sweet amber base, they have completely different personalities. Sortilege is prettier and well suited for the modern fruity-floral palette. It’s very wearable and has no ugly bits. Arpege is more challenging – but rooted in the era when chypre was the new big thing.
Sillage wise, Arpege wins Paul Vacher’s bouquet toss. Sortilege wears close to the skin and lasts a moderate 6-8hrs. Arpege parfum and EDT tied at 6-8hrs as well.

Now tell me, is there a vintage fragrance you’d like to ‘make over’?
Willa Zheng