My Sin Vintage Extrait and Eau de My Sin EdT (Lanvin)

I know two women who both hail from the same insular Jersey Shore community. One -- a career librarian -- has never strayed from her childhood home. The other -- a spirited local teacher -- has pursued a life of Bohemian adventure via travel and theatre. Despite having sprung from the same square foot of common ground, they could not be less alike in personality or temperament.

Besides me, what connects them?  Feminine forebears who hoarded perfume... in particular, My Sin by Lanvin.

In her youth, the librarian's mother made it her exclusive signature-- a scent so indelibly hers that her beaux begged for empty perfume bottles as souvenirs d'amour. Even after becoming a wife and mother, she continued to wear My Sin, buying it well ahead of time to tuck away for future use. Given the perfume industry's penchant for trashing even its classics, her impulse to hoard proved quite prescient-- Lanvin would discontinue My Sin in 1988. After her mother died, my library colleague found several bottles of Eau de My Sin secreted among her personal effects. She gave one to me, and it has become one of my most cherished vintage bottles.

The teacher, of course, is my old friend DC, who (along with her mother CC) has shared many a vintage lovely with me in past days. Recently, CC uncovered another gem from her own mother's stash-- a tiny square flacon of My Sin extrait with just a breath of jus remaining. DC brought it over to my house and decanted a nice little sample for me. Just a few drops' worth, but really, that's all one needs of this extraordinary fragrance.

Both the pure perfume and the EdT smell amazing-- a bouquet of jonquil and ylang-ylang petals run through with a ribbon of smoke from the world's most elegant cigarette. Is smoking the sin to which the name Mon Peche refers? If so, it's just a minor (and very pleasurable) vice enjoyed by a sophisticated woman whose urban chic has not eclipsed her sense of humor. She brandishes that cigarette like Bette Davis, all flared nostrils and widened eyes, daring you to take her drama seriously. A smile ghosts around the corners of her mouth as she savors another deep drag. Wry luxury, sly wit: lovely.

As much as I adore vintage Arpège, I think I might call My Sin more wearable in everyday terms. Arpège glistens like gold lamé, but who can wear that to the office? Save it for nighttime, and flaunt My Sin during the bold, bright light of day.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, lemon, neroli, aldehydes, clary sage, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, iris, lily-of-the-valley, jonquil, lilac, vetiver, cedar, cloves, balsam Tolu, styrax, vanilla, civet