retro: 2 posts

The Beauty of The Old-Fashioned

Lately I’ve become fascinated by perfumes that I’d characterize as old-fashioned. Or if you don’t like the word, vintage or retro. Despite the cliches of timeless and unchangeable, many perfumery styles become associated with the time and place that gave rise to them. The aldehydic floral perfumery exemplified by Chanel No 5 echoes the early decades of the 20th century. Bold green chypres scream the 1970s, and I dare anyone to spritz on Dior Poison and not think of the glitz and glam of the 1980s. Decades later, these styles read as evocative of another time, and yet that’s part of their appeal. If I want some escapist fun, I reach for powdery carnations, shimmering aldehydes and creamy tea roses.

There are many reasons why calling some of my favorites old-fashioned doesn’t trouble me. For one thing, working in a perfume lab, I’m so used to hearing styles described as “old” or ”new” that I don’t ascribe value judgments to these terms. Perfumers don’t usually intend it. Some styles are older than others such as chypres, and they still retain their appeal. Some new styles lose their novelty after a few seasons like the savory gourmands.

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10 Fall Perfumes With a Retro Accent

Retro, vintage, old-fashioned. These terms, with various nuances, suggest fragrances that smell of another time. Elisa explores some of her favorite perfume examples.  What’s dated to one person is a retro classic to another.

What smells old-fashioned or,  more positively, “classic” or “retro” to any given nose is bound to change over time. In the near future, I suspect, the berry-and-peony fruity-florals and fruitchoulis that were ubiquitous in the late ‘90s and aughts will smell nostalgically old-fashioned to some, dated to others. Hillary Clinton reportedly wears Angel, and I recently heard a young YouTube star describe Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle as her most “mature” smelling perfume!

gingko

The perfumes I’ve been reaching for most this fall aren’t the all-time classics – the Shalimars, the Mitsoukos, the Chanel No. 5’s. But these scents, mostly born in the ‘70s and ‘80s, remind me of the grande dames of my youth, who weren’t in the least intimidated by unforgivingly sharp green chypres, loud and complicated florals, or deeply powdery orientals, all with massive sillage. To me, these are the new retro classics.

Chanel Coco 

When I first encountered Coco on a perfume counter many years ago, I found it confusing. What exactly was this mess, which couldn’t decide whether to be sweet or not? But now it smells complex and incredibly luxurious, especially in the parfum – all spicy, rosy florals and amber with a dry, animalic leather note cutting through. I’ve come to think of Coco as the quintessential, night-at-the-opera floriental.

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Latest Comments

  • Valentina in Recommend Me a Perfume: July 2024: Ok, can anyone pretty please recommend a perfume which smells like fog, mist, rain, maybe a little dusty, soapy, white floral, transparent and ethereal, but most importantly NOT sweet at… July 25, 2024 at 7:58am

  • Hamamelis in Recommend Me a Perfume: July 2024: Hi Laura, what about Andy Tauer’s L’air des Alpes Suisses? A real mountain scent, but it may lean masculine though. Another outdoorsy fragrance could be Parfum d’Empire Mal-aime, a unique… July 25, 2024 at 5:43am

  • Aire in Recommend Me a Perfume: July 2024: Sisley Eau de Campagne might be nice. July 24, 2024 at 7:49pm

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume: July 2024: Hi Emi: two pine scents with sweetness: Annick Goutal Nuit étoilée, very outdoorsy and for a richer, more Christmassy pine, Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles. July 24, 2024 at 2:59pm

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