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Monday, November 14, 2005

Perfume Review: Rance Josephine

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, $80.00 for 50ml or $115.00 for 100ml.

*The painting is Josephine Bonaparte by Andrea Appiani
PS. Luca Turin is back and one of his reviews today is of Le Vainqueur, and he is not impressed, to put it mildly. Please see his blog.


Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, I am looking forward to trying this one, although it doesn't really sound like my cup of tea either.

11:14 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

R, they have Collection Privee scents, Eau de France, Eau Royale, Eau Sublime and Eau Something Else, that I think you might like more.

Of all the samples I've got Josephine was the most to my liking but only in comparison to the rest.

11:39 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Sorry, N, I looked at their website ( and, can't find any info on boutiques in Paris. This is what they say:

"Rancé is available in 17 countries throughout the world and most recently the United States. Rancé boutiques are located in Milano at Corso Magenta 15/A, in Roma at Piazza Navona 53."

I am sure that if you email them they will give you an address.

1:23 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

V, is too soft, not heady enough...though of course that makes it wearable for me :-)

9:01 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the rance vainqueur and josephine are available at the perfume house in portland oregon...503-234-5375. we found it while looking for gruelain scent no longer in amazing as is the shop owners knowledge of the fragance houses.

11:33 AM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great to find your blog. Just had a consultation at The Perfume House in Portland Oregon and Josephine was one of my finds. It's a great day fragrance - not just plain flowers but somehow manages to convey sophistication and softness at once. I posted about the adventure at and gave you some link love in the post. Enjoy! and thanks for your blog!

11:30 PM EDT  

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