Parfum Rare is the first perfume I'll review from the box of samples I received at Christmas from the vintage treasure trove at Fritsch Pharmacy. Everything in the box is a mystery to me and I'm looking forward to discovering new gems. The more I smell vintage perfume, the more I wish I had started my hobby twenty years ago.
In the late 60’s, an American named James Kaplan and a Frenchman, Gerard Courtin, a former pianist, came together to open a boutique on 5th Avenue in New York. They called it Jacomo. In 1970, they expanded their business to perfume. They released Silences in 1978. Parfum Rare was released in 1985 and re-released in 1987 as Coeur de Pafum.
Parfum Rare is a rich floral chypre, with some spice and a deliciously dark bitter base. The top notes start with a bright, tart fruit that could be could be bergamot, or black currant and warm, aromatic spices. The heart is a beautiful full rose and dry, not sweet, florals, possibly the iris and marigold mentioned in the notes, or carnation. The base is also dry with bitter oakmoss, as well as some dark patchouli and earthy vetiver.
It's very well blended and has excellent sillage. It seems to take up a three-dimensional physical space when I wear it, as if I can smell dark and light, high and low, at the same time. It's very "perfumey" in an old-fashioned way that I love and it smells like money. I want to wear it with an inky black mink coat and two dozen blood-red, long-stem roses. Pafum Rare is a portrait of a beautiful but mysterious woman. The painting is a contrast of deep dark depths and reflected light, and the woman is young but with an old soul.
Appropriately, Parfum Rare seems to have been discontinued, but I'm happy to say I have an extra sample to give away.
Please leave a comment below and tell me about a rare or discontinued perfume you love, or if you can't think of anything, just tell me what you're wearing today. The winner will be selected randomly and announced on the blog on Saturday. Be sure to check back.
Update Saturday, January 22, 2011: THE DRAW IS CLOSED. MY THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED.
Notes: bois de rose, cardomome de Ceylan, jasmin d'Egypte, iris de Florence, rose de Mai, vetiver, oeillet d'Inde (marigold), coriandre, immortelle, mousses de chene (oakmoss), santal, patchouli
Photo: Isabelle Pascoe, the Autumn Collections, British Vogue, 1985