Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Other 'Staffordshire Hoard' - My Estate Windfall (Lots 2 & 3)

Andre Philippe 'scent spray' 
The other week I reported about my fragrant 'estate windfall', whereby I was the lucky recipient of a couple of vintage perfumes my friend found while clearing out his parents' house after his father died.  Well, it's an ill wind and all that, because I have since taken custody of two more hauls of perfume - the best had definitely yet to come...

For these latest finds included no fewer than four bottles or purse sprays that were BNIB - or Brand Old In Box, to be more exact.  The excitement of breaking the seal on a bottle that is anywhere from 30-50 years old has to be one of the highlights of my perfumista career.  The cellophane on one of them was as thin as rice paper and almost crumbled away in my hand.

So without further ado, here is the inventory of Lots 2 & 3, followed by thoughts on some of the perfumes.


(Top photo) André Philippe puffer bottle - never used!

Bourjois Soir de Paris - cute (and by the looks of it rather old) mini, sadly inaccessible due to the neck being bunged up with sticky and impenetrable black gunk.  I couldn't even prise the stuff off with a view to pulling the same 'henna tattooing' stunt as I did with Goya Pink Mimosa.

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps edp - BNIB!  (Left of photo below)

L'Air du Temps was the first perfume I owned - a gift from a boyfriend in 1983.  It came in a pale yellow and white box as I recall, so I am betting that this one might be earlier.  It has a full-bodied but indeterminate floral bouqet, a slightly powdery quality and a soft, wistful aspect, which leads me to conclude that it shares minimal genetic material with the wan yet spiky carnation concoction that is L'Air du Temps today.

Houbigant Chantilly edc
Houbigant Chantilly edp - BNIBoxed Set - together with talcum powder!

I had never heard of Chantilly, and given that I have inherited two bottles of the stuff, was delighted to find I like it - a lot.  In fact this could best be described as a poor man's MDCI Promesse de l'Aube - poor only in a monetary sense, for Chantilly could easily pass for a niche fragrance.  From what I can glean, however, it was pretty mainstream in its heyday - bordering on a drugstore scent, even.  The best way to sum up Chantilly is as powdery, sherbety lemon meringue pie.  At the far end of the fluffy bell curve!  Girly and coy, I could see it being the perfect pick to wear with a 50s prom dress.

Mosman the koala kindly does the honours and holds the lid back

Madame Rochas purse spray - BNIB - with interesting frosting detail

Mme Rochas purse spray - first time out of its box!

Good job I like Madame Rochas - I also received a small bottle in Lot 3. : - )  It is another aldehydic grande dame fragrance like Chanel No 5, but more soapy and less fizzy, basically.  Very elegant and classic, without smelling unduly dated.

Yves Rocher 8e jour edt

(In the orange and blue spray canister below).  This is a scent from 1993, now discontinued, and appears to have become a bit of cult fragrance on Makeupalley.  It is a rather offbeat fruity-spicy-incense number, and reminded me a bit of a fruitier and less incense-y YSL Nu.  I see there is no fruit officially in there, but what I am getting may be the interplay of vanilla and honey with the ylang-ylang - sweet and intense, but tempered and made somehow more diffuse by the myrrh.

Notes: iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cinnamon, vanilla, myrrh, rose and white honey

Goya Gardenia edt

Let's just say that Isabey and JAR don't need to watch their backs - this could be fabric softener leaning in a vaguely white floral direction.

Yardley Flair
Royal Copenhagen edt
Samples of Lenthéric Tweed & Parfums Parquet Présence

Family photo of Part 2 


Mme Rochas small bottle - BNIB

Rochas Femme - half-used tester of parfum!

Who would have thought that the day would come when I could contemplate the plummy civet and cumin-fest that is the legendary Femme with equanimity.  Much more than that indeed, for I really liked it.  It wasn't too animalic and felt simultaneously both fierce and warm, to the point of purring.  More rounded than Cabochard, say, another 'armour' scent from that general era.  Interestingly, out of all the perfumes I received, this is the only one that appears to have been a 'go-to' fragrance for my benefactor.

Jean Patou tester with glass applicator wand - it doesn't say which scent, but my money's on Joy!  An unctuous, fat, rich floral with a filthy underbelly - it has to be Joy, surely.  And I must say that I am especially enjoying the glass applicator wand - you don't see too many of those these days.  It looks rather like a honey drizzler, come to think of it.  Or an ornate toilet brush in its holder.

Also, I scored two bottles of gin(!) from the deceased - there were a further six bottles of cream sherry going spare, but I let them go to an old people's home.  Oh, and an unfinished knitting project in Manchester City football colours.  It is clearly some kind of a snowman-elephant-teapot hybrid, and if anyone reading thinks they can take it over the line and create a meaningful garment from it, I would be open to offers!

Finally, here is a link to the real Staffordshire Hoard - don't you just want that seahorse?


Undina said...

I don't know most of the names you've mentioned AND I'm not a vintage perfumes fan, but even I got excited by allthepicturesand descriptions :)

And now... Go find your most valuable perfume posession and wear it: when one day (many-many years from now, of course) somebody is reading a similar post, I don't want there to be any NIB or "almost full".

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I must admit that I didn't know some of them either, but I am familiar with the modern versions of several that are still in current production - L'Air du Temps, Femme, Joy and Madame Rochas.

As it turns out I am loving wearing them, so there is no risk of the scenario you fear!

LaDomna said...

Wow! Lots of god old classics!! Most of them I have only ever heard about. I have wanted to try Joy and Femme for ages! But I wouldn't want to sniff the current versions, with the fear that they might be as nasty as the current Madame Rochas... Chantilly and L'Air du Temps are also ones that I have wanted to smell! Now if only I could be so lucky as to inherit a huge lot of perfume from someone with good taste...

Vanessa said...

Hi Nadja

The current Mme Rochas is not good, I agree. I wish that you could inherit an estate windfall of vintage scent too! I have a kind of a blog anniversary coming up shortly and will be doing a giveaway - with a vintage option - so stand by for that.

And you could also check out Ebay, as there is a lot of genuine vintage stuff on there for not much money, if you hunt for the things that people don't appear to know the value of - you know, it is just 'old perfume' to them, type of thing.

Anonymous said...

Hiya Bonks,

I'm with Undina on this, about using perfume and not leaving it to languish for "best". (I'm quailing at the thought of how I'm going to put mine to good use!)

Your friend has been so generous, and it is always gratifying to know that someone will love and use something that a loved one has left. The knitting project is rather poignant for all its baffling qualities.

I'm sure there's enough bottle-opening knowledge in the perfume community to assist you in opening the Bourjois "Soir de Paris" - someone will be along with advice!

Good luck and enjoy:-)

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

LaDomna said...

Vanessa: Oh, a giveaway! I'm always game for a giveaway! ;)

I have bought some vintage decants off a seller on Etsy but I have yet to venture into the world of ebay. I just always get so confused by that place. I think I'll stick to indie perfume companies and swapping samples with fellow indie perfume bloggers now while I'm poor... :)

Tara said...

I should imagine that opening just about any bottle from 30-50 years would be very exciting. Even drugstore fragrances were so much better back then. The Chantilly sounds lovely.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anna,

I am going to try my level best to make serious inroads into this stash!

I texted my friend to thank him again, explaining what the various things were, to which he replied;

'I hardly understood any of that apart from you seem to be quite pleased so that's good.'

:- )

Vanessa said...

Hi Nadja,

You can pick up stuff on Ebay for buttons - I got a bottle of Givenchy Le De for £7.50 - it just depends if you get lucky.

I probably started my hobby with a mixed strategy of buying samples (and a few bottles) from Ebay and samples from The Perfumed Court. And then started swapping, as you say. Decants are much cheaper in swaps than bought. Did a lot of that on Makeupalley. Now I have well and truly plateaued / peaked, which is altogether easier on the purse / wallet. ; - )

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

It was thrilling to broach these bottles, no question. Like a time capsule of 'olfacto-social history' - to come over all David Starkey for a moment ;-)- which I had the good fortune to come across and open...

Ines said...

I'm so happy for you.
Vintage finds rule!
Enjoy. :)
(while enjoying gin too) ;)

annemariec said...

Very happy for you, and trying desperately to contain my envy!

Is the Femme very cuminy? I've always understood that cumin was only introduced with the 1989 reformulation. I have some pre-1989 Femme which is not cuminy but neither is it in good shape generally, so its hard to judge. Vintage Femme can be expensive on eBay so I'm not going to chase it. I have noticed that prices for vintage fragrances have gone up and up over the years, and the real bargains are now only with the rather obscure brands.

You are right about L'Air du Temps these days. I have a whole 100 ml tester I bought a few years ago, thinking I was getting a bargain. Nope. And I don't like to give it away because I know it's not good.

Suzanne said...

I'm so thrilled to hear that, of these perfumes, the one you are most enjoying is Vintage Femme! (I almost fell out of my chair while reading this, that's how thrilled and suprised I am!) ;-D

Chantilly, back in its day, was truly a drugstore scent (in that you could find it anywhere) but it was really, really good. Your description of it measures up with what I remember (it is a perfume I used to buy for myself in my late teens, though I haven't owned a bottle since then). I did buy Chantilly dusting powder a few years ago and found it surprisingly good in its modern state.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

I am indeed lucky on both counts!

Sniffy and squiffy in one easy hit...

: - )

Vanessa said...

Hi annemariec,

Hmm, I honestly wouldn't say the Femme is particularly cumin-y, not based on my experience of the note in my kitchen cupboard or Alexander McQueen's Kingdom!

It is the parfum of course so I don't know if that might affect things? I think it is true that when it comes to vintage more and more sellers on eBay and the like are getting wind of the true value of what they own.

Glad to hear you confirm my thoughts on L'Air du Temps! I do not rightly recall how it smelt in 1982 when I owned a bottle, but I am pretty sure I liked it better than what is around at the moment.

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

I am every bit as surprised as you about my favourable reaction to Femme. ;-) I can only put it down to the fact that whichever era this parfum may be from, it wasn't so fierce back then. It is ballsy all right, yet soft and cosy as well.

Interesting to hear about your youthful experiences with Chantilly - I must say it had never crossed my radar before. I was obviously mistaken in thinking Chantilly had been discontinued, though I have never seen it anywhere in the UK or Europe - not even in a drugstore. I will keep an eye out in future, as I would be curious to do a side-by-side comparison!

The Smelly Vagabond said...

That is quite the windfall! Made me wonder who'd be the lucky person inheriting my estate of perfumes when I pass on...

Vanessa said...

Hi Joshua,

Aha, I guess we had all better give that some thought! I have an EU perfume lake to bequeath to someone. : - )

The Smelly Vagabond said...

Hi Vanessa,

I thought I'd alert you to a very strange phenomenon seeing as you're interested in blog analytics and data etc. I tried sending a Facebook friend a link to one of your blog posts:

However, Facebook didn't allow me to send the link to my friend because your site:,uk was deemed to be spammy! Not sure why this is happening, because you definitely aren't spammy in any way; just thought you might like to know!

Vanessa said...

Hi Joshua,

Kind of you to mention it, but I have known that for a long time, sadly, as I used to post links to my own blog posts on Facebooks, until some ill-meaning troll reported me as 'spam'.

It is particularly upsetting as I was only ever a very light user of social networks to promote my blog, and the ratio of my blog updates to the usual inconsequential personal trivia and cat pictures that is the standard output on Facebook - also by me - was always minimal.

I guess someone out there didn't want Bonkers to do well, and in this day and age, nobbling someone on FB was a pretty good tactic.

The Smelly Vagabond said...

That's horrible! Is there no way that problem could be rectified? I don't see how promoting your own blog on Facebook should count as spam; I want to clobber whoever was so mean-spirited on the head.

That's the problem with Facebook, isn't it? It collects 'information' about what is spam but people can't tell it 'hey, that's NOT spam'. I'd be mighty annoyed if someone did that to me :/

Vanessa said...

I know, I am mighty annoyed, and a few friends got together and wrote to Facebook to try to explain just that.

However, I am not sure there is anyone there at the other end paying any notice. It is possible to report someone as 'spam' at the click of a mouse and have that complaint taken seriously by Facebook, while the victim has absolutely no right of redress.

Natalie said...

That is quite a haul! All those pretty bottles and boxes. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

Isn't it just? And I heard from my friend that there is yet more to come...that's the thing about house clearances - it's not over till it's over.

Bryan Ross said...

Nice haul! I only own one "vintage" fragrance, and that's Max Factor's 1950s Signature for Men - my bottle has been unofficially appraised as from the early '60s, containing a nice musky barbershop fougere. I never wear it though, because it smells a bit off. It's discouraged me to pursue other vintage fragrances, because I truly believe that it's impossible to fully enjoy the fragrance as it's meant to be enjoyed once it passes a certain age and its molecules begin to break down. Maybe I need to open up my mind a little more to it.

Vanessa said...

Hi Bryan,

If you could sniff this lot - albeit there is only one masculine, Royal Copenhagen - it would give you renewed faith in vintage as a category, for some of this stuff is mint. I have literally been breaking seals and tearing off cellophane. Well, on four of the bottles. And even the very well used Femme isn't remotely degraded. This lady wasn't keeping them in a fridge either!