VINTAGE - F. Millot Crepe de Chine Cologne
Year Introduced: 1925 - Feminine
Notes: Top notes of bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange and aldehydes; middle notes of carnation, lilac, elemi, ylang-ylang, jasmine, orange blossom, Bulgarian rose and iris; and base notes of cedar, heather, amber, galbanum, sandalwood, benzoin, leather, oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli and musk
F. Millot Crepe de Chine was launched in 1925 by Félix Millot and was created by his grandson, Jean Desprez. Crepe de Chine debuted at the 1925 Paris Art Deco Exposition and derived its name from the fabric, which was a new material at the time.
It is classified as a vibrantly green, aldehydic chypre fragrance for women.
An excerpt from Now Smell This:
Crêpe de Chine is a floral aldehydic chypre. According to Edwin Morris's Fragrance: The Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel, Félix Millot started the Millot perfumery in 1837. In 1925, Millot's grandson, Jean Desprez, created Crêpe de Chine. Desprez also created Jean Desprez Bal à Versailles in 1962.
Richard Stamelman, in his book Perfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin, tells the story of Crêpe de Chine's launch at the Paris Art Deco Exposition on June 6, 1925. Guerlain Shalimar and the Jean Patou trio Amour Amour, Que Sais-Je, and Adieu Sagesse were also introduced that day in an elaborate fragrance show area featuring a perfume fountain and deco fixtures. Actress Eva Le Gallienne and dancers from the Folies Bergère and Moulin Rouge performed. (If I ever get my hands on a time machine, this is where I'm headed).
Crêpe de Chine was reportedly the first perfume to be assembled under argon gas, away from light, and under a constant temperature for consistency and fidelity. In an article about the Osmothèque for the New York Times, Chandler Burr quotes Jean Kerléo, former house perfumer for Patou and founder of the Osmothèque, as saying Crêpe de Chine was the first fragrance in the Osmothèque's collection. He said it's a descendant of Chanel No. 5 and Coty Chypre, but with the addition of a chemical that smells like raw hazelnut. He said Crêpe de Chine would be prohibitively expensive to make today because of its rare Grasse jasmine.
But enough with the history, you might be saying. What does it smell like? To me, Crêpe de Chine parfum is an autumn night in a vial. It smells like aldehydes and neroli that quickly turn to clove-tinged, dark jasmine cloaked in deep woods and moss. Lots of wood, lots of moss. It's dry, warm, and elegant, and as it wears it evolves into more of a warm presence than an actual fragrance. If it were a color, it would be mahogany with a satin finish. If it were music, it would be something haunting and intelligent played on an oboe. If it were a woman, she would have chestnut-colored eyes, read French novels, prefer Burgundy over Bordeaux, and have a secret love of roller coasters.
Unfortunately, the parfum runs through its paces pretty quickly, and after a few hours I can only smell a hint of its full body. I'm stingy with the little bit that I have, but I would love to spend time in a woman's room who had worn it daily for years, so that her curtains and bedspread smelled of it. (I say "woman" here, but Crêpe de Chine would be great on a man, too). For me, wearing Crêpe de Chine is a way to connect to another time and place — one that may only really exist in my mind.
Revillon bought Millot perfumes in 1963 and discontinued Crêpe de Chine after its last ad campaign in 1968.
An excerpt of a review from Colognoisseur:
Whenever I have the opportunity to try something from the Osmotheque I am petrified there will be something I love that I can’t find. My very first experience with this came when I attended Esxence in 2011. There Patricia de Nicolai of the Osmotheque had brought a traveling case of many of the faithful reconstructions from Versailles to Milan. Over the course of the four days of the fair I kept going back and asking to try something else. Everything I had tried had been good but I didn’t have to have one. Then Mme de Nicolai handed me a strip of F. Millot Crepe de Chine and I was lost.
Crepe de Chine made its debut at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels in 1925. This was the coming out for Art Deco as a movement across multiple artistic endeavors. Fragrance was well represented by Jean Patou who had some of the most beautiful Art Deco bottles of the time. Guerlain Shalimar also appeared. F. Millot wanted to join the party and also came up with an Art Deco inspired flacon. The perfume to go in it was Crepe de Chine composed by Jean Desprez. Thirty-seven years prior to the perfume M. Desprez is most known for Bal a Verailles. Most people aren’t even aware he did another fragrance. It is always my pleasure to introduce fans of Bal a Versailles to M. Desprez’s “other” fragrance.
What makes Crepe de Chine so memorable for me is the jasmine at its heart. I love my jasmine as funky as it can get. I want the indoles to be front and center. It is why that kind of jasmine is so perfect as part of a chypre. Which is what Crepe de Chine is. The source of the jasmine has been reputed to be the famous Jasmine de Grasse but I can only find anecdotal confirmation of that. The jasmine used is high quality; that I only need my nose for.
Crepe de Chine opens on a fizz of aldehydes carrying one of the sharper bergamots I have found. It is like popping a champagne cork and the liquid comes flowing out in a gush. That’s the opening moments. Then the jasmine arrives. Oh my does it arrive. It comes in and takes over the joint. This is that woman who is also an unattainable object of desire. It is gorgeous, experienced, and intelligent. Her friends ylang-ylang and lilac only deepen that impression. Then we get the chypre base of vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli, and musk. This is a chypre accord with all of the bite you could ask for. Matched with the jasmine it is exquisite.
The review above comes from the Osmotheque version. I have since acquired two very well-preserved bottles and they lack some of the brightness but surprisingly more than a little of the aldehydes have persevered. The jasmine has aged like a femme fatale in her middle years; still dangerous and much more experienced. One accord I have found time and again in the vintage bottles I own which stands the ravages of time is the chypre accord and it is true in Crepe de Chine.
If this review has piqued your interest to try Crepe de Chine I am sorry I have done to you what Mme de Nicolai did in 2011 to me.
Crepe de Chine has been discontinued.
We are decanting from a bottle of the original EDC (eau de cologne) version of this fragrance.
Francis Kurkdjian (Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris)
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