Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lucien Lelong- Indiscret (Vintage Perfume)


Suggestive perfume names are not a new trend. Indiscret by Lucien Lelong was launched around 1936 (though the ad above is a much later version). It was composed by perfumer Jean Carles who gave us notorious skank bombs like Tabu and Shocking (Schiaparelli), but also the impeccably coiffed Miss Dior and Ma Griffe. On this spectrum, Indiscret is actually closer to the ladylike end of the spectrum, pretty much in line with Lucien Lelong's gowns. Though, the lady might as well be a tramp.


Lisa Fonssagrives wearing a Lucien Lelong dress. Photo by Erwin Blumenfeld, French Vogue, May 1939

Indiscret is a heavily spiced floral. The top notes of my vintage bottle are probably not what they used to be, but what's left is dark green and quite crisp. The galbanum is restrained and not as bitter as it can be, but it leads the way nicely to the floral-spice-powder heart, which is quite hefty. I smell clove. Lots and lots of clove, and maybe even nutmeg and allspice. The rose geranium smells like it was just picked from the garden, and it plays well with the dry powdery orris. Indiscret has a noticable presence. It's not trying to hide, though it's well-mannered and not really shocking. As a matter of fact, to my modern nose this feminine Lucien Lelong perfume could have been presented as a spicy masculine in today's market.





Indiscret dries down into a dry wood and musk fragrance that has a surprising longevity for an eau de cologne. It remains noticable on my skin for 4-6 hours, with some remnants on my clothes or pillow.  I have to say that I like it a lot. I like Lucien Lelong's idea of femininity; I enjoy the strength and distinct character behind the well-mannered facade, and the uncompromising statement Indiscret makes as it enters the room. I'm also happy with the absence of aldehydes, which means that this fragrance doesn't give an immediate vintage vibe (well, not until the oakmoss makes itself known).

Notes:  mandarin, neroli, tiger orchid, bergamot, white peach blossom, galbanum and orange flower, jasmine, cypress, basil, clove, violet, ylang-ylang, tuberose, rose geranium, iris, oak moss, vetiver, patchouli, guaiac wood, white musk and amber.

13 comments:

  1. Oh interesting - I recently inherited a tiny vintage sample/miniature of this, and your review has made me curious to go back and check on my impressions, which I think were broadly similar.

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    1. I got my bottle at an estate sale. I have most of the other Lucien Lelong perfumes in various forms but have been searching for this one for a while.

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  2. Thank you for this really wonderful review. I have a small bottle of Indiscret and found that I really like it a lot, though I do love spicy Oriental fragrances anyway. You have really given me a lot of insight to the notes that I was not familiar with. I also have a bottle of Balalaika, I don't know if you've done a review on this, but I would love to hear your thoughts on that one as well.

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    1. I adore Balalaika. Only have a very small amount but I'll review it at some point.

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  3. Interesting. By all accounts, and as you'd expect, Indiscret has been tweaked and re-formulated many times. I only have the 1990s version in which the tuberose is quite noticeable, and I don't get much galbanum or spice, and certainly no clove. It reminds me somewhat of Parfum de Nicolai's Number One, although Number One smells less mossy and therefore more modern to me. Lelong's perfume ads are some of the most beautiful of all. There is a wonderful book about Lelong by Jacqueline Demornex which you can pick up relatively cheaply on eBay. Worth it for all sorts of reasons, including the sumptuous illustrations and generous space allocated to the perfume ads.

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    1. I got the book based on your recommendation, Anne Marie, and it's gorgeous. Thank you so much for telling me about it!

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  4. Another one I need to try..

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    1. Indeed. You and I are long overdue for a playdate.

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  5. *Adore* Lelong's fragrances. Orage (aka Opening Night) and N (aka Taglio) are my faves, but Indiscret follows them very closely. I only have the parfum version of Indiscret (and the bottles I have are definitely from well before the 90s reformulation), so I don't know how it compares to the edt or cologne, but what I have reminds me of what I get when I layer Coty's L'Origan and Oeillet.
    Anna

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    1. Isn't it funny how underrated these fragrances are? Also Coty. Unless one is talking to a fragonerd well-versed in vintage, the look you'll get when mentioning coty is of bewilderment.

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  6. Oh my gosh this sounds wonderful. Adore the ads. Fear I may be falling down the vintage rabbit hole, as much as I swore I wouldn't!

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  7. I am a straight guy and huge fan of two particular brands from that era. Schiaparelli and Lelong even though the only schiaparelli fragrances that have impressed me are Shocking (impressed too much to make up for any other disappointments, and Snuff..but Lelong produced wonderful fragrances one after another and even though Indiscret had been my favorite until today, Parfum N is a strong contender which i just received today. I have unopened Taglio and Tailspin in Extrait versions too but if N became Taglio later, i am excited how wonderful unopened Taglio may be when I open it up down the road. Tailspin kinda disaapointed me a bit because it was too sharp and probably in Replique's league

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