« Jean Naté by Charles of the Ritz (1935) | Main | Nocturnes de Caron (1981) »

June 27, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Oh, I am thrilled to see this review! I bought a set of three Max Factor "parfum colognes" in May - still sealed in their gift package. I think the bottles are older than I am...

Thank you for sharing your impressions of Primitif. I'm still a little puzzled by it myself! It's not like any other fragrance I own. It's old school dirty/clean or as you said, summing it up perfectly "1950s good girl/bad girl sexuality".


Hi Joan Elaine. It's pretty great. The first time I smelled it, I thought maybe it was slightly more timid than Intimate. After a few tries, though, I realized it was a lot dirtier, skankier, bodily...however you want to characterize it. It's pretty amazing...


OK, now I have to try this. I've been blown away at just how raunchy and skanky some of these 1950's and earlier perfumes really are, particularly in contrast to the flood of fruity-floral-fresh-squeaky clean-glaringly bright "perfumes" on the market today. I have a bottle of vintage Intimate that I got from that online auction place (pretty cheap too)--it really packs a wallop! Dirtier and skankier than Intimate--this I have to smell for myself! I am intrigued as well by the comparison/contrast with Arpege (one of my all-time great perfume loves).

The chypre-animalic-floral family is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. Chypres as a whole are a difficult category for me as I find a lot of the greener chypres to be a little too severe for my tastes. Although I can admire them, and might enjoy catching a whiff of one of them on someone else, in the end I just can't wear them. Their warmer, muskier cousins, on the other hand, are something else.

Carrie Meredith

Wow! I definitely need to experience the kind of musk that will "curl, crackle and fatten up" a perfume. Such evocative phrasing! Joanne just informed me that she's going to be sending me a sample of this, so I feel VERY lucky, especially after reading this!


I have it on now, and the dry down is FANTASTIC. The perfect balance of dark sexiness and rich florals. Maybe Intimate and Primitif are neck and neck in the skank department, but Primitif is certainly no slouch. Gorgeous...


So glad you're going to get some, Carrie! Curious what you'll think of it. Some of these 50s perfumes are something else. I need to try more...


The fine print says: "A bold fragrance? Perhaps, but why not let your perfume say the things you would not dare to?" That certainly suggests good girl/bad girl sexuality - you are spot on!

Love the photo in the ad. Reminds me of the voyeur vibe in Hitchcock's 'Rear Window', tho' that was in b&w (I think?). Must watch that move again some time.


Hi Anne – good eye! I didnt even look at the ad. So great. That's precisely what these 50s perfumes did — say what women couldn't say outright! And Rear Window was in splendid Technicolor! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047396/ Vertigo, however, is my favorite movie of all time...


Every inch a female. Oh boy. Last summer I found a 5ml square bottle attached to a velvet cat stand in a flea market in rural Arkansas. I'd never heard of it and believed, judging by the cat, that it must be Avon. Caramel and butter and skank seem a really apt way to describe it. I like it a lot. It feels like a tupperware party version of a more elegant perfume. And the wearer could imagine they were attending a key swap party? The other day I found a little tray of old minis at an antique mall and you're so right about those old musks. I'd never thought of White Linen as having a musky quality but I put some of that old stuff on and it was just a totally different perfume, much fatter. So true, buttery. It did totally different things on the skin than what I'm used to from even the nineties bottle I own, which is better I think than the current version. I'm not sure I would ever describe what I smelled in that mini as sunny exactly, as I've described the newer bottles. And all of these minis had that buttery quality, from Opium to Anais Anais to Chloe.


Hey Brian! I covet the velvet cat. Awesome that you found it in rural Arkansas, and I love that you describe Primitif as "a tupperware party version of a more elegant perfume." There is something a little kitschy about it, but so beautiful!


I realized I never responded to your comment, 50_Roses. "Chypre-floral-animalic" — just that term makes my toes curl. So many more dimensions than most of the perfumes out there now, and if nitromusks are in fact in these perfumes, there are health reasons as well as cultural/aesthetic ones!


Do you worry at all about wearing perfumes that have these banned, presumably toxic ingredients in them? On one hand I understand the concern with protecting the public from things that might be harmful, particularly non-obvious risks which the average consumer would likely be unaware of. On the other hand, the chemophobia so prevalent today has gotten rather out of hand. I don't know whether to laugh or shake my head in disbelief when I see a product described as "chemical-free". Umm, actually, there is no such thing as chemical-free anything. Everything that exists is made up of chemicals. Now, I wouldn't want lead paint in my house. The risks of lead-based paints are real and beyond question. There is no doubt that people have been sickened or killed by it. But has anyone definitely died from wearing perfume? Nearly anything is toxic if you get too much of it--even water.

Thinking back on your post on Australian musk candy, has there been an increase in cancer or other illnesses in Australia linked to the consumption of synthetic musks? I would think that if the danger is real, then eating it should be more hazardous than putting it on your skin, since only part of what you put on your skin is absorbed into the body, whereas all of what you eat goes into your body.

BTW, I managed to snag a small bottle of Primitif on Everyone's Favorite Online Auction Site. It's in one of those velvet cat holders, and since no one bid against me, I got it cheap. I've wanted one of those cats for a while, so even if the perfume is spoiled, it will be OK. I do hope it is not spoiled, though, as I am curious to smell this. There are a number of those cats up for bid right now, at varying prices. If you want one, it might be worthwhile watching for one with a cheap starting price and placing a bid.

perfume online

Good thing you can still find classic scents nowadays. But they are indeed hard to find. I was wondering where have all the vintage scents have gone?


I love your blog! Being a vintage perfume nut, I have been reading, lurking and just had to post that after reading about Primitif I went and got a very inexpensive bottle on auction. I can't wait to sniff! Thank you for the great reviews you do!



Thanks, StelmaDesigns. :-) Always glad to hear that people are getting something out of this blog! Enjoy Primitif, and do come back and tell us what you thought...


You know, 50_Roses, that's a good question, but I guess I don't worry about these toxic perfume ingredients. It's not like I'm wearing super-vintage Chanel No. 5 every day, plus, there are toxins we expose ourselves to every day that aren't banned. (Cigarette smoke, fumes from bathroom cleaners, etc.) As for the Australian musk candies, who the heck knows WHAT that stuff is, and yet I'm still gobbling it down. Maybe I should start becoming paranoid?!

Can't wait for you to get the Primitif — and in velvet cat form, no less! (I'm so jealous.) Please come back here and tell us what you thought!


I feel the same way about the toxins. Whatever is in my perfume is going to be a very small amount compared to what we are exposed to every day. What most people don't realize is that the majority of toxins and carcinogens we encounter are natural, not man-made. We all know by now that the UV rays in sunlight cause skin cancer, yet what is more natural than sunlight? I love to garden, and I love the feel and smell of the garden soil, even though garden soil is teeming with potentially harmful organisms--bacteria, mold spores, you name it. Many of the foods we eat contain naturally occurring toxins. Almonds, for example, contain trace amounts of cyanide, grain and grain products harbor mold spores, and peanuts contain dozens of known toxic substances. Caffeine is fatal at a sufficiently high dose, yet every day billions of people around the world drink coffee and tea with no ill effects. In the final analysis, my take on it is that I just refuse to be paranoid about it. I believe in weighing the risks and the benefits--and OLFACTORY PLEASURE IS A BENEFIT!

I received the Primitif a couple days ago, and I do like it. I'm afraid I don't have the skill to identify different notes very well, unless it is something very prominent. It definitely smells "vintage" though; Right now I'm doing a side-by-side-by-side-by-side comparison with no. 5, Arpege, and Intimate (all vintage). I can detect a similarity to each of these in the Primitif, although Intimate has a stronger note of patchouli, no. 5 has a brighter sparkle (the aldehydes?), and Arpege has that wonderful sandalwood in the base. I would say that Primitif seems more reserved than Intimate, and warmer than no. 5; to my nose, at least, it seems closest to Arpege, although less ladylike. Of course, there is no telling how well preserved my little bottle is. I never smelled this when it was new, so I have no scent memories of it, and no concept of what it "should" smell like.

Critical illness cover

As many make their first foray into perfumes and colognes, they begin to wonder how to spray their women's perfume properly. While there are a few common methods in spraying perfumes, there really is no wrong or right way. The most common method of all perfume spraying techniques is to dab the perfume on pressure points. When applying perfume, you want to focus on dabbing it on your inner wrists and neck, which are some of the warmest parts of your body.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Book

Order Here

Vintage Perfume Reviews