Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weil Antilope (Old and New)

There was a booth at the PXA 2009 perfume expo in NYC with a name I haven't seen in a while: Parfums Weil. I knew a little about some of their long gone classics, vaguely remembered I had a mini of something or another which has probably turned eons ago and was aware that they were some bottles at the online discounters, but have never smelled anything remotely new from Weil. And, frankly, knowing how horrible are some of the perfume zombies of this kind, I couldn't be bothered.

But the people at the Weil booth were very nice, they talked about relaunching and updating (read: reformulating) the classics and getting back into the game. They also have a skin care line that includes cleansers and creams (I'll need to test my samples soon), and in general, present a pleasant modern front. Like the ad for the recent version of the classic Antilope perfume:

Smelling this new Antilope made me think how the idea of smelling "clean" has changed over the years. Nowadays it mostly means laundry detergent, clean musk and crisp citrus, at best (aquatic aromachemicals like Calone in the worst case). But once upon a time, soap meant prim and proper floral aldehydes that gave the impression of a well put-together lady. The new Antilope, while clearly different than its ancestor(s) still has that retro feel. It's aldehydic and mildly soapy. It feels... nice. Nothing groundbreaking and definitely not animalic, as might have been expected from the name.

Antilope is quite herbal. I smell clary sage and maybe some tarragon, and that is probably my favorite part. The floral heart is abstract, and other than some neutered jasmine, nothing stands out stands out there, for better or for worse. The generic theme continues into the drydown, where it morphs into something reminiscent of men's cologne. It's not bad, and the scent is very easy to wear, but even without an emotional attachment to the original Antilope, I'm a little disappointed.

Digging in the darker parts of my vintage stash, I found a tiny bottle of the vintage parfum, dating most likely from the early 80s. It was part of those Parfums de Paris gift sets sold to tourist and air travelers, and while still full and kept in the original box, Antilope (unlike the other four perfumes) seemed to have turned. The top notes were definitely stale- deflated aldehydes at their worst. I still applied it for the sake of this post, but the first twenty minutes were not my idea of fun. At some point the mustiness disappeared and I nearly forgot I was wearing it, until I caught a whiff of something a lot more pleasant. A serious, assertive floral with more than a hint of a green, mossy base, and later- a beautiful musk. Finally, I got it- the nostalgia, the elegance, the beauty.

While the newest version of Antilope (and the rest of the Weil line) hasn't been officially launched in the US, you can actually find it- an EDP in an orange-red box at some online retailers. There's an earlier (dating from the 90s, I think) EDC version circulating online, but rumor has it that it's downright awful. As for vintage- it's between you and your eBay account, but take note that Antilope's origins are now lost in the mist. Different sources give launch dates from 1928 to 1948 (including several years within this range) and different note lists, making the perfume anything from a woody floral to a leather chypre (!). There was also a bath oil version of Antilope, which at some point was named Secret de Venus. All this can make anyone's head spin, even before you get one sniff of the actual juice.

Images: okadi.com


  1. I was- and am-
    Still an Antilope fan.

    In the 70's, it was more animalic, but still very herbal in feeling.

    The 're-mastering' isn't bad, as these things go...
    It's a gorgeous, wearable mossiness.

    All these scents definitely require re-spritzing throughout the day, alas-
    In order to envelop oneself.

  2. I love those old perfume sets. They offer a way to travel through vintage, as it were, without committing serious dollars to a specific full bottle.

    Will now re-try Antilope; appreciate your well-presented thoughts.

  3. I just found a big decant of the cologne reformulation and plan to try it today. I sniffed it out of the bottle yesterday and found it lovely, as Chayaruchama said, it was mossy & dry- very nice to my nose.

    Looking forward to the new one too, something different in a sea of fruity florals :)

  4. I., I wish I knew the original when it was fresh and animalic. I'm sure I would have adored it. I agree about the remastering. We've seen and smelled a lot worse, and this one doesn't smell cheap or stupid. It's nice enough that I'd consider having a bottle for those days one needs something wearable and comfortable.

  5. S., yes, those vintage sets are a great way to learn about the classics without going into crazy bidding wars. And many of the bottles are very nice replicas of the original ones. Now, if I can just find more vintage Fath...

  6. Jane, Antilope is definitely different. I really enjoyed wearing itbecause of the retro feel. It made me want to change into a pretty dress and put on some red lipstick.

  7. I am praying for Weil to relaunch Mollie Parnis. Men - and women - would follow me around when I wore it, it was my perfect scent-match. The thing I most remember abut it is a black currant note.

    Antilope is simply a lovely go-to fragrance. Since I have the EDC, I layer it, believe it or not, with Panthére de Cartier parfum.

    I also treasure a bottle of Weil de Weil the greatest fren fragrance ever.

  8. Hi Gaia,
    Antilope in the form of Extrait is a staple favorite of mine.
    I recently opened a 'NOS' bottle from the late 40's and it was just sumptuous.
    Most of the top notes had faded, the aldehyde fizz was long gone. The combination of mandarine, neroli, rose, jasmine, mimosa, amber and nitro-musks is stunning not forgetting the generous dollop of civet to give the juice it's very dry animalic edge.
    Newer editions in edt & edc contain chamomile, another agent used in perfumery to obtain a sage/dry herbal character.
    The extrait holds well on my skin and the dry down lasts for up to 12 hours.
    The original formulation is quite beautiful, I'm fortunate to have several sealed bottles as backup for those inevitable rainy days. 'lol'
    I urge vintage collectors to search for this long discontinued parfum, you will not be disappointed.
    Best wishes . . .

    1. To the best of my knowledge Antilope and Secret de Venus were actually different.
      I have the originals -my Mother and I wore almost nothing else.
      And those delicious baths in the bath oil!


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