It´s been a weird year, sparking some odd reflection which landed me in Vintage Village. I started rolling around in the old Cotys from my mother´s day and in doing so I found some incredible gems. All the extant-vintage favorites are achingly beautiful, with an aura that speaks of years of careful crafting. I thought they took forever to create and were few in number. Then looked at the Coty timeline (and I had to hunt to find it – thank you PerfumeProjects!! The lame-o Coty website would have you think all Francois did was make two or three perfumes, buy a building and eat potato chips) – anyhoo, then I looked at the Coty timeline and there is NO space between scents. From La Rose Jacqueminot* in 1904 through the 50s they come fast and furious – at least one a year – it´s a staggering list . So why do they smell so complex and interesting? Scary ingredients? No focus groups in t-shirts? What? But there are so many Cotys during Francois´s reign alone! – I´d love to know which ones died ignoble deaths. Somewhere out there is a chest with Every. Single. Coty that Francois made – I just know it. And it has my name on it. Somewhere.
* La Rose J: I´m not going there. What little vintage there is costs the Earth. Fugeddaboutit. Right? Right?
My mother wore the 60s Coty triumverate: L´Aimant, L´Origan and Emeraude colognes, preferring them to more expensive scents because …well, never mind about the whorehouse. I´m glad it took me forever – and the Posse- to revisit – who knew there were vintage Coty perfumes, so divine, so worthy of my adoration. I now have 3 vintage L´Origans, each bustin´ a cap in my psyche every time I undo their little Bakelite lids. Oh, baby. As you can imagine, they´re all different but they all have that balanced complexity. A melange of clove-y carnation, violets and heliotrope – there´s iris in there, too, but I can´t smell it (if I ever get mugged it will be by an iris). It is supposedly the model upon which L´Heure Bleu was formed and if so, they couldn´t have chosen a more reflective, beautifully melancholic scent. It sighs of Debussy and crumbly sables and phonographs and soft Parisian rain. Vintage Emeraude perfume (a cheapo find) is of such lushness, like an emerald green-and-gold cashmere swing coat , exquisitely tailored, with tortoiseshell buttons. It´s not an iron fist in a velvet glove; though it has extreme power, it´s all seduction, no shrieking aggression. It´s more like a vampire in a velvet gown. You´re in it before you know it – and you´re Hers. Vintage ONLY. Go near the new stuff and it´ll blow your heart out with a napalm-filled slug.
We can´t even get into the sparkling fabulosity that is L´Aimant, lest I start dancing the Mamooshka. Suffice to say, it´s an aldehyde junkie´s dream, to me, a little more easygoing than No. 5. I yarked about it on the Top 10 last week in my boneheaded way – but I do love it so. I´m so sure M. Coty is spinning in his elegant grave, hearing me liken it to really good root beer. But ya know….really good root beer is really good!
Don´t forget the vintage caveat: YBMV. And don´t come sobbing to me if you spritz the current drugstore swill. Don´t do it. None of it. I´m tellin´ ya.
Oh! Before you leave: Balmain, my darling Pierre, so smart to hire La Cellier. Such a revelation. I worried through an impulse buy – a Heart Attack in a Bottle, mid-era Jolie Madame parfum that is so beautiful and so precise that the breath caught in my throat, as I was thrown into an alternate total recall universe where every memory was perfect, if only for that moment. Funny thing is, I never wore Jolie Madame. I wore Vent Vert because it was green, just like me but now, as gorgeous as the vintage is, it seems not quite right? on me, like wearing tube socks and a short, pleated skirt. Jolie Madame now seems perfect, like she was just waiting, all this time, for me to grow the hell up. Well here I am, Madame. Old as dirt. Dang. But what a way to slide into that certain age´.
Btw, I´ll bet people were scared to death of Mme G-is-for-Genius. Smart move. Anybody who can create Vent Vert, JMadame AND Fracas is worthy of serious respect – if not outright fear!
I would write about more vintage revelations but this is getting way long. And a neighbor´s dog just got skunked, poor thing – and now the whole block stinks and all the perfume in the Universe can´t beat a pissed-off skunk. You are off the hook. Go sniff some vintage. Tell me all about it. You can thank the skunk later.