Friday, August 08, 2014

Givenchy- Le De (Vintage Perfume)

Audrey Hepburn was rumored to prefer Le De, the 1957 Givenchy perfume, over L'Interdit that was more famously associated with her. Bette Davis was another fan, which is a little startling if you imagined her wearing something like Bandit or Cabochard. But you know what? It's not that surprisng. Le De is a classic floral, true, but it manages to be incredibly alluring and sophisticated. I enjoy the richness of the blend more than the somewhat prissy aldehydic L'Interdit. It's also telling that when I wear Le De the husband never makes the usual "smells like vintage" comment (his reaction to many aldehyde florals, old and new).

Le De is very smooth and seamless, especially in the vintage extrait that I have. The top notes aren't damaged, but they're dense and thick like a massive bouquet, artfully arranged in a crystal vase placed on a marble table top in a formal room in front of a massive and beautifully framed window. The opulence and wealth are on display, yet everything is meticulously chosen and presented, so it's very tasteful and not too overwhelming. This is Le De.

There's also a naughty side to this Givenchy classic. Yes, some of the floral notes are busy keeping up a soapy and powdery appearance, but you simply cannot ignore the indolic shadow and the whiff of an animalic touch. Le De is bolder, more confident, and a little bit more heady than one would expect from a classic 1950s floral that at first appears so delicate. I guess that's part of the allure of the era's aesthetics. The dresses, the handbags, the fussy hairstyles, yet there's such a bold femininity in the curve-accenting clothes and red lipsticks.

The original Le De is long gone, but Givenchy re-introduced (and apparently also reformulated it a second time) in 2007 and 2011. You can read more about it and see the versions compared on Perfume Shrine.

Image: a 1957 Givenchy gown photographed by Philippe Pottier.


  1. Had no idea that it's rumored that Audrey preferred this to L'Interdit. Fascinating! I adore Le De to distraction and it's one of the scents I've stockpiled. I don't often have serious luck on ebay with my favorite vintage perfumes, but one of the purchases that I made on what had to be a good karma day was when I took a chance and bought a large bottle of an unlabeled vintage Givenchy (such clearly recognizable bottles) and it turned out to be Le De extrait. Happiness! Haven't tried the reformulations. Much of what I love about Le De is how its deep, plush feel is so intensely grounding and comforting. Can't believe the reformulations would be able to replicate that. How would they substitute for notes that are no longer available like the nitro musks (am convinced it has to have nitro musks) or the wanton, lavish use of high quality sandalwood? Just not possible. I might appreciate the reformulation if I was given a sample to sniff with no idea of what it was, but I'd never want to sniff it and involuntarily be making a mental comparison to the original.

  2. I'm more of a chypre or oriental fragrance gal, but I have an older version of Le De and love it. I'm not a floral gal, no one was more surprised then me, trust me.
    What makes this doable is there's a complexity to an older version in the dry down (lots of nice sandalwood) that makes this wearable for me…..

  3. Le De was my all time favorite as a girl. How happy I was to find 3 vintage bottles in a garage sale! Only to be disappointed....They smelled different, due to poor storage perhaps... Did you try the reformulations? Do they do justice to the original?

  4. Le de is more interesting than L'Interdit, which is funny, given the names. So if she did prefer it, that wouldn't surprise me at all. I have a fairly recent version, and I find it a very green, cool and somehow dry-feeling floral. Would like to have known it in its original form.


  5. I first bought a bottle of Le De in Paris in 1975. I thought it was devine and was not able to find another bottle in Australia where I come from since. Just last week I finally found the new version in America, but was sadly disappointed. I find the new version a poor watered down cousin to the previous bottle I had, and the new one is so weak, it disappears on me in around 15 minutes. Very disappointing. Why cant the perfume makers stick to the original recipe? Why do they have to change it?


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