Givenchy L’Interdit vintage, 2002 and 2007 versions ~ perfume review

Givenchy L'Interdit, Les Mythiques collectionAudrey Hepburn for Givenchy L'Interdit

The story goes that in 1957 the clothing designer Hubert de Givenchy commissioned perfumer Francis Fabron to create a fragrance especially for his favorite client, Audrey Hepburn. Fabron had already earned his perfumer's chops as the nose behind Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps and the original Robert Piguet Baghari. Reportedly, Hepburn was so taken with the scent that when Givenchy mentioned marketing it she said, "But I forbid you!" So the fragrance earned its name — L'Interdit means "forbidden" in French.

Vintage Givenchy L'Interdit is a warm, feminine aldehydic floral with a hint of peach and strawberry, and a buttery sandalwood drydown spiked with incense. Like many aldehydic florals, it smells first and foremost like perfume. As the aldehydes fade, L'Interdit settles into a chiffon veil of scent that is subtle and beautifully blended. Its floral heart is creamy with ylang ylang, iris, and rose, but a pinch of spice keeps it from being flabby. As the scent fades it sweetens slightly and its softness feels like powder more than smells like it.

L'Interdit's original notes reportedly included galbanum, pepper, clove, strawberry, aldehydes, rose, jasmine, jonquil, violet, sandalwood, amber, musk, benzoin, iris, patchouli, vetiver, frankincense and tonka bean. L'Interdit would have complemented Audrey Hepburn well. It is elegant, youthful for an aldehydic floral, and wouldn't steal the limelight from the woman who wore it.

By 2002, the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy executives who owned Givenchy (Hubert had stepped down from the house in 1995) decided that L'Interdit needed freshening up. So they hired perfumers Jean Guichard and Olivier Gillotin to retool L'Interdit as a — you guessed it — fruity floral. Many of the original notes remained, but to me it all added up to the smell of strawberry-scented shampoo.

I know that old-fashioned aldehydic florals might have scared the profit-seeking LVMH, but linking the name of a hallowed fragrance with a genre of perfume that has been done a thousand times over didn't prove to be a smart move. Women who wore the original L'Interdit were incensed when they bought the new L'Interdit and found it profoundly altered. The younger audience LVMH sought didn't exactly line up for L'Interdit, and why should they? Fruity florals better than the new L'Interdit were stacked cheek-by-jowl at the department store.

I can't help but think of Chanel's canny reworking of Chanel No. 5 for a younger market when they created Eau Première. First, Chanel didn't discontinue No. 5, and its fans could always find it. Next, Eau Première didn't pander to market trends but maintained the elegant feel of No. 5 while rounding out its aldehydes and boosting its wet roses to make it a little more accessible, but still lovely and still clearly related to No. 5. As a result, Eau Première is a classic and will undoubtedly earn Chanel bucketloads more money than the reformulated L'Interdit ever earned for Givenchy.

In 2007, fifty years after L'Interdit was first released and the year of Hubert de Givenchy's 80th birthday, Givenchy began releasing reissues of ten of its fragrances, including L'Interdit, in their original formulas. The series is called Les Mythiques. I'm very happy to report that the Les Mythiques version of L'Interdit (shown above left) isn't exactly like the vintage version (additions include pink pepper), but it's a darned nice copy. The Les Mythiques L'Interdit's initial aldehydes are more rounded and golden than the vintage's Tokay-like opening, but otherwise they share the same ingénue grace.

Would you like Les Mythiques version of L'Interdit? If you are intrigued by No. 5 but find it a little cold, L'Interdit's amber and fruit might be appealing to you. If you like Chanel Bois des Iles' creamy drydown, I think you might like L'Interdit, too. If, on the other hand, you never quite saw eye-to-eye with the classic Chanels and scents like Balenciaga Le Dix, Hermès Calèche, and Guerlain Liu smell old fashioned and too perfumey for you, you might want to give L'Interdit a pass.

As for me, if I didn't have my eye on a bottle of Guerlain Vega, another warm aldehydic floral better suited to me, I'd have a bottle of Givenchy L'Interdit on order right now.

The reformulated (2002) Givenchy L'Interdit is still available online and at perfume stores, but Givenchy's website no longer lists it. The Les Mythiques L'Interdit is only available as a 100-ml bottle of Eau de Toilette. It retails for $85 but can be found at internet discount retailers for less.

Note: image at top right is via Images de Parfums.


Shop for perfume

FragranceNetParfums Raffy

51 Comments

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

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was really surprised how much I liked the 2007 L'Interdit. It was one of the frags I'd sampled last year as I was trying to develop my taste and understanding of aldehyde fragrances. By the time I got to the bottom of my sample, I wanted to keep smelling it more and more, so voila, a FB was obtained. (It happily sits in my drawer next to it's buddy – GIII.)

    L'Interdit is just SO easy to wear – any time, day, evening, any season, and now that I actually really love to wear and admire many aldehyde frags, it still remains one of my favorites. And it really is a nice pleasant floral-amber – it is comforting, yet sophisticated and intimate. It has excellent lasting power, especially if it gets in the clothes, but the sillage is not too strong. I get a lot of compliments when I wear it. It will take me a long while to work my way through the huge 3.4 bottle, so I hope when I reach the near bottom, they will still be making it. I realized a few weeks ago, that I'd been reaching for the L'Interdit much more than some of my other frags that have more oomph – It just kind of sneaks up on you like a favorite dress, shirt, shoes, etc. It just wants to be worn all the time!

    I also like Chanel no 5 Eau Premier very much. They could be sisters, even though the Eau Premier is much sunnier and vibrant. The softened use of aldehydes in both makes them so much easier to wear than the harsher use of aldehydes in other classic frags. I think they are both excellent modern aldehydes – very sophisticated, very pretty, very smooth, very classy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Angela! Lovely review as usual. Just want to point out a few things:

    1. The Hepburn comment has always been puzzling me–it seemed to be so out of character. So years later I was happy to read the Givenchy interview: it was the reporter who got the story backward–Givenchy used the name “L'Interdit” to intrigue Hepburn…

    http://www.mimifroufrou.com/scentedsalamander/2007/09/interview_of_hubert_de_givench.html

    2. The 2002 version was done in collaboration with Audrey's family (yes, including Audrey's eldest Sean) as a way to “modernize” the scent (Sean's words, not mine–he wrote a lovely tribute to his mother and he mentioned that titbit of into). So the intention behind the fruity floral wasn't bad–but obviously the “gate keepers” would pull out submissions based on the original and pass out the trendy juices. So I don't think the “Eau Premiere” revision was even possible.

    3. Speaking of Eau Premiere…the smartest thing Chanel did was to incorporate that flanker into the regular Chanel No. 5 line, thus allowing the brand to maneuver in amazing ways.

    4. Tried the newest version of L'Interdit–still ambivalent about it. The newest version doesn't grab me outright. Perhaps more testing is required.

    A

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Angela,

    I did enjoy this in the 2007 version when I trid it, but I remember thinking it “fell apart” rather quickly on my skin. I'll give it another try. Did you have the chance to try the vintage and new version of Givenchy III as well? I'm very curious.

    Plus, I usually don't care too much about bottles, but I find the Mithyques bottles ugly and really cheap-looking.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Albert, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I guess I had thought of Hepburn's reponse as sort of a joking remark, so I didn't question it, but it's so nice to know the real story behind it. Thanks for the link.

    And thanks, too, for the info on the 2002 version of L'Interdit. I understand that the 2002 version was popular when it first came out, at least at Lord and Taylor department store (this is from a WWD article) so my taste may not be the most reliable.

    I found the newest version really similar to the vintage, except for the opening, although I know it's not the same. Did you like the original L'Interdit? I'd love to know what you think of the newest compared to the oldest.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I didn't have the chance to try the old and new III together, but I did try a spray of the new III. I like it a lot, but I have enough green chypres in my collection to float the Titanic, so I thought I'd better back off for now.

    I know what you mean about the Les Mythiques bottles. I like their shape (they wouldn't take up too much room), but I noticed that the labels seemed thin, and the label on the L'Interdit bottle my sample came from was peeling off at the edge.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Oh – me too! I don't normally like to be a nit-picker, and I'm a juice lover so a beautiful bottle is “extra” for me…but the bottles…they are not awful but the label on my L'Interdit is not so firmly attached. It's not going to fall off, but it would be very easy for me to peel it off. It did surprise me – like they ran a bunch of labels off on the home computer, lol. I think the bottles are OK – pretty, maybe a little boring, but not awful — it's really the labels that seem cheap. It would be nice if they had a 50 ml size. But I do like that they don't take up much room b/c they are tall. (I recently picked up a bottle of the beautiful Ferre (2005), and had to completely re-arrange my frag drawer just to fit in the momunental glass brick of a bottle!)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if they're using some sort of new paper for the labels and don't have the right glue for it or something? I suppose it's easy enough for them to fix for the next load of bottles.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I really found this to be a fascinating read. Thank you for providing all that history [and current info too].

  9. Anonymous says:

    Angela,

    You are the thoughtful one here, for I'm merely babbling about what I've gathered…and yes, I do think the 2002 version did reasonably well when it first came out. (I remembered liking that version.)

    I have a slightly outré story about the original L'Interdit–I almost purchased it but decided not to. About a year ago I was offered a late 50s vintage copy from a very credible French dealer (who, blesses his heart, actually found me a 2mL Guerlain Mitsouko parfum in mint condition at an extremely reasonable price). For a few days I thought about owning a piece of history–but then I gave it a pass, mostly because I knew I would become a very cynical person if the fragrance, alas, captured my imagination (most likely it would). Had I own the original, knowing that I might never buy it again, would drive me insane with the thoughts that the world isn't what it used to be. (I'm not kidding–I have enough olfactory disappointments for one life time in this regard. I'm mentally sound otherwise.)

    I haven't ruled out the possiblity of smelling the original at the Osmothèque, but there are things I won't buy–and the vintage L'Interdit is one of them. (The others being the original L'Air du Temps, Balmain Vent Vert.) And I probably won't be more eloquent than Victoria F. about the vintage L'Interdit so I'll have to link her review:

    http://boisdejasmin.typepad.com/_/2005/07/linterdit_by_gi.html

    Thanks again.

    A

  10. Anonymous says:

    The original L'Interdit was my signature scent when I was a very young woman. I wore it for many years and then it disappeared from perfume counters. I remember special ordering from different places but then I could not longer find it. When it was re-released in 2002, I was thrilled and purchased a bottle immediately. I had tested at the perfume counter and didn't think it smelled the same, but thought that perhaps I had just forgotten how the original smelled or that my “nose” had been convoluted though years of experiencing numerous other fragrances. Then I found out that it had been reformulated and couldn't understand how they change the original scent, which in my opinion was wonderful. However, I did wear the reformulated version for quite a while and when I went to purchase another bottle, found that it too had been discontinued. I am anxious to check out this latest version against the other two. (I still have a small amount of the original and 2002 version.) Now I know why I love Bois des Iles so much–it reminds me of my first perfume love, the original L'Interdit!

  11. Anonymous says:

    It's true–it's so easy to be heartbroken by a gorgeous vintage fragrance.

    I adore the reviews on Bois de Jasmin, and of course the review of L'Interdit is wonderful as always.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I hope you like the Les Mythiques version. I'd love to know what you think of it compared to the original. At least it's reasonably priced compared to so much on the market these days.

    And Bois des Iles is supremely elegant.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I adore Audrey Hepburn, but I might give this scent a pass… Though I might be very much her “style”, I am a happier one and still too “young” or too less connaisseur for aldehydes.
    Thank you for the review, and for the warning also. I have to learn that not every piece of perfume art is a piece for oneself!

  15. Anonymous says:

    That's such a valuable lesson to learn (and such a money saver!)–that although something might be a masterpiece, it doesn't mean that it will necessarily suit you.

  16. Anonymous says:

    lovely review Angela! I have been wanting to try this one for quite a while! you have renewed my interest- do you think L'interdit is the perfume Holly Golightly sprays with abandon from out of her mailbox? I do not recognize the bottle….

  17. Anonymous says:

    It's time for me to rent Breakfast at Tiffany's again! I might have to watch it at a friend's with a big screen so we can advance it frame by frame and examine the bottle. I'll have to get back to you on that.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Some on-line sources said it was “Le De”, the fragrance that got released by Givenchy the same year he brought out L'Interdit, that got used during the filming instead. I tried freezing that particular frame of “Breakfast at Tiffany's” for so many years but so far I can't confirm that info…hope someone has better luck than me, though.

  19. Anonymous says:

    It seems so wrong that it would be Le De and not L'Interdit! Oh well. At least it sounds like it was Givenchy.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to point out that all of the Givenchy Classics are still available at Nordstrom's.

    I adore the new version of Givenchy III, it's the scent of a spring breeze bottled.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Givenchy III has some real punch to it, too. I love a green chypre.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Oh but the Le De is a very pretty floral as well – so summery, almost tropical! It is a very beautiful use of white flowers and ylang-ylang – very well done. I am always struggling with getting this one too. Pretty soon my drawer will be full of most of the Les Mythiques, b/c I'm also interested in the re-release of Organza Indecence which I may pick up this fall…

  23. Anonymous says:

    Last night I retested my vintage version against the 2002 version–there was no resemblence–two entirely different scents. I'll let you what I think after I try the Les Mythiques version. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all–Irish and non-Irish!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Le De *is* pretty–maybe more pretty, less womanly, than L'Interdit, and perfect for spring.

  25. Anonymous says:

    They smell distinctly different to me, too.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, too! To celebrate, I watched The Quiet Man over the weekend and am wearing a snappy pair of 1950s green pumps to work today.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Blue-Ray anyone??

  27. Anonymous says:

    I just ordered the 2007 version and will test that against the vintage and 2002. I'll keep you posted. BTW, your green pumps sound cool!

  28. Anonymous says:

    But doesn't reissuing as an EDT automatically diffuse the “perfume-y” quality? How long does it last? My problem with EDT's is you spray liberally because you know it won't last, which gives you too much scent to begin with, so finding the middle ground is impossible except maybe midway through the dry down. They are so darn hard to handle if you just want a hint of something. I do like EDT's when they are just refreshing and not very complex, or they're very transparent.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Sarah – I think the L'Interdit has pretty good lasting quality for the type of fragrance it is, even though it's an edt – at least 5 -6 hours. The Givenchy III doesn't last so long for me, but while it's there, it is really worth it! I've had some edts that have outlasted edps, etc. It really just depends on the formula, weather, rubbing on clothes, etc. And for the frags I love that have poor lasting quality, I just carry a little pouch of 5 ml decant atomizer for refreshing.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Maybe that's the secret–that and a jumbo screen.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I'd love to know what you think. And, yes, the pumps are pretty great! They're suede and patent leather stilettos. Very Joan of Mad Men.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Sarah, when I wrote “perfumey”–which I know isn't very clear!–I was referring to the aldehydes that smell so like a classic perfume to me. I've had varying luck with different EdTs. Some are as potent as all get out, and others fade right away. I thought L'Interdit was pretty average in its lasting power and moderate-to-quiet in sillage.

  33. Anonymous says:

    The “booster” atomizer is a great idea!

  34. Anonymous says:

    Angela,

    I just got to try the Les Mythiques version of L'Interdit. I would say that the 2007 version is closer to the vintage than is the 2002 (which is an entirely different scent). In my opinion, all three are of the same genre–but that's as far as it goes. I like all three but still think that the vintage was the very best of the bunch.

  35. Anonymous says:

    An an anecdote, after wearing the L'Interdit 2007 version for several hours, it smelled a lot like the vintage–not exactly but pretty close.

  36. Anonymous says:

    The vintage seems to have a little of that vintage mustiness up front that I like, but I thought the newest version was pretty good, too.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for reporting back! It's always nice to see what other people get when they try samples side by side, too.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I'm wearing the 2007 version again today and I've decided I really do like it…as much or maybe even a little more than the vintage. (Of course the vintage bottle I have is so old, I'm sure it smells a little different than when it was new.)

  39. Anonymous says:

    I like the new version a lot, but I always love the vintage, probably more on principle than on real smell difference. Plus, usually the old bottles and labels are cool.

  40. asuperlongusername says:

    Since it’s very rare for me to find something worth sniffing just on a leisurely stroll through the department stores, I had to sample this. (Thank God it was Nordstroms!)

    I’m hooked. The aldehydes glow right off the bat, less soda-like than No. 5 Eau Premiere. And the velvety iris-spice dry-down is amazing; it smells almost like an Indian dessert. Certainly an easy scent to love.

    Now, I would get a bottle but I just got No. 5 Eau Premiere. What’s more, I prefer L’Interdit. I wonder if I can sell the EP….

    • Angela says:

      I can’t tell you how many times something like this has happened to me, too! It seems, though, that there is plenty of room in a gal’s perfume wardrobe for both Eau Premiere and L’Interdit…

  41. Robin R. says:

    Thanks to you, Angela, I’d had my eyes out for the vintage parfum version of l’Interdit, and just stumbled across a 1/4 ounce bottle at my local Sally Ann for. . .$6.99 Canadian!!!! Wheeeeee!!

    It smells exactly as you’ve so deftly described it. It’s perfume-y in the very best sense of the term. Once again, reading about the joys of vintage through your features on NST has resulted in many, many lovely experiences. Thank you.

    • Angela says:

      What a fabulous deal! Congratulations! I’m so glad you like it.

  42. aussiechris says:

    Angela, Please help! Love the original L’interdit and have missed it for 10 years. Have seen L’Interdit for sale in the same packaging as the original for a premium price. Do you know if any of the ‘new’ versions were released in this packaging. I don;t mind paying if I know it is the original. They are calling it Classic L’Interdit. I can not find the original packaging showing up in any other sites/blogs that talk about the re released version. Please could you help?

    • Angela says:

      I’m not an expert on Givenchy by any means, but I just checked the Givenchy website, and for L’Interdit I only see the Les Mythiques version, which is very close to the original L’Interdit, and it’s only in the tall, slender Les Mythiques bottle that’s pictured at the top of this post.

      Hopefully, the L’Interdit you see listed isn’t a fake. In any case, I’ve seen the Les Mythiques version at discounters for a good price.

  43. Barbara says:

    I was given my first bottle of the original L’Interdit in 1968 by the man I loved, and was DEVASTATED when it was discontinued. After that, I wore Eau d’Givenchy…. also disontinued some years ago… woe is me! With the new 2007 edition of both, I hope to acquire my favorite fragrances in the near future. Please let me know where/how I can do so. I travel abroad frequently, but have not seen the Mythique series available at airports in the Americas or Europe. Help!!!

    • Angela says:

      How heartbreaking to love a scent then lose it! I’ve seen Les Mythiques at internet discounters in the past year, and I’m pretty sure my local perfume shop (the Perfume House in Portland, Oregon) has it. It should still be out there, so don’t give up on it yet!

  44. Paul says:

    Ok ladies…I’ll bet you do not hear from a man very often. I want to thank you all (and of course Angela) for all your comments on L” Interdit. You collectively helped me to solve a problem I have struggled with since I first met my wife many years ago. Finding the right perfume for her. We are huge fans of Audry H. and I read about the Gevenchy story in a biography. I thought , well maybe Audrey can help solve my problem. But I couldn’t have sorted out all the confusion regarding L’ Interdit and all the re-issues without you. I’m sure I would have bought the wrong one. I don’t know an Aldehyde from a door post. But I can tell you the 2007 Mythique L’ Interdit is the one for my wife. I have bought them all for her from Chanel to whatever and none were quite right for her …to her or to myself. It is elegant, sophisticated, and full of class…. As if she is not “wearing” the perfume …the scent instead becomes part of her. Its not overpowering. She loves it….and so do I. If the vintage is better than this it must be some perfume. The Mythique version was not that easy to find. But to the lady looking for it, you can find it at Strawberry.com. ($79.00) Shipped from Sweden, it takes 2 weeks. But the website does a nice job tracking the order.
    Again thank you ladies and thanks Angela for the thoughtful review.

    • Angela says:

      I’m so glad you found it and that it’s a stunner on your wife! It’s wonderful to find a perfume that feels just right.

  45. autumnmartino says:

    they ruined it when they “updated it”. The new scent made my stomach turn… it’s a shame when they ruin a beautiful classic… the original scent is my favorite scent of all time. “so in love” by victoria secret is a similar smelling scent to l’interdit.

    • Angela says:

      Thanks for the tip about So In Love! It’s always nice to find a less expensive alternative to something you love, even if it isn’t 100% the same.

Leave a reply