Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coty L'Origan

I first became interested in smelling Coty L'Origan (1905) when someone online suggested its similarity to Chanel pour Monsieur, and again when someone else mentioned L'Origan was the precursor to Guerlain L'Heure Bleue (1912), a favorite of mine for many years. I was lucky enough to have been given a generous vintage sample by a lovely online perfumista friend, so here are my impressions of this famous historical creation by the legendary House of Coty.

There's no mistaking L'Origan is a vintage perfume. It smells to me like perfume from a time when fragrance families overlapped within very rich, complex compositions - a perfume like L'Origan to me smells at once like Fougère and Chypre - mossy, mildly leathery - but with Oriental (spicy and sweet, ambery, woody) elements playing a strong role. There is more floralcy in L'Origan than I find in Guerlain Mitsouko (1919) which it mostly reminds me of (I find both of these are a bit "nutty"), but it's not as floral as L'Heure Bleue, save for the spicy carnation note - nevertheless, I can easily smell the similarity between all three creations. Left solely up to first whiff, I would call L'Origan a Chypre like Mitsouko and call it a day. Then again, Oriental Fougère fits nicely.

L'Origan is a very early modern Floral Oriental, a type of scent categorically known for predominantly having both floral and sweet, ambery notes. L'Origan is to me quite spicy, reminiscent of Chanel pour Monsieur, but the intricate accord between mossiness and sweet amberiness, all delivered with lots of soft powderiness, gives L'Origan a traditionally feminine characteristic. However, it could easily be described as an androgynous type of scent, in a mossy, dark green gourmand sort of way - somewhere between L'Heure Bleue, Mitsouko and Chanel pour Monsieur. The violet aspect of it reminds me of Balenciaga Le Dix, and now and then, I'm also reminded of Chanel No.5 and Givenchy L'Interdit, Aldehydic Florals with woody-mossy elements, respectively.

Although L'Origan isn't the kind of scent I prefer to wear, I'm always delighted to learn what fragrances were like a century ago, and to see how the most beautiful or influential ones have survived the years so we may learn about them today.