Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Lost (And Totally Forgotten) Perfumes: Via Lanvin

Since the house of Lanvin is desecrating the memory of its founder, Jeanne Lanvin, by launching a pink fruity floral (blackberry, pear, and raspberryamong other notes) and naming it after her*, I thought it was a good time to remember a discontinued perfume from this house, even if it's one that was created years after Madame Lanvin's death: Via Lanvin.

Via Lanvin was launched in 1971 and discontinued in 1984 (according to Basenotes). The 70s, to me, are the years of Charlie (1973), an assertive green-floral-powder little thing that took over the world. There was a point in that decade that the only way not to have a bottle was to be Amish. That was the reality and the market in which Via had to compete. Like Charlie, Via is also a powdery green floral, but it feels soft and very French. I couldn't find a Lanvin ad for Via (maybe it was the lack of marketing that killed this perfume), but I'm pretty sure it couldn't have been promoted by photos of  a woman patting a male co-worker's butt. It's not that kind of scent.

I scored a sealed set of Via EdT and parfum. The first time I opened and tried it, it smelled quite fresh, other than a few seconds of stale aldehydes. I liked the elegant greens and the sweetness that followed. The floral heart feels very classic, which is probably what I recognize as "French": muguet, jasmine, orris and rose seemed to be everywhere. I think I like wearing Via because of the crisp narcissus note. It's green and crunchy in the best possible way, spiced up with some carnation.

My favorite part is the drydown. There's a moment where the vetiver emerges, and it's dry and fiery, almost smokey. It's more pronounced in the EdT, while the parfum is smoother and a bit muted. I wish there was more of this note before it burns into sweet powder. I also wish the lasting power was more impressive. As it is, I need to bathe in the juice to make it live long enough so I can fully enjoy it.

From the 1984 H&R Fragrance Guide, Feminine Notes:
Via Lanvin (1971) - Sweet Floral
Top Note: leafy green, bergamot, aldehyde, violet, lemon - green flowery
Mid note: lily of the valley, jasmine, orris, carnation, rose, ylang-ylang, narcissus - green floral
Base note: vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, musk, amber, moss - woody powdery

* Robin of NST is quoting a CosmeticsNews article, which originally stated that the house's brilliant designer, Alber Elbaz, was deeply involved in the perfume's creation. Allow me to doubt that.

I bought the set on eBay for less than a song. Bottles of both the EdT and the parfum can still be found there on occasion. Some e-tailers who specialize in rare perfumes offer a 0.25 oz of parfum for about $150. I don't think it's worth it, unless this is your long lost holy grail.

http://www.toutenparfum.com/ . My set looks just like the one pictured.


  1. You brought back such memories of this fragrance for me - I had totally forgotten this one however this is a fragrance i did enjoy wearing and was saddened by its disappearance .So glad to see this article and do so hope that you enjoy this fragrance as much as I did. sharon

  2. I agree with you: Alber Elbaz cannot be that involved in the making of the new Lanvins. It seems to clash with the graceful dignity of his aesthetics. If I ever come across him -- I did, once, in the street, when he was designing for Saint Laurent and he was very friendly and eager to talk about his designs -- I'll certainly convey our feelings about fruity florals. Not that it'll do much good... God, it'll probably hurt his feelings... Sorry Alber!

  3. You totally hooked me so I just bought a bottle on eBay right now -- can't wait to try it out, thanks!

  4. Sharon- Thanks for your comment. This fragrance is, indeed, a gem.

    D.- Poor Alber! I'm sure he's not a fan of the pink fruity florals, yet he can't really argue with the suits.

    Always In Style- It's great you snagged a bottle. I hope you like it!

  5. This is absolutely still my most favorite fragrance ever purchased. I look for it on eBay and other sites. There is a tiny bottle hoarded by me for special down days in my life - and one whiff can perk me up and put a smile on my face. I certainly desire a 'bring back' of this one!


  6. I came across a bottle of Via Lanvin in a thrift store recently. It had a broken sprayer, so decanting it was a challenge. But I find that it was worth the time and labor. It strikes an odd but satisfying balance between forest chypre, lactonic floral, and incense drydown. Love it.

  7. I own a small collection of parfum mini flasks...
    Guess which was the first one I received as a gift when a girl? VIA LANVIN. How many times I've caressed this tiny, intelligent designed flask. I fell in love with the mini flasks and parfums. Only today I've found on E-bay press publicity of VIA and then find your blog: Nobody at Maison Lanvin answered my mails asking for inf.
    I do miss another "Lost parfum": the former EAU DE GUCCCI ( nine white flowers)
    Sometimes a good designer of clothes doesn't match with scents that should never be lost.(I'm a designer ..how paradoxal!)Thanks again for your historical, publicitary and technical research.¿Have you considered writing a Perfume Memories book? Ana.

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