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The delights of my favorite new thrift store: Le De

There’s a thrift store in the neighborhood of my cat’s veterinarian that serves my need when I just need Something New to Sniff. At such times, buying something off eBay or other online retail is no good; I want immediate gratification. And let’s face it, the Sephora and the department stores have already been picked over by me as well.

No, what I want is what the thrift store has got: unexpected thrills, all for less than $30, and the excitement of gambling.

Who knows how good or not the finds will be!

So far I’ve scored a fantastic bottle of Diorissimo parfum for about $25, and a bottle of White Linen that has mostly gone off, also for about $25. I can’t tell if they really don’t know anything about pricing perfume or not, but I assume that they don’t. (I’m pretty sure that Diorissimo would have brought more than $100 on eBay; however, the mini of Nuits Indiennes was priced at $7.99, exactly what it is on

Last time I was there a tiny fat bottle of Le De by Givenchy was calling my name. It was priced at the higher end of the scale, about $25, and for such a small bottle and a scent I didn’t know, I passed it up at that time. (Plus I was busy crowing over my Diorissimo!) But it was still there when I went back this weekend, crouching among a forest of bottles of White Linen and L’Air du Temps (SOMEONE who liked White Linen has just passed away, I’m telling you). I had been thinking about it, tried to do some research, and this review at The Scented Salamander intrigued me. (Or I’m just a sucker for a photo of Audrey Hepburn, which is just as likely.) So when I saw it there again I had to buy it.

There was some fluid gone from the bottle, so I thought it had been used. It wasn’t till I got it home and examined it much more carefully that I realized that no, it had never been opened. Its stopper was still wrapped in its original baudruchage, and tied with black thread. The small amount of loss appeared to be due to evaporation. (In fact it looks exactly like the large factice on this page, but wee.)

I really wanted to smell this, so I opened the baudruchage today, and cut the thread. Of course the stopper didn’t open.

This didn’t worry me at first. It took me some digging to open the vintage bottle of Diorissimo I bought myself for my birthday. But the longer I tried to wiggle, twist, or lever out this stopper, the more worried I got. You don’t want the whole little bottle to open in your hands and spill everywhere. But geez, I was applying some force!

Finally I ran some warm water over the stopper, then let it rest, then put an ice pack on the stopper to try to shrink it, especially while the bottle itself was still a little warm. You don’t want to really heat vintage perfume, but if I couldn’t open it either, I couldn’t enjoy it!

The husband saw me looking for something to get a better grip on the little stopper and went to get his can of blow-out air. I guess the little bottle reacted to the threat, because it finally opened.

I love those little vintage bottles with their glass stoppers so perfect for daubing. I daubed some on my wrists and throat, then went off to help clean out the utensil drawer in the kitchen.

The top notes were fairly “vintage perfumey”. Not off, but not what I adore. I can’t quite describe them any better, except to say that I’m fairly sure it’s the topnote mix of aldehydes and bergamot that graced every classic perfume from 1925 to 1969 or so. But there was a sweetness, a lightness to the mix that got me excited from the start. This bottle had not gone off.

As the perfume dried down even slightly, I caught a whiff of something like cinnamon that surprised me. The reviewer at Scented Salamander had referenced the purity of Le De, but the spicy classic fragrance spoke to me of someone womanly and adult. Not skin, there’s no musk or cumin, but certainly not childlike either.

And then further on I caught lily and jasmine, but also something else, something elusive, something special, something that I didn’t smell in everyday perfumes. I had to look up the notes in Le De to identify it, but once I did it was crystal clear: it’s lilac.

The lilac – such a rare, springlike, special scent – lifts the rest of the perfume up, reminding one not of a queen, but of a princess. It smells expensive without smelling heavy or cloying, and it balances the often-heavy lily and jasmine and makes the whole thing less bottom-heavy without ever being light enough to float away.

But don’t think that the lilac stands alone. Also emblematic of classic perfumes, this is a blend, a chord greater than the sum of any one specific part. It’s unmistakeably floral, but not in the way of huge 80s bouquets; rather in the way of a previous era’s wedding nosegay.

This is not what a modern perfume wearer would call “fresh”. There’s nothing ozonic about it, and if there are any synthetic musks in it they are in the far far drydown. The flowers settle down into something that’s not quite powdery and still clearly a scent. Could the lilac be doing for me what I have been looking for from violet? It’s a smell of springtime in a bottle, in a womanly, sophisticated, elegantly blended fragrance.

The photo of Audrey Hepburn on the Scented Salamander’s review page is extremely appropriate.

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