Hello perfume people and welcome to another episode of Mood Scent 4. For this session we’re featuring our favourite Golden Oldies fragrances. My scented partners are Portia at A Bottled Rose, L’Esperessence and I Scent You A Day. We are your perfume selectors for perfumes for various moods and occasions.
So I must confess that this edition will be a little tricky for me as I don’t have many vintage style fragrances in my collection as I generally wear recent perfumes, even though there are many Golden Oldies that I admire. So I’ve decided that my criteria for Golden Oldie fragrances are those that were created at least 20 years ago, ie before 2000, but the first fragrance will be a bona fide vintage gem.
So let’s kick it off.
- Shalimar : Guerlain : Jacques Guerlain : 1925
Well this is one Golden Oldie that I adore. This is my favourite old school fragrance by a golden mile. Shalimar is a seductive perfume with a sense of swagger. This was the perfume of flapper girls with an attitude back in the day and rumour has it that Americans took to it faster than the French. I doubt this would be the case today with the state side preference for clean, fresh laundry scents.
So as I have previously written here on these pages, the key to Shalimar’s success is the contrast between the light and dark elements and the transformation to that exquisite vanilla with coumarin for extra richness. Shalimar is undoubtedly one of the best vanillas in existence. I know it’s not the only story in this perfume but the Guerlain vanilla reigns supreme and if you can wait for its arrival in the dry down and not be put off by the raunch, it is special indeed.
Perfumer Ernest Beaux (creator of Chanel No 5, No 22, Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles amongst others) spoke of Jacques Guerlain’s talent for vanilla in his compositions.
“When I use vanilla, I make crème caramel, when he uses vanilla, he makes Shalimar”.
I do wonder if Shalimar will last the distance though, will it still be a perfume that future generations enjoy? I do hope so, but when looking at the sales rankings from 2018 for the prestige feminine market, Shalimar comes in at No 17 in France while in the US, UK, Italy and Germany it doesn’t make the top 30. I expect the French still have a history with it, and the house of Guerlain but in other markets less so. Flankers also tend to come and go including Shalimar Souffle de Parfum that is still knocking about.
I think Shalimar really has a certain vibe so wear it when you want to channel some of that flapper attitude with a touch of sparkle, passion and sassy sexiness.
2. Feminité du Bois : Serge Lutens : Christopher Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon, 1992
This I believe is the first woods centric feminine fragrance which at the time back in the 90’s was a game changer. I don’t have an original Shiseido bottle but I do have an older Lutens version with a Palais Royale logo. I can’t say how this bottle compares to the latest edition (in the collage above) but I expect there are differences in addition to the ageing of the scent too. The Shiseido version is acknowledged as the superior iteration.
Compared to today’s heavy woods fragrances, Feminité du Bois is comparatively light and airy but there is a significant amount of cedar in the fragrance so you must like this material to enjoy the scent. Fruits and spices have a lighter touch than some of the later Lutens but it definitely has that unmistakeable stewed fruit odour. I have pulled Feminité du Bois out for the cooler months and am looking forward to wearing it.
This is what perfumer Maurice Roucel (Iris Silver Mist, Musc Ravageur) said of the fragrance, in a rough translation.
“It starts like a fantasy, that of Serge Lutens. It doesn’t reproduce the smell of the cedar tree, but that of a craft shop that works cedar wood to make moucharabiehs in Marrakech. The souk, the spices … a dry sparkling cedar. A real gem!”
3. Mûre et Musc : L’Artisan Parfumeur : Jean-Francois Laporte : 1978
An older French niche classic this is a cologne style fragrance although very long lasting. It has a clean musky profile cut with red and black fruits and an aromatic hint of basil. It’s fruity but not sugared. This is one of those perfect everyday scents that can be worn frequently and in any situation.
It is not a scent that will likely garner much attention as it’s not boisterous, but well done and works really well in summer. Mûre et Musc could also be worn by the whole family. It’s definitely one of the cleanest scents I have and can also be spritzed as a room freshener when required. Obviously this is not really the done thing, but when you have boxes of fragrances, a little room spritzing from time to time is essential.
4. Coco : Chanel : Jacques Polge : 1983
Just a beautiful scent from Chanel. One of my favourites, and a silky, smooth, elegant amber fragrance with just the right hint of spice. Coco is warm with a tender touch, and smells like sunlight hitting skin on a golden hued day. It’s a glammed out evening scent with heels and red lipstick and has always smelled classy and chic. This is a scent that is not fashionable today but it kicks Coco Madamoiselle to the curb every time. Each to their own.
You can read more about the original advertisement filmed by Jean-Paul Goude and featuring Vanessa Paradis here.
Notes : Fragrance images from the brand websites.