Via Lanvin (Lanvin)

This may be an irreverent (and even blasphemous) thing to say about a perfume, but Via Lanvin reminds me of a bathroom.

Wait, wait, hear me out! I'm not talking just any old bathroom, but my DREAM bathroom-- the one that would surely become the island paradise of my daily life, if only I had the disposable cash to make all my fantasies come true. You know how Eliza Doolittle wants "a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air, with one enormous chair..."? Well, I want the same thing-- only my room would come equipped with a full-length claw-foot tub, and the chair would be an overstuffed chaise-longue upholstered in green-and-white striped chintz upon which I would recline breathless when fresh from my bath.

(We have very specific demands, Eliza and I.)

For a room devoted to self-care, cleanliness, and tranquility, too often the bathroom is neglected in the scheme of house designs. Not mine: if and when the opportunity arises, I intend to go all out. The walls of my dream bathroom would be paved in glistening white ceramic with accent tiles in iridescent raku glaze. High-pile flokati bath rugs in deep pthalo green would spread like lily pads across a blue slate floor, interspersed with shallow stone bowls filled with floating candles. Steam from my bath would curl upward toward an embossed-copper ceiling. There would be two pedestal sinks (his and hers), mirrors at various levels, and little tables laden with abalone shells and piles of books.  And the air would smell of.... well, it would smell of Via Lanvin: clean, serene, and revivifying.

I scored my vintage bottle of this grand old green fragrance for a pittance at a local thrift store. A primary factor in its shockingly low cost was its spray mechanism, which was good 'n' stuck. Ironically, this defect may well have preserved the juice within from the ravages of oxygen and oversampling... thus saving it for me, all for me! I alone accepted the challenge of coaxing Via Lanvin out into the open-- a messy job, yes, but someone had to do it. For the sake of the beauty this B&E operation yielded, I have no regrets whatsoever.

Debuting together in 1971, Via Lanvin and Estée Lauder Private Collection can both be termed evergreen chypres for the hearty dose of pineforest they contain. However, it seems to me that a door divides them. Private Collection is 'outside' with the twilight shadows and fireflies; Via Lanvin is 'inside', where pine smells translate to cleanliness and nature is a decorative detail rather than the entire picture.  It smells of all the amenities of a well-appointed spa: hot steam, cold porcelain, wet slate, warm towels, white soap, loose talcum, lit candles. There's a warm, lived-in undertone to this scent -- the human element, smooth-skinned under a layer of dusting powder, hair still slightly damp from the shower -- but predominant is the sense of a shining expanse of tile recently sanitized with pine oil soap and the merest touch of bleach, so clean it squeaks.

Were I to spend a day in the gritty city, sidestepping murky sidewalk puddles or languishing on grimy subway platforms, this is the fragrance I would want in my purse. Indeed, one spray has the power to leave me feeling spruced up from top to bottom, restored to an orderly starting point.

Scent Elements: Galbanum, bergamot, aldehydes, violet, lemon, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, iris, carnation, rose, ylang-ylang, narcissus, oakmoss, vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, amber, musk