Perfume didn’t arrive in Europe until around the 11th and 12th centuries and when got there, only royals and the celebrities of the day, could afford it. It must have been especially appreciated because at that time, personal hygiene wasn’t the greatest.
One perfume house with a long, rich and “royal” history is Lubin.
On a recent trip to Paris, I was honored to spend the day with Gilles Thevenin, the President of Lubin perfumes. He is not just a fascinating individual, the House of Lubin is fascinating as well. I spent the day sniffing Lubin’s famed fragrances, peeking into the company’s impressive collection of archival materials, and visiting the Lubin Boutique at 21 rue du Roule.
The Beginnings of the House of Lubin: The era of the French Revolution was extremely gruesome. So many met their end at the guillotine that blood filled the streets and there were so many bodies that that they were left to rot in mass graves. In fact, the stunning city of Paris that we admire today was at that time, a fetid, smelly, unpleasant and unhealthy place to live. Fortunately, just after the French Revolution, Pierre François Lubin founded his Perfume House, at rue Sainte Anne in Paris. If you want to read more about Lubin’s history and check out each of the fragrances along with some fun music and art for each Lubin Fragrance, treat yourself to a visit to the extremely well done, amusing and informative LUBIN Web Site.
Monsieur Lubin had superior perfumes that caught the eye (and the noses) of the Imperial Court. The era’s “it girls” Empress Joséphine and Pauline Bonaparte, and Princess Borghèse embraced Lubin perfume. “Celebrity endorsements” then as now, increase interest in a product. Soon, other note-ables wanted fragrances from the House of Lubin. In House of Lubin’s archival documents are the Coats of Arms of France, the King of England, and the Russian Tsar. Monsieur Lubin was also was the first perfumer to win hearts in America, bringing scent over in 1830.
Lubin Rising: But even a business that is world famous can have it’s ups and downs. Over time, the House of Lubin, languished. Then, not all that long ago, while working at another celebrated cosmetics and fragrance company, Gilles Thevenin became interested in reviving the House of Lubin and Lubin fragrances. He felt he could do a good job re-invigorating the brand. The company he worked for wasn’t all that enthusiastic as they had other priorities. But he persisted…….
Back to the Future? Mr. Thevenin is respectful of the rich history of the House of Lubin, but he also looks to the present and the future. He brings his own ideas about how Lubin fragrances should be presented to the world. Although there are many fragrances in the archives, and some of them are still being sold, the focus is on the creation of modern perfumes that will appeal to today’s discerning tastes. *See my review of the latest, Grisette, at the end of this review.
It is clear the Mr. Thevenin views the creative process very differently than large corporations. For example, while many if not most companies will contract a fragrance out to a large perfume house, Gilles prefers a holistic, in-house experience from beginning to end in which the perfumer (or “nose”) has control of the creative and production process. This is reflected in the quality and character of the perfumes. He has managed to entice some of the most expert and creative people to work with him. Lubin fragrances have been created in collaboration with perfumers such as Delphine Thierry, Thomas Fontaine, Henri Giboulet, Olivia Giacobetti, Lucien Ferrero and Roger Broudoux.
Gilles is clearly devoted to making Lubin a unique brand that stand out in every way. He’s not interested in mass marketing the scents. On a personal note, I found in kind of fascinating. He rides his bicycle to work every day (the day we met him it was raining, but he still rides). He uses a computer at work but not at home. He told me he didn’t own a television, but prefers listening music, reading, other cultural pursuits. While the Lubin web site is one of the most spectacular fragrance sites I’ve ever experienced, Gilles doesn’t do the social media, his team does all of that. He directs his energy to the fragrances themselves. He is not a perfumer, but he influences the vision. Some of the more modern fragrances were inspired by his travels (and they are some of my personal favorites).
Lubin fragrances are coveted by those who want high quality fragrances and won’t settle for just anything sold on a department store shelf. You won’t find them everywhere, and there is no e-commerce (at least not yet). One of the things that makes Lubin fragrances exciting are that they are exclusive, rare, and different. Even though they may be a bit difficult to find, it doesn’t disturb Gilles, who knows that those who appreciate a unique fragrance will seek it out, and gladly pay for their “prize.” The available fragrances are listed, below:
The Fragrances: perfume Grisette (2015 for women ; Akkad (2012 unisex); perfume Galaad (2012 unisex); perfume Korrigan (2012 unisex); perfume Black Jade (2011 for women); perfume Idole Eau de Parfum (2011 for women and men); perfume Figaro(2010 unisex); perfume Itasca (2010 for unisex); perfume Bluff (2009 for unisex); perfume Gin Fizz (2009 for women); perfume Inedite (2009 for women); perfume Le Vetiver (2007 for men); perfume Idole (2005 for men); perfume L de Lubin (1974 for women); perfume L`Eau Neuve (1968 for unisex); perfume Nuit de Longchamp (1934 for women).
My personal favorites are a trio of unisex fragrances from 2012: Akkad, Galaad and Korrigan. They’re spicy, exotic, sensual, and the tall bottles with stylized totem head tops, are stunning. If you like sensual and unique fragrances as I do these are the ones to try. Due to some new government regulations, some of the notes in the originals ad to be substituted, but the revised versions are still wonderful. Your preference may be more to the florals, or something else, of course. Noteable with Lubin perfumes is that while some are specifically for men or for women, there are also plenty of unisex scents.
The modern bottles are works of art (enjoy looking at them on the LUBIN Web Site) but after spending some hours perusing the House of Lubin archives, I couldn’t help but imagine some of the treasures in the archives being resurrected in some form. While the precious bottles, little compacts, and beautiful labels are exquisite, it seems more likely that the company will draw this rich history for inspiration. There are even more pieces of an archival nature that Gilles and his able staff are still unearthing.
INTRODUCTING GRISETTE, A BRAND NEW FRAGRANCE THAT HAS JUST LAUNCHED FROM THE HOUSE OF LUBIN!
Grisette is the newest fragrance from the House of Lubin! In Paris, I got a chance to smell a fragrance that was not launched then., but it’s available now. Grisette by Lubin Paris ($130/ 50 ml. or $160/100 ml) is categorized as a floriental, or an oriental floral, but it’s not at all heavy, it’s actually very fresh. The fragrance begins with notes of Grapefruit, Bergamot, Bulgarian and Moroccan rose (expensive rose notes by the way that are processed a special way to give the sensation of fresh cut roses, almost “green”). The heart is iris and incense, the drydown amber, musk, ceder, vanilla absolute. You immediately get a fresh fruit but it’s not cloying or sweet, and the florals start to come through quickly. In the lab sample, I really didn’t get the base notes, but in this finished version, they add an air of sophistication and balance without making the perfume too heavy. This is a fragrance that Lubin hopes will appeal to modern, young women, but it’s feminine and fresh with just enough staying power that it works right now for everyone, for Summer. The scent is that special one you’d reach for when attending a wedding, graduation, or “just because.” The bottle is the Lubin signature: a gorgeous, voluptous clear glass with a tinted disc over the spray diffuser that I jokingly said reminded me of a large poker chip.
Do you know someone going to Paris? Ask them to get you a bottle, or buy it online at LuckyScent.com