As unabashedly vintage as a cigarette holder in the hands of a woman with a 30s-style “moon manicure,” Intoxication by d’Orsay lives up to its name. Its addictive and sharp florals — sexy and bright rather than dark and dangerous like Narcisse Noir, or verging on poisonous like Fracas — radiate like the rays of sunlight on a summer day.
I sought out Intoxication because a sweet woman I know named Tommie Jean told me it was her favorite perfume, the first one her husband bought her from Monnigs in Ft. Worth when he was courting her. I got curious and got me some.
After decanting a bit from the bottle for review, I sent it to her. Time disappeared between the years she wore it and the present, she told me. Even the sight of the bottle triggered memories and emotions. We’ve all been there, Tommie Jean!
I’ve read that Intoxication has been reissued, so the following notes might be for the reformulation, although they could also be a partial list for the vintage:
Top notes: Bergamot, lemon, mandarin
Heart notes: Rose, orange blossom, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, nutmeg, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Vetiver, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood, tonka, musk, benzoin*
My impressions of the vintage: It starts off sharp, sparkling, and sweetly floral, with bergamot, aldehydes, ylang-ylang, jasmine, orange blossom and maybe a little hyacinth or narcissus. There's definitely some spice here, perhaps from carnation and/or patchouli.
I also got a clove or cinnamon note from Intoxication, and an animalic undertow made itself known pretty quickly. (It smelled like civet, to me. Mmmm.) The drydown is warm (ambery/vanillic), woody, spicy and animalic, without ever eclipsing that bubbly, bright quality of its top and heart.
Intoxication reminds me, in personality, of Revlon’s Intimate. What I said in a previous post about Intimate, I think, relates to Intoxication: there’s something playful and fun about its sexiness — something American, maybe, rather than French.
Whether d’Orsay was in fact started by a French aristocrat or a parvenue, it shares with Intimate a sort of inferiority complex: its investors “selected the d'Orsay name and coat of arms to create the aristocratic and luxurious image of a long-established French company...and even went so far as to purchase a castle as their headquarters." Ha! With Intimate, the ad even wears this insecurity on its sleeve: "Intimate...the fabulous new American fragrance that even French women are talking about!" Relax, guys.
Perfume Intelligence says about d'Orsay: "Established by Count Alfred d’Orsay (1801-1852) a French-born dandy, said to be the 'most fashionable man in the most fashionable circles in the most fashionable town in the world: London.'
He dabbled in perfumery; the Parfums d’Orsay line was launched in 1865 using an original Count d’Orsay formula for a fragrance called Eau de Bouquet.' The company declined over the years. It was re-launched in 1995."
If you would like to read about "Count Gabriel Alfred Guillaume d'Orsay, the Chevalier d'Orsay born in 1801 to a baroness and general in Napoleon's Empire" — check out d'Orsay's website.
** Cute little Marc Chagall-inspired ad, too.