Lanvin (1927)

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Arpège by Lanvin

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Paul Vacher
André Fraysse
Armand-Albert Rateau
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Reviews of Arpège by Lanvin

There are 87 reviews of Arpège by Lanvin.

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....

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.

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.

"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.

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

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.

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