Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lanvin Rumeur (Original 1934 Version)- The Lost Perfumes

It took me time and experiencing different concentrations (and probably different vintages) to figure out what was going on with Rumeur by Lanvin. I could tell it's a chypre (sometimes it feels like just about any scent from that era was a chypre, probably because of the oakmoss and patchouli abundance), and a dirty one, but it smells so full and layered I had a hard time getting an olfactory picture in my head.

Just to make this clear: I'm not talking about the 2006 chemical fruit dreck or any of its flankers, but of the original perfume which was created by Andre Fraysse and launched in 1934 and discontinued at some point in the 70s.

Some of the old bottles and samples I've smelled were a bit off at the top, but from the one I currently own, I'd go out on a limb and say there were some aldehydes involved. What I get now is spice. Clove? Cardamom? The former, most likely, because the floral heart calls to mind a carnation, if a bit abstract. The scent is warm, woody and fuzzy, but it quickly becomes this classic, womanly scent, the idea of what a grand perfume for a grand lady should be. Well-furnished, shaded rooms in which mysterious ladies talk in hushed voices (it's probably just my imagination and watching too many Clark Gable movies, after all, both my grandmas were little girls back then and Eastern Europe was not exactly Paris). Many chypres have a certain formality, as does Rumeur, but it also has such a heavy base that throws me off a bit. A hint of leather, but also something furry and animalic. Maybe it's a musk, the kind you no longer find in modern perfumes, but there's also some similarity to the warm fruity thickness I smell in CB Musk Reinvention and MKK, so I'm thinking civet.

Note interpretation aside, Rumeur is beautiful. I wear it like a costume at times, mostly around the house, but occasionally on a night out, the way it was meant to be worn.

photos of 1934 fashion from


  1. I think it's up to the uber-niche perfumer who don't give a rate a%% about the new regs to step in here. Kids, we'll buy if you make..

  2. Yeeees! Thanks for posting on Rumeur. I've absolutely fallen hard for the vintage stuff, and have seen so little in the way of fellow bloggers writing about the stuff. In fact, I wrote a post about it, and the material costus, which is the animalic bit you're smelling, I believe. I'm fascinated with costus, now, and it is unmistakeable in vintage Cabochard, too, now that my nose gets it. Check out this post of mine, if you like:

  3. Tom, I agree, only the uber-niche can afford to make perfumes real perfumes for people like us.
    Speaking of which, I need to tell you about my new purchase.

  4. Aimee, what an excellent post! I agree about vintage Cabochard. I've read Octavian's post and will have to re-sniff my vintage Scherrer. I always thought it was oakmoss, but the dirty aspect must be costus.
    I'll need to ask Anya about her Pan (have you smelled it?). It's beautifully goaty.

  5. Gaia, I'm glad you liked it! Yeah, I'll have to try me some of that goaty goodness in Pan, I think! Haven't tried any of Anya's stuff, yet, I don't think.

  6. Aimee, try Pan and Kaffir. They are both amazing and have lots of depth. They're the real thing. Don't be fooled by Kaffir's name- it's not about light and fresh citrus, despite the opening.


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