Perfume Review: vintage Coty L’Aimant parfum de toilette

If the only Coty fragrances you’re familiar with are the celebuscents currently available, plus the old standby drugstore fare like Exclamation! and Vanilla Fields, you might be surprised to lay a nostril on an old Coty perfume. Where the newer scents actually smell cheap, with simple formulas and obviously synthetic ingredients, the older versions tend to smell much richer and more complete; they are worked-out ideas that evoke a mood and clearly make use of natural materials.

I have a bottle of L’Origan parfum that appears to be 1950s-era in excellent preservation, a small bottle of 1970s Imprevu, and samples of vintage Coty Paris and Les Muses. I also remember smelling a set of three Coty fragrances in cologne strength at Big Lots, a clearance-type retailer which I’m sure in retrospect was flogging perfumes in discontinued packaging or formulas, in the mid-1980s. There was Muguet des Bois, which I loved and begged my mother to buy me (she said no, I had Chloe and Cachet and I didn’t need anything else), and Les Muses, which I liked as well. The other bottle in the set was Chypre, which I didn’t like at all – which is not surprising for a fourteen-year-old, but how I wish now that I’d bought it then!

L’Aimant – which means both “Loving Her” and “The Magnet” en francais – was released in 1927, and it’s very much the product of its time, as an aldehydic floral. Notes for L’Aimant (cribbed from at least three different sources) include aldehydes, bergamot, neroli, plum, apricot, strawberry, violet, rose, ylang, jasmine, iris, oakmoss, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla, although I don’t smell all of those notes. My bottle is parfum de toilette, mid-to-late 1970s, in the standard Coty flacon with the gold crown top. It’s the same formulation and bottle as my favorite of the various vintage Emeraudes I own.  Edit: The image up top is very similar to the bottle I bought.

For convenience, I decanted some into a small spray bottle, but I find that I actually prefer to dab L’Aimant. I should have made this point on my Emeraude review, but failed to do so – both of these fragrances become more noticeably powdery when sprayed from a decant bottle. I’m not a big fan of powder, and I find them smoother and less “old-fashioned” when dabbed. This might be a function of the aldehydes, but I’m betting it’s from the vanilla-sandalwood combination; it’s a slightly-musty sort of smell that I associate with scented talc powder and my great-aunt Leacy. My bottle of L’Aimant, which I bought on ebay for a song, may have been kept in less-than-optimal conditions, because my experience with it is that although it’s plenty potent for the time that it lasts, it doesn’t last more than three hours – sometimes four if I “spray until wet.”   Edit: Image at right here seems to be from the 1950s or 1960s.  It is eau de toilette.  I have not tried L’Aimant in this packaging, but I do have an Emeraude edt from this era, and it is very faint.  Of course, it may have suffered age damage; it’s hard to tell from just looking at vintage bottles.

L’Aimant has one of those Waft Vs. Up-close differences that intrigue me very much. Cuir de Lancome does this as well: in the air it smells very different than it does sniffed close to the arm I’ve put it on. At first it smells of aldehydes and vanilla, no matter where I’m smelling it. But the aldehydes burn off rather quickly – in five to ten minutes perhaps, and although it’s definitely aldehydic, it’s much, much gentler than No. 5’s Alde-Overdose opening. If I hoover my arm where I’ve sprayed L’Aimant, I can distinguish separate notes: there’s the rose and violet, there’s the jasmine and iris, there’s the oakmoss. There’s a kinship to YSL Paris in the heart that I notice when I sniff closely, and the base is very classical, with oakmoss and sandalwood.

However, sniffed in the air as I move my arms about, L’Aimant smells like nothing so much as my mother’s peach pie: hot, tangy baked peaches and a hint of pastry dough, plus melting vanilla ice cream. It smells sweet and rather delicious, in the manner of L’Heure Bleue, which in turn was emulating Coty’s own L’Origan (more on that relationship soon, I hope): not entirely gourmand, but both floral and edible at the same time.

I do keep wondering whether there is some unlisted combination of notes in this fragrance that adds up to “amber” – there’s a definite sweetness to it that isn’t entirely attributable to vanilla on its own. In this fashion, it’s closely related to Emeraude, which is a vanillic amber, and also to L’Origan, which has a similar oakmoss-sandalwood-vanilla base. All three, as a matter of fact, clearly share some DNA identifying them as COTY. 

L’Aimant, like my darling Emeraude, is currently in production, but as a mere wraith of its former self. Emeraude is a shadow: thin, facelifted, and chemical, and so is the present version of L’Aimant. Avoid both of them, please.  At left is a picture of the current bottle Coty is using for L’Aimant.

If I could wish for anything from Coty, it would be Daphne Bugey’s reconstructions of classic Coty fragrances that Luca Turin is always banging on about in Perfumes: The Guide. Other than Emeraude, I don’t even know which ones they are. (La Rose Jacqueminot? Chypre?) Even in pricey retro crystal bottles with the Art Deco Coty lettering, and at Lutensian cost levels, I’d probably buy them. Many other vintage perfume fans would probably buy them, too. Please, Coty? Please? I’m beggin’ here. You think if we start a letter-writing campaign and point out to Coty that they stand to make a mint selling L’Aimant L’Original and Emeraude L’Original, they’ll come through? It couldn’t hurt. Here’s a link to Coty’s customer service department.

I’m off to write a begging letter to Coty… and to call my mother and ask her to bake me a pie when the fresh peaches show up this summer. Mmmmm…

Some other reviews of L’Aimant: Fragrance Bouquet, Anita at Perfume Posse, Scentzilla (brief, with a focus on old perfume in general).

Image of vintage L’Aimant parfum de toilette is from eurofinegifts at ebay.  Image of vintage eau de toilette is from millieg2 at ebay, and image of modern packaging is from annsgold at ebay.

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15 thoughts on “Perfume Review: vintage Coty L’Aimant parfum de toilette”

  1. But do you think Coty would make that much out of regenerated classics? Are there really enough of us who would make it worth their while? I’d like to think so , but … And would it not involve an admission that that what is on the market at the moment is no good?

    I often think of my mother’s deep, deep attachment to Yardley’s April Violets. From what she told me, it sounds as if AV was quite pricey when she started to buy it in the 1950s. By the 1990s you could pick it up a big bottle for about $20. (I think it muight be discontinued now.) Having browsed vintage Yardley ads on the internet, I reckon the whole brand must have slid down market. It used to look so classy! I love the ads for Bond Street. I so wonder what it smelled like. Looked like a fragrance for the smart young business girl.

    1. Do I think Coty would make a lot of money? Probably not. And it would be outside their business model of “sell it cheap, make it for cheaper.”

      I just want them to make ME happy. 🙂 I wish they had some respect for the wonderfulness of the original formulas.

      (I’ve never smelled April Violets in any presentation, but I do love violet scents…)

      1. Forgot to say what a lovely post this is, by the way. I’d heard of L’Aimant but knew nothing about it. I get the Waft/Close Up thing from Organza, problem being that I like the waft from that more than the close up.

        It’s making money, not making happiness, that Coty is interested in. I was thinking just then as I patted the cat how much happiness perfume creates – see it on any open thread on NST. Companies with a history like Coty hold a great heritage of happiness, but heritage usually isn’t part of their business model and I doubt it cares. So it’s on the blogs that that heritage is valued, and it’s the blogs that nurture communities that cherish that heritage. The Vintage Perfume Vault has a couple of lovely posts on Lentheric. How that made me sigh.

  2. Sigh… now, I have to wonder – do I go further down the rabbit hole of chasing vintage? Or be satisfied with my two recent Emeraude scores? The L’Aimant seems to be a little rarer and more expensive than Emeraude on eBay and at least I knew that I’d love Emeraude.

    Speaking of Emeraude, I have a question for you – my recent pdt bottle came with a bottle of Emeraude Spray Mist. Do you know what the purpose was of the Spray Mist? It comes out quite forcefully and the spray is fairly wide. Was it supposed to be a room spray? Or maybe you were supposed to spray it in the air and walk through it? I was just kind of shocked at the spray radius and force and wondered what the deal was with it – and maybe what concentration? It definitely smells less concentrated than the pdt.

    My latest package came with a full pdt, cologne splash and dusting powder – not that I use dusting powder, but it does smell just like the powder that sat on my grandmother’s dressing table. I haven’t tried the cologne yet, still being rather enamored with the pdt and all.

    1. Gosh, I missed all these comments on this post!! So sorry to get back to you so late, Cyn – I don’t know anything about the spray mist, except that it was something like a cologne strength.

      The pdt is my favorite. I do have some talcum powder, too, and it’s nice – like you, I don’t use it often, but it’s nice after a bath.

  3. Thank you so much for the post on vintage l’aimant. I wore it as a teenager 35 or more years ago, tried the current version and thought I must have had apalling taste. However after reading your email I managed to get a vintage handbag size bottle (in it’s own poser pink suade pouch) from eBayuk and it is wonderful. My teenage self breathes a sigh of relief!

    1. Maureen, I’m sorry to be so late in replying!

      No, it’s not the same stuff you wore as a teenager, and your taste didn’t stink then… curse the reformation bug…

      So glad you found a vintage bottle that smells right. I do think L’Aimant is lovely.

      1. Hi! I also use L’Aimant since I was a teenager long ago. But the past years I have been wondering the same thing as Maureen: is this the L’Aimant I have known for over 35 years? I thought I must be mistaken in thinking it smelled differently.

        So please tell me: how can you be sure that the bottle you buy is from the older generation (as the appearance doesn’t seem to have changed much) and when did Coty start to produce the new L’Aimant? Is there a date of production somewhere, in code, maybe? Thanks for answering.

      2. Welcome, Maud!

        I am sorry to say that I don’t know when Coty changed the formula, or how often it has done so. I’m more familiar with Emeraude, but even with that scent I couldn’t tell you when the most egregious change took place.

        I have gone back up to the body of the review and posted some pictures I snagged from ebay, of new and older L’Aimant. It is instructive to go to ebay and search for L’Aimant in “collectibles – advertising,” because there are numerous magazine ads for sale, most of them dated by year.

        I have had very good luck with Coty’s 1970s parfum de toilette formulations, particularly if you can find them on ebay in the box. They are rich and tend to be in good shape. I do not think that you would find the pdt bottles at any retail store, although you might come across one at a thrift store or a shop with very, very old perfume stock.

        I hope this is helpful – please let me know if you have any more questions.

  4. Hey Mals – I’m testing this today, a sample swapped from Meg/Olenska. I definitely get peach! I was looking at the notes listed in various places, and nothing says peach, but boy does it smell peach.

    Thanks for the review!

    1. Oops, BF, just catching up on replies now. Peach! So I’m not crazy, right? And not a fresh peach, either, a poached one… with butter, or something rich like that. I think it’s beautiful (though I admit to loving Emeraude better).

  5. I just gave my mother a bottle of the new L’Aimant and she cried with joy at getting it again — I suspect her elderly nose can’t detect the difference with the scent she used to love and her imagination is filling in the difference. As long as she’s happy! But is there a quality scent currently being made that would provide the same kind of experience for her as the old L’Aimant did? I may have to start chasing avatars of baked peach…

    1. How sweet and thoughtful of you! I’m sure your mother was so happy to smell her old friend again…

      A few fragrances that might suit her – though of course you’d probably want to test them rather than buying without smelling first: Bvlgari Pour Femme has a rose and powdery violet angle. Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue has the aldehydes, peach and rose. Guerlain Samsara has the jasmine, sandalwood and vanilla. Divine by Divine has the buttery peach and sandalwood-vanilla (but also contains a lot of tuberose, which L’Aimant doesn’t have at all). I wonder also if you might have luck with Ferre eau de parfum (by Gianfranco Ferre)… wait, I’ll grab a link to the specific bottle I mean:

      http://www.beautyencounter.com/buy/gianfranco-ferre-ferre-eau-de-parfum-by-gian-franco-ferre-for-women/8011530360030/123891

      (I am not affiliated in any way with beautyencounter. I’ve bought from them several times and been pleased, but there are other online perfume discounters that carry this fragrance. A number of the Ferres have similar names, and I wanted to show you a pic of the bottle.)

      Or maybe Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, preferably in parfum, for the delicious buttery vanilla-ness. I would also suggest the 1999 version of Ines de la Fressange in the octagonal bottle, if you can find it – I love its fizzy, flirty combination of aldehydes, peach, jasmine, rose, and sandalwood; however, it doesn’t have the vanilla deliciousness of L’Aimant.

      Nothing is ever exactly the same, is it?? Good luck with the quest.

  6. Thank you so much for your help, I’ve never seen the Ferre at a counter here in Australia but armed with the photo I can shop online for it confidently. I know what you mean about 5th Avenue, it’s one I get for summer quite often as in the heat it just gives a harmless clean perfumed effect on me and now I think of it, Mum would like it. I will certainly have fun chasing down your other candidates 🙂 I have wanted to meet Guerlain L’Heure Bleue ever since reading ‘Perfumes, the Guide’, so this is the ideal excuse!

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