Lucien Lelong (1935)

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Indiscret by Lucien Lelong

Fragrance Overview Where to Buy Reviews Community Ownership

About Indiscret by Lucien Lelong

People & Companies

Lucien Lelong
Fragrance House
Jean Carles
Marc Rosen
Packaging / Bottle Design
Lucien Lelong
Packaging / Bottle Design

Reorchestrated in 1997.

Photograph courtesy of Alexandra Star of Parfums de Paris.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of Indiscret by Lucien Lelong

There are 10 reviews of Indiscret by Lucien Lelong.

This review is for the vintage cologne in the striking tall hobnail bottle. Indiscret cologne is a wonderful, fruity, floral green chypre Oriental. Smells a lot like vintage Old Spice, but stronger and not as powdery. Old Spice came later, and was originally a women's scent and not a men's cologne, so Indiscret was quite the trailblazer. A wonderful, classic scent that is oddly forgotten today. Performance is amazing for a cologne. Two big thumbs up for this, baby.

Indiscret by Lucien Lelong (1935) is known to fans of Hollywood's golden age as the signature scent of the late actress Lauren Bacall, and this fact is probably one of the reasons it stayed in production long after many other Lelong scents fell by the wayside; being sold long after various owners bought, restarted, shuttered, and bought again the brand from one another, after founder Lucien Lelong's passing. Indiscret was also re-composed as an entirely-different fruity-floral fragrance in the 1990's, although what I am reviewing is the original designed by perfumer Jean Carles for Lelong just prior to WWII. Indiscret as it was known through much of the 20th century was a spicy floral oriental, similar to the later Tailspin by Lucien Lelong (1940), although not so heavily focused on green Fougère-like elements as Carles hadn't yet handed over the formula for Canoe by Dana (1936), just to watch his originally female market-intended fougère end up creating a new barbershop sensation for postwar American men totally by accident. As this was before that seemingly life-long quest to create a feminine fougère that women would actually enjoy wearing, Carles was really just doing what he did best at the time, playing around with complex redolent compositions that proved universally enjoyable, regardless of the marketing, and such is Indiscret. Also of note are the many decorative bottles Indiscret came in due to its popularity, including a plaster-cast bottle with floral relief all over it.

The opening of Indiscret is rather soft and pretty, with sweet mandarin and bergamot mingling with green notes of galbanum and clove. There is a little aldehyde burst too here, and the whole thing merges with orange blossom and jasmine in the heart, reminding me a lot of Houbigant Chantilly (1941), which may be inspired somewhat by Indiscret's dry down. Later on we'd see Avon Occur! (1966) and the masculine market inversion of Coty Stetson (1981) travel similar paths with the floral and spiced citrus arrangement seen first here. Tuberose, rose, carnation and orris enter the heart, the latter too almost recalling the many men's carnation wonders of the late 1960's and 1970's. Again, this is of universal appeal because so many of these notes play all across the genre spectrum in classic French perfumery. Indiscret is one missing leather note shy of being something like your typical men's carnation leather a la Moschino pour Homme (1990), but it's definitely in the ancestry. Sandalwood, oakmoss, amber, and spices like cinnamon fit the Jean Carles genre-defining oriental vein; and only coming off the release of Dana Tabu (1932) by three years, it was also evident that Carles wasn't done enjoying these types of compositions either. Performance is good, and best use would be in cooler times, evening, or out to dinner somewhere nice. I would also call this unisex; but only the original Jean Carles version in this case, as the 1990's re-do is more in with the feminine tastes of its time.

The name of this fragrance is pretty fitting, at least in the projection department, as Indiscret is very indiscreet in that regard. However, I cannot say that I feel like I'm committing a willful indiscretion wearing it, as this is just a grand floral oriental with smooth blending that thrums on skin. The florals, spice, woods, citruses, and musk selection might have been racy in 1935, but these days Indiscret smells of pure class in a bottle. I guess some of this is just time being the great arbiter of all things taste or culture-related, as spicy floral scents were once considered very feminine and downright racy in the pre-war years, hence men sticking to early fougères, dry citrus and wood colognes, powdery clean scents, or overt leather and tobacco concoctions to avoid association, beyond the bottle of bay rum that proved to be the exception to the rule it seems. Hell, even Shulton Early American Old Spice (1937) seems to borrow somewhat from this scent, and as we all know, men would take to it more than women, leading to the rebranding and relaunch as the Old Spice everyone's WWII Vet grandad loved to douse himself in, if you lived in the US. So it would seem then, Indiscret by Lucien Lelong plays a greater part in the shaping of the modern fragrance landscape than many may realize, and all by accident too, making it one of the most important fragrances most haven't heard of anymore, unless they watch old black and white films with Lauren Bacall. Thumbs up

Beautiful blend, for the top notes. The galbanum is glorious! Mandarin and bergamot soften it. The top becomes almost dry. Indiscret so far, reminds me of another time; it's an old-fashioned style of perfume for sure.

In the middle tuberose presents itself first. Not too much - just enough. Soon after, some jasmine and ylang ylang appear, which are neither overly sweet nor overly dirty. They're balanced with hints of both. The top and middle notes flow together into a somewhat linear, big floral.

There are woody notes later. Sweet woody notes, mixed with a rose note. Florals last into the base but they never really change. Overall, not a bad, inexpensive scent.

After wearing this for awhile I have changed my opinion of it. I still love the scent, it is luscious on my skin. All the notes that everyone says is there I smell. It does change occasionally on me though. The one thing that bugs me though is -again on me- it has very low sillage and it does not last very long. It could be the formulation; I have to different bottle designs and each one is different, one wears longer than the other.
Having said all that it is my all time favorite-so far!

The opening on my skin is a delicious mix of dried orange and galbanum, later brightened up a bit by some bergamot. The drydown is chracterised mainly by a dark velvety rose, with iris, a touch of geranium, ylang-ylang and jasmine in the background. Throughout this a dark, rich, waxy and resinous tone is penetrating this composition, and even when some dark-wood elements appear in the base, this waxiness still remains very evident. For the last couple of hours a pleasant powderiness gives it a traditional twist.

The projection and sillage are very good, and I get a marvelous ten hours of longevity from it. This is a great dark fruity-floral classic. Traditional and modern, classic but bold. 4.5/5.

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