Mainstream Monday – Sniffing a Popular Perfume
Watching old black and white movies with glamorous leading ladies on a slightly broken tube television, Little Me would look in awe at the platinum blondes and their furry-rug, mirrored boudoirs. Other than the floor-sweeping dressing gowns and long, false lashes I would notice this little black sphere, almost as big as a softball. These would rest on vanities or sleek modern dressers. Little Me knew it was perfume. Little Me knew that all bleached blondes wore perfume, but what was THIS perfume? Years later, I learned it was Lanvin and most likely Arpège.
Arpege opens with fruity, peach aldehydes. The joyful aldehydes quickly fizzle. The heart is a rich, solid fruity floral, very lactonic. It’s a slightly rotting peach floral over a buttermilk sandalwood. I also get traces of a waxy rose that reminds me of lipstick, the lipstick that would have been sitting next to Arpege on those Old Hollywood vanities. There’s a powdery, sweet mimosa with a honeyed vanilla. The dry-down is a warm musk and woods. Smelling Arpege now, it’s difficult to believe that this was ever created for a 13 year old girl!
In case you didn’t know – The story behind Arpège is that clothing designer, Jeanne Lanvin had shared this perfume with her daughter for her 13th birthday. Her daughter named it Arpège (arpeggio) as she was a pianist. Other stories say Jeanne Lanvin named it Arpege because her daughter was always practicing the piano. This doesn’t really matter but it is agreed that the bottle was a gift to her daughter. The bottle features the artwork of Paul Iribe (Coco Chanel’s lover) and it represents Mother and Daughter. In the beginning ,the Lanvin couturier made children’s clothing. Lanvin later went on to add clothing for the mothers buying the Lanvin children’s clothing. It would make sense that if the line were to expand to perfume, that it would have a Mother/Daughter themed fragrance. But, what is surprising to me is how this once “innocent” floral, a gift for both mothers and daughters, is now perceived as this va-va-voom vintage. It’s so “thick” and voluptuous in comparison to the other perfumes from the era that are still in production today. It’s so much sexier than Chanel No. 5.
At one time, I had issues with Arpege. It wasn’t me and I felt weird wearing it. When I first tried it, I was an 18 year old loudmouth punk. Arpege seemed like this old-fashioned heteronormative fragrance that was like “Wear this. Get a man. Have children. Shut up”. From the backstory, to the bottle, to the fragrance. It wasn’t me. But, I’ve mellowed out some. I now appreciate Arpege as this gorgeous voluptuous composition that is housed in a timeless bottle. I now actually like the back story and the Mother/Daughter bottle. More Mature Me views it as female empowerment and truly authentic love. And I love the symbolism of the milky lactones-Mother and peach/heart-daughter/love (I may be less of a punk but I’m still into over thinking consumer products). Yet, I still don’t really consider it a very “me” fragrance. Maybe one day I’ll grow into it.
Notes listed include aldehydes, peach, bergamot, orange blossom, honeysuckle, iris, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, coriander, mimosa, tuberose, geranium, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, musk and vanilla. Originally launched 1927 and reformulated in the 1990’s. PERFUMER – Andre Fraysee
Give Arpège a try if you like vintage florals. Or if you like perfumes like Guerlain Mitsouko, Rochas Femme, Hermès Caleche, Caron Farnesiana and/or DSH Perfumes Mata Hari.
Projection and longevity is above average. I’ve sampled what you can buy today (the non-vintage).
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – A lactonic floral with peach and sandalwood. It’s a classic.
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