Arpège fragrance notes

  • Head

    • aldehydes, Bergamot, Peach, Orange Blossom, Honeysuckle, Iris, lily of the valley, Neroli, Clove
  • Heart

    • ylang ylang, rose, jasmine, tuberose, Mimosa, Violet, Geranium, Camelia, Genet, Coriander
  • Base

    • patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, styrax, Musk, Benzoin, Ambergris

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Latest Reviews of Arpège

My mother had a bottle of Arpege sitting on her mirrored perfume tray for years and years. She seemed to cycle through multiple bottles of her favorites, like Joy and L'Air du Temps
and Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, while that fancy black and gold bottle sat there for years. I once asked her about it and she said "Arpege is very very nice. It's also boring."
To me that is the genius of Arpege. It's an aldehyde floral, like No.5 and many others, so nothing overly exciting. But vintage Arpege does smell much nicer, more rounded and richer, than a typical aldehyde bomb. You wouldn't get tons of compliments or have men throw themselves at you when you wore Arpege, but you would smell very very good. Also, during the 1950s Arpege was ubiquitous in the USA ("Promise her anything. Give her Arpege.") so I think that ubiquity led to it seeming rather dull. Revlon even did their own version- Primitif.
There was a marketing experiment once where a group of women smelled 2 fragrances blind. One was Chanel No.5 and the other Arpege. They overwhelmingly preferred Arpege. The next day the same women smelled both perfumes, only this time in their signature bottles. This time No.5 won. Chanel is marketed very well indeed.
Arpege might not be earthshaking, but that can be a good thing. If you have a large collection of perfumes, Arpege plays the right role when you just want to smell very very nice. Now, My Sin....
25th October 2022
Would you gasp if I told you I prefer Lanvin Arpege to Chanel No. 5? Are you clutching your pearls? Well, the truth is out, and I think it has to do with its creamier, woodier heart that follows that radiant flash of aldehydes. Mind you, the bottle I have is from the 90s and cannot consult on more recent opaque bottles, but this particular formulation is impressive.

Arpege has an effulgent, coriander-laced jasmine, gleaming white heat, almost phosphorescent, with an antique rose and stealth peachy, lactonic undertone. One could argue that this would be a rather mature selection, particularly for women, but we might want to examine what it means to be "mature" enough to wear a fragrance. Luca Turin, the opinionated old codger, even argues that this would be dowdy on a woman but marvelous on a man. It does feel marvelous to me at least, and it dries further into its base of vetiver and sandalwood, it seduces me even more so.

It may be kaleidoscopic, even a bit too convoluted, for noses used to modern perfumery, and it doesn't seem to receive all the hype and attention that such icons as Rochas Femme, Guerlain Mitsouko, and the aforementioned No. 5, but is deserving of a seat at the table of great fragrances for the ages.
23rd September 2022

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A typical floral aldehydic old school chypre of that period like Millot's Crêpe de Chine, Coty's L'Aimant, etc. Very dense, sweet and monotonal never changes and smells updated for modern times perfumery,the grandmother's smell referred to as. I guess is like the Rose Aoud accord, so many perfumes nowadays smells in that direction copying Montale's Black Oud, his creator just did the same with Arpege, and what was the trend of these days. The problem with old school chypres was too many basenotes creates a very think, heavy, opaque and soupy scent, the aldehydes should help to split notes giving the spatial champagne effect in the air and you should be able to smell almost every single note floating like woods or animalic notes. Is like mixing warm tones and at the end getting a black colour.
No comparison with Chanel n5,please. The old style chypres are difficult to like and understand as perfumery has evolutioned so much since the past centuty. If you are looking for a modern interpretation of this classic, the best modern Chypre,in my opinion, is Amouage Jubileum,the holly grail of all chypres and smells amazing even in a man,that's how all the old school Chypres should smell like.
10th November 2021
"Bette Davis" in All About Eve (1950 drama film) has a bottle of Arpege on her dresser. Because she understood how sexy of a scent it is. She has it all: fame, talent, wealth, beauty, a devoted partner, loyal friends, and she is able to convey all kinds of emotions-distate, disdain, anger, self-pity, triumph, scorn-all before she even open her mouth. This fragrance image to me of her. Wearing an animal skin coat and smoking a cigarette from an ivory cigarette holder, more pretentious than class.

Arpege is best described as a timeless classic. A perfect skin scent. So intimate yet elegant, so charming yet formal, so sexy yet not carnal. At first spritz the aldehydes are bombastically realesed creating a bubbly, effervescent big cloud of jasmine and neroli. There is a floral sweetness in the background, powdery iris and refreshing top notes. It has a soothing and meternal quality from ylang ylang. At some point the composition turns slightly spicy/ woody before the earhy vanilla heralds the dry down of a magnificent and long lasting journey.

Arpege doesn't scream "take me", but it is seductively alluring. Your skin chemistry will largely define how this develops. Old lady vibe is what people get when this fragrance doesn't agree with their skin chemistry. Some as any fragrance, it tends to smell bad when it doesn't agree with skin chemistry. She's not a sugar pop girl that comes and goes. If one knows how to wear fragrance, it is never too heavy when applied right. It's for mature, strong-willed, even a bit obstinated women, who know very well what they want, and let nobody to tell them what they shall do, and formal. This absolute perfect/soapy floral is about as sexy as "Bette" in evening dress.
28th February 2021
Because it's an aldehyde bouquet, Arpège is sometimes compared to No5 - the Ur Aldehyde that wrote the script for all the others.

It's fair to say that Arpège and No5 are quite similar, but Arpège is lighter and more creamy, less pink and lush. And there is another, more important difference. Where No5 is a chord, a seamless blend from top to bottom, Arpège is - literally, an arpeggio of single notes.

This effect is least pronounced in the EdT, which is the softest and most deeply blended. It's an ordinary bouquet set with aldehydes - very pretty - almost just a pale version of No5.
By contrast, the EdP is firmer and more of a stepped ziggurat shape. It has a balsamic tone and a fizzy texture which is unique to itself.
But the arpeggio effect is clearest in the parfum. By sniffing closely you you can work through the notes and tick them off the list: aldehyde and lemon-honeysuckle at the top, peach, bergamot and a variety of floral tones in the midrange, spice and musky-biscuit in the base. Most of them discrete units, legible by themselves.

With each concentration, Arpège is progressively taking apart the aldehydic and revealing how it works.


4* EdT 2007
4* EdP 2001
5* Pure parfum
15th November 2020
I have a small dab bottle of early 1990s vintage – so the aldehydic top has lost its solar sparkle and undergone megawarp. But the rest has matured beautifully and remains splendid.
Arpège is a creation of such confidence it requires almost none on the wearer's part. Its mixed floral bouquet shines as if through amber-coloured stained glass with accents of candied orange peel and peach, a light, natural booziness around the edges and a reassuring silky soft base of sandal and vanilla (among other things). Once it has settled, the creaminess of its expression is what catches my attention most. Yes, here is a classic thousand-flowers composition with all the scaffolding of woods, resins and balsams holding it in place, but it has the grace of a swan floating down a calm expanse of water at sunset.
It's ‘perfumey' in what has become an old-fashioned sense – unapologetic, happy to stand naked before strangers and be admired. And that is perhaps a reason why its popularity has waned; we think we've had all this stuff before. But contrarily, when considering today's perfume fashions, it provides the shock of the new.
The deep drydown is marked by a quarter-turn away from the florals and towards the base which resembles more and more something from the Caron stable – this is perhaps the beige Luca Turin was referring to in his review in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.
I can't talk about its current incarnation, but can note that it's available at a very tempting price.
7th November 2019
A masterpiece of the roaring 20's if there ever was one, Lavin Arpège (1927) utilizes the "kitchen sink" method of composition popularly used in that time period by houses like Guerlain and Coty, whipping dozens of notes into a dark floral symphony of seductive proportions. Arpège is floral chypre, and combines the fruity top of something like Guerlain Mitsouko (1919) with the indolic floral heart of Chanel No. 5 (1921) and a green chypre base of something way in the future like Clinique Aromatics Elixir (1971). Arpège was very ahead of its time in terms of style in the final phases of the perfume, hence its long-lived popularity and reverence from classic perfume fans in the modern century. The stuff even got a male iteration in the early 2000's to bank on the name, but it was wholly unrelated in smell and summarily discontinued when it failed to find an audience. If you like any of the green chypres from the likes of Estée Lauder, Givenchy, or Patou from the 1960's through to the 1980's, Arpège is the archetype for the style.

Aldehydes, bergamot, and a touch of ripe fruit open Arpège, with a dominant honeysuckle and orange blossom reminiscent of Caron Narcisse Noir (1911) entering the picture. The kitchen sink effect isn't apparent until muguet and rose lead into a dark indolic floral heart smothered in clove. It's a deliciously cacophonous arpeggio of notes holding true to the perfume's name that Avon Unforgettable (1965) would do a bang-up job of imitating years later, but the depth of the base is what sets Arpège apart from any future inspired perfumes. A multi-layered base of oakmoss, styrax, ambergris, vanilla, patchouli, and benzoin goes the long haul with desiccation from dry notes like vetiver, sandalwood, and orris to keep Arpège clean enough to be a tempting display without the animalics making a vulgar affair of things. I consider Arpège a "serious" romantic perfume for ballrooms and dressing up in moderate weather conditions, but it transitions to the bedroom easily as it was likely intended. Guys can wear this if they like green chypres such as Clinique Aromatics Elixir (1971), but it takes a mature taste from any gender to appreciate Arpège to its fullest degree.

Unlike its failed men's variant, Arpège itself never seems to have trouble finding an audience even if it doesn't make the rounds in department stores anymore, and most people who find out about it do so from other fans, making direct sales the way to get ahold of it. My encounter with Arpège comes from a niche perfume store which stocks select older perfumes that it knows the big counters won't touch, and Arpège frequently clears out there, so I know somebody besides vintage perfume hounds is buying it. Arpège also has a dozen vintages and concentrations over the years, but from my tests, a reasonably-priced modern eau de toilette will serve adequately in lieu of a pricey vintage extrait or parfum de toilette, since great pains have been taken to reformulate with modern ingredients the same structure found in the original formula by André Fraysse. Of course, if you want full-tilt animalics rather than IFRA-compliant fillers, you will need to seek out older bottles, but those outside the cult of oakmoss will do fine with what's out there. Thumbs up!
18th May 2019
Vintage perfume...

Ah! It's as I remember - a classic beauty. Aldehydes, a touch of fruit, and the honeysuckle is particularly predominate. The other flowers are mild.

The heart reveals more flowers, blended with an almost creamy voice. LOTV begins to bloom. The jasmine is a bit dirty. I get some green close to the skin.

I am taken back in time to my earlier perfume exploration days. Times, when I felt everything smelled too grown up for me. Arpege, was one of those perfumes.

I smell sharpness from the rose and geranium. The middle notes are just downright beautiful. This particular little bottle of perfume was well-stored.

The flower bouquet sinks down into the base notes. They mingle and parley well with the other notes - perfect refinement. A well made kitchen sink frag. Base notes are never loud, on my skin. They emit a lady-like sillage. No one note stands out here.

Hours later amber and patchouli increase their power. Also, something a tad nutty, is present. If you can get your hands on vintage Arpege Perfume, do so. It is worth experiencing a classic.
29th March 2019
Blind bought this as a gift, based on the impressive list of notes here on Basenotes.

Was told it smells like a mix of Moschino (Moschino) and Chanel No.5.

Judging by the notes of all 3, this seemed right but I was fearful of it resembling Chanel No.5.

Upon smelling it myself I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't. And was able to confirm for myself that it's due to its absence of civet.

Not a fan of classic fragrances like this one and Moschino because they're quite elaborate causing me to get a too-much-ingredients vibe from them rather than being able to identify the individual notes. They also remind me of some perfumed powders, skin creams and balms I smelled as a kid. So not modern at all, but still, I can appreciate this one for what it is.
2nd February 2019
Review of 1950s vintage:

I acquired a sealed vintage bottle of this on ebay. It was a dusting powder and perfume set that had never been taken out of the package. The first time I tried it (a couple of years ago) I found it to be very unpleasant and cloying. It smelled like a fragrance that you found sitting on Granny's dresser, gifted to her twenty years before and covered in dust. I thought perhaps it had gone off.

I revisited it today and it was a totally different experience.

At first blush it had a somewhat fecal quality mixed with a syrupy sweetness. I think my original mistake was not letting it develop beyond that and scrubbing. This time I held on and got a dry down that went sweet and and then mellowed into into a soft musky floral with some powder. The notes of rose, clove, honeysuckle and patchouli were most noticeable. It has a quiet vampy-ness. This time around it was reminiscent of Joan Crawford seducing the Reverend in Sadie Thompson rather than Mrs. Havisham wandering around her dusty mansion in her tattered wedding dress and one shoe.

I'm not a fan of musky anything, but this is lovely. This might be because the formulation of musk is different than modern incarnations.

It isn't a loud fragrance and doesn't have a huge amount of sillage, which I appreciate working in an office setting. It dries down quickly to a skin scent. It is sweeter than other scents I have, but I definitely will add it to rotation rather than just leaving it looking pretty on my vanity.
13th September 2018
I'm a fan of anything vintage-leaning and indolic, so needless to say, I am an admirer of Arpege. The powdery aldehydes occasionally give me pause, but the animalic aspects of the vintage version of this scent are luscious and dark and sophisticatedly retro. Amouage's Gold Man and Arpege seem to be singing the same song, and it's a refrain I love to hum along with under my breath. I don't wear either of these two very often, but each time I do, I am impressed by their amazing combination of the delicate and floral with the deep and animal.

Delicious, but perhaps an acquired taste in these squeaky clean and candy floss-times.
5th October 2017
Complex and floral, revealing its age sensuously. I found out quite by accident how differently it behaves on moisturised skin as opposed to newly showered. With a neutral moisturiser, (E45) the base styrax and patchouli dominate and do so fairly quickly. the topnotes, dissipate quickly leaving little more than a memory. The heart stays and develops elegantly. I agree that it is quite a 'dirty' fragrance, but that is a classification I love.
23rd August 2017