I recently had the fortune to pick up a boxed, pristine, vintage parfum of one of the most famous of the Coty vintage classics, L’Origan. Schlepping at the back of the key-locked glass cabinet, unrecognised among its more fashionable second hand perfumes, the owner of the antique shop in Kamakura obviously had little idea of its worth. I was extremely excited to find it – not that I didn’t already know how it smelled  (my other tiny parfum enchantillon bottle was already running low), but to have this scent in more luxurious amounts, and at such a reasonable price, is a precious, and historically important, addition to my collection.

Often compared to L’Heure Bleue, which it preceded by seven years, L’Origan is a powdered, peppery, spice carnation with violet, orris, labdanum, incense, and a sharp, almost dour aspect reminiscent of dried herbs (‘L’Origan’ is usually translated as ‘The Golden One’ but also means ‘oregano’ in French). If Mitsouko was a fuller,  romantic reworking of Coty’s classic Chypre – said to be more angular and spiky – then so is L’Heure Bleue, which I find to be infinitely more plush, gustatory, and melancholic (not to say romantic) than the more private, yet  determined, L’Origan.


I find in fact the comparisons between the two perfumes to be somewhat overstated. While L’Heure Bleue may have some spiced aspects that dwell within its swirls of cherry almond patisserie, L’Origan, in vintage, is pointed, divaricated: a soft, ambery, poudré vanilla base offset by the far more strident and full-willed; hard; nutmeg and cloved notes of the top.

This perfume has an autonomous quality : a strength and presence whose romantic overtures ( L’Origan would smell beautiful all dressed up in furs ) do nothing to detract from its essential self-reliance. If Jacques Guerlain did later use this anisic template to make his exquisitely rendered and emotional ‘blue hour’ ( I adore L’Heure Bleue), the perfumer certainly made that perfume very much his own, embroiling his heliotropine atmospherica in a lighter, and sweeter, Parisian wonderment.

François Coty’s Italo-Corsican roots come much more to the fore in L’Origan, which is less sugared and much more androgynous; pressed : tightly bound together like powder in gilded compact : ready; when the moment is allowed, to release its strange, almost medicinal, beauty.


Filed under Carnation, Spiced + Powdery Orientals


  1. ninakane1

    Fascinating! Sounds like one I need to try.

  2. Marina

    Sounds interesting I’d love to try it. And I had no idea Coty was actually Italian I thought it was an American brand how much was it?

    • No it is very much an American brand now, was originally French, very French, but he himself was from Ajaccio and I do think that comes through in the original perfumes. They are harder, if you know what I mean. x

  3. Love this scent. I find it to have some link with L’Heure Bleue, but it really is a much more raw scent. You really were lucky in finding another bottle of this. I own one and cherish its uniqueness and singular character. It is nice to see the evolution of scents as they made their way from chez Coty to chez Guerlain.

  4. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    I think I fancy some of this tonight

  5. This is an absolutely perfect review of l’Origan.

    • Thank you very much.
      Are you a fan of this scent?

      • I most certainly am. Especially this time of year. This is the kind of thing that is divine when it’s caught in a cashmere scarf where you’ve dabbed your neck over several days. Layers of spice, herbs and those incomparable base notes. We’ve had torrents of wind and rain and l’Origan is just the cozy-ing ticket.

  6. I do love reading about your triumphs over the store owners who don’t appropriately value what they have!

  7. A blast from the past…I had forgotten about this one!

  8. Eva

    Reminds me of Coty’s Emeraude and Guerlain’s Shalimar. Have worn both vintages on either arm and I think I prefer Emeraude on me personally, but of-course Shalimar is still totally stunning.
    I feel an absolute heart-breaking longingness (is that a word?) within me when I read these blogs on vintage scents. Even though my perfume journey began when vintage scents were already well and truly being reformulated, at the time they still held much of the magic of the original versions. Was it the quality of the actual ingredients? The animalistic components? The perfumes warmed and developed on the skin in a way that grabbed at your heart, got right under your skin and you had to pay attention. The perfumes were totally alive. Now. . . not so much. Yes there are still some beautiful creations out there, but to me they are missing something. Big sigh. . . . .

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