Raffinée (Houbigant)

Before handing me this decidedly vintage carded sample, my pal Nan described Raffinée's bouquet as reminiscent of a black leather handbag carried by a harsh, red-lipsticked lady of yore. While this spectre gave me pause, the handbag warning posed less of a deterrent, as there's nothing I like more than a perfume redolent of pocketbook leather. (See Jolie Madame, Norell, and Bottega Veneta.)

Produced in 1982 by Haute Parfumerie Houbigant Paris before Dana/Renaissance destroyed it, Raffinée reveals the sentimental dame behind every harsh taskmistress. Yes, there's leather-- but also carnations, roses, and a rich sandalwood finish. In short, more Kathleen Turner as a husky-voiced femme fatale than Cruella DeVil, animated OR live-action version.

There aren't too many impressions that I can add to Kay's wonderful writeup over at That Smell, except to affirm that Raffinée is a plush-and-lush powerhouse whose groove I can get into without hesitation. And though Raffinée didn't turn out to be Nan's idea of a good time, I'm grateful to her for introducing us.

Somehow, she must have known we'd get along like gangbusters.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, plum, carnation, orange blossom, jasmine, rose, mimosa, tuberose, orchid, osmanthus, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, clary sage, cypress, vetiver, sandalwood, tonka, cinnamon, musk, vanilla, incense, spices