Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lanvin Pretexte (Vintage Extrait de Parfum)

Pretexte, a 1937 Lanvin perfume, is clearly a fragrance from a long-gone era, even though ambery florals are popular to these days. I'm not entirely sure what it is exactly about Pretexte that makes it so prim and proper. I smell carnations and roses, sandalwood and vetiver and also a powdery base that is not without a hint of funk, so I suspect a nice helping of tonka bean and an animalic of some sort. Still, the overall impression I get here is that Pretexte was not meant for the same woman who wore Scandal or My Sin.

Don't get me wrong- I really enjoy wearing this perfume. It might come from a time period I'm grateful to have missed, but I love the aesthetics even if the husband is clearly not a fan Pretexte (he likes My Sin, though). I wear this vintage Lanvin for myself. The same way I do with the one flouncy blouse I own and he finds utterly ridiculous.

My bottle is pretty old (no idea when exactly Pretexte was discontinued) and was bought for half a song before prices shot into the stratosphere. I'm not sure what the top notes used to be- I suspect not citrus because the perfume smells smooth and thick from the very opening with no awkward moments of dead bergamot. It also lasts all day long, something that My Sin never does, no matter how much of it I apply. Pretexte has a nice quality of opening an old cedar chest and ruffling through precious mementos, pressed flowers in an scrapbook and dusty lavender sachets from another time and place. So what if these memories are not really mine?

Vintage Lanvin ads for Pretexte (1937 and 1956) from
Lanvin fashion, 1951,


  1. I too have an old bottle of unknown age. I had to laugh at your description of dead bergamont in other vintage perfumes..why oh why was bergamont the opening note of choice? On my skin this is a prim (as you say) rose powder that does smell of old and real pot pourri..there is a tiny bit of fecalness in mine which added to the baby not transporting me into a landscape I wish to travel. But I love the name.

  2. I'd love to get my hands on this one... would also love, LOVE, that blouse. Sigh.

  3. Carnations, sandalwood and vetiver sound right up my alley. Wonder if the powdery note is labdanum??

    I must say, that blouse is spectacular! Wonder what her skirt looks like?? We have great vintage clothing stores in the Bay Area, I've run across clothing that the quality, material, design and workmanship is just to die for.

  4. I got some after reading your review, because as much as I love My Sin, it does a quick exit for me too. And Pretexte does stay much longer, I do love it! I could have sworn I had some orris root or iris notes, late in the day with it. Lovely!

  5. I have a bottle of the "eau-de-Lanvin" (basically a strong EDT?). To me, what characterizes PRÊTEXTE is its yellow flowers: they smell cheery, bright, summery and perky, with none of the "glower" or narcotic qualities one associates with jasmine and white flowers. The opoponax balsamic is perhaps the most prominent note in the base. It is a "leather" in name only, I'd say. I could swear there is a black coffee note in the base, mingled with the orrisw, tonka and vetiver, further imbuing the perfume with a perky, daytime cheeriness. It does not strike me as a sexpot/bombshell number (like MY SIN).


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