The perennially elegant, if no longer fashionable, classical aldehydic floral chypres are all crafted along quite similar lines: citrus and/or green notes suffused with the sculptural abstraction of aldehydes; a multitude of flowers with a heart of rose and jasmine; optional strokes and touches of herbs, fruit or spice; oak moss; and a warmer, more sensual finish of sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli; resins, balsams, musks, and other delicately handled animalics.
The symphonic complexity of these perfumes, the inherent contradiction between a closed-off, impenetrable chic (the primness of green floral accords and citrics doused in crystallic aldehydes) and the simultaneously, subliminally acknowledged animality of the warmer skin tones, is what makes this genre of perfume so deeply appealing to me, a genius of suggestion.
Yet while superficially similar and ‘perfumey’, registering to the person experiencing the fragrance as grown up, Parisian, refined, untouchable; the proportions of the ingredients used by the perfumer; the accent on particular, unexpected essences and on peculiar tensions deliberately fashioned within the scent make the most successful and enduring examples of this fragrance family also shine through with their own poise and individuality.
Thus, we have Calèche (cypress; lemon: arch, unrivalled) contrasting with Arpège (mellower, deeper, mossier, more motherly); Ma Griffe (leaf fresh, young Edenic gardenia overdose) quite different from Guerlain’s life-loving Chant D’Arômes and its spiced orchard notes of pear and plum, or else the tighter, patchouli -deepened honeysuckle that is Yves Saint Laurent’s first perfume, Y; the jasmine hysteria of Van Cleef & Arpel’s First, or the uncompromisingly soft green rose of Paco Rabanne’s exquisite Calandre.
Antilope, a similarly themed antique perfume by fourrier Weil, is also its very own, inimitable creature. Placed somewhere in the pantheon between Calèche and Ma Griffe, I find Antilope to be a perfectly named creation that, while certainly animalic enough to stress the rapidly beating heart of a graceful gazelle roaming single mindedly across the savannah, is also dry and grassy enough to evoke that very terrain. A sweet, bright, sun-dried hay-like facet formed of neroli and bergamot, clary sage and galbanum is made more nuzzling and textured with a persistent note of a coumarinic tonka bean and oak moss: gentle, affectionate.
Unlike other more garmented and city-fed floral aldehyde chypres – the crisp, green no nonsense bite of the original, tweed-suited Miss Dior; the silkily aldehydic flower sheen of Tamango by Leonard, Antilope, as its name might suggest, does indeed feel slightly less hidebound, more open. On this cooler, more thoughtful September day, I find it quite beautiful.
26 responses to “ANTILOPE by WEIL (1946)”
This piece shows just how well you know your stuff, Neil. I defy any other perfume writer to display more experience, knowledge and talent. Amazing.
And I concur with everything. This was a joy to read.
Thanks. You like Antilope too? It smells EXTREMELY charming today, I must say.
Love it. And I will see if I can rustle up my bottle and wear it to bed right now. Perfect for a sultry summer night by the ocean.
Yes! I have been wearing it to bed as well. Incredibly comforting and soothing I find at the moment.
And again, thank you.
I adore Antilope! I have a version that probably hails from the 70’s so not sure how similar it is to the first version from the late 40’s. If i said i smell dandelion, would that be too crazy? PS I luvluvluv Calèche, as well.
Me too, particularly the parfum, where the musky sandalwood is toned down and it is just so pure and beautiful.
Are there any other perfumes similar that I might not be aware of?
And I think I know what you mean about the dandelions. I used to feed the leaves to my rabbits when I was a child so I am very familiar with how they smell. I think there is something very fresh, green and innocent about this perfume, even a slight piquancy, which might lead to a dandelion effect.
I love Antilope, though I haven’t smelled it in a long time. And I love all the others you mentioned, too. Antilope is well named. It really does conjure images of dry, sweet grasses on the savanna. Is the current version and good? I hate that when you track down these beautiful oldies the top notes are gone (at best). Some are still nice anyway just for the bases (like My Sin) but I long for the fresh bottles as they were back in the day, rather than ghosts.
Also, yes! This is a scent for that first crisp, sunny day of autumn. 🙂 Perfect choice.
Furthermore, I wish I could meet you in person. You seem so lovely. It would be so nice to have tea, chat about petfume, swap vials. I’m finding the internet tedious lately. I don’t post often anymore. I do still read, though, and I wish you and D well. I know your surgery recovery has been a nightmare and I hope it keeps improving. xx
It really was, yesterday. I love it when you get it right and enjoy the scent all day.
In response to your comment below, yes it would be lovely to meet up in person. Maybe one day!
And I am interested in what you are finding tedious about the internet these days. Can you pinpoint what it is?
To own fresh bottles of vintage bottles seems like a dream. I particularly yearn to smell Infini like that, because any bottle of that perfume I find is as old as I am ( 1970). I had one mini parfum of Antilope thst intrigued me but it wasn’t until I found a properly boxed pristine 15ml parfum that I got to know it properly. I love how it takes its time to properly reveal itself : the beginning smells quite similar to perfumes in the Caleche mode but then, as you say, that dry, sweet grass facet comes to the fore, and I think to have such a prominent tonka bean note in a floral aldehyde makes it quite unusual.
Sounds wonderfully evocative.
Had a quick check on the bottles and different editions and as with the other Weil (Zibeline) there seem to be a ton of different packagings out there: 50-ies style mini flacons, something more 80-ies, even a 70-ies style mandarine coloured bottle. Could you say which edition you reviewed?
Thanks and best wishes
Mine has a gold box with brown lettering, and the flacon is more 50’s I would say with a round glass W -embossed stopper and a brown velvet ribbon.
If you do get some, you might find it a tad genetic at first : ‘Oh, it’s one of those’, but there is ultimately something very distinctive and lovely about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Antilope were the inspiration for Caleche, actually ( which is much fresher, floral, aldehydic). Antilope is softer and more introverted.
This box but mine is the parfum
Super & thanks! I’ll keep an eye out for that one.
Hopefully at a slightly better price!
Just snagged some Weil Zibeline from the early 70s and was looking to see if you’d written about it. I’m yearning to hear your thoughts, Neil.
Never smelled it!
Can it approach the divine grassiness of the Antilope?
Yes, it has the same degree of divineness, absolutely. Take one healthy young sable, rub her generously with nitro-musks, civet, honey, tarragon, iris, vetiver and tonka bean, spritz the entire coat with snuffed-candle aldehydes, et voila. It is so damn “furry”!!!!!!!!!!
What a delicious description : I love it
And I think you would love Zibeline, N. No. I just KNOW you would.
Knowing your envy-provoking talent in sussing out vintage, it shouldn’t be long till you get your hands on a sealed bottle of extrait. 😉
Recently that really isn’t happening. The sources are totally drying up..
Not liking nitro musks though. this is something I would just much rather smell on someone ELSE’S Zibeline drenched fur coat.
Antilope smells delightful on me though
Nitro musks a no-no? Ah, well, then you must turn over your bottle of Zibeline to me the instant you find it, young man!
You know, then again, I’m no perfumer, so perhaps these are not nitro musks at all, but just run-of-the-mill ones . . . If you do come across Zibeline, do give it a spin.
Pity the sources aren’t what they once were. At least, for the moment. I’ve had dry spells, too, and then somebody cleans out dearly-departed Granny’s things and there’s a flood of good stuff somewhere. I hope you come across a bounty soon, just to keep your enthusiasm running high. I know for me it can be discouraging if I’m looking and looking and not finding much. Amazing how finding even one little bottle of something interesting can restore my optimism.
I only have Antilope in extrait and a small bottle at that, but it is just as you say. In a perfect world, it would be easy to get more, and at a bargain price. I’ll dream on.