Vintage d’Orsay Le Dandy
I recently had the opportunity to smell a sample of the long lost d’Orsay Le Dandy eau de cologne (c. 1950s). I expected it to be on par with the current version—at least the less recent eau de toilette that has been supplanted with an even more hollowed out formulation. I expected sweet rum, vetiver, tobacco, ginger, cardamom, amber, and clove in the vein of the current formula. I was taken aback when I first sniffed the applicator as I removed it from the vial. It had nothing to do with the modern rendition at all.
The modern Le Dandy rendition is likely based on our current notions of the personality of an Edwardian/Belle Epoch dandy fashioned in the style of the inimitable Comte d’Orsay of perfume legend. When we think of dandy, we think of the flashy, outrageous, and pompous when in fact we ought to think of the restrained, elegant, and understated. Vintage Le Dandy is soapy barbershop fragrance with a little musk, civet, oakmoss, and Mysore sandalwood. The top is composed of French lavender, bergamot, and possibly clary sage. The heart is a light floral bouquet perhaps of Grasse jasmine, rose de mai, and verbena while the base is adds a little orris root for a dusky effect on top of a light animalic component. This is the portrait of a Turn of the Century dandy; it contains many ingredients that would have excited the dandy: musk, civet, possibly ambergris, rose, and jasmine. I would also surmise that it contains carnation and ylang ylang in the style of Rigaud’s old Eau de Kananga, but with more body and more soap.
I find more often than not that vintage perfumes are much needed breath of fresh air in today’s chemical synthetic fragrance industry where there is no more art, no more craftsmanship, and no more heart. It is treated as though we were selling pork belly futures or disposable razors—mass marketed muck to turn as much profit as quickly as possible.
Next week, I should be able to post on the legendary Crepe de Chine (vintage EdC).