Just for the fun of it, I thought it would be nice to take a look at some perfumes that never quite caught on, despite being good or original, whether recently or not. This week I thought I’d go back to Weil’s strange old green floral Weil de Weil.
Weil used to sell furs, and back in the day in the late twenties, their perfumes all had animal names, like Zibeline (sable) 1928, and Antilope, also 1928. Both were floral aldehydes, but Zibeline was the darker end of floral aldehyde alley while Antilope stayed on the sunny side of that street, near neighbor to chypres like Ma Griffe. (If you can find old bottles of Zibeline btw, they are well worth buying in order to enjoy the luxurious ambergris dry down.)
The Weil family had to escape Paris in WWII, and it was in the States that they had their monster success Secret of Venus in 1945. By all accounts Secret is a heavy oriental, and I’ve only smelled it once, but in the seventies the house of Weil produced other perfumes including Weil de Weil (1971).
The seventies were the decade of the green perfume, there was Charlie, in all its proliferating, some might say metastasizing, glory, and Silences, and Shiseido’s Zen, Rochas’ Mystere and Balenciaga’s Cialenga, not to mention Nina Ricci’s Fleur de Fleurs, but Weil was a lighter iteration of the green floral. Weil de Weil was green and dreamy.
It featured a notable tangerine in its introduction, big fat and juicy, and after that the traditional hyacinth and galbanum ingredients you found everywhere in those days. But there was a twist to Weil de Weil, and that twist, was a large bunch of mimosas that the perfume thrust under your nose unexpectedly about halfway through its evaporation. Everything that preceded the little nosegay of puffy yellow blossoms was something you were prepared to smell, but the mimosas followed by a naughty narcissus that had clearly just been rolling in the hay with the rose de mai, used to wrong foot me every time. It was like coming a across a pair of adolescents in your stable yard who you knew perfectly well had been up to something, but whose, “Yes ma’am” manners completely disarmed you.
The other middle notes, some honeysuckle and some ylang ylang, tended not to drown out the mimosa, and so the heart of Weil de Weil was cheerfully, almost insouciantly, sensual, but in a distinctly light hearted way. Grassy, Weil de Weil might have been, but Splendor in the Grass it was not.
The dry down continued the green theme with vetiver, and then sandalwood and oakmoss gave it some elegance before civet came along and underscored the easiness of this little number. This was what made Weil de Weil so different, it was totally without the formality of other green perfumes, and did actually have a drydown-which is something that many floral green perfumes lack. Not as serious as Givenchy III, not as shutter flappingly green as Vent Vert. Weil de Weil was a ramble down a country lane on a sunny afternoon. I’d definitely take another stroll.