Jeanne Lanvin: Fragrance Review

Hey, guess what?!?  In this month’s Elle (with Nicole Kidman on the cover) there’s an article about hardcore perfume addiction, featuring an interview with the Karens of Sniffapalooza, as well as mentions of Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, and … the Posse!!!  Congrats, everyone! Polishing my sidearms and brushing my cowgirl hat in anticipation of some new readers!

I was over at Saks last week, as usual, but not for the usual reasons.  As I detailed yesterday, I´m on a bit of a nail polish kick.  What I wanted was Chanel´s Rouge Noir nail varnish, which is the original Vamp color, rather than the glittery burgundy Chanel is now calling Vamp in the U.S.   I was irritated to discover it´s only available in a set of three different polishes (for $60) and, while one of the other colors is okay, the pale one is of no interest.  I waffled about buying Chanel´s Kaleidoscope instead, which is such an amazing color.  Online photos don´t do it justice – they make it look like a true silver, but when you´re looking at it in person, it´s this fantastic pale color that´s a perfect balance between green, silver and gold.  I wish someone like OPI or China Glaze would get busy and make a dupe of it.  But I digress.

 On the counter was Jeanne Lanvin – in a tall, elegant bottle that vintage collectors would recognize as having been recycled from My Sin and Arpege bottles of the past.  The cap is silver-toned, with the mother-and-child monogram most familiar from Arpege, and it´s one of the rare bottles that looks better in person than in photos.  It is the sort of bottle that I immediately want sitting on my dresser, projecting its quiet elegance.

And if all I were interested in was the bottle, we´d be set.  Unfortunately, I care about the fragrance inside, and here the news is not so wonderful.  Jeanne Lanvin is clearly designed to appeal to the same younger, fruity-floral-loving audience targeted by the re-make of Rumeur, which was also (presumably) designed to reel some customers into the venerable house.  Notes are blackberry, citrus, pear, peony, freesia, raspberry, sandalwood, amber and musk.  The fragrance was done by Anne Flipo and if you poke around online you can read quotes of the press releases articulating the desire that the fragrance be young, simple, and yet (!) sophisticated.

They hit two out of three.  The very nice SA showing it to me guessed apple and peony and she wasn´t far off.  The development is pretty minimal – it goes on in a burst of  idealized (rather than juicy) fruits and flowers; there is a slightly more powdery phase; then we´re on to the requisite PG-rated slightly gourmand musk.  It makes the new Rumeur look edgy in comparison.  The fragrance is also very light, at least to my nose; although it is (I think) an Eau de Parfum, it wears like a cologne.  An hour after application I could barely smelling it.

There exists in my mind a distinct perfume category: fragrance for women who like the idea of fragrance but don´t want to … you know … actually smell like anything.  They want a pretty bottle and a decent aspirational brand and the grown-up appeal of putting on perfume before work or a night on the town.  They just don´t want to smell it.  This would fit in there nicely, as would more than one of the Hermessences.   I can´t say I´m opposed to the idea, exactly – after all, I would rather smell (or more accurately, not smell) this on the women around me than some other gag-worthy fragrances I could name.   But I expected more from Alber Elbaz, their designer of often-breathtaking dresses like the two I´ve dropped in on this page from the fall collection.  I guess I’m not getting it.

  • jennine says:

    i think i’m one of those women who likes the idea of perfume, but doesn’t like to smell like anything.

    i also like the perfume, as does my bf. most perfumes give me a headache and itchy eyes, and this one does not… what can i say?

  • Flora says:

    Wow, that is SO cool, I will be sure to pick the Elle mag!

    What a shame about the Lanvin, hard to believe they have gone that route like everyone else.

  • divinemama says:

    UGH! It did it again…I give up! Just ‘imagine’ the sixth from the left icon…:x

  • divinemama says:

    Well, shoot! This is the icon that was supposed to go above…:d/

    Because these things are very important, right?

  • divinemama says:

    Wild applause for the Posse in Elle!!! You too Robin, at Now Smell This!!!

    I looked at Border’s today but the Elle has J Lo on the cover…will look for the Nicole Kidman edition with my keen perfumista eyes though.

    I started buying nail polish while schmoozing perfume samples at Sephora, but for my teenage girls. Kinda tempted though to get into it again myself. I mean, why not?!? 😉

    I like the silvery gold one (Queen of Everything), and the shimmering dove gray (Run with It!)…at least for starters. May have to quickly move up to the shimmering wine over dark coffee (I’m With Brad) however. :d

    • March says:

      Oddly, I can’t find it in the stores yet either (I have a subscription.) This NEVER happens to me. I usually get my copy of Elle after it’s been on the newsstand for two weeks, which is irritating — I thought that was one of the perks of subscribing, early delivery?

      Queen of Everything is supposed to be the one that looks most like Kaleidoscope, do they now have it at Sephora? I know it’s part of their new collection … I must investigate! :d

      • divinemama says:

        It is online at Sephora and I have seen it at our store. So far I have only bought a few dark colors that my daughters seem to prefer. I keep looking at that color though and now that I have read your article…well, you know.

        The name “Queen of Everything” seems appropriate, doesn’t it?:d/

  • Robin says:

    From the sound of it, Jeanne Lanvin is exactly what I thought it would be, and glad to hear it because if it’s at Saks, it will be ages before I get to smell it. If ever. Too bad, I think Anne Flipo does nice work. I’d be surprised if Rumeur sold the way they hoped it would though, so perhaps this will be the cash cow they need.

  • Tara says:

    Love Kaleidoscope! Put some of that on yesterday. As for the new Lanvins… blech. Total waste of time.

    I’m wearin’ me some REAL perfume – El Attarine for me today.

    • March says:

      I still have not tried El Attarine! I really need to do so, it sounds wonderful. Probably not “me” but very much worth sniffing.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, thanks for the heads up on the perfume article. I can’t wait to read it!

    Louise suggested Steeling the Scene as a dupe for Kaleidoscope, and boy was she right on! I bought a bottle, slapped that sucker on, and it is gorgeous. Maybe a bit less shimmery than the Chanel, but just as WOW! in my humble opinion, and way cheaper.


    • March says:

      Steeling the Scene does look like a great color — I am definitely going to have to try that one. I am afraid I see another money-waster on the horizon!

  • Shelley says:

    Now here’s a twist; because of fragrance being mentioned in fashion/beauty mags more and more in the recent past, I started picking them up againt. And when it comes to Lanvin, I had noticed that their clothes were, or seemed, interesting and potentially real.

    But not these new release scents…eww. (Goes upstairs to handle vintage bottle of My Sin.)

    • Shelley says:

      HEY!! I had opened that comment with a congratulations on your mention in Elle…thusly:

      :d/ <:-p @};- @};- @};-

    • March says:

      I love many of their clothes, although sadly I can’t afford them! And I’ve read numerous interviews with Elbaz. I think he has an interesting esthetic (although I’m hardly an expert on fashion) and produces clothes I lust after, even if they’d look terrible on me — like that mustardy caftan thingy at the bottom.

      And thanks for the congrats!

  • AngelaS says:

    You are so right about some women liking the idea of perfume more than they like actually wearing perfume! It sounds like the marketing machine is already all over that.

    Just yesterday morning, as I was dabbing myself in Dioressence, I thought about how there are some women who like wearing perfume, and then others (probably like most of us) who like PERFUME, the big ones, the old Chanels and Diors, that don’t always smell like flowers and fruit but actually smell like something big, French, and unmistakeably perfumey. I don’t always want to wear the capital-P perfume and a lot of times will reach for a more friendly L’Artisan, but sometimes I love it.

    • March says:

      You are exactly right. Some days (they happen a lot in the fall, and also if I am going out somewhere “grown up” like a museum) where I want a perfume-y perfume — some eyeball-whacker like Mitsouko or Jicky or Vol de Nuit or even my vintage My Sin. Something with broad shoulders. @};-

  • bella says:

    i was at the Chanel counter and I was looking at the re-formulated Vamp and I am totally disappointed!! It is like Vamp-lite.
    Anyway, Arpege is one of the first scents that i bought that was an EDP. It brings back great memories. Why would Alber Elbaz have a scent that is sooooo not in tune with his very elegant and sophisticated clothes????? So disappointing!

    • March says:

      Arpege is lovely, I would wear it if I were gifted a bottle. I also like Arpege Pour Homme, I am always trying to get strangers at the mall to buy that!

      My memory may be off, but the Rouge Noir looks like the original Vamp to me, if you’re set on that color. But there are TONS of dupes out there that would probably serve just as well.

  • Meliscents says:

    Isn’t there a saying that’s something like, “if you’re not going to do something well, don’t do it at all?” I’m at a loss at who Lanvin is trying to target. If it’s the young, fruity floral crowd with Mom’s credit card, I don’t think their plan is working. Rumeur I’ve already seen at the discount stores & I have a feeling this new one won’t be far behind. I wish someone would actually start targeting the people I’m seeing at the counters, and that’s WOMEN. I can’t see my teenage stepdaughter at any of the mall perfume counters when the Gap & Victoria Secret have exactly what she’s looking for. What a shame that a company that came out with Arpege & My Sin couldn’t do better!

    And on a happier note, congrats on Elle!!! I’ll have to pick it up. Even though I’ve never met any of you, it will feel like reading about old friends.

    • March says:

      I find it a little baffling, too. First of all, many (most?) of the young women this scent would be targeted to don’t shop at the Saks counter, as you noted. But perhaps they are hoping/guessing that an older woman, familiar with the Lanvin brand, would buy this for her daughter or grand-daughter? I don’t know. You’re right, given the choice, I have no doubt my daughters would prefer something else (something they chose) as a fragrance gift.

      And Lanvin COULD do better. I happen to think Arpege Eclat is pretty good, and I like Arpege as well. My Sin of course is to die for (I have a good quality vintage bottle, thank heaven for all those old opaque bottles!)

      Seeing the blog name in Elle makes me smile. We put a lot of work into this, although maybe sometimes it doesn’t appear that way. /:) :d/

      • Musette says:

        Whatchutalkin’bout, Willis?

        It’s VERY obvious you all work your tail off on this blog. I’m exhausted just THINKING about how you come up with interesting, well-written things to present every day. I am never disappointed – the writing is always crisp and wonderful, be it a fun topic or a melancholy one. It’s always a delight.

        HUGE congratulations< :-p to you all for the excellent mention!!!!! xoxoxo>-)

        • March says:

          Hey, you are so sweet! Some of the posts are better than others… Patty and I have a running joke that we don’t have to worry about content theft by scraper sites because our content ain’t worth stealing :p

          • leopoldo the irrepressible says:

            Now, you two ladies jus’ doin’ yerselves a disservice right there.@};-@};-@};-

          • March says:

            Ah, we’re just fishing for compliments … where’s my rod and reel? Or … do you want to show me your tackle? ;))

          • Louise says:

            Hey, now, isn’t there some British dewd that writes lovely posts now and again?…I can’t disremember his name…ach, caught in the net 😉

  • Patty says:

    I have Kaleidoscope, it’s freaking awesome.

    And boo to Lanvin! From the moment I heard about this one, i had highh hopes for something retro and interesting and, well, bleah, it sounds horridly boring.

  • Louise says:

    Ah, Elle! Congratulations 😡 So well deserved.

    And Ach, Lanvin, so sad they’re serving fruit water in lieu of fragrance. The new Rumeur was such a disappointment, too. Sometimes I almost wish I didn’t know and love the originals of these “redo”s that aren’t at all… 🙁

    • March says:

      I really liked that lumpy Rumeur bottle (more than most folks did, I think.) But the juice was pretty and kind of a snooze. This one is even more of a snooze.

      And the best thing about the Elle is my daughters maybe think I’m marginally less of a loser! 😉

      • sariah says:

        Giggling about the daughters thinking you’re less of a loser comment………bonus! Congratulations.

        I adored the Lanvin jewelry from the Fall collection – some of the pendants were like Art Deco car parts – look a really cool hood ornament. A perfume to go with that would have to be daring….apparently not what this one is all about.

        • March says:

          If they’re going to show jewelry it has to be really big, and I think the gowns are lovely. Doubt I will ever own one though.

  • carmencanada says:

    Aw, I should’ve read this post before going on about the Chanel Kaleidoscope in yesterday’s post. Isn’t it great?
    It’s a shame about the new Lanvin fragrances: they are absolutely not consistent with the house style, which is both modern and adult. But as you say, March, probably the largest market out there is women who want fragrance that’s really not fragrance — so re-doing My Sin is not an option…
    Congrats on appearing in Elle!

    • March says:

      If they did My Sin and it smelled like the new stuff, I would throw myself under a bus. Okay, not really, but wouldn’t that be depressing? I never smelled the original Rumeur, but I could understand the upset of people who had smelled it and had their hopes dashed.

      I am going to get Kaleidoscope!

  • Calypso says:

    Hey, congratulations on being mentioned in Elle!! Now I can say “I knew them when.”

    The yellow dress is to die for but what’s with that weird medallion on the blue dress? ???

    Too bad about the juice. I’ve had it with blackberry potions.

    • March says:

      I was thinking that gigantic thing was a necklace? Maybe it’s part of the dress… I thought the color was dreamy.

      • pavlova says:

        Bravo to you for ELLE — it is well-deserved recognition! And, yes, that blue color is sooo dreamy. As soon as I saw it I craved something in that shade of blue — now I must begin my quest to find it!

        • March says:

          It’s a gorgeous blue, isn’t it? I want something that color too.

          • mollypenny says:

            That blue is indeed beautiful. I don’t own anything blue currently, but I would undoubtedly wear THAT blue! And it would be cool if someone came and did my makeup like that too to go with that blue:)