Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sikkim c1971

Sikkim by Lancome: launched in 1971, and created by Robert Gonnon.


During the early part of the 1970s, America and the rest of the world became interested in a tiny kingdom named Sikkim. Hidden away in the Himalayas, the King, Thondup and Queen, Hope (formerly the New York debutante Hope Cooke) ruled over a population of just 200,000. Sikkim (Nepali,i.e. the "Goodly Region") is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayan mountains. The state borders Nepal to the west, China's Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and east, and Bhutan to the southeast, while the state of West Bengal lies to the south.

In 1970, the couple came to America to attend various parties thrown by high society, and the public was enthralled by the tales of the country and to promote the development of its industries,whose exports included Sikkim rugs. Soon Hope interested Bergdorf Goodman into carrying Parisian designed dresses made from Sikkim fabrics, and Thondup's older sister created jewelry which was sold by Van Cleef & Arpels in New York. Bergdorf's held a fashion show promoting the clothing and the Smithsonian also held a fashion show which was presided over the King & Queen of Sikkim.

Perfume companies also jumped on the Sikkim bandwagon, Lancome introduced its newest fragrance for women, simply named Sikkim in 1971. The inspiration for the exotic perfume was the lush perfumed floral gardens of the Far East.

Originally Sikkim was available in parfum and eau de toilette. These early perfumes are sold in boxes with a burled wood pattern and a large L on the front.

Fragrance Composition:

So what does it smell like? It was originally classified as an oriental chypre fragrance for women.

  • Top notes: aldehydes, tangerine, galbanum, cinnamon, caraway, bergamot, narcissus, 
  • Middle notes: carnation, iris, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, gardenia, ylang ylang, spices
  • Base notes: orris, amber, castoreum, coconut, thujone, leather, musk, patchouli,  oakmoss, vetiver. 

I was very grateful to receive a sample of vintage Sikkim, although my sample seems to have turned, what I did make out what very green, slightly musty and bitter with a sour citrus topnote. My husband says it smells like baby powder. A ladies fragrance, but certainly a fragrance that can be worn proudly by any man.

1989 - 1st Reformulation and Relaunch:

Sikkim was discontinued by 1974-1975 but was relaunched in 1989 along with two other fragrances Magie and Climat for a special show. The perfumes were hand filled from a Baccarat urn into crystal flacons. In 1991, it was reformulated as a fruity chypre and relaunched to the public in parfum and eau de parfum concentrations. These bottles are housed in white and gray boxes with gilded accents.

2005 - 2nd Reformulation and Relaunch :

Sikkim was reissued as an eau de toilette in 2005 along with Climat, Magie, and Sagamore as part of the perfume collection “La Collection Fragrances”, which was launched to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the perfume tradition of the house of Lancôme.

I have read that the new edition doesn’t smell exactly like the original. The difference between old and new is probably due to reformulation. The IFRA, the International Fragrance Association, established restrictions in Europe on the use of a number of significant fragrance materials, especially oakmoss, a fixative which is used in so many chypre, fougere, and oriental scents. Unfortunately, vetiver has also fallen under these regulations, much to the chagrin of many devotees.

The elegant, transparent bottles of La Collection perfumes were designed in the early 1970s by George Delhomme, one of the founders of the house of Lancôme.

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