Rancé 1795 is an old French perfume house from the Rancé family of the 1600s, famous for producing perfumed gloves for the French Aristocracy in Grasse. At that time Europe was a pretty stinky place to be, and gloves, fans and handkerchiefs were used by upper class ladies to disguise the putrid and pungent stenches around them (mostly of humanity; people rarely bathed).
In creating “Le Vainqueur”, “Triomphe” and “L’Eau de Austerliz” for Napolean, François Rancé was held in high esteem. Rancé also created a perfume for Joséphine Bonaparte called “l’Impératrice” the bottle of which is still a treasure of the house. Since that period, the house of Rancé has dedicated many of its perfumes to the heroes and heroines of the Napoleonic era. Rancé’s philosophy embraces tradition, innovation, and naturalness – an interesting combination that likely has something to do with the brand’s long life. Granddaughter Jeanne Sandra Rancé with her son Jean Maurice Alexandre Rancé today run the company.
Perfume writer Donna Hathaway:
Napoleon approached master perfumer Francois Rancé before his coronation in 1804 to commission him to make two perfumes – one for himself [Le Vanquer Napoleon] and one for his love Joséphine [Joséphine]. Rancé designed the fragrances such that hers would dominate if both she and Napoleon were in the same room, However, should they be in close proximity, the two perfumes would merge to create a new unique fragrance. In 2004 the house of Rancé relaunched these two perfumes. They could not have done so earlier, as Napoleon made the house promise not to release the perfumes until 200 years after the coronation.
Joséphine is part of the Collection Impériale, and it is a joyous perfume – brilliant, sensuous and charming, like Joséphine herself (Napoleon’s most loved). It’s an oriental floral created by Jeanne Sandra Rancé, and the top notes are orris, black currant, galbanum, violet leaf, cloves and white peach; middle notes are jasmine, hiacynth and ylang-ylang; base notes are amber, sandalwood, bourbon vanilla and white musk.
This scent is definitely not dated in any way; it’s to fresh and smooth not to have been created sometime in the past two decades. It’s a fruity and tarte composition with a fair bit of complexity, and did not go sour on me when tested. It lingered close to my skin and stayed demure and elegant throughout it’s life. Beautiful, classy, and feminine – yes, but way too polite for me. Josephine bears semblance to Lancome’s Miracle, Donna Karan’s Gold, and Lalique’s Flora Bella according to some Fragrantica reviewers, but I cannot speak to this. I cannot recall Lancome’s Miracle (not that miraculous if I can’t remember it!) and have yet to get my nose on the other two.
Eau de la Couronne
Jean Rancé dedicated this one to Napoleon’s sister Paolina, and the fragrance was recreated around 2009. It’s from the Rue Rancé collection. The formulae endeavors to come as close as possible to the originals from centuries past. Although I have read some reviews compare this with Dior’s J’Adore, I did not catch a strong resemblance, although the composition is indeed a fruity, shimmery, golden floral. If you love freesia, you will love this this breezy, perfumey composition. There is a beguiling innocence to the scent – I picture a delicate, quiet girl coming of age. I admit, however, that I was disappointed – the main reason being that it dissipated far too quickly. Sad, as the fragrance is in fact intriguing, fresh, and sensual.