Past Perfect : Return to Retro Glamour

In the July column of the Financial Times Magazine, I talk about the reissued perfume classics we’ve been seeing lately–Balmain Ivoire, Molinard Habanita, and Jacomo Silences, among others.  Titled Past Perfect, the article is my recap of the latest “retro glamour” trend. There are many unromantic reasons why it’s tempting for perfume companies to reintroduce classics (for instance, having the rights to an existing brand), but perhaps we’re really craving more glamour. I certainly do!

CornellCapaTheBolshoiBallet

“There is a distinctive retro vibe in the air these days. Strolling through the aisles of a local perfume boutique, I suddenly noticed something that I hadn’t seen for years — Ivoire de Balmain. The bottle, a heavy glass square filled with peach-tinted liquid, was different from the original all-white flacon of this 1979 classic, but the perfume itself was recognisably Ivoire. It smelled of clean skin scrubbed with jasmine soap, crushed green buds and a whisper of earthy patchouli. It was softer and sweeter than I remembered it, but I liked its glamorous aura. To read the rest, please click here.”

If I had one perfume wish, it would be for Jean Patou to reissue Vacances as close to the original as possible. It was an exquisite blend of lilac, rose and green sap. I also would have liked for Guerlain Après l’Ondée, my favorite classic, to become available in the parfum form, but that’s already crossing into the realm of fantasy.

What is your favorite classical perfume? What perfume wishes do you have? 

Bolshoi Ballet School, Moscow, 1958, photography by Cornell Capa via 0rchid-thief.livejournal.com.

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121 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: Great article! (as always, but this is such an interesting topic!)
    Yes, we are craving more glamour…because of the uncertain times, possibly, but maybe also because we want to be feminine, even if we are emancipated!
    It is difficult to choose an absolute favorite. I love Joy (have some vintage), No5, Fracas. So I am lucky: all still available in more or less good shape.
    Perfume wishes: Sous le Vent in the original formula (although I like the new one), Prétexte, My Sin, Réplique, Je Reviens, Theorema, Fendi,Femme before 1989,etc.etc.
    But let’s be realistic and follow your advice: ”approach new perfumes on their own terms”–even if they have an old name.
    Sometimes, reformulation means ameloration for me: I disliked the old Opium, too dense, but I love the new one! As for Ivoire, I won’t even try the new one:loved that bitter note in the old one, now probably gone.
    Excuse me for my verbosity! July 19, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

    • Shelley: I would like to see so many products return, but I will try to keep my response short. Azuree use to make a spray powder, that felt cool, and smelled great. Guerlain use to come out with limited editions in cologne form, in several of their scents. For example; L’ heure Bleu, Shalimar, and Mitsuko. It seemed like a little treasure to start the summer. Oh, and I would like Eau de Sud Shower Gel to return. July 19, 2013 at 3:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was recently thinking how much I would love to see My Sin, preferably as close to the original as possible. I loved it even more than Arpege.

      You know, at first when I tried the new Opium, I was really disappointed. It could not have been more different from what Opium used to be (and mind you, I was never a huge fan of the original). But wearing it more, I discovered that it’s a wonderful fragrance. The combination of myrrh, incense and rose is gorgeous. July 19, 2013 at 4:38pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: amelioration, I mean. July 19, 2013 at 5:13pm Reply

  • Ann: My favorite classic is Tresor. I feel bad I can’t appreciate Guerlains but I keep on trying. I like No 19 but it’s my mother’s signature and I don’t see myself wearing it yet. July 19, 2013 at 8:03am Reply

    • nikki: I love Tresor on others! You are so lucky it smells good on you. Such a lovely peachy fragrance. July 19, 2013 at 9:33am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s ok not to like Guerlains. I know that sometimes one can feel like an odd man out not caring for the things that others rave about, but perfume is such a personal, subjective experience. For instance, I’ll just have to accept that Jean Patou Joy doesn’t suit me and move on. July 19, 2013 at 4:40pm Reply

  • Caroline: Was never familiar with the original Vacances, but I do have a mini from the brief reiteration(it was a reiteration, right?) Agree it would be a terrific idea to re-introduce!
    My favorite classic is probably Dior Diorama, since a friend of my mother’s brought me a bottle from France in the 80s. I have a vintage bottle, but no desire to try the current version. It helped establish my love of chypres.
    The no 19 reformulation isn’t bad, but I got a vintage bottle of the edt on ebay, and it’s sublime. Silences is next on the list! July 19, 2013 at 8:16am Reply

    • Victoria: I know what issue of Vacances you mean, the Ma Collection. I have a bottle from that period as well, and it’s also a lovely perfume.

      At least, you can still find the older Silences easily and inexpensively. July 19, 2013 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Zazie: Lovely article!

    My perfume collection mirrors my own preferences for classic glamourous fragrances (the only exception are my white floral perfumes, which tend to be more recent releases – except Fracas, my love). I recently added chamade parfum to my Guerlain lineup and I am just floored by its beauty.
    I am very grateful to Guerlain for keeping such a splendid lineup of classics – splendid both inside and out (juice and packaging).
    (I could say the same for Chanel, but just discovered that Cuir de Russie had a major -awful- facelift so I’m holding a grudge.)

    And I have wishes! I wish for a reissue of Coty’s Emeraude, Chypre and L’Origan. I wish them in reasonably good shape.
    I wish them so badly – ever since I smelled them at the osmothèque.
    I don’t do ebay, and I never found perfumes in my local antique stores, so I really hope Coty will do a smart move and bring back its calssics with great fanfare!!!
    Please!
    😉 July 19, 2013 at 8:27am Reply

    • Eric: Zazie, bad news! how is Cuir de Russie different now? July 19, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

      • Zazie: Eric, I compared the current version (form tester) with my CDR bottle – released in 2007, when Chanel launched “les exclusif” line and “repackaged” their calssics (bois des iles, CDR, N°22) to fit in the LE lineup.

        The 2007 has a soft, luxury iris note, and a subtle floral nuance in its heart. The current CDR is much more about the “Cuir”: the leather note is much more prominent and ragged and masculine.
        The fragrance is still a very good one, but has lost its unique elegance and luxury, at least for me. Now CDR sits quite close to the excellent Knize Ten, IMO. It smells less expensive, less complex than before and leans more masculine. But it is still very good… for a man. Don’t know if they kept the balance with the expensive iris and florals in the parfum formula.

        I hope someone else chimes in and tells me my tester must have been off and that CDR is as beautiful as ever… ;( July 19, 2013 at 9:56am Reply

        • Victoria: The last time I’ve smelled Cuir de Russie and compared it against my older bottles was a couple of years ago, so I’m a bit worried to repeat this exercise today. Cuir de Russie is definitely one of the perfumes I would take on a desert island, because every time I wear it, I discover something else to love about it. July 19, 2013 at 4:55pm Reply

        • solanace: Fingers crossed! Wishing that tester was left in the sun… July 20, 2013 at 5:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve been lusting after those old Coty perfumes ever since I smelled them at the Osmotheque. I loved all three, but L’Origan was the one I wanted the most. L’Heure Bleue from Guerlain fills the gap for now. July 19, 2013 at 4:44pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Do you mean the new L’Heure Bleue, or the vintage, or both? July 19, 2013 at 5:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: Both! The vintage one is fuller, darker, more velvety, but I happily wear the current L’Heure Bleue too. July 19, 2013 at 5:29pm Reply

  • sara: i would love for mitsouko to come back same as before. a girl can dream, right? July 19, 2013 at 8:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Why not, right? Let’s dream a little! 🙂 July 19, 2013 at 4:45pm Reply

  • george: I’m pondering on what makes a perfume classical (as opposed to classic). It makes me think that 31 Rue Cambon (though it doesn’t work for me) could be called a classical perfume, as well as a lot of the Parfums Mdci range. My perfumery wish is a release of something close to the original of Vent Vert. I love the opening of Bel respiro, but the heart doesn’t do it for me, and with the current vent vert I get a sense of the tinniness that afflicts a lot of reformulated perfumes. A bel Respiro like opening with an amplified floral heart sounds perfect; plus, the original was by germaine cellier, who seems to have had the knack of creating different fragrances that launch wholly undiscovered genres. Favourite classical fragrance is Apres L’ondee too- so complex yet so definite. Just great. July 19, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

    • Victoria: For me, it would have to be beyond trends, but in today’s perfumery, a classical style usually means taking the existing, older compositions as your starting point and creating a twist on it. So, 31 Rue Cambon is a good example. It reinterprets the chypre by using new materials and new accords. Bel Respiro, oddly enough, reminds me of Black Orchid by Tom Ford, specifically the green-floral part of Black Orchid. It’s as if Black Orchid lost all of its noir pretensions! July 19, 2013 at 4:51pm Reply

      • george: At the opposite end of the spectrum, Black Orchid always reminds me of a Ken Dodd joke:

        “What a lovely day for sticking a cucumber through the vicar’s letterbox and shouting ‘The Martians are coming!'”

        So NOT what Tom was going for, I feel. hahaha July 19, 2013 at 4:59pm Reply

        • Victoria: Hysterical! And so spot on! No, Tom wasn’t going for that. July 19, 2013 at 5:34pm Reply

  • Alexandra: Tabac Blond with her dark leather wrapped carnations can’t take “no” for an answer! Cuir de Russie acts out like an aromatic protective shield oozing elegance and class, whereas Opium’s (edt) oriental spiciness feels like an elixir from 1001 nights. These are not just perfumes but time capsules! July 19, 2013 at 9:27am Reply

    • Ilia: How I agree with Tabac Blond! I would like to add Caron’s Narcisse Noir and Bellodgia to the list – bring back the spiciness, the leather, the animalic notes, the glamour… July 19, 2013 at 11:26am Reply

      • Alexandra: Yes! and make it past perfect continuous! July 19, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

      • Victoria: I’m also adding Or et Noir to this list! July 19, 2013 at 5:03pm Reply

      • Sylvia: Oh, and Caron’s original ‘Nuit de Noël’, please! I adored the original, and still have a scent memory of it from 1962, but the reformulated version is just “off”! I’ve actually purchased 2 different bottles, with the same result.
        Sadness, sadness.

        I’ve been a Guerlain girl since I was 12 years old, and that was in 1958! L’heure Bleu is still my hands-down favorite of all time, and I adore their ‘Bois d’Armenie’ and ‘Vol de Nuit’ … and ‘Mitsouko’ when I’m in the mood.

        I understand the necessity for some reformulations, but I bemoan the loss of quality, warmth, depth and the certain je ne sais quoi that no modern formulation comes close to capturing. October 27, 2016 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh yes, Alexandra! Tabac Blond is another one of my top favorite classics and my most mourned reformulations. The thing Caron did to it is positively criminal. July 19, 2013 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Michaela: I’d like to sniff again 2 perfumes I remember my mother used to wear when I was very little. One of them is Weill de Weill and the other one Bourjois Soir de Paris. I think the Bourjois still exists but really, it bears very little ressemblence to what it used to be. I cannot forget these 2 fragrances, they were aboslutely wonderful! Weill de Weill smelled like a heaven of sofisticated flowers and Soir de Paris was rich and velvety and I can see myself using a chair to get to the upper shelf of the armoire to find it and secretely use it. That was long before any reformulations, and the quality of the fragrances was unmatchable. No modern perfume, no matter what brand, smells the same… July 19, 2013 at 9:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Your descriptions are so tempting, Michaela! Your mother must have been such a glamorous woman. July 19, 2013 at 4:52pm Reply

  • nikki: Lovely article. I am now curious to try the new Silences and Opium! Habanita is such a deal the lovely black Lalique flacon with Nudes is gorgeous. Certainly a fragrance that is also unisex. I saw Ivoire at the discount stores here. Nice, much nice than the patchouli/fruit concoctions lately.
    I would like to have Emeraude re-issued in its original form. I have never smelled it. July 19, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Nikki, you’re right, Ivoire is still available easily at the discounters. I picked up an older bottle for about $10. July 19, 2013 at 4:53pm Reply

  • OperaFan: I’m so glad that you are able to share your beautiful writings with a broader readership, and hope the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

    Perfumes do change over time, so even if we can find them in vintage forms, I know they are not the same so yes, how lovely it would be to see them bring back some of the classics in their original forms!

    Like you, I would love to see Apres l’Ondee perfume resurrected. I found an ancient perfume bottle a few years back, but the few drops of perfume remains was so dark and resin-like, it’s hard to tell how close to the original state it really is. I’d open the bottle once in a while just to take a whiff and try to imagine it in its pristine form. Having loved the edt from the ’90s, it would be, well – complete.

    As a huge sandalwood fan, I would also love to smell the original Bois des Iles. I only have experience with the LE edt, but that was enough to have me longing for the “real” thing. July 19, 2013 at 10:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! It’s been a great learning experience overall, and I like writing for different audiences.

      Have you smelled Bois des Iles in the parfum form? The sandalwood is more pronounced, and it’s rounder, softer. Another sandalwood re-discovery for me has been Serge Lutens’s Santal Blanc, and I’ve become addicted to it. Santal de Mysore is another great sandalwood, but the heavy cumin note is challenging. I wear it, but it’s more of a special occasion/mood scent. July 19, 2013 at 4:59pm Reply

      • OperaFan: I’ve never tried the perfume, new or old; however, I understand the new no longer have the same concentration of Mysore sandalwood so have not bothered to seek it out. Vintage has eluded me so far, but as I’ve indicated, I’d rather try it “unchanged” to get the complete experience.
        I must try Santal Blanc. It just has not crossed my path and the one time I tried Santal de Mysore the sandalwood was so buried I could not find it. 🙁 July 20, 2013 at 9:08am Reply

        • Victoria: It’s possible that it will be formulated again with the Mysore style sandalwood, because it’s now produced in Australia. But either way, I think that Bois des Iles is still gorgeous. July 21, 2013 at 6:12am Reply

  • Cybele: I like the glamour of Fleur de Cassie and miss Opium and Cabochard. The new Ivoire sounds promising. July 19, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: If you miss Cabochard, you might like Aramis or Estee Lauder Azuree. They sort of fill the gap that the reformulated Cabochard doesn’t. July 19, 2013 at 5:00pm Reply

      • Cybele: Thank you for the hint Victoria I will give it a try although those might be too decidedly masculine for my taste-I particularly liked the balance between masculine and feminine achieved in Cabochard. July 20, 2013 at 8:50am Reply

  • The Blue Squid: I have a perfume dream about a splash bottle of No 19 eau de parfum I had back around 2000.  My dream, or wish, is that I could buy it again in that iteration.  It still rules the schools, of course, but it is not as rich as it used to be, to me.
    I sometimes have amusing recurring dreams, of the asleep sort, where I have lovely shopping sprees and find unusual or old perfumes.  I scoop them all up, and then, I wake up.  Shame. July 19, 2013 at 10:17am Reply

    • Victoria: What a great dream! I prefer to dream about something like this as opposed to my recurring dream (or rather nightmare) of having to pack suitcases and being late for the plane. 🙂 July 19, 2013 at 5:01pm Reply

      • The Blue Squid: Ha! Unfortunately, I have the late-for-the-flight dreams too. July 19, 2013 at 6:39pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Reading your post brought back memories of my one and only trip to Paris in 1981 where I purchased Balmain’s Ivoire and Caron’s Nocturnes. I wore Ivoire for many years and used to be able to find it in the Douglas perfume shop–which went out of business–at least in Maryland. When they went out of business, they had a big sale and I bought lots of bottle of Ivoire. I am now down to my last bottle so it was comforting to know that it still smells wonderful although the appearance of the bottle and the juice are different. Thanks for the lovely post. July 19, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

    • Hannah: Douglas is a huge chain in Germany; I thought there was one on every street corner in Berlin because it seemed that way (in reality there are approx 26 in Berlin. There are lots of other chains that I probably confused for Douglas). July 19, 2013 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Since you know Ivoire so well, I’m a bit worried that the difference between the original and the current versions will be obvious to you. Our scent memories are painstakingly exact. But I would love to hear what you think if you do get to smell it. July 19, 2013 at 5:03pm Reply

  • lila: Love that photo! My favorite classics include Carons Nuit de Noel, Fracas and Joy. I only have Fracas, but I will definitely have a bottle of Nuit de Noel someday (and a lavender Caron powder puff). Joy is literally a bottle of joy and I also like the story and history behind its creation. July 19, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I just realized that in the move and repacking, I lost my pink Caron powder puff. By the way, I bought a lavender one for my mom, and she loved it. July 19, 2013 at 5:05pm Reply

      • lila: Well, now you have an excuse to pop into Caron! Lavender is my favorite color. Still trying to find a favorite lavender scent. July 20, 2013 at 12:28pm Reply

        • Victoria: Once we get a washing machine, I will!
          (Adding as I re-read my muddled comment (it’s more than 90F inside our apt, my head is swimming): a washing machine is not essential for having a Caron puff, of course. Just trying to prioritize our budget. But researching household appliances really doesn’t inspire me. 🙂 July 21, 2013 at 7:07am Reply

          • lila: I hear ya! Washing machines and dryers being the least inspirational of all the appliances. I find stoves and ranges to be the “fun” appliances if there is such a thing. July 22, 2013 at 11:54am Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: After reading all the gorgeous perfume houses listed here, this one may sound silly, but I’ve been craving it since it went off the market: It was called Sun Shower by Prince Matchabelli and came out some time in the late 60’s/early 70’s. It was the perfect summer cologne with the most beautiful sunny, crisp, sweet fragrance that I remember lasting and lasting. I also remember getting compliments from absolute strangers when wearing it. I’ve been on a life-long search to find something even vaguely like it, and haven’t been able to do that. I bought an old bottle on eBay a couple of years ago. It had never been opened, so I was able to get the essence of it when I did take off the cap. But that essence is gone now, as it’s been open too long. Very sad… July 19, 2013 at 12:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not silly at all, Annette! Prince Matchabelli had some gems in its collection, and Wind Song was created by none other than great Ernest Shiftan (also responsible for Brut, Givenchy Le De and even Guerlain Parure). I’m not familiar with Sun Shower, but it sounds beautiful. July 19, 2013 at 5:08pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: My favorite classic is Shalimar. I wore the edp yesterday and was struck anew by its cool citrus top and rich smoky vanilla base. It is a joy to wear! My perfume wish would be for Coty to bring back Emeraude and L’Origan in proper form. But that it just a wild fantasy. July 19, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was wearing the EDP recently too. I had to smell it blindly against some of the newer Shalimar influenced perfumes, and it was amazing how memorable and distinctive Shalimar was. You couldn’t mistake it for anything else. July 19, 2013 at 5:09pm Reply

    • AndreaR: I’d completely forgotten that I wore L’Origin many years ago. I’m not sure it was in it’s proper form because I seem to remember it at my local drugstore in the 60’s. Thanks for jogging my scent memory. July 20, 2013 at 1:01pm Reply

  • Anita Monroe: As long as we are wishing, I wish for perfumers to be free of restrictions from international agencies. Those restrictions are not reasonable. They are supposedly based on “allergic reactions”. Any sensible person knows that allergies are individual, and one should avoid a fragrance if one is allergic to it. For instance, I love “Le De” by Givenchy but start sneezing when I get near it. My mother could wear it with no trouble. Why should it be changed? Why should ANY scent be changed to protect a few people? I could go on and on. I trust Guerlain, Chanel, Hermès, etc. not to harm me or anyone else. Long live original “Vol de Nuit” and all the other lovely things that are gradually dying away. July 19, 2013 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, unfortunately, the consumer group lobbying for anti-fragrance everything is pretty well organized. And unfortunately, the perfume brands refuse to label, because disclosing allergens on the packaging would mean having to chuck their “hypoallergenic” claims. I also could go on and on talking about this… July 19, 2013 at 5:12pm Reply

  • Jessica M: My favorite classif perfume was/is Caron Bellodgia, which was badly reformulated a number of years ago. I’d wish to have it return to the way it used to be… impossible, I know! July 19, 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another fiasco for me was Fleurs de Rocaille. I don’t know how it was possible to turn a perfectly elegant floral into something that resembles a shampoo, but they’ve managed. Bellodgia, at least, smells pleasant, if not at all like Bellodgia used to be. July 19, 2013 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Jillie: I often wore Ivoire when it first appeared, and then I forgot about it till a few years ago. I then bought a bottle of that version, but was quite horrified at how little resemblance it bore to the original and was smacked in the face by what might have been cumin – I’m not good with cumin. It seems that I should try this rather attractive looking new version and give it another chance.

    Thanks, Victoria, for giving us the chance to see the articles you write for other publications! July 19, 2013 at 1:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ivoire today smells more mossy than it used to, and it’s much less aldehydic. So, there are many great differences, but the character has been retained–an elegant, polished perfume. I even liked Eau d’Ivoire ok–it smells like Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely with an apricot-tea note. July 19, 2013 at 5:18pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, very elegant and unmistakebly French! What about that bitter note ? (I smell that also in Colonia Intensa). Is that still there? July 20, 2013 at 4:44am Reply

        • Victoria: Nope, not much bitterness in the new version. July 20, 2013 at 8:58am Reply

  • Tora: I would like to smell Bal A Versailles as I have heard so much about it. As for something I know I would love, that would be Tabac Blonde by Caron. July 19, 2013 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bal A Versailles is like a contemporary period drama, a Downtown Abbey perfume. 🙂 It’s a very interesting, dramatic composition, very animalic, very sultry. Somewhat of an acquired taste though. July 19, 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Annikky: I haven’t smelled much vintage, so my favourite classics are the ones that are still in good shape – Fracas, Cuir de Russie, Apres L’Ondee, Shalimar. From what I’ve read, I’d absolutely love to have Iris Gris available and smelling as it used to. July 19, 2013 at 2:51pm Reply

    • Annikky: Forgot about Jolie Madame, one of the few things I have a vintage sample of – a great scent. I suspect I would love Bandit, too, but somehow I’ve never thoroughly tested it. July 19, 2013 at 2:59pm Reply

      • Victoria: Bandit is a true renegade perfume, and I wonder what you think of it when you try it. July 19, 2013 at 5:23pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I especially love the third paragraph of this review of Bandit.
        Try it, it is great!

        http://www.nstperfume.com/2006/09/26/bandit-by-robert-piguet-fragrance-review/ July 19, 2013 at 5:41pm Reply

        • Annikky: Bandit was actually one of the very first niche fragrances I tried, together with Fracas. And while the latter was more-or-less instant love, I really didn’t know what to make of Bandit. At least I was smart enough not to dismiss it entirely and I have kept sniffing it when I get the chance. I am pretty sure I’m ready for it now, but as I’ve only tried it in passing and not given it my full attention, I might be too optimistic. In any case, I really need to get a proper sample of this.

          And I agree, this must be one of Robin’s best reviews. I always enjoy them (and always seek them out, when testing or finding something new), but when she has a worthy perfume to talk about, she just nails it. July 23, 2013 at 5:06am Reply

          • Austenfan: I didn’t like it at all when I first tried Bandit, mind you, I didn’t like Fracas much either. I want to try both in Extrait as they got a higher “rating” on this blog than the EDP.

            My favourite of Robin’s reviews is still her take on Cristalle. It was the first review I read on any blog, ( I was googling Cristalle because I wanted a good deal and ended up reading for days), and I love her comparison of Cristalle and James Bond. July 25, 2013 at 5:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: For Iris Gris, among other things, you would have to make a trip to the Osmotheque. July 19, 2013 at 5:22pm Reply

  • Hannah: My favorite perfumes are from the 90’s/2000’s/2010’s, ie Bulgari Black, M7, CdG, Black Cashmere, McQueen Kingdom. Which is the same era for my favorite fashion designers (Riccardo Tisci, Rick Owens), music (Massive Attack, Grimes, MIA), film (Mina Ninagawa’s work, Kamikaze Girls, Spirited Away), and even literature (Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoğlu). I am a big advocate of the contemporary. July 19, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bulgari Black, M7 and others can be considered classics in their own right. They’ve certainly set some important trends, especially in the niche perfumery.

      Thanks to your comment, I’m reading an excerpt from The Bridge of the Golden Horn by Emine Sevgi Ozdamar (love amazon.com!) I might have to get it. July 19, 2013 at 5:26pm Reply

      • Hannah: They are classics, but they are modern. It’s not that I think the older classics are bad or boring, but they just don’t resonate with me. I prefer the feel of the modern classics.
        I love The Bridge of the Golden Horn. Leyla by Feridun Zaimoglu is similar, but I’m not sure if it’s been translated. July 20, 2013 at 4:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: I completely understand. Most of the perfume I wear day to day are not vintage, but modern. As you point out, the aesthetics are very different. July 21, 2013 at 7:12am Reply

  • Barbara: Thanks for the post, Victoria. My answer is Bandit, it all its bitter green mossy leathery splendor! July 19, 2013 at 4:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was trying to come up with a one-liner to describe Bandit to Annikky in the comment above, and I think that you’ve nailed it! July 19, 2013 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Victoria,

    How timely that you write this review. I believe we are all seeking some return to the past if only by our love of scent. And when you strolled past this counter and mentioned Ivoire we can all share in the joy of this reminiscence. Oddly, I’ve sought after wines appreciated from my past and came upon one vintner who blended one more grape that totally killed the blend of a prior experience with this particular, not unlike what we’ve all come to love and know even if we attempt to recapture what now fails. At the opening of your review you mentioned three fragrances that I used to wear religiously that brought a smile to my face! Ivoire in a clear bottle — no, no not for me that alone can kill it for me. At any rate retro glamour is appreciated! July 19, 2013 at 4:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I feel ambivalent about revisiting perfumes I used to know in their original form, and it’s always a bittersweet experience. For instance, I can’t wear the current YSL Paris or Lancome Tresor, not because they’re bad perfumes or were poorly reformulated (far from it!) But they are so different from Paris and Tresor I used to wear that it’s hard for me to come to terms with the differences. July 19, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

  • koray: I love the classic perfumes. Traces of the past excite me so my favorite classic perfumes Ambre Sultan and Chanel Coco Edp. July 19, 2013 at 4:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: They’re very special. Apropos to George’s comment earlier, Ambre Sultan definitely has a classical appeal to me. It has also been one of the trendsetting perfumes. July 19, 2013 at 5:37pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Not the perfume as I have got plenty of older stock, but I would love a tub of the original Paris body cream. It came in a black pot with a pink lid. It had the most amazing smell and texture. And it left your skin incredibly soft.
    Classic perfumes that I would like to smell in their original state; quite a few actually;
    Guerlain Djédi, Après l’Ondée extrait, original Chanel 19 in all it’s concentrations, Coty Chypre and Emeraude, Fath’s Iris Gris, Schiaparelli Shocking and the real L’Air du Temps. Oh and I forgot, Cabochard de Grès. July 19, 2013 at 5:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know exactly what Paris body cream you mean. It was my own introduction to Paris, and I still miss it.

      I forgot about L’Air du Temps. My mom and my grandmother used to wear it, and I have such nostalgic associations with it. July 19, 2013 at 5:33pm Reply

      • Austenfan: So did mine! July 19, 2013 at 5:39pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: And mine. July 20, 2013 at 4:47am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: I think I have said before that my fave long lost perfume is called “Kif” by Lamborghini (yes; the car company) and it smelled like a cross between Opium (and shared a naighty drug refeence) and Dioressence: a deep, dark Oriental with lots of spice and patchouli. It came in a black glass bottle shaped like a a Lambo or in an aluminum tube of black with red trim. I guess it ates from the mid-80’s. I found it at some discount shop a few years later and got hooked. It wa so dark and sultry and yes racy, it was as close as I ever expect to come to the driver’s seat of a Murcielago! It turns up on eBay occasionally for hundreds pf dollars, though, and I am so broke and so sad. I did not know L’heure Blue had been re-formulated; I used to adore that sad, nostalgic powery iris scent touched with sandalwood. I never liked Ivoire- thought it smelled astringant and harsh, rather than green, and I really despised that ad campaign with that uber Aryan-looking blonde woman in the big white hat representing a scent named after an exotic substance usually found (illegally) in India and Africa. It was so tasteless and “white man’s burden.” I have never been impressed with Balmain- too old school and stodgy- until Oscar de la Renta revived it a couple of years back and they showed the clothes with Tony Duquette jewelry: spectacular. That was galamourous. In terms of modern perfumes lacking glamour, I think many of them are engineered to lack “character”: they don’t make a strong impression one way or the other. They uniformly smell “nice” as opposed to smelling “bad” but it is hard to feel passionately about them. They are intended to be unobstrusive, and personally, I don’t consider that a selling point in either fashion or fragrance, but I think they appeal to people who do not have a strong, definite sense of themselves yet. July 19, 2013 at 6:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, in part, because most big launches are market tested. The good testers are the ones that are instantly likable, so in many cases, they won’t have a polarizing effect. And as you have experienced with Fracas (if I remember correct based on your other comments, it’s not your favorite), the truly outstanding scents must elicit emotions, both good and bad. July 20, 2013 at 8:51am Reply

  • annemariec: I have a sample of the original Ivoire given me by a kind friend. I have always found it rather bitter. I like green fragrances but not so much when they are bitter (have the same problem with Vent Vert). Is the reformulation a bit gentler? It may actually suit me better.

    I’d love to see Lanvin re-issue some of its old film noir classics: My Sin, Scandal, Pretexte. I know they have done Rumeur (sp?) but I have never been tempted to try it after reading the Turin/Sanchez review: ‘Baseless’.

    Great article, many thanks. I love and own the new Habanita. July 19, 2013 at 6:34pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Ha, that’s what I mean! That bitter note! I love it. July 20, 2013 at 4:49am Reply

      • annemariec: Yes, I know what you mean. An odd or discordant note can be the thing that absolutely gives a perfume (or any work of art) it character. In the case of Ivoire that bitter note does nothing for me. I’m glad you live it though! July 20, 2013 at 7:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it!
      Rumeur reissue starts out very pretty, but the drydown is just too dull on my skin. On the other hand, Habanita’s new version is lovely from all angles. July 20, 2013 at 8:53am Reply

  • christiana: Maybe not a “classic” but certainly one I would LOVE to be reissued – L’occitaine Gentle Honey Water for it’s beautiful sweet powdery summer scent! July 19, 2013 at 9:04pm Reply

    • Anka: It’s so sad that L’Occitane discontinued many great fragrances: The warm and cozy Immortelle de Corse, their seductive Mimosa de L’Estrel or the Amber one. No chance to become classics / classicals…
      My favorite classics are Après L’Ondée, White Linen, Eau de Cologne Imperial (so refreshing on a hot summer day!).
      I would love to smell the original Jicky since I even enjoy the reformulated version very much! July 20, 2013 at 6:35am Reply

      • Victoria: I agree with you, the high turnover of their collection is frustrating. I wish they went for quality rather than quantity in their launches. July 20, 2013 at 9:03am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! And I would add their Mimosa to the list. I would also ask them not to discontinue Jasmin Green Tea, which is what they are currently doing. July 20, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

  • maggiecat: I have a bottle of the old Ivoire, and I like it very much, but it has a distinct 80’s vibe to it. I’ve sampled the new one and also like it – when my lottery numbers hit, it’s on the list. I’m now anxious to try the new Opium, which I wore briefly in the 80’s (a gift from a boyfriend) and Vacances and Habanita, neither of which I’ve sampled in any version. Thank you for the lovely article! July 19, 2013 at 9:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: The new Opium is so unlike the original that I wouldn’t compare them. I now think of it as a different, unrelated perfume, otherwise, it’s downright confusing. It’s neither spicy-hot, nor floral-opulent like Opium used to be. July 20, 2013 at 8:56am Reply

  • Kayti: Love, love, love beautiful Ivoire which I’ve worn since my teens (the late-ish 80s). It is incredibly feminine & elegant & might have seemed a little grown up for me at 17, sitting on the back of my bloke’s GS750, but it somehow worked. Feeling therefore a bit wary of the new look reformulation. I have become a little obsessed with buying back up supplies of my true loves (when i can run to it) so I do have a good stash of the old beauty squirrelled away. I would love to see the following original formulations available again so I could use what I still have regularly rather than with reservation: Tendre Poison, Sweet Sun, Sublime, Gaia pure-fume (Aveda), Accenti, Climat, Byzance, Theorema, Barynia. Thank you for the lovely blog; I thoroughly enjoy it. July 20, 2013 at 5:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Kayti, and welcome! Such a thrill to see Accenti on your list, which must be one of Gucci’s most flamboyant but wearable perfumes. L’Arte di Gucci is another one I really liked. July 20, 2013 at 9:01am Reply

    • Figuier: Just read Kayti’s comment, which reminded me I’d forgotten to add Byzance, in the original formula. I have a bottle of the newer version, and enjoy it, but the 0.2ml of vintage edp in my possession smells so much richer and rosier, a delight. So it definitely goes on the list. July 20, 2013 at 2:55pm Reply

      • Victoria: I also love Byzance bottle. It looks like a jewel! July 21, 2013 at 7:10am Reply

  • Sandra: I would love to see the 80s versions of Eau de Caron and Eau de Givenchy on the shelves again… Unchanged of course! July 20, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with you, they’re excellent citrusy perfumes that are also complex and interesting enough to be more than just nice colognes. July 21, 2013 at 7:02am Reply

  • Figuier: Love the article; now I must try the relaunched Ivoire, it sounds beautiful. As usual your choice of illustration here on the blog is so much more compelling than the FT pics…

    I’m with you on missing pre-reformulation YSL Paris, which I love – to which I’d add Dior Poison. My mum wore both in the 80s, and on the few occasions when I’ve smelled vintage bottles I’ve been reminded just how wonderful they were – and now that the over-exposure that turned people off is long over, it would probably be possible to wear them, in appropriately small quantities, discreetly and tastefully. July 20, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so pleased that you liked the photo. I love the way he uses light and the perspective and captures the movement.

      Definitely Poison too! And Cacharel Loulou! Those were my mom’s big 80s scents, and I was completely taken by them when I first smelled them (that’s how I became a die-hard white floral lover). My mom thought that Poison was completely wrong for a preteen, so she bought a bottle of Tendre Poison for me. I liked it ok, but Poison was my first love. July 21, 2013 at 7:05am Reply

  • catlady: some favorites of mine that are now difficult to find or have been reformulated badly (so i hear) are, besides ivoire: magie noire, coriandre, caleche. i too miss weil de weil, a fragrance i was unable to buy when it was available (too poor). i like fragrances to have some distinction, not just sweet and flowery. July 21, 2013 at 12:06pm Reply

  • maja: I don’t know much about glamour but I loved Magie Noire the way it used to be. And Paris, too. But times change and so do perfumes, goes the old Latin phrase. 😉

    Ps. Since you are into wonderful photography I guess you already know the Everyday I Show on LiveJournal. For me it is possibly the best photo blog ever. July 21, 2013 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Natalia: Miss Dior! I wish they could make it smell as it did before. Back in the day, it was the perfume that inspired my love for fragrances. July 22, 2013 at 3:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Hear, hear! Miss Dior is my least favorite reformulation, because not only it smells nothing like it used to, it’s now harsh and strident. July 22, 2013 at 5:11am Reply

  • Natalia: Exactly! I am usually not that picky about reformulations and wear a lot of “old” perfumes, such as Mitsouko, Nahema, Dune, Diorissimo (although I am not THAT happy about this one), Chanel 5, 19, 22,etc. But Miss Dior is the only one (to me) that’s been reformulated completely beyond recognition and not only that, they managed to turn it into an ugly, harsh smell. July 22, 2013 at 5:59am Reply

    • Isis: I have been using up my sample of the new Diorissimo Edt and I am confused. I’ve never smelled an older version so I can’t compare. I really love the first 30 minutes when its all sparkly dewy sexy and hopeful, but after that it sort of seems to die and becomes kind-of-ok. Does anyone esle have this problem? I tried the Edp but I wasn’t sure it solved the problem, I found it very different in character. July 22, 2013 at 6:57am Reply

  • Diana: I wish they’d reissue Attrape Coeur. I smelled a sample and immediately wanted a FB. Was so disappointed when I found out they didn’t make it anymore that I swore off trying discontinued scents to avoid the bitter disappointment of falling madly in love with something I could never own. July 22, 2013 at 11:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Attrape Coeur is another fragrance many of us miss. I also haven’t found anything like it, although I’ve tried. July 22, 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Emma: I’d like to see many classics returns as well but if I had one I’d say Apres l’Ondee in extrait de parfum.

    Since you mentioned Patou Vacances, I was in Paris two weeks ago, I tested the new version of Chaldee in EDT to be launched in September. First, before talking about the fragrance, a word about the packaging, seriously who are their marketing people? The box and the bottle look beyond cheap and also very masculine, I immediately thought cheap man’s After-Shave when I saw it. The fragrance was beyond watered down compared the Ma Collection EDT and pure parfum 1980’s versions.

    Since you’re Ukrainian, I’ve been seeing a Ukrainian man lately. Very tall and handsome man in his late 40s. He caught me off-guard with a perfume gift last week, it was J’Adore. I wasn’t too excited but I like the fact there are men out there who still buy fragrance to women and since I’m on the market and I like this guy I thoght I should be wearing it. Le’ts face it, I tend to intimidate men too much looking like I’m from Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris with my new Saint Laurent Sac de Jour wearing Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle…it can be a little too much.
    So, I’ve been wearing J’Adore a few of times already and I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it, actually I like it a lot. It’s mainstream but not generic, it’s bright, current and feminine and somewhat sophisticated.

    Another bright, very pretty, very feminine fragrance is Serge Lutens new/forthcoming La Vierge de fer. I got a bottle from a well-connected friend in Paris. You can read my little review on Makeupalley. Actually it smells more like J’Adore than anything Lutens has been doing for the last past 20 years! It’s a pretty lily-camelia white fruity floral. July 23, 2013 at 4:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck with your new beau, Emma! And J’Adore is a very nice gift. 🙂 July 24, 2013 at 3:34am Reply

  • Jane: My mother had a little bottle of Je Reviens by Worth that I used to sneak a little sniff of in the early 1960s. I loved it and can still smell it in my memory. Perhaps I wouldn’t like it so much now if I could smell it again, but is there anything like it now? September 16, 2015 at 11:08am Reply

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