I was fortunate to get my hands on a Haarman & Reimer Fragrance Guide (1991 edition), which provides images and notes for about 800 fragrances, both feminine and masculine, including some that are now discontinued and rather obscure. The tome came with an obvious catch, in that it lengthened my already formidable wish list by about 400 entries. The following are just the tip of this lemming-iceberg (lemmingberg); these are the scents I would love to try and, in some cases, to buy unsniffed as soon as possible, simply based on a list of ingredients or just a name. Some of them were completely new to me, seeing others on the pages of this wonderful book simply strengthened my desire to try and/or own them. If you are familiar with any of these scents, I would love to hear your impressions.
First and foremost, I absolutely must get my greedy hands on a bottle of …
…Gengis Khan by Morandiere. I have a bizarre interest in all things Mongol/Ottoman Empire and am a huge fan of scents like Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan (Koublai Khan, by the way, was the grandson of Genghis Khan) and Caron Yatagan, so of course I immediately zoomed in on this black bottle that looks either like a Mongol warrior hat or a cauldron or both. And the notes sound appropriately striking and very appealing: bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, lavender, basil, aldehyde, carnation, cinnamon, geranium, jasmine, cyclamen, fir, pepper, mace, patchouli, leather, benzoin, tonka, styrax, cedar, amber, musk.
The Guide also informed me that there is yet another fragrance dedicated to the legendary Khan, this time by Kanebo:
Called Temujin (the leader of a small tribe in northeastern Mongolia became known as Genghis Khan only later in life), it has notes of bergamot, artemisia, clary sage, lemon, jasmine, patchouli, carnation, geranium, cedar, labdanum, moss, leather, olibanum, castoreum, tonka, moss.
Another seemingly interesting “masculine” fragrance with a leather note was Rouge by Lubin.
With notes of bergamot, basil, petitgrain, origanum, anis, carnation, patchouli, jasmine, cinnamon, cedar, vetiver, pine, leather, castoreum, amber, labdanum, olibanum, moss, it made me wonder whether, after the success (in my opinion, at least) of Idole, Lubin plans to re-release more of their classics. In the women’s section of the book, was featured another old Lubin scent, L de Lubin, a fresh chypre with notes of lemon, bergamot, basil, peach, jasmine, rosewood, melon, cyclamen, lily, oakmoss, patchouli, musk, cedar and amber.
An old Lanvin perfume, Clair de Jour, does not necessarily sound like something I would adore, but it is one of a couple of Lanvin classics that I haven’t tried yet and I’d love to sample it if only to cross it off the list of Scents I’d Like to Smell Before I Die.
Notes: hyacinth, aldehydes, cassie, bergamot, lily of the valley, jasmine, cyclamen, rose, lily, magnolia, sandalwood, musk, moss, cedar, civet.
Two classic Balenciaga scents, both with a stunning list of ingredients:
Michelle. Notes: aldehydes, leafy greens, gardenia, peach, coconut, tuberose, jasmine, rose, orris, carnation, orchid, vetiver, vanilla, sandal, moss, musk, civet, benzoin.
Prelude. Notes: aldehydes, orange, spice, bergamot, pimento, carnation, cinnamon, rose, jasmine, orchid, ylang ylang, amber, olibanum, tolu, benzoin, vanilla, patchouli, civet.
For a fan of vetiver, this scent sounds like a must-try:
Bois de Vetiver by Bogart. Notes: bergamot, lemon, petitgrain, coriander, lavender, clove (!), vetiver, orris, cinnamon(!), myrrh(!!), sandal, oakmoss, amber, olibanum, musk, leather (!!!).
Inoui, a classic green chypre by Shiseido, is a fixture on my eBay watch list. Sadly, so far I haven’t been able to bid high enough to win it.
Notes: lemon, galbanum, peach, juniper, jasmine, pine needles, thyme, freesia, oakmoss, cedar, myrrh, civet, musk.
The list of the notes for Fête by Molyneux looks strikingly similar to that of the fabulous Femme de Rochas, thus making it a must-try for me:
Notes: peach, plum, cumin, bergamot, rosewood, rose de mai, jasmine, ylang ylang,
I have no doubt that a male counterpart to the chic and stinky Bal a Versailles, Versailles Pour Homme, by Jean Desprez would turn out to be nothing but wonderful:
Notes: bergamot, pimento, clary sage, lemon, carnation, cinnamon, jasmine, geranium, fruit note, pine, patchouli, cedar, sandal, olibanum, moss, styrax, leather, vanilla, labdanum, amber, musk.
And that reminds me of another Desprez scent I’ve been dying to try for ages, Revolution à Versailles. I haven’t been able to find the notes (and it isn’t in the H&R Guide), but I love the name.
A couple of more scents that I would love to try simply because I like the names:
Moustache by Rochas. It makes me think of my dad, Tom Selleck and Hercule Poirot, all very positive associations. Notes: bergamot, lavender, lemon, petitgrain, basil, verbena, geranium, rose, carnation, jasmine, honey, fern, tonka, moss, musk, cedar, amber, vanilla.
The next one comes with rather a shameful confession. I became strangely addicted to the show called Girls Next Door, which is a “reality” show that follows the lives of Hugh Heffner’s three girlfriends. So, a scent called Playboy inevitably caught my eye:
Notes: bergamot, lemon, neroli, lavender, geranium, clary sage, fruit note, rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, cedar, fir, moss, amber, musk, tonka.
I am not ashamed in the least about my love for Greta Garbo. According to my Guide, there is both a feminine and a masculine Garbo scent, attributed to Richemont.
Garbo, notes: aldehydes, green note, bergamot, mandarin, fruity complex, lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, orris, heliotrope, carnation, cedar, vanilla, amber, sandal, musk, moss.
Garbo Pour Homme, notes: orange, bergamot, aldehyde, fruit note, green note, pimento, carnation, cinnamon, patchouli, rose, orris, cedar, sandal, amber, vanilla, olibanum, benzoin, honey, moss, musk, tonka (sounds more interesting than the feminine counterpart).
Barynia by Helena Rubinstein. In Russian, Barynia means “lady”, “lady of the manor”, “mistress of the estate”.
Notes: bergamot, lemon, aldehyde, hyacinth, violet, rose, jasmine, tuberose, lily of the valley, orris, carnation, orchid, sandal, vetiver, amber, musk, civet, benzoin.
Nitchevo by Juvena. The name sounds to me to be vaguely Russian. Nitchevo might possibly be “nichego”, which is a Russian word for “nothing”, “so-so” and “it doesn’t matter”. The bottle also is to me slightly reminiscent of onion domes of Russian churches…but it might just as likely have been meant to evoke an image of, say, a minaret. There also seems to be an old French movie, called Nitchevo…In any case, the notes sound intriguing:
Notes: artemisia, gardenia, aldehydes, bergamot, coriander, jasmine, rose, orris, carnation, narcisse, patchouli, amber, vetiver, castoreum, leather, moss, musk.
Amun by Muelhens. With notes of aldehydes, orange, bergamot, clove, cinnamon, rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, amber, labdanum, sandal, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, and tolu, it sounds like a rich, sumptuous, spicy oriental fragrance.
Seeing an Egyptian-themed perfume name reminded me of my biggest and perhaps one of the most unattainable lemmings, Guerlain Djedi (not featured in H&R guide). Possibly named after a mythical Egyptian magician Djedi who could bring the dead back to life, it is a strange, dark and dry blend of vetiver, patchouli and leather, and my heart greatly desires it. A full, in box, bottle of Djedi was last spotted on eBay for €1,110.00.
Most images and descriptions featured here are from H&R Fragrance Guide: Feminine Notes, Masculine Notes. Fragrances on the International Market, 1991, Hamburg, Germany. ISBN 3872610767. The photo of the Djedi bottle is from Pavesiocourmayeur.com.