Van Cleef & Arpels First

Van Cleef Arpels FirstAs you probably already know if you read Monday´s post, I dug up my bottle of Van Cleef & Arpels First when I was rooting around looking for fragrances that reminded me in some way of the new Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss.  I enjoyed my revisit of First so much that I thought it deserved its own day, because my sense is it´s one of those classics that has fallen through the cracks and doesn´t get the attention it deserves from the perfume community.

I do go on and on today, so in case you can´t read much further than this: in a larger sense, this post is about my experience of falling in love with a fragrance I didn´t much care for initially.  Many of us have learned the hard lesson that some of the scents we dislike at the outset (although there´s often something compelling about them, as opposed to craptastic) end up being scents we come to treasure.  So if a fragrance you´ve smelled haunts you, even if you hated it: do yourself a favor and don´t give up just yet.

According to Michael Edwards´ Perfume Legends, a reference book I love which I hear is now out of print, sadly — there´s one used on Amazon for $340, God help us… where were we?  Oh, yes. First was created for Van Cleef & Arpels in 1976, and done by Jean-Claude Ellena  — his second major perfume commission (the first being Sisley´s Eau de Campagne in 1974).  The idea of a jeweler doing a perfume was something of a radical idea, apparently, with detractors saying it would never sell.

Notes via Perfume Legends are bergamot, blackcurrant buds, mandarin, jasmine, narcissus, aldehydes, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, cloves, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, tonka bean, amber.

First is a difficult fragrance for me to appreciate.  I have trouble with aldehydes; they can seem either too powdery or too sour (or both.)  Going back and looking at my mini-review from some time ago, I was amused to see that I repeated the same idea in Monday´s comments – the initial blast of First smells like a glammed-up disco fragrance, something that is very much not me at all – too dressy and too louche, simultaneously.

So why did I fall in love with First?  When I look at my notes jotted down over several sessions, I kept coming back to the overall idea of the sun coming out from behind ominous clouds.   The first ten or twenty minutes are sharply aldehydic and formal to me, and my guess is any number of folks who are not fans of aldehydes or green notes have taken a whiff of that and promptly given up.  But hang in there, people!  (Hey, if you like the top, so much the better.)  Watching the opaque sharpness of First´s opening notes give way to the jasmine in its heart is, in my opinion, one of the most glorious transitions in perfumery.  There´s a point in the shift from the top to the heart notes that´s particularly moving; it smells like champaca to me, both floral and resiny.  Even knowing how it unfolds doesn´t dim my sense of being in the throes of a revelation.  The sweet florals of the heart linger, cradled by the sandalwood, musk and amber of the base.  The drydown is stunning, with the spicy sandalwood offset by the sweetness of the vanilla and amber.

Jasmine lovers — take note.  “First is about jasmine,” says Ellena in Perfume Legends.  He goes on to talk about its importance to him (“Compare Sophia Grojsman´s work with roses; she´s into roses, I´m into jasmine.”)  So why does the sun come out in First?  Ellena jammed in a huge amount of Hedione, or methyl dihydrojasmonate, derived from a molecule found in jasmine absolute and patented by Firmenich in 1962.  Ellena reports that Hedione was used in much smaller quantities in Eau Sauvage in 1966, and that he put ten times the amount into First.  Hedione has a sort of solar effect on fragrances; Victoria of Bois de Jasmin in her review of First describes Hedione as “a material which has a subtle scent on its own, but in combination with flower notes, especially jasmine, its dazzling qualities are brought to life. The flowers kissed by Hedione unfold in translucent layers, with the composition preserving its clarity, while attaining wonderful complexity.”

Ellena had the center of the fragrance but kept trying to extend its boundaries, ultimately stretching it in two directions – he upped the dosage of the bitter narcissus/cassis/mandarin at the top, and the musk and amber at the bottom, to give the scent the longevity that his clients wanted.   Quoting from Perfume Legends, Ellena said he was told, “Make something very nice.  Afterwards we´ll talk about the price.”  Ellena talks about how much this freedom meant to him; apparently there´s not much of that going around these days.

Fans of JCE´s less baroque scents for Hermes, particularly the Hermessences, might find a sniff of First informative.   First feels as deliberately constructed and ornate as a Faberge egg, and it would be tempting to dismiss it as something very much of its time and, as such, a little dated.  The soft, surreal radiance of the heart of First pretty much ends that line of thinking.  In Perfume Legends, Ellena says First has become an archetype – “People say, this fragrance smells like First, or it came from First.”

I have the EDT, which can be found ridiculously cheap (under $30 online.)  I´m really thinking I should spring for the EDP, and I bet the parfum is stunning.  There are also a number of flankers (First Love, First Pour l´Ete, etc.) none of which sound interesting to me except possibly First Jasmin de Chine.  Has anyone tried any of these?  Finally, I´m looking forward to the Collection Extraordinaire, although … do those bottles remind anyone of another collection?  Yeah, me too.

  • OperaFan says:

    Since I’ve know First from its “near” beginning, I feel qualified to answer this question – the fragrance in the white (ok, ivory) box, is a shadow of its former glory. I find it much flatter than the original, lacking the sparkle and (I guess) “green-ness” and also doesn’t seem to last very long on my skin. This is referenced from some carded edp spray samples I had acquired from Beauty Encounters in December. It’s still a pretty scent, just not as special.

  • Tarleisio says:

    First has a special place for me, not because it’s something I would wear myself, but because it was my mother’s favorite, favorite perfume. She loved all sorts – the original Fidji, Caron’s Narcisse Noir (which I later borrowed and never returned!), Opium and Diorella and Shalimar and a Claude Montana I remember that entered the room a good 10 minutes before she did, and was so overpowering, both her daughters finally vetoed it..

    But First, in the parfum and the EdP were her hands-down favorites of all time, so much so, that when she died after a two-year battle with breast cancer, we buried her – with a new, pristine bottle of First parfum.

    Any archeologists who come along in a few hundred years will have a feld day with that one! 😉

  • mharvey816 says:

    Hi, my name is Michele and I am a First-aholic.

    I have it in EDT (bottle shown in your pic), EDP (which was darn hard to find, let me tell ya), and parfum. I also have First Jasmine de Chine (a partial bottle castoff from a friend) and recently bought another bottle of the EDT because it was in the cool metallic refillable container (a mere $25 from Loehmanns).

    Each variation (including the two different bottles of EDT) smells ever so slightly different in its own way and yet are all recognizably First. I’m completely convinced (and probably irrationally so) that the EDT is an aldehydic chypre, the EDP almost pure aldehydes with a touch of jasmine and the parfum almost pure indolic jasmine with a touch of aldehydes. The First JdC, true to its name, is a less indolic jasmine with a hint of aldehydes. IMHO it has a relationship to the parfum comparable to that between Chanel 5 EDT and its parfum.

    I also have the bar soap (thanks to Saks NYC 2 years ago), the lotion (from the same friend who gifted the JdC) and the shower gel. They all smell exactly like the EDP to me.

    They say the first step is you are powerless over your addiction….

    • March says:

      Okay, woman, I am IN AWE. You are the undisputed queen. And that’s the one I have, the big gold cocktail shaker! That’s the refill, right? Sounds like I need to try the parfum… the JdC sounds good too!

      I see the EDP on eBay but nowhere else I noticed. And the soap must be amazing.

  • karin says:

    Never tried First, but I totally agree with your “don’t give up yet” philosophy. Though, it can also go in the opposite direction – try a scent once or twice, fall in love, try it again and wonder, what was I thinking????

    This has caused me to believe that three tries is a good indicator of whether or not it’s fragrance love or hate. I had a dislike > love experience with Dzing! Tried it once, just didn’t “get it.” Thought, why would anyone want to smell like this? But as you say, it kept haunting me. Had to try it again. Still curiosity and wonder, but not “I really want to wear this thing.” The scent was so interesting and weird that I couldn’t get it out of my mind. On third try, I had to have a bottle, and now it’s one of my favorite scents. But there are fragrances I just haven’t found any love for and can’t wear – one that’s haunted me is Maharanih by Parfums de Nicolai. I wanted so much to like this cause I love PdN – but after numerous tries, it just doesn’t work on me. Boo-hoo!

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are a number of scents that I wore in the past that I probably will never wear again. Perhaps that’s a change in taste over the years…or a desire to throw out the old and try the new…but I rarely go backwards. one scent that I recently bought that I wore in the early 80’s – Rive Gauche! Wow. What a nostalgic experience. Granted, the formula is different now, but still reminiscent of the original.

    It’s a good rule of thumb for purchasing bottles, too. Sample first. Sample a few times more. Then decide. After a few tries you may realize that no, I don’t really love this as much as I thought…or wow, I have to have it.

    But I really think that many factors go into how we interpret fragrance on our skin – and that interpretation can change with the weather, hormones, emotions, life circumstances, etc. We may like something one day, and not like it the next. That’s why I love having a number of scents to choose from – mood, weather, etc., really determine what I will choose for the day. I can’t imagine wearing the same scent every day! Oh, I’d get WAY tired of that after about the 3rd day. Don’t think I’ll every have a holy grail, but I’ll definitely have about five HGs!

    OK, rambling, sorry! 🙂

    • March says:

      Rambling is encouraged! And I think some thoughtful sampling would prevent a lot of heartbreak. Any number of scents you may find yourself sick of by the third or fourth try… if you asked around on here, people fall in and out of love all the time, although I think most of us jam the deadbeats in the back of the closet and hope the love returns… I have worn out entire veins of fragrance (recently, incense) through overuse. Good to switch things up.

      I agree that so many factors influence our choices. I know lots of people on here have scents they can’t wear now because they are strongly associated (not necessarily sad associations) with someone else, or an earlier period in their lives.

      • karin says:

        Yes! And re: those HGs, they’re definitely not constant. 😉 I’m wondering if I’ll ever find a love for spicy (too foody) or chypre (ugh) scents. Mentioned on Patty’s post yesterday that Mitsouko reminds me of my mom’s YSL Y, which = MOM scent! Now every chypre I try has that “thing” (oakmoss?) that gives off that “mom” vibe. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, but don’t want to wear her scent! Who knows, maybe years from now, when she’s no longer here (not looking forward to that…) I’ll love chypres cause they’ll remind me of her?

  • melanie says:

    so I need to talk to someone about perfume and all of you are the most qualified. On the subject of not being able to like a scent… Jicky. I just can’t get into it. I think I have a fairly educated/sophisticated nose. I chose Miss Dior ( the real stuff) in Paris in 1966 when I was 11 years old. I like and have worn Bal a Versailes, Mitsouko, Sortilege and Cabochard over the years. I’ve tried to like Fracas and it just doesn’t work for me..too strong. Is Fracas mainly jasmine? Yesterday I was at Saks and Neiman’s and tried Clive Christian X for Women and liked that. I also tried the men’s but preferred the women’s. So on the subject of not liking a perfume at first or second sniff, should I keep trying Jicky or just accept that it’s not going to work for me. It smells muddy to me… not like mud, but like a whole bunch of things mixed together, like somebody added way too many spices or herbs in the pot when they were making soup.

    thanks for your input…and does anyone have a perfume to bring out the sun? I live north of Boston and we’ve had one day of sun in two weeks. they’re promising us sun by the 4th.

    • karin says:

      Ooooh!!! Good idea! Bring out that sun!!! I’m up here in Maine, if you and I band together with some whopper of a sunny perfume, perhaps it will break out that sunshine. 🙂 Crazy, isn’t it??? As to suggestions – I say Bobbi Brown BEACH!!! Haha.

    • March says:

      Frankly I am surprised that so many people like Jicky, which I enjoy but … it’s a strange scent, you know? btw I am assuming you are referring to the EDT? The parfum is pretty different. Jicky has a lot of citrus (refreshing) but it also has a lot of animalic/dark notes (civet, leather, vetiver, incense, etc.) and depending on which batch you’re trying, it can be intense. My best guess is you’ve given it a fair shot and it’s just not you 🙂 although if you’re dead set, you should at least try the parfum, which is quieter and more streamlined (although mine is also more animalic.)

      Fracas is death by tuberose. I adore it but can’t wear it. I’ve bought and then swapped away several bottles (so I keep trying too!) I can tolerate it chiefly as a room spray, one spritz. It sounds like you have some great perfume loves.

  • Cathleen56 says:

    I vacillate wildly on First. Someone, I don’t know who, once commented “What’s NOT in First?” There is a lot going on in it — and it’s interesting to contrast it with Ellena’s later minimalist creations — but to me it doesn’t read as big, heavy, eighties, or anything like that. It’s a sunshiny well-balanced floral that at times, just sings. But at other times a little loud. Loud, not big, if that makes sense.

    • March says:

      Well…. I said “what’s not in First” on Monday. 🙂 Not sure if you’re thinking of someone else. It smells overstuffed. In a good way.

      That’s interesting, I’d describe it as big and loud!

      • cathleen56 says:

        LOL!!! I knew I had read it somewhere! And now I will be taking my brain on a much needed vacation.

  • Robin says:

    I liked First but didn’t adore it, and entirely forgot that discussion in Perfume Legends. Will have to revisit both. Why, oh why, doesn’t JCE do a jasmine Hermessence??

  • Flor says:

    I know it’s going to sound silly to say this, but First was my first real perfume. My stepmother gave it to me and I treasured it. Weird that I haven’t owned it since…what’s that all about? Anyway, I always thought it smelled so French – in the best possible way. It’s a very grown up scent, and probably not appropriate for little girls (I think I was 11 yrs). That being said, I wore it with pride and would (and probably should) wear it today happily. I’ve smelled some of the flankers and they were all a big snoozefest. Generic and boring, so boring.

    • March says:

      I think it’s fabulous that your stepmother gave it to you. What an awe-inspiring gift for a little kid.

  • violetnoir says:

    Well, I am wearing Cristalle today, because of your review on Monday. It really is quite a bit better than that new Estee Lauder thingy!

    When my best friend told me that a gentleman caller gave her a bottle of First for some sappy occasion, I simply rolled my eyes. Now that you have reviewed it, I ain’t rolling ’em quite as much. Hmmm…maybe I’ll have to ask her to give me that bottle since she was rolling her eyes, too…


    • March says:

      You should definitely do your friend a favor and take that bottle off her hands… although. Huh. Yes, I have the same reaction. I’d want a bottle of something else, First seems too safe (and too stodgy, like something I’d give an aunt.)

  • Tara says:

    Hi March,

    I have never tried First but it sounds like its exactly the type of fragrance I adore – big and busy! I was reading the reviews at MUA and it seem that some reviewers think First has been reformulated recently (what a SHOCK!!!). I think they mentioned that it was reformulated in 2003 and you can tell by the color of the box (either black or white). Were you reviewing a recent purchase or something you have had for while?

    If its true about the reformulation and the black box being the older formula, I’ll have to search for that one on ebay.


    • March says:

      They never tell you…. wouldn’t surprise me if First has been reformulated several times in the last 30 years, trading down to cheaper stuff. My bottle was a swap, it doesn’t look particularly old but I’m not sure. Re the bottles on eBay, so far as I can tell the EDP is in the black box? I was over there looking last night. Beyond that, I don’t know, let me know if you figure out a pattern.

  • Lee says:

    We’ve had wall to wall sunshine here for the past couple of weeks and it’s been consistently in the high 80s for the same time. The thought of something as FULL as First makes me feel woozy. Is that pleasurable woozy or headachy woozy? I ain’t sure.

    The honeysuckle out back – now that’s intense, baby.

    • Louise says:

      Can you hold that weather for a bit.

      Oooh, a snort of honeysuckle sounds yum, ‘cept if the bees agrees.

    • March says:

      Really intense honeysuckle. Sigh. Now there’s a smell that I don’t feel can be adequately captured in perfumery. Perhaps we’re missing the buzzing of the bees…

    • karin says:

      Lee…where are you??? It’s been solid dark clouds, rain, and 60’s for the past 3 weeks here (Maine)! I’m jumpin’ on a plane! Ha.

  • Daisy says:

    Now that I have established quite a friendly relationship with Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit, and finally getting to know My Sin a bit…reading your review has me itching to strike up an acquaintance with First. Maybe I’m learning patience or maybe I’m just getting smarter (hey, that’d be nice, huh?)

    • March says:

      Well, you sound like me. I don’t know if I’ve gotten patient or smarter… I think what I’ve gotten is an expanded horizon regarding what smells great. For whatever reason, it was much easier for me to embrace weird niche smells (incense, smoke, etc.) than vintage classics. With the odd exception of Mitsouko, I thought they were unwearable. It just took me awhile to adjust my sense of smell. 🙂

    • Kim says:

      maybe it’s kinda like learning to love hot food i.e. educating your palate – for the longest time all I got was the burn and I could never figure out what people were talking about – there’s flavour in there? You can tell the difference? Acck! Kinda like the first time with some of those older Guerlains in parfum strength, no ?? Then I finally got it – both the hot food and the Guerlains! Okay, I still have my limits, I still don’t get burning peppers and My Sin. But now I love Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit and Shalimar…. and Tabasco sauce!

      • March says:

        Heh — I lurve spicy food, even though it makes my face bright red and flares my rosacea up. I grew up on *the* most tepid midwestern diet… salt and pepper and that’s it. I remember the first time I ate Thai food (remember when it was a novelty?) it was an epiphany for me. I could eat Thai every day for the rest of my life.

        But I agree with the educating your palate construct — repeat exposure often lessens the fear factor, right? For both oysters and Diorella. 😉

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    I feel “compelled” by Secretions Magnifique, but I don’t think sampling it on my skin again is a good idea.

    • March says:

      That’s so funny — I almost added a sentence when I wrote that that Secretions was an EXCEPTION to this test. Nobody is required to smell it, even once! Once was too many times for me, frankly.

  • Tiara says:

    Great review – thoughtful as well as informative.

    But reading this makes me wonder, how long do folks tolerate a not-so-great opening to get to the “good” part?!

    • March says:

      Maybe others will chime in with their opinions.

      Must be different for different folks? And different fragrances? The opening of First is BIG, but it’s not hideous to me. It’s not that I loathed it so much as I had to apply it in open space and ignore it for a few minutes until it stopped doing the hustle. But I know there are scents (and I’m sorry, my mind is blanking) for which I’ve decided, hey, no drydown is worth suffering through *that* opening.

      • Kim says:

        uuhh – Dior Poison would be one for me (runs away!)

        • March says:

          But does it actually change on you? The drydown? To me, Dior Poison is pretty much being jackhammered the entire way through. (And I love it.)

          • Kim says:

            oh yeah – it changes on me! it just gets worse and worse. none of the Diors are good on me and the Poison group is even worse on my skin – aptly named for me.

            So something that starts out pee-yewh and becomes wonderful? That would be Must de Cartier – the first time I tried it I almost died but I didn’t have time to go to the store washroom and scrub. Glad I didn’t!! What a beauty it turned into – and now I even like the opening. And this is the recent version so I wonder if the old version was even more killah! It’s the same era as First, isn’t it?

          • March says:

            Yep, I think it’s roughly the same age… my god I loathe Must. It’s right up there with Angel in the chocovomit dept. Hm. Does this mean I have to resmell it?

          • Kim says:

            choco? in must de cartier? wow – our skins are different!! I must magnify the galbumun enough to cancel out what you get. Or could the difference be between the classic and current versions? hmm…
            more testing needed!

        • karin says:

          Oooh!!! LOVE POISON!!!! Wore it with abandon in the 80’s, though I probably cleared rooms without even realizing it. Haven’t tried it since, and hear that it’s changed. So sad. Makes me realize that if we find a current scent that we love, but it up cause it may change at any time…

          • karin says:

            Oops – typo. Meant “buy it up” not “but it up”. Ha.

          • March says:

            I reviewed it on here, and it does smell different now. Less Poison-ous. I got a vintage, plus the concentrated version, if you can believe. That’s something. 🙂 I love Poison, I was in there right with you.

    • Francesca says:

      Patience is not my strong suit. I have to like it all the way through.I got what it meant to wait it out one day when I applied Habanita and was wondering, “What was I thinking?!?” But then it turned better. Still, I don’t think I’ll be repeating that experiment.I appreciate the changes a frag goes through as it’s worn, but I really don’t even want to go through 15 minutes of GAH.

  • Melissa says:

    Aldehydes? Jasmine? Retro-glam? Sounds like this one’s for me. Actually, I do remember liking it some years ago and more recently, loving it on a friend. She rotates three fragrances, if I am correct. Amouage Gold, Jubilation 25 and First. Quite the power trio!

    • March says:

      Oh my goodness!! I love your friend’s power rotation! She must be fun to have coffee with. To be honest, I like being with people who have signature scents. There’s something very nice about associating a friend with a particular perfume or two.

      It seems to me that you are exactly the right person for First, although I’m also thinking you should try the EDP. But next time I see you, you can try my ginormous EDT.

      • OperaFan says:

        I’m piggybacking on this thread because I was going to mention First’s relationship with Amouage and Jubilation 25.
        First came my way in 1977’s Christmas season in the form of a carded perfume sample (yes, in perfume format) from a nice SA at Bamburgers. I was all of 15 yrs of age. It became my ideal of what a truly elegant perfume should smell like, and I’ve found few to compare. That’s not to say I don’t like others more, but it is really in a class by itself.
        When I discovered Jubiliation 25, and everyone was comparing it with Rochas Femme, what hit me on the opening and into the heart of the Amouage was its similarities with First. I then superimposed First on top of Femme, and voila! A faximile of the Amouage! Okay, so not exactly, but pretty close.
        I rediscovered my carded sample recently (precious drops remaining) and recently won a 1/2 bottle of the perfume on fleabay – probably purchased in the ’80s and it’s just as elegant as I remembered…

  • Wordbird says:

    See, I thought that as a lover of massive barnstorming orientals as well as JC Ellena’s minimalist works, this would be a shoo-in for me. But it was a monstrous scrubber. Just TOO MUCH of everything. I found it sickening. (And this from a woman who cheerfully wears all kinds of wierd and wonderful things.)

    • March says:

      Well, okay. That’s fair. Because The First Time feels something like OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLISTHATONMYARM?!?!?!AAAAAUGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH SOMEHELPOVERHEREPLEASE!!!!! But. Was it Too Much to try it a second or fifth time? Too much effort? I think I eventually cleared that hump through repeated exposure. 😉 Like inoculating myself.

  • Francesca says:

    Awww, c’mon, March, you can’t be too rich, too thin, or too louche.

    I haven’t tried First but now I’d love a sniff.

    Didn’t know JCE was behind Eau de Campagne! I love that, though we haven’t had a summery enough day for it yet. I think I’ll take it up to Kent to wear on vacation.

  • Elle says:

    Wow. I just can’t get over all the freedom/money JCE was given to create this. I adore this scent. Great review! And, yes, the dry down is what has me addicted. Gorgeous! Always wore this in grad school to keep my mood up during exams. But my mind keeps drifting back to how much free rein Ellena was given in creating this. SO different from what most perfumers get these days. And, imo, it shows. 🙁 I wonder if VC&A have given the same instructions for the new line. If so, I will definitely refrain from making any snarky remarks about it. Really am loving them for their instructions to JCE w/ First.

    • March says:

      Can you imagine? Spending whatever you want? There is apparently such pressure now to do everything (the actual perfume) on the cheap, the real money being saved for the marketing… I started and then deleted a paragraph about JAR, another jeweler who apparently decided that money was no object in perfumery, although the finished bottle prices certainly reflect that. JAR is hardly mass market… I am particularly looking forward to the Mark Buxton one, I hope they’re good.

  • Louise says:

    Babe, you’re always on First with me 🙂

    I tried First recently while looking for airy, light summer scents, and of course jumped back in fright. Now, though your lovely write-up has me reconsidering. Aldehydes and greens as a first course, you say? Strong jasmine heart? Ambery base? It’s beginning to sound a lot like I need to re-sample, with an open mind.

    My relationship with “classics” does often begin as you described…an initial “nope”, a re-try, and then lurve.

    Oh and good longevity? Oh My!

    • March says:

      I’m glad you have your priorities straight … I’d think you’d love First, although we probably need a stronger combination, I bet you could eat the EDT off your arm in 20 minutes. I hear you though about the unexpected — I think *I* was expecting something really sweet the first time, and it scared me too.

  • Joe says:

    You make this sound like quite the revelation. For some reason Bernini’s “Ecstasy of St Teresa” came to mind while reading it. I think it’s past my bedtime… I do love a good jasmine wallop, and it would be interesting to explore JCE’s roots.

    Strangely enough, a vial of First Love arrived tucked in with something else just the other day. Of course I just now pulled it out and boy is it a watery, insipid thing… like some kind of homeopathic floral Kenzo… and now it’s turning to pure baby powder. Kill me now. 😀

    • Francesca says:

      Thanks for the early-morning giggle, Joe!

    • March says:

      Joe, I think this would be perfect for a man, in the same way as Joy or 1000 — completely unexpected. Worth trying if you like jasmine, it’s a very different production than a jasmine soliflore… First Love, blech. C’mon, doesn’t it sound awful? I read the notes, it’s a fruity floral.

  • carmencanada says:

    Hm. I wore First as a teenager. Then the bottle fell into the the (clean) toilet, some water mixed seeped in and it looked weird, but still smelled the same. Then the bottle was disappearead by my mom when we moved.
    And that was it for First. I guess I’ll retry it one of these days, but I remember it as awfully *busy*.

    • March says:

      It is awfully busy! The first time I tried it, I felt like I’d been hit by a perfume meteor. But having learned to anticipate that, the transformation to Act II is great fun. I love that your mom “disappeared” it. You are much more sophisticated; I’d never have worn First as a teenager. In fact, I had a college roomie who wore Rive Gauche and I thought I’d die. Silly me.

      • carmencanada says:

        Well, Rive Gauche was the other one I wore.

        • March says:

          … oh, fine. Rub it in in your jaunty Gallic way… I’ll just sit over here in the corner and meditate on the fact that I was probably wearing Love’s Fresh Lemon then. 😉

        • karin says:

          Love, love, love Rive Gauche! Hadn’t worn it since the early 80’s but recently purchased a bottle of the new formulation (which is available here in the U.S. via the YSL website BTW – they brought it back to the U.S.!). Can’t say that the scent is the same, but it’s reminiscent. First scent that I’ve managed to go back to…usually I trudge forward and never look back…but I’m so happy I “went back” to RG!!!

  • Musette says:

    Ooooh, those little thievelets! Coco must be clawing her way out of her grave, as we speak!

    I can’t wait to retry first. I remember it from the 80s, in all its big-shoulder, big hair glam. I would’ve dismissed it again (as I did when I spritzed it 2 weeks ago and didn’t even register what I was spritzing)

    I will go back now, with a more informed focus.


    on a completely different note. I streaked some My Sin (extrait, the color of molasses, from a vintage hoarde) on my hand @ 4:45p. I went to a conference. I’ve shaken about 50 hands, washed my hands at least 5 times since I put it on – and it’s still rip-roaring – this is some scary stuff! I have no recollection of what My Sin is supposed to smell like so I cannot compare any notes but for sheer power, whatever they made that stuff out of, they made it for the long haul!

    • March says:

      Oh, I bet that My Sin is a riot. Mine smells powdery (or, powdery on me, anyway) but tends to smell more animalic on other people… I want what they’re getting.

      I concede that simple linear packaging isn’t like ripping off Nina Ricci’s apple bottle, but still — don’t they look very Chanel?

      • Musette says:

        Uh, totally! Don’t be surprised if Coco pulls her zombie self out of her grave and goes after the VCA folks. I, for one, am rooting for Coco, though I’m all for killing the undead as a general rule.

        Honeypie, with this particular My Sin all the notes are lost – it’s not a well cared for bottle – and whatever’s in there is a distillation of…lord, I don’t exactly know! I get the animalic in MS (Arpege pulls the powder on me but it’s a nice powder) and this is like some Really Old Animal – not bad (truly) just….really aggressive. I can’t bring myself to buy the bottle because the juice is just so aggressive.

        It’s freezing! here. I mean, sweater and jacket weather! I’m going to wear something really heftified today, that I wouldn’t normally be able to wear in July (my summer birthday is today, btw – we’re going antiquing in Iowa, looking for fun finds! And I am eating CAKE!)

        Vintage Femme? Mitsouko? Bal?



        • March says:

          The idea of Coco pulling herself out of the grave right now scares the crap out of me, don’t do that! Of course she’d fit right in with the crazee weather… I just sprayed on my extra-rank vintage Bal EdC (srsly, it is intensely animalic) to go run errands. That and hot lips and my red patent shoes. The message I am sending? Get Out Of My Way. Heh.