Perfume Review & Musings: Zibeline by Weil (1928) // The Very Definition of a Haunting Perfume


Zibeline by Weil // Perfume Review & Musings

Zibeline (sable) was created in 1928 during the jazz and flapper era by Jacqueline Fraysse, according to one source, and Claude Fraysse, according to another one. They probably both worked on the scent. Weil used to be a house specializing in luxury fur coats when it was established at the turn of the 20th century.

Chinchilla Royal is another perfume by the same brand issued in 1927 the year of the founding of Weil Parfums by the three Weil brothers: Marcel, Alfred and Jacques. Both Chinchilla Royal and Zibeline were innovative perfumes created as functional scents destined to be worn directly applied onto furs to cover the slightly musty smell that emanated from sable pelts. As an advertisement read in the 1930s, Zibeline was meant to be "Strictly an odor for furs." To reinforce the point, both perfumes were advertised as fragrances that had been chemically treated to scent the elegant woman's furs without damaging them...

zibeline.jpeg According to my preliminary research, Zibeline was introduced in the United States in 1933 and it was still being produced in 1997. Before that, in 1986, we hear of a plan for a reformulation of Zibeline. We learn that in the 1980s, Zibeline was actually the alcohol-based version of Secret de Vénus, also by Weil and created in 1936 - that is to say after Zibeline.

To make things even more crystal clear, in the 1970s, Zibeline and Secret de Vénus would be advertised together as one entity called "Secret de Vénus-Zibeline Perfume Oil".

It would be interesting to find out more about the marketing logic behind these amalgamations, but this will be for another time and place. Currently, the perfume to my knowledge is discontinued but might have ressuscitated under the name Secret de Vénus, for all I know. Very recently, Roja Dove revealed that he would carry Zibeline in his Haute Parfumerie at Harrods along with other hard-to-find fragrances deemed to be historical trend-setters. He did not mention Secret de Vénus, although it is more widely available than Zibeline as a vintage collectible.

The version I have is an alcohol-based parfum de toilette (another term for an eau de parfum), just called Zibeline. According to Katie from Scentzilla, my version would be an older jus and by the look of it, I would think the bottle is from the 1970s-80s.


The word that for me best describes Zibeline is "haunting". It is a perfume of infinite charm that bespeaks of an era long gone by and which with time has become exotic rather than old-fashioned. It feels to me a little as if a time-machine would have brought to your door a sophisticated lady from the flapper era who would be very much alive and whose conversation one would truly enjoy despite obvious profound differences of mentalities. She would smell different, antique, yet very up to date at the same time. The perfume thus creates a stylish aura, but at the same time feels distant, like a faint echo of things past.

(A Weil zibeline coat ca. 1910. Please note the siren-like silhouette created by the bottom of the coat)

Zibeline in the version I have reveals cultural perfume touches of the 1920s as well as of the 1950s. Royal Secret by Germaine Monteil (1958) which I find is very similar to Zibeline and still widely available smells like a more fiery and agressive version of it. The perfume thus has that tendency to the sharpness and soapiness of a 1950s fragrance, as well as to the somewhat heavier languorous animalic atmosphere of a perfume from the 1920s - think Habanita and Chanel no 5 - including a popular note of that time which is not officially described but that to my nose smells like Russian leather or betula alba extract.

It is a perfume with a rich past. It is also a perfume which borders on the overtly sexual; but this naturalness while very much present is contained as if kept in check in the folds of a very civilized, ample and urbane fur coat. This idea is conveyed by a raw civet note with naturalistic fishy undertones. It is also a perfume that has a dreamy quality about it: is calm and contemplative. This latter mood is suggested by the orris, the sandalwood and the incense. The perfume is officially classified as a woody aldehydic floral - and it has the feel of an oriental.

The composition starts with a fresh and slightly syrupy-sweet herbaceous accord, a little reminiscent of green Chartreuse liqueur; the tarragon is quite prominent to my nose. Although as I already said Russian leather is not mentioned, it smells of Russian leather skins and of what I think might be betula alba extract - the typical scent that was used in Russia in the old regime to perfume leather-bound books as well as boots and which is used in Russian leather scents. If it is not that, it is something closely associated with the classical Russian leather accord.

The fragrance lets the finesse of the orris prevail as if a veil of pale mauve mousseline were caressing the scent. The aldehydes come into play rather forcefully to provide amplitude to the perfume. They are on the sharp side, but well-rounded. These recede after a while letting the feminine floral heart composed of "Orient rose", jasmine, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, orris, and gardenia develop evoking the image of a bouquet of flowers wrapped with orris mousseline. The woods play they lower-pitched notes underneath this layer of the composition. The orris is cool, revealing metallic nuances, yet is warmed up by the wooden embers in the base notes.

Zibeline then becomes more powdery and the softness of that accord is balanced out by the more vivid impression offered by the aldehydes, as well as the stimulating piquancy of sandalwood. The civet becomes more distincly perceptible realistically evoking feminine sexuality with the help of musk and sexual ylang-ylang. The fishy undertones intensify, making one think of oysters and of a pungent odor di femina smell. Then, a very unexpected accord evolves evoking powdered milk, later a little butterscotch, and still later, plain good old butter. The dry down is animalic, woody and sweet, due to the honey - and powdery.

I am a little puzzled at first by the combined siren-like and motherly references in the scent, at one point sexual, the next nurturing. These notes do not feel babyish but seem to take the point of view of the mother.

In the end, I reflect that these notes which fade into each others effortlessly probably contribute to the deep charm of that fragrance as they offer the complete representation of a woman both natural and sophisticated, seductive and nurturing. It is a perfume that balances different, contradictory aspects of femininity, as seen by society, and perhaps for this very reason helps its wearer symbolically integrate those tensions.

One can understand even better perhaps the attraction it may exercise on men. "Secret of Venus-Zibeline Perfume Oil, The World's Most Famous Perfume Oil - In the haunting fragrance that speaks a language a man understands" as read in an advertisement in the 1970s. It explains to me why the word "haunting" came to mind in reference to a sense of the familiar and the distant, all at once. It is the distance and familiarity that connects generations of mothers and daughters and sons, the distance and familarity that connects men and women. The sense of both absence and presence, that is our experience of life.

Top notes are aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, coriander, estragon. Heart notes are Orient rose, jasmine, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, orris, gardenia. Base notes are vetiver, civet, sandal, amber, musk, honey, Tonka.

Photo of Zibeline is from Scent Direct.

Feel free to consider the comments' space below as a petitioning space to call for the re-introduction of Zibeline!

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51 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Bonjour, Helene-

    You really outdid yourself today...
    Analytical, lyrical, thoughtful, astute... did I miss anything?

    I always loved this one- although, if I had to choose between them, it would have to be Scandal... I really envision trailing sables, ample cleavage, yet consummate taste with heavily animalic overtones and supreme confidence in one's femininity and womanliness !

    I can clearly see where the maternal note creeps in, in the Zibeline, and for many [although they are not cognizant of it], that may be off-putting...

    i would like to see a FAITHFUL re-edition of this, and Antilope [ although I suspect that Antilope would find a larger following].

    Enjoy the breezes...

  2. Another one to love ... I have really enjoyed learning more about Weil and the roles these fragrances played. Thank you.

  3. Wow! what a wonderful review. I find myself on the screen of my computer, mouth wide open. Thank you, this one was so interesting and insightful!

  4. I'm fairly new to this blog although I have it in my favorites, I don't know why I had not read it before, go figure. Like another comment posted before mine, my mouth fell open as I looked at my computer and read your insightful review. Thank you.

    patricia rojas
  5. Hi Chaya,

    Some perfumes are more inspiring:) It is a very special scent.

    Have a good end of the day.

  6. Hi Chaya,

    Some perfumes are more inspiring than others:) It is a very special scent.

    Have a good end of the day.

  7. Hi March,

    You're welcome.

  8. Hi Andy,

    My Pleasure.

  9. Hi Patricia,

    Thank you very much for your kind words.

  10. Hi, A very nice review. It's so wonderful to see my all time love brought to the public eye. A couple of things to mention: 1. Claude Fraysse did formulate the original Zibeline, thought Jacqueline assisted. 2. The oil was available under the name Secret de Venus - Zibeline Huile Pour le Bain long before the 70's! I am trying to pin down a date, and will be putting together some more info shortly.....

  11. Hi Rockinruby,

    Thanks for the info! I know there are many gaps in the chronology I proposed, this is why I took care to indicate these were preliminary notes based on the few facts I found.

    So, I am wondering what was concretely behind that doublet? Was it pure marketing strategy or did they come up with a hybrid scent?

  12. To my nose, DEFINITELY a hybrid scent, though I believe Katiedid thinks it's much the same. Noses are funny, you know? I have many, many bottles of Zibeline parfum, parfum de toilette, Secret de Venus, Secret de Venus Zibeline oil, Secret de Venus Zibeline parfum de toilette, etc., etc., etc.....far too many, in fact!! :-) And I have to tell you, I SdV Zib is my HG, while Zibeline I can take or leave.

  13. To my nose, DEFINITELY a hybrid scent, though I believe Katiedid thinks it's much the same. Noses are funny, you know? I have many, many bottles of Zibeline parfum, parfum de toilette, Secret de Venus, Secret de Venus Zibeline oil, Secret de Venus Zibeline parfum de toilette, etc., etc., etc.....far too many, in fact!! :-) And I have to tell you, SdV Zib is my HG, while Zibeline I can take or leave.

  14. Very intriguing:) May I ask you what you think of the current Secret de Vénus that is widely available?

  15. The fragrance currently on the market under the name Secret de Venus in the blue and gold box with the heart stopper is not even remotely related to the original. By this I don't mean that it's a "pale shadow" of its former self, but rather that it is a completely unrelated scent that was launched by Interparfums in 1996 to capitalize on the well-regarded name. The original was discontinued around 1990 or so. In short: avoid it like the plague.

  16. I know what you mean. This is how I feel about the Mitsouko edt: stay away from it folks.

  17. Wonderful
    If only you had a source for antique perfume bottles!


    jean zimmermann
  18. where can i buy zibeline from . thanks

    andrew ruminski
  19. Thanks for this very astute chronology of Secret de Venus Pour le Bain/Zibeline by Weil. I've been purchasing (bidding) mine on ebay, and it doesn't come cheap. Please keep us life-long fans apprised on the revival of this magical scent.


    Sylvia Willis
  20. What a description. very nice indeed and i agree with most all thatyou said. I was given a 1/2 ounce bottle of secret de paris zibeline. It is about 3/4 gone though. I do not think it is from 1928 though, because the sticker glued on the bottom is gold foil with black print. i took the sticker off and the raised in the glass it says wiel made in paris in the middle of the lettering it has a 7 with a line below the 7. the lid is definetly froom the 60's or 70's. The perfume oil is very very dark. what can you tell me of the value?

  21. where can i buy zibeline perfume

    dorothy lennon
  22. I think they might have it at Roja Dove's Haute Parfumerie at Harrods. Otherwise, you can certainly spot it from time to time on eBay.

  23. Thank you for this wonderful article. I found found 2 unopened bottles of this perfume hidden deep in a crate of other French perfumes, oils, soaps and makeup at a swapmeet!!! Everybody was passing them over, and I decided to buy them because I loved the fragrance. I have just begun searching for more information about it. I also found a bottle of perfume called Lolita Lempicka that I'm trying to find more information on also.

    I particularly love the Lolita Lempicka. My airconditing came on, and the fragrance of the Lolita filled the whole room!! It is in an apple sort of shaped bottle that is lightly purple. Please let me know if you have any information on this one also! Thanks.

    Flo Overton
  24. I love this perfume oil and have been looking for several years. I hope they consider reintroducing this wonderful oil.


    Renee Wilson
  25. i was very young when my mother took me to the store to buy a nice bottle of perfume,i chose secret of venus she thought it was to grown up for me, i can still remember that scent it made me feel pretty , being a short fat little girl i never felt really pretty, there was something very special about secret of venus, thank you

    shirley bruno
  26. Thank you to you in turn. I was very moved by your testimonial and I am sure that people who make perfumes would be too, to see, as you described, that a perfume can make all the difference in a little girl's life and outlook on herself and hence on the future.

  27. i have been wearing secret de venus for 48 years. this new scent is not the same. i would like to know were to get the original scent again? keep me posted if weil or another will make the original scent again. stay away from the new version.

  28. Thanks for the info -I have worn Zib for years whenever I could find it. Am on a major seach now - thanks for the clues. AC

  29. We did an interview with Roja Dove in which he announced that Zibeline would be available again in extrait or pure perfume version.

  30. my mother wore this beautiful oil,,she would by it in a set of 4 small bottles..secret of venus(Zibeline) by weil,,,,is there anywhere you can still purchase this,,she is now 87yrs old and would love to et it for her....thanks

    bonnie roberts
  31. I was most impressed with your very informative article. I am new to your blog. Recently I acquired a bottle of Secret de Venus Zibeline Perfume Oil that belonged to my aunt. I placed it for sale...however, after researching the history of this product, I'm keeping it! Kudos again for your article.

    A. Kamaria
  32. i enjoyed the comments on secret de venus by weil paris .i bought a 1oz bottle at a garage sale for $1.00. what a bargain.Merlin

    Merlin Jackson
  33. I wear the Old Secret de Venus rarely and only on special occasions. I swear my husband follows me saying how lovely he finds the scent. Other people say, What is that? I wish somebody would start making this scent again. If you have never used it, it is hard to describe, but I will say it does not have the chemical scent of new perfumes. Whenever I find some to buy, I do, and then I hoard it. I hope I can continue to find it.

    Carol Sawyer
  34. Dear Carol,

    It is so interesting to see that this perfume is still able after so many years to elicit passion in people.

    I think that Roja Dove is going to propose a reconstituted version of Zibeline and he might very well do that for Secret de Vénus as well. Don't remember if he mentioned it. At any rate I suggest people who want to want to see SdV come alive again direct their inquiries in his direction.

  35. Please bring back the original Weil Secret De Venus Bath & Body Perfume Oil!! brown square box with dark brown perfume oil! seen it on ebay but I am always outbidded or it's to much to pay!!

  36. Let's hope someone hears you and the many other lovers of this perfume.

  37. I hope the SdV Zib oil can become available again - so hard to find and ebay prices are outrageous! Anyone have any luck online other than ebay?

  38. i have had a bottle (almost empty) on top of my computer for years now to remind myself to try and find it again if it still exists. my what an informative article you wrote. found myself smiling all the way through. every so often i open my bottle of zib oil and have a wonderful whiff. it is so delightful...heaven in a bottle. i hope they do bring it back in the oil form so i can have it again. thanks for a great article and for all the memories you brought back about this oil. appreciate this very much.

  39. A wonderful review of a truly magnificent fragrance.

    • Thank you -- I do hope the Weil fragrances in general be reinstated in the market.

      It used to be a great perfume house!

      Chant Wagner
  40. Oh I miss Zibeline. It is and always will be my favorite fragrance. In fact I haven't found another perfume that compares to it. The new "Secret de Venus" is nothing at all like the original - not even close (I don't even like it). The original Secret de Venus/Zibeline had been my signature scent and I am now lost without it. It would be wonderful if the original formula were to "arise" again.

  41. I would love to see Zibeline resurrected...I wore it for many years, and still long to be able to find it again. After Weil was sold, the new buyer put out a very poor version of Secret of Venus or Zibeline...I can't remember what name they used. But, it was terrible...a shame they even used the name. After Weil was sold, I was able to buy several bottles from Jacqueline's Perfumery in San Francisco. The gentleman there wanted to go to France to recreate it, but politically, at the time it didn't seem likely. I am not aware of any re-released Zibeline...I do keep hoping.


    • Roja Dove, I think, has been working as a consultant for a re-edition of Zibeline. At least he announced it in his interview on the blog if I remember correctly.

      Chant Wagner
  42. My grandfather brought this perfume back to my grandmother from WWI (yes WWI not II)France. My grandmother never opened it, because she had heard that it was a favorite of the courtesans of Paris, which reminded her of my grandfathers infidelities. She gave it to me when I was 13 ( I am now 56). I loved it & wore it for many years untill I could no longer find it. thru the years men & women would stop me, s & ask me what I was wearing, writing it down, asking me to spell it etc etc. It is unbelievably intoxicating & becomes uniquely your own, blending with your body chemistry. I have tryed to have the scent matched by custom blending, but have not acheived an acceptable substitute. I would love to try a quality re-formulation! Please noses of the world!!!!

    Victoria Moore
  43. I wore antilope when I lived in new york in the 60's.Moved to fla. 35 yrs. ago and finally found my precious oil on ebay which I bought.I also found zibeline and am pleased with both.Love the history of the weil perfume.

    marie t.

    • Congratulations!

      I love Antilope although I know it only in edt form. But that chamomile note is wondrous in it. Heavenly blend.

      Chant Wagner
  44. If you can't find Antilope oil, I bought the vintage formular called Antilope eud de parfum pour elle from The Fragrance .It is the real deal in scent to the oil so I use it with just a little oil.Pour Elle is the key to make sure it is vintage.

    marie t.
  45. I found this site by accident while looking online for the perfume. I used Zibeline for years after awhile you could only get it in Saks...then one day it was gone. I was heart broken I still have an empty bottle of it and find myself every once in a while hoping that I will see it again. It is one of the most hauting fragrances I have ever smelled and I still do not to this day wear any other not until I can buy it again a reasonable price I hope. Please please do bring it back!!

    linda z.
    • Linda,

      A Zibeline by Weil has been re-edited this year. You can find it for 58€ at

      Let us know what you think if you do get to try it. I have a sample but haven't got around to testing it yet.

      Chant Wagner
  46. has anyone tried the new version of sdv zibeline?
    i miss the was my signature fragrance..
    too expensive on e-bay..would the formulation change if it were 30-40 years old and never opened?

  47. My fragrance for 30+ years. To lose it was like losing a very special personal signature and a personal comfort. Please,Weil,bring back the original Secret de Venus.


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