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December 16, 2008


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Rita Long

Wow!! So much to chew on!! And, oh, dear god. That ad.... ALthough I'm of the right age to remember when a lot of advertising was in the business of trying to roll back women's progress. (We want equal treatment!! Whoops! Just kidding!!!!)

I'm gonna have to think about the connotations you've given me with "Ma Griffe," and square them with the one woman I know who does wear it ( the squarest woman like, um, EVER. Her daughter wears "Fracas" because it's "not too over the top." Um, ok, yeah, if you say so....)

And to make a scent without being able to sniff it? Well, I guess Beethoven wrote the 9th when he was completely deaf. (But is that really the same thing...?)
Great post!
-Rita @leftcoastnose


I love that the mother and daughter you're talking about are inadvertently wearing pretty saucy fragrances, Rita! Or maybe they're wearing the reformulated versions that don't have the same umph. And yes, regarding that ad and its implication that women have to choose either a life of spinsterhood/equality or being desirable/sexism — take your pick — is ridiculous but sadly lives on. THe idea that some loser would say, "Pardon me, miss, you smell so good, can I hold your Women's Lib sign for you?" has me laughing though. It's pretty comical.


Did you try the vintage Parfum yet? I finally got a tiny bottle of it in the original 1946 formmula, still sealed in a box, and it is truly astounding. Much softer and smoother than the lighter concentrations and infinitely better than the current formula. I always like Ma Griffe very much, and now I love it utterly! Green florals and green Chypres are my favorite styles, so discovering this was pure Paradise for me.


Flora, I have a 70s formulation of the parfum from one of those coffrets of minis, so its vintage, but I have not smelled the 40s version. I wonder how different they are...


HI, I've been scouting ebay for cheap thrills and have a bid on Ma Griffe EDT in a green and white box.

Beethoven wrote his greatest works when he could no longer hear so the idea of a perfume from someone who can no longer smell is intriguing.


Got the Ma Griffe. The box lacks a UPC code, so this dates back to the 70s at least, I'm guessing.

I've tried it—twice—and wonder if my purchase had turned or was a bad batch. First smell is a powerful "call the gas company, there's a leak!", which is to say mercaptan; are mercaptans used in perfumery? What follows is sour biscuit dough/ylang-ylang. After a while it joins the Intimate/Bal a Versailles family, though for me it's the relative you hope doesn't show up; she's not just unbathed, she's given up all pretense of hygiene.

Certainly interesting to experience, but I don't think I'll be holding onto this.


a-Hah! Fragrantica lists asafoetida as a top note, a resin which has as a component none other than methyl mercaptan. I'm a bit pleased with my sleuthing but I still can't stand it? What do you make of it?


Flora, what did the bottle look like of the 1940s version? I'm looking at two vintage bottles, one is more square, with gold cord rings around the neck and a glass cap. The other is a longer bottle with a picture of a woman and a dress on the label. I'm wondering which is more vintage. My grandmother who was a very stylish and desirable woman in her day (and died tragically young) apparently loved this perfume in the 1950s. Would love to smell what she loved....


Hi Barbara! I just found a sample of this. I hadn't thought of it as dangerous, but come to think of it, you're right. It's also very big.

Also, White Oleander is one of my favorite books. It mentions perfume a few times, come to think of it.


My mother used to wear this perfume in the 60s. Then she said they changed the formula - that was back in the 70s or so.
Does anyone know if there is a company that makes the "old" formula?


Hi John,

The vintage Ma Griffe is sold in abundance on various sites: miniatureperfumeshoppe.com and eBay. Good luck!



I've quite taken to wearing La Femme for my manual, sweaty, evening job. It's discreet, and not something I feel is likely to challenge my masculinity. Perfume and eau de toilette in the old versions, still a bargain when the quality is considered.

Elizabeth Parker

I used to love this fragrance.

I read somewhere that Vivien Leigh (of Scarlett O'Hara fame) wore Ma Griffe.

Mele Spencer

I have a small bottle that smells as good as it did 40 years ago. It is the only scent I have ever worn and I love it. Now I can try to find some on the web.


Hold onto it for dear life, Mele! But yes, they exist online...


Ma Griffe
Griffe also signifies in French (Always in Capital) trademark, stamp.
Literally: you nailed IT.
I love your olfactory beguiling wanderings through the forests of time.
I sent your l'Arte to a friend of mine And I've been playing The song ever since. Kylie Minogue is on my musical fan list for the first time in her and my life thanks to you.
Nocturnal SNelly


So glad you are enjoying these, Snelly! I like the idea of wandering through an olfactory forest of time...Very poetic!

Sent from my iPhone


Dear Mistress in the Science And Scintillation of Scents
I have a story to tell about my mother (who has died ) whose perfume it had been.
Until she discovered that the woman my father had fallen in love with, used the same fragrance! She told me that she could and would not share her perfume, let alone her husband.
She divorced from both.
Then she met with Joy from Patou and married again.
It is the truth I'm telling and no fantasy.

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