Le Galion, Parfumeur a Paris, is among those esoteric fragrance houses that should one not be dabbling in vintage perfume hunting they're blissfully oblivious of. Established in the entre deux guerres it gained a popularity that was disproportionate to the value of their perfumes, which are quite lovely. But why the strange name?
Le Galion, French for galleon, is a large warship or trader sailing ship with 3 or more masts (lateen-rigged on the after masts and square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast), whose dominance of the seas during the 15th to 18th centuries resulted in what we recognize today in the brand's logo.
The firm was supposedly founded by Prince Murat, but it was perfumer Paul Vacher who created the Le Galion fragrances, trademarked in 1936. He worked at Guerlain, one of the oldest perfume houses in the world, among other perfume houses. (Vacher is best known for his parts in the creations of vintage Miss Dior for Christian Dior in 1947 with Jean Carles, and Arpège for Lanvin in 1927 with André Fraysse, as well as his Diorling, again for Dior in the 1960s).
The fragrances by Le Galion are ladylike, graceful and elegant from what I have experienced, typical of the 1930s and 1950s tastes, with good stability over the years, a concern for those of us who seek vintage perfumes.
Le Galion had created and distributed 24 fragrances by the beginning of the 1990s, with Sortilège their most-beloved and well-known specimen.
The fragrances by Le Galion Parfumeur a Paris:
1937 Champs de Mai
1937 Indian Summer
1937 La Violette
1937 Shake Hands
1972 Eau Noble
Special for Gentlemen (unknown date)
The Le Galion company distributed samples in department stores in the form of tiny bottles, the size of which didn't extend beyond the first phalanx of my forefinger. These cute gems had the same little gold colored cap with the trademark ship etched into it, and a foil paper label, scented with the corresponding fragrance. Today they can be occasionally found on Ebay and Etsy.
The wonderfully retro illustrations for their fragrances date from the 1950s.
Pics via tumblr, etsy, ebay, hprints and vintatevenus.com.au.