lunedì 6 luglio 2020

The unfinished articles: Part Two (LANVIN PERFUMES)

In these short posts we want to present the latest unfinished articles, written in the years 2015 and 2016. We thought it was right to publish everything, even those notes that would become full-fledged articles. No changes have been made, the writings are in their raw state and therefore still incomplete.

(last script: May, 2016)

"How to recognize Lanvin perfumes"  

"Jeanne Lanvin: 
to amaze her daughter, 
amazed the world".
(Louise Valmorin)

Here's an attempt to illustrate another historical brand, one of the greatest in perfumes during the XX century, at the same level of Dior, Chanel, Patou, Guerlain, and one of the few to proudly produce its own perfumes in its own factory: it's Nanterre, located in the north of France.
Lanvin ceased operations in 1989, and with almost no first-hand sources to investigate, we at RotlS were lucky to found an old retired worker from "Lanvin Italie" (it was the Lanvin subsidiary in Milan, Italy), who gave room to his rememberings since the end of 1950s. So, no "batch-codes" here, but a bunch of old stories. 
It's enough to summarize a glorious story indeed.  

(notes to be reworked in a single article)

- "Jeanne Lanvin, the founder, died immediately after the Second World War. The family took over the company and reorganized everything. Until then, the perfumes were named "Jeanne Lanvin", but after her death they simply became "Lanvin". So when you find a perfume that says "Jeanne Lanvin" on the bottle or the box, you are sure it is a perfume produced before 1945."


- "Lanvin was one of the few brands to produce fragrances in its own factory (located at Nanterre, in France), from the start to the end of the process. Lanvin perfumes were famous for their quality, on the same level of Chanel, Dior, Patou, Caron and Guerlain. One of the strengths of the brand it's the fact that it was always directed by the same owner, the Lanvin family, and very committed to quality."


-"A famous story: the amount of flowers needed to make Lanvin perfumes in a single year, was equal to the size of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. During its prime days, Lanvin used nearly one third (1/3) of all flowers produced in France."


- "The story of Lanvin perfumes is emblematic for rise and fall: at the end of the 60s Lanvin was at the top of the celebrity; just 20 years later, in 1989, it was in complete ruin."

STOP IN 1989

- "Lanvin dismissed its perfume factory in Nanterre (and discontinued all fragrances except Arpege, its most iconic one) in 1989".

- "Many Lanvin fragrances were produced with different boxes and labels for different markets: this could be a bit confusing. Sometimes you can see fragrances produced in the same time, but with striking differences in boxes, bottles and labels. For example, French packaging is completely different from the American one. Don't worry, it's the same scent."


- Bottles produced in USA for the American markets were labelled "Blended in USA", and/or "Perfume imported from France" and/or with "Charles of the Ritz" label.


- "This is very important. According to a false belief, these perfumes "made in the USA" would be of inferior quality compared to those "made in France". This is completely false. These perfumes are identical. The oils were exported to the USA and the perfumes were prepared and packaged in USA, solely to avoid more taxes and duties. Many perfume brands (Guerlain, Chanel, etc.) did the same thing in their american factories."

- A few Lanvin fragrances were available only in certain countries and were almost unknown in others (just an example: "Figaro", "Spanish Geranium", or "Cardamome").


- "Batchcodes do not have so much importance since the perfume factory closed in 1989. Instead, when looking for original, historical Lanvin perfumes, you need to pay attention to the fact that barcodes still did not exist. All ancient Lanvin perfumes were produced without barcode on the box."


-"Be careful here, since this fact is a bit complicate.
The mystery of the words "EAU de LANVIN" (created in the middle of 1930s) is a topic that causes much confusion. Here is the whole story.
Until the late 1950s, "EAU de LANVIN" existed as an unisex scent in its own, a precursor to the modern "Eau de Sport".
In 1959, "EAU de LANVIN" was suspended as a standalone fragrance and was "mixed" with other Lanvin fragrances. So, from 1959 onwards, you can read on the boxes / bottles the words "Eau de Lanvin" paired with "Arpege", "My Sin", "Scandal", etc.: these are a kind of lighter and more wearable version of the classic Lanvin Perfumes (for example, you will read: "Arpege Eau de Lanvin" or "My Sin Eau de Lanvin" or "Scandal Eau de Lanvin", etc ....).
Later, in 1970, with the the Squibb takeover, all these "mixed" perfumes were discontinued, and the old "EAU de LANVIN" was relaunched as a fragrance in its own right; all the other perfumes have been relaunched as "Eau de Toilette", but with a new name: "Eau Arpege", "Eau My Sin", etc. 
- "Eau de Lanvin" (as a fragrance in its own) dated from 1935 until 1959, then again from 1970 until 1983;
-"Mixed scents" ("Arpege Eau de Lanvin", etc) dated from 1959 until 1970;
-Traditional Eau de Toilettes (labelled as "Eau Arpege", "Eau my Sin", etc) dated from 1971 until 1989.
Hope you can understand my words!"

"I would suggest you to search new, sealed, mint-in-box bottles for collection purpose only. You shouldn't use ancient perfumes for daily use, but as a collection of precious items."


1946: At the end of the second world war the bottles and boxes change denomination: before it was "Jeanne Lanvin", and now they simply become "Lanvin, Paris".

End of 1950s:
Seven different perfumes are in production: five "Parfums/Extrait" (ARPEGE, PRETEXTE, SCANDAL, RUMEUR and MY SIN or "Mon Pèche"), plus the light, unisex "EAU de LANVIN" (a sort of "Eau de Sport"). The seventh one is "Spanish Geranium", sold almost exclusively in the USA.
Notable to say, there is a sort of after-shave known in the USA as "Eau de Lanvin for Men".

1960: Launch of the new fragrance CRESCENDO, and discontinuation of EAU DE LANVIN as a fragrance of its own.
Launch of the "lighter" concentrations, obtained mixing the "EAU de LANVIN" with all other scents (you will have the "ARPEGE EAU DE LANVIN", "MY SIN EAU DE LANVIN", etc.)

In 1964 Lanvin merged with Charles of the Ritz, an American company. It was the beginning of an immense success. At the end of 1960s Lanvin was at its peak. 

1964: Launch of MONSIEUR LANVIN in different versions (Figaro-Vetyver-Lavender, often short-lived), mainly aimed to the  American market.

1965: for the first time, Lanvin launch a limited edition of a "Atomiseur/Vapospray without gas", i.e. the (now) classic "Natural Spray" bottle.

1966: Launch of VETYVER de LANVIN.

1969: Discontinuation of CRESCENDO and PRETEXTE. "Crescendo" remained in production for just 10 years. 
"Pretexte" remained in production for about 30 years.

In 1970-1971 Lanvin-Charles of the Ritz was bought by pharmaceutical company E.R. Squibb. Making a terrible mistake, Squibb remove all Lanvin executives,  substituting them with people without any fragrance expertise. Lanvin begins to plummet....

1970: Relaunch of the "EAU de LANVIN", the unisex fragrance, and launch of the traditonal "Eau de Toilettes" (labelled as  "Eau Arpege", "Eau My Sin", "Eau Rumeur" etc.). 

Discontinuation of all "mixed" fragrances ("Arpege Eau de Lanvin", "My Sin Eau de Lanvin", "Rumer Eau de Lanvin", etc. all these were discontinued)

1971: Discontinuation of SCANDAL, RUMEUR and SPANISH GERANIUM. 
Launch of a new scent: VIA LANVIN.
"Scandal" remained in production for 40 years.
"Rumeur" remained in production for nearly 35 years.
"Spanish Geranium" remained (although as limited distribution) for about 20 years.

Late Seventies: after the incredible success of Yves Saint Laurent's "Opium" (YSL perfumes were owned, together with many other brands, by Charles of the Ritz), Squibb decided to abandon Lanvin perfumes, as they were no longer profitable . Thus, in 1979 the Lanvin family regained its independence from Squibb for a small symbolic amount; Squibb continued to hold Charles of The Ritz (and Yves Saint Laurent, and other brands).
In this year Lanvin's revenues are almost zeroed, just higher than the expenses.

1979: after regaining its independence, Lanvin tries (almost desperately) to renew his brand, but without success.
Launch of "LANVIN for MEN" and "CARDAMOME" (this was a limited distribution in the eastern countries, almost impossible to find in America and Europe).
Lanvin tries to relaunch the old "RUMEUR", but without success: it will be discontinued again in 1983, after a short 4-years-span  production.
Dicontinuation of VIA LANVIN (produced for just 8 years).

1983: Launch of "CLAIR DU JOUR", the last perfume produced by historical Lanvin Perfumes.
Discontinuation of RUMEUR. 
Discontinuation of "EAU DE LANVIN" (the standalone scent).
Discontinuation of "VETYVER LANVIN"

1984: from this year onwards, economic losses will become bigger and bigger.
The perfumes still in production now are: Arpege, My Sin, Clair du Jour, Lanvin for Men, and Monsieur Lanvin.

1987: Launch of the new "Arpege Eau de Parfum", in a new bottle. Clarins acquires a a stake of Lanvin in an (unsuccessful) attempt to revitalize the brand.

1989: Unable to guarantee the same quality of fragrances (and not wanting to make a compromise), and with sales reduced to very low levels, an agonizing Lanvin closes its perfume factory in Nanterre and the perfume subsidiaries in the world.
All perfumes are therefore discontinued, except for Arpege, which is produced elsewhere.
Sadly, here finish the Story. 

Lanvin was sold to Midland Bank France, then sold to Orcofi (i.e. Louis Vuitton) in 1990, then to L'Oreal in 1996, then to Harmonie in 2001, then to Interparfums in 2007..... 

1993: Hubert Fraysse reformulates Arpege according to old formulas, adding an hint of modern vibes. Another reformulation will happen in 2007, to comply the IFRA rules.

1996:  L'Oreal buy Lanvin and attempts to revitalize Lanvin Perfumes launching Lanvin l'Homme (1997), then Oxygene (2000). 
New label since 1996 is: "Parfums Lanvin, 16, Place Vendome, Paris" (it's the traditional L'Oreal address)

...and this is a modern story.

Tutorial Pictures

Before 1946: "Jeanne Lanvin" Perfumes

Lanvin (Perfumes) 1924 Parfums & Lotions Gazette du Bon Ton
Jeanne Lanvin Perfumes in the 1920s
(from HPrints .com)

Typical packaging during the 1950s

Typical packaging during the 1960s

Advertisement year 1952

The six perfumes in the 1950s 

Arpege, Extrait/Parfum

The six perfumes in the 1950s 

1959-1970 The "mixed" scents
(Arpege Eau de Lanvin, etc.)

Idem, as above

The new "mixed" scents.

Spain geranium - Lanvin Eau de Toilette 115ml Edt Splash - Vintage ...
Very rare "Geranium d'Espagne", french version.

The new "spray" bottles,
american ad (1959)

Lanvin Crescendo, French ad (year 1960)

Lanvin Crescendo, american ad (1960)

Crescendo Eau de Lanvin,
american version (from ebay)

1964-1970: a typical "Made in USA" bottle

"Arpege Eau de Lanvin" 
made in America (produced until 1970)

"Eau de Lanvin for Men", 
after-shave only for american market  

Idem as above

Eau de Lanvin Spanish Geranium,
in the american version

Idem, as above

Spanish Geranium,
sold almost exclusively in the USA

Arpege Eau de Lanvin, spray,
american version

Monsieur Lanvin,
american ad (year 1964)

The short-lived Monsieur Lanvin Lavande,
american version

Monsieur Lanvin "Eau de Vetyver",
american version

Arpege Eau de Lanvin,
american version (1960s)

The Squibb Era: beginning of decline 

The new Atomiseur bottles 

Year 1971: back to "Eau de Lanvin"
as a standalone scent (until 1983)

Year 1971: launch of Via Lanvin

Year 1972

Year 1974

"Eau Arpege", made in France,
in the mid of 1970s

"Eau My Sin",
mid of 1970s

Year 1974

Year 1977

Regaining indipendence:
an attempt to revive the brand

Year 1979: launch of Lanvin for Men

The new boxes

Year 1979 : Relaunch of Rumeur
here as EdT (1979-1983)

Year 1979: Eau de Lanvin
(until 1983)

New-Rare-Vintage-Genuine-Cardamone-De-LANVIN-Paris-100ml-EDT-Spray ...
The rare "Cardamome de Lanvin"
sold in Eastern Countries (1979-1983)

lanvin cardamome de lanvin 100ml edt splash | eBay
Idem, as above

Eau de toilette vetyver de lanvin 100 ml sin es - Venduto all'asta ...

Year 1981

Year 1983: launch of "Clair de Jour" 

Year 1983: Clair de Jour 


Monsieur Lanvin, last box and bottle

As above


Random Pictures

Vetyver Lanvin / Eau de Vetyver (Eau de Toilette) (Lanvin)


(many, many thanks to: Grace Hummel at
Elena Vosnaki at
Victor Wong, the Zoologist Perfumer, at Fragrance Reviewer Cafè)

May, 15, 2016.

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