Thursday, June 17, 2010

Helena Rubinstein- Courant (Vintage Perfume)

There is very little information about Courant, a 1972 fragrance by Helena Rubinstein. Other than the year of creation and a general agreement that we're dealing with a chypre, nobody seems to list the notes, the nose or any other information and there is no reference to an ad campaign other than the commercial below.

You only need a semi functional nose to identify Courant as a chypre. The oakmoss can be smelled from here to IFRA and there's a sharpness in the top notes that suggests bergamot and probably some other faded citrus.The middle is fairly spicy- some clove and carnation, a hint of cinnamon and there's something bitter and fairly green that dries down into wood, moss and leather. It smells very crisp and very 1970s in the best possible way. It is more woody than Jean-Louis Scherrer and not as warm as Apercu. Back then I'm sure it was considered very feminine, today a man could easily wear it, if he found a bottle, that is.

Helena Rubinstein's Courant is another discontinued gem. It disappeared from the market even before IFRA's long hand has reached our chypres, just like Rubinstein's most other perfumes. My bottle of the EDP looks cheap with its periwinkle plastic cap that doesn't match the lovely scent inside. The EDP can be found a bit more easily than the pure parfum that came in a nicer bottle and seems to get shockingly high prices online.

Photo: Vogue, 1972


  1. I was fortunate to snag a vintage sample from an online shop. I'm so glad I was able to find some. The retro feel and warmth just suits my skin. I do get lovely carnation and oakmoss, I wish I could find a bottle in a bigger size.
    It does remind me in some way of Sikkim by Lancome. Very similar feel on the skin, although Sikkim is a bit dryer to me.

  2. i wore this back then, and i now wonder if it was my first chypre. if not, it was among the first of maaaaaaaaaaany.

    just got some vintage ma griffe cologne, and as soon as i sprayed it, i could smell and sense the oak moss. i also have some of the reformulated edp, which isn't bad, but it does not have oak moss - or if it does, it's in tiny quantities, because there is something much more alive about the cologne than the edp.

    i think that's what oak moss did - brought scents like these alive somehow. they sparkle and the reformulations don't.


  3. I used to wear it when they were still selling it, and I never liked another perfume as much as I loved this. I bought it again after a few years it had been discontinued; it was an old bottle in a shop, and it smelled terrible...

  4. Got out my vintage parfum today, went looking for reviews, and found yours. Of course, it's entirely possible that your review was the reason I bought Courant on ebay a few years ago. ;-)

    The 1984 H&R Fragrance Guide to Feminine Notes classifies Courant (1972) as a floral-mossy-animalic chypre and lists the following notes:

    Top note (fresh spicy): BERGAMOT, LEMON, neroli, aldehydes, marjoram, coriander
    Middle note (precious floral): ORRIS, jasmin, rose, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, lily
    Base note (wood, sweet, powdery): CEDAR, MOSS, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, benzoin, amber.

    In the "Genealogy" chart it's shown as a descendent of Bandit and Cabochard (as is Sikkim, in accord with Elizabeth's assessment). ~~nozknoz

  5. I just got a cute mint bottle of this in the box that has a fuzzy cute raccoon clipped to it. I don't wear perfume so I will sell it on ebay. It still smells good and has that nice vintage 70's scent. Was tempted to try some on. Reminded me of my childhood.

  6. An interesting addendum to the Courant-story is the Johnny Mathis recording of a romantic song for Helena Rubinstein which was played in-store to advertise the promotion of the new fragrance in 1972/3.
    - Darryl


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