Lubin Idole de Lubin : Perfume Review



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

Idole de Lubin… “He embraced her nervously, not daring to ask the question that hovered upon his lips. She had placed a large package on the stand in the center of the room. Opening it she took out a tablet of soap, a bottle of Lubin’s extract, a sponge, a box of hairpins, a button- hook, and curling-tongs…” Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami (1885).

The names like Lubin, L.T. Piver, Sauzé, Gelle Frères, Millot, Rigaud, Houbigant, and Roger & Gallet may not readily evoke the images of the grand perfume houses, yet until the 20th century, these firms were on par with houses like Guerlain and Coty in contributing to the “Golden Age of Perfumery.” Pierre-François Lubin established his firm under Napoleon in 1798 and eventually became Pauline Bonaparte Princess Borghèse’s appointed perfumer. Over the course of its history, the house created about 466 fragrances. However, its glory seemed to have vanished with the hats and gloves. In this light, it is fascinating to experience Idole de Lubin, created by Olivia Giacobetti. Inspired by the maritime spice routes and voyages to the far away lands, Idole takes the name of Lubin’s fragrance from the early 1960s. However, I should clarify that it is a completely different fragrance, rather than a remake of the vintage one. Could it be the sign of Lubin’s revival? …

The warmth of spices is layered over the vibrant richness of woods, making Idole de Lubin one of the most voluptuous and darkest fragrances composed by Olivia Giacobetti. It does not evoke the images of transparency and hazy glow. Instead, the fragrance burns with the passionate intensity of sweet spices. A hot flame of clove accented by pepper slowly spills into the heart of the composition where it dies down in the smooth folds of orange sweetened leather. The base is filled with the caramel redolent vapors of rum, their warmth imbuing the darkness of woods with appealing sweetness. Against the backdrop of dark rosy sandalwood, a whisper of incense smoke lends an ethereal touch.

While the composition does not have a soft translucence characteristic of Olivia Giacobetti’s creations, her take on an oriental theme is interesting in terms of its ability to give airiness to the dark and heavy wood notes and to maintain outstanding tenacity. Like gold embroidery on silk, Idole de Lubin is a beautiful compromise between opulent richness and refined softness.

While the fragrance possesses a degree of sweetness that marks most classically feminine orientals, it would suit men quite well as it lacks a heavy floral component. In terms of sweetness, I would compare Idole to L’Artisan Tea for Two, while its smoky element is not unlike the incense and sandalwood accord of Costes. Yet, even if some facets recall other Giacobetti creations, the character and the final result diverge, being both richer and darker.

The notes include rum, saffron, bitter orange, black cumin, doum palm, smoked ebony, sugar cane, leather and red sandalwood.

Idole de Lubin advertisement from 1967,



  • Prince Barry: What a wonderful review for me to read at 7:40am over here in the UK.

    This one sounds as if it’s a must sniff. I have been very wary of trying Giacobetti’s perfumes because of her signature ‘light touch’ but this one sounds fantastic.

    Thank you for reviewing it.

    Barry November 25, 2005 at 2:42am Reply

  • Prince Barry: I just clicked on the Parfum Lubin link and it doesn’t appear to work.

    Barry November 25, 2005 at 2:46am Reply

  • Victoria O: The mention of Costes, one of my favorites, has piqued my interest in this one. Until recently I usually got the ashtray effect from Tea For Two. The last time I tried I began to appreciate the fragrance. Maybe this will be a perfect balance between the two. November 25, 2005 at 6:24am Reply

  • Håkan Nellmar: The link was supposed to take you here:

    Idole sounds lovely. My favourite Giacobetti is Dzing! and this sounds like it could be in the same vein. November 25, 2005 at 6:52am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): Another beautiful review! This sounds wonderful, particularly since I enjoy Giacobetti’s perfumes, but am generally, like Barry, a fan of “richer and darker” scents. I, too, sent a request for a sample to their website. We shall see. . . November 25, 2005 at 7:10am Reply

  • parislondres: Thank you for this review dear V! A friend here mentioned about it and she bought it in the wonderful Parfumerie Osswald and I am looking forward to testing it. Have not looked for it in Paris.

    Hope all is well.

    🙂 November 25, 2005 at 2:59am Reply

  • carmencanada: Hello all,
    I’ve just sent for a sample of Idole through the website. This is the link, Barry:
    Not only does it work (now) but it’s an absolutely gorgeous site. It was designed by one of the infographic artists who designs photoflash sequences for my fashion webzine,
    Just so you’d know ! November 25, 2005 at 3:37am Reply

  • Prince Barry: Thanks carmencanada and Hakan. Hakan’s link worked because it had the ‘-‘ in the middle.

    I have ordered a sample too.

    Barry November 25, 2005 at 9:14am Reply

  • Prince Barry: I have just received a lovely email from Gilles who works for Lubin saying that they have had requests for samples from all over the world and there could be a delay in sending them out.

    I have told him about your lovely review and said that he should visit BdJ to read it. November 25, 2005 at 11:07am Reply

  • Laura: What a perfect description, V! I am zealously guarding my precious drops. Thank you so much for them. I think of Rembrandt sepia ink wash and line drawings here, or even some of his small oils, featuring pools of light surrounded by layers of umber and ochre. November 25, 2005 at 6:44am Reply

  • Robin: Sounds so wonderful, V, can’t wait to try it! The new bottle design is so strange. November 25, 2005 at 12:59pm Reply

  • Sisonne: Dera V, wonderful review 🙂 It sounds as if I should like it! Í don´t have a lot of time that´s why I cannot write on a regular base at the moment.
    I´ll write you an email soon 🙂 November 25, 2005 at 1:34pm Reply

  • Marina: Woody liqueur…sounds very very appealing. Thank you for the lovely review, V! November 25, 2005 at 8:54am Reply

  • KS: AH! V: Just when I thought I was becoming IMMUNE to advertising I looked at the Lubin site and went ga-ga. ROMANIA? How did Romania get this so soon while we must wait in the U.S.? I love the ingredients, the bottle…hmmmm…wonder what Romania is like in springtime…I’ve never been there! Why go to Paris or Switzerland when Romania beckons? See? Perfume obsessions can lead to cultural enrichment, yes? K November 25, 2005 at 3:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Barry, I am glad that you found it interesting. I think that the fragrance is definitely miles apart from the sheer, transparent compositions Olivia does so well. However, for all of its dark notes, it is not dense. I hope that you will get to try it soon. November 25, 2005 at 12:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Oops, my apologies! I corrected the little punctuation mark. The link is
    and it is fixed in the post. November 25, 2005 at 12:17pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, oh, I cannot wait for you to try it. I think that in Paris it is only at those two perfumeries. However, as I understand, a wider release should be expected. It is quite an interesting composition, and the bottle was created by Serge Mansau. November 25, 2005 at 12:19pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, that website does not take you directly to Lubin’s site, although it is quite nice and it is designed by a fan of Lubin. Unfortunately, now many pages of that site do not work, or else it would be possible to see old Lubin flacons. The link to Lubin’s own page is on the top right hand side of that page. November 25, 2005 at 12:21pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Victoria, I also love Costes, and I notice its lovely incense note in some other Olivia’s fragrances, including Cinq Mondes Eau Egyptienne. Have you tried that one? It is light, but very pleasant.

    Idole is spicy and dark, and it is perfect for the cold weather. November 25, 2005 at 12:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, I love your comparison to Rembrandt’s drawings, and I can envision just what you are referring to. That glow fills the composition completely, and it is exactly what lightens the drydown. November 25, 2005 at 12:35pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Håkan, yes, Dzing! and Idole are very much alike in terms of darkness. Where Dzing! verges on animalic and musky, Idole gravitates towards rich and spicy. November 25, 2005 at 12:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, I cannot wait to hear what you think. Since you tend to like spicy and dark, I think that there are very high chances of you enjoying Idole. November 25, 2005 at 12:39pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, you are welcome! It is very appealing indeed. I have always admired Giacobetti’s compositions, and it is great to discover something as dark and spicy as Idole in her collection. November 25, 2005 at 12:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Barry, wonderful! I am keeping my fingers crossed that the samples will arrive soon. Thank you for mentioning me. November 25, 2005 at 12:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, yes, I think that the top is meant to represent African masks. I have not seen it up close, so it is kind of difficult to say what it looks like in real life. November 25, 2005 at 1:10pm Reply

  • Test Subject: Your description has me intriguied. The idea of spices and pepper morphing into rum reminds me of huge feasts I’ve had with my friend from Guyana and his family, a very good memory indeed. November 25, 2005 at 8:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, thank you. I think that you might find it a bit on the dark side, however it is still very interesting, and I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially if you like sandalwood. November 25, 2005 at 7:06pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Dear V., like Barry I got an email from the new owner of Lubin when I emailed to get a sample… You’re getting to be an influential reviewer, which is well deserved! November 25, 2005 at 7:16pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kevin, yes, I loved the website and the part devoted to Idole. Romania is a beautiful country, and some area in the springtime are stunning–blooming trees, beautiful hills…. Perfume obsession certainly opens up new vistas for me as well–science, art, travel, to name a few. November 25, 2005 at 7:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear D, great to hear this! I actually did not know about the site until last night when I was trying to find extra information on Idole. It is wonderful that it is possible to request a sample from them. I also happy that the house as esteemed as Lubin (at its heyday) is getting a revival. That is most deserved! November 25, 2005 at 7:39pm Reply

  • Nick: Dear Victoria,

    Sorry, a question off topic. I wanted to ask you for you thoughts on the lasting power and evolution on skin of Naricisse Noir extrait. Often I feel like its dry-down is not as potent as I would anticipate given its opening power, (ie: I’m expecting deep spices in the base.) Are there perhaps more floral subtleties in the drydown, that I may be missing? But then just as soon as I say that, I also have to tell you that I went to the gymn the day after wearing it, to find my bike machine session aglow with Narcisse Noir. I am slightly confused! Regards, November 26, 2005 at 2:09am Reply

  • Tania: Sounds like a must-try. I wish it were sold in NYC! November 26, 2005 at 12:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: P, those feasts sound great. Anytime rum is involved, it is bound to be a fun event. November 26, 2005 at 2:35pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear Nick, I am always happy to talk of my beloved Narcisse Noir. 🙂 I find that the parfum is softer. The drydown indeed offers a more refined vision of the narcissus than the base of the EDP, and it is sustained above the dark animalic note. Whereas the EDP is spicier and heavier on incense, the parfum is smoother, with the animalic note being more pronouced. I prefer the parfum, because it is less sharp in its top notes and it takes less time to get to the part I love the most. It lasts remarkably well on my skin, but it does stay closer to it. November 26, 2005 at 2:40pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, I hope that it will be released in the States soon. I would like it to be more widely available. November 26, 2005 at 2:40pm Reply

  • wendy holden: Greetings Victoria, I have never read about a perfume release with such certain knowledge that it is FOR ME! (Of course I could be wrong…….) Thanks for writing about it — I can hardly wait 8 months until I”m in Paris again to try it! (And thanks for visiting my oddball blog and the compliment — I guess we should all wear hats!). November 27, 2005 at 3:42am Reply

  • Oscar: Dear Barry,

    Did the connection to the Lubin’site work? If not , tell me, the owner of Lubin is a fiend of mine.
    I wondered what is your job, are you british?

    Oscar November 27, 2005 at 8:56am Reply

  • julien: Hi dear,

    Do you know the price of this perfume?
    It could be very interesting to smell it…

    Kisses,j. November 27, 2005 at 12:37pm Reply

  • Oscar: Julien! Vous ici!

    I imagine you live in Paris. You can smell it chez Carla, av. Charles de Gaulle à Neuilly ou chez L’Eclaireur, rue des Rosiers.
    The price is about 60 euros. If you live in London, waite…
    See you 😉

    Oscar November 27, 2005 at 2:53pm Reply

  • julien: You here?lol
    You are everywhere,just like me!;)
    I am a perfume addict,and i love people,sharing experiences and feelings…so forums or blogs like this one are a beautiful place for me.

    I am sure we will have time to explore ours tastes and love of perfumes together.

    Thanks for the information,dear. November 27, 2005 at 5:13pm Reply

  • Nick: Dear Victoria,

    Thankyou for your comments on Narcisse Noir. It’s an intriguing perfume. Regards, November 27, 2005 at 11:14pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Wendy, I love the hats and your other photos. The photos of desserts are too tempting!

    I hope that you will get a chance to try it. I think that the composition is rather well-done and is very interesting. Anyone who loves spicy fragrance will be pleased with it. November 27, 2005 at 6:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, I suppose that you found out already the price. Yes, it is 60 euros for 75ml, which makes it very reasonable. November 27, 2005 at 6:24pm Reply

  • kaie: I love Olivia Giacobetti’s work and Idole is new to me. I will have to visit L’Eclaireur right away. Thank you for a beautiful review. November 28, 2005 at 8:45am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: K, based on your list of favourites, it sounds like you might like Idole–dark, spicy oriental. November 28, 2005 at 12:34pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Dear V., I’ve just received my flacon of Idole for reviewing in It’s marvellous and I just want to roll around in it. I don’t know a thing about “doum wood”, listed in the notes, but I think the sweetness is marvellous, not in the least bit cloying… I can’t imagine where it comes from. The saffron? Sugar cane is also listed in the notes… I didn’t know it could be an ingredient in fragrances. The cumin, always a bit difficult to handle, is perfectly dosed and gives Idole a slightly “warm skin” scent: the sun-kissed skin of a lover who eats spices. In fact, Idole seems to be the kind of fragrance that makes you feel you’re not alone… December 1, 2005 at 7:56am Reply

  • Prince Barry: Gilles certainly didn’t waste time in sending me a sample of this magical elixir.

    I love it!!!!

    Thanks V for posting about it and bringing it to attention.

    Barry December 1, 2005 at 3:00pm Reply

  • carmencanada: P.S. Boyfriend says Idole tastes like a kiss. But he may be biased. December 1, 2005 at 1:38pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, this is such a wonderful description. Sweetness is very interesting here, because it is not made at all heavy or overwhelming. It simply illuminates the carved reliefs of the base, like a candle. Saffron tends be to rather medicinal, not exactly sweet, and it is a perfect antidote to heavy sweetness. OJ Ta’if is such an example. Without saffron, the composition would have been cloying. December 1, 2005 at 2:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Barry, I am so glad that you loved it as much as I did. It is definitely a gorgeous fragrance, and another example of amazing talent Olivia Giacobetti has. December 1, 2005 at 4:22pm Reply

  • carmencanada: I shall re-try Ta’if soon, if I can tear myself away from Idole… Do you have any idea about doum wood? December 1, 2005 at 4:45pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Doum is a palm, which grows in Somalia. I have never smelled its wood, so I am not confident enough to say what it might be like. In Idole, I notice mahogany, rosewood, sandalwood and some cedar. It is a beautiful blend. December 1, 2005 at 7:22pm Reply

  • Jackie: Hi, I just received a email this morning that Lusciouscargo is now carrying Idole de Lubin, if you order now you can get free shipping if you mention the code: IDOLE-ATRY
    Hope this helps anyone looking for this interesting sounding scent, I am very tempted (but keep thinking of how my perfume temptations keep putting a hurtin’ on my checkbook! lol! : ) January 16, 2006 at 11:16am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Jackie, thank you for these news! I am sure that they will be helpful to someone. January 16, 2006 at 4:28pm Reply

  • epapsiou: 10 years too late. Tried it a week ago. It is amazing. My top 5 January 19, 2016 at 11:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I still like it as much as I did back then. A beautiful perfume. January 19, 2016 at 12:44pm Reply

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