My Perfume Was Reformulated! What to Do?

” ‘Eau Sauvage was a real chef d’oeuvre in its original form,’ retired perfume-maker Pierre Bourdon, who created Dior’s Dolce Vita and Yves Saint Laurent’s Kouros, said of the 1966 scent. ‘It used to be very green and fresh. Today, it has been replaced by something softer and duller,’ ” from EU threat spotlights perfume makers’ secrets.

All my life I’ve been hearing that things used to be better in the past. Paris used to be more exciting, Rome cleaner, New York cheaper. When I began exploring the world of perfumery on a professional level, I was told by many older colleagues that the golden age of fragrance had passed. Talk about curbing one’s enthusiasm! Despite these warnings, I persisted with my perfumery training.

miss diorRene-Gruau2

But you need not be inordinately nostalgic to realize that many perfumes used to be better before many classical materials were banned or restricted and before fragrance companies started reformulating en masse. There is something fascinating about the delicate and precise balance of essences. Even the smallest changes can have dramatic consequences. Imagine what happens when a perfumer is told to remove whole building blocks of a composition or to make a chypre (a mossy perfume type) without moss.

But regulations aside, the nature of perfume is so ethereal that it’s hard to preserve its exact form over time. The materials themselves change because the processing methods evolve, countries fight wars, or farmers stop growing unprofitable crops. As a result, even when fragrance companies remain faithful to their formulas, classical perfumes produced with modern materials do not smell the same as the originals.

For all of these reasons, a love affair with perfume, like many passionate romances, is prone to heartbreak. Perfumes change but our scent memories are painstakingly exact. For me to be transported to the Kiev of my childhood, today’s Diorissimo, Dior’s lily of the valley perfume, won’t do;  it has to be the exact Diorissimo my mom wore back in the 1980s.

Rene-Gruau1Rene-Gruau-for-Dior

So, what to do if your favorite fragrance has been reformulated and you no longer like it? I assume that you’ve already given up on the idea of tracking down the remaining vintage stock and creating a climate controlled space to store it. It’s tempting to look for something identical, but I urge you instead to take this opportunity to play the field, especially if you lost your beloved signature perfume. Turn this loss into an opportunity to learn more about your tastes and try new things.

The reason I recommend against looking for exact replacements is to avoid more frustration. If your signature favorite was Yves Saint Laurent Opium, a spicy carnation drama queen, any other spicy blossom will seem like a pale wallflower next to it. But if you try a dark woods or warm incense fragrance, you may discover that it can satisfy your cravings for a lush, dusky blend.

Identify what you loved most about your lost favorite and search for fragrances with similar qualities. You can turn to the experienced perfume sales associates or come and share your grievances on blogs. Bois de Jasmin runs a monthly Perfume Recommendation thread, while Nowsmellthis has The Monday Mail section. Then there are Makeupalley, Basenotes and Fragrantica, all of which have plenty of resources for both seasoned aficionados and newbies alike.

Avoid anything that calls itself a dupe, because it will smell like a cheap version of the thing it aims to duplicate, with no other redeeming qualities. If a perfume is explicit about being a dupe of a commercial fragrance, there are also ethical reasons to avoid such copycats.

Just for fun, try perfumes that are different from what you usually wear. It’s a low commitment proposal, and if you have some makeup remover on hand (the kind designed for waterproof makeup), you don’t have to worry about being stuck with an offending scent for the whole day. If you wear white florals, try incense fragrances. If your signature was a musky perfume, try something fruity. It seems counter-intuitive, but by going in the opposite direction of your established preferences, you can make even more discoveries. At worst, you will confirm that you’re really a Big White Floral girl or a Citrus Cologne guy.

Reformulation or not, I still recommend exploring the classics. Chanel No 19 is a marvel. Guerlain Mitsouko may not smell the way it used to, but its mossy peach aura is irresistible.  Someone who has worn Estée Lauder Azurée for decades will find the changes in today’s formula obvious, but those who discover it now will nevertheless enjoy its dark leather studded with patchouli.

As for me and my longing for the Diorissimo my mom wore in the Soviet Union of the 1980s, I’ve moved on. The current version of Diorissimo is lovely  enough. It’s not exactly how Diorissimo used to be, but then again, what is?

Was your favorite perfume reformulated? Have you found something to fill the void or are you still looking?

Extra reading: On Regulations  (Bois de Jasmin) :: On Reformulations (NST)

Ads by René Gruau  (4 February 1909 – 31 March 2004), a famous fashion illustrator who was renowned for his whimsical images for Dior and other couture brands, via wiki-images.

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151 Comments

  • Lucas: Fascinating article Victoria, a pleasure to read.
    I’m young so most of the classic fragrances I know are not the original formulas but their reformulation after banning some of the fragrance materials.
    I hope one day I will be able to try some of the things in their 1st form, before IFRA put their hands on the ingredients. June 3, 2013 at 7:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Lucas! While the Osmotheque isn’t that accessible to all, at least they preserve fragrances in their original formula. Such an impressive and valuable initiative. If you’re in France or can afford a trip to visit the Osmotheque, it’s an unforgettable experience. June 3, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

      • Lucas: Thanks for recommending the place. I’m sure a life will guide me to go there one day 🙂 June 3, 2013 at 12:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: I bet, especially if you continue your fragrance chemistry studies! June 3, 2013 at 12:40pm Reply

          • Lucas: One more year before I will be graduating and getting my master degree title. June 3, 2013 at 2:09pm Reply

            • Victoria: You’re almost there, Lucas. 🙂 June 3, 2013 at 5:57pm Reply

              • Lucas: That’s right! And I have a really interesting topic of my thesis. June 4, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, fascinating article.
    My nostalgic feelings go to Femme before 1989. But I still like the perfume as it is now. What I really regret is the loss of Je Reviens, I loved that one so much! The current version is too bad. Find similar perfumes? Useless quests, I think. Every perfume has its own character. There are many marvellous perfumes gone, but there are still many others to enjoy. June 3, 2013 at 7:46am Reply

    • Lucy: I read on another blog that Je Reviens parfum is still good, tried looking, can’t find it in stores. Wonder if you’ve tried it? June 3, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I tried the eau de toilette, the perfume (if it exists) is unfindable. The Edt is a mess. June 3, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

        • Lucy: Too bad. My grandmother wore it and I inhereited her bottle. When tried to buy fresh I was disappointed. Doesn’t smell at all alike. June 3, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

          • Victoria: Lucy, I’ve never seen Je Reviens parfum in stores. But you can still find the vintage one on Ebay, and the last time I checked, it wasn’t very expensive. June 3, 2013 at 12:35pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: When I think about it–there are perfumes resembling each other, like Roma and Dune, or Silences and No 19, Le Dix and No5 for instance. Still, in my opinion it is never quite the same. If you love No5, you will be disappointed by Le Dix. Every perfume wants to be appeciated for its own merits. June 3, 2013 at 9:58am Reply

      • Victoria: This is so true. If you wore Silences all your life and someone gives you No 19, you will see the differences right away first, even though No 19 is a superior fragrance. It’s very hard to do exact replacements. June 3, 2013 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: I loved the original Femme, but even in its current version it’s fantastic. Reformulation doesn’t have to mean the death of perfume, especially if done respectfully to the spirit of the original. June 3, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

  • Betsy: I adore Diorissimo and it still takes me to another time despite its changes in formula(which I admit I do not fully recognize). As for trying new fragrances, that can be a total revelation! After exploring my interest in fragrance I discovered I love amber and musk and leather. This came as a shock as I thought I was a strictly a floral/citrus kind of girl. When a new perfume is found that knocks your socks off, there is no question that these dicoveries are glorious! Why torture yourself when a new gem is out there waiting to be discovered? June 3, 2013 at 8:14am Reply

    • nikki: I like that attitude, Betsy! June 3, 2013 at 9:18am Reply

    • Barbara: High five! June 3, 2013 at 9:21am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Brava Betsy! that’s what I said, but you said it much better! June 3, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

        • Betsy: Thank you! I think these altered fragrances are like our memory of a special time and place…you can think about it with fondness but you never can go back. June 3, 2013 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love how you put it! Despite being disappointed time and again by the reformulated fragrances, I like to think that we have lots of choice today. And many classics are still very good. I only worry that the regulations get more and more stringent, which affects not just the classics but the new perfumes being made. June 3, 2013 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Ann T: My signature Cabochard doesn’t smell the same anymore and I hate the new one. Why don’t the fragrance companies warn consumers before reformulating? June 3, 2013 at 8:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Unfortunately, it makes no commercial sense for them to do so. For instance, despite Miss Dior being reformulated dramatically, its sales are not affected. June 3, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Barbara: Hear, hear! After helping my mother to replace her discontinued Venezia and not getting there, I know what you mean. Maybe better I would give her something new and different. What do you think she will like? She also wore Samsara but doesn’t like it now. June 3, 2013 at 9:20am Reply

    • nikki: I have a small bottle of the Venezia and two original Samsara perfumes (extrait) in the Meteorite flacon, are you interested? June 3, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

      • Barbara: Nikki, I only came back online now and I’m stunned by your generous offer. I would love to take you up on it but I also want to make my mom explore more new things. It might do her good. If she wants the same perfume, I’ll ask Victoria to put us in touch. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. June 7, 2013 at 10:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: You can give her a variety of things to try, in the same warm oriental family, but with different characters: Chanel Coco Noir, Etat Libre d’Orange Bijou Romantique, Kenzo Amour (but Le Parfum version, rather than the EDT), Dior Midnight Poison. I can tell you that she won’t like the reformulated Venezia at all. Judging on its own, it’s dull, but next to the original, it’s even more disappointing. June 3, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

      • Barbara: Thank you, V! I want to try some of these for myself. June 7, 2013 at 10:57pm Reply

  • briony: I agree entirely. My perfume staples as a teenager were Diorissimo, Femme and Je Reviens and I refuse to try the new reformulations because I know I’ll only be disappointed. But although I miss these, I have a whole drawerful of new perfumes I have come to love, including things I’m sure I wouldn’t have appreciated when I was younger. June 3, 2013 at 9:30am Reply

    • Victoria: This is the case when revisiting old favorites may be too disappointing. My mom bought Diorissimo and she didn’t like it at all. June 3, 2013 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Allison: Thank you for your wonderful perspective. I have spent way too much time lamenting the reformulations of scents I have worn in the past or by those worn by loved ones such as Givenchy III. I do enjoy making new discoveries, but what concerns me is how quickly perfumes seem to be reformulated these days. I bought a bottle of perfume in Paris in 2009 that was fairly new at the time, and today it is a very different scent. June 3, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s true, the pace of reformulations and the ever increasing regulations are worrisome. In many companies, there are just as many perfumers working on reformulations as on creating new fragrances. June 3, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

  • X: Great article – thanks for writing about reformulated perfumes. I’m pretty new to perfumes and I’ve never smelled any vintage classic perfumes but I do enjoy the current permutations like No. 19 and No. 5. I’m almost afraid to seek out those vintage scents but I do so want to smell them if only to discover what everyone is writing about. Dilemmas, dilemmas… (; June 3, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

    • solanace: I feel this way about the classic Guerlains. I’m so happy with the current incarnations, I’m afraid of trying the vintage versions only to fall hopelessly in love… But then, again, I think getting to know these vintage gems is part of a perfume education. A dilemma, indeed! June 3, 2013 at 10:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I think that Chanel does a great job keeping its classics up to date. This is very different from some other perfume companies that reformulate en masse and suddenly one day the shelves are filled with fragrances that smells dramatically different. Of course, Chanel employs a team of in-house perfumers who maintains its portfolio. June 3, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

  • fleurdelys: The first question I would ask myself is, do I like the reformulation? If I do, there is no need to change. If I don’t, then I would search within the particular category. Case in point, Diorissimo. I love LOV, and like the version I bought about 3 years ago. From what I’ve read in the blogs, reformulation on this one continues. Therefore, I am looking around for other LOV options. So far, I like ELDO’s Don’t Get Me Wrong Baby… (a nice fragrance for such an off-color name!), also Lutens’ Un Lys, which smells more like LOV on me than regular lily. The search continues, but it’s fun! June 3, 2013 at 10:26am Reply

    • Victoria: I try not to be influenced by the names too much, but that ELDO really turns me off. Oh well, I need to smell it at long last. 🙂 June 3, 2013 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Nina Z: I loved this post, Victoria. And I agree with you. Although I’ve been able to collect several of the perfumes I’ve loved in the past in vintage form (including Cabochard, Ann T–it is very easy to find because it was once so popular), I find I rarely want to wear them anyway! There are not only so many exciting new perfumes these days—some very unusual and unconventional—but the internet gives us access to perfumes from all over the world! And I’m having more fun with perfume now than I ever did back in the day. Yes, some of the old perfumes were brilliant, but back then, we didn’t have as many choices and most of us stuck with one signature fragrance for years at a time, rather than being able to choose for season and/or mood. So let your old perfumes become time in a bottle, and wear your beautiful modern fragrances for this new phase of your life as you make new memories. June 3, 2013 at 11:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for this refreshing perspective, Nina! It reminded me that my mom had to stand in line for hours to get her Diorissimo back in the day. Today, she just orders her perfume online, and it arrives hassle-free a couple of days later. 🙂 Some things *are* better today! June 3, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

      • behemot: I did not have to wait in line when I wanted to get a bottle of “Opium” in communist Poland, but it was even more complicated. First, it cost $24 (an equivalent of a good monthly salary at that time) . It was so very expensive for a college student! I took an evening job at the psychiatrist’s office to make the money. My duties included answering phone, cleaning and walking the giant dog, and also talking to the distressed patients -hard part (The doctor was always running behind the schedule).
        Finally, I had the right amount of money, but needed dollars to be able to make a purchase in a special shop with “Luxury” goods, where Polish currency was not accepted (!) I also had to engage in criminal activity and purchase illegal dollars (there were no places to obtain dollars legally ) from a scary looking guy, who was standing all day in front of the store. It all went well and I had my bottle, but as much as the story is surreal and even funny, I prefer to order online or to go to a nice perfume store. Even if the bottles are much more expensive than $24, I don’t have to spend as much as monthly salary 🙂 June 3, 2013 at 2:45pm Reply

        • Victoria: What a story! This is really Kafkaesque, as much of the communist-era life used to be. I need to ask my mom more on how she acquired her perfumes, because I remember that she had a little collection besides Diorissimo. June 3, 2013 at 5:59pm Reply

        • Persolaise: Good old Pewex, eh, Behemot? June 4, 2013 at 5:54am Reply

    • annemariec: I strongly agree that perfume is more fun now. I love the choice, I love that you can purchase or swap samples (where I live department stores never ‘make up’ a sample for you – you just spritz from a tester o go without), I love that if you can’t afford a full bottle of something you can probably still get yourself 5 or 8 mls of it and enjoy it as a treat, and most of all I love that we are not beholden to the department stores and fashion magazines any more. Back in the day you just bought what the department stores wanted to sell you and you put up with the poorly trained and ill-informed and sometimes snobbish SAs just trying to sell you the latest thing, and lying to you about reformulations. The internet now allows us to obtain what we want, when we want it and in quantities of our own choosing. And that experienced is enriched by the way we can share information and exchange views.

      Sorry, that turned into a rant somehow. June 4, 2013 at 7:11am Reply

  • solanace: That’s how I discovered Bois de Jasmin, perfume blogs in general, a whole new fragrant world, full of witty, amazing people – of the kind willing to share vintage Guerlain Samsara perfume! I think the new Miss Dior says scary things about the taste level of our misses, and I totally mourn the Magie Noire and Jolie Madame of yore. But I’m still an optimist. The is Lutens, Nicolai and Amouage, and I haven’t even tried the Ormonde Jaynes! Beautiful article, V, it was a pleasure reading it! June 3, 2013 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! And oh, you’re going to have a lot of fun with Ormonde Jayne. It’s an interesting collection and it offers plenty of unusual perfumes. June 3, 2013 at 12:58pm Reply

  • george: I thought the current Diorissimo was now labelled as one of Les Creations de Monsieur Dior: it CAN”T have been reformulated multiple times, and be labelled as that, surely? I am, of course, being sarcastic. My issues with reformulation are more to do with consumers knowing that for which they have just paid a significant amount of money is consistent with their expectations. Especially when perfumes in their first edition are launched with such fanfare and specific listing of notes and inspirations and stories of searches for magical ingredients picked by elves at moments of lunar eclipse, when what that perfume is chemically (and often- more simply- smells like) is then treated in such blasé fashion. That said, i absolutely agree with Victoria’s assertion that a certain antidote to the grief felt with the loss of once loved perfumes is being open-minded to what else is out there, and not limiting oneself with the notion that one likes or dislikes particular genres; I could name two perfumes of the same genre, for example, that provoke both love and disgust, so to identify myself as either liking or disliking that genre would be a nonsense: there is still a lot loveable perfumes out there, and it- in true romcom fashion- love may well be where you least expect it. June 3, 2013 at 11:28am Reply

    • Lydia: “…it CAN”T have been reformulated multiple times, and be labelled as that, surely? I am, of course, being sarcastic. My issues with reformulation are more to do with consumers knowing that for which they have just paid a significant amount of money is consistent with their expectations.”

      I really agree with this – not just because of the financial investment, but because of the emotional investment we make in perfumes we really love.

      I really believe that reformulated perfumes should be given different names. They can be variations on the original names, but they shouldn’t be identical -it’s dishonest. Especially if you’re wearing specific perfumes to access an entire world of memory and mood, those formulation changes can close the door to something irreplaceable.

      That said, I like Victoria’s positive attitude of not giving up on perfume entirely when your favorites are reformulated. If we don’t live in a golden age of perfume, we at least live in a beautiful silver age of one. When else have perfume lovers have access to so many smaller independent brands, so many new perfume experiments? Who knows what magnificent creations are on the horizon? June 3, 2013 at 12:59pm Reply

      • Michele: Lydia, I absolutely agree with you that these companies should inform us when they have reformulated their perfumes. If the cookies I love can have a note on the package that says “new and improved” (translation: smaller and not as tasty), why can’t fragrances follow suit. It seems like some violation of the Truth in Advertising Act for changes to be made without notifying the consumer. Maybe a note on the box saying, “reformulated June of 2013.” It’s upsetting as a consumer to purchase these reformulated scents and be unpleasantly surprised at the results. My nose remembered the beauty of the original Magie Noire of my 20s and was distressed at its current incarnation. I was lucky that I could exchange it for something else. What if I ordered it from a company that did not allow returns? Well, I do like Victoria’s idea that our disappointment over loss of our beloved scents can be channelled into a determined quest for a beautiful new scent! That is how I found my latest scent obsession! June 3, 2013 at 8:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: The way Dior handled its collection is disappointing, to be it mildly. And the thing is that some of its recent flankers have been very good (J’Adore Voile de Parfum), but why do they reformulate the originals so drastically? I understand that there are regulations and such, but in some cases (again, J’Adore), the regulations excuse doesn’t hold. June 3, 2013 at 1:00pm Reply

  • ChrisinNY: I have lamented previously about my “lost” perfumes (Miss Dior, Molinard de Molinard, Parure). Sigh. Am still trying to find something that I love as much. The first sample I got of Fiori di Capri smelled lucious on me in Dec/Jan, but when I got a FB it was lacking. So I tried another decant from the same place I got the sample, and no it is not as good. I am assuming that the first was contaminated with another scent, or maybe was a perfume instead of EDT. I dunno. I found another scent that was also stellar on me- Armani Prive Eclat de Jasmin- but it is no longer available. The search goes on. June 3, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Urgh, to find something beautiful only to lose it again is frustrating! This is exactly what Allison mentioned about the fast pace of reformulations today.

      Have you tried Bulgari Voile de Jasmin? I also love Ormonde Jayne Sampaquita (green and sparkling) and A La Nuit (for a richer, heavier jasmine). Yves Rocher also has a very nice jasmine that’s affordable. June 3, 2013 at 1:04pm Reply

      • Jillie: I had a very strange experience of buying a bottle which had completely the wrong perfume in it! This was what was meant to be Illuminum’s White Gardenia Petals (the fragrance Kate wore for her wedding to Prince William). I did wonder why I couldn’t detect any hint of gardenia in it, and told people that it reminded me very much of Calyx (a good thing from my point of view). But I kept seeing references to people calling it a gardenia fragrance and I was very puzzled. Finally, the mystery was solved – some early purchasers, of whom I was one – really did have the wrong juice. The marketing company sent me a sample of the actual WGP and I didn’t care for it; I wanted the duff stuff, but strangely they couldn’t/wouldn’t identify it so I will never be able to purchase it again. Oh well, back to Calyx! June 4, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

        • Victoria: That was some story, and I still can’t believe that the company did that. Now, this is utterly misleading. June 4, 2013 at 6:01pm Reply

      • ChrisinNY: From one of the previous “help me/recommend a scent” posts, I did try Sampaquita but it did not smell particularly good on me. I do like Serge Lutens A La Nuit- but it lasts a scant 40 minutes on me.
        However, I will try Bulgari Voile de Jasmin and the Yves Rocher one, too. What was so great about the Armani Prive, was there was a real richness/spiciness on me, not just a floral jasmine. My daughter wears Armani Code (not a great scent in the bottle) but on her it is almost edible and had real depth, too. June 4, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: Chris, I saw Eclat de Jasmin at the Armani counter today. Not sure if it was discontinued in the US, but it seems to be available in Europe. June 4, 2013 at 6:08pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Lovely article as always.

    I have very little to add to what has been said already.
    The first time I became aware of perfumes changing (before I was familiar with the world of blogs) was Paris YSL. But they also provided me with the knowledge to get my hands on some older bottles.
    As another commenter wrote; I am very happy with the Guerlain extraits I own. I probably have post-reformulation Heure Bleue and adore it. In an emotional way I don’t want to know what it was like when it was first created,as the version I own makes me perfectly happy. The academic in me does want to know however. So maybe I will once order a vintage sample, before it runs out. June 3, 2013 at 12:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know some people really don’t like current L’Heure Bleue and find it off balance, but that’s what I mostly wear and I enjoy it. I don’t like all reformulations, but it’s so difficult to get the same effect when many materials smell different.

      The trouble with Paris was that many of its main building blocks were restricted and that some of its components became too expensive. Same with Tresor, Eternity and many other Sophia Grojsman’s fragrances. Reformulating her work is very hard, because her originals had this impeccable balance of notes. June 3, 2013 at 1:16pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I remember your saying that somewhere else before. I am so glad I got my Paris and Trésor before they were so altered. I never really cared for Eternity. June 3, 2013 at 1:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ha, I posted and thought that it sounded familiar. Pretty soon I will be one of those people repeating the same story over and over again. 🙂 June 3, 2013 at 6:01pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I don’t mind as long as the story is interesting in itself! June 4, 2013 at 3:25am Reply

  • Jennifer: I tried a decant of the original Bois de Iles and fell madly in love. The one I bought from Chanel two years ago is different of course, but still similiar enough to enjoy. Great article. June 3, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have the original and current Bois des Iles, but I wear the current one more. It’s very good and then a fresh blend is better than an original aged one. At least, this holds true in case of Bois des Iles for me. June 3, 2013 at 1:17pm Reply

  • maggiecat: I used to love Estee Lauder’s Aliage, and, later, Worth’s Je Reviens. I can’t find the latter in store’s anymore, and as for the former – I tried it again a couple of years ago and almost gagged. It was a very harsh, very loud “green,” as opposed to the fresh and lovely light floral green I remembered. Did it change or did I? June 3, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Some Lauder classics are kept under the counter, and you have to ask for them. Not sure why they do this, but I’ve noticed it a few times. As for Je Reviens, it smells like they’ve cheapened the formula considerably. Since the company had so many ups and downs, this doesn’t surprise me. Still, very sad! June 3, 2013 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: The Apres l’ondee I tried at Bergdorf this weekend seems different from what I remember. I hope that the tester had gone bad, and that the formula has not been messed with too badly. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised by the reformulated (re-re-reformulated?) Quelques Fleurs, a pretty aldehydic floral, though I know many hate it. June 3, 2013 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I’m now afraid to compare, but I will, because my local perfumery has a tester bottle of Apres L’Ondee on display. June 3, 2013 at 1:19pm Reply

      • Lila: I would like to know your thoughts about Apres L’Ondee. I tried it a few weeks ago and it was so incredibly light. I could barely smell it on my skin. June 3, 2013 at 2:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ll check and report back here! The original is light, but not overly pale. June 3, 2013 at 6:18pm Reply

  • Maja: I mourn Magie Noire, too, but I am really happy to try new fragrances – and there are so many of them fortunately. I have to admit that sometimes I find it annoying to read that certain perfumes were “so much better in the past!” and it sort of hurts that some current reformulations are dismissed as horrible especially if it is something I like today. (Rive Gauche for example)

    Honestly, I am more concerned about the food we’re eating and that watermelons are not that sweet anymore. Or is the sweetness just my late August carefree childhood memory? 🙂

    Anyhow, I am going to buy Chamade (reformulated or not) this week for my birthday and am so happy about it. 🙂 June 3, 2013 at 1:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, the production of food and some of its questionable practices worry me too. And the lack of flavor in vegetables and fruit is very real. My grandmother at one point stopped growing the old varieties, since it became too time consuming at her age to gather seeds, etc. and started buying seeds from the store. Not only she now needs to buy seeds every single time, she noticed that many new hybrids are much less flavorful. At least, she’s growing them organically, so we don’t have to worry about pesticides and additives. June 3, 2013 at 6:04pm Reply

  • Martha: My favorite perfume when I was a young girl in the 1960’s was Je Reviens. It was my mother’s favorite and she reserved it for special occasions. I always loved it when she would open that round blue bottle and dab a bit on my wrists as well as hers. I know that it has been reformulated and have no idea how it smells these days.

    When I was a teenager in the 1970’s, I wore Emeraude perfume as well as Chantilly, and Windsong. These were ordinary and inexpensive drugstore perfumes that could be purchased for a few dollars. It is ironic that nowadays perfume enthusiasts are spending large amounts of money just to acquire a few milliliters of vintage Emeraude or Chypre. I have to admit though, those vintage perfumes smell far better than today’s drugstore or TJ Maxx perfume stock.

    I do regret that reformulations have essentially ruined once magnificent fragrances. However, I am inspired by the many talented independent perfumers, and the niche houses, who are providing us with unique and worthwhile perfumes. These individuals are the ones who will provide us with our new classics. June 3, 2013 at 1:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: The new generation of perfumers gives me hope too, and I enjoy their personal takes on fragrance. Even someone like Jean-Claude Ellena composing delicate etudes inspired by his memories and travels would have a hard time making his mark in the pre-niche days. Today, the market is much more receptive to it. June 3, 2013 at 6:07pm Reply

  • Ann: Preaching to the choir!

    But thank you. Humming the old Stephen Stills song I went on a scent bender at Neiman Marcus last weekend. Couldn’t afford anything I really enjoyed, but came home with precious samples of the newish Tom Ford’s Santal Blush and Maison Kukdjian’s Amyris…

    “And if you can’t be with the one you love
    Honey love the one you’re with
    Love the one you’re with
    Love the one you’re with
    Love the one you’re with June 3, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 How did you like either one? Amyris is one of those soft-spoken perfumes that wear really well. On blotter it was just ok, but on skin it was beautiful. June 3, 2013 at 6:09pm Reply

      • Ann: Errr. I actually hit send before I meant to. I would have edited my comment quite a bit… sorry for that too exuberant sing along!

        But as for the fumes. Ah well… They were both new to me. I read some reviews somewhere about Santal Blush and was prepared to be underwhelmed…. but after the first few blah minutes all sorts of exciting and interesting things started to happen, including, oddly a cumin note, which when it happened was fun and totally unexpected. As for the Amyris… I’m still playing the “what does it remind me of” game. If I got a bottle as a gift I’d be thrilled, but not sure I’m ready to make the investment myself. It is a crowd pleasure, elegant… Somehow it manages to be pale pink, but with a sultry wink in there somewhere. Also, it is an intellectual pale pink. Pale pink analyzing the power play between Erdogan and Assad…cross referencing the New York Times with reports on Slate.com… something like that. Okay. Maybe I like it more than I’m prepared to admit. There is a lovely lemony (but somehow not citrusy) goodness in the dry-down… June 3, 2013 at 7:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: Exuberant sing alongs are more than welcome! We need more of those.

          And I love your description of Amyris as an intellectual pale pink! 🙂 June 4, 2013 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Lila: Well, I’m new enough to this obsession that I haven’t had my heart broken yet. I have suffered the loss of favorite restaurants and I know from experience that a new favorite comes along eventually. I enjoy change anyway. Keeps life interesting. June 3, 2013 at 2:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lila, enjoy the new versions for what they are, because many are still beautiful. June 3, 2013 at 6:12pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: I “hear” you loud & clear. No worries…there’s always something else. June 3, 2013 at 3:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: And many more resources to find it! June 3, 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

  • Figuier: A truly philosophical response to reformulations! For a long time I tried to find a fig that would replace my 90s-vintage Philosykos. If I’d realised a bit earlier that its wood-and-musk depth and warmth were what made the fig so gorgeous I’d have saved myself a lot of time and hand-wringing and started exploring orientals instead.

    To my mind, though, reformulations must be worst for the perfumers who created the originals, especially given how few compositions really succeed in the the commercial world. Imagine your pride and joy, the crown of your career, getting gutted beyond recognition. Not fun! June 3, 2013 at 6:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, it’s really hard, especially when you can’t weigh in and help with the reformulation (for instance, you’re retired or no longer working for the same company).

      Do you like the new Eau de Parfum version of Philosykos? June 3, 2013 at 6:17pm Reply

      • Figuier: The edp isn’t bad. Nor is the edt, even. They’re both nice, light, coconutty figs, and the latter has some added heft. But the base used to be pure class. It was kind of ‘gras’, fatty, the way you described Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri, but very soft at the same time. And although it’s not the same, MPC is now one of my new favourites 🙂 June 4, 2013 at 5:55am Reply

        • Victoria: The drydown of MPC is my favorite part of that Goutal. I like the rest, but once it enters the late stages, it’s pure magic. For this reason, I sometimes spray my scarves with it and wear them a day later. June 4, 2013 at 5:47pm Reply

  • Robert: The King is dead, long live the King!

    Don’t fret over the cat that got run over, kids, we’ll get another!

    …or some combination of both. June 3, 2013 at 8:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Or glass half full! Having a signature perfume has never been as difficult. June 4, 2013 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Ralu: Organza Indecence is one of my favorite perfumes that got reformulated. I simply refuse the wear the reformulated version so I bought a decant of the original as well as ordered a perfume that’s similar (Biehl Parfumkunkswerke eo1). I do understand we have to move on but in this one case it is a challenge, for me.

    This one instance aside, I think in some sense perfume is a reflection of the times, kind of like fashion. Perfume is art but it’s also a consumer product so it has to be updated and follow certain trends.

    I recently heard that Gucci has discontinued Rush and in light of this I wonder what is worse. Is it to have your favorite perfume reformulated or discontinued? June 3, 2013 at 9:41pm Reply

    • Katy: It’s interesting you bring up Organza Indecence, Ralu. My hairstylist once mentioned longing for it and preferring it to the original Organza. Since then, I’ve been trying to find an affordable sample of Indecence…

      Yesterday, I got a bottle of original Givenchy Organza for a STEAL at the local drug store. (I’m convinced it’s an older formulation, in part because of the color of the juice.) I want so badly to like it, and I adore the drydown. Can’t pick out notes too well (I’m a newbie to that), but there’s a vanilla in the base unlike any other I’ve smelled, and I LOVE it. The top, though…This may be blasphemous of me, but I have to say there’s something stuffy/musty/old-lady-like to my nose in the first hour or so of the perfume on my skin. I know the note I’m disliking is probably what gives Organza its classic depth, but what can I say.

      What was the vanilla in Indecence like? Do you like Organza? And does anyone have any help or suggestions as far as figuring out what I like about the base of Organza? Is it vanilla and some sort of spice or wood? Sandalwood? Amber? It’s a very creamy delicious vanilla without quite being gourmand, and I love that. If anyone has perfume suggestions for me based on what I’m loving about this, please bring it on 🙂

      And if Organza Indecence would have been the answer, I think I just might cry 😉 June 4, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

      • Ralu: Hi Katy, Here is the link to the description for Organza. I have trouble with it as well and felt that it was too mature for me. http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Givenchy/Organza-4.html
        It may be that the walnut or nutmeg notes make it smell that way. Have you tried Sensuous Noir by Estee Lauder? If you haven’t give it a try. Songes by Anick Goutal is another suggestion I have for you. Yes, vanilla is strong in Organza Indecence as well. You can buy decants of perfumes that have been discontinued or are not available in stores at The Perfumed Court. June 4, 2013 at 9:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: If it’s reformulated carefully, then I definitely prefer the former. At least, if it’s discontinued completely, it’s gone forever. For instance, I didn’t like the reformulated Opium at first, but now I see it as a different perfume and enjoy it for its velvety incense notes. Of course, it’s no help to those who want the spices and fireworks, which Opium used to offer… June 4, 2013 at 5:40pm Reply

      • Ralu: Victoria, now I’m curious about the original Opium. I’ll have to include it in my next order of samples/decants from the perfumed court. June 4, 2013 at 9:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s worth trying at least once! I don’t really wear it, because that style doesn’t feel like me for some reason, but I admire it very much. June 5, 2013 at 11:24am Reply

          • ralu: Yes, I know what you mean about what is your style and what is not. 🙂 Haute Look has Diptique fragrances for sale today. I just got my Do Son for half the price. June 5, 2013 at 2:50pm Reply

  • annemariec: Victoria, in a post a while back you mentioned that Francis Demachy had indicated that he was not happy with the current formula for Dioressence. I don’t suppose you have heard any more on this – the the formula has been improved?

    There are plenty of niche brands to explore if people are interested in classic-style scents: Sonoma Scent Studio, Tauer, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and (especially) Parfums de Nicolai. I mean – Sacrebleu! I’m not complaining about the current state of perfumery when Sacrebleu is still around. June 3, 2013 at 11:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t heard anything on that, and I haven’t followed up myself. I thought that out of all Dior’s reformulations, Dioressence fared the worst. June 4, 2013 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Andy: A beautiful article! I haven’t been interested in perfume long enough to have a longtime favorite discontinued, but I was a little sad to find out, after I got Bulgari Thé Rouge, that it was discontinued, since it really was a standby for me this winter. Luckily, it seems like there are still a lot of places to find Thé Rouge for a bargain, so a backup bottle or two may be in my future at some point. And then, many years from now, when there is no more Thé Rouge to be found, I will do exactly what this article says, and just enjoy the memory, while discovering new perfumes. June 4, 2013 at 12:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Andy, I’m really disappointed about The Rouge, because to me, it’s one of Bulgari’s best perfumes and one of the nicest tea scents in general. The combination of suave tea and milky fig is delicious. June 4, 2013 at 5:46pm Reply

  • Persolaise: Oh my goodness, talk about opening a can of worms! 🙂

    Of course I think it’s sad when a beautiful fragrance has to be reformulated, but for a long time, I’ve wondered whether we, as customers, actually have a right to expect a perfume to remain the same for ever. We seem to think that a perfume should be like a movie on DVD, which can be played again and again without alteration. But maybe it’s actually more like a series of theatre performances: each night is different from the previous one, sometimes dramatically so.

    Anyway, I try not to allow myself to get too worked up about all this… although I do worry about the future, as far as tightening regulations are concerned.

    In terms of specific scents, the main one that came to my mind as I read your piece was Poison. I have an old bottle of the esprit de parfum version which immediately makes me think of my maternal grandmother, who always wore it. The current edt just doesn’t conjure the same image; it seems harsher and more crude. June 4, 2013 at 6:03am Reply

    • annemariec: I like your point about perfume as a performance. But whether or not we have a right to expect a perfume not to change (ie be reformulated), it seems that most people don’t expect it to change and get deeply upset when it does. Our sense of smell and our emotions and memories are so closely linked, as all of us here know, so that is not surprising.

      That said, I do think it sensible that we accept that styles of perfume are going to change over time according to fashion and other influences. We don’t wear the same style of clothes as in 1913, or decorate our houses in the same style or listen to the same sort of music. Why should perfume be any different?

      Fun conversation! June 4, 2013 at 7:43am Reply

    • Victoria: I doubt that it’s such a controversial topic these days, especially since the brands have been open about talking reformulations. Or rather, more open than they used to be.

      Your idea is fantastic and very appealing, and maybe, the industry should change its stance in how it presents perfumes to the consumers. The thing is that it has been talking about perfume as something static–“her signature,” “you can recognize her by her perfume,” etc. So, no wonder many of us get upset when we buy a bottle of our beloved perfume and discover that it’s different. June 4, 2013 at 5:52pm Reply

  • george: It should also be pointed out that reformulation can be a positive thing. This is especially likely in the foreseeable future when perfumes that have been changed to comply with Ifra’s regulations are further reformulated due the invention of chemicals that approximate now restricted ingredients. I am sure that someone somewhere is working on a molecule that may be the key ingredient to recreating the lily of the valley soliflore aspect of Diorissimo, or a process that might fractionalise Oakmoss in a way that again makes it workeable. Yes, some fragrances are reformulated away from the original, but there are also some that are reformulated- usually- a distance back.

    An article you might be interested in, Victoria.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/jun/04/smell-flavour-palate-nose June 4, 2013 at 7:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for this article, George! It’s fascinating, and I recommend for others to click on the link.

      And I completely agree. There is so much you can do if you have vision, imagination and freedom to experiment. Just consider Chanel 31 Rue Cambon, a new type of chypre! June 4, 2013 at 5:56pm Reply

  • Mia: You speak my mind, Victoria. Thanks for the lovely article! A love affair with perfume indeed is prone to heartbreak. There are so many great perfumes available today that I almost always succeed to not hanker for vintage versions. Though, on occasion, I cannot resist to hunt some gems.

    You mentioned some valuable sources, e.g. basenotes. I found parfumo to be an excellent site as well. June 4, 2013 at 7:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Mia, thank you for the heads up! It’s an interesting resource:
      http://www.parfumo.net/ June 4, 2013 at 5:57pm Reply

      • Mia: Thanks for your kind reply, Victoria.
        Love your blog and appreciate your insightful & beautifully written reviews!
        Best, M. June 5, 2013 at 2:08am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I read somewhere that in the future perfumes can be made of bacteria, specially sweet ones. Could that be true? June 4, 2013 at 7:30am Reply

    • Maja: Oh, no. StreptoCoco Noir? June 4, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

      • Lindaloo: Brilliant! June 4, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, I don’t know much about that, but now I’m curious to research it further. June 4, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I read it in a Dutch newspaper (Trouw) but I don’t remember when (slovenliness. I know). June 5, 2013 at 4:38am Reply

  • Bart: “Play the field” – exactly! There are so many wonderful perfumes, choices: mass, prestige, niche…I understand the love for the classics, but fact is: people don’t try (enough) other perfumes…go out, have fun and don’t cry over spilled “perfume” 🙂 June 4, 2013 at 7:36am Reply

    • Victoria: But sometimes you can’t help it, especially if you have many strong memories attached to the scent. 🙂 June 4, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

  • annemariec: BTW: I love the Gruau illustrations you have used for this post. I have never seen the one of the lady with the big hat. That man was a genius at knowing what to put it and what to leave out. He had a perfect eye for the significant detail. Thanks for the treat! June 4, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure! His eye for composition and color is impressive. I love his tribute to the Italian flag too. June 4, 2013 at 5:59pm Reply

  • Nicola: Wow what a great blog Victoria! Choosing a fragrance when your favourite has changed or vanished sends me into perfume counter despair – it’s not something you can buy rashly along with your new season T Shirt. I love the orientals, the spice and the floral but sadly they do not belong on my skin, so I have discovered that I can simply enjoy these notes as interior fragrance – also as we mature our skin chemicals change which will also render a once loved fragrance unwearable…after a weary search, which is made worse by the fact that I live in the country side, nowhere near said olfactory counters, I have settled upon Czech & Speake Citrus Paradisi – Citrus top / herbaceous heart / Moss & Ambergris base but then again I am torn with their Neroli…oh blimey.x June 4, 2013 at 7:54am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s a good point, Nicola! Sometimes we change, as well as our perfumes. Also, if you compare a perfume that’s been aged in the bottle for years to the fresh one (even if their formula is the same), you will notice differences right away. June 4, 2013 at 6:01pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Luckily, I haven’t experienced any loss of perfume or reformulation issues yet but I get very nervous every time I can’t find my beloved Hiris on the Hermès website (when it’s out of stock, it just disappears from the list).
    I’m not quite as panicky as I used to be in pre-perfumista times when Hiris was my one and only Holy Grail, though. With many other lovely options to choose from – such as Cuir de Nacré, Lumière Blanche, IUNX Eau Blanche or Equistrius – to name but a few, I feel much more relaxed… June 4, 2013 at 4:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m happy someone loves Eau Blanche too, because I recently discovered a decant of it in one of my storage boxes, and it’s comforting and elegant. Like a perfectly fitted jersey dress. 🙂 June 4, 2013 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Cristine: I suspect IFRA is made up of people who dislike perfume. Lately, I’m finding more and more that perfumes just don’t last on skin. I’m quite sure this is due to reformulations. It seems like reformulations are just as much about making perfumes undetectable as about making them “safe.” I can’t remember the last time I smelled someone else’s perfume. When I wear my own newer perfumes I can only smell them for an hour or two, especially if it’s hot. If this is the way perfumery is going, then why wear it at all? June 4, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: IFRA is just a bearer of sad news, so unfortunately it get the bad rep. But I don’t think that it can be blamed for it all, because it simply acts in a response to the government organizations and consumer groups’s requests. For instance, the latest EU directives were in response to the consumer group initiatives.

      On the other hand, you’re right, many new launches do feel very safe. There are exceptions, of course, so I believe that the time will separate the wheat from the chaff. June 4, 2013 at 6:19pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: I have been complaining forever that the new, so-called “Chloe” is weak, anemic and characterlesss compared to the huge, honeysuckle, tuberose lusciousness of the Karl Lagerfeld aoriginal (the dark orange juice in the peach-shaped bottle), and Oscar de la Renta is no longer the swoony, bridal bouquet of white flowers that I remember from back in the day. Other gorgeous scents have just vaniched from store shelves: I went to the new Kate Spade boutique in Santa Monica the other day and was told they no longer make the original Kate Spade scent I had loved, and my all-time favorite perfume, Ombre Rose seems to exist only at discounters. So sad. June 4, 2013 at 6:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: For some reason I thought that Kate by Kate Spade was relaunched, but I might be mistaken. It was such a nice, bright honeysuckle, and I still don’t get why it was discontinued. I always see it mentioned among fragrances people miss the most. June 5, 2013 at 11:22am Reply

    • Daisy: The original Kate Spade was my mother’s signature and she misses it so much. June 7, 2013 at 12:28am Reply

  • HB: Great article!

    I actually found your blog when I started on a search for information about my beloved signature fragrance – Molinard de Molinard/M de Molinard. I started wearing it in middle school way back when it first came out (a gift – my mom’s a signature fragrance lady). Prior to that my very first perfume was Rafale for women by Molinard – stunning and sadly discontinued. Over the years I wore other things but that signature was complete for me and I always retured to it. I was heartbroken to smell such difference in the reformulated scent that I didn’t wear any fragrance for a spell. Finding an equivalent feel in a green floral was very elusive.

    But then the branching out started…and the reading and learning. Which has been a wonderful path. The spirit, whatever it was that made me smile every time I put on my signature fragrance happens in different ways now. I have also gone into fragrance categories that I never thought I’d like – orientals, woods, colognes, even hard-to-categorize ones. Just recently I tried L’Ombre dans l’Eau and fell in love. It really captures a good deal of the impressionistic green floral I have desired. I fall carefully, though. After all, I have Histoires 1969, Chanel Sycomore, Lutens’ Jeux de Peau and 10 Corso Como – all of which I learned about because I was searching for that special something, and all of which make me smile. I still miss my true signature fragrance but the experience of trying something new and falling at least a little bit in love adds a wonderful facet to life. June 5, 2013 at 2:05am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sorry that you lost a favorite fragrance, but I’m glad that you found us here. 🙂 I’ve only tried Molinard de Molinard a few times, and I had a friend who wore it, but I still remember it well. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it really had a distinctive character.

      In fact, I can relate, because a search for my mom’s Diorissimo, as it was then, lead me deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of perfumery. June 5, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

  • Daisy: I really enjoyed reading this thought-provoking post and following the conversation via all the comments. Sadly, I think everything I love it ephemeral. A fantastic meal at your favorite restaurant one night, never tastes exactly the same again. Wines are constantly changing and evolving in the bottle. Maybe it’s not so bad to think of perfume as being the same way. Strangely, it feels more romantic as if you have to love it even more because one day it will not be as you remembered. Maybe it was the formula that changed, you have different tastes, or you now wear fragrances differently.

    It can still be sad though. Very recently I went to replace my bottle of Songes and thought to test it on my skin before just buying a bottle. I’m glad I did. It did not smell the same at all and my fellow sniffer recoiled from my wrist and pronounced it “plasticky” and “synthetic,” two words I rarely associate with Annick Goutal. June 7, 2013 at 12:36am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s true, which is why I like Persolaise’s idea that we should think of perfume as a piece of live music, rather than a recorded CD. It certainly makes more sense, since even if our perfume stays the same, our skin chemistry may change. Certainly, for women this is even more true, because the hormonal changes during the cycle affect how we perceive scents.

      But, but, but… Songes and “plasticky” and “synthetic”! Hearing this makes me sad too. June 7, 2013 at 11:01am Reply

      • Daisy: I was so sad that I actually started wondering if it was something I ate and not the perfume . . . Sadly, I don’t think so. June 7, 2013 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Anna in Edinburgh: Fascinating topic and discussion, as always, Victoria.

    For anyone mourning old school “Opium”, I picked up a little edt rollerball of E.Coudray “Nohiba” recently at TK Maxx and, to my surprise, it rang the “Opium” bell for me.

    I have enough 1990s “Opium” to be pickled in, frankly, but it was such an unexpected and unlooked for find that I bought the “Nohiba” too.

    It was inexpensive and calls to mind the dry-down of “Opium Secret de Parfum”, an echo of “Opium” like the scent that lingers on your scarf or clothes. Still worth considering for anyone missing “Opium” as they remember it.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh June 7, 2013 at 1:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Anna! This is a great tip, especially since many here do miss the original Opium. June 7, 2013 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Ola: Really liked the article. My solution to this kind fo problem, is keeping the bottles, I keep them all, and any time I need to get deep in my memories, I go to me shelves, I smell my bottles, and it is as if I was looking at the photos from my past… June 30, 2013 at 8:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your very positive perspective and interesting advice, Olga! Now I wish I would have saved my empty Feu d’Issey Miyake bottle. June 30, 2013 at 8:13am Reply

  • Alyssa: I’ve been searching bois de jasmin for answers on a related theme: formulations differing between countries. I tried a quick spritz of 18: la lune from D&G’s Anthology collection a few years ago and was intrigued, but it was in a Duty Free shop in Rome, and I live in the US. I’ve been craving the feminine yet earthy scent ever since, so I purchased a bottle at my local Sephora, only to find that this version was almost saccharine, very different from what I remember. I’m kicking myself for not buying it at the airport! Do you have any posts about formula variations by region, and do you know how I might get my hands on another bottle of la lune? Maybe it’s just me, but I have a strong feeling that the two scents were significantly different. October 12, 2013 at 9:35pm Reply

  • Georgina Wadsworth: Despite the fact that I am still mortified by the reformulation of Aromatics Elixir – chypre floral with lashings of oakmoss, this is sound advise. (I live in New Zealand and can only get the European version here).

    However having spent months trying to find a modern replacement, I have given up and finally moved on. I have just discovered Tresor Absolu with its stunning Vanilla. I like Stella McCartney’s LILY for its simplicity. The modern rendition of Magie Noire is lovely and has that old world feel to it still. Soon enough there will probably be a synthetic oakmoss and the perfume world will be flooded with its results. I cannot wait, but until then I am trying to appreciate what is available now and not get stuck in the signature scent rut, which AE was. Time and perfume are fleeting, but so beautiful to have for one brief moment. So enjoy and treasure the memories. December 27, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

  • Alx: Hi everyone !
    This is my first post.

    What a wonderful blog. I have not discovered the mysterious perfume world for very long. My first emotion has been Sycomore, now my “signature”. I also wear Habit Rouge L’eau (a gift), Vetiver Extraordinaire even if it’s a little too raugh, and I like Bel Respiro.

    Great article. Did someone notice if l’Eau du Sud has been reformulated ? I’m looking for a summer fragrance. I’d have a look to Bigarade concentrée, Flash back, Still Life.

    best,
    Alexandre (from Paris). April 23, 2014 at 2:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Alx, and welcome!
      I heard before from someone that they compared Eau du Sud today to their 3-4 year old bottle and thought that it was different. I haven’t tried it myself, but so many perfumes get tweaked that it’s almost a given. Bigarade concentrée, on the other hand, is a terrific fragrance, especially if you like your citrus with a touch of cumin. April 23, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Monkeylady: SAD, maybe BEN GAY has been reformulated . June 15, 2014 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Charis: Dear Victoria,

    This is my first post on your blog, which I have found fascinating, inspiring and informative- thank you. Thank you also for the excellent summary regarding the background to the ongoing EU/IFRA regulation debacle.

    I have a question which is probably impossible to answer, but here goes- do you know if Malle and Parfum D’Empire, which were featured in the original Reuters article, have indeed already reformulated (part of) their range? Parfum D’Empire in particular relaunched their pefumes in new packacking this spring- is this juice reformulated? And lastly- do Guerlain’s current Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, etc., already comply with the new oak moss impurity rules?

    Sorry for the flood of questions- I’m a panicky newbie!

    Charis August 1, 2014 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Charis!

      Some of Frederic Malle’s perfumes were definitely reformulated; he admitted as much. Une Fleur de Cassie was one of the reformulated ones, although I actually prefer the reformulation to the original. I haven’t compared the rest side by side. As for Parfum d’Empire, I don’t know, because I haven’t compared and nobody yet complained that the rebottled versions smell different. The oakmoss rule is not new (new only for the EU laws), so everything on the market already complies with it as do Guerlain’s perfumes you mentioned. I was wearing the current Vol de Nuit yesterday, and it smelled wonderful. August 3, 2014 at 10:41am Reply

      • Charis: Thank you very much for your comprehensive and reassuring reply, Victoria! It seems all is not lost 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the summer/beginning of autumn… All the best, Charis August 20, 2014 at 1:21pm Reply

  • Kate: This is such an interesting subject and one dear to my heart. I wore Diorissimo , more or less exclusively for abut 30 years and loved it so much I looked no further. But now it is thin and lacking in complexity…altogether different. Others I have loved like Chanel 19 to me are currently watery and simply don’t have the glorious depth and longevity they used to have. I do admire your positive attitude and I know that all things change, so do we , and we need to adapt. Good quality fragrance is very expensive and I expect it to last for a few hours rather than just be quite pleasant when fist applied and then…..whoosh, gone. Fortunately many of the classics are still wonderful with the lovely complexity and lasting power of old which means you can apply very subtly if you want but still be aware of their beauty eg No 5, youth dew bath oil, 24 Faubourg, Vol de Nuit, Mitsouko, parfum sacre . One big plus point is that researching what had happened to my beloved Diorissimo led me to you and I do thank you Victoria for your wonderful articles. I love your writing and thoughts on so many subjects, and I adore your references to literature. Am currently reading Gogol Tales…, such things really do last unchanged! October 24, 2014 at 4:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right, a perfume should last well and have some presence. Of course, there is a case of our noses getting used to scents (and then you stop noticing it), but still, if you can’t smell your perfume at all, even if you concentrate, then something is wrong. A well-made perfume keeps you company for hours.

      How do I love Gogol’s Tales! I’m reading his biography right now, and what a character he was. October 26, 2014 at 10:16am Reply

  • adeline: Reformulation is a sad thing when it’s forced upon perfumers because of bizarre new rules formulated upon questionable science and hysterically minimal testing and not because of changing tastes and times. That being said, when a reformulation gives the buyer something resembling the scent of cheap soap, or of the stuff that used to come in a kiddy makeup set in the 1950’s, the consumer has every reason to be pissed. Anybody out there want to pay a couple hundred smackers to smell like cheap soap? Well, don’t worry- it won’t last. There’s no sillage anyway. (It’s like that old joke, “The food is awful at that restaurant. And such small portions!”) The reformulation of Misouko, a ghost of its former self, is still lovely. A little too much cinnamon, but nice. Chant d’Aromes? Not only unrecognizable, but just cheap, pale, toppy, undistiguished. WTF! Paloma Picasso- still wearable, until my friend came over tonight wearing vintage that she found when her mother passed away. I couldn’t take my nose off of it. So sad, so sad. Screw the EU! February 22, 2015 at 10:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree with you. Some reformulations are really badly handled, but others are respectful. “questionable science and hysterically minimal testing” is how I also see the basis for many of the ridiculous recommendations. February 23, 2015 at 1:12pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: I fell in love with the original Rive Gauche because it didn’t “smell like perfume”: frilly, fussy overly girlish. There was something modern, sharp and independent about it that I loved. I also loved the silver black and blue aluminum spray container. Again it seemed so new, modern and hip. It vanished from stores, as perfumes will, and was later re-launched in a form that smelled nothing like the original. In my head the original made me (the seventh grade version any way) feel like I was some super-chic quirky American version of LouLou de la Falaise wearing a tuxedo jacket with no shirt underneath, and the new version smells like some cheap drug store floral.

    I am also heartbroken over the outright castration of Chloe: once upon a time, a rich, luscious floral explosion (Eighties perfumes were…emphatic). The current version, and its pointless flankers are all watery, characterless, and designed for women who are not especially sure of themselves: tentative is the word that comes to mind.

    Didn’t know that L’heure Bleu had been re-formulated. I will miss that lovely, nostalgic combination of iris and sandalwood. It smells like memories, and I always loved the fact that it was so old- it endured and formed a bridge between the past and present. It would appeal to anybody who ever watched “Downton Abbey.”

    Sometimes, old favorites just vanish: I grab up any bottle of Ombre Rose I can find since Neiman Marcus stopped carrying it: soft, powdery, peach blossoms…it is absolutely my favorite perfume. I guess I am the only one who really likes it. March 31, 2016 at 5:48pm Reply

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