Paris Vintage Parfum de Toilette (Coty)

When I first spied it on the thrift store shelf, it had obviously never been opened. The cap was factory-tight; the tiny circular foil seal beneath, undisturbed; the bottle, full to the brim. No longer. At this moment, thanks to a combination of using and sharing, I'm down to slightly less than half of what I started with.
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
C'est payé, balayé, oublié
Je me fous du passé!
How I thank the stars, the fortuitous heavenly bodies that govern a life, for putting Paris in my path. Normally, I am driven to write about a perfume all the sooner when it touches me this deeply, but Paris? It left me dumbstruck for a full year, prostrate on the pavement (which of course is glassy with cold spring rain).

So often I find that what I think I want from a perfume (warmth, reassurance, easy equations) is utterly overturned by a Fosca of a fragrance-- quaint, unearthly, and cold-blooded, yet supremely compelling. Paris is such a perfume. From its opening (chilly, pale-green heliotropin) through its heart (carnations and grey smoke) to its drydown (dry and brittle leather), it masters me through its refusal to speak one syllable more than necessary. Its reticence slays and enslaves me-- and the level of perfume remaining in the bottle proves it.

"Chosen by women of gay vivacity, of sparkling joy in life", reads a 1924 magazine advertisement for Coty Paris. So strange: I suspect the exact opposite. If L'Heure Bleue ever caused a woman to cry, Paris catches her at the moment when her bitter weeping has simply run its course. If she had any tears left to cry, she would, but -- as that great American expatriate and Parisian resident Edith Wharton expressed through the mouthpiece of Madame Olenska -- the Gorgon has a certain way of drying them up. What's left is wisdom, obduracy, maturity, even a measure of peace-- but no sentiment. No: to one who has looked into the Gorgon's eyes, passion and drama and conversation are wastes of needed energy.

Bundle up, my dears. Spring, though within sight, is still a long way off.

Deep thanks to the ever-marvelous Octavian Coifan and Gaia at The Non-Blonde for their posts on this long-discontinued fragrance, as information and reviews on Coty Paris are otherwise extremely difficult to come by. Introduced in 1922 and extinct as of 1968, it is a fragrance which extends the lexicon of L'Heure Bleue and Après L'Ondée into new and sobering stratospheres, where the rain clouds conceal a rumble of warning thunder.

Scent Elements: Lilac, hyacinth, heliotrope, carnation, Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, musk, civet, vanilla, aldehydes.