Worth is a French couturier that “was the originator of haute couture as we know it.” (1) The house enjoyed a long heyday from around 1850 into the 1930s. Their most famous perfume, Je Reviens, was launched in 1932 (and reissued in 2004), but their first perfume, Dans la Nuit, dates back to 1924.

worth 1882

Worth gown, circa 1882, via the Met

Courtesan is a relatively new perfume from Worth, created by Pierre Bourdon. It was launched in 2006, after the house of Worth was reopened in the late 1990s. Courtesan is, first and foremost, French. By which I mean that it is sophisticated and not overly clean. The opening moments are a blend of pineapple and strawberry, cardamom, baby powder, and orange blossom. Gradually, the fruitier notes recede slightly, and the florals blend in creamily with vanilla, sandalwood, and musk. In spite of the florals and fruit notes, the combination is undoubtedly a cosmetic smell – very feminine and very classic.

Courtesan is the rare occasion where I read the extensive note list and nod my head yes to every ingredient. I can’t smell them all, but the entire list feels like it fits, and like it would add up to what I smell. Fragrantica lists the notes as cinnamon, cardamom, clove, pineapple, red berries, bergamot, orange blossom, magnolia, jasmine, rose, sandalwood, peach raspberry, caramel, dark chocolate, cacao, amber, vanilla, and musk.

Fans of classic perfumes with real presence will, I think, be charmed by this lesser-known perfume. As with Dolce Vita for Dior, Bourdon has made this a little more modern by including fruity notes, but overall it hearkens back to vintage Worth perfumes. It definitely isn’t minimalist!  It fits right in with the very few other “sexy” perfumes in my collection. (Which, come to think of it, could probably be a blog post, couldn’t it?)

I owe a big thank you to Portia of Australian Perfume Junkies for lending me a sample of this, and I’m paying it forward by giving away a bottle of Courtesan! Just leave a comment saying you want to be entered, and telling me one thing that appeals to you about Courtesan. Giveaway is open worldwide.

For another review of Worth Courtesan, see The Non Blonde

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42 responses

  1. The pineapple it seems like it of everything makes this a bit unexpected and wwwaayy for interesting . I’m not usually a “sexy” perfume fan either but this one seems like it could be really nice and different enough to keep being interesting after a 1st sniff and even after a few months if smelling

    • The pineapple is an unexpected touch, and a good one. I can’t think of another perfume I like that includes it, except Zelda by Envoyage. You are in the draw!

    • Natalie. Thank you for replying and I have a non drawing question. I’m super interested in niche artisan perfumes hence reading your blog and others but I live in state that feels very stuck in a top 40 mind set about fragrance so my question in this where do I start looking to acquire samples and such of these interesting smells so that I can do more then just imagen ? Sorry my spelling can be a bit embarrassing

      • I know just how you feel – I haven’t always lived in places where samples are easy to come by (they aren’t even that easy to find in my current city). Luckily, there are many resources online. For free samples, I’d keep an eye on the bigger perfume blogs like NST and Bois de Jasmin for swaps and giveaways. Occasionally, Bois de Jasmin readers will write in to Victoria and ask her to host a giveaway of their sample collection or a part of it. On NST, there are often swaps and sales, and I find that perfumistas are generous and kind about swapping. One of those unloved mainstream treasures in your collection might be just what someone else is looking for, and they may happily part with a bunch of niche samples.

        For reliable sources of purchasing, I can recommend this post on NST:

        Personally, I have bought samples from Luckyscent, The Perfumed Court, Surrender to Chance, Aedes de Venustas, and lots of individual brands. My preference is to buy from the Perfumed Court when I am in the US, and Luckyscent when I am out of the US (their international shipping is more reliable). However, Aedes does have a really nice sampling program: For indie brands, I always look for brands that have boxed sample sets, like Sonoma Scent Studio.

        I hope that helps! Feel free to follow up if you have other questions.

  2. I’d love to be in with a chance to win a bottle of this perfume, I can almost smell it! I love how it sounds, not at all girly, slightly dark and not so subtle, mmm perfect! x

  3. Natalie, you had me at ‘fans of classic perfumes with real presence’ and pineapple. Classic and pineapple- fab!
    I’m all for that sexy post, especially since I actually can’t think of all that many truly sexy perfumes. Which is sort of fun, when you take I to account that this is how 90% of all perfumes are marketed.

  4. Lovely review and Worth often gets overlooked in my opinion. However, Courtesan to me, is all sweaty inner thigh and utterly filthy. It’s very good though, and will definitely bag you a second date.

    • Agree – Worth is not given a lot of attention. Maybe because they didn’t produce that many perfumes. This is just dirty enough for me, without being too dirty. I’m a fan. You are in the draw!

  5. I’d love to win a bottle of this. A girl can never have enough sexy perfumes. I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance to sniff this one but it’s got chocolate and spices in it. How can you go wrong there?

  6. (Please don’t enter me in the draw!) Lovely review, Nat! I know Courtesan well, but shall we say, we did not see eye to eye? So I wrote a rather satirical review of her and called her ‘Cora On the Jersey Shore…’. I’ve since heard that when it works, it’s beautiful! :)

  7. Natalie, though I don’t want to be in the draw (because right now I’m flush with perfumes and probably shouldn’t be taking on more), I wanted to tell you that I love your review. You make Courtesan sound charismatic and voluptuous. And I know Ines loves this perfume too, so it must be good!!

    • I discovered Ines likes it while I was digging around for other reviews to link, and I felt like I was in great company. :) When you surface from having too much perfume, you should give this one a try.

  8. For me anything that comes from France it’s worth a try. Lately I’m fan of rose and all those very feminine perfumes even the vintage ones. Sometimes I found perfumes more feminine as it is actually described. I really love the notes of this Courtesan and would love to win a bottle! :)

  9. I was at The Non-Blonde’s recently and I smelled Courtesan, finally, after having it on my eBay wish list for time. And you’re right – it smells cosmetic and sexy in the best way possible. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be so good.The appeal of it lies in the fact that it’s a fruity-floral with body and attitude, a throwback to the days when “fruity-floral” wasn’t an insult. What a lovely fragrance.

    Nat, have you smelled Ted Lapidus’ Silk Way? It’s another cheapie charmer.

    (Most importantly, hello! I hope you’re well! Loved your questionnaire answers on B’s blog the other day.)

    • You were *at* the Non Blonde’s?!? That’s like a visit to perfume headquarters! :)

      I’m going to track down Ted Lapidus; I haven’t smelled that one (but I love TL scarves). And hello! I hope you are well too! What’s new?

      And you’re in the draw!

      • Yes, visiting The Non-Blonde’s home is like walking straight into Perfume Nirvana! I think I cried the first time I saw her collection.

        Please let me know what you think of Silk Way! And yes, I’m well. I’m well and still working in fragrance. It’s so nice to make a living off of my hobby. I feel quite lucky. =)

        Thanks! xoxo

  10. When I tried this perfume for the first time I knew absolutely nothing about it (or the brand) and I liked it. I have to ask: how come that you have a full bottle of it to give away while Portia gave you a sample of it?

    Please enter me into the giveaway (meanwhile I’ll re-test it to be sure if I need a bottle of it – just in case I win : -) ).

    • It was a blind try for me too. Other than having tries Jes Reviens, I knew nothing of Worth. As for the giveaway: I didn’t do a giveaway for my recent blogoversary, because nothing had inspired me yet. When I decided to buy a bottle of this, I thought it would be a great one for a giveaway.

      And, you are in the draw.

  11. I absolutely think you should do a post about sexy perfumes! This one has completely escaped my notice but it sounds very much up my alley, especially the creaminess, powderiness vanilla and sandalwood. There’s pineapple in Zelda? How did I forget that? Even more of a must sniff, and you have also reminded me of Dolce Vita, to which I haven’t given a thought in years. That dress wouldn’t be in the giveaway as well by any chance? It would just top off the whole sniffing experience as I am imagining it…;). Thanks for a very generous draw!

    • I *wish* the dress was in the giveaway! That would mean it was in my possession. I could wear it to work, right? ;)

      There is indeed pineapple in Zelda. I think Courtesan would be at the upper end of your acceptable register, but (I think) within the range. You’re in the draw, and if you win, you can let me know if I’m right!

  12. Late to this one. I’d love to be in the draw if it is still open. I certainly am a fan of classic perfumes, classics and retro-classics like SSS’s Nostalgie. And I’m wearing and loving Baghari today. Courtesan sounds wonderful!

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  14. Rose, jasmine, sandalwood, together with the other notes, sound wonderful. Please include me in the draw for Courtesan if there is still time.

    I found your blog as I looked for reviews of Dans la Nuit which a friend wore in the 80’s. I have the empty bottle, and I am so happy to learn more about Worth perfumes through your review.

  15. Hi – I am a constant lurker here….and I’ve posted a comment a time or two. However, I needed to jump in to comment briefly because I adore Courtesan. (would love to be entered in the draw, too….)
    —- and I adore Pierre Bourdon – The Nose!
    Courtesan is such a little masterpiece of perfumery. It is very evocative. Each time I smell Courtesan, I can visualize the boudoir of the Courtesan and can actually “smell” the room – silk stockings draped over a dressing screen, the warmth and humidity from the warm bath of scented water sitting in the corner, the scent of cosmetics and creams on the dressing table, the hint of perfume hanging in the air, and the scent of warmed skin rising from the slightly rumpled bed sheets. THAT is Courtesan, to me. It is gorgeous!

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