Promise Her Anything: Lanvin Arpège

Okay, I admit that my experience with Arpège is nil. I don’t remember it being one of my mother’s favorites (she either went ultra-femme with Joy or butch with Bandit) and by the time I was a teen it was the 70’s and other scents had rolled in that were considered “Younger” and “Fresher”. Since I ordered something from that scent purveyor that draws you in with “only $12 more to get free shipping!” I thought what the hey and popped for a bottle. I also scored an older, tiny bottle of what the seller write was perfume in a handsome little display box for not a lot that judging by the packaging is A) extrait and 2) not that old.

Back in the 50’s Cadillac decided that it would produce a car like no other for the most discerning buyer. Color and trim choices made it just this side of bespoke, electronic and comfort assists were such that some weren’t seen on other luxury cars until today. In the glove box were magnetized drinking tumblers, notepad and pen set, vanity case for the ladies, and a bottle of Arpège. Finding an Eldorado Brougham with any parts of the accessory set in it is like finding a unicorn: in 2006 a seller got $10000 for an unopened accessory bottle set and was asking $60k for another one. It was that kind of perfume at the time: grand enough to be included in a car that cost more than a Rolls-Royce (and most peoples houses) and was meant to be owned by the cream of US society, but still considered to be in impeccable taste.

As for the ones I got (for far less…)

The big bottle is nice. Aldehydes and Bergamot and flowers and a little hint of peach. Which sounds like it would be some combo of Chanel No. 5 and Mitsouko, but it lacks some of the sparkle and plushness of the Chanel and the lethal edge of the Guerlain. I definitely doesn’t skew young, which is I suppose something that everyone who isn’t actually young would shrink from like vampires faced with garlic-scented sunlight. It doesn’t say old either. This version to me comes across as the scent that a well-dressed woman would wear to the board meeting (where she is President, naturally.) It says “I am supremely confident in both my achievements and my abilities- enough that I can wear a supremely confident and feminine scent. Question any of the former at your peril.”

The extrait however..

Imagine that same lady (because Arpège is nothing if not ladylike) coming back from that office and preparing for a night out. Something formal- not the Met Ball (not this week anyway) but formal with an “F” in caps. A bare-shouldered gown with a wasp waist and full skirt. Hair up and Victory Red lips. This concentration goes on initially with more force- the opening is a lot more green before the aldehydes come in (as a matter of fact if it stayed that way I’d be delighted to wear it myself) ushering in the flowers. It’s stronger, but hardly as in your face as say Tabu. Honey Bear (Ava Gardner) in Mogambo would wear Tabu. Linda (Grace Kelly) would wear Arpège.

I’d happily wear either.

Arpège is available at various e-tailers for not a lot of money and is out there on eBay. I purchased both of mine. Photo of Cadillac from Interwebs, other photos mine.

  • Musette says:

    Probably to absolutely no one’s surprise, I wear the living daylights out of Arpege and have many iterations, including the vintage dusting powder. It is everything you said here – and more. Surrender to Chance has a vintage extrait that will make you tear your skin off in ecstasy!!!


    • Tom says:

      They do? I couldn’t find anything when I looked- damn!!

      I would think this would be totally you.

  • filomena813 says:

    I have a vintage bottle of Arpege parfum that I have had for years but hardly ever wear it. Mine is the extract and it is in the little black bottle pictured above. I will have to dab some on myself once I finish this post.

  • rosarita says:

    I love Arpege, it was my first perfume. My parents brought it home from their first European vacation when I was about 8. My mother had picked it out because of the mother and child on the front of the bottle. I have always had some tucked away, for years I had a bottle of the bath oil that I doled out bit by bit. My current bottle is about 30 years old but like DinaC, it has been usurped by the rest of my collection and I only wear Arpege a few times a year, usually in the spring. I imagine the extrait is wonderful, thanks for the review.

  • March says:

    I think those Lanvin bottles are gorgeous … I tried this a couple of times and it’s definitely not “me” but I thought it was absolutely lovely. Thanks for the review and the fun facts about that Cadillac!

  • Dina C. says:

    The tag line for Arpege used to be, ” Promise her anything, but GIVE her Arpege.” My mother gave me a bottle on my 21st birthday. Notice the gold emblem on the boule bottle? It’s a mother and daughter, according to my research. I wore Arpege as my favorite scent all through my 20s. This would have been in the mid-80s. (I was very out of step for the times.) I still love it, but my perfume hobby has added so many scents that Arpege only gets an outing a few times per year. Like you, I love the green notes in it.

    • Tom says:

      Well bless you for being out of step! I wish more people were!

      I did know about that (the bottle.) Also the scent was named for a niece who was a pianist, apparently.

      Those green notes! I could so love a perfume that just stayed there…

  • cinnamon says:

    Sundowner has a lovely boozy thing going (among others).

    20 minutes … that’s like … nothing in perfume. It appears you can get the line here (at Harrods) but they are silly money.

    • cinnamon says:

      that was in wrong place — should have been on my Monday post. Sorry. Arpege … I keep meaning to look for an older bottle at all my many local charity shops. I am sure it will pop up at some point.

      • Tom says:

        You seem to do well at those shops. We don’t have them here that much- at least in SoCal that I know of. If anyone can steer me to a few please do!

      • Annie says:

        Hi Cinnamon!
        I found two lovely older bottles I either got at an antique store or estate sales. Either way, they are old. They are Eau Arpege natural spray(?) probably just perfume, lol.
        One has a box, the other is without its box.
        One for you and one for Tom.
        You guys can duke it out?.

        I think you can get my email through this comment? If not, please comment and let me know the best way to do it.

        Other vintages await homes, too.

    • Tom says:

      I’m going to have have to hunt this down- you’ve piqued my curiosity.

  • cinnamon says:

    I sampled Arpege a couple of decades ago from somewhere in NYC. Was with my father and son and my father loved it. It is not me though. I can appreciate it but it just doesn’t quite work … for whatever reason. I’m still hoping to find a really old bottle at some local charity shop and have that be the one that works.

    • Tom says:

      I can’t really say that it’s “Me” either (no Grace Kelly am I..) but I enjoy it and would wear it if only to laze about the house and pretend I’m in “Rear Window”


    • Annie says:

      I have quite a few vintage Lanvins. I’ll check, but pretty positive at least two bottles of Arpege. One for you and one for Tom. ? I’ll check in tomorrow. You’ll help me declutter unloved perfumes.

      • Tom says:


        • Annie says:

          Hi Tom!
          I just posted to Cinnamon about the Arpege bottles.
          I found two. One has a box, one doesn’t.
          You have a bottle waiting for you and so does Cinnamon. I’m not sure how the getting in touch thing works. I mostly lurk, constantly. ?
          Please let me know how to get in touch with you or if Cinnamon can give you my email.

  • alityke says:

    The fraternal triplets
    The Beautiful One – No 5
    The Kind One – L’Aimant
    The Smart one – Arpege
    They all share the same DNA, share the same bone structure but the flesh is slightly differently arranged on each.
    I do like Arpege, I’ve owned & thunked a bottle but never replaced her. The other two have been staples in my collection for decades

  • Portia says:

    If you promise me the world and give me Arpege you might end up with a split lip.

    I have an old Arpege parfum somewhere around here. I’ll try to find it Tom.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      Ha ha! Good one! It wasn’t a great tag line if you think about it..

      Post about it when you find it. I’d love to read what you think.

  • Maggiecat says:

    I have a vintage bottle of Arpege that I rescued from my mother’s house as we were digging it out to get ready to sell. I do not remember her wearing this at all – my dad’s favorite scent for her was Tabu (I have a bottle of that too) and she liked Jean Nate and Avon scents mostly. (As I got older, she also tended to wear anything I started wearing as did my sister.) I’ll have to get that Arpege bottle out now that I’ve read your review!

    • Tom says:

      Id love to read what you think of it.

      Not surprised your Dad liked Tabu on your Mom. It’s pretty sexy.