Ipso Olfacto

fragrant musings


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Vintage Finds: Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

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Recently, I hit the estate sale jackpot and found two huge splash bottles of vintage Guerlain L’heure Bleue. The classic Guerlain bottles are simply stunning. Most of their modern ones are, too, but these just have that vintage elegance that goes so perfectly with the scent inside.

The bottle with the heart shaped stopper is the extrait, and was designed by Raymond Guerlain himself along with famous French crystal company Baccarat. I’m not sure how old my bottle is, but it looks like it’s from the 70s or earlier.

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The juice inside? Divine. Its soft, powdery, and blue. The scent fits the name here- “L’heure Bleue” being French for “the blue hour” or twilight. I can smell fluffy, blue/purple flowers. The light, sweet nuttiness of heliotrope, powdery iris, and hint of “Guerlain-ade” vanilla take center stage. There’s also some anise to add a bit of bite. Truly a lovely fragrance! It looks like L’heure Bleue is my Guerlain. Good thing, too, as Shalimar didn’t work for me.

The round bottle is the flacon montre or “watch” bottle used for most cologne concentrations. These were used from 1936 all the way to 1999, so who knows how old mine really is. The label looks decently aged, so maybe 1980 or earlier? The juice in this one is essentially the same as the extrait, only less rich and more transparent (not exactly a surprise from the EDC.)

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I just love finding gems like these at estate sales. These lovely bottles were likely treasured and refilled multiple times, in contrast to most perfume bottles nowadays that are seemingly made to be discarded after use. Although splash bottles don’t preserve your precious perfume as well as sprays, there’s just something so glamorous about dabbing your neck with a crystal stopper that I’m finding it hard to care!


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Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere- The Perfect Modern Update

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Updating a classic fragrance for the younger crowd is an intimidating venture on its own – let alone when it involves updating Chanel No.5, probably THE most iconic fragrance on earth. Now, I know Chanel released No.5 L’eau recently, but I think they already hit the nail on the head as far as updating No.5 with 2015’s Eau Premiere . L’eau is nice, but a bit too far removed from No.5- it ends up feeling like more of a neutered version than a cool, modern take. Eau Premiere is certainly lighter and easier to wear than the original No.5 EDT and EDP, but it still has that distinct No.5 DNA, as well as, most importantly, it’s attitude. 

Upon spraying Eau Premiere,  your nose is tickled by lemony, fizzy, aldehydes that are a genius modernization of the OG No.5’s often nostril-burning ones. Here, they feel buoyant and fresh, like a crisp glass of champagne. Buttery ylang-ylang eventually emerges, along with some light rose and Jasmine.  In the drydown, Eau Premiere skips out on the more dated notes of the original: the animalic civet, the musty oakmoss- and instead presents a slightly creamy base of sandalwood, vetiver, and vanilla. Think of Eau Premiere as the Konmari’d version of No.5- it gives you that classic smell, only streamlined (and probably more likely to “spark joy” with most of today’s noses.)

The magic of Eau Premiere is that it smells classic but not dated.  Let’s face it, No.5, although an icon, can smell kind if jarring to “the youths” of today – it just smells so blatantly from another era of perfumery. I mean, when was the last time we had a major mainstream release that was aldehyde-based, or that even contained civet? Eau Premiere is also incredibly versatile – it feels just as at home with a tee shirt and jeans as with a ballgown. So, even as a millennial-friendly update, Eau Premiere is still as chic and classic as ever. 


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Estate Sale Find: Vintage Miniatures!

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My nosy self has always enjoyed estate sales- it’s one of the few socially accepted ways to enter a strangers house and root through their stuff. Bonus- you may end up finding some treasures, especially vintage gems, on the cheap! Recently, I found an adorable, unopened box, or “coffret,” of miniature vintage perfume treasures from *~Paris~*!

I was so excited to open the box- it was still wrapped loosely in its original cellophane-

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I could already detect that familiar, powdery smell of vintage perfume…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA… And I couldn’t help but go “awww!” at how cute these little guys were. These are true blue miniatures- no 5ml deluxe samples here. They look like they’d be the perfect size for my hamster. She’d be the best smelling hammy around.

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Unfortunately, the nature of the bottles meant that they weren’t sealed very well, and most of them had either evaporated completely, or had very little (likely turned) juice inside. But for 2 bucks, I can’t say I care too much. They’re an interesting piece of history- they look to be from the 60s.

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Perfumes have always been a natural souvenir, especially for tourists to a glamorous locale like Paris who want to bring a little French Girl Chic ™ home with them. The little insert had some funny ad copy:

“Here are 10 perfumes that promise to be the new fashion of the Paris season. Be careful how you use them; never, never more than a day. You’ll know when you’re it [sic] on your own special scent when you get that flattering reaction that says: “You’re different, but I can’t say exactly what it is that makes you different.’ That, my friends, is true glamour. !” [all grammatical errors and emphasis theirs, lol]

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It’s funny, I’ve never even heard of any of these fragrances, other than maybe “Shocking” by Shiaperelli and of course, “Tabu” by Dana- am I noticing a pattern here? These were the NEW fashion at some point, I guess. I especially like the Lucien Lelong “Indiscrete.” How positively scandalous.