I've been on a kick lately to sample some of our great old fragrances. This is mainly in response to the fact that everyone and their dog has a celebu-scent out these days. I went to the Mall of America the other day--I live in Minnesota--which is a rare enough event. I thought I'd slip into Nordstrom and try out some of the great Guerlain fragrances. I was shocked that they carried ONLY Shalimar (and absolutely that was a reformulated version); meanwhile Jo Malone is creeping out, taking more space along with other newer-comers.
Now, I don't have anything against Malone or any other "house" that's been around less than, oh, 75 years, but I found it shocking that--in my marching around the entire cosmetics/fragrance area at least twice--so few of the great fragrances were on offer. So, hopes dashed, I tried Coco Noir before I left and was totally underwhelmed by that. Noir? Where's the "noir"?
So I ventured forth on the Internet and discovered Surrender to Chance. What a find! What fun! I used Fragrantica as a reference to guide my choices. I will add a review for vintage Emeraude (lovely!) one of these days, and Habanita. StoC didn't have vintage L'origan, so off to e-bay.
I got a bottle of cologne, in a little utilitarian bottle, not a rare vintage version, and all I can say is that I find it delightful. It does NOT smell like all the vanilla/caramel/fruity scents that I smell wafting around when I'm out and about. I am not a "nose," nor do I have the ability to isolate notes and name them. I was a little alarmed at first whiff, because of a sort of strong medicinal/clove smell. But that literally went away in about 15 seconds, and then I was left with this lovely orange/spicy/powdery scent that is just so comforting and warming. I dabbed some on some of my winter sweaters and one of my hair brushes.
You can read more about notes and get really creative descriptions of this fragrance in other reviews. What I want to say is that this is a little gem that somehow ended up as an afterthought at the drugstore, if even that any more. I have an eau de parfum mini of Guerlain's L'heure bleue, and this L'origan smells the way I WISH L'heure bleue would. From what I have read about Coty and the earliest perfumes, L'origan and Emeraude were very much inspired by that time in history, and (I can't remember which one) was the inspiration for the Guerlain scent.
When I run out of my little bottle, I just might consider going for a true vintage. We'll see. I'm terrified I'll get something that smells like pine tar or something. I find this very beautiful, not "rough around the edges," and not at all like the fragrances pouring out onto the already saturated market these days. Oldies ARE oftentimes goodies, and price point doesn't necessarily correspond directly to quality. I got a lovely lovely fragrance for less than $10. Score!
A friend has gifted me with a decant of the vintage "parfum de toilette" concentration... essentially an EDP, this version has not been commercially available since the 1960's, and is thought to be closer to the original 1909 blend than the current "cologne mist" now being produced.
On initial spray, I get a burst of brilliant aldehydes mingled with sweet orange, an almost fruity neroli, and a green/citrus suspicion of coriander. Gradually, the clove/eugenol note appears, blended beautifully with rose; the two, married, give the smeller the "fantasy note" of carnation. A subtle hint of black pepper contributes its silvery burn to the spicy floral accord. A lovely, old-fashioned jasmin note peers through the spicy rose. A prominent tonka/coumarin note gives L'ORIGAN its unique "cherry/almond/tobacco" quality. What is never discussed, in reviews of L'ORIGAN, is its considerable note of methyl salicylate, a chemical smell we all recognize, as it is what gives that "wintergreen" scent to products like Pepto-Bismol, Ben-Gay, the old Pepsodent Tooth powder, that green-tinted rubbing alcohol, those pink wintergreen candy disks, and (drumroll, please) those wax lips and wax vampire teeth--- semi-chewable, as we remember--- that nearly every American kid remembers from Hallowe'en. Also, wintergreen/methyl salicylate is a prominent ingredient in American root-beers and sarsaparilla drinks. In fine perfumery, it is often used, in extremely subtle doses, to accentuate the aura of white flowers like tuberose and gardenia. In L'ORIGAN, methyl salicylate gives its wintergreen quality to the base of a sweet candied vanilla and a creamy sandalwood.
All in all, L'ORIGAN gives us the idea of a sweet, candied pomander or retro candy lozenge. It is a subtle, friendly, kind scent, which one likely wears today as a "comfort scent" rather than a dramatic "evening out" scent. Sillage is extremely restrained, in keeping with the perfumes of the earliest years of the 20thc. That it smells winsomely old-fashioned...is exactly what is gratifying about it, as it seems to offer a window into an Art Nouveau-ornate, Mucha/Klimt sort of fin-de-siecle arabesque; one pictures "Rose" from TITANIC wearing it, or "Lady Edith" from DOWNTON ABBEY. (Redheads, take note.)
L'ORIGAN exists, I would say, in an olfactory niche somewhere between Guerlain MITSOUKO and L'HEURE BLEUE, although those two Guerlains are much more complex and "busy" (and expensive) than sweet 'n' simple L'ORIGAN is; like LHB, l'ORIGAN conveys a candied vanilla/marzipan/powder impression, but its prominent clove/eugenol signature places it closer to MITSOUKO.
At present, the European body IFRA has forbidden the use of eugenol in commercial perfumery.... and that unmistakeable clove note is a central player in L'ORIGAN; how they'll produce modern versions of the old beloved perfume is uncertain.
I've just ordered a bottle of the new "cologne mist", and I shall be very curious to see how it differs from the PdT I'm trying now.
Highly recommended, and a "must try" for any serious perfumista, as it is the spiritual great-grandmother of every modern spicy, oriental and gourmand--- quite a claim.
I sampled L'heure Blue at Neimans after reading the stories about L'Origan and L'heure Blue . Frankly I was REALLY let down by L'heure Blue and was expecting that I would not care for L' Origan, which I had ordered out of curiousity . To my shock , I spritzed it and discovered perfume HEAVEN . This is the most FEMININE fragrance I have ever smelled . It is incredibly balanced - a VERY soft floral and spicy oriental . I detect some jasmine, orange blossom , vanilla , and a subtle hint of clove . At times it reminds me a bit of Tresor with a hint of soft spicy orange blossom . When I sniff it , I imagine a classy feminine lady like Carole Lombard wearing it .
Incredibly , this very feminine soft scent has perfect projection. It is not intrusive, yet it makes a distinctive statement like nothing else I have tried! . As far as lasting , it is incredible. Too bad this is one a lot of women have never tried . It totally deserves a spot next to my Coco Chanel and Dior Addict .
There are a few other fragrance bargains I have found that have blown me away : Tojours Moi , Charlie ( original in blue bottle ) and a super cheapie that smells fabulous called " Va Va Voom " . Each of these is an intriguing combination , lasts a long time , and smells terriffic for a pittance . They smell "upscale " and merit far more attention than many fragrances that are overpriced , short lived and not original.
My impression of this comes from the fact that I've been using the Airspun powder for months prior to purchasing this fragrance. In a nutshell, they smell identical, especially upon dry down. I do now know for sure, but I would believe other reviewer who said that Coty scents the powder with this fragrance. The actual fragrance is kind of orangey, kind of powdery....I can't describe it, especially since my my first impression was from the use of he cosmetic product. If you like the old Coty fragrances, you probably will like this. I got mine from Amazon for about $8. If you are curious, try it! It's a great little find.
I also get the strong onset of orange blossoms, but it instantly begins to mellow out into a soft, powdery scent, almost more tuberose than orange blossoms, with distinct notes of dried milk. It's really quite lovely and soothing. To some degree, it does smell its age to me as I first smelled this as a child, so perception is colored by recollection, but lately I've been able to separate it from memory and it's just such a comforting, soft, feminine scent. I just bought a bottle for $12, so it's hard to beat the price. Creamy, milky, sweet blossoms with a hint of spice. Lovely.
After reading other reviews, I am amazed at how differently individuals find this fragrance. All I get out of it is orange blossoms and jasmine. This was a signature fragrance of one of my aunts and that is how I was introduced to it. It was my signature scent for a long time.
L'Origan got me the most positive comments from others, especially men. I was crushed when it was discontinued but am glad to hear it is available again. It definitely smelled better on me than on some of my friends who tried it. However, one of my coworkers did not like it, saying it was too sweet and he did not like jasmine. He was a fan of rose scents which I do not like. I have an old bottle of L'Origan that has held up very well in the aging, too. EDIT: Like many scents, L'Origan lasts longer when sprayed on your hair or clothes. Body chemistry can "kill" many fragrances prematurely.
Coty Airspun face powder is scented with L'Origan. Always has been.
I have only smelt new bottles of this but to me it smells like Caron's Narcisse Noir. Find it interesting how people seem to smell different things in it. It's unusual, slightly 'musty' (in a good way), and has character in my opinion. Lovely to know it's been around in one form or another since 1905. I gather Noir was 1911 so may be something of the time in that sort of smell.
It goes on medicinal and clovey and dries down to smell exactly like the face powder, and I mean that in the most literal way. It's good, but not really 'me'. My friend loves it, though, and the price can't be beaten.
At first this reminded me alot of Habanita by Molinard - it smelled like an old fashioned lipstick, that strong perfumey waxy scent. Then after about an hour it softened into a powdery rose. It smells kind of old fashioned and there are much nicer perfumes out there I really don't see the point of this.