Vintage Coty Perfumes, Reconsidered

tourmaline

Super Member
Feb 5, 2007
I just read through this whole interesting thread. Just a couple things...

I don't find Imprevu to be a leather chypre in the vein of other isobutyl quinoline leather chypres like Bandit or Miss Balmain. I don't detect any of that harsh leather ingredient, rather I detect a vanilla (my Haarman & Reimer guide confirms this as well) which, combined with the other basenotes, does produce a sort of natural sweet leather effect, but it's definitely not one of the "harsh" IsoBQ leather chypres. I'm wondering if that poster's Imprevu came in a splash bottle and maybe it was refilled with a different fragrance, possibly.

About Coty Chypre, the 1986 "Chateau Collection" EDT & EDP bears no resemblance to vintage Coty Chypre. I find it to be a very pleasant, late 70s/early 80s influenced sweet green floral, but it smells nothing like the original Coty Chypre.

Regarding the Coty crown bottles, I have the crown bottle of Coty Chypre PdT (shown below). I believe it dates to the early 60s, just before Pfizer took over and discontinued Coty Chypre, Chouchou and Styx (before reintroducing the latter in the '70s).

my coty chypre pdt 60s.jpg
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Thanks for replying, tourmaline! To continue the discussion...

I just read through this whole interesting thread. Just a couple things...

I don't find Imprevu to be a leather chypre in the vein of other isobutyl quinoline leather chypres like Bandit or Miss Balmain. I don't detect any of that harsh leather ingredient, rather I detect a vanilla (my Haarman & Reimer guide confirms this as well) which, combined with the other basenotes, does produce a sort of natural sweet leather effect, but it's definitely not one of the "harsh" IsoBQ leather chypres. I'm wondering if that poster's Imprevu came in a splash bottle and maybe it was refilled with a different fragrance, possibly.

As you saw, I am in agreement with you; however, I do think there’s a touch of IBQ in Imprevu. I infer that you are not a fan of this ingredient, but I love it and do not find it harsh at all. Imprevu is a pretty, gently modulated chypre. It ticks all of the boxes but it ultimately feels somewhat “safe” and middle of the road. And of course Chant could pour a lot of IBQ into a perfume when he was in the mood (vide Cabochard, Aramis, Azuree).

About Coty Chypre, the 1986 "Chateau Collection" EDT & EDP bears no resemblance to vintage Coty Chypre. I find it to be a very pleasant, late 70s/early 80s influenced sweet green floral, but it smells nothing like the original Coty Chypre.

I agree with you here too, It’s unfortunate that the 1986 version has come to shape so many discussions of vintage chypres because it confuses rather than clarifies the issue. (I find the1986 Chypre to be somehow sharp and sweet at the same time, but with a distressing lack of substance.)

Regarding the Coty crown bottles, I have the crown bottle of Coty Chypre PdT (shown below). I believe it dates to the early 60s, just before Pfizer took over and discontinued Coty Chypre, Chouchou and Styx (before reintroducing the latter in the '70s).

I don’t believe I have ever seen a “crown” bottle of Chypre in the wild. Lucky you! What do you make of it? In general, I prefer my Coty Paris bottles to the crown bottles of L’Origan and Emeraude that I have, but when it comes to Coty Chypre, one grabs whatever one can.
 

tourmaline

Super Member
Feb 5, 2007
Thanks for replying, tourmaline! To continue the discussion...



As you saw, I am in agreement with you; however, I do think there’s a touch of IBQ in Imprevu. I infer that you are not a fan of this ingredient, but I love it and do not find it harsh at all. Imprevu is a pretty, gently modulated chypre. It ticks all of the boxes but it ultimately feels somewhat “safe” and middle of the road. And of course Chant could pour a lot of IBQ into a perfume when he was in the mood (vide Cabochard, Aramis, Azuree).



I agree with you here too, It’s unfortunate that the 1986 version has come to shape so many discussions of vintage chypres because it confuses rather than clarifies the issue. (I find the1986 Chypre to be somehow sharp and sweet at the same time, but with a distressing lack of substance.)



I don’t believe I have ever seen a “crown” bottle of Chypre in the wild. Lucky you! What do you make of it? In general, I prefer my Coty Paris bottles to the crown bottles of L’Origan and Emeraude that I have, but when it comes to Coty Chypre, one grabs whatever one can.

There might be a little IsoBQ in Imprevu but I don't sense any of that quality which hard leather chypres have and my Haarman and Reimer guide also doesn't note any "leather" like they generally do when IsoBQ is present in a fragrance. On the other hand, I have never smelled IsoBQ in isolation. So who am I to say if it's present or not? lol. I have always assumed that IsoBQ is a harsh, slightly gasoline-ish or "used motor oil" type of smell, but then again maybe it is subtly sweet and rubbery like the "leather" in Knize 10 and Tabac Blond. I'm not certain.
I have a collection of aromachemicals I've been curious enough about to order, like various aldehydes, undecalactone, isobornyl acetate, oakmoss E.O.s., etc. I think I probably should order a vial of IsoBQ to know once and for all what it smells like. (Also, you're correct that I generally don't like hard leather chypres...except for vintage Bandit. I find vintage Bandit very balanced and relaxing with its verdant green, vegetal bitterness. It's one of my top 3 favorite fragrances of all time).

As for the 1986 reissue of Coty Chypre, I know what you mean. So many people smelling that and thinking they are smelling the "legendary" Coty Chypre, but really it has no relation to the original and it's hard to know which version people are talking about. With that said, I do find it pleasant-smelling in its own right.

My crown bottle of Coty Chypre is a bit different than a very old pure parfum I used to have (came in a hinged metal case). That old parfum began with a bare bergamot, but my early 60s PDT starts with a hint of floral then segues into the deeper, dank basenotes, which are quite complex with oakmoss being only a part. It's very much like an earlier Coty Chypre that passed through my hands with the round, turquoise & gold sticker label. I don't absolutely LOVE it - most pre-1940s perfumes don't really grab me, to be honest - and if I had to choose one to wear, I would generally pick the more '70s smelling reissue of Coty Chypre from 1986.
 
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grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
There might be a little IsoBQ in Imprevu but I don't sense any of that quality which hard leather chypres have and my Haarman and Reimer guide also doesn't note any "leather" like they generally do when IsoBQ is present in a fragrance. On the other hand, I have never smelled IsoBQ in isolation. So who am I to say if it's present or not? lol. I have always assumed that IsoBQ is a harsh, slightly gasoline-ish or "used motor oil" type of smell, but then again maybe it is subtly sweet and rubbery like the "leather" in Knize 10 and Tabac Blond. I'm not certain.

I have a collection of aromachemicals I've been curious enough about to order, like various aldehydes, undecalactone, isobornyl acetate, oakmoss E.O.s., etc. I think I probably should order a vial of IsoBQ to know once and for all what it smells like. (Also, you're correct that I generally don't like hard leather chypres...except for vintage Bandit. I find vintage Bandit very balanced and relaxing with its verdant green, vegetal bitterness. It's one of my top 3 favorite fragrances of all time).

I do not associate IBQ with a “harsh, slightly gasoline-ish or used motor oil type of smell” although it may certainly play a role in fragrances with this profile. Nor is IBQ defined in my mind by the oily tanned leather of Knize 10 ( which has a slight petrol note at the start for me) or the smoky leather of Miss Balmain. These scents contain it, as does vintage Nuit de Noel and Tabac Blond as well as the vintage Mousse de Saxe and Cuir de Russie bases, but again just as one component among many. I think castoreum, birch tar, and other ingredients play a bigger role in creating these dirtier, more tannic or terpenic leather accords.

IBQ straight up is described as “woody-earthy-mossy, slightly spicy odor somewhat resembling oakmoss” ( Arctander) and “earthy rooty vetivert moss animalic damp” (Perfumer’s World). It veers green to me more than truly leathery. You may like IBQ more than you think because it is positively showcased in vintage Bandit, which I also adore.

Have fun sniffing the perfume ingredients. It can be a very interesting experience.
 

tourmaline

Super Member
Feb 5, 2007
I do not associate IBQ with a “harsh, slightly gasoline-ish or used motor oil type of smell” although it may certainly play a role in fragrances with this profile. Nor is IBQ defined in my mind by the oily tanned leather of Knize 10 ( which has a slight petrol note at the start for me) or the smoky leather of Miss Balmain. These scents contain it, as does vintage Nuit de Noel and Tabac Blond as well as the vintage Mousse de Saxe and Cuir de Russie bases, but again just as one component among many. I think castoreum, birch tar, and other ingredients play a bigger role in creating these dirtier, more tannic or terpenic leather accords.

IBQ straight up is described as “woody-earthy-mossy, slightly spicy odor somewhat resembling oakmoss” ( Arctander) and “earthy rooty vetivert moss animalic damp” (Perfumer’s World). It veers green to me more than truly leathery. You may like IBQ more than you think because it is positively showcased in vintage Bandit, which I also adore.

Have fun sniffing the perfume ingredients. It can be a very interesting experience.

Thanks for your insight, I'm getting more and more tempted to buy of vial of it all the time. I'm sure it will be a revelation to finally smell it in isolation.
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Hi Mousey Blue-

Welcome to the Vintage Forum! That’s a lovely bottle of Coty Chypre. My guess is 1950’s, but I am not positive.

Check the packaging for additional details. It may say Coty...Paris or Coty...NY and Paris. If it says Coty Pfizer, you know it is post 1961. It could be a 1960’s bottle.
 

MouseyBlue

Basenotes Member
Jun 4, 2021
Hi Mousey Blue-

Welcome to the Vintage Forum! That’s a lovely bottle of Coty Chypre. My guess is 1950’s, but I am not positive.

Check the packaging for additional details. It may say Coty...Paris or Coty...NY and Paris. If it says Coty Pfizer, you know it is post 1961. It could be a 1960’s bottle.
Thank you so much for your reply. It's all in French and just says Coty. Made in France. I pounced on it, when I saw it for sale. I bought to sell, to be honest..
 

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MouseyBlue

Basenotes Member
Jun 4, 2021
Coty produced many gift sets over the years. I haven't found an ad with that specific box but here's a similar Emeraude set.

View attachment 105944

And a different style of set for Chypre.

View attachment 105942

And here's a 1940 ad showing the sets for L'Aimant, Emeraude, L'Origan, and Paris.

View attachment 105943

It would be very easy to get carried away into collecting these...(but not today Satan, not today)
Hello. When does the middle Chypre set date from, please?
 

MouseyBlue

Basenotes Member
Jun 4, 2021
Coty produced many gift sets over the years. I haven't found an ad with that specific box but here's a similar Emeraude set.

View attachment 105944

And a different style of set for Chypre.

View attachment 105942

And here's a 1940 ad showing the sets for L'Aimant, Emeraude, L'Origan, and Paris.

View attachment 105943

It would be very easy to get carried away into collecting these...(but not today Satan, not today)
I'm afraid I succumbed to a similar coffret. My bad. 346E53E7-B740-4A2E-B5B1-DCA473669CBF.jpeg
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
I'm afraid I succumbed to a similar coffret. My bad. View attachment 172718
Um, not bad at all! That's a gorgeous and remarkably well preserved Chypre set. Where on earth are you finding these, Mouseyblue?

Re: your question about the date of the set I posted upthread...I'm afraid I don't have any precise date. It's not my set: I just stole the image from the Internet. I would guess it is from the 1950's.
 

MouseyBlue

Basenotes Member
Jun 4, 2021
Um, not bad at all! That's a gorgeous and remarkably well preserved Chypre set. Where on earth are you finding these, Mouseyblue?

Re: your question about the date of the set I posted upthread...I'm afraid I don't have any precise date. It's not my set: I just stole the image from the Internet. I would guess it is from the 1950's.
I saw it on an online auction site. There's a flacon of Miss Dior in the lot, too. 😉
I bought a small, boxed 'Paris' by Coty earlier this month. It is gorgeous. I have very limited funds, so never pay more than a few pounds. I try to sell the ones I'm not keen on, to fund my 'habit'.
 

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grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Hello. I don’t think I'll be opening them. It's my intention to sell it on, complete.
While it is nice to see the photos of your acquisitions, the purpose of this thread (and the Vintage Forum in general) is to discuss vintage perfumes. If you have no interest in doing that, then may I politely suggest that you post your finds for sale on Ebay or some other marketplace? This thread/forum is not meant for sales, and the rules for posting in the Basenotes Sale Thread are...

You are a Basenotes Plus member
OR
You have been a member for over a year
OR
You have made over 500 posts
 

MouseyBlue

Basenotes Member
Jun 4, 2021
I'd be interested to know how the other products in the coffret. turned out. Chypre is one of my favorites from City.
The EDt is fine. Fully recognisable as Chypre de Coty. The talc is very feint. The hand cream, oh, the hand cream…it's ghastly 😂 It has split into a precipitate of goop and blue liquid. It's probably a biohazard ☣️
I didn't realise, but it's still in its gift box. The gift tag states 'To Miss O'Brian. Meilleurs Voeux. Keith…'
I like to imagine she was his beautiful secretary.
 

N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer

Retired
Basenotes Plus
Jul 1, 2011
The EDt is fine. Fully recognisable as Chypre de Coty. The talc is very feint. The hand cream, oh, the hand cream…it's ghastly 😂 It has split into a precipitate of goop and blue liquid. It's probably a biohazard ☣️
I didn't realise, but it's still in its gift box. The gift tag states 'To Miss O'Brian. Meilleurs Voeux. Keith…'
I like to imagine she was his beautiful secretary.
Perhaps a holiday gift to the employee would make sense. I'm guessing it probably sat on a shelf or a box for many decades forgotten until it was exhumed.

From your description of the products, maybe the gift set be better off as a display item in a fragrance museum than being used.
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Time for an update to this topic, since I continue to be interested in vintage Coty perfumes.

One relatively unknown Coty perfume is La Fougeraie au Crepuscule or, Fernery at Twilight, from 1928. Was there ever a more evocative name for a perfume? This is said to be the last perfume that Coty produced before his death in 1934.

C17A0751-9153-41EB-9199-DF7D9EC8D231.jpeg

As usual, Grace Hummel has a detailed blogpost on Fernery at Twilight that is full of interesting photos and references.


After searching for years for a good bottle of this unicorn, I finally gave in and ordered a sample of the vintage parfum from The Perfumed Court. There’s nothing wrong with vintage sampling, of course, but I much prefer to buy bottles so that I have the complete historical presentation. I was too curious about Fernery at Twilight to wait. Fortunately, the perfume bottle acquired by the good folks at TPC is remarkably well preserved.

Fernery at Twilight Is a dense brew of floral and herbal notes over a warm almost ambered base. It opens with a truly delightful gust of herbal coolness that is predominantly old school unsweetened lavender but also suggests fresh tarragon to me in its slightly anise-like nuances, Fernery at Twilight gradually settles down to a pillow of thick makeup powder of coumarin, oak moss, and orris.

As the name indicates, Fernery at Twilight is a fougère, and this is the main reason why I was so curious to smell it, because I have been investigating feminine fougères and their place in the overall evolution of the genre. Like most perfume categories, “fougère” is a highly elastic term, open to endless reinterpretation. Fougeres are typically classified as a definitively masculine genre of perfumery, and when we are discussing the likes of Brut et. al., I would agree with this assessment, but this is not strictly accurate historically. Older fougères offer an enveloping sense of soft greenness and warmth, without the bitter slap of galbanum or strong tang of citrus and significant sweetness via the coumarin. There were feminine fougères, like Fernery at Twilight, as well as early unisex fougères such as Jicky (1889) and Dana’s Canoe (1934). Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass (1934) is an exceptionally beautiful fougère in its deep vintage, original form (NOT the recent drugstore versions) and Fernery at Twilight reminded me very much of Blue Grass. Both have herbal accords that are much more complex than the lavender featured in Jicky and Canoe, and similar warm bases centered on the sweet grass smell of coumarin.

I am guessing that the OG Fougère of All, Houbigant‘S Fougère Royale (1882) smelled a lot more like Fernery at Twilight than the recent reinterpretation by Roderick Flores-Roux from 2010, but this is just a wild guess. Interestingly, ads for Fougère Royale from the 1930’s all seem to go to great lengths, almost hilariously so, to assert that it is a definitively masculine scent. Methinks they protest too much?

A454FBB7-ABFE-4BB1-A0C9-FA2C31BBF1CA.jpeg
 

Tea_Lilly

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jun 4, 2022
Time for an update to this topic, since I continue to be interested in vintage Coty perfumes.

One relatively unknown Coty perfume is La Fougeraie au Crepuscule or, Fernery at Twilight, from 1928. Was there ever a more evocative name for a perfume? This is said to be the last perfume that Coty produced before his death in 1934.

View attachment 307519

As usual, Grace Hummel has a detailed blogpost on Fernery at Twilight that is full of interesting photos and references.


After searching for years for a good bottle of this unicorn, I finally gave in and ordered a sample of the vintage parfum from The Perfumed Court. There’s nothing wrong with vintage sampling, of course, but I much prefer to buy bottles so that I have the complete historical presentation. I was too curious about Fernery at Twilight to wait. Fortunately, the perfume bottle acquired by the good folks at TPC is remarkably well preserved.

Fernery at Twilight Is a dense brew of floral and herbal notes over a warm almost ambered base. It opens with a truly delightful gust of herbal coolness that is predominantly old school unsweetened lavender but also suggests fresh tarragon to me in its slightly anise-like nuances, Fernery at Twilight gradually settles down to a pillow of thick makeup powder of coumarin, oak moss, and orris.

As the name indicates, Fernery at Twilight is a fougère, and this is the main reason why I was so curious to smell it, because I have been investigating feminine fougères and their place in the overall evolution of the genre. Like most perfume categories, “fougère” is a highly elastic term, open to endless reinterpretation. Fougeres are typically classified as a definitively masculine genre of perfumery, and when we are discussing the likes of Brut et. al., I would agree with this assessment, but this is not strictly accurate historically. Older fougères offer an enveloping sense of soft greenness and warmth, without the bitter slap of galbanum or strong tang of citrus and significant sweetness via the coumarin. There were feminine fougères, like Fernery at Twilight, as well as early unisex fougères such as Jicky (1889) and Dana’s Canoe (1934). Elizabeth Arden’s Blue Grass (1934) is an exceptionally beautiful fougère in its deep vintage, original form (NOT the recent drugstore versions) and Fernery at Twilight reminded me very much of Blue Grass. Both have herbal accords that are much more complex than the lavender featured in Jicky and Canoe, and similar warm bases centered on the sweet grass smell of coumarin.

I am guessing that the OG Fougère of All, Houbigant‘S Fougère Royale (1882) smelled a lot more like Fernery at Twilight than the recent reinterpretation by Roderick Flores-Roux from 2010, but this is just a wild guess. Interestingly, ads for Fougère Royale from the 1930’s all seem to go to great lengths, almost hilariously so, to assert that it is a definitively masculine scent. Methinks they protest too much?

View attachment 307522
Thank you - this is really helpful and gives me some ideas on other perfumes I'd like to sample.
 

PStoller

I’m not old, I’m vintage.
Basenotes Plus
Aug 1, 2019
Interestingly, ads for Fougère Royale from the 1930’s all seem to go to great lengths, almost hilariously so, to assert that it is a definitively masculine scent. Methinks they protest too much?

I suspect they were trying to convince men that, beyond Fougère Royale being masculine, wearing fragrance at all was a sufficiently masculine thing to do.

Thanks for another exceptional post.
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
Lovely fougère post, grayspoole! Bluegrass was my first perfume. By the time I wore it, it was already a floral aldehyde. Would have loved to smell the fougère original.

I found a closeup of the Fougère Royale ad text. The products were only for shaving and grooming. I wonder when the eau appeared in relation to the toiletry products.

Screen Shot 2022-10-30 at 10.04.15.png
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
Thanks for the posts. I did not know this Coty, and it sounds really interesting.

I think you are right about the relation between the original Fougere Royale and these perfumes. I have not smelled the ones you cite. But I have smelled the Fougere Royale reconstruction of the osmotheque and it is as you say. Not sharp, just enveloping cozy herbals and a complex soft base of coumarin, moss, and no doubt some musks that are now forbidden. There's none of the invigorating sharpness of aromatic fougeres of the 70s. They immediately recall memories of old barbershops. Incidentally, I smelled the Jicky reconstruction and the connection is very clear-same overall feel, but Jicky adds vanilla and civet.

cacio
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
I think you are right about the relation between the original Fougere Royale and these perfumes. I have not smelled the ones you cite. But I have smelled the Fougere Royale reconstruction of the osmotheque and it is as you say. Not sharp, just enveloping cozy herbals and a complex soft base of coumarin, moss, and no doubt some musks that are now forbidden. There's none of the invigorating sharpness of aromatic fougeres of the 70s. They immediately recall memories of old barbershops. Incidentally, I smelled the Jicky reconstruction and the connection is very clear-same overall feel, but Jicky adds vanilla and civet.

Ah, I was hoping that someone who had smelled the original Fougère Royale or an Osmothèque reconstruction would weigh in! Thanks for validating my surmise.

The reinvention of perfumery genres never ends and, in general, I don’t much mind. But when does fougère stop being a fougère? When is a chypre no longer recognizable as a chypre?. (For me, it’s when Coco Mademoiselle is called a chypre.)
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Lovely fougère post, grayspoole! Bluegrass was my first perfume. By the time I wore it, it was already a floral aldehyde. Would have loved to smell the fougère original.

Thank you! I’m sure there are aldehydes in the older version of Blue Grass as well, but they are suffused in the overall warmth of the base. And perhaps different formulations have different effects?

I was surprised by vintage Blue Grass when I first tried it. It didn’t smell like anything else. It’s cool and warm, aromatic and spicy, all at the same time. Blue Grass has been popular for ages, but It rarely gets mentioned as one of the great classic perfumes, but I think it should be.

Here are my Blue Grass bottles.

8AEE7489-76A8-4285-9F63-78944352F694.jpeg

Not sure if the “perfume essence” is meant for the bath, but it’s very potent and I wear it as perfume.
 

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