Classical Challenge

“I have no luck with classical perfumes,” confessed a friend. “My grandmother wore Jean Patou Joy, my mother loved Chanel No. 5, but when I wear these fragrances, I feel like I’m playing dress up.” She wondered why she completely missed the allure of fragrances widely considered iconic.  It is easy to attribute it to personal tastes and associations, but I decided to embark on a classical challenge.

The French use the phrase “grand parfum” to describe fragrances that not only have symphonic complexity but also a distinguished heritage. Chanel No. 5 is a quintessential example—created in a remarkable collaboration between Coco Chanel and perfumer Ernest Beaux, it revolutionized the ‘20s with its daring blend of aldehydes, manmade materials that smell starchy and metallic, and opulent floral essences. It is voluptuous, rich and heady. Today, on the other hand, we are no longer used to the strong burst of aldehydes, and the curves in perfumes—as on Hollywood actresses—are toned down.

No. 5 as an introduction to the classics is as challenging as Tolstoy’s War and Peace for someone unfamiliar with Russian literature. Nevertheless, exploring iconic perfumes is an adventure. With Guerlain Shalimar you can imagine what flappers might have smelled like in the Roaring Twenties. Rochas Femme created in 1943 is not just a beautiful fragrance; it is perfumer Edmond Roudnitska’s quest for beauty in wartime Paris. A child of a different decade, Christian Dior Poison gives a glimpse into the glitz and glamour of the ‘80s.

The best way to get a taste for the classics is via gradual exposure. For someone familiar only with the fresh and radiant modern perfume style, certain iconic fragrances are easier to approach than others. For instance, Christian Dior Diorissimo was born in 1956, but its crystalline freshness would not be out of place among many contemporary florals. Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche was modeled on No. 5, but it has a softer character. Ô de Lancôme and Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte are as classical as a little black dress and just as easy to wear.

Another way to appreciate the classics is to look for their modern interpretations. Many modern perfumes owe a debt to legendary fragrances, like Prada Infusion d’Iris, which takes inspiration from Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue. Prada strips away all of the powdery layers that make L’Heure Bleue magical but also a little difficult. Infusion d’Iris instead emphasizes the velvety iris and wraps it in sheer incense. Even Chanel gave No. 5 a new character to sway the new generation of perfume wearers.  No. 5 Eau Première tones down the sharpness of aldehydes and plays up the diaphanous layers of jasmine, rose and orange flower.

In the end, my friend fell in love with Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs, a perfume created in 1978. It is a bouquet of hyacinth, jasmine and lily of the valley with a milky twist of sandalwood. There is a tinge of aldehydes that gives the perfume a retro aura, but its shimmering, airy character is glamorous and au courant.

What is your ultimate perfume classic? What perfume classic would you like to enjoy but find challenging?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for another delightful post.

    Much as I love L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko, I would probably have to nominate Shalimar as my ultimate perfume classic. Seduction in a bottle.

    The perfume classic I’d like to enjoy but find challenging is Joy. It always struck me as a little “off” – perhaps on account of the civet. Mind you, I haven’t smelled it in years, so perhaps I’d like it now. Or perhaps I’d enjoy one of the flankers, none of which I’ve sampled.

    Oh, your friend can’t go wrong with Anaïs Anaïs (L’Original). It’s the perfect antidote to all the overly sweet and fruity scents that have proliferated over recent years, and it can be worn anytime and anywhere. I think it’s a modern classic. December 28, 2020 at 7:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I forgot to mention that it was L’Original that she liked. The other versions are quite different.

      And I agree, Shalimar is a beauty. December 28, 2020 at 8:18am Reply

    • Dorothy Van Daele: Tourmaline, I so agree with you about Joy. It’s just unpleasant to me and has remained so for decades. I loved Chanel No 5 as a teenager but no longer wear it.

      I find my tastes change. Cristelle was my go-to for years and Jour d’Hermes but now it’s Bois de Violette, Kiki and Comme des Garçon 2 for Women. December 28, 2020 at 11:18am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Dorothy,

        I’ve heard of many people who dislike Joy for that reason.

        I like No 5, but I’ve never loved it or worn it. Also, I have always found the Cristalle EdT too screechy, but I have yet to try the 1993 EdP.

        I haven’t tried any of the others you mention, but I particularly long to sample Bois de Violette; I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it.

        Happy New Year! December 28, 2020 at 10:34pm Reply

        • Dorothy Van Daele: Screechy (Cristalle), especially EDT! That’s it exactly Tourmaline! I suppose I love the memories and associations as much as the scent itself. Of the Guerlains, I loved the old Chant d’Aromes, but the reformulations are missing the softness of the original to me.

          New perfumes: I recently received a sample of Dryad by Papillon (Surrender to Chance), and didn’t think much of it initially. But I became aware that it developed beautifully over the hours. I also sampled Tom Ford’s Vert Boheme, loved it and continue to cadge samples, but cannot pay the obscene Tom Ford price.

          Happy New Year! December 30, 2020 at 10:47am Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Dorothy,

            Indeed, you don’t have to love a fragrance to cherish the memories it evokes. I have a bottle of Chant D’Arômes, which I like very much. However, I bought it between five and ten years ago and have never smelled a vintage version, so – perhaps fortunately – I don’t know what I’m missing!

            You are not the first person I’ve heard complaining about the price of Tom Ford perfumes…

            I haven’t tried either of those scents. I’ve recently decided that, as I now own more perfume than I could possibly use in two entire lifetimes, my purchases from here on should be restricted to samples and decants. While I have been sent samples over the years, when I have purchased full bottles, I am ashamed to confess that I have never ordered a single sample or decant. Not one! This must change. It will be one of my New Year’s resolutions! January 1, 2021 at 8:57am Reply

            • Dorothy Van Daele: Your sample experience is so different from mine! I read Perfumes by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez when it appeared at my library and began ordering 4 and 5 star perfume samples based on the appeal of their descriptions from Surrender to Chance. By the time their second book came out I had more than 150 and began giving them to friends. I ordered about a hundred for my partner to try and he settled very quickly on three or four incenses and boxed the rest. Because I ration the sample amounts as I use them and sometimes buy 1 mL dabs rather than 2mL sprays, I can deceive myself about how much I like some samples… January 1, 2021 at 9:30am Reply

              • Tourmaline: Hello again, Dorothy,

                When I bought the first Turin and Sanchez tome, I’d never even heard of Surrender to Chance. I know of it now on account of my friend, Peter. I swear I shall become acquainted with it myself by the end of the year! January 3, 2021 at 7:35am Reply

                • Dorothy Van Daele: Hi Tourmaline,
                  Sampling really widened my horizons, letting me experience perfumes I can’t afford. Thinking back to Victoria’s article on classics and aldehydes, a new perfume that might be similar, according to Cartier’s blurb, is their Heure XI Perdue which i sampled and loved. January 3, 2021 at 2:11pm Reply

          • Peter: Happy New Year Dorothy! I’m a fellow Dryad lover. Such a wonderful mossy drydown.
            A helpful BdJ reader recently recommended that I get decants from Surrender to Chance. It’s a great way to try more perfumes. Tourmaline is ready to join the bandwagon. January 3, 2021 at 8:23pm Reply

            • Tourmaline: You bet!

              🙂 🌷 January 3, 2021 at 9:35pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Chanel N° 22. It is modelled completely in the mould of the grand classical. And the excessive use of aldehydes makes it very challenging. Yet, what made it very dear to me, especially the extrait, is the incense. All of a sudden, N° 22 isn’t Miss Haughty Hoity Toity, but a very personal protective scent. December 28, 2020 at 7:53am Reply

    • Victoria: I prefer it to No 5, I have to say. December 28, 2020 at 8:19am Reply

      • Nina Z: Me, too. December 28, 2020 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Janet: Yes, the incense is the best part. Unfortunately, it is no longer present in the Exclusifs version, as I sadly found out after ordering it from the Chanel website. If anyone knows how I can get my hands on the original No. 22, I’d love to know.

      In the 80s, my classic was Cristalle; so sharp and crisp. That scent has changed as well; for me, the crispness is gone. December 30, 2020 at 1:06pm Reply

  • Hilde: Hi Victoria and everyone,

    My favourite classic is Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum (I don’t know if you can call it a classic, because it is not as old than eg. Chanel n° 5 … but still).
    Some other classics I like very much are Chanel n° 19, Hermes Calèche Soie de parfum and Clinique Aromatics Elixir.

    Perhaps there will still be a lot of more other classics that I will like, but that I have never smelled (such as Caron Parfum Sacré and caron Nuit de Noël, which I am so curious to try).
    Since a couple of months I am trying to find a bottle of Caron Nuit de Noël, but I can only find the vintage empty bottles on internet. I read that Tourmaline has found a full bottle. Perhaps she can help me to find a bottle somewhere. I woul be very gratefull to her.

    Best regards. Hilde December 28, 2020 at 7:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree! Mon Parfum is definitely a classic. Michael Edwards even selected it as one of the perfume legends. December 28, 2020 at 8:19am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: Hello Hilde, I have vintage Nuit de Noël, both extrait and edt. And some bottles, truth be told, as I was in quite a NdN frenzy some years ago! I bought all on ebay.
      Firstly, give yourself some time to find it. Set up a search which will inform you immediately when it pops up on ebay. Then, it is also good to know about the bottles, packaging and batch codes. The internet is a treasure trove. If the bottle isn’t sealed, the don’t hesitate to ask about the quality of the scent. I don’t mind being an opened edt, why not?
      Remember; NdN extrait is far more opulent and floral; the edt is a real marron glacé treat!
      Good luck! December 28, 2020 at 8:35am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: “buying an open bottle” not “being …”! Sorry. December 28, 2020 at 8:37am Reply

      • Hilde: Hi OnWingsSaffron. Thanks very much for your answer. I will certainly look on ebay. December 28, 2020 at 9:40am Reply

      • Marion Eve: YES!! It’s what I have been wearing this whole Christmas season! And only at this time. I am lucky to have the extrait, and the edt, but find the extrait just marvelous, too mahvelous for words! Thank you for reminding me that I am not the only one who adores it! December 28, 2020 at 11:35am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Hilde,

      At the Surrender to Chance website, you can buy a sample of Nuit de Noël, so that you can decide whether you like it enough to buy more. You can choose between eight sizes, from ½ ml to 8ml. Just click on this link.

      If you decide to buy a sample, please let me know how you get on. By then, there might be more bottles for sale.

      On eBay there is currently one full bottle for sale, although it is very expensive – US $274.99 (although you could make an offer for less). To have a look, go to eBay and google “Vintage CARON Perfume Bottle NUIT DE NOEL 2 1/4 OZ France RARE”.

      In which country do you live? Someone else might have further suggestions for you.

      I hope you are able to find at least a sample. I’d be interested to hear how you get on.

      With best wishes from
      Tourmalin December 28, 2020 at 8:51am Reply

      • Hilde: Thank you very much for your help Tourmaline.
        I have had a look at the website of Surrender to Chance to see if they ship to Belgium (my home country).
        I see that they are specialised in samples. Maybe I shoul buy a lot of samples at once to reduce the shipping cost. December 28, 2020 at 9:36am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi Hilde,

          You are most welcome.

          That would be a good idea. Shipping costs can be a pest. Perhaps you’ll find a couple that you like. December 28, 2020 at 9:39am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hilde, please also see my friend Peter’s excellent tips below. December 28, 2020 at 10:38pm Reply

        • Dorothy Van Daele: Hi Hilde,
          I order from Surrender to Chance and am in Canada. It’s better for me to go way overboard and order twenty samples because international shipping is expensive. January 3, 2021 at 2:05pm Reply

      • Peter: Aloha Tourmaline. Nina gave me the recommendation for Surrender To Chance to sample the hard to find Serge Lutens perfumes. Another US decant option is the Perfumed Court (this was a resource in the Barbara Herman book, along with Quirky Finds which specialize in full and partial vintage fragrances). I was also going to try the Miniature Perfume Shoppe, but they don’t ship to Hawaii. Shipping perfumes overseas is always a challenge, December 28, 2020 at 7:51pm Reply

        • Hilde: Hello Peter,
          Quirky Finds is a treasure. I think I will become an addict. December 29, 2020 at 4:25am Reply

          • Peter: Hi Hilde. I’m so glad that the recommendation was helpful. I was happy with the offerings and the service on all three specialty sites. I am also trying to restrain myself! December 29, 2020 at 4:34am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hello again, Hilde,

      I see that OnWingsofSaffron has a few bottles.

      If you decide you really like it, perhaps he would be prepared to sell you one of them.

      Just being cheeky, Wings, but it’s an idea… December 28, 2020 at 8:56am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Nope, sorry! They’re treasures, and they’re mine 🙂 December 28, 2020 at 10:57am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Just teasing! I can well imagine they’re treasures. December 28, 2020 at 10:39pm Reply

          • OnWingsofSaffron: 😃 December 29, 2020 at 3:02am Reply

    • Kirsty: I loved no 19 as well! December 28, 2020 at 4:12pm Reply

    • Elaine: Hello Hilde, I used this website to research vintage bottles of Caron’s Bellodgia on sale on e-bay. It might help you, too: December 28, 2020 at 9:13pm Reply

      • Hilde: Hello Elaine, this website it is a great source of information. Thanks for the recommendation. December 29, 2020 at 4:30am Reply

  • Patricia: I received a bottle of Chanel No. 22 for Christmas, so it is currently my favorite vintage perfume. I have many others, collected over the years. Some are vintage juice in their original bottles and I treasure those. Others, like the No. 22, are the current formulations.

    Thank you for a lovely article, Victoria. My mother wore Anais Anais, and its mention brought back many memories. December 28, 2020 at 9:21am Reply

    • Victoria: My aunt wore Anais Anais, and I still think of it as associated with her. Such a lovely perfume. December 28, 2020 at 10:28am Reply

      • Patricia: I find I don’t wear my mother’s perfumes, but need to have a little sample around to sniff occasionally 🙂. December 28, 2020 at 6:07pm Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: Even though my N° 22 is vintage, I received samples of the current formulation which I must say, I like a lot! December 28, 2020 at 11:01am Reply

      • Nina: I agree! I love and own both. December 28, 2020 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Anne: Diorissimo today is a very different fragrance than the original masterpiece. It is a vulgar version of its former refined, deeply floral self. December 28, 2020 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I still like it. December 28, 2020 at 10:28am Reply

      • Sherry Frantz: I tried it a couple of years ago and it was the new version. I was in a hot and sunny climate(Florida) and it was beautiful on my skin. December 28, 2020 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Shiri Goldsmith: I loved Eau de Calandre the original not the version now. I wore Shocking by Schiarpareli but that has been gone for so long. My favourite is La Perla eau de parfum but cannot get it anymore. I don’t like the modern perfumes at all December 28, 2020 at 9:26am Reply

    • Victoria: La Perla was beautiful. I don’t think that it’s made anymore. December 28, 2020 at 10:28am Reply

  • Terry Futrelle: L’air du Temps, Worth, Shalimar, and Joy, were four of my earliest scent memories, from Grandmother, Mom, and my Aunts. But, only Shalimar smelled wonderful on me. Even though, as a teen, I wore, Rive Gauche, I kept returning to, Shalimar…I still love all these fragrances, because they are so lovely, just not on me…I enjoy reading everyone’s comments. December 28, 2020 at 9:29am Reply

    • Victoria: So many beautiful perfumes! December 28, 2020 at 10:29am Reply

  • Fazal: I realize vintage Opium EDT is not a year-round wear and it may even feel dated to some. However, I love it.

    I even think that vintage Opium EDT is the best perfume ever made whether masculine or feminine, designer or niche. Opium EDT is not one of my signature perfumes but if I am evaluating perfumes both objectively and subjectively, I think no other perfume surpasses Opium.

    One perfume I have tried to like and have even purchased multiple times (ended up selling each time but keep a mini for reference) is Estee Lauder White Linen. Thanks Victoria for giving me the best way to describe aldehydes (starchy) because I could not find an appropriate word to describe it till I read this article today. White Linen and I do not get along probably because it is way too starchy for me. However, it is def. the benchmark aldehyde perfume I have smelled to this day even if it is Chanel No. 5 that is quoted more frequently as a reference aldehyde perfume. December 28, 2020 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: White Linen is impressive in the way it’s constructed. And it wears beautifully. December 28, 2020 at 10:30am Reply

  • Kisa: Thank you for this article, Victoria. I am not a knowledgeable perfumista, but I am so drawn to fragrance and the idea of the Grand Parfum. I would really love to see a list of the truly Grands. Also, I am curious about the reformulations of these classics. Once reformulated, are they still produced by the original houses. Are Caron, Guerlain, Hermès, etc. still made in France, or do those houses have them made in China as so many other luxury labels do? Sorry for so many stupid questions. Please excuse my ignorance. December 28, 2020 at 10:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Great questions! Thank you for asking them. Yes, the original houses oversee the reformulations themselves working with the perfumers, who either work in-house or at the supplier houses. Reformulations only mean that the formula needs to be adjusted, but the house still owns the formula. And the perfumes are still made in France, although the ingredients come from all over the world. In case of perfumes that are sold in large volumes like Chanel No 5 EDT/EDP, those are blended locally by Chanel. In other words, in the US, it would be blended in the US. The fragrance oils are still the same, whether the perfume is blended, but the water and alcohol for the formula are sourced locally. December 28, 2020 at 10:35am Reply

      • Sherry Frantz: In your opinion, Victoria, Is a USA made Chanel No. 5 truly going to be the same as a Made in France, Chanel No. 5 ? December 28, 2020 at 12:47pm Reply

  • Wanda: Thank you for that wonderful post. It was helpful and informative.
    I have worn and loved Chanel No 5 for well a long time, since I was 18 years old. It was my first true perfume, and it has been a faithful companion. In the last few years I’ve branched out, trying to add to my repertoire, it’s been an enjoyable quest.
    So far, the only one I have added is Dyptique Olene, not really fond of their collection but that one is one I enjoy. I’ve also love Carnal Flower, but do not own it.
    At this point I’m trying to connect the dots and figure out the notes I’m drawn to and not.
    I will say Chanel No 5 will always be at the heart of my perfumes. It has for me a sentimental connection as well as a practical lasting quality I find lacking in my search. However, the powdery note at the end, seems more pronounced, not sure if I’ve grown sensitive to it or it’s just the changing of time and context. December 28, 2020 at 10:30am Reply

    • Victoria: Did you try other fragrances from Chanel, like Bois des Iles or even the modern versions of No 5? I suppose, they’re very different, but I wonder what they smell like to you. December 28, 2020 at 10:40am Reply

      • Sherry: I have recently purchased Chanel Eau Premiere in the Eau de Parfume as well as Body Oil. The body oil, by Chanel is so, so, so addictive and beautiful. I was using it every chance I got for many weeks. I don’t know why it smelled even more lux and intense as a body oil, but it won’t be my last time buying a Chanel body oil. Apparently they do not release it regularly and every once in a while. What’s crazy is the sales associate gave me the tester for free because they no longer had any more for sale. Needless to say I was speechless. December 28, 2020 at 12:51pm Reply

        • kpaint: I looked into the oil recently (sometime this year) and they were selling it again. I didn’t buy any at the time since I assumed it would be there when I was ready to buy.

          I went to the Chanel website last week, and it’s gone again. None on ebay either.

          Should have snapped it up when I saw it 🙁

          It’s really delightful. December 28, 2020 at 3:51pm Reply

      • Wanda: Victoria,
        No I have not, and I’m not sure why I haven’t. Once I can be back in a department store I will.
        Thank you for your suggestion. December 28, 2020 at 4:42pm Reply

  • carole: I take your friends point-mix a memorable classic with the memory of the personality of the people who wear it-I cannot wear No 5, because my grandmother wore it so well. The L’eau version is the one for me 🙂 When I smelled Bois des Iles i thought she wore that too-but my aunt said she never did. Whenever I smell a classic aldehydic fragrance I associate it with her.

    The perfumes I find most difficult to wear are the classic chypres-like Givenchy III and Mystere. I have full bottles of each but when I wear them I feel like…I don’t have the personality, or a sophisticated appearance to wear them-they wear me instead. I think that’s why I like the Annick Goutal scents-they sort of blend with my life.

    Thank you for another year of beautiful articles. I can count on you, your pictures and articles, and the friendly comments from the readers, to brighten any day. 🙂 December 28, 2020 at 10:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much, Carole! All of you make this page into a special place that it is, so I thank you for commenting and for visiting.
      Yes, the associations made with certain classics are the best and the most challenging part of wearing them. I keep certain perfumes, because they remind me of people I know, but I don’t wear them myself. December 28, 2020 at 10:42am Reply

      • Jan: Dear Victoria,

        I too am new to this site and I love it! From 1965 to 1970 I wore Tuvara and Jungle Gardenia, at that time both by Tuvache. I’d put a few drops in my final rinse whenever I washed my hair. Does anyone remember these fragrances? Are they still made? December 28, 2020 at 3:58pm Reply

        • Peter: Hello Jan. I few months back I was on a quest to find Tuvache Jungle Gardenia. In Barbara Herman’s book “Scent & Subversion” she recommended Heeley Bubblegum Chic as a modern substitute. (I got a sample from Luckyscent) Then a few weeks ago I found a decant of the vintage perfume from The Perfumed Court. They are quite similar, with the edge going to the vintage. Ms Herman mentioned that the Tuvache has been discontinued for a while.
          I hope this helps you. December 29, 2020 at 4:55am Reply

          • Jan: Thank you, Peter for your response. Wish someone would re-issue Tuvara. It was y favorite for many years. Good luck with your searches!
            Jan December 29, 2020 at 11:25am Reply

            • Peter: Hello again Jan. You may want to check out Barbara Herman’s blog: Yesterday’s Perfume. I didn’t see a review for Tuvara, but there is one for Jungle Gardenia. Her (above mentioned) book does include a brief review of Tuvara. December 29, 2020 at 7:22pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Carole,

      I remember Givenchy III from when I was choosing a signature fragrance back in 1980. Ultimately I chose Y, which I wore for four years, but Givenchy III came in a close second. I notice that it’s still in production, although I haven’t smelled a recent version. A few years ago, I bought a miniature for sentimental reasons. December 28, 2020 at 10:51pm Reply

  • Carolyn Middleton: Diorissimo was my introduction to ‘proper perfume – my late aunt, who had emigrated from the north east of Scotland to upstate New York in the very early 60s left me the remains of a bottle after a visit home when I was about 17. Many years later, when I visited her, we realised to our mutual amusement we were both wearing the original Oscar de la Renta. I shared a flat for a few years with two students (I was working in the oil & gas industry) & one wore Rive Gauche, the other Madame Rochas, while at the time |I was madly in love with Opium. I mentioned this on the NST site a while ago & Robin very kindly said that our flat must have smelled sublime! December 28, 2020 at 11:21am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Carolyn,

      I agree with Robin; your flat must indeed have smelled sublime! I have all of those scents except for Madame Rochas, although I like it too.

      My favourite of them is the original Oscar, which I chose as my “default” fragrance in 1985, after I’d worn Y for four years. I developed a fragrance wardrobe, which included Diorissimo, Rive Gauche and Opium, but I used Oscar as a scent that I could wear with anything, anytime and anywhere. December 30, 2020 at 6:26am Reply

      • Carolyn Middleton: Thank you for your kind words, Tourmaline. Many years later, when my husband & I were staying with his parents for a short time while waiting for our house to be finished (& we’ve now lived in it for 26 years!) my dear late mother-in-law used to say she loved getting up in the morning after we had gone to work & getting a waft of the original Oscar, that I still wore then, in the hall & wherever else I’d been in the house prior to leaving for work – still makes me smile to think of it. December 30, 2020 at 9:04am Reply

        • Tiffany lover: I had forgotten how much I loved Oscar de la Renta. I wore it before my husband bought me my first bottle of Tiffany in 1991, and wore it until I ran out and just found out they changed the formulation to the current scent which I dislike and is nothing like my favorite perfume! I am bereft. What would you recommend now? December 31, 2020 at 2:14am Reply

          • Carolyn Middleton: Can’t even begin to think what to recommend, I’m sorry to say. I have loved & used many different fragrances over the years since then, many of which have been discontinued, which is the story of my perfume life! December 31, 2020 at 9:06am Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Tiffany lover,

            It might be worth searching on Michael Edwards’ Fragrance Finder.


            When I typed in Tiffany, a couple of the suggestions that came up were L’Interdit EdT (Givenchy 2019) and Estée, by Estée Lauder.

            I hope you find a fragrance you love.

            Happy New Year! January 1, 2021 at 9:14am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi Carolyn,

          What a lovely memory!

          Happy New Year! December 31, 2020 at 11:19am Reply

          • Carolyn Middleton: Hello Tourmaline, yes, precious memory indeed. Best wishes for 2021 to you too. January 1, 2021 at 9:42am Reply

            • Tourmaline: 🙂 🌷 January 3, 2021 at 7:39am Reply

  • Sandra: Buon festa V!
    I love a good classic fragrance, I feel like when you walk the streets of NYC you smell more unique these days with a classic then some of the other scents I smell (coco mlle & Le labo perfumes everywhere)
    Today I am in Shalimar, I have had a love and hate relationship with it, mostly love in 2020, and I think because it’s not a particularly feminine. Have you smelled the new flanker? Just curious.
    I love your mention of Prada, that is become a favorite of mine.
    Not exactly classic, but I love the retro feel of 31RC December 28, 2020 at 11:27am Reply

    • Claudia Strandstra: I have the new Philter Shalimar. It’s divine! As is 31RC 💚 December 28, 2020 at 11:47am Reply

      • Sandra: Would you like to share more of your thoughts? How is the sillage, projection, comparison to the original edp? December 28, 2020 at 11:49am Reply

        • Claudia Strandstra: I think it smells much like the original, perhaps a bit lighter but it has that unmistakable presence. It lasts for a long time, at least 6 hours. And I can tell you that when I walk back into my bedroom, where I keep my fragrances, I take a deep breath and think, wow. I’ve got some really beautiful scents. Thank goodness. December 28, 2020 at 12:00pm Reply

          • Sandra: My fav Shalimar is the vanille flanker.

            I am so happy you enjoy it and that it fills your bedroom. Who wouldn’t want a bedroom to smell like Shalimar December 28, 2020 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Nina Z: I love so many vintage perfumes, especially the Guerlains. My long time favorite is vintage Bellodgia. My latest discovery is vintage Coty L’Origan., which I read was the inspiration for L’Heure Bleue so I was dying to try it. Now I love it and have been wearing it a lot lately.

    That being said, the perfume I have the most problems with is Shalimar. It just smells awful to me and I wish I knew why. I feel sort of left out being unable to appreciate it. I remember hating it as a kid, even though I was already fascinated by perfume. December 28, 2020 at 11:39am Reply

    • Laurie A Brown: May I ask where you have found vintage L’Origan? I’ve been trying to find it, and found nothing other than a small decant on Perfumed Court. I’m on a waiting list, but have been for over a year…tiA! December 28, 2020 at 12:37pm Reply

      • Nina Z: I bought it on eBay for $27.00! My strategy was to buy the PdT version (with the crown top in the splash bottle). I did that because I knew that the PdT concentration was discontinued in, I think, the 80s, so if the bottle said PdT it would be at least that old and I typically like PdT versions of vintage perfume. Basically it ended up being a very cheap cheap-thrill. December 28, 2020 at 12:45pm Reply

        • Nina Z: If you are searching for the extrait, I might have a lead for you. Feel free to email me. December 28, 2020 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Sylvia Long: I am sad to say I also feel left out Nina. I have had the same problem with Shalimar. I have a nearly full bottle I keep trying- but it smells simply awful on me. I probably need to sell it and move on.
      I also can’t wear anything with aldehydes. All of the No. 5s we’re terrible in skin. Chemical reaction or my nose I wonder? My husband loves grand
      Fragrances so I keep hoping and trying.
      Organdza( Not a classic but ‘grand’ felt dress up and stifling though lovely dry down).
      Excuse my ignorance on the subject-
      Are there classics without aldehydes or civet? I do love florals and sandalwood. December 28, 2020 at 12:52pm Reply

      • Nina Z: That is a very interesting question for Victoria: do all vintage fragrances have aldehydes? I checked the notes on a couple that didn’t seem aldehydic to me, but guess what they did have aldehydes (L’Heure Bleue and Nahema).

        I would bet, however, that some have much smaller amounts of aldehydes than others. Maybe you should try vintage Nahema, a gorgeous rose fragrance that at least isn’t loaded with aldehydes.

        Maybe vintage men’s fragrances don’t have aldehydes? You could try Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, something that smells great to me and that is related to Shalimar, I believe.

        P.S. My husband is a biochemist and he says it makes perfect sense to him that perfume will smell different on different skin, even though the perfume industry will deny this. We all have very different skin microbiomes that will certainly influence how things smell on us (unlike spraying perfume on a tester strip). The way to test whether it is your nose or skin is to put it on your skin and ask a knowledgeable friend to smell your skin. I have had more than one friend “witness” certain modern fragrances not smelling good on my skin, so I know it’s not my nose. And I really wonder if certain people don’t “amp” civet. December 28, 2020 at 2:38pm Reply

        • Sylvia Long: Thank you for the suggestion of Nahema snd men’s fragrances, Nina. I’ll look into that. December 29, 2020 at 6:37pm Reply

      • Maria: I love Shalimar but indeed, I find it difficult to wear sometimes. Years ago I just layered it with Eau d’Hadrien. Now I even combine them in small travel bottles and always have one in my purse. It’s magic. For summer could be a bit more Eau d’hadrien, winter just a bit. Later I found out that Jean Claude Elenna or Francis Kurdjian recommends that, felt proud about my discovery. December 30, 2020 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Maz: Dear Victoria
    The first perfume I bought was Anais Anais when I was 16. Then in my 20’s till now at 58 years old my repertoire is Chanel No 19, Chanel No 5, Rive Gauche, Diorissimo, Samsara, Opium and Estee. Did try a few of Anick Goutal’s , Opium, Nina Richi’s, Hermes et el, they all are my one hit wonders. They are excellent perfume but just not me.Still love Anais Anais and my all time favourite & love at First Spritz is YSL Rive Gauche. For years when they discontinued this fragrance in Malaysia, I will still get it from UK a few tins at a time & kept it hidden behind in the cupboard so that the humid weather won’t spoil it. I’m now down to my last tin bought 5 years ago whilst I was there. I think it’s quite underrated or is it just me that’s not aware, not that it matters. 🙏🏻 December 28, 2020 at 11:46am Reply

    • Sherry Frantz: We must be soul sisters. I am 51 and my first parfume was Anais Anais. One whiff of it takes me back 35 years in one instant. The cheapest way of! Unlike you, I was too scared to buy any of the l’oroginal formula because I didn’t have the parfume knowledge to know whether it’s been reformulated or not.

      There is an Elizabeth Arden packaging factory 15 minutes from my house. They have a 10,000 square foot area open to the public, where they sell hundreds of parfumes to the public. Maybe the packaging (this factory only packages the parfumes in the cardboard packers only) has changed… or defective. Some of their parfumes have no boxes(example White Elizabeth Arden for $10, but no box).

      I have seen Anais Anais L’oroginal for sale there. I am happy to mail you a couple of bottles if you would like.

      It’s an amazing experience going to that warehouse. December 28, 2020 at 1:01pm Reply

      • Mary: Hello Sherry, could I ask which city the packaging center is in? I dream of travel after covid and would love to shop there!! December 28, 2020 at 2:45pm Reply

        • Sherry Frantz: Hello, Mary! it’s in Salem, Virginia which is in Southwestern Virginia. Near Roanoke.

          which part of the country are you in?

          Travel…… yes, it would be so wonderful to travel again. December 28, 2020 at 3:09pm Reply

          • Mary: Thank you, Sherry! I live in the Southwest but have relatives in Virginia and I will add that to my list of things to do next time I visit! December 30, 2020 at 12:16pm Reply

      • Lorna: That sounds sublime!! December 29, 2020 at 2:05am Reply

      • Mazlifa: Dear Sherry
        Wishing you a great 2021..pardon for my late reply .. yes we must be Soul Sisters indeed. Reading what you’ve written transport my senses to the smell of Anais Anais. I also love Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue , a gift from my eldest sister. I thanked you much for the kind offer, but I couldn’t impose on you to get me those perfume. I’m in Malaysia. Perhaps we can write to each other further I’m at [email protected]🥰 January 1, 2021 at 1:49am Reply

  • Cyndi: I love so many classic perfumes, and still gravitate towards them today. If I list my favorite all time fragrances they would be Chanel No. 5, Fracas, almost all of the classic Guerlains, as well as Rive Gauche, Opium, and Chanel Coco. I like some of the more contemporary fragrances, but, ironically, when I think of my favorite perfumes the ones I treasure the most are the classics December 28, 2020 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Muriel: Hello Victoria and all,
    Thanks for this great post! I have a lot of catch-up to do… my job has been a bit overwhelming lately, but I’ll spend some delicious moments reading everything I missed 😉. I have 2 favourite classics : Chamade l’extrait which I love, love, love and Chanel 19. I really wanted to like Shalimar and Jicky, but no, they are definitely not for me… Anaïs Anaïs brings me back to campus! So many friends were wearing it! December 28, 2020 at 12:44pm Reply

  • Nancy Chan: My favourite classic is Chanel’s no.5 parfum and Dior’s Diorissimo ( not the current Diorissimo). I use to have a Guerlain’s Apres l’Ondee, but I find the clove note reminds me of the mouth rinse at the dentist. In the end, I gave it away. December 28, 2020 at 12:58pm Reply

  • Laurie A Brown: Thank you! I think every version is discontinued at this point. Inquiries to Coty get answered with “It’s gone, and once we discontinue a fragrance, we never bring it back”. Which breaks my heart, because I love L’Origen, Chypre, and Les Muses and they are all gone. Emeraude is still being made, but it smells very different from what I remember as a child when my mother wore it. It’s nice, but opens really oddly. Thank heaven for Perfumed Court! I have tiny bottles I can sniff! December 28, 2020 at 1:07pm Reply

    • Nina Z: Perhaps I can un-break your heart a bit? You can easily get a bottle of vintage Emeraude very inexpensively. It was so common back in the day that there is a ton of it still hanging around. In fact, look on eBay for the same vintage splash bottle of PdT with the crown top that I described for L’Origan. There are even some vintage gift sets that have both L’Origan and Emeraude in them, along with a couple of other Coty fragrances. Or look for a bottle that is the same as one you used to have and loved. There is also some vintage Les Muses available, some of it under $100. Chypre is another story because the vintage is rare and expensive. December 28, 2020 at 7:24pm Reply

      • Laurie A Brown: Thank you; when I’ve looked, it just hasn’t been there. I need to look more frequently! Getting the two of them at once would be amazing (the third one will be Laimant, which is okay but not something I love to bits). I’m afraid vintage Les Muses even under $100 is too much for me; I’m totally a drug store budget perfumista! December 28, 2020 at 8:09pm Reply

  • Zazie: When I started to get seriously into perfume, smelling everything and anything, reading and investigating, it became clear how much my tastes were oriented towards the classics, in particular those issued before the 1950s.
    The modern perfumes I wear and enjoy, which are many, have the same unmistakable abstract quality, the complexity and evolution of those “dinosaurs” I love so much: n. 5, Bois des iles, Cuir de Russie, Shalimar, Mitsouko, l’Heure Bleue and Vol de Nuit.

    On the other hand, the later classics, à la Nahema, Cristalle, Loulou, Paloma Picasso, Anais Anais… as well as most modern classics (j’adore, la vie est belle, infusion d’Iris ) completely escape me. Too heavy or too bland, I find them distasteful in every respect, as – besides smelling awful to my nose- they always come with a headache.

    Luckily, there are a few modern houses that seem to cater their new releases to my likes. And old ones, as well. Right now, I am sitting in blissful contentment with the new le lion de Chanel on my wrists, a leather and incense laden Shalimar… as classic, and timeless, as it gets! 🙂 December 28, 2020 at 1:15pm Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: Ah, Le Lion by Chanel! I got a 4ml tester at the Chanel boutique, and I really like it. Now I‘m waiting like a feline predator for an unexpected catch on Ebay as I guess that some customers will not be quite as enamoured by it as I. There is a dry quality to the perfume (Namibian desert lion!) that makes the perfume not quite so voluptuous and buxom as some may have hoped for! December 29, 2020 at 3:14am Reply

      • Zazie: Yes, you are right!…and on top of that it is such a shifter.
        On my husband it is incense heavy, like if his wrist were smoking, on me it is leather heavy, raw leather heavy, no smoke.
        Our wrists smell so different it is puzzling. We both love it, and cannot put it down, but if it performed the other way around, we wouldn’t love/wear it much at all.

        A gazilion years ago Victoria wrote a post asking us to describe our perfume of dreams… I cannot find the post, but I remember fantasizing on a leather laden Shalimar… so to me, le Lion is the stuff of dreams, but it is definitely not for everyone – you need to love orientals and orientals of the not entirely comfy kind.
        But if you do… these kind of fragrances are a rare find.
        Good luck with your quest!!!! 🙂 December 29, 2020 at 4:22am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi Zazie,

          Was your comment the one in “Past Perfect : Return to Retro Glamour” from 2013? Victoria asks, “What is your favorite classical perfume? What perfume wishes do you have?” December 29, 2020 at 7:51am Reply

          • Zazie: Hi Tourmaline! Love that you searched, thank you, you’re always so lovely!… but nope… I recall Victoria’s comment about how specific I was being… I searched too but with no avail… In my search I noticed how many times I mentioned Guerlain and Shalimar in the comments of this blog and felt a bit ashamed… like when someone suddenly discovers your not-so-secret obsession, LOL! Anyway. Le Lion. The best of Shalimar and Cuir de Russie. As close as it gets to perfume heaven, and as classic as they come… I didn’t see it coming. 🙂 December 29, 2020 at 12:15pm Reply

            • Tourmaline: Hi Zazie,

              Thank you for your kind words.

              I can see that I’m going to have to try Le Lion! December 29, 2020 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Anna: Being brought up in a communist Poland where many of the things were not available, I have no memories of any classics from my childhood, which may be a good thing – as they are all new to me I can appreciate them on their own merits. This is a lovely article and I must try those fragrances you list that I am still not familiar with!
    There are two classics which I do not wear often these days but which will always have a place in my collection: Aromatics Elixir and Tresor. The latter was reformulated a few years ago and the new version is, as is often the case, a pale shadow of its former self – pleasant, but unremarkable, lighter and much more in line with modern tastes. The vintage is a powerhouse of peachy, fizzy, cozy loveliness, and I love it. Luckily I have a couple of vintage bottles stashed which will last me a long time as I only tend to wear it on special occasions. December 28, 2020 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Anna,

      I have both those fragrances. I particularly like Trésor, and having read your comment, I am glad that I bought a full bottle when it was first released. Your description of it is lovely and apt. December 30, 2020 at 6:32am Reply

  • Nina Z: I thought maybe I should share some tips for finding vintage perfume today:

    1. Tell all your family members and friends that you collect “old lady” perfume so if they have anything they don’t want or find anything, they know to give it to you instead of throwing it out. If what they give you is not something you like, hold on to it for swapping (see #3 and #4).

    2. Visit non-chain perfume shops, the older the better, in your area or when you travel (obviously when it’s safe again) and ask if they have any “old stock” perfume or old testers. I have found treasures this way, and the sellers have been so grateful to get that stuff off their hands, so everyone has been happy. Also just look around in the shop in case you spot anything that looks promising. Haha, in one store in downtown San Francisco I actually saw good stuff lying on the floor behind the counter.

    3. If you’re on Facebook, join one of the fragrance groups where there are sales and swaps. I have bought several things from perfume friends I made there who were downsizing their collections.

    4. Befriend other “perfumistas” in your community or region. Often there is someone organizing the locals and having various group events. I have made some very dear friends this way, but it also can lead to swaps and people letting you know when they find something you want. You will also find people happy to take vintage perfume you don’t want to keep yourself! December 28, 2020 at 2:03pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Nina,

      Thanks for these tips. I especially like Tip Number 2. Years ago, at a local chemist that was closing down, I found 50ml bottles of Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue and Chamade for only $20 each. Needless to say, I snapped them up! December 29, 2020 at 1:16am Reply

  • Aurora: How fun to help your friend, and that she ended up liking a perfume afterall. My first perfume was Anaïs Anaï too and the second was l’Heure Bleue, so I remain attached to them but my grand parfum of choice is no doubt Calèche, my most worn perfume, in edt, parfum de toilette and extrait, I like them all (I recognize a bottle of extrait in your photos. I like its restrained elegance in the opening, and the sandalwood drydown is unrivaled. December 28, 2020 at 2:20pm Reply

  • Filomena: I love the original classics like Apres d ‘Onde, Misouko, Diorissimo, Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit and yet I also love Niche fragrances. Thus I have both in my collection. I do no run out to buy the latest of anything, but now and then I add to my already quite large collection. The only perfumes I am not attracted to are fruity designer ones. I am sure I may like some of them but have no true interest in trying them. Sometimes I smell the strips in magazines and usually they make me gag. To each his/her own and everyone has different likes and dislikes, which is the beautiful part of perfume addiction. At least we all smell different even if we are wearing the same fragrance! December 28, 2020 at 2:41pm Reply

  • kpaint: When I started approaching perfume as a “serious” pursuit some 7 or 8 years ago, I heavily invested in classics.

    I sought out vintage (and in the case of more recent – 70s/80s/90s – original) formulations. I wanted to smell perfumes I had as a child and teen (Poison, Fendi, Obsession, Tatiana, Emeraude, No 22); those I coveted (Lauren, YSL Paris, Anais Anais, Lou Lou, Vanderbilt, Dune); some I knew I’d smelled but didn’t recall (Oscar, Opium, Shalimar, Ombre Rose); the ones I always wanted but never had (Diva, K de Krizia, Teatro alla Scalla); and those I’d seen in stores and ads during that era and was curious about (Rive Gauche, Halston, Paloma Picasso, White Linen, White Shoulders.) I sampled a lot of the Classics perfumistas regard as important or still wearable (the other non-Shalimar Guerlains, non-No 5 Chanels, Bandit, Habanita, Le Dix, Vent Vert, Fracas, Caleche, Aromatics Elixir, Diorissimo, Miss Dior, YSL Champagne, Madame Rochas, Tocade, 24 Fabourg, Theorema, etc.) Some of these I swapped away, others I bought bottles of, many are in my regular rotation.

    I’ve never quite warmed to chypres. My least favorite style of those listed above are what I think of as “kitchen sink” perfumes – Halston, Paloma Picasso, Lou Lou, Diva, Aromatics Elixir. All The Things in one bottle – they smell a bit muddled to me.

    The only truly unwearable classic I’ve tried is vintage Miss Dior. I had a houndstooth bottle that really did smell like used underthings, which if the tale is true, was exactly what it’s supposed to smell like. (Actually, with the exception of Poison, I’ve never warmed to any of the classic – or recent – Diors. Not my house.)

    Shalimar is my most-worn perfume, year-in and year-out. I’ve owned at one point or another just about every version – extrait, PdT, EdT, EdP, Spray Cologne, Cologne EdT – plus many of the flankers and other iterations (Light, Legere, the Souffles, Odes.) My true love was the vintage spray cologne, then I started wearing Eau de Shalimar and that’s become my go-to, along with the Mexique version which I wear in winter, and one of the Souffles in the summer.

    No 5 I originally purchased as a small vintage extrait sample to sniff while reading a book about Chanel No 5. I had very specific memories of it from my childhood, and never imagined I’d want to wear it. I eventually purchased well over a dozen bottles of it, in every iteration (EdC, EdT, PdT, EdP, extrait, Elixir Sensuel, the body oil, body lotion, Fragments d’Or) from the 1950s, to the 21st century flankers. It was my 2nd-most worn perfume for years, the spray cologne being my absolute favorite (it’s like drowning in aldehydes ahhhh). Except that I can no longer wear it.

    Some years ago, my olfactory system started going a little haywire and one thing it does is massively amplify animalic notes such that that’s all that I can smell. It’s incredibly overwhelming and, frankly, really gross. (This happens with newer perfumes, too – many Guerlains, for instance – Vetiver and Habit Rouge come to mind.) I can still wear some of my vintage 70s and 80s bottles, including Shalimar and No 19 colognes (though not vintage No 22), but I cannot wear vintage No 5. In fact, I can barely wear No 5 produced in this century.

    It is absolutely heartbreaking because none of the other iterations have the aldehydic heft (or powdery trail) of the vintage cologne. Lately I’ve been layering a newer (2000-something) extrait over the Body Oil. It’s a gorgeous combo but doesn’t come close to the spray cologne. Tragic. December 28, 2020 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Kpaint,

      That is so sad; my heart goes out to you. I hope the condition isn’t permanent and that your olfactory system improves over time.

      I’d hate to have cherished fragrances distorted by my own nose. December 29, 2020 at 1:28am Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: Oh no, that’s awful! I share your affection for Shalimar’s spray cologne, that’s the version that I finally felt I “got” and liked. I’m glad you can still enjoy No. 19, that’s another favorite of mine. No. 5 was always my late mother’s fragrance, I keep her last spray bottle of the EDT to remind me of her. I love No. 22 and have worn it since my 20s. How do you get on with No. 5 L’Eau, or Eau Premiere? They’re much less animalic than the original, although I know you miss the aldehydes. December 29, 2020 at 11:54am Reply

  • Kirsty: I loved shalimar, chanel no19 and ysatis but my favourite is anais anais xx December 28, 2020 at 4:15pm Reply

  • Abdul: I recently discovered vintage Vers Toi by Worth – what an absolute beauty! Perfect for the summer time. I’ve been interested in what fruity perfume meant in the 20th century so I tried Femme by Rochas and Canasta by Jacques Fath. Both are incredibly sophisticated, nothing one would call fruity today. Femme reminded me of Parfum de Thérèse as it should because it was Edmond who made both perfumes. Tabac Blond in vintage form is also one of my recent discoveries! What a character. I am crazy to try more perfumes from the 1920s as I’ve been watching away so many films on the Criterion Channel from the era… December 28, 2020 at 4:18pm Reply

  • Tami: It’s interesting to think about what I view as “classic”—some are quite obvious for me (Chanel No 5, Shalimar), whereas I feel like some are “classic” to me due to the fact that they feel like “benchmarks” in my olfactory memory: Opium, Poison, and maybe Lauren.

    I also reflect on the idea that one person’s classic is another person’s “dated”… some beloved scents of a bygone era, I would just as soon leave there, whereas others charm me. It’s not just that I don’t appreciate them as classics; for example, Joy doesn’t do anything for me personally, but when I smell it, I do understand why it’s considered a classic. On the other, I try some classic perfumes (to remain nameless) that just smell unappealing… would I have found them unappealing even at their time of creation? Is it because certain elements of those perfumes just don’t appeal to me (or worse, they give me a headache or an allergic reaction)? In those cases, I just accept why they are part of the lineage of great perfumery on an intellectual level, but I don’t feel enthusiastic about them.

    Finally: I wonder what modern (and relatively widely available) fragrances will be considered a “classic” tomorrow. Thirty years from now, will large groups of people hold Flowerbomb with high regard, as a benchmark of its time? Will Idole smell like 2019, but retain timeless elements that keep it from being the (insert previously trendy perfume) of its day? Will Les Eaux de Chanel stand up to the passing of time, or fade into distant memory? Who knows, but it’s fun to contemplate.

    Thank you for the opportunity to think through these things. Wishing everyone a wonderful 2021! December 28, 2020 at 5:21pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Tami,

      Great questions! December 29, 2020 at 1:31am Reply

      • Tami: Thank you, Tourmaline! 🙂 Happy new year to you. December 29, 2020 at 11:56am Reply

        • Tourmaline: And to you! 🌷 December 30, 2020 at 6:37am Reply

  • Giovanna: As a teen I wore Anais Anais and Rive Gauche – it makes sense that they are a classic (I am 52), but it still comes as a surprise. Same for Paloma Picasso and Paris YSL (the original one). Kouros YSL and Tuscany for men’s fragrances. I loved Chanel 19 but it felt too “grown-up” for me back then.
    Truly classic in my book: l’Air du Temps (my mom’s), Madame Rochas (my favourite aunt’s), Diorissimo, Aromatics Elixir and especially Carven’s Ma griffe, my granny’s perfume.
    It makes me happy that you call a classic my beloved but much younger Infusion d’Iris. What do you think of its reformulation? December 28, 2020 at 6:12pm Reply

  • Kisa: I thought I would share an interesting anecdote related to the memory of a loved one’s signature scent. A couple of years ago, I was approaching the entrance of a local fish store of all places. It was summer and I caught a whiff of fragrance from the woman in front of me. It was my mother’s perfume. As we waited on line to be served, I made bold to ask her what she was wearing. It was my mom’s Aromatics Elixir. We wound up having an hour long conversation in the parking lot later. It turned out she was from Cefalù, a town not too far from my father’s birthplace in Sicily, which I had visited just the month before. We have since become rather good friends. And by the way Giovanna, my sister, who died way too young, wore Ma Griffe. December 28, 2020 at 7:03pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Kisa,

      What a lovely story. It’s such a small world, isn’t it?

      Ma Griffe is a lovely perfume. December 29, 2020 at 7:02pm Reply

  • Caro: Awesome post! I must admit I don’t feel comfortable wearing many of these classic perfumes. No. 5, Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, and Nahéma are some examples. But there are exceptions. I have been wearing the current version of Bois des Îles (EDP) on a daily basis. I also like current versions of Cristalle EDT and Dune. Regarding the reinterpretations, I would say that Le Labo’s Ylang 49 is a nice chypre. It definitely reminds me something my mother and grandmother had back in the 80s, but I feel very comfortable when wearing it. December 28, 2020 at 7:59pm Reply

  • Peter: Mahalo Victoria, for putting my beloved Miss Dior front and center. I first smelled it in the 70s as a teenager. I recently purchased a vintage decant and I’m waiting for the right moment to reexperience it.
    I’ve loved or liked all the classics that I’ve come across. The only exception was Kouros!
    Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
    (Happy New Year in Hawaiian) December 28, 2020 at 8:15pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: G’day Pekolo,

      I’m looking forward to hearing your views on the vintage Miss Dior.

      There’s another Hawaiian word for my small collection! December 29, 2020 at 7:05pm Reply

  • OperaFan: So much talk about Anais Anais that I must go and try it, especially if the sandalwood in the base is a prominent presence. Since so many classics have been altered beyond recognition, it’s a testament to the great icons such as Shalimar, No 5, and Joy that the respective houses have worked so hard to retain their characters. I did not appreciate No 5 as a child, and the versions I prefer now are the ones from the era of my mother’s ‘60’s bottle that had a more prominent presence of sandalwood in the base. Same with VC&A’s First, with a stronger sandalwood in the ‘70-‘80’s versions.
    I also tend to prefer the non-marquee (although still classic) fragrances from the major houses: Coco (original) and Chamade, for example. The less recognizable factors make me feel like I’m in possession of a best kept secret. December 28, 2020 at 8:31pm Reply

  • Elaine: Dear Victoria, what a lovely article! I remember the first time I smelled Bellodgia in a mom-and-pop drug store in Missoula Montana circa 1986. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, and weeks later, I forked over $19.98 for a bottle of the eau de cologne. Although I lost that bottle (or gave it away) somewhere along the way, I never forgot that incredible fragrance. So last year, after trying to find Bellodgia in the regular marketplace for a couple years (even emailing Caron directly), I reluctantly turned to e-bay. Quite a lot of researching and $550 later, I am now the happy owner of three strengths and three different vintage years of Bellodgia and I finally feel satisfied! It’s as glorious as I remember. Just ordered Miss Dior Originale from the Dior website last evening. I was gifted a bottle when I was 22, and though at the time I couldn’t get into it, I badly want to experience it again. I know today’s version is quite a lot different from the 1984 version, but I figure it’s better than nothing and your review of it will be on my phone in my hand on first spritz. Wishing you every happiness & comfort in the upcoming year! December 28, 2020 at 9:01pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Elaine,

      I agree that Bellodgia is a wonderful fragrance. About six years ago, I was fortunate enough to find a big bottle of the vintage cologne on eBay, and despite being called a cologne, it lasts on me for well over 10 hours.

      My first experience of Miss Dior was in 1981, when my boss’s wife wore it. Four or five years later, I received a mini bottle of it in a Dior gift with purchase. I was sad to read, in Victoria’s 2007 review of it, that the modern version is a disappointment. She says, “Like many classical fragrances, Miss Dior has not reached us in its original state. The changes to the formula led to the attenuated base and limpid floralcy, to the unbecoming pallor of its chypre accord and the disappointing softness of its top notes. To think that something so strong, so assertive and so distinctive was to be turned into a wallflower!”

      In her 2011 post, Fragrances That Influenced Perfume History : 100 Great Perfumes Series 3 / 10, Victoria wrote of Intimate (Revlon 1955), “While Intimate has been discontinued, it is still available widely at various online discounters (even in its current version, it is much closer to Miss Dior than the current Miss Dior!). Having been a fan of Intimate for many years, I can only agree. December 29, 2020 at 4:31am Reply

      • Elaine: Hi Tourmaline! Yes, one of the bottles of Bellodgia I scored on the bay was an eau de cologne ~mid-1980’s. It’s thrillingly identical to what I bought in Montana in 1986 & remarkably holds its own for sillage & longevity against Bellodgia eau de parfum and/or any eau de perfume strength I’ve come across in any fragrance!

        Re: Miss Dior Originale, the current version’s gotten great reviews on Basenotes:

        Some people reviewed the vintage, but a surprising number assessed the current formulation & sung its praises. I imagine it’s a pleasant ghost of its former ’85 self, but that one was so intense, I couldn’t handle it! (Then again, I was only 23 years old with an undeveloped nose…) I’m still looking forward to getting my bottle of current Miss Dior Originale in the mail.

        There’s so much confusion about Miss Dior. From all my reading, I’ve gleaned that they revamped Miss Dior in 2005 & called it “Miss Dior Cherie” – – that was the very sweet one with strawberry & caramel (or as some would say, “popcorn” but they must mean kettle corn). Then they reformulated that in 2011, took out the strawberry & caramel notes and added muget and decided to name it just “Miss Dior” and concurrently began referring to the 1947 (1992 reformulated) version as “Miss Dior Originale.” The updated MD Cherie (since 2011 available as “Miss Dior”) sounds quite nice, with high-quality rose & lily of the valley; I’m getting a miniature of it with my order and look forward to trying it. Seems to me like Dior wins the Reformulation Heartbreak Award overall. The lamentations over Diorella, Diorling, Dioressence, Diorama, Diorissimo, et al are numerous! December 29, 2020 at 3:59pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hello again Elaine,

          It’s a shame that Dior chopped and changed with their versions of Miss Dior, creating such unnecessary confusion.

          I’m glad that the current version of Miss Dior L’Originale is getting good reviews; thank you for letting me know.

          Hmmm, I like that term. At the annual FiFi awards, they should have nominees and a winner for the Reformulation Heartbreak Award, to shame companies into staying as true as possible to the formulas people know and love!

          I hope you enjoy your fragrances when they arrive.

          Happy New Year! December 30, 2020 at 6:49am Reply

  • Dami: I’ve loved many of the classics since a young age, including Lancôme Magie Noire, YSL Paris, and Trussardi’s classic for women. However, I needed time to appreciate others such as Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar. This was a great article with suggestions for many different tastes. December 28, 2020 at 9:58pm Reply

  • Potimarron: I’ve tried, but can’t get on with, No 5. It saddens me slightly, because I’d like to be able to appreciate it (I’m the same with Scotch: I want to be able to understand what others see in it even if I don’t agree with them). The classics I migrate to at the perfume counters are the old Guerlains (particularly Mitsouko and Vol de Nuit). I do find that I’m less comfortable with the “opening salvo” of classic fragrances (Mitsouko, for example, has a bit of a trumpet blast at the start and dries down and cosies up later); I tend to be happier when the top notes have dried off. I have to say, this is preferable to the opposite (I’ve lost count of the fragrances I’ve tried where they’ve started off beautifully and then morphed into something vile or non-existent).

    I wonder whether I feel like this because of a trend towards immediacy in perfume design (the desire to have the good stuff show up straight away). Has this happened? I can understand why it would: it would boost sales in environments where there isn’t waiting around (airport shops etc). December 29, 2020 at 2:58am Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: I’ve read that somewhere, maybe in one of Luca Turin’s books. What I recall is that 1) today’s fragrances have to make an immediate impression on a potential buyer at a counter, who is moving around a store and trying multiple fragrances, including on paper strips; and 2) when perfume was a true luxury, many of the classics were designed for a customer buying at her leisure, often seated in a boutique or couture salon for some time, where she would test one fragrance on her skin and the drydown would become apparent to her, so that part was more important in earlier formulations. Doesn’t that sound alluring? December 29, 2020 at 11:42am Reply

      • Wanda: That does sound like true luxury, I , prior to Covid would shop the perfume counters. I always knew what I wanted to try, would limit myself to one application, leave and think about it. Never purchase any in the moment. Maybe this is why my collection is so limited, and I prefer something that last. December 29, 2020 at 12:43pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Sometimes the classics are like a Callas rendition of an opera heroine, say Norma. Devine, exceptional,ever to come again, yet also against the grain and quite frankly shattering. Yet in every day life I enjoy, say Joan Sutherland’s Norma just as much: brilliant, perfect, and far easier to listen to.
    I know this is a cliché, but so it is with perfumes too, at least for me. Vintage Mitsouko, yes a Callas, but such a daylong statement. Sometimes it can be a stretch. How lovely then, say Hermès‘ Eau de néroli doré or Atelier Cologne‘s Jasmin Angélique. December 29, 2020 at 3:30am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Sorry OnWings, I put my reply to you in the wrong place, below. December 29, 2020 at 5:11am Reply

    • Peter: Hello OnWings. I have the Sutherland Norma, but I only have a Callas Casta Diva aria. I’m definitely not an Opera Aficionado like yourself, but I would like to try and experience the comparison.
      I recently purchased a Naomi Goodsir Discovery Set. I remember you mentioning Nuit de Bakelite. It’s a Shapeshifting Showstopper! December 29, 2020 at 6:02am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Wings,

    Here in Oz, we’re very proud of Joan Sutherland. I have a collection of her best songs on a record, but it is now rather scratchy, so I must buy a CD sometime.

    I adore Mitsouko, but the most vintage version I have is from a gift box which also contained a soap and miniature perfume, which I bought, new, in 1980. Different people seem to have different ideas of what is classified as vintage!

    I have never tried the other two fragrances you mention. December 29, 2020 at 4:40am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: The other two are lovely, really excellent every day perfumes. No high drama, just very very good.
      (And by saying that, I am clearly leaving my comparison with Dame Joan from above! She was beyond a doubt one of this century’s best opera singers, and to this very day with one of the most thrilling top notes plus one of the best trills ever!) December 29, 2020 at 5:17am Reply

      • Tourmaline: I must try them sometime.

        It’s lovely to know that Dame Joan is still appreciated all over the world. I quite like Cecilia Bartoli, among others. December 29, 2020 at 5:38am Reply

      • Tourmaline: P. S.

        I just read that Dame Joan was the first Australian to win a Grammy! December 29, 2020 at 5:44am Reply

        • Tami: I am partial to the bright, sparkling, and uplifting sounds of Kiri Te Kanawa’s voice. Hmm, sounds like the citrusy eaux I most enjoy! 🙂 December 29, 2020 at 12:00pm Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Tami,

            That’s interesting; tell me, what colours do you like to wear?

            What a perfect description of Dame Kiri’s voice! I still remember watching the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on TV back in 1981, and seeing Dame Kiri sing while the registers were being signed. For those who missed it, you can watch the performance here.


            I enjoyed watching it again. December 30, 2020 at 7:12am Reply

            • Tami: That is so lovely. Thank you for sharing the song!

              My clothing choices are more subdued than Dame Kiri’s 🙂 I tend towards black, grey, and purples (with red, on occasion). I suppose that’s the Dior Poison side coming out 😉 December 30, 2020 at 12:10pm Reply

              • Tourmaline: You’re welcome, Tami!

                My favourite colour is a rich blue-violet. (Funny how I love violet fragrances…)

                I LOVE a purply-red with violet; it’s one of my favourite colour combinations, along with black and violet. That’s the Paris and Lipstick Rose side, along with the Poison side, coming out of me! December 31, 2020 at 10:54pm Reply

                • Tami: I love Paris as well!

                  Violet is one of those “surprise common denominator” scents for me! So feminine and sweetly elegant. January 1, 2021 at 3:05pm Reply

                  • Tourmaline: 🙂 🌷 January 3, 2021 at 7:51am Reply

            • Peter: Aloha Tourmaline. Mahalo for sharing that lovely clip from the Royal Wedding. Tami’s description of Dame Kiri’s voice matches her colorful ensemble. December 30, 2020 at 9:37pm Reply

              • Tourmaline: Hi Pekolo,

                You’re welcome.

                It does indeed! December 30, 2020 at 11:11pm Reply

  • Lisa: Hi everyone, they told me that a very good and similar perfume should be Perfect Match … can anyone give me an opinion? Thanks December 29, 2020 at 5:23am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Lisa,

      I’m not familiar with Perfect Match. When you say “similar”, so you mean similar to Shalimar? According to the ingredient lists on Fragrantica for each perfume, the seven notes they have in common are citruses, bergamot, jasmine, musk, sandalwood, patchouli and vanilla.

      If you are comparing Perfect Match with Mitsouko, the six notes they have in common are citruses, bergamot, jasmine, peach, ylang-ylang and jasmine.

      It might be a good idea to ask your question again on the next Recommend Me a Perfume post.

      Happy New Year! January 3, 2021 at 8:33am Reply

  • Matty1649: I like Shalimar and Mitsouko. i noticed, upthread a mention of Prada Iris, I really like that one December 29, 2020 at 7:29am Reply

  • Jane: I love Estee Lauder Private Collection! It’s so green and classy! December 29, 2020 at 8:03am Reply

  • Natalie: I have owned all the perfumes in Victoria’s post except one. I spent years trying to find and wear classic perfumes. I no longer wear them, but I have an appreciation for them and they seem to stay in my memory as I can recall how each smelled and evolved from top, middle, and base notes. The one I went back to the most from a teenager (a tiny bottle back then) on was Chanel No 5 in parfum form. I enjoyed the newer Eau Première and bought that the first year it was released when it was in the taller prettier bottle. The one that I found most challenging was Guerlain Jicky, which I never could find years ago before internet shopping. I finally tried a spray from a department store tester I found and I don’t know if it because it was a reformulated version or the bottle was old and the scent was off, but it was not something I’d ever wear. I find reformation can ruin classic perfumes and therefore you can never smell how they were intended to smell. December 29, 2020 at 10:03am Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: I like No. 5 Eau Premiere too. I’m curious — what version of Jicky did you try? I’m occasionally addicted to the current EDT and will go for several days “needing” to spritz it at bedtime before I read for a while. December 29, 2020 at 11:36am Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: Probably my top and most-worn classic “grand parfum” is Chanel No. 22 (EDT), which I started wearing in my 20s. It was the first Chanel fragrance I ever bought for myself, and it was one of my signature scents for several years, with Dior’s Diorissimo. Luckily I have a large 200 ml bottle of No. 22 EDT, which will last me for years as I now wear many different fragrances.

    Reading everyone else’s comments, I realize I do have a proclivity toward many of the grands parfums. No. 22 and No. 19 are two favorites; I also love Vol de Nuit. I have and love several of the Jean Patou Collection Heritage fragrances, especially Chaldee. Like some others here, I appreciate and like, but don’t love, Joy. I’m so sad that Jean Patou’s fragrances are all now discontinued by LVMH! I’ve been exploring other vintage Dior scents, like Miss Dior, Dioressence, and Diorella, and love those.

    Other classics that have given me pause are Shalimar (ducking), though the eau de cologne finally broke through to me and I love that, as well as a couple of the more recent flankers; and Mitsouko (ducking again).

    More recent fragrances that I think qualify as grands parfums, which I enjoy, are Amouage’s Gold (love) and Boucheron (like); and some of Liz Moores’ creations for her Papillon Perfumery (I have and love Dryad and Bengale Rouge; I know others swoon over Salome and Anubis). December 29, 2020 at 11:33am Reply

  • Ninon: Many beloved perfumes are in this category, for me, classics as well as modern interpretations.

    I love green floral chypres, especially Niki de St Phalle (dark, soft, and non-aldehydic), vintage Miss Dior, and Givenchy III, and throwbacks DSH Vert Pour Madame and Puredistance Antonia. I also enjoy opulent floral chypres like Amouage Jubilation 25 and Puredistance Gold. Cuir de Russie (vintage and edt) and Cuir Cannage are my favorite classical floral leathers, and I love Bois des Iles (parfums and edt) and all versions of No. 22. I do not get on with classic Guerlains (that base!) and have yet to fall for a Caron, though I appreciate Tabac Blond. Etsy is a fantastic resource for vintage fragrance–Crepe de Chine, Cabochard Gres, and Diorling are all on my list to try. December 29, 2020 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Old Herbaceous: Another fan of No. 22 here! I like several of the others you list here, and you’ve given me some ideas for others I might like. I’ve recently bought the 2019 versions of Cabochard EDT and EDP, and I like them! Very reasonably priced, too. I’ve never smelled the original vintage. December 29, 2020 at 3:06pm Reply

      • Ninon: I read your post with the same fellow feeling! I really need to explore vintage Diors, and want to retest Salome and Anubis. A dear fragrance friend sent me a sample of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait and I feel guilty that I don’t appreciate it. I’ve been thinking of blind buying the reformulation of Vacances before it disappears…do you know it? December 29, 2020 at 8:25pm Reply

  • Mela: Shalimar was my first love. I swiped a spritz from my grandmother’s vanity at about age 10 and I could not believe something could smell so outrageously good. A great classic, though I do not feel inclined to wear it these days. I also have adored many of the big 80s classics: Poison, Lauren, Paloma Picasso, Coco. The latter two are still quite good in their current formulations IMO. More challenging for me, and also from my grandmother’s vanity, is Youth Dew. I love the bath oil a few hours after application, but straight out of the bottle just smells like dirty bathroom to me. There are plenty of other classic/nouveau classic fragrances I find just horrifying through and through (Giorgio and Womanity come to mind) but the push-pull of Youth Dew makes it a challenge in the truest sense of the word: Something to conquer! December 29, 2020 at 2:09pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Mela,

      I love the story of you surreptitiously spraying your grandmother’s Shalimar, and falling in love! I can just picture it. How lucky you were to discover such a wonderful perfume at the age of 10!

      Of the fragrances you mention, I particularly like Poison, and I have a couple of vintage bottles from when it was first released. For years now, I have meant to buy a bottle of Coco. Perhaps I shall look out for a vintage decant.

      Happy New Year! January 1, 2021 at 9:31am Reply

  • John: It’s an article in itself to read of the trove of perfume encounters and anecdotes that so many of you have amassed and are sharing here now… One of the things I enjoy most about Victoria’s blog is how much discussion the articles inspire.

    Though this is not the case of all of these comments, many of those shared here concern pre-war perfumes. One thing I find myself wondering is whether the definition of ‘classical’ fragrances as they apply to fragrance marketed to men might require some interpretation given the relative lack of compositions (to say nothing of concentrations) available to men before the mid-twentieth century. The pre-war fragrances I have the most experience with are few: Caron Pour un Homme, Old Spice, Pinaud Clubman, Yardley’s Brilliantine (a pomade not a perfume but heavily fragranced all the same) and 4711 (traditionally unisex, but I’ll take it), none of which quite has the formidable profile of the grande dames under discussion here.

    Thinking of Victoria’s comments concerning later fragrances that show a classical influence, however, it is interesting to find echoes of 4711 in Acqua Di Parma Colonia Essenza, or of Pinaud Clubman in either YSL Rive Gauche Pour Homme or Azzaro Pour Homme, or of Caron Pour Un Homme in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male. I have vintage (circa 1980’s) bottles of Old Spice and Old Spice aftershave and curiously the closest experience I have with their particular creamy blend of cloves, carnation, sandalwood and resins via modern compositions is from a bottle of vintage Opium eau de toilette!

    I guess I tend to think of the wave of Madmen-Era masculines as ‘classical’, that is to say those spanning the arc from the postwar structuralist modernity of the 1950’s up to the liberated (but still suavely bourgeois) experimentation of the mid to late 60’s: Chanel Pour Monsieur, Guerlain Vetiver, Aramis, Eau Sauvage and of course Habit Rouge.

    But of course there are many things I’ve never smelled let alone worn: Knize Ten, Mouchoir de Monsieur, Cologne Imperiale, and all of those comparatively ancient British barber shop splashes like Trumper’s Spanish Leather or Eucris. It interests me that there seem to be few men with an intergenerational connection to classical perfumes, at least in North America. I’m sure part of my enjoyment of both Habit Rouge and (especially) Caron Pour un Homme was informed by my father’s loyally splashing on a similarly powdery lavender-based fragrance, Royal Copenhagen (1970), but it was one of those sneaky, roundabout Freudian things where I had no idea I was walking in his footsteps until it was too late! December 30, 2020 at 1:14am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: This is a very inspiring post. Thanks, John!
      I don’t have an immediate response to what you said but I’ll pick up on one idea you mentioned: “It interests me that there seem to be few men with an intergenerational connection to classical perfumes, at least in North America.”
      Well, I’m a man and I live in Germany. And, I must say one of the things I flung overboard right at the beginning of my perfume journey was the notion that perfume is gendered. The result is that 99% of my perfumes are so called pour femmes. (I do have a wonderful vintage Caron Pour Homme – les plus belles lavendes, which I treasure!) But that’s beside the point.
      I sometimes have the impression that I am one of the very few men interested in vintage perfumes. But that isn’t true!
      In Cologne where I live there is a trendy perfume shop with a rather large collection of niche perfumes. Often, it is interesting to see that there is a small group of men standing in front of the shop talking highly knowledgeable about scents. They are straight guys and from afar one would guess they’re talking niche beer brewery, but no, they compare new perfumes with old! I am quite impressed.
      Then, a few weeks ago I went to a local shop selling excellent teas from Taiwan. The owner let me taste some great Oolongs and wild tree teas. In came another man and handed him something. The tea store owner ripped open the package, and out came some vintage Ébène by Balmain. That led to a mutual discussion over an hour about new and old perfumes: highly educative! And interestingly, they both contribute actively on
      All of this to say: I think in our rational and cognitive world, which whirls around at the speed of light, there is a real desire, perhaps need for beauty and mystery, olfactory stories that unfold slowly, differently, silently. December 30, 2020 at 6:27am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi OnWings,

        You make a great point – that if we discard the notion of gender in perfumery, there are just as many classics for men as there are for women.

        I also love your last sentence; I so agree. December 30, 2020 at 8:10am Reply

      • Peter: Hello OnWings. I’m glad that I live in this time, where I can experience the full spectrum of fragrance.
        I agree with Tourmaline, that last sentence is pure poetry. December 30, 2020 at 10:55pm Reply

      • John: Thank you for such a thoughtful, considerate and lyrical reply. Your last statement especially struck me as something to internalize rather than rush to relate, but I do have to say with regard to ‘silence’ that the intimacy of scent’s impact on how we feel ourselves is part of what makes it both fascinating and fearful for me. I sometimes will purchase a sample of something then not try wearing it for days or weeks (I have had a vial of Antaeus sitting in my dining room cupboard since early December) because to put it on is to merge with another sensibility in a way that can be overwhelming both personally and socially, much like walking down the street with (in the case of Antaeus, anyway) the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th roaring from your pores; of course this is a fantasy as much as it is a source of mortification…With all that said, there are certainly days that might require a level of privacy I rarely enjoy, that would see me wearing something like Chanel No.5, which I find to be intensely beautiful, wrapped in layers of one childhood taboo or another, and worn by nobody close to me past or present. The privacy would be to pay attention and to change.

        I agree that the gendered border-patrolling of fragrances is one more example of something not only anachronistic, but hypocritical in its inception and therefore to be questioned. Any study of the heritage of self-consciously ‘masculine’ fragrances undertakes a dialogue between gender tropes anyway (an example being Habit Rouge, first advertised to men who had been borrowing their wives’ Shalimar!) From this perspective — to paraphrase RuPaul — everything is drag, including the choice of ‘masculine’ compositions for a cisgendered male such as myself — provided it is indeed a choice… Thank God for Kant reminding us that aesthetic judgments are important (and difficult) *because*, having nourgent moral or social consequences, they lead us to consider how we judge!

        If I’m honest, my interest in the history of so-called masculine compositions is an interest in assembling codes of gender & conduct. How does/did/might a man carry himself? It is a piecemeal and ceaseless process, but maybe an important one given the various toxic models of masculine behaviour that have emerged in just my lifetime. No doubt there is Freudian baggage here as well (many a foray into art, literature, movies, music etc. for me has involved the absent father figure trope).

        Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts! I have reflected on them a lot already and will continue to do so. December 31, 2020 at 2:40pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi John,

      Your comment is very interesting. Like you, I enjoy the way Victoria’s posts inspire so much discussion.

      When you mentioned Yardley’s Brilliantine, I was reminded of something that was said in a book that I read when it was released in 1996 – “The Book of Perfumes” by John Oakes, a fellow Queenslander. He wrote of his growing fascination with fragrance as a boy in his early teens, and a happy discovery. He says,

      “I discovered that Coty’s great perfumes – L’Aimant (miraculously still available), Paris (long before YSL), L’Origan, Rose Jacqueminot, Nouveau Gardénia, Muguet des Bois, Emeraude and the “green’ that once changed the entire course of perfumery, the great Chypre – were all available as hair brilliantines! That was my opening – the legitimate and unembarrassing way I could try these magical smells. It was as though the gates of heaven had opened for me.”

      If only these fragrances were still available as brilliantines; I would buy them all!

      Having read your comment, I am tempted to buy a bottle of Old Spice in order to compare it with my vintage Opium. I just checked, and a 125 ml bottle of the Old Spice After Shave Classic is only $14.99 at a local pharmacy, so I think I shall. Besides, I like Old Spice. I might wear it and see whether I garner any looks or comments.

      I also adore Habit Rouge. When I first smelled it at the Guerlain counter many years ago, I thought it was (marketed) for women. Thanks to the excellent example set by Victoria, I no longer make such gender distinctions in perfumery. December 30, 2020 at 8:06am Reply

      • John: Hi Tourmaline,

        Do you have the Old Spice Classic marketed as ‘Original’ in the glass or ceramic bottle? This is available in the UK and through specialty distributors where I live in Canada, and is closer, I would say, to the vintage than the American Proctor & Gamble version in the new plastic bottle (shudder!) Actually, the plastic-encased version in the aftershave splash formulation [rather than the spray!] is not terrible, but it lacks the dense creaminess and the hint of star anise found in the bottle I received as a stocking gift as a teenager in the 1980’s. Some also swear by versions of Old Spice still produced in India that purportedly follow the old Shulton formula.

        Buying vintage splash *anything* via online auction sites is, as I’m sure you know, very tricky, but if you happen spy a vintage bottle of either the aftershave or the somewhat rarer ‘cologne’ (which feels more like an EDP) in a thrift store or charity shop, give it a sniff… The bottles themselves are very appealing objects and the scent really is masterpiece material. There is a heady resinous quality in the vintage that creates a kind of ‘buttered-rum-meets-coca-cola’ accord that I’ve found nowhere else. The combination of warmth and freshness in creamy sandalwood musk impression is very unique to me and has an almost rice-pudding-like effect that is very soothing.

        Habit Rouge (which I love) has some echoes in its blending of citrus freshness and balsamic richness and ‘oriental’ spice, but is more directly connected to the classical European iterations of those concepts.

        Anyway, good luck! I’d love to hear what you think of it. December 31, 2020 at 3:08pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi John,

          Thank you very much for the excellent tips on buying Old Spice. I should actually have a look in my father’s bathroom (he is now aged 92) and see whether there is any vintage aftershave, deodorant or talcum powder in the drawers. My father wouldn’t have used it (he didn’t like to wear fragrance), but one of my two brothers might have, at some stage.

          I know that an ex-boyfriend of mine used the roll-on deodorant, and he left some at my place, back in 1993. I should check to see whether I kept it in the interests of my fragrance collection!

          Wow, you certainly do have a great nose. Your description of “buttered-rum-meets-coca-cola” makes my mouth water! I also wouldn’t want to miss a “hint of star anise”.

          This is the version of Old Spice that is available to me at a local store.

          I like your suggestion of trying thrift stores to see what I can find. There are a few locally, and I love browsing through them, but haven’t in over a year.

          I mentioned wearing Old Spice and seeing whether I garner any looks and comments because I’m a woman!

          Thanks again. I will let you know how I get on. December 31, 2020 at 11:18pm Reply

          • John: Despite its reputation (and the hilarious sales pitch in the link you’ve posted) I’m not sure if the scent of Old Spice will strike you as especially masculine…Purportedly the 1930’s original was actually marketed to women. It is very carnation-forward, though its nutmeg feels more ‘traditionally masculine’ and its heavy clove note is fairly rugged in its analgesic intensity. Still, its profile has much more in common with many unisex or even ‘femme’ orientals; in this respect it is worlds away from the self-conscious machismo of postwar fougères like Brut or Paco Rabanne (full disclosure: I am wearing Paco Rabanne right now! A guilty pleasure — how could I let this happen on New Year’s Eve?)

            Anyway, the bottle in your link is the newest formulation and, though I try to maintain an open mind in the current vs. vintage debates (the Paco Rabanne I’m wearing is a recent bottling, which would undoubtedly horrify those who revere its famed vintage iteration), I have to say, to get the full Old Spice experience I really recommend searching out a vintage bottle; you can find them fairly cheaply on Ebay as well as at thrift stores. The newer Proctor & Gamble product is still an interesting anomaly in a men’s shaving aisle dominated by fluorescently fresh Axe body spray fragrances, but it feels thinner with both the carnation and clove forced to stridently overcompensate in the absence of a creamy sandalwood. I’m humbly delighted that you like my butter-rum/coca-cola analogy, but to experience it you will, alas, need either thrift store serendipity, auction house luck or a time machine. Good luck! December 31, 2020 at 11:54pm Reply

            • Tourmaline: Hi there, John,

              Ah, the sales pitch – isn’t it a hoot!
              I still have a decent memory of Old Spice – dominated by the note that I now recognize as cloves/carnation. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the fragrance had originally been marketed to women. In terms of turning heads or getting comments, I was thinking only of those people who might have recognized my scent as Old Spice.

              Having thought more about it, I’ve realized that someone in my family must have used it when I was growing up, because I knew of it long before that boyfriend from 1993, and I have a clear picture in my head of a container like this.


              (I also recall a bottle of Eau Sauvage, which my older brother must have used.)

              Michael Edwards classifies Old Spice as a Classic Soft Oriental, and I would agree with that. I love the scent of carnation, and have a precious, big bottle of Bellodgia. I can well imagine that Old Spice would be the sore thumb soft oriental amongst the rows of citrus, fougeres and chypres in the men’s aftershave section. Oh yes, vale the creamy sandalwood…

              I will definitely seek out a vintage version. I’ll scour the op shops first, as it would be cheaper there.

              I know Paco Rabanne, because a boss that I had for a couple of years in the early eighties wore it. I wonder whether yours smells the same, but I doubt it.

              As for the time machine, where is Dr Who when you need her? All I really wanted for Christmas was a sonic screwdriver, but alas, nobody came through…

              Happy New Year! January 1, 2021 at 3:26am Reply

              • Tami: A little sad I’m just catching this conversation now! It brings to mind the obligatory bottle of Old Spice my father had in his shaving kit. He wasn’t really one for colognes or after shave, so it wasn’t a familiar scent. I remember as a child (early 80s) summoning the courage to give it a whiff, and thinking: hmm, I might like to wear this! I also made a mental dotted line to Opium, which was (and may still be) my aunt’s favorite perfume. I remember a creamy, slightly sweet tone to it, with the warm scents. Perhaps like spices mulling in sweetened milk. January 9, 2021 at 6:34am Reply

                • Tourmaline: Hi Tami,

                  It’s hardly ever too late on BdJ! I enjoyed reading about your memories of Old Spice. When I was at my father’s house on Wednesday, I checked for any remaining Old Spice aftershave or deodorant in the bathroom, but there was none.

                  I’m sure there used to be one or the other in amongst the men’s toiletries there at some stage when I was a child, though. I remember the lovely fragrance so well. Yes, it has major similarities to Opium.

                  I have yet to buy a current bottle – probably around the middle of next week. I shall report back then! January 9, 2021 at 6:44am Reply

                  • Tami: Thank you for your reply, which made me smile. Looking forward to your report 🙂 January 9, 2021 at 12:59pm Reply

                    • Tourmaline: 🙂 🌷 January 10, 2021 at 10:13am

                  • Tami: Wish I could edit to add… I think I finally made my mental connection… egg nog. Not PRECISELY egg nog, but… egg nog-adjacent? January 9, 2021 at 1:08pm Reply

                    • Tourmaline: Oh yes, that makes perfect sense. I’ve never tasted proper eggnog, so next Christmas, I should make some! January 10, 2021 at 10:16am

    • Peter: Hello John. Your last line really got to me. When we’re younger, we try consciously not to become our parents. Blink an eye and there we are. Maybe not wearing the same fragrance, but something similar in the same scent family. My father wore Aramis. And who ends up loving powerful Chypres. Recently I’ve been embracing Big White Florals. Not an option for my father in his day! December 30, 2020 at 10:04pm Reply

      • John: Hi Peter,

        How interesting to think of the gardenia note hidden in Aramis! I love to think of that connection as it recalls all the ways that we extend, contradict, and (sometimes as a result of either or both) affirm our parentage; not always easy, but surely fascinating. Just this morning while shambling out in my bathrobe to feed the chickens, I caught a phantom whiff of Pour un Homme clinging to my pyjamas and was reminded that I always associate the smell of lavender plants (flowers, buds, leaves, stems) with my mother; it took a touch of the barnyard to complete the association! December 31, 2020 at 3:14pm Reply

        • Peter: Hau’oli Makahiki Hou (HNY in Hawaiian). That’s very interesting about the Gardenia note in Aramis. Victoria also mentioned the Gardenia in my favorite Miss Dior. I don’t discern the note, but I must crave it subconsciously! We had a gardenia bush in my childhood yard. January 2, 2021 at 8:46pm Reply

          • John Luna: Happy New Year to you!

            Aramis, like its close relative Azurée (also by Bernard Chant) has gardenia is listed as being among its top notes. Awhile back when I was gathering first impressions of Aramis and this is what I wrote:
            “…opens with a knife edge of green artemisia tinged with a fleeting whiff of bergamot; lifted into freshness by waxy aldehydes and sweetened by gardenia, the result feels almost like orange blossom soap…and lasts about ten seconds. Almost immediately the major players take the stage: a castoreum accord arrives with its animalic, nutty-boozy oiliness, while moss introduces a neutral ashy tonality. Vetiver, thyme and sage fill out a series of woody, angular and savoury flavours that challenge and complement the unguent sweetness of the castoreum, itself enhanced by a softly dogged smokiness (myrrh?) Aldehydes buff these edges & textures into a dim gleam.”
            The funny thing is, the longer I own & wear Aramis, the more I feel like I sense the gardenia note (and not just as a fugitive topnote)…It hides around the green edges of the huge wallop of isobutyl quinoline (that baseball glove smell) that sits at the heart of the composition.

            Aren’t childhood smells wonderful? My great aunt in Los Angeles has a lemon tree I used to pick fruit from for homemade lemonade and it has haunted me (in a good way) ever since. January 2, 2021 at 11:56pm Reply

            • Peter: Mahalo John, for sharing your Aramis impression. You have a superb nose and your writing is descriptive poetry. Years back I bought Azuree, so as not to copy dear old Dad. Now I need a retro decant of Aramis to revisit the past, armed with your guide.
              Lemons and Lavender must be your ‘Madeleine’. January 3, 2021 at 4:38am Reply

              • John: Hi Peter, inasmuch as lavender seems to be inexhaustibly good for me, I think you must be right. I love to think that for Proust, it was not just the cookie, but the summary experience having it with tea and dipping it into the tea to soften it add up to a kind of ritual that release the memory. For me, this might be digging a thumbnail to find the pith of the lemon skin or rubbing the buds of the lavender until they crumble in my fingers (an old childhood habit)…not quite as elegant as Marcel, but then who is? Anyway, thank you for your kind words! I honestly don’t think I have a great nose (it has certainly required practice and my nose hasn’t travelled widely enough) so much as a big mouth, but I love the thought that (just as it keeps getting bigger!) our noses keep getting wider. January 7, 2021 at 1:25pm Reply

                • John: I should also quickly add that the summary of Aramis that I provided was from an early period in my relationship with the composition…I now wonder if the ‘saltiness’ I ascribed to a vetiver note was more likely (or in greater proportion) the result of a blend of synthetic musks not unlike that currently filling out the ‘macho’ base of Paco Rabanne Pour Homme; I’d expect this greater presence of such a blend would reflect an attempt to come to terms with either lost animalic ingredients or, though possessed of a very different scent profile, the fixing properties of oak moss. Both Paco and Aramis still list amounts of oak moss and tree moss respectively, but it is surely less of a presence than it once was. January 7, 2021 at 6:03pm Reply

                • Peter: Aloha Modest John. I’ve never been a fan of lavender, but then I’ve never tried Caron Pour un Homme. I have sampled both Boy Chanel and Tom Ford Lavender Extreme, both of which I liked. They lean sweet and rich, not herbal.
                  I’m planning to try and find vintage/retro decants of Aramis and the Caron. I think I’ll also add Paco Rabanne Pour Homme, which I associate with New Orleans and a college roommate.
                  Mahalo for sharing your love of the classics.
                  P.S. I’m also curious to smell vintage Old Spice! January 7, 2021 at 8:01pm Reply

  • MaureenC: What a great piece and really entertaining comments. I love many of the classics and my favourite is vintage Arpege, I particularly enjoy the moment in A Single Man when the Colin Firth character leans forward and recognising the receptionist’s fragrance sighs Ah Arpege. I also have a soft spot for the remains of my bottle of Opium from the 1980s and can still feel a disco beat when I smell it! December 30, 2020 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Patricia Devine: I have many vintage fragrances and love Shalimar, Mitsouko, Vol de Nuit, Après l’Ondée, L’Heure Bleue, Bandit, Jolie Madame, Fracas etc, but I have real trouble with the civet-heavy No5 and Joy. Civet is a note I really don’t get on with, although I love castoreum. And I think I also don’t care for multiflorals that are so well blended that I can’t pick out the notes – I find them muddy. December 31, 2020 at 9:24am Reply

  • John: One quick question…This winter saw the third stage in my gradual campaign to win my daughter over to a classic…Last spring I’d bought her Shalimar ‘Cologne’, a newer flanker in a pink bottle that was both very much Shalimar and somehow fruitier and friendlier, this November I found a small bat wing bottle of the EDT and this Christmas a throughly pudding-like bottle of the new EDP. I was worried that the intensity, complexity and powder of the latter would throw her off but all went well. Now my question is which classic should eventually come next? Shalimar seemed like a natural as I am a fan of Habit Rouge from way back, but I’d like to help her develop her nose in other directions that, while classical, do not overlap too much with what’s already been discovered. Any thoughts? December 31, 2020 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi John,

      In this comment, you don’t mention the age of your daughter, but as you have bypassed the softer Guerlain Aqua Allegorias and gone straight to the showstopper, Shalimar, I shall infer that she’s not too young.

      My suggestion for the next perfume would be the classic chypre, Mitsouko. Heck, I fell in love with this one at the age of 11, when my young Grade 7 art teacher wore it, along with her colourful kaftans! Admittedly, it was laced with the leather note of the smoke that was part of her sillage. It is such a beautiful fragrance, and can lead her to explore other classic chypres such as the original Miss Dior, Givenchy III and Femme.

      Alternatively, you could introduce her to Nahema, the fruity rose that Michael Edwards classifies as a Crisp Floral Oriental. You could take advantage of this precious time, just after it has been discontinued, when it is still fairly readily available.

      I hope you find a scent that your daughter will (eventually) love. December 31, 2020 at 9:48pm Reply

      • John: Thank you for those suggestions! I should read up on Nahema as I don’t know much about it. I have always wanted to try Mitsouko myself so I appreciate that reference as well.

        My daughter is just about to turn 18… Shalimar is a pretty formidable choice I agree, but she has always had a rather paradoxical combination of sweet and forceful personality traits (like Shalimar itself, sometimes taking some getting used to!) and I think it suits her. She also is a big fan of vanilla and that smoky, sticky sillage that clings to everything is right up her alley. In all honesty, I also chose something I knew I would not mind smelling around the house because she has clearly inherited the over-sprayer gene from her father!

        On that note, somebody once theorized that, what with their intense hormonal production, teenagers just project perfume more intensely than adults. If this is true, it could explain why we always seemed to remember the perfumes of our youth as being so much more potent than what we experience today… I seem to recall more or less living in a constant bubble of Christian Dior Fahrenheit at her age. December 31, 2020 at 11:22pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi John,

          It certainly sounds as though Shalimar was a good choice for both you and your daughter. Wanting a scent that you could easily tolerate on a daily basis was a reasonable consideration. After all, there are so many fragrances, why not choose one that you both like?

          Although I loved Mitsouko from the moment I smelled it, I’ve heard of people who don’t like it, so I can’t say that you’ll love it, I’ll just say that you will probably love it! If not, try Femme, which is also a classic chypre. For several years, I couldn’t tell the difference between Mitsouko and Femme, although these days I can. Femme seems richer and woodier.

          When I first smelled Nahéma, in about 1983, the note that hit me between the eyes was the passionfruit, despite the fact that it is known as a rose scent. It is a floral oriental. According to Fragrantica, “Top notes are Rose, Peach, Aldehydes, Green Notes and Bergamot; middle notes are Bulgarian Rose, Hyacinth, Ylang-Ylang, Lilac, Jasmine and Lily-of-the-Valley; base notes are Peru Balsam, Sandalwood, Passionfruit, Vanilla and Vetiver.” It is a beautiful but different fragrance, one that I’ve heard described as “monolithic”, so it might well suit your assertive daughter.

          I would suggest that you sample Mitsouko, Femme, Nahéma (if possible) and any other fragrances that you think might be in the running. You might be able to find a Guerlain counter that still has a tester of Nahéma, if not the odd remaining bottle, and I would imagine that eBay supplies will be plentiful for quite some time.

          That is an interesting theory about teenagers, however I don’t know enough science to comment on it. What I do know is that, as you might have heard, the nose is connected to the limbic system, which plays a major role in controlling memory and emotion. This probably helps to explain the strong memory that we often have of scents from our youth, which is often a time when we experience “grown-up” fragrances for the first time.

          A likely explanation for thinking that perfumes are not as potent today as they were in our youth is that they literally are not. As you know, most scents are altered over time by the manufacturers. Moreover, the EU regulations brought in some years ago forced changes to most, if not all, fragrances.

          I hope I haven’t left my reply too late for you to test options prior to your daughter’s birthday. I also hope this information is of some assistance to you. I would be interested to hear how you get on, and what fragrance you choose.

          Good luck! January 2, 2021 at 10:23am Reply

          • John: Thanks! I don’t think I will drop another big learning curve on her quite so soon (birthday is in three days and she is still early on in those two Shalimars) but I will certainly take your advice to heart. January 2, 2021 at 11:46pm Reply

            • Tourmaline: You’re welcome.

              I certainly understand.

              I hope she has a great birthday! January 2, 2021 at 11:50pm Reply

            • Tourmaline: Dear John/John Luna,

              A Tale of Two Johnnies

              This afternoon, after I’d left a comment on the latest BdJ post asking for more comments from men, including John and John Luna, I received an email from my pen-friend, Peter. He responded thus.

              “I’m really confused. I went back and looked at my exchange with John in the Classics post. I think it’s the same man. Sometimes he goes by John, sometimes by John Luna?”

              I set about examining Peter’s hypothesis that you were in fact one man, not two. I looked over numerous comments by both John and John Luna. Ultimately, I found the following commonalities: a love of Caron’s Pour un Homme, a liking for Habit Rouge and vintage Old Spice, a sensitivity to ISO (putting Declaration and other scents off the menu), a wife and residence in western Canada. Of course, I could simply have examined your brief exchange with Peter, above, where you switched names.

              I replied to Peter.

              “OMG, you’re right! I have done a forensic investigation, and I have determined that John and John Luna are indeed the same person!”

              Peter was vindicated.

              Now John/John Luna, I would earnestly suggest that you choose one of your names and stick with it, to avoid confusing those of us who don’t have Peter’s eagle eye. But how to choose? As for John, well it is the best of names and it is the worst of names. That is because it is my dear father’s name, and it is also a euphemism for lavatory. As for John Luna, well that is certainly more distinctive, even slightly exotic, so if I were you (which I’m definitely not), I’d go for that one and send John to the guillotine. But then, it’s your decision. Perhaps you enjoy having two names.

              Anyway, as I told Peter, I’m glad that I am no longer labouring under the misapprehension that you are two people.

              With kind regards,
              Tourmaline January 7, 2021 at 6:25am Reply

              • John: I hope my lazy typing did not cause too much confusion. It isa matter of autofill… I generally prefer to keep things informal, but my computer autofills my whole name and sometimes I forget to go back and autofill it. Sometimes I think it would be desirable to contain multitudes though… The Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa had literally dozens of pseudonyms (I think Wikipedia credits him with about 80?) January 7, 2021 at 1:13pm Reply

                • John: *’sometimes I forget to go back and correct it’ January 7, 2021 at 1:13pm Reply

                  • Tourmaline: Hi John,

                    Ah, so it was the autofill… I understand. Off with its head!

                    Gosh, it would have been so difficult to keep up with Pessoa. January 7, 2021 at 8:07pm Reply

  • Christine: This website is a beautiful gift for those of us that love vintage scents. As a 50 year old woman, many of the scents mentioned bring strong memories back. My first scent love was Chanel 19 when I was 19 years old. My love affair continues as I search for vintage editions. The only intact product that still gives me great pleasure is a cracked bottle of Chanel 19 body lotion that I bought in the 1990’s. I have searched the recommended websites for vintage bottles of the edt and have purchased with resulting disappointment. I never wore the edp version but wonder if the vintage versions would hold their scent better than the edts? I will occasionally find vintage edp that is still sealed . I am afraid to pay the amount if it is not good or a counterfeit. This journey is difficult to say the least. Trying to capture that scent memory is elusive and often disappointing.
    I have spent years trying to replace ‘that feeling’ in a new scent. Some commenters mentioned, Dryad by Papillon, which is on my shortlist but difficult to wear on a daily basis.
    Historically, other scents I have worn successfully include vintage Cristalle edt, Calandre, L’Air du desert marocain by Tauer and L’ombre dans L’eau by Diptyque. January 1, 2021 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Christine,

      Many readers find the Raiders of the Lost Scent website to be helpful in distinguishing real products from fakes.

      Another website that can be useful for finding scents that are similar to old favourites is Michael Edwards’ Fragrance Finder.

      I hope you find some No 19 that makes you smile, and perhaps another fragrance that you can wear comfortably – financially and otherwise – on a daily basis. January 2, 2021 at 9:07am Reply

      • Christine: Hi Tourmaline,
        Thank you for the website recommendations. Raidersofthelostscent is fascinating and exactly the information I enjoy. Fragrancesoftheworld simplifies the overwhelming possibilities of where to go next.
        Happy New Year! January 3, 2021 at 10:41pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi Christine,

          I’m so glad you’re finding those sites useful.

          Happy New Year!

          🙂 🌷 January 3, 2021 at 11:50pm Reply

    • Peter: Happy New Year Christine. I do like No 19, but I’ve never tried a vintage version. Have you tried Chanel Bel Respiro? it’s another Green Floral. L’Ombre has a little green ‘bite’. Dryad has that vintage oakmoss vibe. Rogue Chypre-Siam is similar with a Kaffir Lime top note. I just got a Naomi Goodsir sample set. Her Nuit de Bakelite is worth checking out. It’s a unique mesmerizing Green Chypre. Happy Exploring! January 2, 2021 at 9:25pm Reply

      • Christine: Peter,
        I do have a small bottle of Bel Respiro that maybe i need to spend more time with. I also have a sample of Rogue Chypre-Siam. It is a beautiful scent. I had read the description of it on the Lucky Scent website and I had to try it.
        I have heard of Naomi Goodsir, and Nuit de Bakelite sounds wonderful. Thank you for the new suggestions. Happy New Year to you! January 3, 2021 at 10:54pm Reply

  • Cathy: L’Heure Bleu was the perfume that blew my mind and took me into the world of scent.
    My mother and grandmother both wore Schiaparelli’s Shocking on special occasions and it’s still the one I associate with true glamour.
    But it’s tricky – I have a real vintage bottle – and I suspect it’s a Surrealist art work as well. Utterly unmistakeable, very powerful. Sometimes people ask discreetly if my perfume might have gone off, sometimes it makes people sneeze, sometimes they open their eyes in awe, which is the effect one prefers!
    Always nostalgic for me, full of love and memory but reserved for very private special times. It’s almost too big to take out in public, and that’s a shame. January 2, 2021 at 10:12pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Cathy,

      I would nominate L’Heure Bleue as my favourite perfume, so I think you are lucky that it’s the one that sent you down the rabbit hole.

      Shocking is one I’ve still never smelled. The fact that it is still in production speaks volumes. Both your description of it and Victoria’s 5-Star review of it and heartening positive assessment of the sample she had from 1999, prompt me to add it to my “Must Try” list!

      Happy New Year! January 3, 2021 at 9:10am Reply

  • Timothy West: I have a friend who collects vintage perfumes, stunning bottles of old and rare Guerlains, Weil, Chanel, Diors, Caron, Patou, Coty, – including ones barely heard of these days. I’ve smelled so many, from old Bois des Iles to Iris Gris and everything in between, but the one that I fell in love with immediately, and is now probably my favourite of all, is vintage No. 19 – real vintage, the ones pre-1979 with the old Persian galbanum.

    Cut to a couple of years later and I’ve collected quite a stash of vintage parfum and edt No. 19 – it’s something I couldn’t bear to be without. In these versions it is also one of the most versatile unisex fragrances (unfortunately the current EDT and EDP don’t quite have the same feel about them). I’ve had more positive comments from both men and women when I’ve worn this than just about any other fragrance, but even if not, I’d wear it anyway, as that’s all that matters. If you can wear any of the Dior Homme iterations as a man, then old No. 19 is a complete breeze. Green, leather, iris, woody and great florals, thankfully devoid of any of the syrupy sweetness that destroys most of modern perfumery for me.

    Other vintages that I really love (but can’t really take in their modern versions) are the original Aramis, Antaeus, Givenchy III, Diorella, Dior-Dior, Yatagan, Chanel Cuir de Russie. My tastes clearly run from the icy green to the full-on animalics with a healthy dose of old school chypres. January 12, 2021 at 11:22am Reply

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