Perfume Review: Weil Zibeline
Parfums Weil was established in 1927 by Marcel Weil who about a decade earlier founded Les Fourrures Weil (Weil Furs). Weil’s first perfumes were inspired by furs and were meant to be worn with furs. The names speak for themselves, Zibeline (Sable), Chinchilla, Hermine (Ermine), Une Fleur pour Fourrure (A Flower for Fur)... Parfums Weil has survived the War, having introduced in 1945 the beautiful Antilope. The house has been active in the 1960s, but by 1980s its days of glory seemed to be long past. It has changed ownership several times, having ended up being bought by Interparfums.
The glamorous epoch of furs and outrageous luxury might be over, but lets no allow the beautiful perfumes created then go down into the night so very easily. Zibeline, very much a product of its time, and very much a retro scent, is not any more out of place in today’s life then Lipstick Rose, Mona di Orio Carnation, Teint de Neige or Melodrama, the scents meant to have an old-fashioned, stylized feel and to be evocative of the times past. I find it very easy to wear Zibeline on any, even the most unglamorous of occasions; the scent certainly has a presence and a character but in a quiet, understated, old-money-that-are-never-flaunted sort of way.
The fragrance starts with a fresh and yet candied, powdery citrus accord, which makes me think of lipsticks…if lipsticks were scented with orange blossom instead of roses and violets, that’s how they would smell. As the sweet, slightly spicy powderiness wears off, the iris note becomes more prominent and in a short while it takes over the scent. It is one of the most beautiful iris notes I have encountered, an unusually warm, sweet, expansive note that reminds be of the bright, piquant iris of Orchidee Blanche. This middle stage of Zibeline might be a portrait of Orchidee Blanche’s great grandmother, dressed in furs and pearls and a cloche hat, looking down approvingly at her beautiful descendant from a sepia-tone portrait on the wall. The drydown of Zibeline is balsamic and honeyed, with soft sandalwood and sweet amber and tonka bean, and with a healthy helping of dirtiness supplied by civet. Dark golden-brown, smooth and silky like the most expensive sable manteau, Zibeline is elegant and warm, dressed up and amazingly versatile. It is most certainly worth an effort to find and to get to know before it disappears for good.
Finding it is not impossible. Bottles of Zibeline regularly pop up on eBay. It is also available at Enchante Perfumes in Canada, which is where I got my bottle. It retails there for CAN 45.00-120.00.
An ad for Weil Furs and Manteau de Zibeline by George Barbier are from Artophile.com. The photo of the bottle is from Osmotheque.fr.