Whenever I have the opportunity to try something from the Osmotheque I am petrified there will be something I love that I can’t find. My very first experience with this came when I attended Esxence in 2011. There Patricia de Nicolai of the Osmotheque had brought a traveling case of many of the faithful reconstructions from Versailles to Milan. Over the course of the four days of the fair I kept going back and asking to try something else. Everything I had tried had been good but I didn’t have to have one. Then Mme de Nicolai handed me a strip of F. Millot Crepe de Chine and I was lost.
Crepe de Chine made its debut at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels in 1925. This was the coming out for Art Deco as a movement across multiple artistic endeavors. Fragrance was well represented by Jean Patou who had some of the most beautiful Art Deco bottles of the time. Guerlain Shalimar also appeared. F. Millot wanted to join the party and also came up with an Art Deco inspired flacon. The perfume to go in it was Crepe de Chine composed by Jean Desprez. Thirty-seven years prior to the perfume M. Desprez is most known for Bal a Verailles. Most people aren’t even aware he did another fragrance. It is always my pleasure to introduce fans of Bal a Versailles to M. Desprez’s “other” fragrance.
What makes Crepe de Chine so memorable for me is the jasmine at its heart. I love my jasmine as funky as it can get. I want the indoles to be front and center. It is why that kind of jasmine is so perfect as part of a chypre. Which is what Crepe de Chine is. The source of the jasmine has been reputed to be the famous Jasmine de Grasse but I can only find anecdotal confirmation of that. The jasmine used is high quality; that I only need my nose for.
Crepe de Chine opens on a fizz of aldehydes carrying one of the sharper bergamots I have found. It is like popping a champagne cork and the liquid comes flowing out in a gush. That’s the opening moments. Then the jasmine arrives. Oh my does it arrive. It comes in and takes over the joint. This is that woman who is also an unattainable object of desire. It is gorgeous, experienced, and intelligent. Her friends ylang-ylang and lilac only deepen that impression. Then we get the chypre base of vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli, and musk. This is a chypre accord with all of the bite you could ask for. Matched with the jasmine it is exquisite.
Crepe de Chine has 6-8 hour longevity and prodigious sillage.
Obviously Crepe de Chine was meant to be a women’s perfume. The ad above captures that even in 1963 it was for a very certain kind of woman. On the days I wear this though I get the same response from the women who smell it on me. I think if I was ever to be out looking for a good time again Crepe de Chine might very well be my choice for a night on the town.
The review above comes from the Osmotheque version. I have since acquired two very well-preserved bottles and they lack some of the brightness but surprisingly more than a little of the aldehydes have persevered. The jasmine has aged like a femme fatale in her middle years; still dangerous and much more experienced. One accord I have found time and again in the vintage bottles I own which stands the ravages of time is the chypre accord and it is true in Crepe de Chine.
If you’re looking to acquire a bottle the best is to get one which is still sealed and the juice has a greenish tint to it. If the juice is very dark stay away it has been exposed to way too much light and oxygen. These bottles show up on the online auction sites often but Crepe de Chine is one of the perfumes which does not handle poor storage well. Be very careful if you decide to chase one down.
If this review has piqued your interest to try Crepe de Chine I am sorry I have done to you what Mme de Nicolai did in 2011 to me.
Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I have purchased.