VINTAGE - Coty L'Aimant Parfum - $4.99 for 1/4ml
Year Introduced: 1927 - Feminine
Notes: Top notes of bergamot, neroli, peach, aldehydes and strawberry; middle notes of lily of the valley, carnation, iris, geranium, Oriental rose, orchid, jasmine and ylang-ylang; and base notes of ambrette seed, benzoin, tolu balsam, labdanum, civet, vetiver, vanilla, sandalwood and tonka bean
It was said that Madame Jacques Guerlain preferred this warm, vivacious and magnetic fragrance to her husband's subtle creations.
An excerpt from Now Smell This:
“Look what I found for you,” my coworker said and handed me a Coty L’Aimant perfume ad shrink-wrapped on cardboard. It was all in gold and red, featuring a woman in a 1950s coiffure gazing into a tiny stage peppered with various L’Aimant products, from perfume to compacts to body powder. Each product was adorned with a horseshoe magnet encompassing a heart. “To be a magnet — wear a magnet — always!” the copy said.
Well, I could use some magnetizing. Who couldn’t? I remembered the bottle of vintage L’Aimant Eau de Toilette stashed in my perfume cupboard. It was time to put it to the test.
Francois Coty and Vincent Roubert created L'Aimant over five years and the fragrance launched in 1927. That was the same year that saw the birth of Lanvin Arpege, Caron Bellodgia and Jean Patou Chaldee. In his book Perfume, Nigel Groom lists L'Aimant's notes as bergamot, neroli, peach, strawberry, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, vanilla, vetiver and sandalwood. The fragrance fell out of production, then relaunched in 1995, when Groom claims it became the most popular perfume in Great Britain.
To me, L’Aimant smells like a warm aldehydic floral thicker and less spicy than vintage Arpège, but warmer than No. 5. It seems to aim for the sweet spot No. 5 staked out seven years earlier: an elegant, feminine skin scent with a (then) modern rush of fizzy aldehydes. By giving L’Aimant a fluffy, vaguely powdery bed of sweet vanilla and sandalwood and a pinch of fruit, Coty makes L’Aimant approachable and easier than No. 5 for some people to wear.
That’s not to say that L’Aimant is entirely easygoing. Twice when I’ve been wearing it, I’ve caught a whiff of fecal civet. Only a flash, though — it reared its head, then disappeared into the fragrance again. All in all, it’s a beautifully blended, well-behaved fragrance. For this type of fragrance, though, I’m still crazy about vintage Arpège. However, L’Aimant is a lot easier to come by.
Like so many old fragrances, L’Aimant has probably seen enough reformulations to rival the pages in the New York City telephone book. My bottle of L’Aimant Eau de Toilette is shaped like a heart with a faux sharkskin label and Art Nouveau lettering. My guess is that it’s from the 1950s, and like many fragrances that old, its citrus top notes are shot.
An excerpt from Yesterday's Perfumes:
L'Aimant, created by Vincent Roubert in collaboration with Francois Coty, is said to have the following notes: aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, peach, jasmine, rose and vanilla. Jacques Guerlain's wife loved this perfume so much, she said she even preferred it to her husband's perfumes. As one blogger describes it, after the harsh aldehydes hit you, "the scent becomes very, very creamy and buttery soft. Plummy, apricot fruitiness sparkles ever so gently and delightfully on the skin over a bed of tame florals. As time goes by, the scent becomes ever more powdery and floral: A powdery infusion of strong violets with nectarous yet soft, shy accents of tantalizing jasmine. The drydown is soft and sexy, a skin scent of sandalwood and gentle vanilla."
When I heard this described as plummy, I immediately agreed because that note is prominent in Femme by Rochas, and it too, has a sensual, feminine, buttery softness, like lived-in suede. Warm sweetness is the best way I can describe this, like cut plums sauteed in butter and brandy and sprinkled with candied violets. Adjectives I'd use to describe L'Aimant: Mysterious, powdery, buttery, soft, sensual ambery, velvety.
The powderiness in L'Aimant is saved from being grandmotherly by the round, buttery and sensual note that plum or amber or dark vanilla that underlies it, like bright oil colors on a dark velvet canvas.
If the leather in Cabochard and Bandit make them masculines, the plum/amber/vanilla notes break the leather in until it's supple, yielding, receptive. L'Aimant is the fruitier, boozier, more feminine version of Femme.
An excerpt from The Muse in Wooden Shoes:
L’Aimant – which means both “Loving Her” and “The Magnet” en francais – was released in 1927, and it’s very much the product of its time, as an aldehydic floral. My bottle is parfum de toilette, mid-to-late 1970s, in the standard Coty flacon with the gold crown top.
L’Aimant has one of those Waft Vs. Up-close differences that intrigue me very much. Cuir de Lancome does this as well: in the air it smells very different than it does sniffed close to the arm I’ve put it on. At first it smells of aldehydes and vanilla, no matter where I’m smelling it. But the aldehydes burn off rather quickly – in five to ten minutes perhaps, and although it’s definitely aldehydic, it’s much, much gentler than No. 5’s Alde-Overdose opening. If I hoover my arm where I’ve sprayed L’Aimant, I can distinguish separate notes: there’s the rose and violet, there’s the jasmine and iris, there’s the oakmoss. There’s a kinship to YSL Paris in the heart that I notice when I sniff closely, and the base is very classical, with oakmoss and sandalwood.
However, sniffed in the air as I move my arms about, L’Aimant smells like nothing so much as my mother’s peach pie: hot, tangy baked peaches and a hint of pastry dough, plus melting vanilla ice cream. It smells sweet and rather delicious, in the manner of L’Heure Bleue, which in turn was emulating Coty’s own L’Origan (more on that relationship soon, I hope): not entirely gourmand, but both floral and edible at the same time.
I do keep wondering whether there is some unlisted combination of notes in this fragrance that adds up to “amber” – there’s a definite sweetness to it that isn’t entirely attributable to vanilla on its own. In this fashion, it’s closely related to Emeraude, which is a vanillic amber, and also to L’Origan, which has a similar oakmoss-sandalwood-vanilla base. All three, as a matter of fact, clearly share some DNA identifying them as COTY.
L’Aimant, like my darling Emeraude, is currently in production, but as a mere wraith of its former self. Emeraude is a shadow: thin, facelifted, and chemical, and so is the present version of L’Aimant. Avoid both of them, please.
L'Aimant is still being produced but it has been reformulated.
We are decanting from an unopened, boxed original bottle of the parfum version of this fragrance from the 1940s.