Thursday, June 06, 2013

Lancôme- Ô de Lancôme (Vintage Perfume)

1978 Ad
1969 Ô de Lancôme ad

Ô de Lancôme is a fragrance I didn't appreciate until it was too late. This 1969 chypre-cologne hybrid was very green and sharp, so my mother, who dislikes chypres to this day, relegated the occasional gift bottle to a household cleaner/disinfectant, something to use on surfaces that were too delicate for bleach yet needed a good scrubbing.  That's how Ô de Lancôme lodged itself in my mind as the scent of door handles and phone receivers. It took me years after I left home, discovered that I like green perfumes in general and crisp chypres in particular, that I was willing to give Ô de Lancôme any skin space. By that time the fragrance has been reformulated (probably more than once) and flankerized, which meant that I had to go vintage.

Ô de Lancôme opens with a blast of citrus rind and citrus juice infused with herbs. You spray (or pour) and see green. Even the juice in my old bottle (mine has the brownish neck you see in the 1969 ad above) is sharp and vivid-- too sharp, actually, in the first minute or two, before I start smelling the more interesting parts and a sheer floral note infiltrates the scene. The overall impression, while light and obviously citrusy, is quite different from the classic 4711 "eau de cologne" type, mostly because there isn't a hint of neroli in sight. O de Lancome is far more tart and even astringent from other fragrances in this category.

Eventually Ô de Lancôme asserts its chypre presence. When I pay attention, the green floral heart is more pleasant and subtle than I've realized in the past, and the descent into a woody-mossy-somewhat dirty dry-down is very pleasurable. I can't be sure that it's the fragrance itself or it's my old juice that has lost some refinement over the years, but I suspect the former. I remember Ô de Lancôme from the 1970s and there was a reason my mom considered it as Lysol alternative. It is great to wear in the heat, though, and as an oakmoss enthusiast I can deal with the abrasive top notes.

Ô de Lancôme in some formula or another is still available at Lancome counters, Ulta, and Lancome website ($57, 2.5oz). I wasn't impressed with any of the flankers I sniffed in recent years and found the Azure one especially unpleasant. Thankfully, older bottles are still pretty easy to find, usually around the same price (or lower) of a new bottle.

Notes:  mandarin, lemon, bergamot, jasmine, rosemary, basil, honeysuckle, sandalwood, vetiver, and oakmoss.

Images: vintage Ô de Lancôme ads via


  1. Aren't mothers funny? Mine also has very specific ideas about what is perfume and what "isn't". She wore Chanel No 5 but shunned "musks" vociferously - I'm assuming she was referring to the Shocking Schiaparelli variety of skanky perfumes. Recently I tried to convince her that her beloved vintage Chanel was full of (nitro)musks and she just wouldn't hear it!

    I came across a bottle of the O Intense formula a while ago, it's a rich ambery color and the cap is black. It's much less of a cleaning product, much more "perfume". OTOH it's still a very easygoing and light chypre when compared to its contemporaries. Super htf but totally worth it.

  2. how funny... i just wore this yesterday. mine is a newer version, and it's quite nice - still smelled like the O i remember wearing in the '70s. later in the day it even reminded me a bit of eau sauvage (it gets bonus points for that!). they both have that dirty underpinnning that saves them from being boring citrus colognes. yey, chypres! all hail the chypres!

    this is one of those scents that you can throw on and wear without worrying if it's too much, too glam, or too sophisticated. to me, this is a summery-sporty scent. casual, but pretty. i actually expected to be bored by it later in the day, but it kept my interest, and was still with me this morning. good stuff. my bottle is frosted glass with a green band. i think. frosted for sure. i bought a tester.


  3. I tried a spritz in a thrift store the other day, per coincidences. It started out very green and lemony, much more than I like, then turned into a leather. Fun for a moment but not something I need.

  4. If you love green chypres, may I recommend Eau de Patou? It was discontinued some years ago, but if you can somehow get a bottle of the vintage version, it is definitely worth trying - in my opinion, it is the best of the "Eau de ..." perfumes and a glorious, complex green chypre. It starts out citrusy, but the oakmoss and other chypre elements quickly assert itself.

  5. I love green chypres, O' de Lancome is one of my very favorites. I was fortunate enough to find an older bottle recently and I am over the moon about it! It's just as lovely as I remembered :)

  6. This was one of my Mum's old favourites, particularly for our (fleeting) warmer months and holidays abroad. Her bottles always looked like the one pictured in the 1978 ad. Whilst I rather like it, I can absolutely see it being re-purposed as a disinfectant!

  7. I absolutely love the idea of using perfume as a disinfectant - genius!


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