Alahine and Co.

Romantic elegance this girl in a hat from Pinterest

Romantic elegance this girl in a hat from Pinterest

Daintiness is not something that perfumers necessarily consider in the making of a perfume.  However the perfumer of Teo Cabanel, Jean Francois Latty has created a series of perfumes in wonderful taste.

Now I don’t feel very comfortable writing such a thing, because in the end the perfume that is in perfect taste for you is the one you love and wear, and I know from personal experience that choice often doesn’t fall on the chic import but on the old reliable sometimes found on the shelves of your local pharmacy.  My aunt for instance swore by Yardley’s Lavender.

What I mean about the Teo Cabanels is that they are elegant.  There is nothing about them that’s loud or ill considered as a group they are like the Parisienne whose most quotable phrase is, ” Je ne voudrais pas que cela fasse trop!” Meaning that she would never want to overdo anything.

Alahine is the best known of these perfumes, though Barkhane is perhaps the house’s

The alahine bottle

The Alahine bottle

top seller which is understandable as Barkhane is a thick and prosperous amber probably comforting to wear on a gray drizzling night in Paris.

Alahine on the other hand is easily one of the most subtle and interesting floral oriental perfumes I’ve ever smelled.

In order to do the fragrance justice I have to backtrack to last week’s post about L’Origan and Coty’s creation of the whole genre of floral orientals, so bear with me.  The idea was that you could add an oriental base, something too sensual for the western woman of 1904, and achieve success by melding that amber note to a floral bouquet, thus creating a kind of stormy love affair.  Voila deathless romance and such scents as L’Origan, L’Heure Bleue etc.

I don’t know how old the formula for Alahine is, although I know that the house is a revival and guess that the perfumer updated what was in the company archives for the 21st century.

Alahine smells to me like one of those early variations on Coty’s idea. This actually makes Alahine more not less interesting to wear. The perfume probably dates back to a few years after Cabanel moved to Paris as a concern in 1908, just three years after the release of L’Origan and there would have been plenty of time to do what Jacques Guerlain did, rethink the premise of the floral oriental.

A watery scene from

Speaking of stormy romances, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg  from

I’d bet that at Cabanel, Alahine was their answer to the L’Origan innovation and a wonderful one it is.  Alahine has been beloved of perfume enthusiasts since it was released in 07, but even though IFRA rules and budgetary constraints may have toned down this perfume a bit, the effect of it is still the same, a  beautiful combination of the Eastern and Western traditions of perfumery, with wonderfully understated elegance. Alahine is Cabanel’s Apres L’Ondee and easily up to the comparison.

The beginning of most of the Cabanels seems to feature a combination of ylang ylang with something else- usually a citrus, and Alahine too features this introduction which gives it lift and a lovely diffusion on the air, then the heart of Alahine is a classic jasmine

Old guerlain advertising

Old Guerlain advertising

rose accord with the rose dominating and a twist that gives the perfume originality and complexity:pepper.  The pepper is such a clever transition here because it ushers in those desert dry notes of the base.  This is the real glory of Alahine a beautiful combination of amber, vanilla, iris, sandalwood and a lot of labdanum. Much better arranged than the endings of so many other perfumes on the market.  The style is classic French, but the sophistication is all that anyone could want in a scent.  As I said, the Cabanels are in flawless taste and Alahine is a perfect alternative to Apres L’Ondee for women who are not simply romantics , but demanding and chic too.

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8 thoughts on “Alahine and Co.

    • They are such a temptation to me. I could feel my credit card floating out of my wallet when I tried Alahine. Very posh, very polished, all the things I’m normally not. I was covered in soot today from cleaning my attic- but I smelled wonderful ;-).

  1. I should wear Alahine tomorrow! I got the old bottle of it fearing that the juice in the new packaging might be not the same as I knew from a sample so at the rate I’m using any of the perfumes I won’t probably know if it’s so… wait… I have a set of samples that include the latest perfumes as well. Does it mean that Alahine in the set is also newer? I will check.

    I must say that I’ve never thought of this perfume as “elegant”… I’ll think about it tomorrow while wearing it.

    • Love to know if you smell any difference between your older bottle and the newer samples.
      I thought the newer Alahine in the ribbon bottle was very understated and very… yeah, I would say elegant. The older Alahine was an odd experience for me because there was a note right in the middle I was anosmic to, so gorgeous open and then nothing and then lovely dry down. I don’t have that problem anymore!

  2. I don’t think I’ve tried the Alahine from the sampler set I bought earlier in the year (mostly to get Lace Garden!), but I do assume it would be the current version. My bottle was in the old rectangular glass bottle, not the metallized plastic cylinder one they’re using now and which I like a great deal less. I should try the sample, just to see how much it’s changed. I hope very little.

    My bottle is five years old and half gone, which is a good indicator of how much I love Alahine given that a) I only wear it in cooler weather and b) I have more perfume than I could wear in my lifetime. It took several wears for me to love it, but now I pop the cap off, inhale, and my eyes roll back in pleasure.

    • Oh how I wish I’d been able to smell all of the original. It was annoying that half of the formula was a no show to my nose. Everyone else really loved it and I’m sure there was a good reason. Now it’s all there for me to sniff, and I fear something must have changed…

      Actually, as I think I already said, Lace Garden is another really nice one. Jasmine + Orange blossom= Ultra Feminine! They could have called it Lace Parasol, Ideal for strolling around Charleston on a summer evening don’t you think? Also lasts forever on me…

  3. I love Barkhane! And I recently stumbled across a sample and a small decant of Alahine, and purposely put them in my ‘winter scent’ bag to ensure they get proper attention when the weather gets colder. I think I may be having an amber moment. ;)

    • Barkhane is nearly as good as an overcoat, and Alahine is a lovely thing and particularly good in the cold. You picked the best time of year to test them both! Hope one or the other of them is a good fit.

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