Saturday, September 13, 2014

Parfums Le Galion

Le Galion of Neuilly and Paris France.

The story of Parfums Le Galion begins in 1930 with the founding of the house by Prince Murat, who was a descendant of Joachim Murat, brother in law of Napoleon 1st, and King of Naples. The company was originally located at 11 bis, rue Amelie in Paris.


Several perfumes were issued under Prince Murat's direction, these included the poetically named Indian Summer, Champs de Mai (Fields of May), and Il n'est qu'moi (it is only) as well as the usual names such as Chypre and Fougere. Two other perfumes were named after numbers, 111 and 222, were typical of the period of Chanel's No.5. I don't believe that these early perfumes were very popular at the time or even exported to the USA, as I have never seen a single advertisement or bottle for these obsolete fragrances.

In 1935, the company would have a reversal of fortune when Prince Murat sold his company to perfumer Paul Vacher. Vacher, born in 1902, originally studied chemistry when he found his life's calling in creating perfumes. At the early age of 25, Vacher had previously worked with Marcel Guerlain, a Parisian perfumer who tried to cash in on the respected, but non-familial Guerlain name by releasing fragrances under his own name. What perfumes Vacher may have helped create for the house is unknown, but one of their best sellers was Masque Rouge from 1926.

He left Marcel Guerlain and created perfumes for Jeanne Lanvin, replacing Madame Marie Zede, a Russian perfumer, who had previously blended fragrances such as Comme-Ci, Comme-Ca, Kara Djenoun and La Dogaresse for the couturier. While he was with Lanvin, he had immense success in creating the sparkling Arpege perfume alongside his assistant André Fraysse in 1927. Vacher went on to collaborate with Andre Fraysse and the perfumes Scandal, a spicy, leather chypre and Rumeur,   a fruity chypre were launched.

However, according to the book Il est des Parfums by Françoise Sagan and ‎Guillaume Hanoteau, Vacher had a falling out with Jeanne Lanvin's cousin, Yves Lanvin, but longed for his own perfume house and decided to purchase Parfums Le Galion from Prince Murat.

With Le Galion, Vacher had complete control over the creation of their perfumes and launched several different scents that had simple floral names, but complex and made with only the finest raw materials: Gardenia, Jasmin, Iris, La Violette, Tubereuse, Lily of the Valley and La Rose.





Other fragrances followed such as the chypres, which seem to be Vacher's specialties: Bourrasque, a sporty, but mossy aldehydic fragrance created for young women, and the flower and fruit marriage that was Whip.




To express the irony of how affluent French perfumes were deemed better and were burned in the hearts of American women and how many of them detested the five and dime scents, (though probably wore at home and not at the Waldorf Astoria lunching with the ladies), he released the floral aldehyde Snob in 1937. This perfume imbues the refined, yet bitchy sophisticate in a bottle. It was warm and heavy with a slight oriental base. It has been said that Snob is a copy of Jean Patou's Joy perfume, in that it makes use of jasmine and rose de mai.



But Vacher's greatest triumph for Le Galion was Sortilege,  a sumptuous aldehydic perfume which he composed in 1936.  It was his answer to Chanel No. 5 and was composed up of over 80 different ingredients including shimmering aldehydes, a generous dosage of Oriental roses, jasmine and woods, a hint of incense and spices on a warm, ambery base.



A decade later he helped lend a hand to in collaboration with Jean Carles to create Miss Dior for Christian Dior in 1947.

Sortilege proved to be the springboard that pushed Le Galion perfumes into the hearts of women across the globe. The renowned Stork Club in New York often gave away small vials of the perfume and it soon became the club's signature scent. Sortilege still remains Le Galion's flagship fragrance and best remembered.



Brumes, launched in 1938, a perfume whose French name means "gale", a forceful wind, was inspired by Vacher's vision of an idyllic beach. According to the January 1943 publication Parfumerie (which is in possession of Will Inrig of the Osmotheque), Vacher distilled various seaside plants: algae and kelp to capture a sense of the salty sea air without being too pungent as that might be off-putting to some. To this mixture, he added a pinch of spices: oregano, thyme, sage, marjoram, along with delicate florals that would find their home within the sandy dunes: gorse, heath, broom and sweet, powdery acacia, along with a woodsy note.



Another interesting note from the Parfumerie magazine mentions that Vacher also had another vision, a purely wood fragrance which he would name Rendez-Vous. Vacher describes it thus: "A woody note. Rosewood, Makassar, ebony, champak. Perhaps a bit of cedar. Obviously some vetiver and sandalwood.’ ” What I want to know is, did he manage to conquer his dream and make this vision a reality? If you have an idea, please let me know and I will update this entry. I am wondering if this ended up being the woody perfume Noel 67.

World War II halted the exportation of Le Galion perfumes to America, but by 1947 they were back and graced the counters of high end department stores.

Motion Picture, 1947:
"Well known (and manufactured) in France, Le Galion Perfumes now available here: Sortilege, Brumes, Bourrasque, Gardenia and Tubereuse."

With the wealth that was borne by success, a larger production plant and office space was needed to supply the demand for the fine French perfumes of Le Galion. So in 1950, Vacher purchased a large mansion that would generate not only scents for his own company such as Frac, (the French word "Frac" means "dress-coat") and Special for Gentlemen, but also raw materials for Christian Dior's fragrances. For the next thirty years, it was here that the delicate blossoms of jasmine, rose and neroli were processed into precious essential oils that would be concentrated into the base formula of Miss Dior as well as other beloved Dior fragrances.

Miss Dior was a whirlwind success for Christian Dior and once again he asked his friend Vacher to blend a new smash hit fragrance. With determination and traditional French perfumery techniques, Vacher created the strong, but sophisticated Diorling, which was released in 1963.

Paul Vacher's reputation for inventing beautiful but highly prosperous fragrances led to him mixing scents for another designer, Jean Desses. For him, Vacher invented the lovely Celui, a floral chypre, featuring aldehydes, hyacinth, rose de Mai, hawthorne, Egyptian jasmine, gardenia, iris, heliotrope, civet, ambergris and oakmoss, in which advertisements of the day described it as "a perfume as soft as a secret".

Also made for Desses, the leathery chypre Kalispera, spiked with floral and fruity notes, the perfume with a Greek name meaning "good evening", perhaps it was named as a lucky charm, a liquid talisman to ensure the wearer a "pleasant night".

In the early 1960s, Le Galion perfumes had exceeded expectations and was being sold in 97 countries around the world.

A limited edition woodsy perfume, Noel 67 was released for the 1967 Christmas holiday season. A newspaper article from 1967 mentions the following "Latest french perfume with the popular woody flavor is 'Noel 67' by Le Galion, makers of the famous Sortilege. It's their first new perfume in 15 years. Cost for a small bottle $14."



Le Galion's loyal and adoring fans were treated to new launches such as Cologne Extra Veille, Galion d'Or, Vetyver and Eau Noble.

In 1975, Paul Vacher suddenly died, which left Le Galion without it's in house perfumer. Luckily, his daughter Dominique De Urresti, had a decade's worth of perfumery training with her father, was promoted the new 'nose' for Le Galion. After three years of working with scents for Le Galion, she created the ultimate tribute to her father, the beautiful floral Megara. During this time the company was owned by Rorer Intl. Cosmetics Ltd.

In 1980, Le Galion was sold to an American group. Poorly managed, the company quickly collapsed, but we are lucky that they have been resurrected in 2014.

Inspired by the beloved original Le Galion scents, perfumer Thomas Fontaine reformulated some of the compositions with modern ingredients. Today's versions, especially those with chypre accords, had to conform with the regulations of IFRA, so oak moss was excluded and many of the raw materials that were originally used are no longer available.

Sortilege, Snob, Tubereuse, Eau Noble, La Rose, Iris, Special For Gentlemen, Whip, and 222 were relaunched in 2014, following the successful resurrection of the house of Le Galion with Nicolas Chabot in collaboration with Paul Vacher's granddaughter Dominique Vacher.

You may visit their website at http://www.legalionparfums.com

The perfumes of Le Galion:
  • 1930 Champs de Mai
  • 1930 222
  • 1930 111
  • 1930 Chypre
  • 1930 Indian Summer
  • 1930 Fougere 
  • 1930 Il n'est qu'a a moi
  • 1930 Galion d'Or
  • 1936 Sortilege (for blondes and brunettes, sumptuous, warm, luxurious, for evening wear)
  • 1937 Bourrasque (young, for sportswear), a forest blend/chypre perfume)
  • 1937 Shake Hands (Serrer la Main)
  • 1937 Brumes (for blondes, flowery, sweet, woody, powdery)
  • 1937 Gardenia
  • 1937 Jasmin
  • 1937 Iris
  • 1937 La Violette
  • 1937 Tubereuse
  • 1937 Snob, relaunched in 1952 (refined, rare, aristocratic)
  • 1947 Special for Gentlemen
  • 1949 Frac
  • 1950 La Rose
  • 1950 Lily of the Valley
  • 1951 Essence of Sortilege
  • 1953 Cub
  • 1953 Whip  (flowers and fruit woody chypre blend)
  • 1958 Eau de Galion (for men)
  • 1961 Eau de Vétiver
  • 1967 Extra Veille
  • 1968 Galion D'Or, relaunched
  • 1968 Vetyver
  • 1969 Eau de Vetyver
  • 1972 Eau Noble
  • 1978 Megara (floral)
  • 2014 Sortilege (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Snob (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Special for Gentlemen (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 222 (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Iris (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Tubereuse (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Rose (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Whip (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2014 Eau Noble (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2015 Aesthete
  • 2015 Vetyver (reformulation and relaunch)
  • 2015 Cuir 
  • 2015 Essence Noble
  • 2015 Sortilege Elixir
  • 2015 Sovereign
  • Barbaresque?

Harper's Bazaar, 1950:
""Sortilège" perfume imported from France by Le Galion — a rich, round fragrance, exactly right with deep-textured autumn fabrics and deep-piled furs (it's a fox year). One ounce, $25."

L’Officiel de la Mode, 1956:
"The fragrances of Le Galion belong to the same family of passionate fragrances, both fiery and subtle, they create a trail of admirers behind those who wear them."
Fodor's Europe, 1970:
" Le Galion, "Sortilege" (for blondes and brunettes, sumptuous, warm, luxurious, for evening wear) — "Snob" (refined, rare, aristocratic)."


1 comment:

  1. I blind bought on ebay a miniature of Jasmin Le Galion and I am very happy about. It sss mells exactly how the jasmin flowers of my plants do smell. It smells so natural, really beautiful fragrance!

    ReplyDelete

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