Lanvin My Sin ~ fragrance review

Lanvin My Sin

Sometimes I think we're missing out these days by choosing the easy life. Years ago, women wore heels that demanded skill to walk in and treatment for bunions, but they looked great. The time and expense to alter a dress and the discomfort of a girdle were a small price paid for a skirt that swished easily around hips and settled gracefully as a woman sat. Corsages for travel, gloves in the city, real breakfasts, and knowing how to dance all cost time and effort, but they also brought an extra richness and discipline to daily life. Now we settle for sweat suits, crocs, and dancing like we're having seizures in step aerobics class. For the most part, we've also given up lush and difficult perfumes. While I'll take a pass on girdles, I'd happily trade this whole year's fragrance launches for a demanding perfume like Lanvin My Sin.

Fittingly, a mysterious Russian called "Madame Zed" created My Sin in 1924. Rather than being her actual last name, "Zed" might even stand for name starting with "Z", making her even more mysterious. I couldn't find any information about Madame Zed, except that she was also the nose behind a number of other perfumes for Lanvin. My Sin was one of the last. I picture her as a glamorous Russian emigré with milky skin sitting on a leopard skin thrown over the divan in her Right Bank apartment.

The wonderful Bois de Jasmin My Sin review lists My Sin's top notes as aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, neroli; its heart notes as ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, clove, orris, lily of the valley, jonquil, lilac; and its base as vanilla, vetiver, musk, woods, tolu, styrax, and civet.

The first few times I wore My Sin, I couldn't smell past its forceful duet of aldehydes and civet. It smelled like I imagined Norma Desmond's closet would smell: black and topaz velvet not worn for years, all stored behind heavy wooden doors barely rubbed with lemon oil. Or maybe I should compare it to a Flemish painting darkened with soot in an elaborately carved frame. I loved the vintage feeling of My Sin, how otherworldly it smelled to me, and how intriguing. But I didn't love it. I didn't really get it.

Not long ago I took out my bottle of My Sin extrait and tried it again. This time it was as if someone took a soft cloth to the Flemish painting, and a glowing narcissus appeared. Or as if a woman opened the windows in Norma Desmond's dressing room, filled vases with spring flowers, then slipped one of the topaz velvet wraps around her shoulders. Yes, the inky civet was still there, but it came alive with a spicy, floral warmth. The perfume suddenly took shape and texture and opened up to me.

The Eau de Toilette formulation of My Sin, called My Sin Eau de Lanvin, is even brighter, both in aldehydes and in its floral heart, than the extrait. To me the Eau de Toilette smells a little sweeter from sandalwood and more raw from cedar, too. My Sin bath oil is a softened version of the extrait and wears nearly as long. Even in Eau de Toilette, My Sin is still firmly a fragrance for late night secrets, assignations in Berlin, or — more likely for me — the movie Double Indemnity on a drizzly evening at home. Madame Zed, whoever you are, thank you.

Lanvin My Sin was discontinued in 1988, but can still be found at estate sales and online. Irma Shorell's Long Lost Perfume purchased the name "My Sin" and sells a version of it. If you've smelled the Long Lost Perfume version, I'd love to know how it compares to the original.

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  1. Suzanne941 says:

    Hi, Angela! Thanks for another great article. My mother wore My Sin when I was a kid…this is a woman who put gloves and a little trimmed hat on me my first day of kindergarten. Mom was a real old-school New Yorker (this didn’t go over too well in Delaware, but never mind. We were in the ‘sticks.’)
    Who could Mme Zed really be, I wonder? But she’s great. And I LOVE the ad photo, probably Mme’s cat.

    • Angela says:

      Isn’t it interesting that Lanvin chose a black cat for so many of the My Sin ads? It suits the fragrance perfectly. I love the story of your mother taking you to kindergarten dressed like you were going to a society luncheon!

  2. ggperfume says:

    Love your evocation of Mme Zed. Good choice of ad too– but do you remember the line drawing of a white cat with several white kittens and one black? I used to see that in the drugstore when I was little (when some drugstores actually sold good perfumes, or at least their edt versions) and liked the picture without getting the reference. . . now I’ll have to look for a decant. What a shame: it sounded so grown-up and sophisticated when I was a kid. I don’t want to have to fall in love with discontinued perfumes.

    • Angela says:

      I love the description of the line drawing! Everyone probably feels like the black cat in a little of white ones from time to time.

      It is sad that My Sin is discontinued, but Caron Narcisse Noir has a lot of the same feel to me, at least in parfum, and at least that one is still in productions.

    • ggperfume says:

      Thanks, Joe, for linking us to the cat-and-kittens poster. Perhaps I misremembered it as one kitten different from mom and siblings– either way it seems delightfully naughty, in a ’50s way.

      • Angela says:

        I really like the style of the drawing, too. It makes me want to find one of the ads to frame.

        • ggperfume says:

          The “Collectibles>advertising” category of US eBay has a few examples right now.

          • Angela says:


  3. mals86 says:

    Oh, goody – Angela Reviews Another Classic Vintage Scent!

    I just snagged a 5ml bottle of vintage Arpege extrait for $7(!!!) on evilbay, but haven’t tested it yet. Sniffing the bottle tells me I’m probably going to like it… however, I spent the weekend in No. 5 extrait* (everything I ever said about No. 5 being too cold and too powdery was horribly wrong; I am seduced) and Le Temps d’Une Fete (happiness in a bottle). I didn’t have a spare arm for Arpege.

    Even though I have a general affinity for vintage scents one might wear with day gloves, New Look skirts, and court heels (not that I wear those things), My Sin sounds challenging for me. I’m not sure it’s one I’ll hunt for deliberately. If I come across it, though, I’ll definitely give it a test.

    *Did you ever get to sniff No. 5 in extrait? It’s been awhile since your review.

    • Angela says:

      I did smell some new No. 5 extrait, and I thought it was really nice, but not “me” enough to fork out the cash for it. I was so glad to be able to have smelled it, though.

      My Sin is a tough one to love at first. At least it was for me. But maybe Madame Zed was whispering in my ear…

      • mals86 says:

        If I had paid more than I did for the No. 5 extrait, I might not like it as much!

        • Angela says:

          It’s funny, it’s as if there’s a “joy per dollar” quotient or something that we feel.

    • melisand61 says:

      I just had the good fortune to wear a drop of vintage Arpege extrait yesterday while testing fragrances with friends. It was stunning and outdid pretty much everything else that we tried imo.

      • Angela says:

        I have some that a very very kind swapper sent, and it’s a really quiet perfume on me. Did you find it stuck close to your skin? I loved it, but it surprised me when I thought of the new Arpege.

        • melisand61 says:

          It did not leave a sillage trail, but it was rich and it made its presence known. The parallel to vintage No 5 parfum was certainly there, but in some ways, it seemed easier to wear. Now, I need to get my hands on a bottle with top notes relatively intact. Off to ebay I go!

          • Angela says:

            Good luck!

  4. Jessica says:

    Angela, I love this review! Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. My Sin reminds me of my grandmother: she kept a bottle of the fragrance, and (I think) a canister of the matching dusting powder on her bathroom shelf. So glamourous, so grown-up! (She usually wore lighter florals; that must have been her serious evening scent.)

    My Sin is also referenced in one of my favorite Young Adult novels, “Hail, Hail Camp Timberwood,” by Ellen Conford. One of the “mean girls” applies it before the annual summer-camp dance. There’s a bit of random trivia for you! ;)

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you liked the review! My Sin is pretty over-the-top for a camper. I love those kinds of details.

    • j_lunatic says:

      From one of my favorite movies:

      Samantha (Joanne Woodward): What’s that you’re wearing?
      Leena (Thelma Ritter): My Sin. I hope it’s a prediction.

      “A New Kind of Love” (1963)

      • Angela says:

        Fabulous! I would have led the review with that quote if I’d known it. Now I’m itching to see the movie. Thank you!

  5. Joe says:

    Love the review, Angela. I seem to remember seeing My Sin on my grandmother’s dresser, along with for some reason a much more vivid memory of Ambush by Dana.

    This ad must use the images ggperfume was referring to (link will eventually go out of date):

    Sometimes I feel like *I* want a girdle. I doubt I’d really wear one of these:, but it seems almost more tempting than skipping dessert (as if) or torturing myself with cardio workouts. I’m with you, mostly; when did it become okay to wear pajamas — or worse — anywhere, anytime?

    • Angela says:

      The ad is great! The man-spanx, not so much.

      I love the idea of lounging pajamas like women wore in the 1930s and ’40s, Chinese silk with wide legs and drippy sleeves. Those kind of pajamas I could see having around, along with mules with pom-poms on the toes. And a little My Sin.

      • ggperfume says:

        My mother had a pair of champagne satin mules with pompons (made of the same satin, twisted into curlycues) as part of her trousseau. They’re in my closet now– too small for me (as they were too small for her by the time I came along), but fun to admire.

        • Angela says:

          They sound fantastic! Are they Daniel Greens? I have a pair of black satin Daniel Green mules with rabbit fur puffs at the toe that I love.

          • ggperfume says:

            Oops. My reply is below.

        • ggperfume says:

          “Hostess Mules Created by Jerro New York” is printed on the instep liner. Lightly worn, they still look great. Size 6-and-a-half narrow! I can’t believe my 8M mother ever wore them. I wear 7M and can’t keep them on either.

          • Angela says:

            What tiny feet! “Hostess mules’. You just don’t see those any more *sigh*.

    • Tama says:

      Ambush was a much more vivid bottle! That fabulous coral color. Ambush is one of those frags, like Chantilly and Heaven Sent, that just touch my scent-memory enough that I can almost smell them.

      • Angela says:

        I picked up an old bottle of Ambush at Goodwill once, and I was surprised at how much lavender it had! It really seemed to break the mold of fragrances of its time. I should pull out that bottle again.

    • ggperfume says:

      Thanks for the poster, Joe (see my other comment above), and thanks for reminding me of Ambush! (I believe the exclamation mark was part of the name). My mother wore that for a while, until she fell for Youth Dew– her signature frag for years until she moved on to Norell.

      Spanx must be infinitely more effective, not to mention comfortable, than girdles. I’ll use them to go modern underneath if I try a retro-50s look. I’m leaning strongly to the gloved look, too. The more SPF, the better!

      • Angela says:

        Hey, the gloves work for Diane Keaton!

    • Daisy says:

      Oh God! the Spanx for men almost KILLED me….too funny!
      Don’t do it Joe!! Eat the dessert and love who you are!

  6. RusticDove says:

    Perfection – both the review and the fragrance in it’s old school, classic, formidable way.

    Oh – and I have had one experience with Irma Shorell’s LLP. Their alleged identical formula for Le Galion Sortilege. No way and not even close. It actually smelled more like Chanel #5 to me.

    • Angela says:

      Thank you!

      I suppose it would be difficult to reproduce a vintage fragrance, even if you had the exact formula. One jasmine doesn’t smell like another, and any fragrance that used proprietary pre-mixed bases would be really hard to reproduce.

    • LaMaroc says:

      Haven’t tried My Sin (though I was thisclose to ordering it) but I have had good luck with other Irma Shorrell frags. I have her versions of Maroc (my teenage signature frag, hence my handle), Crepe de Cheine and Anarchy (DK Chaos). Maroc smells on me exactly as the Ultima II orginal I owned – a sharp incensy rose chypre with a powdery drydown. I actually prefer Anarchy to Chaos. I liked the original DK version, but it used to singe my nostril hairs. lol

      • Angela says:

        It’s heartening to get your feedback on them, thanks!

  7. Jill says:

    Ahhh … wonderful review! I love it when a scent you previously didn’t “get” suddenly speaks to you. I too have always loved that My Sin ad with the black cat … I once almost purchased a vintage one but was outbid for it.

    • Angela says:

      Isn’t it nice when a fragrance (or a poem or a painting or a symphonic work) suddenly reveals itself? I always feel so proud of myself, like I’m getting smarter. The real bonus comes when something reveals itself AND you love it!

      • Jill says:

        Absolutely. It recently happened for me with Virginia Woolf, who I could never get into before this past year …

        • Angela says:

          She’s a good one for that. I love love love To the Lighthouse.

          • Jill says:

            Me too. :)

  8. Dzingnut says:

    Beautiful review, Angela! For those perfumistras who LOLCAT,
    My Sin obveoslee teh perfoom ov Basement Cat!

    • Angela says:

      Just don’t tell her it’s loaded with civet…

    • Aparatchick says:

      Troo, very troo.

  9. Aimee LOndee says:

    This is one of my favorites — the classic Lanvins just knock my socks off. Thanks so much for the treat of a review!

    I think my bottle of vintage My Sin extrait is a later U.S. vintage, and I don’t get a lot of civet, I must say. Things that make you go hmmmm…and traipse off to doomBay…

    In any case, My Sin was not a challenge for me, but vintage Rumeur was at first. I had the same kind of “aha” moment with that one recently that you describe over My Sin! I think the problem with Rumeur for me was that I had to learn to love costus. Now that I get the costus thing, Rumeur is wowza. At least that’s my theory. :^)

    • Angela says:

      I have a sample of Rumeur, but the top notes have all burned away, unfortunately, so I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to smell like. There are so many fragrances most of us can only read about these days. Thank goodness for the Osmotheque.

  10. alotofscents says:

    I can always tell your lovely prose Angela. I would love to have a framed picture of that ad. My beautiful aunt wore My Sin as when I was a child. I always thought that being a women meant wearing it. I wrote a short story one time where the bad girl wore My Sin. I always thought it was the scent to wear when trying to seduce men…but then I got interested in boys, oh well.

    • Angela says:

      My mother used to wear My Sin sometimes, only she called it “Charles of the Ritz” because that was the company that was putting it out at the time, and it probably sounded pretty classy to her ear.

      How about having the bad girl wear something that didn’t jive with her personality? Sweet Honesty, for instance? Then she’d be lying in more ways than one…

  11. Olfacta says:

    My guess is that lots of “My Sin” was given as gifts, sniffed, used once or twice, the relegated to the vanity because it was a little “much” for many women of the day. I’d go looking for some now but have sworn off evilbay at least for the time being.

    Girdles might seem appealing to anyone who hasn’t actually worn one! l remember my mother cursing over them, as well as all the other bondage-wear (Merry Widows, garter belts, dress shields) necessary to make those clothes fit. But white gloves; yes, jewelry, structured clothing, even hats — all those things gave a lot of style to everyday life and I wish at least some would come back. (Of course it’s hard to wear a corsage, girdle, tight skirt or heels on a plane when your knees are poking the back of the seat in front of you and the elbows of your neighbor are jabbing you in the ribs!)

    And also I doubt anyone would dare to wear heavy fragrance during the day now, thanks to the self-appointed Perfume Police.

    • Angela says:

      Oh, I know! Flying is torture these days. I wish they would hurry up and figure out how to beam us where we need to go. Still, in all the old movies it seems that people actually made eggs and toast for breakfast. How great is that? They sat at the table and ate it. Now a latte and a babyhead-sized muffin on the run are breakfast.

      I hold out hope that people will rediscover scent and want to learn how to wear it well and enjoy it on others.

      • Tama says:

        First we will have to enact legislation outlawing things like Axe.

        • Angela says:

          “Axe Axe”. That can be our slogan.

          • Daisy says:

            sign me up!! I’m going upstairs right now to get the poster paints to make our protest signs….

        • krokodilgena says:

          My brother’s friend wears Axe, and I can still smell it long after he leaves the room. I’m not kidding.

          • Angela says:

            I believe you. I think that if you’re afraid to light a match because the vapors from some guy’s after shave might cause an explosion, then it’s time to rethink the fragrance.

          • Daisy says:

            oh Krok, your nostils have my sympathy! Maybe you could get your brother to make a few suggestions to his friend, things that are so much better (and that’s pretty much a wide open field!)

      • krokodilgena says:

        my daddy makes pancakes for breakfast.

        I don’t even own any sweatpants and I get completely dressed as soon as I get out of bed so I don’t wear pajamas ~*in public*~.
        But I also wear skirts that might as well be belts with shredded tights. Is that just as bad?
        Maybe I’ll stick to the CdG and stay away from the ~*classy*~ perfumes D:

        Why would someone wear a corsage for traveling? I thought people wore those then they went to prom.

        • Angela says:

          Well, a real breakfast (pancakes, even!) and skirts, no matter how small, sound good to me. Corsages used to be a big deal, and not just at prom. People wore flowers. Guys had boutonnieres. Makes me want to pluck a peony and stick it behind my ear.

        • LaMaroc says:

          I had a job at a department store that enforced a dress code that women had to wear dresses or skirts and stockings. I chafed at it for a long time, but now I find I really enjoy wearing skirts and dresses more than pants or jeans. I still hate nylons (pantyhose) but I love tights – pristine and shredded. Love and wear those band-aid sized skirts while you can, Krokodilgena, so you aren’t like the women in my town who go through their midlife crises trying to wear their teenager’s clothes! :O

          • Angela says:

            Tights, fishnets, even knee socks work sometimes, especially with boots. But weather permitting, I still prefer the bare leg.

  12. March says:

    I have my mom’s bottle and it still smells great (it’s one of those funny compressed-air ones that sprays like an old seltzer bottle.) I agree with Olfacta that there’s probably a lot of the vintage around left over from gifts. It’s really powdery on me, but other people bring out its animalic side.

    • Angela says:

      Powdery, huh? It’s definitely more animalic on me. Have you tried other runs of My Sin? Maybe you have a powdery batch. (Or maybe you’re so naturally sweet you powder it up with your inborn essence!)

      • melisand61 says:

        Joining in late, but you might have guessed that with my vintage mania, I do own a bottle of My Sin, but only in the edt. This one is very animalic on me, but not very bright or aldehydic. This is an old bottle, but the top notes are only a little bit off. I get a spicy floral with a deep animalic base. Now I’m tempted to track down some of the extrait of course!

        And Angela, I do not wear gloves or girdles, but at 5’0″, I learned to walk gracefully in heels as a teenager. On pavement, grass, carpet, you name it. And yes, I have had the foot surgery to prove it!

        • Angela says:

          Good for you! I think walking in heels is a good skill to have in your back pocket, along with piloting a helicopter and making a souffle (still working on the helicopter, however). The wounded water buffalo trot is all to common in heels.

  13. hotlanta linda says:

    Do you think ANYONE in the thronerooms of the design/perfumer houses reads these blogs?What stops these houses from relaunch/rebirth of their timeless scents that have such a loving fanbase – IFRA, greed, or does just a look at these two blackhearts makes a creative perfumer w/ a monied partner throw in the towel??

    • Angela says:

      I bet it’s money that keeps a big company like Lanvin from relaunching My Sin. That and the fact that they sold the name. I can’t see many people picking the My Sin tester up at the department store and loving it immediately. We just don’t seem to have the knack of tolerating floral aldehydes anymore, especially with such an opaque body, let alone loving them.

      But, maybe some niche perfume house will embrace the idea and release “Transgression” or “My Bad” or something like that! There probably are some My Sin-like fragrances out there in niche lines that I’m just not thinking of.

      • ThirdShift says:

        Nabokov zealots will run out to buy “My Sin”, and the sequel “My Soul” in stampede. A perfume called “Fire of my Loins” may be pushing it a tad, though maybe an ointment?

        Maybe Sean Diddy will make a “My Sin” flanker to his “Unforgivable”, with “My Unforgivable Sin” for Christmas. :)

        Seriously, why should one strive to like a “difficult perfume”? It’s not that Nietzche thing is it?

        • Angela says:

          Why should anyone try a difficult perfume? Because the effort has a big payoff. For instance, think about the first time you tried a cheese that wasn’t orange and wasn’t sold in a plastic-wrapped brick. Maybe it was a little “difficult”. But, after making the effort to try first Brie, maybe, and working your way up to ripe Morbier, you discover the full, delicious, complex wonders of cheese. This same process can be applied to movies, music, wine, poetry….and perfume. Without testing the “difficult” aesthetic waters, we’ll all turn into frozen food eating blobs watching network t.v. (or at least I would). And we’d never know the untapped beauty around us.

          But you knew that!

          • Olfacta says:

            I know. I keep telling the DH, “you know, nobody was born liking Parmesan cheese” but so far no luck.

            As for names, how about “Me Bad?” Or “Be Bad?” Or “Never 2 Busy to B Bad?” or “I Am Sin?”

          • Angela says:

            All great name suggestions!

  14. boysugar says:

    I am always so taken by your reviews, Angela.
    I would die to try My Sin. I quite love Arpege and maybe they’re absolutely different but there’s still room in my heart for another Lanvin beauty!

    • Angela says:

      Arpege is so different from My Sin! If My Sin is Double Indemnity, Arpege–at least the vintage–is a Busby Berkeley musical. The good thing about My Sin is that a sample or a small decant might well be all a person needs.

      • Joe says:

        I love those analogies. I also love Double Indemnity, and I’m very overdue to watch it again.

        • Angela says:

          I saw again not long ago and loved it even more. It’s brilliant–the light, the music, the big Spanish-style house, the anti-hero–definitely worth watching again.

  15. Daisy says:

    Sigh, read an article, add a lemming….again: sigh…

    okay, if one of you all is e***7(6) at doombay bidding on Lanvin MY Sin —you had better speak up so I don’t bid against you….cuz I’m watching it! But I won’t bid against fellow NSTers.

    • Angela says:

      It’s not me! My Sin is a tough one to buy unsniffed, though. If you do win it, be sure to give it lots of time to show itself. At least, I needed the time.

      • Daisy says:

        I’m just thinking that maybe I could pick up some vintage inexpensively to try….and then probably pass it around since I’m not usually a vintage girl. Whether it works for me or not may depend heavily on that civet thang…

        • Angela says:

          That’s a nice idea! Sometimes it’s fun to try things, even if you know you’re unlikely to wear them.

  16. Trish says:

    We’ve never talked about Mad Men, but you must be a fan! Which character do you think would wear My SIn?

    • Angela says:

      I’ve seen the first season of Mad Men, and I loved it. (You have me pegged.) I’d say Joan would wear it, but I think I saw her with a bottle of Shalimar during one episode. How about the creative director? The handsome Italian one? He might be a good candidate.

      • Trish says:

        Ha! My thoughts exactly. Joan…..but then the Shalimar reference. You are too good w/ the Italian guy call. Love it!

        I have only seen season one as well. Waiting for season two to come out on Netflix!


        • Angela says:

          Me too! I’ll shut myself in all weekend and watch the season all at once, I’m sure.

    • ggperfume says:

      I would have said Joan, but I like Angela’s suggestion of Salvatore– not that he’d wear it at work, of course. Shalimar is a good choice for Joan.

      • Angela says:

        Salvatore! That’s his name, thanks.

  17. TheLorax says:


    An otherwise engaging review of an intriguing scent, which sounds like something that would be interesting, minus the civet for all the veggies.

    I speak for the epileptics. As TheLorax, I have to stand up. I’m sure I’ll catch grief for saying your article would have been very different without that remark. You are a very descriptive writer and I’m certain that you could have found another image to capture the readers.

    People don’t give a second thought to make a ‘seizure’ joke or ‘a fit’ or whatever way they word their humor. Just guessing, these people aren’t caregivers, relatives, friends of, or epileptics themselves. Most people would be horrified if someone made a joke about any other disability.

    Angela, you are a lovely writer. Your imagination can take your readers to beautiful places. I am not condemning you as a person, just saying the ‘dancing like we’re having seizures in a step-aerobics class,’ piece should, hopefully, make all a bit more aware.

    • Daisy says:

      I’m certain that no one here would find anything humorous about anyone really having a seizure (epileptic or otherwise). The word seizure is not a dirty word and is in common usage to describe a state of erratic or uncontrolled physical behavior. It was not used to specifically denigrate anyone with a neurological disability.

      • Angela says:

        Thanks, Daisy.

      • TheLorax says:


        I know seizure is not a dirty word, believe me, and this most certainly is something that people who live or care for comprehend. Some epileptics can get that seizure is a dirty word; some are so affected by this disorder that comprehension is cloudy, at best, or just so impacted that the disorder has ravaged their comprehension. The quality of life that impacts all involved in the treatment of epilepsy is beyond words.

        There remains the stigma. That was my point. And I wrote a message to Angela to alert her that this was no personal attack, but an opportunity for people to use language that people could find words hurt or take away from an otherwise nice conversation, blog, or whatever.

        If it came across as though I believe the entire community here believes it is okay to joke about this disorder, I sincerely apologize. The respect I have for the NST community is why I have been reading the articles, reviews, and comments since when the NST community existed on the other site. I do mean no harm.

        Angela was not a target ~ her choice of words presented an occasion to think before we write, speak, or act. I am far from perfect and beat myself up over my own mistakes. Angela’s writing is always an enjoyment and she often makes me laugh and think about perfumes in a way that I might not have entertained without her expertise.

        Even though I knew this might provoke some controversy, my opinion is that epilepsy should be not joked about or tolerated. The phrase came across as humor to me, which is so unlike Angela. Epilepsy is not the only group of human beings I feel this way about. Just thought I was allowed to share my opinion.

        Why not use this as an opportunity? That was my point.

        • Daisy says:

          Lorax, I apologize if you feel I was attacking you. I was merely trying to express that it did not seem to me that a jab was being made at people with neorological disorders. Your opinion is valued here and you are allowed to express it. You seem upset and I’m sorry for that.

          • TheLorax says:

            Thanks, Daisy. I did get the impression from you, that my opinion, and myself should just go away. It means a lot that you took the time to respond and let me know that I got the wrong impression.

            No harm. And thank you.

    • Angela says:

      I certainly meant no offense to anyone who might have seizures! If you can believe it, I was going to write “St. Vitus Dance” but changed it because thought I might offend someone. Alas.

      • TheLorax says:

        I truly appreciate you saying you meant no offense and gave thought to your first choice, knowing you meant no harm. Epilepsy does impact my families’ daily lives and the remark did hit home. I don’t find it humorous when the family goes to the epileptologist to hope for a treatment that will work. People in the waiting room, I cry for them. I would have voiced my opinion, regardless of if the phrase was joking about race, religion, or any other disorder. (probably some I’m leaving out, due to memory)

        You come across to me as an entertaining, kind, and talented writer. It meant a great deal to me for you to write that you didn’t want to offend anyone. I would have assumed that anyway. The opportunity presented itself for anyone to rethink, like you did, our words, actions, etc. Like I said, I wasn’t trying to go after you, just voicing an opinion. And like I replied to Daisy, I’m not perfect. I am so far from that; I’m human, too. I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings, but I do. And I apologize, if I recognize it. I’m sure many occasions I have not realized what I’ve done, and I want people to show me how to grow.

        Please know, I really meant no harm to you.

        • Angela says:

          No harm taken. I understand and respect thoroughly your comments here. Thank you.

          Now let’s get back to perfume!

          • Angela says:

            Gosh, that looks more severe than I intended! Imagine a lush orchestral background and a drumroll, and then the words “let’s get back to perfume”.

          • TheLorax says:

            Not severe. We are here for the perfumes, too, right? :) And thanks for getting me interested in yet another perfume.

      • SmokeyToes says:

        Heck, if you had mentioned St. Vitus Dance, I would have just thought you were a Bauhaus fan! :~)

        • Angela says:

          “Mexican jumping bean” was another comparison I ditched.

  18. JolieFleurs says:

    I once HAD a seizure in an aerobics class, and while I have no memory of it, I joke about it to this day. I was certainly NOT offended by the seizure comment.

    • Angela says:

      Yikes! I hope everything turned out all right. It sounds frightening.

  19. Laurie says:

    Hi, Angela,

    Love this site and your articles. Lanvin was the first perfume I ever wore. It was Arpege and I was 14 back in 1968. It was probably not appropriate for someone that age but I remember I loved it. A couple of years later I spent the summer in Paris and bought L’Air du Temp and my favorite still, Chanel 19. Chanel 19, the perfume, became my signature scent, especially in college when the perfume just seemed to smell better especially on hot, sweat days. I’ll have to My Sin ” a smell” if for nothing else but to go back in time.

    • Angela says:

      What gorgeous perfumes, all of them! I love the thought of My Sin in 1968.

  20. merenguehips says:

    My mom wore “Bakir” back in the 80s, and by the time she finished her bottle, it was no longer in production. I did find it on the Irma Shorell website, and that version of “Bakir” is dead-on, or, so says my mother, who has a very good nose. So…at the price, it might be worth a shot.

    • Angela says:

      That’s good to know, thanks! The name alone almost prompts me to buy it unsniffed (although I know better than that).

  21. Rappleyea says:

    I had to de-lurk to tell you that this may be my favorite review ever! Loved it. I suppose because it was such a blast from the past. My mother dressed me in gloves and patent leather shoes to go downtown shopping, and our local drug store *did* carry My Sin among other great scents. I loved it and wore it at a very young age, probably junior high! Of course that was pre-computers, so I had no idea it was “difficult” or even grown up – lol! For some reason, I have naturally gravitated to many scents over the years that others consider difficult: Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Bal a Versailles, Je Reviens, etc. and loved them all at first sniff!

    • Angela says:

      You are a perfume natural! What a list of masterpiece perfumes. It would be so fun to go to a drugstore and see My Sin on the shelves.

    • Daisy says:

      I love that you wore “My Sin” in junior high! Makes me feel better—I discovered Chanel no 5 about the same age and loved it…had no idea I was wearing a perfume meant for much more mature ladies (by mature I mean over 14 !!) I just thought I smelled fabulous!! Certainly remember comments from peers like “wow, you smell really nice” –guess they didn’t know it was too old for me either! (or maybe they were thinking I smelled like their moms! I had never thought of that!) :-D

      • Angela says:

        Chanel was the ne plus ultra when I was a teenager, although I opted for a bottle of No. 22 bath oil. But you can bet that if I had a bottle of No. 5 I would have put it on my dresser and gazed at it daily.

        • Daisy says:

          I had only a smallish bottle and it was (I’m sure) the Edt —but I wore it sparingly and with great reverence. Nothing in the world makes me feel as special as perfume….sigh…unfortunately I have a dreadful tendency to love the expensive stuff.

          • Angela says:

            Darn it. I feel your pain.

  22. ZenArcade says:

    I am still a relative newbie, so I may be way off base on this… but as I look at something like My Sin (the name, the imagery, the scent itself), it seems like fragrance has shifted over the decades from being an adult indulgence to something that skews a lot younger. (Yes, there are still grown-up scents, but they’re probably not the biggest sellers.) As a preteen or teen, I didn’t own any perfume–and yet so much of what’s released now seems precisely for that demographic. I wonder if the average age of the perfume buyer truly has gone down dramatically over the years? I’m sure some marketer must be tracking that.

    • Angela says:

      That is such an interesting thought. I don’t have any answers, but you must be right, someone must be tracking the demographics of perfume buyers. Anything named My Sin and bottled in pure black seems like it would be intended for a more mature consumer. And it certainly doesn’t smell like anything I’d imagine on the average teenager.

      • bergere says:

        The impression I get from the advertising is that sin is something that grownups do–with eyes wide open, with a realization of the consequences, but with a willingness to go ahead and do it anyway (and enjoy it!). Kind of the opposite of hipster, trendy hooking up, which seems to feature in recent perfume ads.

        • Angela says:

          Now that is so insightful. If nothing is a sin, then where is the thrill that is embodied in My Sin? What is dark, complex, and forbidden? Somehow it seems more interesting if the “sin” is an illicit rendezvous rather than driving an SUV or something like that . (Said as a bicycle commuter, by the way.)

          • Olfacta says:

            I’m not sure that “sin” is a concept anyone under, oh, thirty-five or so now would really understand.

          • Angela says:

            Food for thought, there.

  23. SmokeyToes says:

    Great article Angela,
    I love My Sin, that was my mom’s signature scent. I could always tell when they were headed out to their fave French restaurant for a dinner date when it wafted through the air.
    BTW, I love the kitty cat!

    • Angela says:

      The cat in the ad looks almost exactly like your gravatar! Love those citrine eyes.

  24. Laurie says:

    I think you are right. I fell in love with fragrance as a young teen. There were a couple of fragrances for the younger set, the first I remember was by Love, which made Baby Soft and a wonderful lemon smelling fragrance. My friends were all oblivious to fragrance as I remember it. My mother worked Saturdays at Lord & Taylor in Scarsdale, NY. The smell of the perfume when you walked through the doors spoke to their customer base. Today every celebrity has a perfume named after them. Back then it was only the finest design houses , Dior, Gres, Chanel, Lanvin, Guerlain to name a few and small perfume houses. For better or worse, alot of fragrance today is geared for mass market and hence appealing to a younger audience.

    • Angela says:

      It really does take a little practice to appreciate a complicated perfume, but I think it’s worth it. I’m hopeful, though. There seems to be more attention in the media to fragrance now, so I’m hoping that people will really want to explore it.

  25. fountaingirl says:

    Yay, a My Sin review! I love My Sin, it doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you like it!

  26. Laurie says:

    Here’s a questions unrelated to Lanvin’s My Sin. Does anyone know where I can get my hands on a bottle of Capricci by Nina Ricci? I don’t believe they make it anymore. Even contacted Nina Ricci Paris.

    • Angela says:

      When I’m looking for something that isn’t made anymore, I usually search the internet (sometimes online discounters have discontinued fragrances) and try a perfume store where I live. (I’m lucky to have a perfume store nearby that tends to have lots of old stock.) I don’t do much business on ebay, but lots of people find discontinued perfume there, too. Good luck!

  27. Jared says:

    Wow, Angela, great review, and so intriguing! It’s kind of heartbreaking because it’s one that calls out to me to try but is sadly discontinued. I have quite the fondness for the days gone by of perfumery, since I often absorb those “old” fragrances for women (back when they made them with some, forgive the expression, balls) into my own collection for wear. I bet a lot of us feel that way with reformulations and new guidelines, etc. Anyway, time to hunt down a little sample!

    • Angela says:

      J, with any luck the niche perfumers will keep making interesting scents, and a few more deep, dark charmers like My Sin will be among them (I cross my fingers).

  28. chrissyinoz says:

    Such a wonderfully evocative review Amanda….i was lucky enough to score a bottle of vintage My Sin on ebay recently & the jasmine, rose & civet in particular are very noticeable. Love, love it, so does my partner, he can’t stop sniffing me lol.

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like you “got it” a lot faster than I did! I’m glad you have your own stash and are liking it.

  29. Musette says:


    What a beautiful, evocative post. I love all the ‘necessaries’ required for a structured look, especially when wearing a fragrance that demands it (My Sin for sure, No 5, Fleur de Cassie amongst others). I always carry a handkerchief and now that I’m in menopause a fan is essential.

    But I do draw the line at hose, at least in the summer. Some things are just too horrid to contemplate!

    I even wear a dress to the construction site! It’s a bit weird but they’ve gotten used to it, just as they’ve gotten used to my strange perfumes (you should’ve seen the looks on their faces the day I wore Djedi).

    The one thing I can’t rock is the hat. My hair is just too unruly. Dang.

    But now you have me lemming My Sin. Saks, here I come!


    • Angela says:

      Ugh, hose. I can’t even go there. And I have to admit that I have a regular mop on my head, too, and hats just don’t work up there. But I love dresses! It sounds like we have a lot in common.

      Fleur de Cassie is another perfume that took me a long time to “get”. I kept going back to it, I couldn’t stay away, but I never found myself craving it. And then one day…

  30. hereitcomesagain says:

    Thanks for this one, which led me to look at Shorell’s offerings for the first time. Ordered Crêpe de Chine, which I’ve always adored.

    • Angela says:

      I adore Crepe de Chine, too. Please let me know how you like the Long Lost Perfume version. I’ve been hoarding my few drops of the real thing.

  31. iMav says:

    LOL! I just loved your reference to dancing as having seizures in step aerobics class!

    It’s been a long long while since I’ve smelled My Sin. All I can remember is a lot of aldehydes and rounded florals.

    I’m so happy that many have a bottle of Arpege lying around. Yes, sadly you can buy a vintage bottle of it for ridiculously cheap. Nobody cares for perfumes that complex and sensual (translated animalic for classic French perfumes). Complex spells “dated” and “old lady” or “old man” for many.

    Right now I’m feeling so nostalgic for scents made in the past. You can remember the smell of scents made back in the day, but sadly I can’t remember much of the smell of newer offerings. I think classic perfumery is a dying art now.

    • krokodilgena says:

      hmmm do you really think that there are no modern classics?
      It’s not like only masterpieces were being made decades ago, but there was also a lot less being produced in general so there was less forgettableness.
      I guess classic perfumery really is a dying art, but I’m sure there are still complex perfumes being produced.
      Don’t ask me to give any examples though

      • Angela says:

        K, I think you’re right in that there are some marvelous new perfumes that buck the popular trends and that may well become classics–or at least cult classics. It takes someone not beholden to a focus group and shareholders to create them, though. Parfums MDCI, for example, or Frederic Malle, or Vero Profumo. Others, too, I’m sure. But sometimes the niche lines are even more ridiculous than the department store lines because they are flat and pandering but twice the price (no need to get into specifics here).

    • Angela says:

      I dearly love vintage fragrances, but I also love a lot of what is coming out of some of the smaller perfume houses, too. (Although a lot of what is coming out in general isn’t particularly memorable.) I admit that I’m a sucker for anything old, though.

    • Angela says:

      One more response: I often think of Chandler Burr’s comment that Miss Dior is “practically unwearable” now because of modern taste. I think it’s beautiful, especially the growly old stuff. I guess times do change.

      • Joe says:

        Burr’s habit of pronouncing some “old-fashioned” things “unwearable” is starting to get on my nerves, I realized after reading your comment. He said the same thing about Kouros. I mean, it’s one thing to say that tastes have changed and some notes are certainly no longer “in fashion” or generally popular. But “unwearable”? I don’t comprehend that.

        • Angela says:

          Excellent point! I’m open to his opinion, and I like reading it, even, but making pronouncements like “it’s unwearable” is different than saying “I wouldn’t wear it” or “it’s not marketable today”.

  32. Louise says:

    Chiming very late, but with deep curiousity about My Sin. I now have some yummy vintage Arpege (after buying several spoiled ones), a sniff of Scandale, and a new treasure-a mini of Lanvin Pretexte-little known, fascinating animalic oriental, no aldehydes in sight (um, to sniff-though they may have been in the topnotes). It smells very deep and dressy, and simply wonderful!

    • Angela says:

      You’re so lucky! Great scores.

  33. pigoletto says:

    My theory is, a proper classic perfume always makes you sit up straighter. I’m not sure it’s possible to slum it with a classic on!

    • mals86 says:

      You may be right! If I wear heels to work (I don’t usually, as I work as a bookkeeper at an auto parts store, and I don’t worry about ruining dress trousers as I would worry about a dress), I find that I hold myself straighter. It is impossible to carry off proper dresses with bad posture – and so it is with classic perfume.

      It’s amazing to think that all these classic, ladylike fragrances are so richly animalic.

    • Angela says:

      So chiropractors should be selling Chanel No. 5!

  34. fleurdelys says:

    Those notes really grabbed me (must smell!). Hope I’ll be able to find a bit somewhere.

    Weren’t sample size bottles of My Sin and Arpege sold in clear plastic boxes, sitting between the feet of a black cat with a feather tail, and rhinestone collar and eyes? I remember these being sold in the drugstore when I was a kid. They fascinated me, and I think I actually owned one (I didn’t care about the fragrance, just wanted the kitty!). Does anyone remember these? Was it some other fragrance?

    • Angela says:

      I think it might have been another fragrance, because I think I’ve seen the set-up you’re talking about. I want to say it’s something by Coty, but I’m not sure. But a cat and My Sin are a pretty natural combo.

    • ggperfume says:

      I do remember wanting those cats when I was a child. Of course, I can’t remember the perfumes (cologne strength, probably), though the Lanvin names seem to come to mind.

      • Angela says:

        The next time I see one, I’m going to write down the name and report back.

    • fleurdelys says:

      I’m answering my own question; I think the fragrances were Max Factor. Makes sense – a feather-and-rhinestone kitty cat from a drugstore seems a bit un-classy for Lanvin.

      • Angela says:

        I think you’re right. That sounds right on the money.

        • ggperfume says:

          I looked up Max Factor on Basenotes and found two scents that could be the ones packaged with the cats: Hypnotique and Primitif, both launched in the 1950’s. I can almost see the labels on the bottles poised between the cats’ paws. . .

          • Angela says:

            I saw one in the window of a vintage clothing store on Friday, but the store was closed, and I couldn’t get close enough to read the label. It was definitely Max Factor, though.

          • ggperfume says:

            Hope you get a chance to go back and find out!

  35. Mediterana says:

    I have an original sample of something called ‘Eau My Sin’ by Lanvin… and it comes in one of those cute cardboard containers :-)

    I must admit I thought it smelled rather… well, old when I first sniffed it. I wore it to the opera in Vienna though and it felt just right :-)

    • Angela says:

      I wonder what the difference is between Eau My Sin and My Sin Eau de Lanvin? Maybe they’re the same, really. I can definitely imagine wearing My Sin to the opera. And in Vienna–even better!

  36. asuperlongusername says:

    I found a few mls of the extrait at an estate sale and picked it up for only a dollar. I fell in love. The alcoholic top note and velvety, animalic florals are perfect. Don’t get any aldehydes but that’s probably how it goes. I’m a guy and it’s probably a little stange that I’ve picked such a perfume for myself but it’s just so beautiful.

    I got a bottle a few months ago off of eBay and found it impossible to open with my bare hands. So, being a graduate of the school of Trying Harder and Forcing Things Open, I proceded to break the top of the top off withh no loosening of the actual cap. And now I have no idea how to get into the bottle. It’s a good thing I can’t wear it now that it’s summer because then I’d probably break the bottle inside of a bag and just straining out the glass if it was winter.

    • Angela says:

      I think My Sin would work for a guy, actually. It has so much presence.

      As for your bottle, have you tried freezing it for a little while? I once had a stubborn old bottle and tried running hot water over it and pointing a blowdryer at it, but I didn’t have any luck getting it open. Finally, I put it in the freezer for half an hour or so and it came right open. Good luck!

      • asuperlongusername says:

        Wow,i’ll have to try that. i’ll get back to you about it. =P

      • asuperlongusername says:

        No such luck. I’m really thinking of putting it in a ziplock and taking a hammer to it.

        • Angela says:

          Darn it! Did you try the hot water trick? If that doesn’t work, you might be stuck breaking the bottle. Good luck, in any case.

  37. babyboomer says:

    Ah… loved reading the “stories” here. It was my mother’s scent, as well. She of the day suits, stocking, heels, and kid gloves set, but this was the evening, going out scent she wore (black or pearl grey numbers with her evening coat and clutch). I remember the rectangular prism bottle on her vanity and swear I can still smell it. Later on, she morphed into Number 5, and toward the end of her life, while she was bedridden, she wore Calandre (my friend always wears this, and in the best possible way, I always knows she’s in or has recently been in the room. I finally asked asked her what it was because I thought my mother would like to put some on as she had family and friends visiting her…) But that My Sin smell and bottle and the vision of my mother dressed to go out still seem the epitome of sophistication to me.

    • Angela says:

      Your mom had class! I love your story. Do you ever wonder what your kids will remember when they think of your scent?

  38. L'Homme Vert says:

    Thank you for your thoughts and views regarding this now vintage iconic jewel of French perfumery, I adore anything ‘Lanvin’ and have amassed many ancient bottles of Mon Peche & Arpege over recent years. At present I am using a My Sin extrait from the 1950’s, I detect faint traces of bergamot, neroli & clay sage followed by a cool heart comprised mainly of white florals, included are rose, lilac, jasmine & lily of the valley.
    The eventual drydown is sheer bliss, the above mentioned bouquet languishes on a cool bed of civet & exotic ashed woods (santal, vanilla & styrax) ?
    I always believed this offering from Lanvin to be the hot-bed of intrigue, I now give that distinction to her sister Arpege (original formula) after careful consideration.
    The combination of orris, white flowers, woods and musk is simply stunning, almost to the point of a high quality pure incence.
    I find this works just as well on the masculine ?
    Great feedback on this legend from ‘Lanvin’

    • Angela says:

      Thank you for your insightful description of My Sin! It’s interesting that you label Arpege as the “hotbed of intrigue” when on the face of it it’s a pretty, innocent perfume. But, sometimes those hide the most intrigue.

      I definitely see My Sin wearing well on a man.

  39. ForTheHoiPolloi says:

    The nose (the one in our brain) never forgets, and when I purchased a bottle of the reformulation there wasn’t even a spark of recognition. What a shame. The new one is an okay perfume. I simply don’t see how Lanvin can let someone else make it and call it My Sin. I guess the rights to the name are sold or something. How can any prestigious fragrance house like Lanvin and so many others stand to do this? We all know the answer.

    • Angela says:

      I’m sorry it didn’t chime those gorgeous My Sin bells! At least Lanvin hasn’t tried to release a modernized version of the fragrance–although it’s hard to know how it could be adjusted for modern tastes and still smell anything like My Sin.

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