Thursday, March 24, 2011

Germaine Monteil Royal Secret Vintage Perfume

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:
Photo of Germaine Monteil from


  1. I love the old version of Royal Secret,but it is very hard to find and no one carries all bouquet of products, powder, cream, lotion etc... I always get lots of compliments when I wear it. I am gald a lot of people cant find it, that way I smell special and not like everyone else.

  2. My mother always wore royal secret before five star. It lasted forever (I'd sleep with her pillow for comfort when she n dad were out). Since five star produces now, it doesn't last. Not worth the price anymore. She has to reapply several times and it still doesn't "stick" like it used to.

  3. Royal Secret AddictOctober 06, 2013 1:21 PM

    Royal Secret has been my signature fragrance since it was given to me almost forty years ago. There are a handful of fragrances (mostly discontinued) that I have liked enough to use, but nothing compares to Royal Secret. I was brokenhearted when Germaine Monteil ceased to exist. Then, I discovered the Five Star version. Though not the same, it was a reasonable facsimile and still better than anything else I could find. I bought it in large quantities, so I wouldn't be without it. Now, once again, I can't find any version of Royal Secret.

    Royal Secret contains so many scents that I adore and in the perfect composition. It's a complex, gorgeous fragrance not for the faint of heart. I'll probably try to have it replicated although the reviews of most of those businesses are not very good. It makes me sad that there are so many fragrances and yet I've never found one that compares favorably with Royal Secret. I can't understand why so many women want to smell like cheap aftershave or fruit.

  4. My mother and I wore Gigolo for years it broke our heart when you discontinued it was so special. she is gone now but I never really found anything since I liked as well

  5. I wish Five Star would not have tampered with Royal Secret. The new version smells nothing like the one that was closest to the original. I am totally disappointed to not be able to find it now. It is the only fragrance I can wear that does not irritate my sinuses. The multitude of compliments received from it lets you know you have the right perfume. I wish there was some way to get in touch with Five Star and tell them to change it back. I started out with the original Monteil and of course had to continue with Five Star. I am a 3rd Generation wearer of this. BRING BACK THE ORIGINAL!

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