Royal Secret by Germaine Monteil comes to us from a very un-political correct era, when people dressed up to eat dinner, owned real hats (not beanies) and didn't tweet their personal business all over creation. On the other hand, they didn't mind smelling the perfume of the lady at the next table over. Yes, Royal Secret, a 1958 perfume, is one of those fragrances.
The royal in Royal secret is more the Monegasque Grimaldis than the Windsors. The former had a lot more secrets during the late 1950s and 1960s, not to mention sex appeal. And this old Germaine Monteil has exactly the kind of allure you'd expect from a floral chypre of that era. It starts green and somewhat formal, with crisp and clean notes of lavender and galbanum. Just when you think this is a no-nonsense lady who's all about running her household efficiently and washing her nylons every night, she softens and becomes bosomy and a bit breathless. There's an overstuffed pink chaise lounge in her bedroom (she thinks of it as her boudoir) and in the bottom drawer of her dresser, just behind some unmentionables she bought in Paris, there's a stack of letters her husband knows nothing about.
The floral notes in Royal Secret are round and rich. None of them stands out above the others, but the rose and muguet are making it decidedly femme and somehow give the impression of a peachy pink velvet. This is when the perfume becomes quite loud and assertive. I've learned to wear it with the lightest hand, no matter what formula I have on hand. This Germaine Monteil creation is a bit piercing and doesn't care about personal space.
The dry-down is somewhat of an oriental chypre. It's round and soft, has a very intimate vanilla base that hugs you and draws you closer, but also enough of a dry backbone and quite a bit of wood and patchouli that hold everything together for long hours and don't back down.
Germaine Monteil was a French-born American who started her career as a dressmaker and fashion designer in the 1940s, but the success of her perfumes made her switch careers and move into cosmetics. The company bearing her name has changed hands several times, among the owners of the perfume license were the Revlon Group and Five Star Cosmetics. The bottles I have of the extrait and bath perfume (they smell identical) are most likely from the late 1960s and were made by the original Germaine Monteil company. I cannot comment on the Five Star version that is somewhat easier to find nowadays.
Notes (via Fragrantica): lavender, galbanum, bergamot, lemon, orange blossom, violet, lily-of-the-valley, rose, geranium, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla and vetiver.
Germaine Monteil Royal Secret vintage perfume ads from 1961, 1963, 1965 and 1969: vintageadbrowser.com
Photo of Germaine Monteil from beautymed.at