There is a box of decants that I kept from the days when perfume trading was fun and exciting, and collecting more vials than I will ever need in my lifetime didn't feel burdensome. There was the thrill of the hunt, and the wonderful feeling of being taken care of when someone you only knew by their screen name and fragrance wardrobe sent you a surprise in the mail with vintage perfumes that smelled like nothing you ever smelled before... That was of course, before I smelled too many perfumes, before each year offered over 500 new releases, and I became too jaded and selective about what I put under my nose.

In a moment of olfactory boredom last night, I unearthed a roll-on with vintage Intimate in its vintage form (Revlon, 1955). The concentration is not specified, but judging from it lasting well into the next morning, I imagine it's at least an eau de toilette.

Intimate is a softly-spoken echo Miss Dior's green-floral-animalic-Chypre; a hazy mirror image of its New Look glam. There are green aldehydes at the top, but they've lost their sharp edge (possibly through aging and mellowing, but even still, comparing to the vintage Miss Dior I have they are less intense).

Intimate is definitely from the same genre (Chypre Floral Animalic, and sporting some definitive green notes), yet has a softer, powderier character right from the the start (a trait that is only evident in Miss Dior if you really pay close attention somewhere around the second act). It has edgy, woody-herbaceous notes peeking underneath, making the greenery less obvious. There is an aldehdic wisp at the opening as well. Mingled with the orris this creates a blending illusion, like smudging and blending pastel crayons that obscures the shapes of jasmine and rose that were just drawn moments ago. One can't quite tell when the jasmine and rose end and the oakmoss, sandalwood and cedarwood begin. The woods create a dry feel, a sort of temporary cleanliness. An animalic power roars from underneath, with the carcass of castoreum and the concentrated piss of civet create a dark, musky-sweet epilogue.

This phase dissipates faster than I would have liked it to, turning into a vintage Revlon lipstick scent, like the ones I would try on from my grandmother's dresser. My grandma always dressed elegantly, so lipstick was the only way to tell she's going somewhere importatn (work included, and she worked well into her 70s, and continued freelancing even after she officially retired). And if it was somewhere social, there will also be a dap of perfume or some Eau de Cologne splashing.

The drytdown (as observed the next morning) has a sweet and smooth amber and a musk compound that bears some fruity, berry-like qualities. Oakmoss is still there as well as a hint of greenery. Overall, there is a soft, close-to-the-skin feeling that's exactly what I would like in a perfume from the night before: a sweet reminder that something wonderful happened last night, but without having all your clothes reeking of it or making you want to wash it off. You could easily apply something else on top, or go for a second round.

Intimate is beautifully constructed and elegant, and smells sexy in a down-to-earth kind of way. If I didn't know who made it I would think it is a French perfume - it skips the loud statements that American fragrances so often have (both in sillage and tenacity) and instead offers a more nuanced perfume that even if it isn't a groundbreaker for its time, it is very well done and wonderfully enjoyable. The bottle in the ad shown perfectly conveys its style and class, which will be evident even if you are blindfolded and can't see it.

Top notes: Green Aldehydes, Bergamot
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Orris, Cedarwood, Sandalwood
Base notes: Oakmoss, Civet, Castoerum, Musk, Amber

Paloma's Corner: Vintage Coty Parfum de Toilette Set

Vintage Coty Parfum de Toilette set
Today, the long-awaited coffret of .5oz Parfum de Toilette arrived in the mail (if the concentration title confuses you, scroll over to Perfume Shrine, that helped clear out the mystery). Completely out of character, I didn't rip the package open till I got home (I usually spend the short walk from the post office to home absentmindedly crossing streets as my nose is plugged to a vial of this or that, if not to my wrist...).

Just as I expected, the packaging was a bit on the tacky side: clear plastic sleeve to showcase the 4 beaus, nestled in a bonbon-like golden box (the kind that would rotate around and around as "gifts" until someone dares to open them on a pathetic chocolate-craving moment only to find inside very stale, blooming chocolates filled with syrupy liquor...). The box is lined with black faux-velvet that has dents for each bottle.

But, to my delight, unlike a stale bonbon, each bottle was in pristine condition, and more importantly - the contents are as bright as ever, as if they were still fresh. Someone must have kept them very well - away from heat, moisture and light. I'm still trying to discover the estimated date for these beauties. I have a feeling they're from the late 70's or early 80's (especially knowing that one of them was not launched till 1965 or 1966 - it can't be earlier than that). Just based on the packaging and how fresh they still smell. Only one of the bottles had part of the splash lid stuck to the mouth of the bottle (which was easily fixed).

But packaging and recent perfume history aside, I'm sure you're more interested in what was in them. The quartet includes Emeraude (1921), l'Aimant (1927), Imprévu (1965) and l'Origan (1905). I got them because they were a really great price, and these classic can't hurt to have around (even though, from my rough perfume-head count this morning, I have at least 104 bottles, if I count all the flacons and parfum extrait minis - but not count other minis... Or samples... Ahum).

Emeraude and I met before, in a thrift store, and it's very much like Shalimar, from the bottle at least. l'Aimant is intensely floral aldehydic in a way that would make No. 5 feel less lonely. Imprevu was a pleasant surprise - very light and woodsy and musky, which prompted me to apply it almost immediately (more on that later). And l'Origan smells a little aromatic but also candy-sweet, along the lines of l'Heure Bleue.

I'm excited to have something to do on such a rainy day (because, clearly, unpacking all my raw materials for my perfume making class on Sunday is "not enough work", not to mention the other trip I have to make to the post office, to ship packages & thank-you gifts and SmellyBlog prizes off). Great distractions, I suppose. But that's what makes life all the more interesting!

Paloma's Corner: Vintage Chantilly

Nowhere, originally uploaded by J. Star.

Chantilly is a sensual mossy-ambery perfume. It begins with a typical chypre accord topped with whiff of lemon and underlined with rose, which quickly reveals the complex mossy aroma of cedar moss:
Woody, dry and somewhat powdery, and surprisingly - leathery!
The heart possesses also carnation and I believe a dash of allspice which can explain the dry spiciness, and some rich creamy jasmine that adds some roundness and balance.

As the scent evolves on the skin it becomes softer and less dry, and a beautiful amber base reveals itself: amber, benzoin and I suspect a bit of myrrh (which has a somewhat rubbery, balloon-like note) and very subtle animalic notes of opoponax. The leather is now a lot more gentle and mellow.

Chantilly has a captivating and calming sensuality –
It’s like an old seductress that will always be tempting to wear again…
It is sexy in a subtle and classical way, like a woman with a rich life experience behind her, and a beauty that is not artificial or pretentious.

I see is standing hand in hand with other mossy orientals such as Nuit de Noel, Femme (I am referring to the parfum) En Avion and Vol de Nuit.

The vintage is a lot less sweet than I remember the new Chantilly to be and a lot less floral. It is neither as powdery and musky-sweet as the current version available in drugstores these days.

Top: Lemony, but just for a few seconds

Heart: Floral and spicy. Carnations, roses, jasmine

Base: Cedar moss (a lot more dry and powdery than oak moss - but this could also come from peru balsam essential oil, rather than the crude resin), Amber, Benzoin, Opoponax, Myrrh, Leather

P.s. Special thanks to Frances-Anne (AKA Paloma) who enabled me to try this beautiful vintage scent, and many others).

Molinard's Mimosa Concreta

Amongst his many other talents, my brother Noam has an infamous talent for finding treasures in the least expected places: alleys, photo booths, flea markets and forsaken thrift shops in Tel Aviv. One of them was an antique coffret of three Molinard’s concretas (solid perfumes) presented in their original bakelite boxes. Inside they look a bit like an ancient dark resinous lipstick.

I researched these a bit and they could be dated as far back as the 1940’s. The three concretas have preserved their scent tremendously well, and among them was a Mimosa concreta. Although the material itself is waxy and somewhat sticky, it is worth inhaling for its magnifiscent, creamy mimosa fragrance. It is most delicious and reminds me a lot of Farnesiana (to be reviewed here on SmellyBlog shortly).

Paloma's Corner: Vintage Perfume Reviews

A couple of years ago Paloma (aka Frances-Anne Ade), a fine lady from the Perfume Addicts forum, sent me a gift of a lifetime: about 30 or so samples of rare vintage perfumes. To her this corner is dedicated, and I am hoping to be able to live up to the challenge of decoding the mysteries of these antique beauties.

The following are the links to the reviews of these rare treasures:

Coty's Chypre (Vintage)
Balalaika (LeLong)
Shocking (Schiaparelli)
Coty's l'Origan (Vintage)
Caline (Patou)
Chantilly (Vintage)
Femme (Vintage parfum)
Kiku (Faberge)
Le Dix (Bellanciaga)
Intimate (Vintage)
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