It’s Lanvin Arpege for a cold January day


I have a small bottle of Lanvin Arpege, only 5ml. I have worn this and no other today. It is formal, cold even,  with a hint of talc and nail polish. Yet it makes me think of past glamour, of satin gloves, and a sipped glass with no lipstick marks. It smells like it’s been  archived on my late grandmother’s dressing table and brought to life again on my warm skin.

If I had to categorise it, I would say a rose musk,  an aldehyde with no sense of humour, but both sombre and beautiful at the same time. When you rank this against today’s raft of fussy and frilly fruity florals, it’s like pitching HEAT magazine against Charlotte Bronte. It’s Grace Kelly among the Kardashians.

I’d wear this to a funeral. But I’d also wear it to bed.

2 thoughts on “It’s Lanvin Arpege for a cold January day”

  1. Oh – Arpege! That was my first proper grown-up perfume, and I had a bottle for my 18th birthday in 1976. You can’t imagine how damn sophisticated I felt wearing it, especially accompanied by jewel-coloured Turkish Sobranie cigarettes with gold filter tips!
    Twenty or so years later, I was working for a company exhibiting at the Country Living Show in Islington, and Lanvin had a stand opposite ours, and they were relaunching Arpege. I couldn’t wait to get over there and squirt some on, to re-live the heady days of my late teenage years. Imagine my disappointment when it was perfectly pleasant, but NOT THE SAME.
    I said this to the sales lady, and she patronisingly suggested that ‘as we get older, our sense of smell deteriorates’ and she swore blind that the formula for Arpege was unchanged, and it was my smelling ability that was at fault. I was sure she was wrong, but didn’t feel able to argue.
    It was only more recently, after reading Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s wonderful book on perfume that I realised I had almost certainly been correct in my assessment. There was NOTHING wrong with my sense of smell – the formula had been played around with.
    I understand there are many reasons for perfume manufacturers to change their recipes, and if they’re honest about it, I can accept it. What is really annoying is the dishonesty and contempt for their customers that leads them to think they can make changes and then deny it, and think we won’t notice or care.

    1. Everything you say is having me nodding away and agreeing with you. Firstly, Perfumes The Guide is a fabulous read and never far away from me (and very funny in places). Secondly, I agree that companies should be more honest and not just intone that the formula is the same until they hope we believe it. The faithful fans will know at once. Let’s not even speak of what they did to Opium.

      I loved Arpege and then went off it but then started liking peaches again so may go back to it. It’s timeless, even if it’s not quite what it used to be 🙁

Leave a Reply