L'Origan by Coty is another case of "they don't make them like that anymore". If you've smelled the stuff posing as L'Origan these days (Victoria gave it a single star in her review on Bois de Jasmin) you probably noticed that it's hard to believe this was a glorious spicy oriental dating from 1905, once hosted in beautiful art deco bottles. Like almost everything Coty produces nowadays, poor L'Origan smells... well, poor. Obviously, that hasn't always been the case.
My own bottle of L'Origan parfum is pretty old. I have a little bit of juice in the pretty shoe presentation (I think it was Coty's Christmas thing for a while) from the 1950s (some sources say late 1940s), and the fragrance is lush, warm and utterly delicious. The comparison to Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue is apparent from the first whiff (you can read more about this aspect on Grain de Musc). Sweet and highly spicy almondy heliotrope that captures one's attention immediately; it's sexy in that vanilla-and-danger way.
The flowers and delicate blossoms in L'Origan are not that apparent in my thick vintage version, except for the very clove-like carnation. That one's there in spades, and creates a smooth transition into the sweet ambery dry-down. L'Heure Bleue, even with its characteristic Guerlain pastry accord, is somehow more abstract and atmospheric (perhaps its an auto-suggestion driven by the bleue idea drilled into us for years), but L'Origan is still delectable without ever going gourmand. It's golden and inviting, but you think "mmmm...more" and not "yummy!". There's a powdery element, a tactile velvet feel, and with the added imagery of the 1940s advertisements above it makes me think about a glamorous woman in her feathery dressing gown getting ready for an exciting evening out on the town.
It's really a shame that today's Coty only mission is to sell us the bottled glamour of Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion and Faith Hill at our local CVS.
Notes (via Michael Edwrads): bergamot, neroli, ylang-ylang, peach, carnation, orange blossom, violet, jasmine, rose, vanilla, coumarin, sandalwood, musk.
L'Origan 1940s ads via vintageadbrowser.com.