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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vague Souvenir c1912

Vague Souvenir: created by Jacques Guerlain in 1912. The name means "Faint Remembrance" in French.

Available in parfum extract, toilet water and lotion vegetale.

Fragrance Composition:

What does it smell like? It is classified as a fruity floral tobacco fragrance for women.
  • Top notes: anise, jasmine, absinthe, lavender, bergamot, peach
  • Middle notes: carnation, jasmine, rose, orange blossom, ambrette, clove, marjoram, tobacco
  • Base notes: musk, ylang ylang, tonka bean

Recently I was lucky enough to have experienced the beauty that is Vague Souvenir. A friendly reader sent me a small sample and I was able to make out lush orange blossom, punctuated by hints of herbal lavender and licorice notes of anise and and wormwood (absinthe). Definite warm and sunny peach note mixed with bright bergamot, resting on a beautiful base incorporating powdery tonka bean, slightly animalic musk, ambrette seed, and tobacco, my overall impression is that this is a very smooth, sweetened composition.

I like to imagine vignettes when I smell perfumes for the first time.

Vague Souvenir makes me think of a late 19th century woman wearing the latest orange blossom and tonka bean perfume, going out to a cafe with her handsome lover who is wearing musk, they sit at the cafe and a waiter brings over a carafe of ice water and a bottle of absinthe. Her date pours some absinthe into her glass and places a sugar cube onto a slotted spoon resting atop her glass, he then pours some of the ice water slowly over the sugar cube. The cold water turns the green absinthe into a milky libation. She nervously drinks a sip of the cool drink which smells like anise and licorice and stares at a single rose in a vase on the table. Lost in a thought of pure naughtiness, she accidentally dribbles a little off the side of her mouth, it drips down her chin and onto her chest in a thin rivulet. It mixes with her perfume. "Good girls don't dance with la fée verte," so she tells herself.  She looks at her date and notices he has a spicy carnation in the buttonhole of his jacket. He produces a cigarette and lights it, and the tobacco smell pervades the small room. She sips the absinthe and closes her eyes, all around her she smells the other patrons, a mix of musk, tobacco, amber, the herbal smells of men's shaving soaps with lavender and marjoram, women wearing jasmine and  ylang ylang.  Her date offers her a slice of sweet peach sprinkled with ground cloves and drizzled with honey, she looks at him coyly as he places it into her mouth, the intoxicating drink making her tipsy.

Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1913:
"Thus, on the subject of perfumes, we learn that the year's new products from the Maison Guerlain are called 'Vague Souvenir', 'Pour Troubler', and 'Kadine'."

Harper's Bazaar, 1956:
"Vague Souvenir" — sweet and sun-blessed as a peach just ready to pluck. By Guerlain. 1/2 ounce, $86.50"


Presented in the quadrilobe bottle (parfum). In the mid to late 1920s, it was presented in the beurre flacon (parfum), created by Baccarat for the 1925 Art Deco Expo in Paris. The label represents the crystal fountain created by Lalique for the expo's Grand Pavilion. Vague Souvenir was also available in the Flacon Capsule (lotion vegetale). It may have also been presented in the Goutte flacon (eau de toilette).

photo by ebay seller katybgood1

Fate of the Fragrance:

Discontinued, date unknown. Still being sold in 1960.

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