Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rumeur, Scandal, Arpège : Lanvin : André Fraysse

I'm continuing my foray into Lanvin's discontinued greats with this set of vintage Rumeur (1934), Scandal (1933), and Arpège (1927) parfums, my latest fleabay find. I'm stunned with the beauty of these three. I've come to adore My Sin, so I was very eager to get my hands on more Lanvin perfumes. I have no idea how old this little set of .5 oz. bottles is, but I felt as if I'd discovered long-buried treasure when I opened up the package to discover three perfect, still-sealed bottles.

Let me start with what I consider the strangest and most challenging of the three, surprisingly: Rumeur. I've yet to find a list of notes for this perfume, and I've heard it described sometimes as a floral leather. I'm not sure if my nose is out of whack, but I could swear there is an intensely camphorous, medicinal opening here. Could that be, or has this seemingly perfectly preserved bottle gone off? Bless my bloomers if this isn't a carnation and clove scent! A bit of a winey rose and leather accord could be in there as well, and it is certainly bone dry. What a shock, compared to the recent sweet little frooty-floral reformulated version. I say it's challenging, but only because it is very assertively clove-like, which is not a favorite note of mine. It does dry down to a lovely leathery, if still medicinal, spice-and-moss concoction. If you have experience of this in its original state, I would greatly appreciate any details/notes/memories you can provide!

Scandal is the most mouth-wateringly gorgeous leather I've ever smelled since Chanel's Cuir de Russie. Before giving my impressions, though, let me admit to some strong opinions on leather scents, so that you'll know where I stand. I'm often somewhat frustrated with reviews when I have no idea of that person's preferences and/or prejudices, so if you feel the same frustration, bear with me and maybe you'll find this sorta helpful, if pedantic. I am one of those who cannot stand anything remotely syrupy in a leather perfume. Nope, can't do Lutens' Daim Blond, or even (gasp!) Caron's Tabac Blond parfum (recent formulation). The Parfumerie Generale leathers have a synthetic, thick, gooey quality that turns me off entirely. There are also some leathers, such as Knize Ten, that are a bit too tough and arid for me. Bandit (recent edp) and Jolie Madame are both close to the experience of licking a wet ashtray--not bearable, in other words. Other leather references? I do like the new Diorling edt quite a lot, but it is more jasmine and tobacco than leather, it seems to me. I like Dzing, and absolutely adore vintage Miss Dior and Chanel no. 19.

Whew, okay, if you're still with me, the point is: above all of the others, Chanel's Cuir de Russie has always been my floral-leather touchstone, and with Scandal I've now twice the joy. In a side-by-side test of the two (both in parfum), my recently bought CdR is immediately all luscious, aldehydic iris laced with mellow spices, with a tasteful leather handbag in the background. In Scandal, the opening leathery snap is sharper, but when the florals arrive, the result is an uncannily similar iris-leather. Both are elegantly dry, without a smidge of syrup. The leather in Scandal just lasts and lasts and lasts, compared to the new CdR parfum. If you hear a "squee!!" and a thump, that would be me, falling over in ecstasy. "Wow," is all I can say.

Finally, does anything more even need to be said about the plush, velvet-sandalwood and rose that is the original Arpège? On my previous sniffs--perhaps of the new formulation, in my defense--how could I have thought the rose and sandalwood combination sour and matronly? I'm not a rose lover, but in the vintage parfum, at least, the rose is so well blended that it adds only a translucent blush to a fragrance that could have otherwise been slightly opaque. Arpège is like a woman with such effortless grace and elegance you'd almost like to hate her, but can't, or--how about a less catty description?--a captivating gesture made by a sultry, brainy woman in passionate conversation.

If you'd like to learn more about the Lanvin classics, I highly recommend reading reviews of Scandal by NowSmellThis and the original Arpège by BoisdeJasmin.

Kindly tune in again as this blogger continues with reviews of some favorites you don't necessarily have to hunt down on fleabay: Je Reviens Couture, Magie Noire, Bal a Versailles, and perhaps new treasures yet-to-be-discovered on an upcoming trip to New York!