Monday, January 14, 2008

Lelong Pour Femme

Lucien Lelong was a French couturier who some would argue was the original pioneer of the New Look, the wasp waisted, full-skirted look just before the war broke out in 1939. It's also been written that Dior, Balmain and Givenchy all considered him to be a mentor. As you might imagine, Lucien Lelong's perfumes were also highly "feminized" with emphasis on full-bodiedness. One of the perfumes in the Lelong line was Indiscret (1935), an ultrafeminine Fruity Floral with Oriental tones featuring a rich floral heart of tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine and tiger orchid, balanced with upbeat accents of mandarin, galbanum and white peach blossom on a warm, ambery base. It was re-launched in 1997 in a bottle designed by Marc Rosen. Following Indiscret came another bombshell feminine fragrance called Lelong Pour Femme (1998), described on Lucien Lelong's website as the epitome of the glamour of Paris's Art Moderne period. The exquisite crystal arch shaped parfum flacons in the image of a clock are topped with a double tusk perfume stopper in trompe l'oeil tortoise shell, in the authentic style of the era. Lelong Pour Femme is quite hard-to-find, and I believe only one store in the US carries it (The Perfume House, Portland OR). I'm sampling this today and I must sing my praises because this one has some intricate layers to reveal underneath its fresh, citrusy opening that resembles Indiscret but only at first.

Greta Garbo, an icon of the 1930s, was one of Lelong's illustrious clients. Image courtesy of d. Chedwick Bryant, Tangled Up In L'Heure Bleue

Past the flash of bright, tart mandarin awaits the most enchanted garden of white florals with purple-tinted elegance: lilacs, orchids, magnolias on the breeze, blooming in early spring. Purple flowers can smell somewhat austere in certain arrangements (they smell "green" in perfumespeak) but in Lelong Pour Femme, they smell like a soft ray of optimism, a whisper of honeyed delight. With the addition of Kadota Fig, the fragrance turns greener than ever, giving the composition an aura of vintage glamour without losing the easy-to-wear, contemporary feeling. A classical heart of jasmine and May rose is radiant and alive, and the additional green notes make this fragrance startlingly delicate yet sensual at once. Most of all, the sillage is beautiful--refined yet refreshing like a warm, genuine smile. This is a well-orchestrated classic with emphasis on florals, sure to bring back timeless haute elegance--but with a gentle spirit--within the all-out romantic Floral Oriental genre.

Lelong Pour Femme (1998): mandarin, bergamot, magnolia, garden lilac, Kadota Fig Intenscent, jasmine, rose de mai, tuberose, ylang ylang, iris, sharry baby orchid, purple cattleya orchid, white cattleya orchid, sandalwood, vetivert, oakmoss, musk.