Sortilège Vintage Extrait de Parfum (Le Galion)

I first spotted this beauty in a vitrine at the antique shop downtown. Its lovely olive-green box embossed in white with a guipure lace motif charmed me instantly. Based on design value alone, I probably would have been smitten even if I hadn't seen the name emblazoned on the top.

Upon inspection, I found that the flacon was still sealed with old-fashioned baudruche and unsnipped gold thread, proof that it had never been breached. Its contents -- though diminished by time to approximately three-quarters of their initial volume --were of a healthy color and sure to be pristine. Priced at $50, the flacon was marked down 50% and would be subject to an additional discount based on a frequent-shopper coupon I'd accrued over time. (Hooray for vintage perfume addiction!)

Getting the flacon open was an multi-step adventure. As described here, I knew I must snip the cords, moisten and peel back the membrane, and apply gradual pressure to the stopper, rocking it gingerly in a clockwise fashion until it loosened and slid free. Predictably, everything worked like a charm except for that last part. I had to take the additional step of wrapping a rubber band around the outer rim of Sortilège's stopper to provide traction for one final, gentle twist. Voilà! The stopper came out in one piece, and the flacon released its very first dazzling exhale of fragrant vapors. As I had hoped, they were gorgeous-- a fitting reward for so much patience, diligence, and sweet anticipation.

Let me set one thing straight from the get-go: the Long Lost Perfumes version of Sortilège ain't nothing but a shadow of a dream of an unfulfilled wish to be anything, ANYTHING like the real deal. I'm not saying LLP's Sortilège is a bad perfume. I'm just saying that it is not Sortilège; it bears no relation or resemblance to the original perfume conceived in 1937 by Paul Vacher. True, it starts off with a similar Chanel No 5-ish breath of aldehydes-- as does Coty L'Aimant, and Lanvin Arpège, et al. But whereas LLP's dupe goes off in the direction of a mumsy opopanax accord reminiscent of Coty Émeraude, Sortilège lands on a gorgeous, buttery sandalwood-- cinnamon-dusted, dangerously heady, and fortified with a goodly helping of pure-D musk. The seductive quality of this accord must be experienced to be believed. It forces me to take back every imprecation I've lobbed at aldehydic florals for being prim, clean, and cold. In the dead of winter, I could wear Sortilège and nothing else-- thanks to that sandalwood, the snow all around me would hiss as it melted.

Despite the fact that it must have inspired more than a few others (Samsara, anyone?) I cannot say that I have experienced anything exactly like true vintage Sortilège. It literally made me bite my lip. How many perfumes -- Long Lost or not -- have the power to do that?

Scent Elements: Bergamot, peach, neroli, rose, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang, iris, lilac, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean, opopanax, amber, civet, musk