Thursday, November 03, 2011

Lucien Lelong- Tailspin (Vintage Perfume)

I knew very little about Lucien Lelong, his fashion and perfumes until I read this post by Donna on Perfume Smellin' Things (exactly two years ago to the day. I swear it was not planned). Donna also generously sent me a couple of samples of her wonderful Lucien Lelong finds and I was instantly hooked: they are the real thing in terms of quality and vintage elegance.

Here's also a bit of history from Lucien Lelong's current website (I wish other companies put even half this effort into their sites and gave actual information instead of annoying flash and horrible music):
Born in Paris in 1889, Lucien Lelong learned the finer points of luxury, style and sophistication from his father, a thriving textile shop owner. At the age of 22, Lelong attended the Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Paris, and by 1914 had designed his first complete collection. In 1919, Lucien Lelong opened the couture house that would eventually become the training ground for fashion luminaries like Jean Ebel, Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy.

Success seemed to come overnight. Within a few years, Lucien Lelong had become undeniably influential in the Parisian fashion industry. Aside from serving as the President of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture for many years, he was widely recognized by his peers for his keen intuitive understanding of fabrics and their integral importance in the creation of a dress.

In 1924, as Lucien Lelong approached the pinnacle of his career, he began experimenting with fragrance. The inspiration for his perfumes, which he considered to be an integral part of a woman's style, came from his designs and the individual, enigmatic traits of the women who wore them. Initially, the man who would become known for his elaborate, collectible bottles and flacons, made no attempt to decoratively package his unique scents. However, when requests for his perfumes started coming in from as far away as America, Lelong became inspired. The Société des Parfums Lucien Lelong was born and would continue to thrive well after Lelong closed the door to his famed fashion house.

Lucien Lelong's first perfumes were succinctly named A,B,C,J, and N and were intended to evoke a sense of mystery and romance, much like Chanel's numbered versions. The intricately crafted bottles, largely designed by Lelong himself, were inspired by fabrics, garlands, feathers and modern architecture and are still collected to this day. In all, Lelong created 27 different fragrances, including Indiscret (1935), perhaps his most famous perfume
Luck had it and I stumbled upon a Lucien Lelong Tailspin gift set that includes an extrait de parfum and a large bottle of the EDC (I really need to decant the latter into a spray bottle). I already knew Tailspin was good, but the depth and personality of the parfum in particular caught me off-guard. This 1940s perfume is so alive and vibrant (by the packaging I assume that mine is a 1950s specimen) .

Tailspin is green, a tad spicy with a soapy (in a good way) dry-down. It's sort-of clean but not quite, has an elegance that once belonged in daytime- when everyone wore nice hats and made sure not to leave the house with unpolished shoes. In today's terms I'd say Tailspin could just as easily be worn by a man, as long as he's not afraid of some lily-of-the-valley and possibly hyacinth. Tailspin is devoid of sweetness and retains its very crisp nature from top to base, even through an interesting phase that makes me think of coconut. Or maybe coconut soap. There are less and less perfumes of this nature as sharp green notes are decidedly out of fashion, especially if they don't have any of that modern citrus whatever to lighten them at the top. I feel very lucky to make Lucien Lelong my acquaintance.

Vintage Lucien Lelong Tailspin perfume ads (1940, 1942, 1945, 1946) from various online auctions.


  1. Ahhhh. . . Tailspin! It was one of my mother's favorite scents during World War II. I haven't actually smelled it in about 58 years, but the fragrance is permanently filed in my memory.

  2. Those ads are fabulous. I continue to believe that ads of that era were way more creative than many we see today.


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