Lanvin Arpege ~ perfume review

Lanvin Arpege fragrance

In 1927, Jeanne Lanvin asked André Fraysse to create a perfume for her daughter’s 30th birthday. Fraysse was only 27 years old, but with Paul Vacher’s help he created what is often recognized as the second great aldehydic floral fragrance, and one of the five most esteemed in the world: Arpège.

Hubert Fraysse reformulated Arpège in 1993. I haven’t smelled the original Arpège, but the consensus seems to be that the reformulation is a respectful play on the original. Combining Osmoz and Basenotes’s information for the newest version of Arpège yields topnotes of aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, and peach; a heart of jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, ylang ylang, coriander, and tuberose; and a base of sandalwood, vanilla, tuberose, vetiver, patchouli, and styrax.

Where Chanel No. 5 is languid, Arpège is full-bodied. If No. 5 is a vase of summer flowers, then Arpège is that same vase three days later, flowers ripe and spicy, with a dirtier base. Neroli slices into the Arpège’s lush heart, where the lily of the valley takes over its role, giving balance to the more velvety body of the scent. I can imagine the woman who wears Arpège in cooler months turning to Guerlain Chamade during the spring and summer. As different as these fragrances are, both are full-bodied floral perfumes with a similar amount of personality, sillage, and craftsmanship.

In some ways, Arpège feels like the least aldehydic of the floral aldehydes I’m reviewing this week and more like a floral leaning toward floral-oriental. When I first tried Arpège I thought it was a little fusty and formal (although Colette called the original “thoroughly modern”). Now, after wearing it for five days I’m hooked. It feels deep and elegant and wants to drag me out on rainy nights to see sopranos singing Schumann, followed by champagne and candlelight and polished mahogany tables. I’m definitely investing in a bottle of this one.

One last note: Does anyone know who Hubert Fraysse is? Is he related to André? I’d love to know other fragrances he’s created but I can’t find anything about him.

Lanvin Arpège can be found at many department stores and online discounters. Scentiments, for instance, lists a 50 ml bottle of Eau de Parfum for $28.99.

Note: image via Parfum de Pub.


Shop for perfume

FragranceNetParfums Raffy

55 Comments

Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh how I love Arpege! I'm so glad to see this one reviewed (and love your decision to review several aldehydic fragrances, by the way! I'm an aldehyde enthusiast if ever there was one!) I ordered a bottle of Arpege when I was just a teenager, unsniffed, from a catalog of French perfumes that I had. I lived in a small town and the selection of fragrances available was slim, to say the least. This was the beginning of my really getting serious about fragrance, and I was determined to experience as many of the great classics as I could. I took real delight in being the only seventeen year-old wearing things like L'Heure Bleue and Opium, while other girls my age were wearing Exclamation and Vanilla Fields…yes, I thought I was soooooo sophisticated, ha ha! Now, if I recall, this was 1992…so I must have had the original formulation! That bottle lasted me a couple years, and I haven't bought another since, but I have smelled the new version, and if memory serves, I don't notice a huge difference between the current scent, and the way I remember the original smelling. (General consensus seems to be that this is one of the few reformulated classics that does justice to the original, from what I've read) Also, the Arpege bottle has got to be one of the loveliest of all time. Thanks for the great review and the wonderful memories!

    • sheltisebastian says:

      Arpege is a nice fragrance. But Chanel No.5 is much better!

      Arpege is a very oriental rose, jasmine fragrance. Also a very potent scent so I would say two sprays on the neck otherwise it would be overpowering.

      I agree with you ladies this a great scent, but unfortuneatley I am a Chanel fan all the way.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was surprised at how much I liked Arpege! I'd smelled it a handful of times but it didn't really resonate with me at first. For these aldehyde articles, though, I wore it every day. As time went on I started to recognize and appreciate the balance of the scent and the beauty in its craftsmanship, and eventually, as my sample ran dry, I knew I had to have a bottle of it.

    I adore the bottle, too. It just makes me want to pick it up and hold it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe the Fraysses are related, Hubert, Georges and André are sons of Claude Fraysse (some info here : http://ray32.oldiblog.com/?page=articles&rub=112397)
    Hubert created Zibeline and Antilope for Weil.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! So that means that Hubert reformulated his brother, Andre's, original version of Arpege. Interesting.

    I haven't tried Antilope, but I like Zibeline a lot.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful review, Angela. And isn't that bottle just to die for!! I've smelled it probably some 20 years ago and don't quite recall the fragrance. I also remember not liking the person that wore it too much, so that might also skew my memory.

    I'm glad you made a reference to Chamade because that helps me to kind of get a feel for the fragrance, as I know and love Chamade.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I've had the same thing happen, where a scent I'd otherwise like is worn by someone who grates on me, and then the scent loses its magic.

    Arpege is definitely worth trying again, and even living with for a few days, I think. It doesn't smell anything like Chamade, really, but to me it has the same feel as Chamade, except where Chamade is mauve and fresh, Arpege is amber-colored and warm. (This gives me a craving for Chamade! I'd better go find my bottle.)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi Angela,
    I thought that Elisabeth Carre (who used to be L'Oréal's nose) was responsible for the recreation of the Eau de Parfum back in 1993. I used to work for L'Oréal + it is Elisabeth who is credited in Michael Edwards' book “French perfume legends”.
    Thanks for your review anyway. Makes me want to smell this classic again.
    Best,
    Etienne

  8. Anonymous says:

    Etienne, thank you so much for the correction! I found the name Hubert Fraysse from two sources–one not so reliable and one more reliable, but neither as reliable as Michael Edwards. Well, Ms. Carre did a wonderful job, and I'm going to look her up now and see what else she's created.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is one of those great classics that I just can't wear, which annoys me because I love the bottle, which I suppose is a bit fickle. I have smelt it over and over, trying to love it, but I just can't. Do you know, I read that the logo on the bottle is a picture of Jeanne Lanvin playing with her daughter and since then I think it is quite sad, like a glimpse into a happy time in someomes life from the past. I know how overly dramatic that sounds!! But honestly, it makes me feel a bit sad. I would like someome to say ” NOOO! It's a really big puppy she's playing with! Ah, they're having a great laugh”!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh, it sounds like Arpege is sad all around for you! Scent, bottle, associations. I wonder if Marie-Blanche (Lanvin's daughter) had children of her own when Lanvin decided on this design for the bottle? Marie-Blanche was 30, so it's possible. Then Lanvin would have been thinking of her daughter at the same time that she had grandchildren the same age…..well, I'm just making up stories here.

    I'd have loved it if it were a puppy, though.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I wore this in the '70s and rediscovered it this year – and what a bargain it is. I also agree the current version is very similar to what I remember wearing. I have put it away for the summer months but will bring it out again in the fall – it is golden and warm under the opening aldehydes.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Definitely golden and warm. You'll be smelling great this fall!

    I'm glad Arpege hasn't changed much, too. It's always heartbreaking to hear about scents that were classics but have been reformulated beyond recognition, or discontinued altogether.

  13. Anonymous says:

    hi, great to see so many perfume experts here. I am also a big fan of lanvin arpege, but I have only tried the vial sampler from the perfume shop, but now thinking to get a big bottle.

    does anybody know whether the arpege sampler samples the original arpege or the latest reorchestraed one? I tried to ask the shop assistant but they didnt have a clue. I loved the scent from the sampler and didnt want to go wrong with my choice.

    greatly appreciated for any help or comment!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I bet your sample was the new Arpege and you'll be safe buying a whole bottle. It's hard to find the old Arpege anywhere, anymore. Enjoy the bottle!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Angela. So I should get the glass bottle instead of the black one? we have both here in Sydney. =(

  16. Anonymous says:

    Both bottles should have the same contents–just make sure to check that they're both EdP. Personally, I love the classic black bottle.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The bottle in beautifull!!! I don´t like the fragance very much.

    Vivi,

    de Perfumes

    foro de Perfumes

  18. Anonymous says:

    I don't know which is worse–loving the bottle but loathing the perfume, or vice versa. In this case I'm lucky to like both!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Arpege is fabulous but time is one of the most important essences of this perfume. Three hours after an application I had to say good buy to Chanel 5. Arpege is pleasantly refreshing and gold would not be the color I would describe it with. To me Arpege is a graceful smell of spring Earth. Arpege does not have the cheep quality to be in a competition with the world around. It is graceful, generous and very profound. Unfortunately I never got the chance to smell its´ original version.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful description! I agree with you that Arpege isn't a perfume that gives everything it has in the first five minutes. I grew to love it after knowing it a while.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your comment Angela. And yes I agree the black bottle is just … beautiful.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This is the fragrance by which all others are judged. It is unequivocally feminine and can only be worn by women who are truly womanly. Jacquline Bisset called it 'my womanly scent”. Princess Diana wore it as well as Grace Kelly.

    As a young man I remember the first girl who wore Arpege. She was 15 wearing a black dress and a strand of pearls. Her sophistication was unique to me. I found her(and the way she smelled) intensely sexy and yet subdued. I was hooked on her and her perfume forever after. I had to marry her and ,eventually, I did. She still wears Arpege on “special occasions” usually requiring lingerie (black in particular).

    Arpege is dressy and not for casual or daytime use. It is “serious” perfume. Most men will really notice this scent as it appeals to something basic in our beings. And that, as Martha would say is “a good thing”.

    P.S. Martha wears it too.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Holy smokes! I must apply some Arpege immediately!

    Congratulations on finding your wife so early and for having the taste and judgment to recognize her when you found (smelled) her.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure you'll be impressed as will your male friends-but don't take this scent lightly as it may attract more than you expected.

    Thanks for the compliment on my taste and judgement but ,I think,at the time it was more instinct than judgement. I was only sixteen.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I recently bought Arpege. Opening is fabulous, deep, dark, velvety flowers , I adore this part. With time it gets a liitle bit soapy on me. After an hour it developes sour smell, like some sour leather, really unpleasant odor. I had to scrub it off. Maybe it's just my chemistry, although a couple of my friends had more or less similar experience with it. I don't know what styrax is nor how it smells, but I can't see any other note which could cause this reaction.

    BTW I don't get along well with leather-chypre fragrances, but Arpege is not in that group.

    Do you know how stirax smells like?

  26. Anonymous says:

    I'm not an expert, but I think styrax is a tree flower and smells honey-like and, well, floral. I'm not sure that it would be all that sour. It sounds like there's something in the base of Arpege that doesn't agree with you. I'll ponder it–and go put on some Arpege–and get back to you if I can figure it out.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I have a tiny bottle of the original Arpege which I have kept since around 1968. There's just a little remaining and it has probably survived because the glass stopper is stuck. This used to be my favourite perfume and I hope to receive a bottle of the “new” Arpege next week. I'd very much like to compare the old and new fragrences. Any tips on how to get the bottle open without shattering the glass? Thanks.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I went brave, ran hot water on the bottle, and was able to get the stopper out. Now enjoying the the last drop of my original perfume – hope the new Arpege measures up!

  29. Anonymous says:

    That was exactly what I was going to suggest! Either hot water or a warm blow dryer. Then, if heat didn't work, five minutes in the freezer.

    A wonderful NST reader sent me some vintage Arpege not long ago, and I was surprised at how gentle and quiet it is compared to the new Arpege. Both are lovely.

  30. I I hardly could find it somewhere, but now I had the opportunity to sniff at it and though I nearly fainted until now at the smell at aldehydes, I really liked something about it. No.5 is okay, this one is gorgious. It’s deep and mystic.

    • Angela says:

      Arpege definitely has a different, more full-bodied feel than No. 5. I’m glad you were able to have the chance to smell it.

  31. mals86 says:

    Just today trying the vintage extrait I recently bought. (It’s a tiny 5ml rectangular bottle that came in its own little black box, just darling! from an estate sale.) The word that immediately comes to mind is Rich – as in a dessert you don’t want to eat too much of, or you’ll regret it. It is definitely more voluptuous than No. 5, so much so that my first half hour was a tiny bit seasick. Even though I typically dab very sparingly, I may have put too much on.

    Just last week, I fell in love with No. 5 extrait, after dismissing it for years as being “too powdery” and “smells like my mother.” I may be too close to that experience to judge Arpege properly, and it may be too warm right now for Arpege anyway (it’s June). I think I’ll put it away for fall and then give it a proper spin. A classic beauty that has survived this long has probably got an aspect I just don’t “get” yet, and I think it deserves a serious trial under the right circumstances.

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like you were lucky and got a nicely pungent bottle! Mine is all tuckered out. It’s definitely worth trying sometime when your mind isn’t all full of No. 5 love.

  32. brilyln says:

    I happen to be old enough to remember the original Arpege. It was my signature fragrance for many years. I was heartbroken when it disappeared from the market somewhere around 1990. I was of course delighted when it reappeared a few years later, only to be disappointed by the new version. It is nothing like the old one. It doesn’t last and has the same chemical smell that most commercial perfumes have these days. It is like the cosmetics department in Macy’s exploded. Another casualty of commercialism over art.

    • Angela says:

      It must have been heartbreaking to lose your signature scent! I hope you’ve found some others that you like in the meantime. I like the new Arpege a lot, but I agree that it’s a different scent than the original Arpege. To me it seems that they share about half of their DNA.

  33. Lisa says:

    I don’t understand why they had to reformulate the fragrance. Arpege was my signature scent for years, and I too was very disappointed when it was no longer available. If they were bringing it back, why didn’t they bring it back in it’s original formulation?

    • Angela says:

      Lots of people were disappointed, that’s for sure. (Although some people like the new Arpege, too!) Arpege was so much more delicate in its original formulation.

  34. Dagmar says:

    I have a sample of the original and, to my nose, it is similar to L’Heure Bleu. Yes, it is very different from the new formulation and drier. However, I have recently become hooked on the new Arpege. I love it as a “new mommy” fragrance as it is powdery and milky and just softly sweet (and besides that the image of mother and daughter on the bottle gets to me with my two daughters). It is very comforting and elegant at the same time. wear just a touch in the crook of each arm — I’m old-fashioned. I BELIEVE in mommies wearing scent around their babies. Besides, so many of the baby products are scented anyway. My older girl loved Habanita…

    • Angela says:

      I really think they hit it out of the park with Arpege’s packaging. I adore both the bottle and the Iribe image of the mother and daughter. And I’m with you 100%–babies need good things to smell!

  35. sonichke says:

    I just discovered Arpege and I love it.
    It reminds me of 31 Rue Cambon. (I’m new to perfume world and I feel the need to compare everything to orient myself).

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you found one you love! Don’t apologize about comparing scents–I do it all the time. It’s so much easier to try things side by side and explore them that way.

  36. sonichke says:

    Let’s out it this way: I found ANOTHER one I love :) It started worrying me a second I caught myself wandering around the apartment thinking what else I can sell on E-bay to buy another sampler, another decant…(sigh)

    • Angela says:

      At least Arpege can be had for a good price at an online discounter. I bought a big bottle, a tester, and I don’t think I paid much over $30 for it, if that.

  37. sonichke says:

    You are right. They have in on Amazon 1oz for $24. But I already waiting for 8-9 samplers coming from Perfumed Court. May be there I find my HG :)))

  38. carlaann says:

    Arpege is a wonderful scent but unfortunately in my area it isn’t available in stores anymore. I first smelled it in 1982 while in France on a mission trip. A woman stood outside her shop and gave me a small sample. I soon returned to buy a bottle. I still have it and you know, it still wafts out a good smell! I wonder what would happen if I applied it? I have been trying to talk myself into wearing perfume. I used to have a “scent” when I was younger. Usually either Opium or Arpege. Then life got busy and I forgot scent. Perhaps it is time to rediscover it.

    • Angela says:

      Yes, it’s definitely worth rediscovering scent–at least, I think so! It’s a wonderful way to broaden your senses.

  39. Owen says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever smelled this but I love Eclat D’Arpege (the lilac bottle) I would definitley have a bottle but the only place I’ve seen it is at Manchester Airport :/

    • Angela says:

      I’ve never smelled Eclat d’Arpege, but I’ll be looking for it now, thanks to your comment.

  40. Valkyrie says:

    The vintage version of this was discussed on the early october open thread today, as sandalwood perfection. I’ve been eyeing some vintage eau arpege on ebay as the parfum is too pricy right now for me. This in vintage and modern seems like a classic that might be right for me. Less aldehydes, dirty base, and full bodied all sound good. I nearly hang my head in shame, because classics do often seem too mature for me. Perhaps I can be forgiven because I am 25. But I like to feel elegant and put together sometimes. I do like Chamade and Joy, but they both seem like springtime frags to me.

    What other classics might you suggest dear lovely Angela, for an aldehyde weary young brunette who loves orientals, incense, androgynous scents and meaty/ skanky white flowers. Thanks in advance doll.

    • Angela says:

      Hmm. Of the classics, Caron Narcisse Noir and Lanvin My Sin might suit you, but they are undeniably retro smelling. Vero Profume Rubj is delightfully skanky, yet somehow feminine. Do you like oud? There’s a Montale–Cuir Arabie, I think it’s called–that might meet many of your criteria. This would be a good question for an open thread!

  41. pauliestarr86 says:

    I’ve always been a fan of this website and love this arpege review it’s spot on to what it actually smells like. I can’t wait until valentines day I told my boyfriend that’s what I want for my gift lol

    • Angela says:

      I hope Valentine’s day finds you with a bottle!

  42. pauliestarr86 says:

    I did end up with a bottle for v-day as well as a few different Guerlain fragrances that brought back memories of my mom from back in the day lol Arpege smells very spicy, fruity and slightly floral. I’ve noticed a little goes along way otherwise it turns sickly sweet a few hours after application if you spray more than two sprays. I love it none the less, and growing to deeply appreciate the classics. All my co workers we’re telling me i smelled so sophisticated, and one of my co-workers told me my scent brought back memories for her because her husband’s mother wore arpege.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it! It’s always fun to discover a new “you” through a perfume.

Leave a reply