Well I promised you a perfume review and you’re going to get one. It is going to be an exercise in frustration, because I am trying the vintage version of Givenchy’s L’Interdit against the new version which is available at e-tailers everywhere. I am sure all of you have heard the story of L’Interdit and know it backwards and forwards but it bears repeating: originally it was a bespoke scent, a love letter from Hubert de Givenchy to his friend and muse Audrey Hepburn. It was hers and hers alone for several years until it’s creator decided that he wanted to release it to the public as his first perfume. According to history, Miss Hepburn said “Mais, je l’interdis!” (“but, I forbid it!”) Cooler heads eventually prevailed and Miss Hepburn agreed to the release of what was now called L’Interdit, “The Forbidden One.” where it became an instant best-seller.
Now I guess I was not keeping up with the perfume news, but apparently the new and the old are two completely different animals. For whatever reason (fashion, tastes, costs, regulations of ingredients) the version that came out in 2018 bears only a slight resemblance to the one from 1957. That one was a full-bodied, feminine, aldehydic floral with a surprisingly strong core of grasses, amber and musk- It’s not only a beautiful scent but one that perfectly fits the woman it was designed for: elegant, a trained ballerina of an aristocratic family who knew the privations and heartbreak of being brought up in her Nazi-occupied native land, who went on to make her mark on Hollywood and the world not only through her beauty, grace, and style, but through her good works for the less fortunate through UNICEF.
The new one, not so much.
The Givenchy website writes this about it “A white flower crossed by a dark woody accord. L’Interdit Eau de Parfum for women — a fearless fragrance imbued with the frisson of freedom. Transgress your limits with audacity and feel empowered on the journey to self-discovery.“ Well okay then.
The thing is that the new version is fine. Very nice in fact. If I didn’t have a decent splosh of the real stuff to compare it to side-by-side I would be quite happy with it. It’s a pretty, office-friendly, don’t-scare-the-horses kind of scent (sorry perfumers.) Side by side it’s like Dom Perignon and Diet Pepsi. Side by side lets me know that what the new stuff it isn’t is L’Interdit.
How I wish some Indie perfumer would just come out with re-dos of these classics, with warning labels if neccesary. They could call the line FU-IFFRA, and they’d sell like hotcakes.
The new version is available practically on the moon at various price points. The old one is of course discontinued and I am sure there are bottles on eBay that are going for more than black-market organs, but I didn’t have the heart to check. My samples came from Surrender To Chance.
Photos: Pexels, Wikimedia Commons and my iPhone