How beautiful are these vintage ads (1937-1963) of Millot Crêpe de Chine? And the bottles! They tell the story of Crêpe de Chine well enough one could almost guess what it smells like. This 1925 perfume is a floral chypre, out of this time and out of this world.
I recently opened a tightly sealed bottle of Crepe de Chine parfum that I happened upon in an antique mall. I had no idea if the juice was alive or if there will be any decent top notes left. after all bergamot and aldehydes tend to go stale eventually, and if you want to enjoy many vintage perfumes you need to first sit through about 15 minutes of Miss Havisham's drawing room. But I was luckier than I deserve. My Crepe de Chine smells perfect. I won't call it fresh, because it was never meant to be that. This fragrance from Felix Millot's perfumery is incredibly full-bodied and lush. The jasmine is dirty and huge, but wonderfully blended with carnation and rose into a very feminine perfumy heart.
I doubt that my bottle hales from the 1920s (Crêpe de Chine was discontinued in the late 1960s, after the house of Millot was sold), but it definitely smells like a product of that time, an era that gave us the classic Chanel, Guerlain and Coty perfumes. Vintage cars, flapper dresses and jewelry, red lipstick, and women eager to break and defy confining traditions. Part of the magic of true chypre perfumes is how well they evoke a certain kind of glamour. The other part is that they smell incredible.
To the modern nose, big bold chypres that are so laden with oakmoss may smell masculine. I do believe that they can be just as easily worn by a man who appreciates their thick oily darkness. Millot's Crêpe de Chine has plenty of that. It's kind of what I imagine the original 1920s Chypre de Coty smelled like, something fit for the Algonquin's Rose Room.
bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange, jasmine, rose, lilac, ylang ylang, carnation, oak moss, vetiver, benzoin, labdanum, patchouli, musk, and leather.
You can read more about Crepe de Chine on Yesterday's Perfume and in Angela's review for Now Smell This.
All images of vintage Crêpe de Chine ads from various online auctions.