The Rancé dynasty started their business as manufacturers of perfumed gloves in Grasse, in 1600s. In 1795 François Rancé decided to devote all his time to perfumery and soon allegedly became Napoleon’s favorite perfumer, creating several fragrances both for the emperor and for Joséphine Bonaparte. Recently Rancé has released two of these scents, Le Vainqueur and Joséphine.
For a fragrance originally created approximately 200 years ago, Joséphine is surprisingly modern. It is a soft floral scent, with slight fruity undertones. The blend is remarkably smooth, none of the notes stands out. Among the top notes (May rose, hawthorn, jasmine, ylang ylang and hyacinth), the rose is most prominent, but it is a very “quiet” rose, sweet and gentle. Even though I say that this note is the most obvious to my nose, I would not call this a rose-heavy scent at all. Hawthorn is a note that I came to associate with a certain opaque, “nutty” quality; it usually smells on my skin like grated hazelnuts, and I can smell this very pleasant accord in Joséphine. Hyacinth, which is ordinarily strikingly green and piercing to my nose, is very subdued here, as are jasmine and ylang ylang. When the heart notes (iris, blackcurrant, white peach, cloves, galbanum and violet leaves) come into play, I can definitely smell a peach note; cloves and blackcurrant are absolutely non-existent to my nose. The base notes (ebony, sandalwood, white musk, Bourbon vanilla and ambergris) are to me the best part of the scent; again, all the notes are very subdued, the wood is incredibly soft and sweetened by vanilla. Unfortunately, and this is my only complaint about Joséphine, in the late drydown, vanilla acquires a very prominent position and becomes practically the only note left, on my skin. Joséphine stays very close to the skin but it is quite a long lasting scent nevertheless, I can still smell it 8-10 hours after a single application.
As I mentioned before, there is nothing “vintage” about the smell of Joséphine. Moreover, this fragrance reminds me of some other scents, though I cannot quite figure out which ones, something released in the late 90s, perhaps one of Les Belles de Ricci. It also reminds me of one of the Ghost fragrances, namely –I think- Serenity, but I would have to re-visit that fragrance to know for sure. All in all, Joséphine is a lovely perfume, feminine in a gentle sort of way and very wearable. I imagine it would appeal to the fans of the scents like Flower by Kenzo and Jean Paul Gaultier Classique. Joséphine is not exactly “my cup of tea”, and so I am in no great hurry to purchase a bottle, but I might buy one in the future, it is a beautiful scent.
Joséphine is available on ranceusa.com, $80.00 for 50ml or $115.00 for 100ml.
*The painting is Josephine Bonaparte by Andrea Appiani