Lanvin My Sin Vintage : Perfume Review

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Lanvin_my_sin_verushka

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Provocatively named, Lanvin Mon Péché (My Sin for the American market) is a mystery novel full of unusual twists and complex subplots. From the chilly elegance of its top notes crowned with the crisp aldehydes to the languorous darkness of its floral heart and the animalic base, heavy like a sigh of yearning, it never ceases to maintain attention. Why a mystery and not a simple story of seduction? Like most classical fragrances, My Sin does not flaunt its sensuality, but treats it in a tantalizing and unpredictable manner, resulting in a composition that, like a good mystery novel, keeps one guessing until the last page.

Between 1923 and 1924, the Russian perfumer Mme Zed created a range of perfumes for Jeanne Lanvin’s fashion house, which were intended more as the scented souvenirs for travel obsessed Lanvin than the fragrances with the wide appeal. Thus, La Dogaresse captured the beauty of ochre colored Venetian palazzos reflecting in the murky waters of the canals. Geranium d’Espagne spoke of hot stone paved streets in Seville. Le Sillon reminded of the wake of a ship. A collaboration between Mme Zed and Firmenich in 1924 resulted in My Sin. It broke with the holiday postcard tradition of Lanvin perfumes, instead presenting a composition that told its irresistible story in a sexy whisper. Its success was to be rivaled only by Arpège. …

A child of the 1920s, My Sin is based on the classical aldehydic-floral accord, the starched crispness of which is softened by the luxurious jasmine and ylang ylang—an olfactory sensation of soft lips touching the warm skin. The indolic whiteness of flowers contrasts with the incense ash quality of sandalwood forming the base, on which My Sin rests her voluptuous form. Recall two of the greatest perfumes, one by Chanel and one by Caron, and there you have a reference point for My Sin. The aldehydic overture against the woody backdrop is reminiscent of Chanel Bois des Iles, while the civet marred flowers recall the seductive intensity of Caron Narcisse Noir. It is a story filled with passionate whispers, dark secrets and sinister intrigues. My Sin continues unfolding even as the embers of its warm base lose their vibrancy and begin to fade, thus proving that mysteries do not have to solved.

My Sin includes the top notes of aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, neroli; heart notes of ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, clove, orris, lily of the valley, jonquil, lilac; base notes of vanilla, vetiver, musk, woods, tolu, styrax, civet. It has been discontinued, however the Long Lost Perfumes has a rather decent version of the vintage formula. I am not enchanted with its sharp top and heart notes, however the drydown is close to the original.

Verushka in Lanvin My Sin ad.

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54 Comments

  • Anya: One of your most enlightening, interesting posts ever, V. Too bad I have no reference with the Chanel of Caron! I do vaguely remember My Sin from my youth, and now, of course, you have me searching for it again for a good sniff. I suppose Mme Zed’s obscure perfumes are mostly lost to time? April 25, 2006 at 6:02am Reply

  • Judith: A beautiful review of a beautiful perfume! I really love this; thank you for letting me taste it. Of course, I immediately had to run to Ebay to find my own bottle–but I’m very glad I did! April 25, 2006 at 7:59am Reply

  • Christina H.: All I have is the Long Lost version of it and have oftened wondered if the original was different.When I wear the LLP version I also noticed that it does seem a bit abrasive in the beginning and I didn’t think I would like it at all but it tames down considerably after a length of time and is really quite pleasant.It surely is a shame that they have discontinued so many wonderful fragrances that many of us new to the perfume game will never have the privilege of knowing. April 25, 2006 at 8:46am Reply

  • Tania: Really wonderful. I’ve wanted to smell this for a long time. I loved your phrase “civet-marred flowers.” There’s your Narcisse Noir. Excellent work, V. April 25, 2006 at 8:59am Reply

  • marchlion: V, you prompted me to run upstairs and reapply my mother’s My Sin, which I inherited from my father last year. I think it is close to what it smelled like 30 (40?!) years ago when it was new. However, it makes me sad that on me it remains, stubbornly, a lovely powdery-floral. On my mother it was a strong, aldehydic chypre, a smell I adored and associated with her. It really is a wonder. I wish they would re-release it. I do think that the new Arpege, while different from the original, is still a beautiful fragrance, which gives me hope they could do the same with My Sin. But that type of fragrance seems strongly out of fashion right now, given the endless array of musky, fruity florals. April 25, 2006 at 9:04am Reply

  • annE: How fun it was to see that ad with Veruschka, after all these years! I remember it so well.
    Your review painted its own lovely picture, as always, and now I can imagine how incredible this fragrance must have been.

    My mother wore it and always had a little bottle on her dresser, but as this was during the time in which she saved perfume for special occasions only, alas, the juice in that little bottle was dark brown and did not smell good at all! Thank you for bringing it to life for me. April 25, 2006 at 9:27am Reply

  • violetnoir: Beautiful review, darling. I have a vintage sample of Arpege that a darling friend gave me several months ago, but not My Sin. They both certainly evoke the times in which they were created, yet remain timeless jewels.

    I love the photo of Veruschka. Her beauty is timeless, too.

    Hugs and love! April 25, 2006 at 11:47am Reply

  • Robin: What a great ad. Today they’d have her naked, no?

    This actually sounds like a vintage classic I might like, since I like both Bois des Iles & Narcisse Noir. April 25, 2006 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Marina: I really like My Sin too. “It is a story filled with passionate whispers, dark secrets and sinister intrigues.” What a wonderful review! April 25, 2006 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Amanda: I like Narcisse Noir. Great info. April 25, 2006 at 2:10pm Reply

  • Diane: Every turn of phrase of this review captures the provocative name. Wonderful work, dear. I am anxious to try it, as I love mysteries, especially the ones that have no neat ending, leaving it up to the imagination. :) April 25, 2006 at 3:33pm Reply

  • yann: great review !
    Is Mme Zed the pseudo of Andre Fraysse ?
    I`ve always had in mind he did all the first Lanvin fragrance, and with the associated fragrance house Synarome founded by his father Claude
    or is it a Synarome myth ? April 25, 2006 at 6:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Anya, I believe that they are available from Osmotheque, but I have not seen them anywhere else. I would love to try them. My Sin, as I understand, was very popular in the States, being an interesting combination of provocative and classically refined. April 25, 2006 at 6:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I must say that the classical Lanvins are stunning, although one has to be careful to buy the particular older versions. Over the years, the formulas have been compromised, and the EDTs are simply not that great. April 25, 2006 at 6:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, I do wish there was a perfume museum like Osmotheque in the States! There are so many fascinating compositions that are no longer available. April 25, 2006 at 6:12pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, thanks! I was amazed the first time I smelled My Sin, because it had such a distinctive Narcisse Noir facet, and yet it had a personality of its own. Quite special! April 25, 2006 at 6:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, it is a floral aldehydic composition, but I notice a rather dark base of woods and animalic notes. Although it is not a chypre, I can understand how the effect it creates a rather like the fragrances in that genre. By the way, I love the story of your mother and My Sin. That is such a precious memory. April 25, 2006 at 6:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ann, Verushka was one of the most fascinating models, and at the time when other women (Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton) were delicate and pretty, she was a true amazon. I adore that ad, even though I feel that the older ads for My Sin depicting a black cat capture its spirit better. April 25, 2006 at 6:21pm Reply

    • Dr. Nini: Bella Victoria,

      The other day I saw Veruschka Gräfin von Lehndorff waiting for the subway in Berlin. She waited just like I did (a mere mortal), standing not even a meter away from me. She looked utterly gorgeous and refined with a scarf wrapped around her head; elegant, striking, yet completely unfazed by her own regal aura. Sadly — although I tried to sniff the air around her for some precious sillage as unsuspiciously as possible — I could not detect any fragrance emaniating from her, however, I would describe this YSL Posterchild as a Chamade kind of presence…

      Liebe Victoria, on a different, let me take this opportunity and thank you for your beautiful blog. I “inhale” your postings, and as a working mom my biggest pleasure in my alone-time, i.e. a few minutes every day, is sampling a perfume on my wrists and reading your review about it at the same time (often on the bus!). Your words enable me to discern and smell all the notes, just like reading a great story, which makes me very happy. I seek to smell the various scents (today: EL Ambre Ylang-Ylang – is it really really not too sweet?) again and again and over time because my perception is that I pick up different notes at different times to various degrees. Also, I try to smell all kinds of things all day: like smelling my boy’s skin and his toddler hair in the morning, the hyazinths in the vase on my desk, fresh coffee beans in my works pantry, ground cashew nuts., etc… Just looking for different natural sensations to keep learning and growing olfactory-wise…
      Many thanks, merci beaucoup, and a hearfelt Dankeschön for all your time and effort! January 22, 2013 at 4:31am Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you so much for sharing this fascinating encounter and for your kind words. I can just imagine how regal and beautiful she must have looked, and I can just imagine why you think Chamade would have suit her.

        “Also, I try to smell all kinds of things all day: like smelling my boy’s skin and his toddler hair in the morning, the hyazinths in the vase on my desk, fresh coffee beans in my works pantry, ground cashew nuts., etc… Just looking for different natural sensations to keep learning and growing olfactory-wise…”

        Ah, this is so beautifully put! January 23, 2013 at 6:32am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R (violetnoir), the vintage Arpege is stunning, even though I wear the modern just as often. I think that it is quite beautifully reorchestrated. Of course, I agree with you–these fragrances are like precious, timeless gems. April 25, 2006 at 6:22pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, ha! That would probably be the case. Yet, how much sexier are the glimpses of her beautiful body. April 25, 2006 at 6:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you. A fan of mystery genre, I cannot but enjoy the same in perfume. April 25, 2006 at 6:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Amanda, thank you. I am glad to hear this. April 25, 2006 at 6:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Diane, isn’t it better when one keeps guessing and tries solving the riddle oneself? It certainly makes the experience much more interesting, whether it concerns books or perfume. Or other things for that matter. April 25, 2006 at 6:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Yann, Mme Zed was an elderly Russian perfumer, who fled before the Revolution. She created the early Lanvin perfumes, although My Sin was composed in collaboration with Firmenich. Andre Fraysse started working for Jeanne Lanvin only later, when he created Arpege for her in 1927. He also created Scandal, Rumeur, Pretexte for the house. At least, this is what can be found in most reliable sources on the subject.

    I know that Synarome does work with Lanvin, and for instance, the house engaged François Robert in 2003 to reorchestrated their Vetyver, which originally was introduced in 1966. April 25, 2006 at 6:34pm Reply

  • paru: I’d be curious to know how well vintages retain their original scent over time. I wonder if there are particular ingredients that are more susceptible to degradation than others? Just curious — not sure if there’s any good answer. April 25, 2006 at 8:07pm Reply

  • daruma: There appears to be a reissued version of this by Irma Shorell. Does anyone know how this compares to the original? April 26, 2006 at 11:06am Reply

  • yann: thanks for the info about Mme Zed
    I`ve smelled long time ago the original at l`Osmotheque, but have no strong memory opf it, would love to compare with the reissued version April 26, 2006 at 4:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, if it is stored out of light and extreme temperatures, the perfume can be fine. My oldest bottle is at least 110 years old, and it is perfectly fine. The most volatile materials break down quicker, while the ones that make up the bases of perfumes can be preserved well. Plus, alcohol is a good medium to preserve many of these ingredients. April 26, 2006 at 6:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Daruma, the LLP version I am referring above is by Irma Shorell. It is good once it dries down, but the top notes are rather sharp. I am not sure if they have a sample program, but I highly recommend seeking it out, if you are curious to try My Sin. April 26, 2006 at 6:18pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Yann, the Long Lost Perfumes has a decent version, although nothing can compare to the beauty of the original. I was lucky to discover a never opened, vintage bottle of the extrait. April 26, 2006 at 6:20pm Reply

  • daruma: thank you – I hadn’t realised the two were the same. I’m very tempted to order a small bottle, especially given the astonishing prices of the original on ebay! April 27, 2006 at 4:58am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Daruma, it is worth seeking out. As for the original, I see now auctions going for around $20-30. The BIN prices for vintage extrait are around $50. It is not that expensive to locate, unless the bottle is somehow valuable. April 27, 2006 at 1:26pm Reply

  • Charles: I would love to read one day that you were writing novels built around romance and intrigue… Nice review and with your special gift of expression, it evokes your reader’s imagination to the fullest, as you can see.
    My only comment is this… I had heard once that My Sin was created mistake thus the name Mon Péché. This, of course could be a worldly myth but I thought I would ask anyway.
    Off the subject a bit but I was thinking how wonderful it would be to have a trade show of sorts that would devote itself to fragrance, contemporary and my favorite of all, the classics from a by gone past. How interesting to go from booth to booth sampling, buying and listening to the stories. Want to take a ride?

    Cg May 21, 2006 at 2:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Charles, thank you for your wonderful compliment. Someday it might happen.

    I have not heard that story, but it does not surprise me. I do wonder what was the mistake. Many great fragrances appeared by not so much accident, but creative flair that likes to take risks. Perhaps, that is the case with My Sin.

    I cannot agree more! I would love to have a fair like that. Wouldn’t it fascinating! May 23, 2006 at 2:23pm Reply

  • sdn: i have original my sin (which i wore for years) and reformulated my sin, and the latter is just rotten compared to the original. it’s like two different perfumes. i’ve been underwhelmed with the LLP reformulations. September 8, 2006 at 6:43pm Reply

  • dranda: I have an original spray bottle of My Sin that I use sparingly. I’m trying to figure out how old it might be. It is a 1 1/3 ounce container. The bottle is gold,ridged like a Greek column, with a black metal cap with the Lanvin emblem etched in the gold of the top. This bottle came to me by way of my mother-in-law who passed on two years ago. I love so many of the vintage fragrances. And I loved this review! October 8, 2006 at 8:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Sharyn, same here. I am not that impressed with them. October 8, 2006 at 9:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dranda, I have a feeling that this is a 70s version. Please check the ad on Okadi.com http://www.okadi.com/ (go to Parfums, then to Lanvin and then to My Sin.) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also love vintage fragrances. October 8, 2006 at 9:11pm Reply

  • Adrienne: Many, many years ago, Lanvin made a perfume whose scent was geraniums. What was the name of that perfume, & is it available anywhere at all? January 23, 2007 at 4:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: The version made for the US is called Spanish Geranium, but it has been discontinued at least 20 years ago. January 23, 2007 at 4:21pm Reply

  • Deborah: While going through my Mother-in-Law’s things I found a bottle of My Sin in its original container that the paper covering the outside of the box was yellowed from time. The perfume hardly used, meaning maybe a drop or two, because the seal is broken. It’s 1 Fl. Oz. A Chanel and Shalimar fan myself, I have to admit that My Sin is quite beautiful. Is this the vintage perfume you all are talking about? April 21, 2007 at 10:14am Reply

  • Catherine Czerkawska: Just managed to source an almost full and perfectly preserved flacon of the vintage extrait of this – had been pursuing it, given my current near obsession with Arpege. It is amazing and I can see just what you mean by ‘secrets and sinister intrigues’. On my skin at least, it starts off quite innocent and floral but gradually turns into something much much darker, and – you are so right – mysterious and deep and very sensuous. There’s something about it that reminds me irresistibly of visiting an elderly but still very beautiful great aunt and her much loved artist husband, in Poland, many years ago. I can’t say why, but as soon as I put it on, I had a vision of their apartment with its textiles and paintings. They and the apartment both had a sort of gorgeous faded elegance. Maybe she wore it? She would have been a young woman in the 20s. No way of knowing now. Anyway, it’s another obsession to add to Arpege! Thank-you for bringing it to my attention and for writing about it so beautifully.
    Catherine August 21, 2007 at 6:20am Reply

  • Jeane: I remember a small bottle of perfume that I loved to smell at the department store when I was a child in the 50s. It was a small bottle with a black flat top. The top was narrower than the glass bottle. Is this My Sin?
    Thank you.
    Jeane September 23, 2007 at 10:29pm Reply

  • Kathleen: Do you have samples of My Sin? February 4, 2008 at 3:49pm Reply

  • Melvin E. Holliday: In the early 1960’s I was in the navy in Scotland. I used to buy Arpege and My Sin for all the special women in my life. My Sin is very hard to find these days and not likely still manufactured. I found it again online and ordered a bottle but never received it due to shipping problems. You will be delighted if you can find a bottle and have never tried it. May 30, 2011 at 4:30pm Reply

  • Mary: As a teener in the 50’s, My Sin was not considered proper for my age. Neither was Midnight by Tussy, but I had a boyfriend who would give them to me on special occasions. Wish I had married him! January 24, 2012 at 9:57pm Reply

  • Mary: Got a question – the old My Sin emblem, on the bottle’s label, looks like a woman and child – love child? Does anybody know if this is what it represents? January 24, 2012 at 10:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: Mary, it is Jeanne Lanvin and her daughter. January 24, 2012 at 10:15pm Reply

  • Mary: Thanks! Wonderful information – January 24, 2012 at 11:12pm Reply

  • Victoria: :) He had a great taste! January 24, 2012 at 11:17pm Reply

  • Toni: When I was 16, my grandmother and mother took a trip to New York. My grandmother brought me back a very small bottle of “My Sin”. I still have this bottle. I have saved it all these years for the perfume I will wear on my wedding day. I have very little of the perfume left now. I am still waiting for my wedding day. This perfume is my all time favorite. I am now 45 years old. I hope there is some way I can get a little more. May 4, 2012 at 4:39am Reply

  • Andre Moreau: Hi,
    finally, after so many years, a scientific analysis performed on “My Sin” (in its latest version dated 1980s)
    A bit different from previous versions, maybe, but still very interesting. May 20, 2014 at 7:41am Reply

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