Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jacques Fath: Fath de Fath (Vintage Perfume)

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like in fifty years, when perfume enthusiasts will amuse themselves trying to locate vintage bottles of discontinued and forgotten perfumes. Would Paris Hilton become a legend? Would fruity florals be revered as a timeless classic? Can you see crazy bidding wars over some bottled dreck by Michael Kors? What would be the next Djedi or Iris Gris?

I'm fascinated by 50s fashion and design aesthetics. And, of course, perfume from that era. In his short career (and life. He died in 1954 at age 42), Jacques Fath has managed to create some iconic looks in the Post War world, hire Hubert de Givenchy, Guy Laroche, and Valentino Garavani as apprentices and launch a perfume legend or two.

Fath de Fath in its original 1953 form is not as mythical as its older sibling Iris Gris. I didn't have to sell a kidney for the sealed bottle I found, I was just very very lucky. While Fath de Fath is beautiful, elegant and as evocative of its time as one would hope, smelling it doesn't change your life or understanding of perfume. I've seen it labeled as an oriental, but I smell enough oakmoss to assume it's a chypre.

The opening is a bit murky with some spicy citrus that when sprayed (I decanted some) smells green and a bit more airy. As it develops, Fath de Fath becomes elegant and very French. The heart is floral and I'm pretty sure I smell a violet-iris note and maybe some lily. It glides like a model in some of these fashion show clips and is unapologetic feminine.

The base isn't just dark and full of oakmoss, but also quite animalic. There's some serious lingerie under these dresses, and Fath de Fath is not shy about making it known. The drydown is my favorite part of this scent. I wonder if any of the fashion houses today would dare release such a thing. Considering the latest offering from Marc Jacobs, Gucci and Dior, my money is on "no".

Photos of the actual vintage bottle are mine. Model: Giselle.
Fath de Fath original ad:
Jacques Fath dresses and hats photos:


  1. I love that you review vintage scents! Enjoy the writing too; you describe very well the scent's attitude and effect on you. It is somehow a shame that the idea, "Perfume is for Women, and girls should aspire to it" has become passe'. (And yet I love some girly-wirly things - like AG Petite Cherie, and Rose d'Ete...)

    Your kitty is beautiful.

  2. It's too bad that the animalic aspect - that some describe as "dirty knickers" or "barnyard" -has been done away with in modern fragrances. It's what gave depth to classic perfumery. Luca Turin observed that modern society has become obsessed with cleanliness, hygiene, and doing away with anything resembling a natural human odor. We seem to want to smell of nothing but fruit salad, water, or some vague flower.

    Thanks for the YouTube clips, I'm drooling over those clothes, especially the gowns. And I love the models' glide. So much more elegant than the girls today, who stomp down the runway with a pissed-off expression, like it's a burden to be young, thin, beautiful, admired, and wearing designer clothes!

  3. You lucky lucky thing! I've not ventured into the world of vintage fragrance (I need to stay AWAY from eBay at all costs!) but when I do I pray that I get a find like your's!

    I'd wager that Comme des Garcons scents will become prey to vintage fragrance aficionados in the future but with the way the IFRA regulations are steamrollering on, ANYTHING pre-2010 will probably be a collector's find in 50 years time. I'm already stockpiling....

  4. Mals, thank you so much (from Giselle, too). There's nothing wrong with well-made girly scents. I love AG Quel Amour! on all its fruity glory.

  5. Patty, I know what you mean. The elegance of the fashion and the way it was presented- it's something I dearly miss in today's shows. There was a way women used to carry themselves that was so feminine. I remember an interview with the actresses and costume designers for Mad Men- they said it was because of the impossible undergarments.

  6. BB, when the enormity of what IFRA has done sank in with me, I looked through my perfume cabinet and realized it was like the Jurassic Park of fragrance.

  7. Hi Gaia. Fath de Fath is a beautiful perfume!Sweet... Your review is very beautiful too. Kiss. Elisabeth

  8. I still don't want to smell like a barnyard. Too much like my real life, you understand... so no Cuir de Russie for me. But Jolie Madame? YES. The green-flower-and-hay vibe of Le Temps d'une Fete? YES. The pipe tobacco-leather jacket-forest floor-musky skin of SSS Tabac Aurea? YES.

    I may go bid on that little bottle of Fath de Fath...


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