Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Oh dear, more perfume: Caron Farnesiana and Lanvin Arpege

This week I decided it was warm enough for my perfume collection to go on its annual migration. Light and heat are bad for ‘fumes, so all mine are kept in their boxes, and in summer they get moved from my bedroom, which gets stuffy during the day, to the darker, cooler, dining room. I simply popped them into a very large paper bag to move them en masse... and the bottom fell out. Houston, we have a problem.



None of the bottles were harmed in any way, but it did make me wonder if I might have hit my fragrance limits. Tough if I had, as I’d already placed an order with allbeauty.com, one of my favourite discounters. They’d got a delivery of Caron scents in. I adore Caron, but they’re jolly pricy. However, I have been worrying about reformulations/discontinuations; Caron discontinued Narcisse Noir before I had a chance to stock up for posterity, so I bought a backup bottle of French Can Can to stash, and one of Farnesiana, which I’ve had a sample of and loved but hadn’t got round to buying. And then a bottle of Lanvin Arpege fell into the basket too.

This sounds rather extravagant, but Mum had given me some money from some left to her by my stepnan, who gave me my first-ever bottle of perfume. (It was an Avon one in a bottle shaped like Jemima Puddleduck.) Buying some gorgeous scents seemed like a fitting way to remember her.
Lanvin Arpege - the bottle feels lovely in the hand

Farnesiana doesn’t smell like a scent from the late 1940s, though that’s when it was invented. To me it smells Edwardian. It has a watercolour florality, like Guerlain L’Heure Bleu or Grossmith Phul-Nana. I’d been looking for something to replace L’Heure Bleu since perfume ingredient regulations forced Guerlain to butcher that scent, and on my first sniff of Farnesiana I knew I’d found it. That’s probably due to the fact that both contain heliotrope, giving them a deliciously almondy quality. Farnesiana is a much sunnier perfume than L’Heure Bleu, though, as it pairs heliotrope with mimosa, while L’Heure Bleu matches it with sweet, cool violet.

Arpege was first made in the 1920s and smells like it; it’s a classic aldehyde like Chanel No. 5. If you like Chanel No. 5 but find it’s out of your budget, I’d recommend trying Arpege on in a department store to see if you like it, then if you do you can get it cheap from an online discounter. Arpege is a real ‘Miss Fisher’, in that it’s elegant but forceful, very much of its era and impossible to ignore.

If you like to smell good, don't miss my Brief Guide to Vintage Perfumes: Up to 1940, 1940-1959 and 1960-1989, or my Five Fabulous Flapper Fragrances.

Supermodel...

7 comments :

  1. You are so incredibly knowledgeable on perfumes, I'd love to come round yours and sniff your whole collection one day! I probably have completely unrefined tastes, I've got some pricier perfumes but I have a confession that in summer I love a bit of Britney Spears Fantasy!!! You'll probably disown me now. P x

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    1. No, nothing wrong with Britney! My incredibly elfin editor on Simply Knitting used to wear that and it always smelled lovely.

      I read a review of Jade Goody Shh! the other day - by a perfumista - that said it was extremely good, and reminiscent of a high-end niche offering. Whodathunk it?

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  2. This is a really interesting post! I don't know as much about perfumes as Id like as I very rarely wear them but Ive been thinking of investing in a 20s or 30s style scent thanks for the info. You have a great blog

    retro rover

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    1. No probs. Do go into your local chemist and try a tester every once in a while - I do that just to keep up with modern fragrances. Perfume is pricy, so I'm a big advocate of wearing things a few times to make sure you like it before splashing out.

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  3. I think your purchases are a great way to remember your stepnan. What a lovely link.

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    1. Yes, I also have a set of coral jewellery she gave me - probably 50s. I think of her whenever I wear it.

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  4. Although I can't wear scent, as such, I'm very interested in the history of it and that sort of thing. And I adore beautiful bottles.
    I think buying some in memory of someone who gave you the first is a lovely idea.

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