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Friday, January 05, 2007

Farewell Violette Precieuse - Perfume Review and a Lament

The original Violette Précieuse, created by Ernest Daltroff in 1913 as an homage to his “muse et conseillère” Félicie Wanpouille, was a violet scent unlike any other. A dry, austerely-elegant creation, if it were a woman, it would have been the kind of woman who wears masculine suits, speaks in a husky voice, leads what an average mortal would consider to be an unconventional life and generally does not look or behave, as Adorno and Horkheimer said about Garbo, as if you could say “Hello, Sister!” to her. Luca Turin thought that Violette Precieuse was fit for Colette, and it certainly was. It had the nonchalance, it had the attitude, it had the refinement. The new Violette Précieuse, released so far exclusively at French Sephora, is the aforementioned woman, let’s say Garbo or Colette, played by a contemporary, D-list, Hollywood actress, in a bio-epic made for TV. She sort of has the right looks, but not for a millisecond is she capable of hypnotizing you into believing that she is who she pretends to be. And no wonder, since the producers did not dare to tell the whole truth about their controversial subject and toned down, smoothed and softened as much as they could.

Violette Précieuse was the first violet I ever loved. It demonstrated to me what I thought was impossible, that violets were not all dainty and delicate and ladylike in a boring sort of way. It was the violet with a kick, with an attitude, with a dark, brooding Caron base and I loved it. Although incredibly elegant, it was a forceful, atmospheric scent. The violet had an almost oily, rich quality and the greenness was earthy and shadowy. The new release has none of that refined opulence. It is a pale, almost ethereal, very green violet with a subtly-peppery, understatedly-woody undertone. If I have not known her Garbo-esque grandma, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed in the Violette Jr. But, because it displays all the qualities that I do not like in violets scents (daintiness, coy subtlety), I still wouldn’t have loved or even liked her. I am especially displeased with the amount and the kind of greenness in the new Violette Précieuse. The striking, earthy green of the old scent has been replaced with the brighter, fresher verdancy of young leaves and the first grass of spring. At times, I smell something vaguely fig-like in the new Violette, a green accord with a disturbingly coconut-like undertone. The green and the violet in the classic Violette Précieuse balanced and played off each other perfectly. Here, the spring-like greenness overwhelms the shy little violet. One very pleasant thing about the new Précieuse is the sandalwood in the drydown, a soft, slightly sweet note, which, however, can’t even attempt to recreate the richness of the base of the original. The new Violette has a younger feel about it; it is an understated, neutral scent, an inoffensive rendition of a striking classic, made to fit the overly-cautious, politically correct environment.

To conclude the long rant, the re-released Violette Précieuse was a disappointment for me. I will not buy it when and if it is sold at the Caron boutique in NYC. I will instead search high and low for the remaining bottles of the old Violette Précieuse in good, wearable condition. Wish me luck.

The new version is available at, €51,30 for 50ml of Eau de Parfum. Notes: violet flowers and leaves, iris, orange blossom, lily of the valley, jasmine, musk, sandalwood and vetiver.

The first image is from, the second from


Blogger Patty said...

You really did NOT like this! :) I do like it, but I'm not that happy with the change since the old one was great. This new one is very much along the Laura Tonatto e. Duse line, and I love violets with a passion, so I'm still happy with it!

12:31 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Oh that is so sad!

I do love the comparison though: the the D-list actress...

Is this the scent the olfactory equivalent of Jennifer Love Hewitt playing Audrey Hepburn? Sharon Gless playing Carole Lombard? Or worse, the nightmarish idea that someone might decide Garbo should be essayed by Mischa Barton?

I find these reissues frankly to be depressing

1:16 AM EST  
Anonymous Andy said...

Good luck to you in your search for remaining bottles! I liked the line of thought... I wonder what Ernest Daltroff would produce for D or C-listed actresses, though. I would still be wonderful!

2:08 AM EST  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Oh, so tragic !
It must be our brooding Eastern European souls that make us crave such sorrowful scents...

Nicely put, my beauty.

7:22 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I hope you don't hate me for not liking this one :-) Thank you so much for letting me try it! Gosh, I wish I did not wait to get an old bottle...but I did, thinking, oh there is a new one coming, it would be just the same. What a moron I am. And now all there is are bottles on 1stperfume, with which I am not eager to deal. I am going to stalk ebay. :-)

8:05 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

JLH as Audrey Hepburn is EXACTLY what inspired the comparison, but I couldn't use it, see, because VP is the wrong scent for Hepburn :-) Now if I ever compare the new L'Interdit to the old one, there is a parallel just begging to be made :-)

Sharon Stone played Lombard?

Barton as Garbo...not even funny! :-)

8:07 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you! I am sure that even if he was making a scent for, oh, I don't know...that british glamour girl still would have been wonderful :-)

8:09 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

LOL at brooding Eastern European souls. That must be true. A *normal person* would appreciate the fact that the new VP is "lighter" in all respects :-)
Caron pretty much kept all their scents, so there must have been some very serious reason in the first place for discontinuing VP. Was it considered too weird, unsaleable? Hmm.

8:11 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Hey -- maybe I'd like this one!


1stperfume -- gad. If only you could GO there, with, like, a cattle prod and your cash. Then maybe you'd get your bottle.

PS ragged the indults today -- as you said to P, pls don't hate me! FWIW I got a sep. sample set... they just weren't me. But I am VERY grateful to have received them.

8:12 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

You might like this one. But have you tried the old VP? You wouldn't have loved it too.
And nah, why would I be upset about Indults. More for me!! :-)

8:24 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Oh, dear! And I asked someone to pick me up a bottle in Paris--unsniffed! Oh, well--I do have some of the old one left--and I like Eleanora Duse, so maybe this will be Ok for me. Or I could swap. . .

8:36 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, but you won't dislike it. It is impossible to dislike, unless one does it on principle, like I did :-) It is very lovable. I was just upset, because I expected to get VP exactly as it was. Apparently, I haven't learned anything about re-releases. But I thought Caron was different. :-)
You have an eye for these things, if you ever see an old bottle or two somewhere, would you tell me? I'll do the same!

8:40 AM EST  
Anonymous newproducts said...

The original Violette Precieuse sounds wonderful! Though I do not usually dislike violets the way you do, I don't love them either, so I do not feel compelled to seek out this re-issue. Like Tom, I loved the D-list actress comparison!

9:18 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Thank you! :-) It's not that I dislike violets...they just don't excite me. Take Meteorites- lovely scent. But on me- so very dull. I could probably count the violets I loved with the fingers of one hand: VP, The Unicorn Spell, Bois de Violette, Verte Violette...and, and...that's it, I guess :-)

10:09 AM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I am so sorry you were disappointed, I know many people adored the original. I HATED it -- it was my first big buying unsniffed lesson, in fact. Maybe that means I'll like the new one? But the fig stuff sounds worrisome...don't want coconut in my violet, I don't think.

Good luck finding a vintage bottle!

11:42 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Sending successful vintage VP hunt vibes your way! The new version does not sound like something I'd care for. At all. *Love* the D-list actress, TV bio-epic comparison!! Tragically (or maybe not considering how hard it is to find), I can't wear the original. On my skin a c*l*r* note comes out loud and clear. :-(

11:44 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I remember you saying you disliked VP, and I still can't believe it. To me, it is something that you can't not like :-) Maybe the new one will actually fare better with you, I am not sure.
You don't still own that bottle, do you? :-) I would so have bought it from you ...

11:45 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

What! You too? As with Robin, I just can't belieeeeve it! That darn c*l*ry! it should be made illegal :-)
Biggest of hugs!!!

11:52 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

I will tell you if I see one. But be careful. I bought a bottle last year from Perfume Station that was really spoiled; apparently they had bought a lot from someone else (Pefume Bay?) without realizing it. They very nicely took it back with no questions--and last I saw they were advertising them on Ebay as "slightly rancid." They are NOT kidding!:)

11:56 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I remember that, and that's why I never bought (very reasonably priced) VP from them while they still had it. :-(

11:58 AM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

This is a shame! I have not tried the new one, but I just put on my older version, and it is lovely. of course, even the older version in the flapper bottle is not the original one, which was even more stunning.

12:30 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh, I can't even imagine how wonderful the very-very original VP must have been! *deep sigh*

12:33 PM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

. . . And I wouldn't be surprised if that lot ended up at 1st perfume!

12:35 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

...neither would I :-) and thus I am not going to risk buying from them...

12:36 PM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

Oh, heavens no! I'm a big violet fan, and I think it's still a beautiful violet, but more on the order of what has been done with violet before. I really loved the original because it was different, though, and it's sad.

Anyway, if you layer it with N'aimez or Or et Noir, you can get almost the same thing, so I'm happily doing that. :)

1:30 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I am definitely going to try!!!

1:32 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Sharon Gless, not Stone. As in "Cagney & Lacey" Sharon Gless. In a TV movie version of the Garson Kanin book "Moviola" about casting Scarlett O'Hara for "Gone With the Wind". They had a bunch of TV actresses impersonate Lombard, Hepburn, Crawford, etc. The only ones who were any good at all were Carrie Nye as Tallulah Bankhead and Morgan Brittany as Vivien Leigh (the former because she was a hoot and the latter because she just had to stand there and look spectacular for one close-up)

k. I have totally dated myself with that one.

3:08 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I totally want to watch that. I wonder if Netflix has it.

3:10 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Have you ever sampled any of the perfumes made by Sonoma Scent Studios , Mandrake Perfumery, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, or Ava Luxe, which are made without synthetics? Several of these atelier houses have versions of the elusive "Chaos" and "Femininite Du Bois"...

7:12 PM EST  
Blogger Cathy said...


Sharon Gless a D-list actress? The award-winning, charismatic, gutsy Sharon Gless who was integral to not one, but two, groundbreaking television series? You seem clueless as to her iconic status.

7:13 PM EST  

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