Friday, March 01, 2013

Jean d'Albret- Écusson (Vintage Perfume)

It's the time of the year that I'm craving light: sunshine, little dresses and floral aldehydic perfumes that makeup for the lack of the two other items. That's where my vintage bottle of Écusson  by Jean d'Albret comes in. It's one of those second or third generation spawns of Chanel No.5 (Écusson was launched in 1947)-- a big burst of fresh and light aldehydes that leads the way to a bouquet of flowers that blend into one another in a powdery cloud (the carnation and iris are quite massive), and dry down into a smooth wood with slightly green edges.

Écusson (meaning "shield" in French) is not too original in this regard. If you collect vintage perfumes you probably already have a bunch of similar ladylike perfumes. It is very nice and soft,  and if you love carnation it's definitely worth seeking out. Écusson  is a fun and feminine daytime fragrance. It's elegant but not stiff, and has a certain warmth that comes from the powdery and woody notes. My late 1960s-early 1970s bottle aged very well; some of the fresh top notes are gone, but the aldehydes aren't stale and from heart to dry-down everything smells lively and smooth. I bought it sealed and boxed, though, so I can't tell how well open bottles held throughout the years.

Jean d'Albret as a brand has disappeared. It was founded right after WWII by French Count Guillaume d'Ornano and his sons Hubert and Michel. They introduced Ecusson as the first perfume in the line. The company grew rapidly and within a year added the sub-brand Orlane for their skincare products. From what I can tell from old adverts and newspaper clippings, that distinction remained in place for the first few of decades, until the mid 1970s. At some point Orlane took over and Ecusson and the other Jean d'Albret perfumes were rebranded as Orlane fragrances, before they were discontinued and vanished from the market (there is or was an Ecusson version by Long Lost Perfumes, but I've never tried it).

Notes: lemon, cassis, iris and aldehydes, ylang-ylang, geranium, jasmine, violet leaves, carnation, rose, vetiver, oak moss, vanilla, sandalwood.

Images: Ecusson ads from the 1940s and 1950s via


  1. I remember a mother & daughter fashion story in a Finnish magazine in the late Seventies which featured three Jean d'Albret fragrances: Casaque, Princess and Ecusson. Casaque mother & daughter were styled as "trendy", Princess as "romantic" and Ecusson as "classic and ladylike". I have never smelled any of the scents, though.

    1. Hello! How I can buy Princess. I t is finished many years ago here in Finland. Please help me if you can. Pleeasure. Thanks a lot.

    2. You won't ever find it and if by some chance you do, it will be a dud. I wore Princess D'Albret and Eccuson many years ago. I have purchased Eccuson recently and it took me back 40 years. The moment I opened the bottle I recognised that same old wonderful perfume. Can't say the same about Princess. Not sure what was in that bottle but it was not nice nor was it cheap to buy. Be wary if ever you find any.

  2. I've never smelled the parfum of this but the EDT is pretty and lemony. Another plus of the line was the handsome bottles, as you can see in the ads. Great if you want to outfit a vintage vanity.

  3. Thank you so much for reviewing Ecusson. When I was 22 (in 1976) I thought that Ecusson was the most beautiful, most romantic fragrance ever - your review brings back so many memories! I haven't seen it in stores in years, and that's just as well; if it were still available, it would undoubtedly have been reformulated to make it unrecognizable, as have other great perfumes of the past.

  4. Actually, the Ecusson formula currently offered in the States under the Long Lost Perfume group is based on the original Ecusson formula recipe and is 99% accurate when the ingredient delistings of the past few years are taken into account. Over the past 16 years that I've been offering Ecusson I can't recall even one bottle being returned - the scent remains true and fabulous. I will send some over to Gaia for a look see. J

  5. I would love to be able to buy Ecusson perfume again. It is heavenly. Why oh why are all the best things in life discontinued ???


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