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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Perfume Review: Jean Patou Vacances

Spring has come and it is breaking my heart. There is poignancy in spring, a heartrending beauty that is destined to die young and doesn’t know it. April and May are the worst. There is something in the air, something fresh and fragrant, subtle hints of aromas that I remember from long ago, phantom aromas maybe …Whiffs of lilac and mimosa, smell of hope, of joy, of absolute happiness…of fate creeping up slowly and inevitably, hidden in a fragrant cloud of delicate blossoms. There is a piece of music that expresses what I feel in spring better than any words would. It is called Oblivion, by the Argentinean tango composer Astor Piazzolla:

And there is a fragrance, Vacances by Jean Patou, which is more evocative of the hearbreaking loveliness of spring than any other scent I know. It starts with a brightly-green burst of galbanum and hyacinth, which is like a polite but rather forceful waking call to the senses, its ugly-beautiful, slightly awkward sharpness serving to emphasize the undeniable beauty of the notes that will follow. Invisible hands open the green curtains to reveal the wonderful, ethereal landscape, a gorgeous spring garden in full bloom…there is lilac with its aroma fresh and strangely brooding and soft, sweet mimosa. Lie on the grass, forget about the world surrounding the little spring paradise…looking into the cloudless sky above you will feel elated, hopeful and in love, and convinced that you will live forever and be forever happy. Vacances is not a complex scent, its development can be related in one sentence: greenness of galbanum and hyacinth- gentle, incredibly life-like flowers – subtly woody drydown…but its simple, harmonious beauty is breathtaking. This is the scent of youth, of love, of spring…of fate hiding in a cloud of delicate blossoms.

Vacances, first released in 1936 and re-issued in the 1980s as a part of Patou’s Ma Collection, has been – unforgivably! inexplicably! - discontinued, and is rather hard to find. 1stperfume lists it as available, for the whopping $499.99, but the bottles do pop up on eBay, once in a blue moon.

The painting, Le Jardin, is by Pierre Bonnard.


Blogger tmp00 said...

I can only hope that someone in the Patou heirarchy hears out plangent cries and reintroduces Ma Collection as soon as possible. I've not smelled Vacances but I must..

12:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Don't. You will sniff and will fall in love and your heart will be broken...because They never listen to our cries, never. :-(

12:15 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


1:01 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Where!??! WHERE is spring?!?!?! Are you hoarding it all up there? We were 18 hrs. from having our Easter egg hunt in snow boots. It's still cold enough we're all wearing our parkas. I should be pulling weeds by now and complaining about the humidity. :-(

(off to stomp upstairs and dig up Vacances sample)

7:27 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

This really is one of the most ideal spring scents. *Why* can't Patou reintroduce it? Sob! And like March, I'm wondering where the h*ll spring has gone to. We had summer here for a while, but for five nights I had to go out and cover my plants w/ every last sheet and tablecloth in the house (lovely tablecloths given to me by my mother in the desperate, futile hope I would someday be a decent hostess - instead they are my favorite frost protectors for tender plants).

7:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Arrgh, indeed!

8:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It's not especially warm, but there is spring in the air. Actually, yesterday in the evening it was 58 degrees.

8:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That is so funny about the tablecloths :-) I hope your plants withstand the freaky weather. It is getting warmer.

8:10 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Well, you really HAVE come on over to the lilac side--or maybe this Patou was always an exception for you. In either case, thank you for this wonderful review of an incredibly lovely scent--and for the wonderful music, too!

8:27 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in winter.

~ The Wasteland by TS Eliot

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Even in my lilac-hatin' days, I always loved Vacances. probably because, although the lilac note is very strong there, mimosa is also strong, and the two balance each other nicely. What would you say is your favorite Patou scent? I vacillate between Vacances, Colony, and 1000. Only one of them can go on Top 25 list, which I promised myself I'll submit tomorrow :-)

8:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you so much for the poem! I love it. April IS the cruelest month.

8:38 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that music is so sad and so beautiful! If Vacances is half as heartbreakingly beautiful as that music, I am glad I am not acquainted with it. I don't know if I could wear a scent so sad. You have me feeling so much this morning with that music!

8:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

The person who first introduced me to Piazzolla's Oblivion (and his music in general) said, that piece is so beautiful, but god I don't want to experience the heartbreaking event that must have inspired it.
Hopefully he never has got to experience it :-), but yes, the piece is absolutely tragic.

9:02 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I, too, vacillate between Vacances and 1000. I need to try Colony more. Good luck with your list. I submitted mine, and I am trying not to think about it b/c I know I will change my mind. I am very sad about some of the scents I left off. . .

9:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes. I know that scents don't, um, have feelings :-), but by leaving them out I feel as if I am betraying them.
That reminded me of a quote about computers, only I will paraphrase it to relate to perfumes: "Don't antropomorphize perfumes, they hate that."

9:13 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I love that! I must find an opportunity to use it--soon!!!

9:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yes, I waited a long time myself :-)

10:07 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

Oh goodness, just as my bottom lip was close to trembling after the heart rending review and poem (I love TS Eliot) I laughed instead at the anthropomorphism comment - brilliant! Thanks Marina (and Nancy).

11:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, I'd much prefer that you laughed rather than cried, so I am glad :-)

11:25 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Completely agree with Tom, they should re-issue the Ma Collection. That said, I liked but didn't love Vacances. Lovely review!

3:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree too that they should. It's sad really, looking at the Patou website...all the glorious older scents and all they have to offer now are 4 (5?) fragrances...heartbreaking.

4:10 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is one I desperately would like to smell and then have them bring bck!

4:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Maybe you could make them bring it back. I trust in your powers. :-)

4:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

My local store said they can't get Sublime anymore! Are they discontinuing that?!?! (Oh, and, by the way, they were selling Feminite du Bois at the Shiseido counter at my local department store, like it was no big deal. Hasn't it been discontinued for forever? Did I miss a memo?) That all said, I do not love Vacances, but the Ma Collection deserves all the press it can get.

4:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I think Feminite is only discontinued in the US. Discrimination! :-)

4:45 PM EDT  

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