If You Struggle with Perfume Classics

This blog can occasionally get breathless about perfume classics, and if you start me on Après l’Ondée, you’d think that you haven’t lived until smelling this Guerlain perfume from 1906. There is nothing wrong with admiring classics and sharing one’s enthusiasm about them, but I would like to provide some balance to the veneration of perfumes made before most of us were born. There is a fine line between acquiring a taste for new combinations of materials or unfamiliar notes and forcing yourself to like a perfume just because it has a pedigree.


First of all, not all fragrances made decades ago were great, so just because perfume is old, there is no guarantee that it’s special. There used to be just as many copycats, slapdash affairs, and lots of crass (and sexist) marketing in the past, so romanticizing the era misses the point. Even Jacques Guerlain created numerous failures before coming up with gems like Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleue. Similarly misplaced is the idea that liking classics is an instant mark of sophistication. I can’t think of less sophisticated perfumes than Dana Tabu, Schiaparelli Shocking or Estée Lauder Youth Dew. They’re loud, brash and impudent, and that’s their very point. Great perfumes to be sure, but refined they are not.

Second, many classics have been tweaked over the years. I covered more of this topic in My Perfume Was Reformulated! What to Do?, so here I will just note a few points that relate to classics. In some cases, the alterations were made because the ingredients have changed. For instance, as fat based enfleurage was superseded by more efficient techniques, the scent of jasmine essence became brighter and more nuanced. Even tiny differences like these have significant consequences for the perfume formula; human noses are extremely precise and recognize the slightest deviations. Changes in ingredient processing made reformulations necessary, but now we have a double whammy of cost increases and ingredient regulations. The result is that pretty much everything on the market older than 2-3 years has been altered. Some reformulations are excellent, others less so, but if you smell No 5 today and believe that it’s the same perfume Coco Chanel selected in 1921, you’re mistaken. (For the record, I love the current version of No 5).

To put it roughly, to smell Diorissimo, Caron Narcisse Noir, Miss Dior and Yves Saint Laurent Opium in their current versions is like seeing Monet’s Water Lilies interpreted by another artist. Not quite the same experience, although the new interpretation might be special. In the same vein, the aforementioned are now interesting perfumes on their own terms, but they don’t resemble the original versions. I don’t wish to encourage vintage snobbery, however.  We just need to keep the classics in perspective and recognize that they change with time, sometimes not for the better.

Perfume-Ecussonmais oui

This brings me to another point. Perfume is the product of its era, created for a specific audience and following contemporary fashions. Truly timeless fragrances, even among classics, are few, and one may not enjoy the aesthetic that was prevalent during the 30s, 40s, or 70s. I’d rather bathe myself in Lancôme La Vie est Belle than wear Jean Patou Joy. I recognize it as an iconic perfume, but when I put it on, I feel like I’m trailing my great-grandmother’s coat with a fur pelt collar, tail and whiskers intact–it was fashionable back in the 30s, she told me. Some vintages are too retro for my taste, both in clothes and perfumes. I’m a product of my own time too, for better or worse.

The different aesthetic may be the reason to delve into classics, and there is a phase when you adjust to the different effects, heavier doses of floral absolutes, mosses or animalic notes. If you’ve never smelled an old school chypre in its inky moss and tangy leather glory, you’re in for a shock (or a treat). But when you read reams of text on the beauty of Mitsouko or No 19 and finally sample them, the shock might be not the perfumes themselves but the realization that you don’t like them.


When I was new to fragrance and didn’t yet know my tastes, this was never a pleasant feeling. Is there something wrong with my nose? Are my samples off? How can a fragrance described as the most expensive floral on earth smell like water left over from a wilted bouquet?

There was nothing wrong with my nose or the perfume. It was simply a lack of chemistry. If you find yourself in a similar position, chalk it up to your own unique tastes. Some of these fragrances were created to be polarizing, and the perfumers working on them were deliberate about touching a nerve. As Germaine Cellier once remarked on Robert Piguet Bandit, “I didn’t make it to be likable.” At another point in time you might smell Bandit and appreciate its dramatic leather, but today it might merely smell aggressive and harsh.

A perfume hobby is flexible enough to include all sorts of approaches and can be anything from a search to find a signature scent to a PhD dissertation level of geekiness. The beauty of this pursuit is that whatever form it takes, it’s rewarding. You smell aromatic things, you think, you delight in something so intangible, so fleeting and yet so poignant. Approaching perfume classics is not too different. Enjoy them for what they are–fragrances that influenced perfume history and gave different eras their unique scents–but also remember that you have your own world to perfume, and not all classics may fit its spirit.

Which perfume classics do you struggle with? What fragrances have you tried hard to like only to discover that they don’t touch you?

Images: 1–by Bois de Jasmin; 2–1956 ad for Jean D’Albret Ecusson; 3–1946 ad for Bourjois Mais Oui; 4–Shalom Harlow by Patrick Demarchelier, 1996, Chanel Coco ad.



  • Cornelia Blimber: Well, maybe I am a ” laudator (laudatrix in my case) temporis acti”..but I really love and wear Joy. I love most of the classics (and most of the ”modern” perfumes as well).
    Classics I never could wear : the old Opium (too dense; I love the current one), Youth Dew, Shocking. On the other hand I like Tabu, even the current version.
    And no Chamade for me. The only Guerlain I can’t stand.
    Of course I realize that the classics have changed . September 14, 2015 at 7:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Tabu has so much character that no reformulation could remove all of it.

      Is Chamade too green for you? September 14, 2015 at 12:00pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: too much hyacinth! and on my skin, it is rather sweet than green. September 14, 2015 at 12:20pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ah yes, the hyacinth part is very strong! September 14, 2015 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Karen: Too funny, I was just at Saks smelling Chanels and Guerlains, especially Chamade and thought, hmmm I really like this, but not as much as Coromandel…… Totally different of course, but was having fun thinking about how my perfume wardrobe needs some expanding.

      Last time I tried Chamade it just didn’t work, but this time it did. September 14, 2015 at 1:10pm Reply

      • Jackie: Ooohhhh, Karen, I LOVE Coromandel! …. I don’t know Chamade. Is it comparable? September 15, 2015 at 1:30am Reply

        • Karen: Hey Jackie! Coromandel is sooooo beautiful – it’s almost impossible to believe that an elegant patchouli could be created, but it is just elegance and quiet beauty in a bottle.

          The funny thing is usually patchouli, at least the oil that people wear, gives me a headache and can make me nauseous. So discovering how many of my favorite perfumes, Portrait of a Lady, have it makes me curious about why the straight oil has that effect but in a well crafted perfume (PoaL, Coromandel) it reads like heaven for me.

          Chamade is nothing like Coromandel – hyacinth and green. When I tried it before it didn’t work for me (at all), so discovering that I liked it was just a fun thing. Not an autumnal fragrance for me, I’m craving non-florals right now – Ambre Sultan, some gourmands from Guerlain – just had to write and say that phrase – and now Coromandel. September 15, 2015 at 5:48am Reply

          • Jackie: Hiya Karen! Yes, discovering that about patchouli has been an eye-opener for me too. Coromandel is one of the scents I absolutely crave at certain moments. I love to wear it to bed. Any time, really.

            Love it on my husband too.

            Strangely, I have not been won over by POaL, but I think I need to give it another chance. September 15, 2015 at 1:11pm Reply

            • Karen: It seems to be a love it or not kind of fragrance. Jo Mallone’s Velvet Rose and Oud is another option for a dark rose, as is Isparta, Tom Ford’s Noir de Noir, Guerlain’s Rose Nacree du Dessert (and a whole slew of others). September 15, 2015 at 2:04pm Reply

              • Jackie: Will try some of those, Karen, but so far I haven’t been keen on the dark roses (love the transparent, lighter ones), but I will take your list and and go try some of these out! Maybe this will open up a new path for me! September 18, 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Carolyn Middleton: I will make it a must to try to smell the current version of Tabu – I have mentioned it on here before when the name has come up, as an old friend of mine, sadly no longer with us, used to wear it back in our young, free & single days – & everyone knew when Diane had entered the room! Not sure where in the UK I can find a stockist, but I’m in London in Dec for a few days so surely I’ll find it there.

      Wonderful article, by the way – thank you Victoria. September 15, 2015 at 12:12pm Reply

      • Victoria: Glad that you liked it, Carolyn. September 15, 2015 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Kelly: I received a sample of vintage Chamade PdT (I believe), and while I can tell that the frag hadn’t turned, I can also tell that it is something I will never grow to love. Just so screechy to me? So of course, this means I need to come back to it again in the future and see how we do together!

      I also just luckily found a small bottle of Hermes Equipage at an antique store recently and that was heaven in a bottle! So fun smelling some of these vintage frags! 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 4:29am Reply

  • Marsha: Youth Dew has to be handled with kid gloves. I have a small bottle that was meant to be a gift for a friend, but the friendship didn’t last and it got stuck back in a closet, so it’s about 30 years old. Spritz some on a cotton ball, let it sit for a minute, then very very lightly, dab in physical places as far away from your nose as possible (like behind the knees). It is actually wearable like this. I then stick the cotton ball in my purse and as it calms down, it actually becomes rather enjoyable. When I open my purse at checkouts in stores, sometimes the clerk will sniff and look around with a look of wonder on her face and ask “What smells so good?” And I would never, ever presume to offer anything in the way of criticism to anything you have written, but I am a little surprised that you didn’t mention Jicky, the king of vintage perfume. (I guess Jicky has to be the king since I’ve read in so many places that Mitsouko is the queen.) Mitsouko is one that I have struggled with. September 14, 2015 at 7:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I have a small bottle of Youth Dew which I use in my baths in the winter. One drop is all it takes, and I love the lingering scent. But wearing it on skin directly is a bit much. I like your approach instead.

      Jicky is one of my least favorite Guerlain classics. I actually prefer the reformulation, because the original with all of its civet and musk really smells too raunchy for me. The latest version (reformulation post 2013 or 2014) is bright and herbal. Of course, I can see how it might be disappointing to those who wore the original. September 14, 2015 at 12:03pm Reply

      • Marsha: It’s funny, because I had a sample of what was supposed to be vintage Jicky. I was starting to very carefully pick some out for my husband to sniff (He had one sensitive nose!). I let him sniff the Jicky sample and he got wide-eyed and said “Yes!” Later, I let him sniff MKKhan and he said “That is NOT nice!” I can’t smell the raunch in MKKhan. September 15, 2015 at 6:00am Reply

        • Victoria: MKK is a shapeshifter. Some people find it unbearably animalic, but to me it doesn’t smell that raunchy either. September 15, 2015 at 11:40am Reply

      • Jill: Joy by Dior!? Are you kidding?
        Does not create a memory…& probably won’t ever. Boring & rude..another who cares in fragrance. September 26, 2019 at 12:47am Reply

    • spe: The application of fragrances has changed so much!

      From a dab (perfumes) to copious spraying (EDT).
      Method of application, location placed, and quantity used are huge factors in wearing scent. It’s amazing to me how little attention this receives September 14, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

      • Michaela: You are perfectly right, spe! September 15, 2015 at 3:11am Reply

    • moi: What a neat trick, Marsha, I’ll have to try it. I love Youth Dew, but also struggle to find the happy medium between HOLY COW! and Mmmmmm, that’s nice. September 14, 2015 at 5:01pm Reply

  • Caroline: I enjoy many classics, even Joy, but in tiny doses. The ones I’ve never been able to get along with are Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Nahema, and oddly, vintage Diorissimo. Adore Diorama and Diorling, and am on the fence about vintage Miss Dior. It was through this blog that I discovered Scherrer, but it’s another I have to be careful not to overapply. Even once one gains an appreciation for the classics, not all will suit! September 14, 2015 at 8:22am Reply

    • Elisa: Same here with Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, and Nahema — I have never been able to keep any of them on for long without scrubbing, but I suspect I just haven’t tried the right vintage/formulation yet. I do love vintage Shalimar! September 14, 2015 at 11:14am Reply

      • Marsha: Lord have mercy but vintage Shalimar is some good stuff! September 15, 2015 at 5:52am Reply

        • teo: Hi, can you please enlighten me on what the difference is between vintage Shalimar and the present one? I sense there is a difference but can’t quite put my finger on it… January 5, 2017 at 2:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: True about Scherrer. It seems like such a light perfume at first, but it’s one of those fragrances that become bigger as the time goes on. September 14, 2015 at 12:04pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: I discovered Scherrer when I was looking for a dark green perfume, and asked on Recommand me a perfume. Victoria’s idea was Scherrer, and I love it! I own the edt (some people say the edp is still better).
        So thank you again, Victoria. September 14, 2015 at 4:09pm Reply

        • Victoria: I think both are very good. The EDP might be more mossy/patchouli, if I remember correctly. I need to compare them. September 15, 2015 at 5:46am Reply

    • angeldiva: Hi Caroline,
      I had a Fb of Joy in High School, and got loved it! Now- I would love to post the question to BDJ: If you had just enough funds for one or the other – Would you buy 1000, or Fiji ???????
      Thanks! September 14, 2015 at 6:17pm Reply

      • spe: Both Fiji and 1000 have been in my wardrobe and neither got much wear. In theory, I should love Fiji. It was cloying. 1000 never feels spontaneous. I wouldn’t purchase either. What is it that attracts you to these scents? September 15, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

        • angeldiva: I Looooove FRACAS. I don’t care how long it’s been around or who else wears it! It’s on a list of things to buy. But, if I buy it- I have to move it in the move! lol
          I love the island floral idea of Fiji, and 1000. There is a scent culture here in Los Angeles, and these classic florals never go out of style.
          They are the summer make out perfumes. September 15, 2015 at 5:31pm Reply

      • spe: P.S. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, and I only know you from this site, but have you ever worn Fracas or Carnal Flower? A luscious soliflore would suit your online bubbly, fun, extroverted personality. Green florals and things that are “Grande dame” seem a little uptight for you.

        Okay, you can ignore me now! September 15, 2015 at 11:23am Reply

        • angeldiva: Hi Spe!
          I wouldn’t dream of ignoring you! No presumptions… no worries! I’m just glad to get an answer to my question:)
          I suppose these two remind me of my employer in high school, her friends
          and their fine perfumes. I couldn’t afford to purchase their types of perfumes at the time. But, I worked hard, saved my money, and did buy a number of 1970’s classics. I had the tastes of a 40 year old grown woman at 17!
          I will be moving away from my hometown… The nostalgia never ends! September 15, 2015 at 5:27pm Reply

          • spe: Thank you for the explanation, angeldiva!

            My vote for you is Fiji. I love the smell of 1000. But it is a serious perfume, Fiji is more fun-loving, I think. September 17, 2015 at 8:45am Reply

            • angeldiva: Gosh Thanks! September 18, 2015 at 10:18pm Reply

      • Karen: Or 1,000 bottles of a variety of goodies! September 15, 2015 at 2:06pm Reply

        • angeldiva: Doll, I took your advice, too. Ordered samples from the Posh Peasant!
          Counting the days, as I don’t do this often.

          Angeldiva September 18, 2015 at 10:19pm Reply

  • Sandra: Youth Dew is not something I have ever tried or sniffed yet at the beauty counter. Never fell in love with No 5 or Bandit. I don’t think I have smelled most classics. If you consider Shalimar a classic, I prefer the Ode a la Vanille to the original version. Sorry if this offends anyone. I do love Samsara, again not sure if that is considered a classic. September 14, 2015 at 8:22am Reply

    • Yvonne: I also prefer Ode a la Vanille, it’s less thick than the original Shalimar. I would be surprised if anyone gets offended by this. If someone does, I refuse to apologize. That’s just my taste. I like classics but like Victoria says, many are too retro for me. My best friend smells great in No. 5 but for me I like fresh florals and gourmands. September 14, 2015 at 8:53am Reply

      • Sandra: Well its nice to find a kindred spirit!
        I see its still on the Guerlain website but I haven’t seen any bottles at the department stores. I hope they don’t discontinue this flanker. September 14, 2015 at 10:19am Reply

        • Sylvia: I haven’t tried the Ode de la Vanillee- how would you compare it to the current version. I have a bottle of the current Shalimar that I can’t wear because it’s too ‘musty’ smelling on me. I keep thinking if I could amp up the vanilla it might work. I wonder if putting some of the Ode on top of it might do the trick? September 14, 2015 at 11:31am Reply

          • Sandra: I would give it a try!
            Like you, I had the same problem with the original September 14, 2015 at 12:34pm Reply

      • Victoria: That’s a good spirit, Yvonne. Perfume choices are personal, and to each her own. 🙂 September 14, 2015 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Shalimar is as classical as they come, but Ode a la Vanille is fantastic. With so many variations on Shalimar, this and Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravageur must be my favorite takes.
      Samsara is definitely a classic. It was hugely influential and inspired many other fragrances. September 14, 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

    • Marsha: If you smell Youth Dew at the beauty counter, unless you are a patchouli fiend, you probably won’t like it. But you ought to get a sample if you like oriental fragrances and try playing with it very carefully because in small doses, after it calms down, it really smell wonderful. September 15, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

  • Therése: I struggled for years with Mitsouko. I would try the edt on and really really wish that I would love it this time around, but I never did.

    And then one fine day I tried the edp. And I loved it 🙂 September 14, 2015 at 8:53am Reply

    • Therése: I should probably say that I don’t usually struggle like this with perfume, I think the reason I kept coming back to Mitsouko was that I could sense there was something there, something that I liked even though I didn’t enjoy the entirety of the edt. September 14, 2015 at 10:46am Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, it’s a different matter if a perfume actually intrigues you and pull you back. Then it’s all part of the fragrance discovery, learning and figuring out one’s tastes in the process. September 14, 2015 at 12:39pm Reply

        • Therése: I find that that happens in other areas as well, like art, architecture and clothes (and people for that matter). Sometimes things that initially both repelled and intrigued you become your greatest loves. September 15, 2015 at 2:26am Reply

          • Victoria: And occasionally the other way around too. I used to adore Remarque as a teen, but when I read some of his novels now, I found them overly maudlin and not very convincing. Some others, however, have remained as my absolute favorites. September 15, 2015 at 11:13am Reply

            • Therése: True! I read all of Kerouacs books as a teen and was mezmerised. I tried re-reading On the Road again a couple of years ago and found it unreadable 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 5:50am Reply

              • Victoria: A similar experience. I’ve tried to pick up Kerouac a couple of years ago, and it was no go. September 17, 2015 at 3:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: The EDP in Mitsouko is so much better. I love it in all versions, but the EDT has a musty edge which I don’t always enjoy. The EDP is all golden peaches and moss. September 14, 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

      • Therése: Yes! The edp is radiant in a way the edt just isn’t. September 15, 2015 at 2:23am Reply

  • mj: YSLOpium is a difficult one for me. I like the composition in other people, but on me it smells “fake”, like if I’m trying to hard to be someone I’m not. Balmain’s Ivoire is a different case; I have a bottle that I bought because on paper, I should relish it, since the description I found it similar to my very beloved Chanel 19, but the spicy note (carnation?) makes it difficult to me to wear.
    I also cannot wear: Chanel 5 (my mother-in-law signature scent, not a good idea..); Youth Dew (but I love Spellbound, go figure); L’air du Temps (see Ivoire above); Shalimar (but I enjoy Eau du Shalimar)…. September 14, 2015 at 8:53am Reply

    • Victoria: I also prefer Spellbound to Youth Dew. It doesn’t feel as smothering on me, and I like the spicy floral notes. September 14, 2015 at 12:08pm Reply

  • Gretchen: I think it’s a shame that anyone would think poorly of another because of their fragrance choices – how much they wear, that can be problematic, but I also shudder at those who would call someone out on that unless they TRULY had physical reactions (not liking something doesn’t count). It’s supposed to be fun. I like some classics, don’t like others, like some new, don’t like others, but I find myself surprised regularly by how many I do like…and saddened when I realize I should fully enjoy the bottles (and samples, and decants) I own, instead of chasing new ones. Alas, then I smell something, or read of a fragrance that sounds fabulous, and I’m off again….. September 14, 2015 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Thankfully, I haven’t encountered much of such behavior, but it occurred to me that with all of the love showered on classics, people who are new to fragrance might feel obligated to like them. And if they don’t, they feel ashamed to admit it. I know I felt this way when I was starting out with my perfume explorations. So, I hope that here we can share our honest opinions on fragrance and not treat classics as something holy. After all, it’s just perfume and it’s supposed to be fun.

      What’s more, something it’s even more interesting to talk about why we don’t like certain fragrances. It can be a learning experience too. September 14, 2015 at 12:16pm Reply

    • Anita: My late husband LOVED “Babe”, and it makes me ill (full on nausea and headache). I told him that is was, indeed, a deal breaker. No judgement about him, but it’s lucky for our son that he stopped wearing it 😉 November 25, 2016 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Figuier: Great article. I think there’s a lot to be said for smelling ‘of one’s time’ – and I say that without wanting to advocate slavish adherence to the contemporary, or wishing to suggest any prejudice against those who prefer to waft more classical sillages.

    I love a lot of the 80s/early 90s classics – Opium, Poison, Paris – especially in their earlier formulations (that really just means pre 2002 to me). But wearing them in public, or even for extended periods when I’m by myself, is out of the question. They’re wonderful smells, but (imho at least) no longer work as personal scents.

    In fact, judging by my own collection, the perfumes I wear regularly all date from the 2000s, and most of them are from within the last 10 years. September 14, 2015 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I notice that I have a lot of favorites from the mid 90s, which coincided with the time I started exploring perfume seriously. Two of the classics I wear the most are No 19, Apres L’Ondee, Cristalle. This changes, of course. There was a period of time when I wore Cabochard and Miss Dior, but I don’t seem to reach for them as much anymore. Come winter, I will be in Shalimar and Samsara. Not that they’re seasonal, but they’re associated with winter for me. September 14, 2015 at 12:21pm Reply

      • Jackie: There is a scent that holds the position in my mind as the Platonic ideal: it smells to me like a kind of “default” perfume. (not well articulated but I’m sure you know what I mean). Since falling in love again with perfume about a year ago (via this blog!), I’ve been trying to locate that elusive scent. I finally figured it out: Chanel 19 EdP. It was my first grownup perfume when I still lived at home many years ago, and a few weeks ago my husband and two girls and I did a 1,000 mile road trip back to my parents’ home and I wore 19 the whole time, which enriched that step back in time and evoked many scent-memories. Still my desert island scent. 🙂 September 14, 2015 at 3:45pm Reply

        • Figuier: Jackie, No 19 is beautiful isn’t it – I was actually wearing the parfum this afternoon, on top of the 28 la pausa I started the day with. It’s definitely a classic! September 14, 2015 at 4:23pm Reply

          • Figuier: Oh and on the same list – Cristalle, Coco and Cuir de Russie, all wearable classics; on the other hand, Chanel No 5 & No 22 I admire from a distance only…I think it must be the aldehydes. September 14, 2015 at 4:41pm Reply

            • Jackie: I’m with your you there, Figuier, and coincidentally, yesterday I started out with 28 la Pausa (precious sample!) and later layered it with 19! September 15, 2015 at 1:19am Reply

              • Victoria: I must try this layering combination too! September 15, 2015 at 11:02am Reply

              • spe: Jackie, do you find the edp version markedly different than edt (19)? It’s impossible to find here. September 17, 2015 at 8:51am Reply

                • Jackie: Hi spe, Yes, I do find a difference. I think the edt was more green, the edp more iris, softer, but still not sweet or overly florally. …But this is just based on a few in-store sprays of the edt. I haven’t even been inspired to ask for a sample. But I do owe it a proper try. September 18, 2015 at 12:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: No 19 as the Platonic ideal. I love it! 🙂 It would also be my desert island perfume. September 15, 2015 at 5:44am Reply

          • Jackie: 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 1:39pm Reply

      • Figuier: How interesting – & yes, I think that might be it with me too – I was interested in perfumes before then, but started sampling more widely in the early 2000s. So maybe my sense of what perfume is/should be is tilted towards what was appearing then…the test I guess will be to see what I’m wearing in 20 years time! September 14, 2015 at 4:28pm Reply

        • Jackie: Yes, I wonder! And it’s exciting to think what perfumers will come up with in that time too! As with music, the combination of notes is apparently endless. Life is good, as Irem days below, and fragrance one of its gifts! September 15, 2015 at 1:22am Reply

        • Victoria: Me too! It definitely changes and evolves, though. I’ve added a couple of new favorites to that list in the last year or two. September 15, 2015 at 5:47am Reply

          • Jackie: I’d sure be interested to hear what those are, Victoria! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 1:40pm Reply

            • Victoria: La Fille de Berlin by Lutens, for instance. Bottega Veneta Knot and also Bulgari The Bleu. The last one is very recent, but I really enjoy it and wear it often. Truth be told, I’m getting tired of Goutal’s Neroli and I want something else easy but interesting. September 16, 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

              • Jackie: Thank you so much for sharing that, Victoria. I will have to give those first two another try. Dying to try Bulgari The Bleu — haven’t seen it yet! September 18, 2015 at 12:54pm Reply

                • Victoria: It should be coming to your shores soon, if it hasn’t already. Lavender, iris and green tea is a great combination. September 18, 2015 at 2:00pm Reply

  • jillie: Oh my goodness – I have those very bottles (and box) that you have in your photo!

    I usually prefer how my perfumes used to be and am quite often disappointed with their incarnations, which can seem thinner in comparison. But I also realise that my nose is changing with time, and my mood definitely affects they way I perceive a fragrance, especially recently. I am going through a very strange phase of not liking a lot of old favourites and finding love for those I used to ignore.

    I must smell the latest Chanel No 5 – I last wore it about 40 years ago (gulp!) and haven’t appreciated any of the new formulations. I can’t believe that my bottle was called Eau de Cologne and yet smelt stronger than the Eau de Parfums of recent times – purely a different way of labelling, I think. September 14, 2015 at 9:23am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 You’re my scent twin, I always knew it.

      Which perfumes are you wearing the most lately? September 14, 2015 at 12:22pm Reply

      • jillie: Veering towards light and fresh for the moment – AG’s Eau de Camille and Balenciaga’s L’Essence which has my favourite violet note and which perhaps nods very gently to Apres l’Ondee in a shy way; I think Balenciaga were keen to keep the violet there as a tribute to the great, late Le Dix, which will always be an old favourite of mine.

        Thanks to you, V, I also enjoy wearing Calandre! September 14, 2015 at 1:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: I think you’re right. It’s such a distinctive note in Balenciaga. September 15, 2015 at 5:10am Reply

  • Scented Salon: It refreshing to read this post as I am one of the people who is often trying to like a perfume simply because it is a classic. Obviously, I have been failing so far and feeling back about it.

    I am all about the past and perfumes from the old days give me a thrill because it is as close as I can come to smelling the past. Sure, we can look at pictures and read about how people lived, but a smell is the only live connection to the past. I understand that the perfumes of today are nothing like the ones they claim to be but it is as close as we can come.

    Luckily, I have found Caron’s recreations suitable to my nose. I particularly love Tabac Blond and Poivre and wear both all the time without reservation. Yes, they do smell old fashioned, but they are astoundingly beautiful and like no other perfumes made today.

    When I force myself to like a scent it just backfires. I must be enchanted from the first moment or I will not be enchanted at all. Rarely do I begin to love a perfume after I try it on several occasions, but it has been known to happen.

    Recently I tried to love L’Heure Blue but it smelled like old jasmine to me so I finally abandoned the idea of forcing myself to like something because of its history. September 14, 2015 at 9:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I share your fascination with the times past, and the idea of wearing perfume as a way of experiencing some of those eras. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t. Some stories don’t end up resonating. For instance, I never grew to like Caron Acaciosa, even though I like the story of acacias and massed of white flowers. Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais smelled like sour wine dregs, not anything approximating a bouquet of crimson roses. At some point, it’s no longer fun when you have to force yourself to like something. Luckily, there are many other wonderful fragrances. September 14, 2015 at 12:25pm Reply

      • Scented Salon: I search online about which perfumes were popular during different eras, like World War II for example, and try to sample them. I don’t have to wear the perfume but a small sample can help to transport me to the past. When I am reading a book about a certain time period, I like to spray a matching perfume onto the pages and that memory is always associated with the smell. “Fires of Autumn” is Oud Silk Mood and “All Quiet on the Western Front” is Ryder. September 14, 2015 at 7:18pm Reply

        • Karen: Very cool idea! September 14, 2015 at 8:26pm Reply

        • Rine: What a great idea!

          The history of beauty and cosmetics during World War II is really interesting, can you tell me more about what you’ve found out about the perfumes that were popular during WW2? And if you have any links to good references/resources about this? Thank you! September 15, 2015 at 8:35am Reply

          • Scented Salon: I really learned a lot from the book “Glamour” by Carol Dyhouse: there is some information about perfume but it delves deeper into fashion and society. There are numerous ads and photos in it that I really like.

            A website that has nice perfume ads is vintageadbroswer.com. The ads really tell you about ideas of identity and courtship.

            As far as which perfumes are from this era, I go by what I read, and that is not always verifiable. Classic Chanels were there, as well as old Guerlains. Coty was very popular at the time (L’Origan, L’Aimant), Ricci L’Air du Temps and Dana. There are countless others that are not made anymore, even in reformulated versions.

            Two other books about perfume through the ages is “Perfume: Joy, Scandal, Sin – A Cultural History of Fragrance from 1750 to the Present” and “Scent and Subversion.” September 15, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

        • Victoria: I’m reading Fires of Autumn right now. I don’t have any Oud Silk Mood, but I can imagine the scent fitting in well. September 15, 2015 at 10:44am Reply

          • Scented Salon: Don’t worry, you can substitute any good oud/rose perfume haha. I would actually use something like Ambre Sultan for the fire and Fall leaves theme. I know you like that one. September 15, 2015 at 2:51pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, I do! 🙂 I might have to put it on the next time I read it. Thank you for an idea. September 16, 2015 at 2:35pm Reply

    • Cynthia: I have tried to like L’Heure Bleue EDP. I bought a small decant last summer. The minute I put it on it gave me a headache. I don’t know if it’s the aldehydes that are too strong for me or the jasmine. In any event, I agree with you. I am done trying to like something because of its history. September 23, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

      • Pam: I absolutely love Guerlain L”Heure Bleue.
        first time I tried it after being given a sample and bought a 75ml bottle.
        Love it so much it relaxes me and I spray several puffs on my pillow case at night.
        A better sleep is always the rsult when I use it. Cant seem to find another bottle as supplier sold out but will keep trying. March 29, 2021 at 1:48am Reply

  • Kat: I haven’t sampled a vast amount of classics. And whilst I never disliked a classic I hardly ever fell in love with one either. For example I still have Chanel No 5 and No 9 (pre-reformulation) in my collection. I like them but I never consider them ‘my’ scents. That’s a title reserved for perfumes that I immediately connect with because I like to think of them as the olfactory representation of my personality (or at least its better aspects). In all my life only one or two perfumes managed to go there – neither was a classic. September 14, 2015 at 9:31am Reply

    • Patricia: What are your one or two personal classics, Kat? September 14, 2015 at 10:15am Reply

      • Kat: I think the one I treasure the most so far is the original scent by Shu Uemura (nobody seems to be familiar with that one). I’ve still got half a bottle that I don’t dare to touch. I miss it immensely and haven’t managed to find a replacement. It’s a rare thing, a subtle chypre. I’m normally struggling with silage – even heavy hitters just evaporate on my skin. This one remained with me without being overpowering. September 14, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that part has so little to do with perfume’s age or its iconic status. September 14, 2015 at 12:27pm Reply

  • Michaela: I respected Opium, Poison, Magie Noire, and could never wear them. I tried hard to like Chanel 5 just for its iconic state and never worked for me. I would not chase vintages for sure. There are too many perfumes to discover, old or young, and some may touch me deeply.
    I consider some old classics timeless and I wear them, like Pour un Homme de Caron.
    Still, reformulating perfumes once in 2 or 3 years seems too often for me. More chances to lose favorites. September 14, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

    • Victoria: So true. It’s hard to fall in love with something only to discover that it was changed. Maybe, the change might have been for the better, but our noses are too precise for such things. September 14, 2015 at 12:27pm Reply

      • Jackie: I read yesterday that the human eye is able to perceive 5 million different colours! I wonder how many smells we could distinguish (with our no-doubt underused olfactory sense, at least compared to the visual!)? Or how scientists could even figure that one out! September 15, 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. I’m curious too. September 16, 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

    • Marsha: Love love love Pour un Homme Caron! One of my favorites! It is one that I can be sure won’t make me nauseated. September 15, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

  • Patricia: Although I adore the Narcisse Noir bottle, its contents are another matter. I’ve tried both vintage and modern and don’t like either. I’m also not a huge fan of No. 5, but I like the Eau Premiere version very much. Maybe it will be my “gateway” to the original. And I adore No. 19 new and old and in all versions (except the Poudre which seems to me much less modern than the original!). September 14, 2015 at 10:09am Reply

    • Sandra: I had a slow love affair with the Poudre-now its in my daily rotation September 14, 2015 at 10:22am Reply

      • Patricia: I have a small decant, and I do plan on wearing it now and then. Maybe I’ll grow to love it, too! September 14, 2015 at 10:55am Reply

      • Phyllis Iervello: Sandra, I am with you about No. 19 Poudre…although it was an immediate love for me. That one and Hermes Hiris are my go-to scents when I am in a quandary about what to wear. September 14, 2015 at 10:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Eau Premiere was also my gateway to No 5. I loved it so much that I started liking No 5 too.

      No 19 is one of my two favorite classics. September 14, 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

      • Jackie: I like Eau Premiere but still have not come ’round to No. 5. I don’t mind it, but I don’t particularly like it either. Maybe some day. (or maybe not. C’est la vie!)

        However, I LOVE 19 and LOVE most of the Exclusifs. Nothing has made me want to win the lottery more than that collection. September 14, 2015 at 3:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: I hear you! I even fell for Jersey extrait. September 15, 2015 at 5:44am Reply

          • Jackie: Ouch!
            And I see by your review you weren’t smitten with that one at first. It’s now at the top of my list to revisit! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 1:02pm Reply

            • Victoria: I like the extrait more than the EDT, but now I even started enjoying the EDT more. Still, the extrait is my favorite version. September 16, 2015 at 2:19pm Reply

        • Karen: Have you tried #5 in pure parfum? It’s very, very quiet, a come-closer type that doesn’t announce itself. It’s perfect for going out when you don’t want your fragrance to be what people first notice, but just as perfect when you want something soft and subtle to wear when home reading a book under a blanket. September 15, 2015 at 5:55am Reply

          • Karen: While wearing cashmere sweatpants September 15, 2015 at 6:17am Reply

            • Victoria: LOL! September 15, 2015 at 11:39am Reply

            • Jackie: We’ve suddenly gone from hot summery days to chilly fall. Overnight! So, Karen, that sounds perfect with a book and blanket — in my case a kid’s book and a kid with me under the blanket :). I haven’t tried 5 in pure parfum, but I am racing to get my work done today so I can buzz downtown to sniff.
              Cashmere sweats will have to wait for the lottery! 😉 September 15, 2015 at 1:06pm Reply

              • Karen: My lottery winnings list is quite long! There was some quote a while ago along the lines of, Cashmere scarf – wonderful, cashmere sweater – divine, cashmere socks – true luxury. So cashmere socks for all!

                The pure parfum comes in a very small bottle, which is not crazy expensive and lasts for a very long time. Unless, of course it was your everyday fragrance. September 15, 2015 at 2:12pm Reply

                • Jackie: Haha. Cashmere socks for everybody!! September 18, 2015 at 12:37pm Reply

            • angeldiva: LOL , too! September 15, 2015 at 5:36pm Reply

          • Marsha: Believe it or not, Samsara pure parfum is like that. September 15, 2015 at 11:26am Reply

      • angeldiva: Eue Premiere stands head and shoulders above any other scent, or sample I own. Truly in a class by itself.
        I’m so thankful to the BDJ folks who turned me onto it! September 15, 2015 at 7:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s such a great case of a classic updated. September 16, 2015 at 2:40pm Reply

  • limegreen: I love this post, Victoria! 🙂 So liberating, thank you for extending a helping hand to get me out of a marsh of unwanted and unloved perfumes! Well, you know which perfume classic I have given up on since it will be a giveaway bottle — Mitsouko! I see that it is already on a few lists in the comments.

    “water left from a wilted bouquet” — this really resonated with me! I so enjoy your turns of phrases.

    I did try non-vintage no. 19 and Apres L’Ondee several times (they weren’t a love on first impression) and fell for them, so it is what you say, about chemistry and also about changes in my taste. September 14, 2015 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: The funny thing is that perfume lovers can be more serious about perfume than professional perfumers. “Something smells old,” commented a colleague when I was wearing Cuir de Russie. She didn’t mean it in a derogatory way, just a shorthand that it wasn’t a modern blend. Perfumers respect and understand them, but they can quickly point out which part of the composition is lacking or why they dislike a particular venerated fragrance. Even classics aren’t without flaws.

      Reformulated No 19 and Apres L’Ondee are very good. September 14, 2015 at 12:32pm Reply

  • Maria B: This is an excellent article, Victoria.

    I admire Mitsouko but do not feel comfortable wearing it. I tried on Joy and got an instant migraine–quite a dramatic reaction.

    For years I loved and wore L’Huere Bleue. Then I stopped wearing it after I started dating my husband because he did not like it. (His nose has developed since then.) I got a sample of the most recent version and discovered, to my dismay, that a note of cumin overwhelmed all the other components. There was no cumin-like note in the versions I wore. My hope that I got a bad sample may be unrealistic. September 14, 2015 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I will try it again. I’m not as sensitive to cumin as some of you are, but I have a cumin detector at home (my husband can pick it out instantly). 🙂 September 14, 2015 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Phyllis Iervello: I have the new version of L’Heure Bleue and do not detect cumin. I remember smelling it years ago and not caring for it. When I smelled this latest one I was surprised because I could not find much of a resemblance to the vintage version but like the newest version. September 14, 2015 at 10:05pm Reply

  • brenda: I don’t know for sure if Cabochard is considered a classic or not – but, certainly it’s availability – at least in Canada – leads me to believe it is. This scent is one of my favourites and, though I enjoy wearing it, I can’t say as I’ve ever been complimented on it – as I have on some others. Irrelevant though, it always seems to me elegant, timeless and provokes a lovely evening ahead ( it does not appeal to me before 4:00p.m.) Further, I once saved up some extra money and purchased a bottle of Joy – blind buy, but full of confidence that I needn’t sample it first. What a disappointment, indeed. I passed it on to my mother and, truthfully, don’t think she ever wore it either! Live and learn…enjoy your columns…..thank you. September 14, 2015 at 11:01am Reply

    • Victoria: I love Cabochard on a friend, and whenever she wears it, I keep leaning in to smell more of it. It has a wonderful sillage, a blend of leather, green notes and a hint of white flowers.

      I remember that I kept being told to try harder with Joy, but while I grew to like it ok (as opposed to actively disliking it), it hasn’t turned into love. I rarely feel tempted to wear it these days. The version I like best is the EDT which has a lovely green jasmine note. September 14, 2015 at 12:45pm Reply

  • Trudy: Great post! Through the years I have tried various versions of Chanel 5. It always seemed so sophisticated and I loved all the ads but it just never hit the right chord with me. So… no #5 for me. The same with ’Heure Blue and Shalimar. Many years ago I had a friend who would occasionally wear her mother’s perfumes. I specifically remember asking her what she was wearing because she smelled so good. “My mom’s Youth Dew” she replied. I wasn’t really in to perfumes yet…I wore things like Love’s Baby Soft or something along those lines. When I finally got around to trying Youth Dew I found it smelled nothing like I remembered on my friend. I did not like it at all! Likewise I had a friend who only wore Obsession and it was wonderful on her….but on me? No way. I used to wear Paris and I loved it. I recently re-visited it and found, although it is still lovely, its just not me anymore. Now , Mitsouko does hold a special place in my heart. It really isn’t a perfume that I “should” like when compared to others that I love. However, many years ago a man I was seeing gave me a small bottle in a little brown and ivory box for Valentine’s Day. I loved it (or maybe him). I still have a small decant of vintage Mitsouko that every once in a while I dab on my wrist. Usually in fall/winter. I would never buy a full bottle and can’t wear it often, but I do appreciate that perfume. September 14, 2015 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so hard to buy perfume purely based on how someone else wore it. I was also burned a few times this way. A friend wore Hermes Rouge beautifully, but on me it was cloying. September 14, 2015 at 12:51pm Reply

  • Rita: The favourite classics I enjoy are
    Chanel 5 EDT, Krizia K, First By Van Cleef and Arpels, Diorissimo by Dior, Chamade. The perfume I am not able to understand is L’Heure Bleue, inspite of my admiring of Catherine Deneuve. September 14, 2015 at 11:10am Reply

    • Victoria: So nice to see a mention of K de Krizia. The whole line is flamboyant and memorable. September 14, 2015 at 12:52pm Reply

    • angeldiva: L’ Heure Bleue can be layered with any Iris. I can’t wear it on it’s own. September 15, 2015 at 7:52pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Lately I have been revisiting the classics: L”Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, and Shalimar and enjoying them along with my modern and niche fragrances. September 14, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

  • Carlisle: Many years ago on an old TV game show (maybe “What’s My Line?”) the panelists were asked to blindly taste test 4 wines and then rank them by perceived expensiveness. Socialite Kitty Carlisle ranked them all correctly; comedian Soupy Sales managed to get them all wrong, ranking the most expensive as the cheapest, and vice versa.

    Well, I am the Soupy Sales of perfume. I own several lovely and pricey fragrances, such as No. 5 Eau Premiere, Lolita Lempicka, En Passant, Diorissimo, and L’eau d’hiver. But I inevitably wear Marc Jacobs’ Basil Splash in the summer and Jovan Musk the rest of the time, with the occasional exception of Tea for Two. They just feel right. September 14, 2015 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Such a great story! 🙂
      On many days I wear Annick Goutal Neroli cologne or Bulgari The Vert, which are simple and straightforward. They feel so good and always right. Some of my other favorites are more of the special mood perfumes. I rarely feel tempted to wear Shalimar first thing in the morning, but I love it later in the day, especially when I feel tired or under the weather. It feels like a comforting cashmere blanket. September 14, 2015 at 12:55pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Neroli!
        I have just survived the most humid heatwave of 5 days duration with no air conditioning.
        These scents helped me to cope:
        Woods Of Windsor- Bergamot And Neroli
        Geurlain- Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca
        Hermes- Eau Des Marveilles
        and my ever faithful L’occitaine -Verbena

        omg…three changes of clothes per day
        three cold showers,
        and, two sets of sheets per day!

        and… break out your hankies, the clothes washer has been broken down for three weeks! LOL
        But, the right part arrived, the F is down to 79 degrees, today, and I’m grateful for the world of perfume! September 14, 2015 at 6:29pm Reply

        • angeldiva: also, ran out of body powder on day #5 waaaaaaaaaa !!! LOL September 14, 2015 at 6:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: Wow, no A/C in CA in the summer must be rough. We don’t have A/C either, and it can get steamy in the summer, but this kind of heat only lasts a couple of weeks, not for several months. September 15, 2015 at 10:41am Reply

          • angeldiva: Honestly! I should have gone to a motel!
            UPDATE: My washer works, again!
            Hallelujia, and thanksgiving to St. Dymphna! September 15, 2015 at 7:56pm Reply

        • Karen: Oh Angeldiva, I’ve been hearing about the fires from my sister who lives way up north in Calif., so very very scary! The impact of the drought is monumental. September 15, 2015 at 2:15pm Reply

          • angeldiva: Oh! Thank-you both for caring! Between the historical drought, and the history making fires, we are having serious challenges, here in California.
            I’m lucky to have what I have even if the wash machine still doesn’t work, lol. I’m waiting for the repairman as we speak.
            I think it’s because I’m in my 50’s – the 70% humidity just made me feel so uncomfortable in my body.
            But, then THE MIRACLE!!! It started to RAIN at 2am, and just rained down all night! Thank-God. It made me think of the water content in our bodies, and the dryness of the air here for the last 5 years. I went out, and sat in the front porch. It’s really Spiritual when it rains here, answered prayers… And, the scent of the world outside my front door is green, and floral, and sagey, again. September 15, 2015 at 5:44pm Reply

            • Karen: Yay! California has had a very rough year. September 15, 2015 at 11:11pm Reply

              • angeldiva: Thank-you, like all other humans of planet Earth we Californians could use some global good vibrations! September 18, 2015 at 10:26pm Reply

  • Cyndi: I loved reading this post today because I’m drawn to a lot of “old” perfumes. I recently purchased a bottle of Chanel No. 22, and although it has probably been somewhat reformulated, I still love it. Same with Chanel No. 5. I used to really love Mitsouko years ago and currently have a bottle of the EDP. However, I often wear it when I’m alone and don’t feel comfortable wearing it in public anymore.
    Victoria, thank you for all your wonderful articles! September 14, 2015 at 11:19am Reply

    • Victoria: So happy to hear that you liked it.
      Does Mitsouko feel overly strong to you? There is a lady in my apartment building who wears it, and I love smelling her sillage. It really brightens up my mornings when I step into the elevator after her and can smell peaches and moss of Mitsouko. Little thing but very nice. September 14, 2015 at 12:57pm Reply

      • Cyndi: For some reason Mitsouko does seem a little strong now, even though years ago it was pretty much my signature scent. I’ve been trying to find the extract, but no one seems to carry it in any of the stores, and I’m a little afraid to buy at an online discounter. September 14, 2015 at 6:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: The extrait is more fragile than other versions, so I understand your reluctance. You can always order it from Bergdorf or Neimans, I suppose. It does stay closer to skin. September 15, 2015 at 10:42am Reply

      • Phyllis Iervello: In all my years of collecting and smelling perfumes, Mitsouko was a classic I had never smelled. I had imagined that it would be a very strong scent. Only recently have I sampled it and was completely surprised. I find it to be bright and uplifting. I wore it out on Saturday and three different people said I smelled great and wanted to know what I was wearing. September 14, 2015 at 10:12pm Reply

        • Victoria: I also don’t find it strong, but I know some people who do because it has a pronounced, enveloping sillage. As I mentioned about my neighbor, I can smell it in the elevator well after she has used it. And I don’t think that she oversprays. September 15, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

  • Ida: Thank you, Victoria, the post came as a relief, I must say. I’m relatively new to the world of perfumes and have only just started getting used to the classic scents. Yes, I think getting used to the accords captured and played differently and thinking outside the ‘oh, it smells old-fashioned’ box are actually important parts of the process.

    I’m not going to lie – the initial surprise and, in some cases, a bit of a disappointment, were there. While I do appreciate the mastery of the classics, I can’t say they all suit me or reflect my personality. I quite enjoy No. 5 post-reformulation (it smells lovely on my husband!), but can’t see myself wearing the original. What I’m the most surprised about is how I almost instantly started enjoying Mitsouko, Miss Dior and Shalimar (even though they’re not 100% me). I was prepared for a bumpy ride with these ones. No. 19 left me rather cold (I like Poudre), which I couldn’t believe! And I adore Diorissimo.

    I was considering visiting The Osmotheque, but I still think it’s a bit too soon for my nose. 🙂 September 14, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I think smelling classics is rewarding even if you don’t end up falling for them, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to like them. Some perfumes just won’t appeal, and our tastes are shaped by our unique experiences.

      The Osmotheque could still be fun, because you learn a lot about perfumery there, how it developed, how great perfumers worked. September 14, 2015 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Cate McGinnis: I thank you for this post, Victoria, as it mirrors my experiences as well. When I first started reading perfume blogs, I “tried to like” some of the Guerlain classics, but did not enjoy, and actually had to drive home with the windows open after testing Shalimar on my skin because it nauseated me. Joy and 1000 were the first scents my husband gave me, tho, and I still love them, altho I tend to wear Sur le Nil more every day. September 14, 2015 at 11:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I also found Shalimar difficult, and it took me several years before I fell in love with it. I didn’t force myself to try it, but it kept reappearing on my perfume path, so to speak. Apres L’Ondee, on the other hand, was an instant love.

      You’ve reminded me that I haven’t worn Jardin sur le Nil lately, and today feels like a good day for it. September 14, 2015 at 1:06pm Reply

      • Katy McReynolds: Shalimar is a hard one. The modern formula is a hot mess in the opening for me but I fell in love with the Parfum Initial version, my gateway Shalimar! Not too long after that I obtained a bottle of Shalimar EDC from the 1970 ‘s and that is some gorgeous stuff. September 15, 2015 at 11:49am Reply

        • Victoria: I actually find it the opposite. The vintage opening is more difficult on me, while I like the modern Shalimar’s intro. It’s the drydown where I miss the ambergris and floral musks of the original (among other things).

          But I hear that Ode a la Vanille was created, because many people also find the opening of the current Shalimar too sharp. September 15, 2015 at 11:52am Reply

  • silverdust: I’m also one of those who “don’t get” the hype over Mitsouko. My grandmother used to buy my mother (her DIL) No. 5, even though my mother could’ve cared less about a “prestige” perfume. It was waaaay stronger back in the day, and she smelled lovely. But it’s another that’s not for me — too sweet.

    The original No. 19 I found to be a smoky masterpiece. The original EL Azuree actually started my descent into ‘Fumerhood, though to me, it smells radically different, even though ‘fume sites say that Azuree and Youth Dew are the only Lauder products that adhere to the orig recipe.

    The reformulated Rive Gauche is a crime against humanity if you know the original.

    I’m not into sweet and/or floral scents, so the above-mentioned Diors never did anything to me. And Shalimar, worn by one of my aunts, just smelled soapy to me.

    Touching on new vs old, the strenght and staying power of the new is pathetic on those of us with “scent-eating skin.” Most new scents are barely perceptible on me at the six-hour mark. September 14, 2015 at 12:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: I really think that perfumes aren’t macerated long enough these days (the production times are so short), and it’s one of the problems. Of course, the regulations, restrictions, bans of certain important materials don’t help. You can’t use enough of some of the strongest, most lasting ingredients in large enough doses.

      Azuree and Youth Dew have been reformulated many times. I once worked for the company that made up their formulas. September 14, 2015 at 12:37pm Reply

      • Katy McReynolds: I find modern Youth Dew a lot more root beery, not a bad thing, then some of my older bottles. September 15, 2015 at 11:51am Reply

        • Victoria: I didn’t make that association (I tried root beer only once), but I just took my bottle out, and yes, I see it. 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

          • Kelly: Ahhhh! There’s nothing like a good peppery root beer, with a touch of anise! If you’re an anise frag lover like me, seek out root beer again! 😀

            In a small little tourist town outside of Chicago where I live, there’s a store devtoted to solely root beer, sasparilla, and all of its various incarnations. And you haven’t lived until you’ve had the perfect root beer float!

            Is root beer mostly an American pleasure? September 16, 2015 at 4:56am Reply

            • Victoria: I think so. I haven’t looked for it here specifically, but it’s not something you find in an average European store. The root beer float sounds delicious, and I want to try it, especially from a store devoted to root beer. September 16, 2015 at 2:44pm Reply

              • Pat Borow: Real root beer — with Sasparilla — is as uncommon in the US as licorice. (I had never tasted real licorice until a Dutch tourist gave me some.) Like vintage perfume compared to some sugary celebrity scent. I remember tasting real root beer as a child and thinking it was for the grown-ups. September 18, 2015 at 9:16am Reply

                • Victoria: I tried real licorice in Italy, I think, although some of the best licorice treats are Dutch. They’re nothing like the licorice candy in the US. For one thing, the flavor packs a punch, and there is often a touch of salt. Totally addictive. I think I need to visit the Netherlands just to stock up again. September 18, 2015 at 1:56pm Reply

  • spe: Great post! Your words completely resonate with me.

    Tried for years and in various formulations, but cannot warm up to:
    Narcisse Noire (mentioned above)

    Trussardi’s Donna smells like an improved Joy to me. The one in the plastic, cloudy container.

    Classics I love:
    L’Air du Temp
    Rive Gauche
    Vent Vert
    And almost all of the classic chanels – they smell great on me, but I don’t wear them that much. I kind of take them for granted. They are almost too easy. I know, crazy. A Chanel should be my signature and I call it quits as far as perfume acquisition!

    Many Frederic Malle scents smell like “classics in the making” to me.

    I found some Coeur d’ joie years ago – perfume formulation. Lovely. Quite soft. Almost a leather floral.

    Youth Dew – it’s okay but isn’t me
    Samsara – cannot stand the smell- don’t know why September 14, 2015 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: It was so much fun to read your list, and I found myself nodding in agreement on Chanels. I like very much almost all of them and I find them easy. I know that sometimes they’re described as too aloof or too elegant, but on me, I smell sweet floral notes and lots of other delicious things. Vent Vert is an enduring love too. Frederic Malle Iris Poudre could be a classic. It’s so inspired by No 5. September 14, 2015 at 12:47pm Reply

  • maggiecat: What a lovely article, full of truth and comfort for those of us who fail to “get” some of the classics. While I love all forms of No. 5, Eau Premiere is the only one I wear often, and Shalimar Souffle is the only version of Shalimar I truly love. I can appreciate the art of Mitsouko without finding it at all enjoyable to wear, and vintage Joy actually repulses me. On the other hand, I liberated an old bottle of Tabu from my mom’s house this past summer, and it smells yummy to me. I’m waiting for cooler weather to try to wear it, but I expect it will be fantastic… I’m enjoying reading everyone’s comments and celebrating the idea that every single perfume ever created brings someone, somewhere, sheer delight. September 14, 2015 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Vintage Tabu could almost be a modern niche scent with all of its incense and amber notes. 🙂

      I heard so many negative things about Souffle de Shalimar, but I’m enjoying it so much. September 14, 2015 at 12:49pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Actress- Ava Gardeners signature scent! September 14, 2015 at 6:30pm Reply

        • Karen: Man was she Gorgeous with a capital G! I just read that the spring/summer collection at Oscar de la Renta was inspired in part by Ava Gardner, and more specifically when she was in Spain. And I’ve been thinking about how much more I’m prone to give a fragrance a try when it’s associated with one of the old-school Hollywood actresses, even though they were not of my time.

          Something about their style just really works – and I know when Victoria references an actress such as Catherine Deneuve in a review – well I want to rush out and give it a try! September 15, 2015 at 11:17pm Reply

          • angeldiva: Her autobiography was really good, too. She was a virgin when she married Mickey Rooney ( who I loved) , and after consummating their marriage, the young groom took off to the golf course with his golfing bros!
            Poor Ava, felt abandoned, and, I can’t blame her. She was a Georgia Peach, and he was young Hollywood. September 18, 2015 at 10:30pm Reply

  • Natalie: I never liked Youth Dew. When I was a child I would once in a while smell my mother’s vintage bottle of Youth Dew and recoil at the scent. She never wore it(thankfully), but it sat in her collection for years. It is no better today than back then. September 14, 2015 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s one strong perfume, for sure! I think that the original version was even brasher than the one sold today. September 14, 2015 at 1:08pm Reply

    • msmonochrome: I could never get around the patchouli in Youth Dew. I have a general distaste for that note, and it is extremely concentrated in Youth Dew….definitely not for me.

      I also can not abide Fracas, as to me it smells like a funeral (white florals in general often smell sad to me, as they were often present at somber occasions).

      I LOVE Bandit, however. Bitter green and leather are two lovely things that are even better together September 15, 2015 at 10:42pm Reply

  • Lucretia Trollope: The first time I smelled Guerlain Shalimar on a perfume counter, I thought it smelled of anim feces. I still have the same reaction. Like someone who has been cleaning horse stables. And after that, decided that the hounds could do some grooming. And then walked in with muddy boots into a roomful of leather-bound furniture, poured a glass of Scotch while chain-smoking cigars. September 14, 2015 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Lucretia Trollope: Animal feces September 14, 2015 at 1:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: What an image! September 15, 2015 at 4:59am Reply

  • Austenfan: My only perfume failing would be my lack of enthusiasm for a lot of Chanels, especially the Exclusifs. I can kind of see why they are considered great fragrances but they are so not me, that I’ve kind of given up on them. I think one of the reasons that I keep trying is that I’m trying to figure out why. And while figuring it out I stumble upon ones that I do love, like Cuir de Russie, Sycomore, Eau Première and the extraits of No.5 and No. 22.
    Very enjoyable post, and especially useful for people first starting to explore the world of fragrance. September 14, 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I know what you mean. Some perfumes smell memorable and interesting, but they just don’t fit my personality or don’t make me feel good. Same with literature. I recognize that Dostoyevsky is a great writer, but his style and his philosophy don’t appeal to me. September 15, 2015 at 5:07am Reply

  • Karen: Very fun article Victoria! And I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from everyone who has felt bad about not liking a classic at some time. As I commented above, this was perfect timing for me as I was just playing around with Guerlain and Chanel classics – looking for a fall fragrance. Coromandel hit the spot perfectly, and I was surprised to find that I really liked Chamade this time.

    No.5 parfum is a fragrance that I love and brings me great comfort, feels very personal and intimate. L’heure Bleue I enjoy and had fun wearing this summer. Layered over Bois des Iles last winter seemed to work beautifully. Mitsouko I worked at and it finally resonated on a foggy, chilly day.

    But, I do think there are so many modern perfumes that are gorgeous – some classics are worth the time if they resonate in some way and others are just fine for others.

    Limegreen provided me with a sample of Youth Dew, among others, and as you say – a drop in a bath is wonderful.

    It’s so much fun exploring perfumes and I do love how you can picture women from an era wearing certain fragrances. September 14, 2015 at 1:29pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Hi Doll!
      You know I’m getting more curious about Youth Dew. I didn’t like it in high school, and was amazed that a very chic friend had a bottle she loved. Madonna calls in the sexiest scent in the world.
      I would love to smell the Amber flanker- now there is a really great marketing idea. I find that the older I get, the more I appreciate really strong scents ala Ambre Sultan! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 2:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t agree more. It always baffles me when people dismiss contemporary perfumery completely. Back in the day, there was also many dismal fragrances and there were also many copycats. The market is bigger now, of course, so it all feels more overwhelming, but among bland fragrances, there are so many gems. And there are also more inexpensive perfumes, available to many more people. We tend to romanticize the vintages, while forgetting that back then they were luxury available to select few. September 15, 2015 at 5:09am Reply

      • Karen: It reminds me of a time when I was at the opera and a man behind me said of an upcoming show, “Oh, it’s just some Puccini” in a dismissive tone. And I thought, Whaaaat? I think people are dismissive of things – classics and modern, in perfume, art, music – everything – not realizing that they are cutting themselves off from wonderful experiences and broadening their world.

        It seems as though you can feel (self-imposed) pressure to say you like or dislike something when everyone else is raving about or dismissing. I think you liberated a bunch of people when you wrote about liking Pink Sugar! And some new perfumes are perfect for young women/men working in offices with close quarters and a strong fragrance is inappropriate – the Daisy line is one that springs to mind that gets dismissed quickly, but works perfectly for some.

        First did not work for me, at all. It was a blind buy that from the notes I thought would be a perfect fit. Passed it on to a friend for whom it held wonderful memories and she was thrilled. September 15, 2015 at 6:33am Reply

        • Marsha: “Just some Puccini.” Yeah, right. Just only some of the most romantic music ever written. September 15, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

          • Karen: Exactly! Un bel di vedremo from Butterfly makes me weep from its sheer beauty! September 15, 2015 at 2:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, it’s hard to admit to a group of enthusiasts (especially if they seem more knowledgeable) that you don’t appreciate something they rave about. I’ve been there many times, and not just when it comes to perfume. But I hope that here we don’t have to worry about voicing our opinions about fragrances. Explaining why we don’t like something is just as helpful as the opposite.

          Daisy is not a revolutionary perfume, but it’s so well-crafted and very pretty. September 15, 2015 at 11:37am Reply

          • Karen: And I’ve noticed that simply thinking about what works or doesn’t work as a fragrance has a spillover effect in to other areas when trying to articulate why I like a book/movie/etc. September 15, 2015 at 2:21pm Reply

            • Victoria: Definitely! Since I started writing this blog, I’ve definitely become more articulate about things I like or dislike in general. For better or worse. 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

        • angeldiva: Hi Karen,
          I bought an FB of Ferragamo -Tuscan Soul (sun?)
          Anyway, I love it! September 15, 2015 at 5:56pm Reply

          • Karen: Great! So exciting to have a fragrance that you love, and impossible to not want to be transported to the Tuscany region September 15, 2015 at 11:19pm Reply

  • Neyon: Hi Victoria
    Do you know of any classic sweet violet perfumes (excluding April Violets and Violetta)? September 14, 2015 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Violetta di Parma perhaps? September 15, 2015 at 5:11am Reply

      • Neyon: Thankyou 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 6:56am Reply

  • Mary: I have lurked on this site for several years and never commented, but this post resonated with me in such a way I had to comment. I have recently tried to rediscover the classics that women like my mother wore, women of a new generation aspiring to new heights in the 20’s and 30’s, and been sadly disappointed. My mother and her six sisters each had a signature perfume, my mother’s was Caron’s Bellodgia, one aunt Joy, another Apres l’ondée, Tabac Blond, Miss Dior, Mitsouko and Shalimar. I thought when I tested them they would transport me back to those wonderful women, but I hardly recognized some of them, especially Bellodgia. I suppose I’ll try to find some of my own fragrances from another time, Ma Griffe and My Sin come to mind, or almost anything with patchouli in it;-) September 14, 2015 at 2:19pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Amazing Women!!! September 14, 2015 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for commenting, Mary. Your experience sounds so familiar. I had a similar reaction to my mother’s Diorissimo, which was not even the same perfume by the time I could find a bottle. I like the new version for what it is, a pretty green floral, but it doesn’t smell like the one my mom used to wear.

      Patchouli is one of my favorite notes too. September 15, 2015 at 5:19am Reply

    • Marsha: You may have to try smelling them more than once. September 15, 2015 at 11:37am Reply

      • Victoria: I think Mary’s point is that they no longer smell like she remembers them to smell on her aunts and mom. I had the same experience with the reformulated Diorissimo. It didn’t matter how many times I tried it. It just didn’t smell like my mom, because it was no longer the same perfume. September 15, 2015 at 11:45am Reply

    • spe: This was an enjoyable read – about your Mom and aunts and their individual scents. I loved this! Thank you. September 15, 2015 at 11:43am Reply

    • Pat Borow: Before you buy Ma Griffe or My Sin, get samples — both are difficult when judged by modern standards! MG is a needle-sharp green Chypre and My Sin is a hugely aldehydic floral — maybe my vintage bottle has changed but I smell mostly aldehyde, not florals. I do wear them, but not often. September 18, 2015 at 9:41am Reply

  • Nina Zolotow: I have discovered to my delight that several vintage Guerlain fragrances smell particularly wonderful on me: Nahema, Chamade, L’Heure Bleue. I have all three in PdT. I’m happy to wear these on a regular basis, even though they’re not exactly in fashion. I also love Mitsouko but don’t tend to wear it, and I’m wondering now if that’s because I only have the EdT. So I’ll be on the lookout for the PdT (hoping for the peachiness you mentioned).

    On the other hand, I also cannot bear Jicky because the skank, as you said, is too much for me. Am I hypersensitive to civet? Or just dislike it? And I also can’t bear Shalimar (my experience of it feels like the Emperor’s New Clothes–what is everyone talking about), possibly for the same reason.

    I also love vintage Bellodgia extrait, and that may be my most worn perfume.

    Luckily all the vintage perfumes that I love were common enough back in the day that it is possible to stay supplied with them. September 14, 2015 at 2:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Must be a combination of civet and musk. The original version of Jicky at the Osmotheque was so civet heavy that I was surprised. It’s well-balanced, and there are many other elements that make it work, but if someone is sensitive to civet, they might find it too much.

      The peachy top in Mitsouko is even more pronounced in the extrait, but it smells not like sweet peach flesh, but more like peach skin. It’s cool and milky and even feels slightly fuzzy. September 15, 2015 at 5:23am Reply

      • Liisa: I must comment here! My maternal grandmother was a real ‘lady’ when I was a kid. She wore twinsets and pearls, and had a ‘boudoir’ (a room with heavy curtains and a dressing table). I always thought her very classy and a bit cold, scary and aloof.

        Most interestingly, to my five-year-old self, she always smelled like poo. I never dared ask her why she smelled like poo of course. I thought she might have suffered really bad oral hygiene or some such, but for most of my life she was my poo-smelling grandmother. It really puzzled me.

        Cue forward 20-odd years in the late 90s and I’m at the Galeries Lafayette smelling old fantastic chique-de-chic Guerlains. I’m spritzed with a whiff of Jicky. Aand . . . what is it that wafts at me . . . my grandmother! Really, I’d never had made that association on my own 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 3:19pm Reply

        • Victoria: This must be one of my favorite perfume stories, Liisa. When I started reading, I was in no way prepared for the smelling like poo part and your final discovery of the culprit. 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 3:25pm Reply

        • Liisa: And today I still maintain she suffered poor oral hygiene. Lol can’t imagine where she’d been able to lay her paws on Jicky.

          I’ve fallen for the current Shalimar EDP and it gives me the same pooey wifts at times though. So I reckon it’s not lack of toothpaste necessarily. (I hope.)

          😀 September 16, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

          • Victoria: 🙂

            It’s surprising where Jicky would pop us, though. Guerlain has distributed pretty widely for many years. September 17, 2015 at 2:11pm Reply

        • Tiffany: This is the funniest thing I’ve read all day…thanks for sharing! 🙂 (and though I am not a Jicky wearer, I have other vintage and I hope none of my young relatives or co-workers never thought I smelled like poo) hahaha September 17, 2015 at 6:23pm Reply

  • Lavanya: I used to struggle with Shalimar/most classic Guerlains except Samsara (Samsara was an immediate like). Actually struggle implies more work than I put in- I used to simply smell it every time I passed the Guerlain counter in my local Neiman’s/Nordstorm and never really loved them. Then one day, while shopping with my mom (she fell in love with Mitsouko parfum) and something just clicked. I fell in love with the dry down of mitsouko on our skins(it reminded me ever so slightly of Poivre).

    Then I bought a small mini of Shalimar parfum from the miniature perfume shoppe, fell in love. Found a vintage version in a thrift store. Bought it. It was gorgeous and became one of my absolute favorite perfumes.

    And now can I rant, dear V. I LOST my beloved vintage bottle last week. We just moved and because the bottle was slightly broken, I didn’t pack it with the rest of my perfume but kept it in a corner of my closet to be transported by hand by my husband. My darling husband forgot and now the landlord can’t find the perfume in our old place..:(. I am trying to keep it in perspective and sniff and enjoy other things. But. Shalimar. vintage. perfume..arggh. September 14, 2015 at 2:33pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Compassion… September 14, 2015 at 5:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh no! This is a sad outcome. Let’s hope that it might turn up later. I really do feel for you, and I would also be very upset.

      I think that as good as the start of Mitsouko is, the drydown is really the best part. September 15, 2015 at 5:25am Reply

    • Karen: Fingers crossed it shows up, but just think that in the future someone may discover it and have their whole world shift from finding such a treasure and suddenly perfumes and fragrances are a source of joy and hidden delights! September 15, 2015 at 6:37am Reply

      • angeldiva: 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 5:58pm Reply

  • carry: What a great article, Victoria, spoke to me immediately – thank you!

    I’ve been struggling with the difference between poetic reviews and olfactoric reality since I started reading perfume blogs.

    I use perfume since my teenage years, which is quite a long time ago. Of course what I used then are classics now (in no special order: Opium, Miss Dior, Diorissimo, O de Lancome, Climat, Rive Gauche) and I still love them even in new formulations, sometimes because of reformulation, especially Climat in the form of La Collection.

    The only old formulation I really miss is YSL Opium. It was my signature scent through my twenties. I loved the headiness, the feel of sinking into soft and lush cushions and just forget about the rest of the world. The newer one is rather orangey and almost fresh, to my nose at least.

    The one thing I couldn’t wear was Chanel No 5. I tried hard, but it just smelled vile on me. Recently I bought a sample of No 5 Eau Premiere which was a revelation. It’s one of my staples now (with a full bottle).

    I’m a latecomer with Guerlain, was highly disappointed by a vintage sample of Samsara, quite like Shalimar (occasionally), fell utterly in love with Mitsouko, which evolved into my favourite scent, and then as a summer delight with Terracotta Le Parfum.

    Piguet’s Fracas on the other hand was an acquired taste. I thought I Must Have It, everyone is raving about it, blind bought a sample and tried and tried – to heady for me.
    Now I love it as a scent for warm summer evenings and have full bottle.

    But I always come back to my old favourites, even if they are reformulated. My go-to everyday perfume is Miss Dior (now called Originale).

    I tried a lot of new perfumes, but I rarely like them.
    But for the time being I gave up trying to test smell every new and interesting sounding release. I’m happy with my classics and a few newer ones. The stash I have by now will last a lifetime anyway.
    Why change a good thing? September 14, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love how you explored all of these different fragrances. Yes, some will end up dearly loved, and others won’t. Jean-Paul Guerlain himself mentioned on a few occasions that not all of Guerlain classics have an appeal. I’m happy to enjoy Mitsouko and to leave Chant d’Aromes to someone else who might appreciate it more, for instance. September 15, 2015 at 5:28am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Point taken on the classics. I, for one will never shy away from my L’Heure Bleu, Bois des Iles, O de Guerlain,19 and so on. They continue to “work” on me and for me. Not only reformulations change the position of fragrance but so does my personal taste and and lifestyle changes. What really has changed is the price point(!) and so many versions of original notes to lighter and eaux. The propensity to appeal to certain marketing of fragrance becomes tedious instead of alluring. September 14, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Very good point. Perfumes change, but so do our tastes. September 15, 2015 at 5:29am Reply

  • Annikky: I’m very glad you wrote this, someone had to and I cannot think of a better person to do it. I love some classics, struggle with others, generally prefer Chanel to Guerlain, although I adore Apres l’Ondee. The one I would like to love but don’t, is Chanel No 22. I hope that if I’m patient, I’ll get there one day. And I’m going to take austenfan’s advice and try it in extrait. September 14, 2015 at 3:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: I much prefer the extrait in No 22, but that being said it still hasn’t become of my favorite Chanels. No 19, on the other hand, is one of the most perfect perfumes (for me). I like it in all concentrations, in all reformulations. I love the reformulation of Cuir de Russie, because it now has more iris. September 15, 2015 at 5:31am Reply

    • Austenfan: The aldehydes are more toned down in the extrait. I tried it nearly 2 years ago, when I bought my Cuir de Russie in Place Vendome and I surprised myself by loving both No.5 and No.22.
      As I’ve always loved the drydown of scents like White Linen, L’Air du Temps, Nina and First, I’ve gradually come to love those nose tingling openings as well. I think it was Nina that started my love for classic aldehydic florals. September 15, 2015 at 8:53am Reply

  • Brock: What an excellent, enthralling read, Victoria. So good.

    As for scents that I have convinced myself that I’m supposed to like but do not? That would be YSL’s current Kourous. I adore loud, brash, strange, and animalic scents. Sadly, Kourous is not for me. What with its rich history, which has spawned many critical think pieces, I felt I had to have it and had to like it. I do not. For me, Kourous is like that confounding magnum opus, one that I proudly and pretentiously displayed on my bookshelf in college, but never read entirely and ultimately gave away. September 14, 2015 at 3:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much!
      I was smiling at your Kouros display. Mine was Joy. 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 5:33am Reply

  • Neva: I was lucky to try many of the mentioned scents (Chanels, Diors, Guerlains, YSL…) in their older formulations because I was a perfume fan already as a teenager in the seventies. Unfortunately at that time I was very young and I found them mostly to be “for older women”. I did not appreciate them really. Opium, Youth Dew, Shalimar and Poison were absolute killers and they dominated the streets and theaters for many years. I still can’t stand them. On the other hand I liked the green ones – Chanel No 19 and Cristalle, Scherrer… Today, their reformulations don’t impress me.
    Back then I was wearing and I still have a few drops in the splash bottles: Ja’i Ose by Guy Laroche, K de Krizia, Vu by Ted Lapidus, Trussardi Donna, Tamango di Leonard and later Trussardi Skin, the first Kenzo, Nu by YSL, V’e Versace…my favourites are always and forever – Armani Woman and Jil Sander III. September 14, 2015 at 3:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: I remember Ja’i Ose by Guy Laroche too! My mom had a large splash bottle with a distinctive stopper. Guy Laroche was one of the few brands available in the USSR, and even today in Ukraine you occasionally spot beauty salons named Climat or Ja’i Ose. September 15, 2015 at 5:35am Reply

  • Jackie: Victoria, I just have to say: this is a brilliantly written article! So beautifully structured and seamless. The kind of thoughtful, in-depth piece that belongs in Elle or Vogue. I know you have a large readership here, but at the risk of being presumptuous, I hope you are shopping it around (or they come to you!) because everyone should get to read it! I know your focus is on the classics, but your thoughts about the enigmas of taste (both personal and cultural) demystify so clearly and succinctly some of those wonderfully enigmatic olfactory intangibles that have so many of us hooked on perfume!

    And it “democratizes” scent, debunking perfume snobbery! Yay!

    The writing is perfectly pitched, too: of interest to both newbies and serious collectors, both of whom have commented here! A great primer for neophytes.

    Publishers: please take note! September 14, 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re very kind, Jackie! I kind of thought of it as a narrow interest topic, but I’m very happy that others liked it. Vintage perfumes are just like vintage fashions, books, films, literature. They should be explored and experienced, but they shouldn’t be treated as sacred cows. Not all classics are perfect, and in some cases, the imperfections is what they make them interesting. But in others, these very imperfections will be a turn off. September 15, 2015 at 5:43am Reply

      • Jackie: You are an amazing writer, Victoria. There is not much on the Internet I have enough patience to actually read (I skim!), but your articles unfold so beautifully, they demand to be read, and I always lose myself in them. It makes great bedtime reading.

        And I must tell you, for about a year now I’ve been reading them as bedtime stories to my youngest daughter — the one I’ve mentioned with the incredible nose (she identified “goose poop” in a fragrance the other day — I wish I could remember what is was. The SA at Holt Renfrew was not impressed! And in another “boiling milk,” “caramel,” “horse barn” etc. I kid you not! I had a soap that my sister gave me last Christmas, that consisted of a base soap with bits of different-coloured, different-scented soap chunks melted in: she sniffed at the soap bits and said: “black liquorice, what’s that purple dry-ish flower? (she meant lavender), and green tea. And she was right!!!

        Anyway, we usually read her stories first, and then, more often than not, to actually lull her to sleep, something from BdJ. So she recently went on her first sleepover and told me later that she borrowed her friend’s cell phone and read herself a “bois de jasmin” to “get myself to sleep.” she takes comfort in the language of scent, and especially loves long lists of notes. 🙂 The words are all so beautiful: it’s a kind of poetry. September 15, 2015 at 1:26pm Reply

        • Jackie: Oh, and PS: if there’s nothing new to read on BdJ, I’ll sometimes go to another blog, and she’ll soon interrupt to say “that’s not BdJ is it?” September 15, 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

          • Karen: Wow! Very cool! A future perfumer perhaps?? We may be wearing her creations in the future! September 15, 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

            • Jackie: Haha. Perhaps! Or perhaps a writer. 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 1:02am Reply

          • Victoria: That’s so sweet. September 16, 2015 at 2:22pm Reply

          • Michaela: Jackie, what a wonderful girl you have! And BdJ as go to sleep fairytale… 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 8:32am Reply

        • Victoria: Your daughter is amazing! A young genius with a sharp nose. If she’s going to become a writer, I can already imagine her creating beautiful things. After all, she seems to have such a strong imagination and ability to observe things and put them in words.

          I’m totally getting a kick out of my blog being used as a soporific aid (to sweet smelling dreams, I hope!) 🙂 Please thank you for me for reading it. September 16, 2015 at 2:22pm Reply

          • Jackie: I was almost shy to admit our bedtime ritual because it seems so odd — how many eight-year-old kids read perfume reviews to get to sleep? — but your beautiful writing is a comfort to her (and the language of perfume she’s picked up from it is hilarious: “Oooh, big sillage, Mama!”).

            She won’t let me read the comments out loud because the conversations don’t lull her. We just have to move on to another review. I can’t count the times we’ve re-read Pink Sugar and Prada Candy! 🙂 September 18, 2015 at 12:50pm Reply

            • Victoria: 🙂
              She takes after you in her love of scents (and many other things, I’m sure)! September 18, 2015 at 1:59pm Reply

            • angeldiva: :):):) September 18, 2015 at 10:33pm Reply

      • Jackie: The article is deceptively narrow, but expands to a kind of meta-view of this whole perfume-loving business.

        Yes, I agree: “imperfections” make things interesting. The binary logic of “perfect/imperfect” just doesn’t apply in art. If there were such a thing as a “perfect” fragrance, there would be no point in making any more, but, like music, the possibilities are endless! That’s what makes perfume (and life) so wonderful! September 15, 2015 at 1:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: True! I realize that when I say things like “this perfume is perfect for me,” it’s one of those gushy comments, rather than a fact. Something might feel right today and not quite so on the mark tomorrow. September 16, 2015 at 2:24pm Reply

          • Jackie: Yes, that kind of “perfect” just means, in all its imperfections, this is perfect for me today! (Not gushy, just excited!) I love the line from John Legend: “Love your curves and all your edges/All your perfect imperfections.” September 18, 2015 at 12:52pm Reply

  • Aurora: You do justice to a very interesting topic, Victoria.
    A confession: Bal a Versailles and I are not friends, Fracas oppresses me, Infini leaves me cold.

    Good friends in old or new formulations: like many others on the blog, Shalimar, l’Heure Bleue… really almost all the Guerlains – we seem chemically compatible, Cabochard, Cristalle, Fleurs de Rocaille, Farnesiana, Diorling, Arpege, Dioressence, Fidji and I would like to nominate Moschino as a classic. I love the Ecusson Anne Boleyn like ad you chose. September 14, 2015 at 3:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bal a Versailles is a period drama piece, and I also don’t like it. There is something self-consciously over the top about it.

      You have such a varied group of favorites, and I like seeing Moschino on that list. September 15, 2015 at 5:45am Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. Isn’t that ad charming? September 15, 2015 at 5:46am Reply

  • Toni Kennington: Hi Victoria,
    This blog is great . . . and timely for me.
    I just started to wear some of the small perfume samples my mother gave me from fashion shows when I was a little girl.

    I tried Shalimar. The powdery dry down is lovely, but it’s the initial rubber scent that I struggle with. Does that last as long with the Shalimar sold at Sephora? September 14, 2015 at 4:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: It might be less so now. It has been tamed over the years. September 15, 2015 at 5:48am Reply

      • Toni: That’s good to know. Just this morning my husband accidently tipped over my treasured 1940’s bottle. I felt weak. I guess I’ll try the new one new now! September 15, 2015 at 4:55pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh no, Toni! I hope that not all was lost. September 16, 2015 at 2:36pm Reply

          • Toni: Thank you for your concern. A small bit is left and I’m taping the lid on and leaving it out as a hint for my husband . . which brings me to a question I think only you can answer:
            Is there really a difference between men and women’s noses? I read that men can smell ambergris and women can’t. Every time I wear Shalimar I’m stopped by men asking what I’m wearing. Women have never asked nor commented. September 16, 2015 at 3:44pm Reply

            • Victoria: The ambergris part is definitely not true! As for the difference, women’s sense of smell is sharper during the ovulation and pregnancy.

              Hope that you can replace your Shalimar! I can just imagine how upset you must have been. September 17, 2015 at 2:17pm Reply

  • Danaki: Ooh…yes, a lot of classics don’t work for me, as much as there are modern ones that I can’t care for or even dislike.
    I totally dislike Mitsouko, all versions. Another one is Shalimar. Others are don’t much care for are No.5, Fracas and Jicky.
    And then of course there are classics that break my heart, Diorrissimo in vintage and No.19, which I hoard version of from the 80s and 90s. Totally love them. September 14, 2015 at 5:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I now think reading the comments that No 5 with its aldehydes might one of the most challenging perfumes. Mitsouko is another one. September 15, 2015 at 5:55am Reply

  • moi: Most of the classics I’ve tried I love, but, as you say, there’s a difference between loving/appreciating, and actually wearing. Funny you mention Joy. Several years ago, a friend was cleaning out her recently departed MIL’s linen closet and sent me three bottles of unopened vintage Joy—Eau de Joy, and the EDT and EDP. They are GORGEOUS, but, yes, they smell exactly as you describe: like a beautiful bouquet of the most fragrant flowers on earth slowly starting to rot in their water. I appreciate the exceptional artistry it took to achieve that, but do I really want to repeat the experience of a friend during a dinner party who went, “What’s spoiling in the kitchen?” September 14, 2015 at 5:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you like it, then wear it for yourself! And what a precious find it is, a vintage bottle. September 15, 2015 at 5:55am Reply

  • Coco: Great post, Victoria – it’s much appreciated. Just as I frown upon girls my age who disparage classical fragrances as “old lady-ish,” it frustrates me when fragrance lovers place vintage/old-school perfumes on a pedestal (or, for that matter, romanticize the past in general – I certainly would not want to relive the 40s/50s as an Asian-American woman). There are vintage fragrances I love, such as Apres L’Ondee and Chanel no. 19, but for the most part the vintage classics do not speak to me – they’re often too musky, heavy, and/or complex. I tend to like brighter, sheerer fragrances. Perhaps it is also a result of my cultural background. I cannot imagine how my extended family would react if I stunk up their Tokyo homes with Diorella (which in fact I adore, but wear very sparingly). September 14, 2015 at 5:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m with you Coco. 40s is the decade I’d least like to experience. I like films, art and literature from the period.

      The cultural aspect you mention is a very good and important point. When people say that others “need” to recognize the beauty of certain classics, I instantly think of my visits to Asia, and Japan in particular. Why should one idea of scent, a French idea at that, be held up as a paragon? There are different standards of beauty and many different traditions of perfumery, after all. September 15, 2015 at 6:02am Reply

  • solanace: I absolutely hated Mon Parfum Chéri par Camille at first sniff, but now I adore it with all my heart. Never quite managed to love No 19, Miss Dior or YSL Rive Gauche, though. With my sweet tooth, I´m more of a guerlinade kind of gal. September 14, 2015 at 5:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I imagine you in Shalimar and L’Heure Bleue. September 15, 2015 at 6:02am Reply

      • solanace: oh, yay… September 15, 2015 at 7:12am Reply

  • Reg: Great article! I really dislike vintage snobbery and found this very refreshing to read. I struggled with all vintage Guerlains such as L’Heure Bleu, Mitsouko and especially Shalimar, but Apres l’Ondee is a timeless beauty and all time favourite. September 14, 2015 at 5:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Vintage is an expensive hobby these days, and frankly, I’d rather wear fresh modern perfumes than vintages that are starting to go off. For instance, I noticed that my Chamade cologne from the 50s has developed an off top notes (rancid citrus might the culprit), and while it eventually goes away, I don’t enjoy the initial experience at all. I never wear it anymore and instead reach for my new bottle. September 15, 2015 at 6:06am Reply

  • Alicia: I grew up among women who had a passion for French perfumes, and I seem to have inherited that love. The Chanels, the Carons, most Guerlains and Patous. I say ‘most’ because I never liked Joy. Today I wear, though rarely Joy EDT. In stronger concentrations I still don’t enjoy it. Shalimar and Mitsouko were not loves at first sniff. Now I have come to appreciate them, and I even bought a bottle of Mitsouko, which I wear sometimes in the autumn. The few classics I simply can’t wear, although I tried, are Aromatics Elixir, Youth Dew and White Linen. Not long ago, for memory sake, I bought a bottle of Je Reviens. I don’t know if it was reformulated or if my memory failed me completely, but I dislike it intensely, and got rid of the bottle quite fast. Otherwise I love the classics very much, but I also love the moderns, particularly many Frederic Malles and Serge Lutens. I wear very often AG Songes and L’Heure Exquise. As far as I am concerned, I either like a scent or I don’t, regardless of when it was created. I don’t seem to favor a particular style. Love the assertive Bandit, Diva, Tabu, and most Lutens, adore the ethereals Apres L’Ondée and En Passant, citrus and woods of all kinds, the indolic orange flower, the entrancing jasmine, the fleshy tuberose, lilacs and violets, and above all the rose. But I dislike too soapy perfumes and particularly too powdery ones, regardless of their pedigree. Still, when I think of the Narcisse Noir that my mother wore, or my aunt’s Amour Amour, of Vent Vert and vintage Opium, I feel that the times of the grand perfums, like those of the grand operas, are gone. I regret it, but I also enjoy many fragrances created today. I would like to have them all, the grand operas and the modern ballads. I still ask, ou sont le temps de jadis?, and welcome the brave new world. September 14, 2015 at 5:21pm Reply

    • Alicia: Perhaps a good example of what I said above are my fragrances this summer. Just finished a bottle of Hermes, Eau de Narcisse Bleu; I am rotating Chamade, Eau Perfumée au Thé Vert, and Cristalle. Since EPATV is just about done (I wear it so often) darling Tocade will take its place. For evenings I have just finished my bottle of Tubereuse Criminelle. Might replace it with Narcisse Noir (new formulation).
      Victoria, because of your review I bought La fille de Berlin. It is marvelous. Thank you so much for that, and for so many of your reviews, including the splendid one of today. September 14, 2015 at 7:31pm Reply

      • Victoria: I’m so happy that you’ve discovered La Fille de Berlin. Yes, it’s a gem, one of my new perfume wardrobe additions that I see staying for a while. September 15, 2015 at 10:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I think in niche you have more chances of discovering those kind of grand operas, Frederic Malle, Lutens, Amouage perhaps. Tom Ford plunders classics at random, citing various famous fragrances in his compositions, often with very interesting results. September 15, 2015 at 6:08am Reply

      • Alicia: Yes, Victoria, that is why I buy both Lutens and Malle, and often try Amouage, where I have found some loves (Jubilation, Gold, Lyric…). I rarely go to T. Ford because I find his prices increasingly excessive. I owe you my last infatuation, or may be love, with La Fille de Berlin. Above all, I owe you my daily delight with your thoughts and comments in Bois de Jasmin. You are a joy. September 15, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you so much, Alicia! Being someone’s joy (or rather knowing that you’re) is a delight in itself. 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 2:35pm Reply

  • angeldiva: Hi!
    Brilliant article , Victoria! I’ve always felt a bit lame that Shalimar doesn’t make past the test strip , and onto my person! LOL
    I did, for the first time, identify, and test Fracas last year. Love it. And, I could recall, ” Aaaaaaahh Haaaaaaaa- This is the lovely cloud of scent that I have smelled on some very fashionable women at special events…” Can’t wait to own an FB, but, it’s so hard to rationalize when one is moving.
    I accepted long ago that the Cristalle of the 1970’s is gone with the wind. But, I loved it so.
    It must be my 25% of British heritage that makes me an unapologetic fan of carnation. I don’t think the wonderful Floris line gets much love, here, but, I used to love Seringa. For that matter I don’t read much about Creed. I adore my Fleurissime.
    When I first began to participate on BdJ, I was searching for a scent similar to my long lost childhood drug store love: Yardley- Mountain Greenery. Well, I can really appreciate your advice to find something similar, and move on! I did achieve a similar smell by mixing different scents. But, could never get the same heart notes, and dry down. The closest to the opening is 24 Faubourg. Amazing.
    I once again sprayed some Eau De Gaga on my wrist last night. Although I like it, and the review here on BjJ was great; I realize that ounce for ounce I would like a FB of Modern Muse more! Still can’t understand the anemic review of Modern Muse, I think it’s one of the most under appreciated scents.
    I’m going back up top to comment on some other entries.
    🙂 September 14, 2015 at 6:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! 🙂
      If you like Modern Muse, you should definitely get a bottle. Go by your own feelings, not reviews. Reviews are more like shorthand, helping you figure out what you may or may not want to try, but they’re not the last word on the subject, nor are they meant to be. You don’t have to agree with them, in the end. September 15, 2015 at 10:40am Reply

      • angeldiva: Here, here! Well said. One must take what works, and leave what doesn’t!
        I still have that FB of YSL’s- Y staring me in the face! lol
        If I give up on Y, I’ll give away Y!!! September 15, 2015 at 8:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: Do take your time, though. Perhaps, you might still change your mind, and since you have a bottle already, you might as well play with it some more. But if not, we’re here. September 16, 2015 at 2:41pm Reply

  • angeldiva: Here’s an odd memory of a brilliant perfume.
    I use to love/adore/swoon over the original Lancome- Magie Noire.
    In my twenties, it was my, “Signature Seduction Scent.” amen
    So, my boyfriend at the time had the worlds most possessive mother! lol Once, she smelled this perfume on me- she went right out and bought it.
    ” Oh! It’s my SIGNATURE SCENT!” she cried. Then, I almost cried… LOL …c’mon the spell was broken! She was so kinky when it came to this particular son.
    I had also purchased a silver ring for him for $19. at a consignment store. When she saw the ring, she went nuts. “Oh, I had it appraised immediately!” It turns out the stone was a real diamond, set in a basket setting. It was similar to the wedding ring of her grandmother, and she simply put it on her finger, and wouldn’t take it off! In her defense she offered me $100. for it. But, I’m a fairly well raised person, I did not take the money. After all it was a present for my boyfriend, and i just kept my mouth shut.

    I am just so very, very glad that I did not marry him. September 14, 2015 at 6:51pm Reply

    • Annabel Farrell: Great story!! and lucky escape. September 14, 2015 at 9:49pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Thank-you! September 15, 2015 at 1:58am Reply

    • Jackie: Hello dear Angeldiva, it’s so nice to hear your voice again and read one of your funny stories! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 1:24am Reply

      • angeldiva: Hi Dearest!
        Glad all is good with you!
        Angeldiva September 15, 2015 at 1:59am Reply

    • Karen: Wow! Guess you dodged a bullet with that potential MIL!! September 15, 2015 at 6:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Goodness, I can’t imagine what kind of a mother-in-law she would have been. 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 10:43am Reply

      • angeldiva: Oh! She was a DOOZY from Torrance! September 15, 2015 at 6:40pm Reply

    • limegreen: Too bad you can’t go back and take the $100 for that purloined ring and buy yourself a nice perfume. (smirk) 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 9:45pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Hi Limegreen,
        Well we are talking about 1983! So, with inflation, I could buy a bottle of AMOUGE- EPIC !!!
        Money isn’t everything, though… Emotionally, I am a Trillionairess for dumping that zero son of hers!

        I think young women in their twenties should think carefully before marrying. I’ve been single all my life, and it ain’t that bad…

        🙂 September 17, 2015 at 12:31am Reply

        • limegreen: You are right, money isn’t everything. Perfume is! 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 7:05am Reply

          • angeldiva: I really am laughing out loud, thanks!!!! September 18, 2015 at 10:38pm Reply

  • gordon: I am always really surprised that, besides the reformulations, our noses/tastes and social mores change! I love this article for its balanced take on vintage!
    –I loved Fendi Uomo at the time, and it smells like an 80s guy exploded now: still love it but really strong;
    –I loved CKOne at the time, and now when I smell it, is is like yuzu and play-dough;
    –I went waaay out of my way to own a bottle of Cuir de Russie, but can only wear one spray every three months or I’ll get a headache and hate it. It does smell like a barn: the whole barn;
    –L’Air du Temps used to smell pretty and fragile to me; now it smells twee and little girly;
    –The original M7 I am clinging onto because the Oudh Absolu version is not much to write home about;
    –I wish I could go back in time and tell younger me to hoard Kouros, for example. At the time I bought a bottle of Nahema for a co-worker and friend, but I have not smelled it since. Grey Flannel smells a lot drier and less friendly than I remember it.
    I also love how you have gone out of your way to mention there is nothing inherently better or worse about old perfumes: it is the juice itself that is better or worse than others.
    I sometimes wonder how today’s perfumes will smell in 20 years. Will Terre D’Hermes smell non-committal and airy, instead of the rich, dry citrus and geranium I get now?
    Longtime reader of this blog! You have all my admiration! 🙂 September 14, 2015 at 7:55pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Oh! Gordon!
      You have reminded me how much I miss 80’s guys wearing Grey Flannel and rocking those exploding hairdo’s!!! LOL
      I’m proud to be from several generations of men, and women who were obsessed with their hair!
      I’m with you on the L’Air du Temps. I could just not…ever…get it.

      🙂 September 15, 2015 at 2:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I really love things from the past, but I have to remind myself not to romanticize it all too much. For every Shalimar or No 5 there were dozens of dull fragrances (or outright copycats), but it’s only to be expected. Not every book written 100 years ago, even if it has survived in print is a masterpiece. Same with perfume. This is, of course, not to say that we should build our perfume collections around masterpieces; it’s best just to trust our noses and recognize when we feel a rush of pleasure from a fragrance. Such perfumes are the ones that brighten up my moods and the darkest of days.

      I also find Grey Flannel much drier, especially when I compare it side by side with the older version I have. There is less of the juicy green and violet layer. September 15, 2015 at 10:54am Reply

      • angeldiva: It smelled great in the 80’s! September 15, 2015 at 6:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: That was one interesting era for perfumes! September 16, 2015 at 2:38pm Reply

          • angeldiva: …it was Awesome, dude… September 18, 2015 at 10:39pm Reply

  • Ruth: Someone has probably already mentioned this but scent/odor is so strongly linked to memory that this alone can be what turns us away from classics. Whether it’s the Youth Dew that my mother wore, or elements of other classic fragrances that I can’t name…the reminders of past people and experiences are powerful. For me, Tabu is the scent that the groomer put on our beloved poodles every eight weeks along with bows on their top knots. It is not something I want to wear. September 14, 2015 at 9:09pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Ruth,
      This entry is so fab! I don’t even know where to begin.
      Lucky Poodles! September 15, 2015 at 2:05am Reply

      • Karen: Wouldn’t it be great to see some poodles with bows? And wearing, I don’t know – a spritz of A modern classic, Angel, maybe?? September 15, 2015 at 6:47am Reply

    • Victoria: Such a good point, Ruth! No matter how technically perfect a perfume may be, if it evokes something negative, you just won’t enjoy it.

      The story about poodles scented with Tabu is priceless! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 10:55am Reply

      • angeldiva: Hey, it was good enough for Ava Gardener, and she married FRANK SINATRA!!!

        ” Your poodles, and their hair…
        It’s witchcraft… September 15, 2015 at 8:12pm Reply

  • Andy: I admit to having overall good luck with classics, though there are definitely some that rub me the wrong way (or did). When I first tried Mitsouko, for example, I was thoroughly disappointed, and I “forced” myself to wear it again to see if I could understand the adulation. For a long time after, I still didn’t “get” Mitsouko, so I sighed, left it aside, and just moved on. However, I eventually started getting cravings to smell Mitsouko, and when I retested it again, I loved it. And now it’s in my regular cold-weather rotation. A classic I love the scent of but have a difficult relationship with is Youth Dew–I adore the smell, but have not found a great method of application. I ultimately prefer the Amber Nude flanker much more for its wearability and delicious, sparkling suggestion of gingery tea. September 14, 2015 at 9:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried Youth Dew in bath? Or, another way to enjoy it is to put a drop in the shower before you get in. Of course, it won’t perfume your skin, but it will create a great scented experience.

      I love Youth Dew Amber Nude, on the other hand, and I really miss it. September 15, 2015 at 10:57am Reply

      • angeldiva: Why do you misfit, V? It’s still made isn’t it? September 15, 2015 at 6:46pm Reply

        • Victoria: I thought that it was discontinued. I need to double check. September 16, 2015 at 2:37pm Reply

          • angeldiva: I just ordered a sample on the perfume peasant! September 17, 2015 at 12:34am Reply

            • Victoria: Let me know what you think! September 17, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

    • spe: I love how Mitsouko smells on men. Good choice! September 15, 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Annabel Farrell: Never could wear either Joy, or Chanel No 5. September 14, 2015 at 9:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, they’re not the easiest of perfumes. September 15, 2015 at 10:57am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria, this was a wonderful post and I loved reading it. I also read every comment and enjoyed those as well. This was a real winner all around. Thanks! September 14, 2015 at 10:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m enjoying the comments very much. Such an interesting thread overall. September 15, 2015 at 10:59am Reply

      • Karen: Isn’t it fascinating, this may be one of the most commented upon articles! As I wrote above, I think many people are so relieved to know that it’s ok to not like a “classic”! September 15, 2015 at 2:30pm Reply

        • limegreen: It’s been like therapy for perfume hobbyists! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 9:48pm Reply

          • Karen: Exactly! Especially with all the references to perfume associations – So tell me what perfume your mother wore….. September 15, 2015 at 11:23pm Reply

            • limegreen: Chanel no 5 and it made me gag whenever I took a sniff! But I have nice memories of her wearing the scent when she went out. I’ve come to appreciate no. 5 but rarely wear it. The tiny bottle (the smallest that Chanel sells at 35 ml!) of edt is more of a momento piece. Maybe your suggestion of the parfum might change my mind! 🙂
              How’s your jam making going with the fall harvests? September 16, 2015 at 11:26am Reply

              • Karen: Jam making is not on schedule, but there are some wild grapes along our driveway that will be swimming in the jelly pot! It’s incredible to me that the wild fruits have this really interesting smoky-type of quality. This year I made elderberry jelly, which I love but finding elderberries in a safe-to-harvest location can be a challenge for me.

                The year that I sold my jams/jellies, I made a very limited collection I called Walk on the Wild Side, chokecherry, elderberry and wild grape (also known as fox grape by old timers).

                I was just being silly about the “What did your mother wear” question, you know how on tv the stock therapist always says, “So tell me about your mother.” But it’s interesting that it doesn’t work for you! Yes, give the pure parfum a try – it’s very quiet.

                A while ago I got a decant of Shalimar in pure parfum, and that was the only way I liked it. September 16, 2015 at 1:08pm Reply

                • limegreen: Duh, how literal of me!
                  Your jams and jellies are so inventive, still love the lavender jellies you concocted (even though from a cookbook). September 17, 2015 at 7:08am Reply

                  • Karen: Thanks Limegreen! A few more cold nights (and warm days) and the grapes will be picked!

                    As a side-note, I’ve also really enjoyed the TF Noir de Noir, quite a beauty on! September 17, 2015 at 7:41am Reply

                    • limegreen: Karen, That reminds me of the frosted grape wine that a French friend gave us — amazing stuff.
                      I thought you might like Noir de Noir 🙂 It’s really a wearable every season darkish rose, not as praline lush like Velvet Rose and Oud which I find overpowering in warm weather! September 17, 2015 at 9:18am

        • Victoria: As I mentioned elsewhere, classics are often as sacred cows, something that’s beyond criticism of any sort. Which is not right at all, because it creates a mistaken impression as if 1) all older perfumes are great and 2) if you don’t like the iconic scents, there is something wrong with your tastes/nose/views on life. 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 2:34pm Reply

          • limegreen: Well, I’m very close to reaching equilibrium after this therapeutic post! I’m even more convinced about saying good-bye to Mitsouko, but wonder if anyone will still want it after all the bashing this particular sacred cow has taken (in these comments) 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 7:15am Reply

            • Karen: I think there are a lot of people who would be thrilled to have a bottle. It’s polarizing, but those of us who love it, really love it! September 17, 2015 at 7:42am Reply

              • limegreen: Thanks, Karen! I’d rather someone on BdJ got this bottle. It’s not one I want to “give away” in the women’s restroom at work. I should experiment with leaving things in the men’s restroom, too, just to see what happens! 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 9:21am Reply

                • Karen: Oh yes, I was just thinking of a BdJ giveaway – and you’ll have to get one of your male co-workers to put the cologne/fragrance in the bathroom or your co-workers might be wondering what the heck you’re up to!

                  Do you ever notice a fragrance donation being worn by anyone at work? September 17, 2015 at 11:09am Reply

            • Victoria: I’m with Karen. Those of us who love it won’t change their minds. 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 3:03pm Reply

  • irem: Reading your post brought me back to that one summer day when I first smelled Mitsouko. I must have been twenty years old or so, and all I knew about Guerlain was Samsara. It was a relatively new perfume back then, and I remember loving the gorgeous red bottle as the epitome of luxury (and totally out of a college students budget). Museum-shopping at a high end department store, I saw some splash bottles of Mitsouko EdT on sale. Of course, I have hold one of the tester bottles to my nose. And I have literally recoiled, I almost dropped the bottle. All I could think of was “Why on earth have they bottled this stench as perfume? Who wants to smell like this?” Well, I was twenty years old, and knew nothing about perfume. (Probably not much about other thinks either, but that’s for another day).

    A decade later, when I was thirty, I was mesmerized by the very same Mitsouko. I was at the Guerlain counter determined to buy a bottle of Vol de Nuit (unsniffed, only because it was named after one of Exupery’s books). While playing around I put on some Mitsouko, and all I could think of was “This must be perfume heaven.” I left with a bottle of the EdP which I have drained in no time and loved to pieces. I had completely forgotten how I had called it the vilest fragrance ten years earlier.

    Isn’t life the most wonderful thing? Full of surprises, full of potential for change and full of little stories that when strung together make a person that person. September 14, 2015 at 10:41pm Reply

    • Michaela: Great story, Irem! September 15, 2015 at 4:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I really liked reading your story of discovering Mitsouko, and your last paragraph is spot on. It’s very inspiring too. September 15, 2015 at 11:00am Reply

  • Jackie: Wonderful story, Irem, and your last paragraph so lovely! Yes, life is so wonderful! And, yes, people’s fragrance stories here alone show the potential for change. Insightful observation! Like you and Andy above, I had a similar experience with Mitsouko: somewhat repelled at first, certainly not indifferent, then intrigued by its memory, and now, like Andy, I’m craving it. Can’t recall whether it was the edp or the edt, but judging by comments above, including Victoria’s, i’m guessing edp. Must buzz out tomorrow and wrangle a sample! September 15, 2015 at 12:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Would love to hear what you think after we’ve talked so much about it! September 15, 2015 at 11:01am Reply

  • Illdone: Well, where to start?
    Everything I read here is true and false.

    I’d like to comment in points because I always feel so overwhelmed by his subject that I fear I’d start rambling endlessly;)

    -Some vintages are so well done that it makes me desperate. Desperate because I might never get them back. Magie noire -the very first formulation- was sheer magic, the layers of the perfume and the depth it had is unparralleld to me.

    I own a bottle of Caron Bellodgia extrait from the 30’s that makes my head spin with delight
    I hardly dare touch it nor use it, the formulation is out of this world and very much intact.

    I’s not very modest to mention but I own most classics in their vintage version and have a total collection of 2000? bottles (also includes modern and niche stuff)
    Ofcourse it’s impossible to like or love every vintage scent but you can’t but admire the longevity, layers and personality of these perfumes so I like to treat them as my personal scent-library.

    Some vintage deodorant sprays I own last longer on me scent-wise then todays edp’s (no kidding)

    What strikes me when I’m out is that when a woman wears a vintage mossy perfume even I immediatly think, “Hey, how old are you and what era is this from?”
    Example of thought : “So, you (still) wear Opium are you in your fifties? Would be very surprising to see a young girl when you turn around to get a glimpse, wouldn’t it.

    True also is that many of the classics aren’t easy going and take some courage to wear next to the fluffy sugary musk laden scents all around you now.
    If I go outside wearing Cabochard or Bandit or even a more contemporary but strong perfume like “Rien” I spray once (but I sure as hell would love to spray 3 times)

    I guess, in spite of the points, I just started rambling … mea culpa September 15, 2015 at 2:15am Reply

    • angeldiva: Hi Illdone!
      Congrats on an amazing museum quality collection! Be proud!
      I have never smelled the reformulated Magie Noire, as I know it would break my heart!
      Now, I’m curious about testing Bandit.
      🙂 September 15, 2015 at 2:32am Reply

      • angeldiva: Hi Illdone,
        I was so inspired by your collection that I researched the Caron perfumes online last night! especially Caron Bellodgia- that’s the one for me…I think.
        I have never smelled a Caron perfume. Your description of your vintage bottle making your ,”Head spin with delight,” made me think of vintage #5.
        My mothers bottle circa 1965 was liquid enchantment. It was like the magic potions I read about in fairy tales, only sniffing this bottle really did transport me to an enchanted childhood place. September 15, 2015 at 6:52pm Reply

        • Illdone: Whenever your in Belgium, do come and visit!

          You can sniff your way through the perfumes
          Sorry for the slow response , i’m locked up at a fair for most of the week ( with bad reception)

          xx September 16, 2015 at 1:03am Reply

          • angeldiva: I could be there next year!!!! Viva La Europa!!! September 17, 2015 at 12:37am Reply

    • Figuier: Wow what a collection – thanks for sharing, I just love the idea of all those gems gathered in a perfume ‘Noah’s ark’ 🙂 Great also to see Rien included in the ‘classics’ category – I discovered it only recently, this summer, and *wow* it’s fantastic, old school but modern as well, and utterly hypnotising. September 15, 2015 at 6:51am Reply

    • Victoria: What a splendid collection, Illidone! Who needs the Osmotheque? 🙂

      I’m not sure if wearing classics has as much to do with courage as with one’s own style. There are many fragrances, not just classics, that simply don’t feel right to me. Some are masterpieces, but this doesn’t matter at the end of the day if I don’t feel like putting them on my skin. But around here I smell classics in the street on people of all ages. September 15, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

      • Illdone: You are also very welcome ofcourse! Thank you for your splendid prose and thoughts.
        In spite of the collection I’ merely a loving amateurs sometimes lost for words when trying to describe what I feel and or smell.

        I’m not courageous every day and its true that some perfumes simply can feel wrong but nevertheless superb.

        Have a wonderfull day whatever you are up to,xx September 16, 2015 at 1:17am Reply

        • Victoria: Amateur is from a word “love,” so that’s the best way to be! September 16, 2015 at 2:43pm Reply

  • erry: I’ve tried my best to like Vent Vert but the more I try the more I dislike it. When I first smelled it on a paper strip, I like it a lot. Then, I sprayed it on my skin; I felt no love at all; just headache. I had the same reaction to Diorissimo. And Youth Dew, and Opium; I don’t understand them, not even a tiny bit.

    While I had a hard time with those perfumes, I had it easy with Apres L’Ondee (love at first smell, thank goodness, because I bought it blindly). I also love Mitsouko but I don’t wear it that often because sometimes it’s too overwhelming for tropical climate. September 15, 2015 at 3:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Chanel Coco is an instant migraine to me. I’m still trying to figure out why, although the scent itself is wonderful.

      In tropical climate, especially when the humidity is very high, many perfumes become difficult to wear. I wouldn’t take any of my Guerlains on a trip someplace tropical, since I know that I will never reach for them. Cristalle, on the other hand, is perfect. September 15, 2015 at 11:15am Reply

      • Erry: Indeed, many classic Guerlains don’t suit tropical place. That’s not the case with Apres L’Ondee, at least in its current formulation. One of the many reasons I love Apres L’Ondee is its versatility; you can wear it in any kind of climate. I once brought three decants of perfume: Apres L’Ondee, L’artisan Perfumeur la Chasse Aux Papillon and Annick Goutal Songes, and asked my friends to choose which one they liked best. I thought they would choose La Chasse Aux Papillon since it was the most modern and mainstream among the three choices. To my surprise, they like Apres L’Ondee better than the other.

        I also agree that Cristalle is perfect for tropical heat and humidity. I treasure what’s left of my 20+ yrs old Chanel Cristalle edt; my first grown up perfume. It was a gift from my aunt. She gave my younger sister and I two bottles of Chanel, No. 5 and Cristalle. My sister, she had the chance to choose first, took No. 5, the popular one. At first, I was jealous that she got to choose the legendary No. 5 and I was left with the seemingly reserved sibling. But now, I’m glad that I have Cristalle because as it turned out, I LOVE Cristalle. September 15, 2015 at 12:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: That initial burst of Cristalle is like a touch of spring breeze. So wonderful. Love that you have such a wonderful association with it. September 16, 2015 at 2:16pm Reply

      • Alicia: Very true, Victoria. When I went to the Iguazu Falls I wore Cristalle and O de Lancome. I also learned that insects dislike citrus fragrances. They worked splendidly. September 15, 2015 at 7:33pm Reply

        • Victoria: They also don’t like citronella based scents, but of course, that’s why many mosquito repellents are scented with it. September 16, 2015 at 2:39pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Erry,
      I see your point exactly. I never wore Opium, Poison, Cinnabar when they came on the market. Some of these scents were so popular, I didn’t need to wear them because entire public places would smell like these perfumes. Very strong. September 15, 2015 at 6:57pm Reply

      • erry: I remember rummaging through my aunt’s dressing table and sniffing her perfumes: EL White Linen, YSL Opium, Clinique Aromatic Elixir, Davidovv Cool Water, Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue, True Love, etc. At that time (I was a teenager), I don’t like any of them, not even Cool Water. I had liked True Love before my cousin commented that he smelled cat poo when I wore it.

        But along with time, my reaction to some of them change. Although I still don’t like the tingly opening of White Linen, I like its drydown. I love Aromatic Elixir during colder weather. I want to try True Love again but “cat poo” traumatized me. I’m OK with Cool Water although I won’t wear it because just like you said, the entire public spaces smell like it.

        But Opium, I still don’t like it. Too strong for my taste. September 15, 2015 at 11:56pm Reply

  • Tati: Fascinating discussion. I began wearing perfumes in the 80’s and started with heavy hitters such as Must de Cartier, Ombre Rose, Reminiscence Patchouli, so my recent perfume obsession is about discovering the classics, learning to love scents that are not sillage monsters.
    I agree with other comments that the Malle line has classics in the making. Just last week I fell in love with Une Fleur de Cassie. I have also been testing a small sample of Nahema parfum against Une Rose. Although they don’t share many notes other than the rose, there is a similarity, but Une Rose feels modern, something to wear out in public, where Nahema feels a little too much.
    Thanks so much for educating me as I make this wonderful journey! September 15, 2015 at 4:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Frederic Malle was very inspired by classics, and while he doesn’t tell his perfumers to follow a certain line, his briefs definitely result in fragrances with a classical appeal. So I can see what you mean about Nahema and Une Rose overlaps. September 15, 2015 at 11:16am Reply

  • Kate: Wonderful piece and great discussion. I am new to the world of perfume appreciation and kind of ended up here by accident: as a teen and student in the 1990s, I wasn’t a beauty and perfume type, I wore only Chypre oil from the Body Shop. When that was discontinued, I wore nothing for a long time. Two years ago I was on my way to a wedding and bought a bottle of EDP Mitosouko in the airport, pretty much on a whim, barely sniffed, just liked the name and bottle. Fortunately, it was LOVE LOVE LOVE and I started exploring perfumes. Pretty much everything I adore so far is classic/vintage and a lot of these evoke for me my beloved Body Shop Chypre (without smelling the same, of course). At the same time, however, I’ve definitely discovered that not all classic chypres are right for me: Calache, for example, smells like soap on me. Miss Dior gives me a headache. Joy I just don’t like. But gosh it’s fun trying everything out. 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 5:47am Reply

    • Victoria: The Body Shop used to have some terrific oils at one point, and their Chypre oil was very good. I also remember it. Now, I can’t imagine them introducing something like it, since the tastes have changed so much. September 15, 2015 at 11:42am Reply

      • Kate: It’s so sad, though, that “tastes” have changed to the extent that there isn’t room for something like that Chypre oil… September 16, 2015 at 10:43am Reply

        • Victoria: And of course, the moss essence has been under severe restrictions, which also doesn’t help. September 16, 2015 at 2:56pm Reply

  • briony hey: I got into perfume as a child – my grandparents used to buy my sister and I a different Yardley fragrance every Christmas. Although I didn’t like the smell it made me feel grown up and sophisticated. As a teenager in the 70s I was desperate to love Charlie as it’s what all the cool girls wore, but I never managed it. I used to go for the ‘old lady’ perfumes like No 5, No 19, Rochas Femme, Nina Ricci Capricci and Ecusson. I thought I was a bit of a freak at the time. Now I love that I was into the classics even then. Nowadays I love so many perfumes I have no idea what to say when perfume counter sales assistants ask me ‘what do you like?’ But whether it’s No 5 or Bulgari Black, I feel my taste is for the classics, old or new. September 15, 2015 at 6:05am Reply

    • Victoria: Love this story! Do you still wear Ecusson? September 15, 2015 at 11:40am Reply

      • briony hey: No I don’t – I haven’t come across it for decades. And even if I did I think I might be afraid to try it because I loved it so much and I’m sure it wouldn’t smell the same. September 16, 2015 at 9:01am Reply

        • Victoria: I hear you. It’s always a big disappointment when something you’ve loved no longer measures up. September 16, 2015 at 2:48pm Reply

    • spe: Capricci! The old Nina Ricci perfumes were re-released about ten years ago. In Lalique crystal bottles.

      Fille d’Eve, Capricci, Couer d’Joie, and an herbal one…cannot remember the name right now, but I can smell it. Farouche – that’s the name.

      By the time I decided to purchase, they were long gone. I wanted those so bad! They may be at the Roja Dove place in Harrods. Ricci had some of the best classics! September 15, 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I think you can still get some of those old Riccis in Paris. I’m only familiar with L’Air du Temps which my mother used to wear, and the original Nina; I’m very fond of the latter. September 15, 2015 at 1:11pm Reply

        • spe: Nina is one I’d like to try. Austenfan, what does the original Nina bottle look like? How long ago was it reformulated? I’m thinking of a see-through red bottle with silver leaves. Is that a newer version?
          Thank you! September 15, 2015 at 1:29pm Reply

          • Austenfan: The original is gone. The new one has nothing to do with what is now sold as Nina.
            If you google Nina, Nina Ricci 1987 you will find what it looked like. If you look carefully you can still find bottles. I think it was once described as a more mature version of L’Air du Temps.

            The current Nina was launched in 2006. September 15, 2015 at 2:10pm Reply

            • spe: Thank you for guiding me. The original sounds intriguing. September 15, 2015 at 5:02pm Reply

        • briony hey: Yes I went into the Nina Ricci shop in Paris just for a sniff of Capricci. It was gorgeous – it didn’t seem to have changed. Apart form the price which is now something like 400 euros (although it is pure perfume I suppose). And to think I used to buy it in the sale for next to nothing! Should have stocked up. September 16, 2015 at 9:04am Reply

  • jacqueline: I have spent a fortune on niche scents… but the classics are irreplacable to me.
    Coco (ok, edp is horrible now but edt is still good)
    Shalimar (ode la vanille madagascar, and to my surprise I looooove souffle!)
    Knowing (still good)
    24 faubourg (makes me nuts sometimes, because EVERYBODY wants to now what it is and even people want to write it down.
    The only niche I really like is Amouage’s Beloved, and Gold September 15, 2015 at 6:50am Reply

    • Therése: I smelled 24 Fabourg for the first time in an airport this summer and I was blown away. Such an elegant beauty! September 15, 2015 at 9:31am Reply

      • angeldiva: Therese,
        I concur with your enthusiasm for 24. I haven’t studied the notes carefully, but on my person it smells like a walk in the forests of some magical country! September 15, 2015 at 7:26pm Reply

        • Therése: It is divine! September 16, 2015 at 2:52am Reply

          • angeldiva: It’s divoooooooon!
            That was Jayne Mansfields favorite phrase! September 17, 2015 at 12:41am Reply

            • Therése: Haha, I didn’t know that! September 17, 2015 at 7:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I can see why Beloved and Gold worked for you, since both are grand perfumes in the best of the classical traditions. September 15, 2015 at 11:33am Reply

    • spe: Jacqueline,
      What formulation of 24 Faubourg gets your the compliments? My Mom wears it and it smells wonderful on her as well.
      Thank you!
      spe September 15, 2015 at 12:16pm Reply

      • jacqueline: I have all formulations but mostly wear the bodycreme with the edt!! September 16, 2015 at 2:57am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Cannot abide Guerlain Nicky. Lavender turns to cat Pete. Unbearable on my skin! September 15, 2015 at 7:46am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 Guerlain Nicky sounds very cute. September 15, 2015 at 11:32am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Jicky. I hate autocorrect! September 15, 2015 at 7:47am Reply

    • Jackie: Not to mention Pete the cat! 😉 September 15, 2015 at 2:05pm Reply

  • Jessica: What a joy and relief to read this piece and the comments! I have struggled with Mitsouko for ages – thanks to a helpful and indulgent staff at the Institut Guerlain and now Ogilvy’s here in Montreal, I have sampled it time and time again, in its various forms, hoping to catch the beauty that has been so eloquently described by fragrance enthusiasts. But on my skin, it simply implodes in a mess of mothballs and moss. The famous peach note is utterly obscured, and I smell like an abandoned house. I’m so glad to see that other people don’t “get it” either, and that I’m not simply a failure! 🙂 September 15, 2015 at 12:44pm Reply

    • angeldiva: Jessica,
      Wow! You sure gave it the old college try! lol Are there perfume credits in Heaven? I have this same experience with my huge bottle of Yves st. Laurent- Y .
      I’ve tried… all the factors are there, I should like it ! I actually haven’t given up, yet! September 15, 2015 at 7:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Of course, you aren’t! As my friend pointed out, there are many reasons why we don’t “get” a fragrance. It might also be a negative association with the scent, or even a specific nuance of the perfume. Or maybe, you’re extremely sensitive to moss. I had a teacher in the perfumery school who hated indoles, so he didn’t like any of the classical perfumes with strong jasmine notes. So even professionals have their “blind spots” and quirks. September 16, 2015 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Hollis: thank you for writing about this. When I first started exploring perfumes I think the first sample I ordered was “Après L’Ondee” – and I didn’t like it! I still don’t know why, but I almost feel ashamed.
    Some classics I love (Habanita, Coromandel, and Shalimar), some I have really tried to love (Chanel No 5), and some I love precisely because they remind me of long ago, and I feel the connection with my aunts and granother, and even though the scents are not “me” I wear them on occasion just to say hi to them. Fracas, especially! September 15, 2015 at 12:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please don’t feel ashamed, Hollis! All things considered, it’s an old-fashioned kind of fragrance, so well, not everyone enjoyed powdery and violet notes. Given the kind of lush and dramatic classics you do enjoy, I can see how something like Apres L’Ondee didn’t appeal to you. September 16, 2015 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Anne-Catherine: Hi Victoria, great discussion!
    I agree with you that perfumes are part of an era and we don’t have to chase the vintage versions but have to look forward, although they can evocate memories. Fracas for instance reminds me of my childhood, probably because my aunts used to wear it. not my mother though, she wore caleche every day and opium only for special occasions. I have never looked for the real vintage stuff, and (hopefully) never will, because I think that such perfumes probably turned sour so we won’t ever smell them as they were meant to be.
    INteresting too is that tastes evolve: about 15 years ago when i discovered Mitsouko, i liked it much more than I do now, and most of the Guerlain ones don’t touch me at all. when I read all the praising for those perfumes I think, well maybe one day I will also appreciate them. But there are already so many other perfumes I really love.
    still, it’s good to know them as a reference to other perfumes and interesting for perfume history. Since I have been reading many comments from different countries, I notice that European taste is very different from American, also very interesting. September 15, 2015 at 1:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, it’s so interesting! And just on the topic of different tastes in different countries, you can have a discussion of its own (if not a whole book). What kind of differences do you observe? September 16, 2015 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Charity: I had to write my first comment on your blog. This post is wonderful. I feel torn so often. There are many classics that I love but simply don’t want to personally wear as a perfume: Knowing, Mitsouko and Chanel No. 22 are three of them. My current favroties are Chanel No. 19 EDP, Aromatics Elixir (very occasional), Pure White Linen and… Chance eau Tendre! So, I give up on trying to avoid things I’ve deemed uncultured or childish and will just enjoy the perfumes I enjoy! Thank you! September 15, 2015 at 2:01pm Reply

    • Charity: And Pleasures! I decided to give it a chance after reading Luca Turin’s review and I very much like it. I think I wrote it off in the 90s because I disliked the ads. September 15, 2015 at 2:06pm Reply

      • Victoria: This is so funny, because the same thing happened to me with Pleasures. 🙂 September 16, 2015 at 2:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for commenting, Charity! Chance flankers are well-made, and I like Eau Tendre for its crisp amber layer. It feels so cool, despite its sweet notes. Far from childish and uncultured! September 16, 2015 at 2:28pm Reply

  • elisa p: I enjoyed this read and reading your blog over the years has lead me on quite a journey. I am curious about classic fragrances because of their history and maybe tend to romanticize them a bit until I try something stellar by a modern perfumer and remember that innovation didn’t stop a hundred years ago. There are some reformulations I like more than their vintage counterparts: Arpege, Femme, Jolie Madame. (Hunting down vintage perfume can be another full-time job!)
    I’ve also stopped trying too hard to like certain things: I really dislike Guerlain Vetiver and Jicky. Bandit smells less like an edgy leather and more like a load of baby powder on me. I’ll never wear these.
    But I still enjoy the process of sampling and evaluation and reading about them. That is the intellectual part of perfume for me. The emotional/sensual part is finding things that move me or create some fantasy or ambience. September 15, 2015 at 7:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your last paragraph encapsulates it all so nicely, and I agree with every words. Yes, just the process of exploring, trying, thinking of smells is the biggest pleasure of this quest. September 16, 2015 at 2:38pm Reply

  • Annunziata: What a wonderful article. I have to laugh, because sometimes I think I am the only person who loves Joy. That being the case, I am thankful they still make it!

    In theory, I should love Mitsouko. My favorite perfumes are chypres, and I love peach,but alas — in my impressionable youth I knew a fusty grand dame who always wore Mitsouko, and I simply cannot shake the association. But since one of the amazing things about perfume is that you can find you suddenly love something you never cared for, I continue to hope,and test it every year or two.

    — Amy M September 15, 2015 at 10:47pm Reply

    • Nina Zolotow: Sometimes no matter how beautiful a perfume is if there is a strong association with a particular person or a time in your own life that you don’t want to relive, it’s difficult to be able to wear it. I have that problem for sure. I used to love Magie Noire, and inspired by how good it smelled on me, my mother took it as her signature scent. Now I have a bottle of vintage Magie Noire and as much as I love sniffing the bottle, I can’t bring myself to wear the perfume. Likewise, I wore Coco for a number of years during a difficult time in my life, and, again, as much as I appreciate its beauty, I can’t bring myself to wear it. Fortunately, there are other vintage perfumes to love and many modern ones as well. September 16, 2015 at 11:25am Reply

      • Annunziata: I have had similar experiences, Nina, and had to stop wearing a couple of perfumes I didn’t just like, but loved, due to ultimately sad associations. The wonderful thing is that so many great new scents have come along to fill the breach. September 16, 2015 at 2:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, Amy, you’re not the only person. I know several longtime readers here who love Joy. Operafan, for instance, has a brilliant layering combination of Joy and Annick Goutal Rose Absolute. I tried it and really enjoyed it. September 16, 2015 at 2:42pm Reply

      • Annunziata: That does sound like a brilliant combination, I will be trying it soon! 😀 My go-to rose remains FM Une Rose, which brings me closest to the experience of being in a rose garden.

        I was interested in what you said above re. Remarque. I have had the same experience, mostly disappointment in re-reading him. September 16, 2015 at 2:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: I was especially disappointed with the Three Comrades, a novel I remember reading and re-reading as a teen. It struck me as unbearably sentimental. I did like The Arch of Triumph and All Quiet on the Western Front, however. September 16, 2015 at 3:13pm Reply

  • aurora_rubinshtein: My gurus showing path how to understand classics were Eau du Soir Sisley and Soir de Lune Sisley. At first i found them both disgusting, but it took approx.1,5 year to fall in love with them. Now those two are etalons to me! Also i want to mention Pour une femme Caron, like it and do not feel its age at all. And Kobako Bourjois – very interesting!

    Dislike: L’air du temps Nina Ricci, Paris YSL, Paloma Piccaso, all classic Estee Lauder
    Strange: Opium YSL, Kouros YSL, Rive Gauche YSL September 16, 2015 at 6:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning Pour une femme de Caron, which is an overlooked perfume (Pour un Homme gets all the accolades), but it’s terrific, a rich blend of sandalwood, orange and incense. September 16, 2015 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Dorothy Van Daele: Loved reading all comments! Thoroughly enjoy your blog. I have a question I’m hoping you can help me with.

    I recently bought a sample of the reformulated Guerlain Vol de Nuit. It’s an old favourite and I have run out. The new VdN seemed to be missing the complexity I loved. Would you recommend trying the vintage?

    I love Amouage Jubilation 25, Comme des Garçons 2 Woman, Bois de Violette, Cristalle and like Nahema. I’m neutral about Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue and Jicky. Don’t care for Fracas, Carnal Flower, Coco, Allure, Samsara. September 16, 2015 at 9:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Vintage might be more to your tastes, but it also depends on the period and which vintage exactly you have in mind. Have you tried the extrait de parfum version? The new one smells very complex to me. September 17, 2015 at 2:53pm Reply

  • Sofia: I struggle to like Chanel No 5 and 19, which are supposed to be great classics. I do love Chanel Coco EDP and No 19 Poudré. Ok, I know 19 Poudré is not exactly a classic… September 17, 2015 at 7:13am Reply

    • Victoria: There is a snippet of No 19 cradled inside Poudre. Very deep in its heart, but it has it. 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 3:02pm Reply

  • Tulsi: Bois des Iles is my signature perfume, I always return to it. It really suits me and I love it for all occasions and seasons. It’s the only perfume that I would hate to live without.

    No5 I’d only smelled as EdP and that’s just too overpowering to me. The EdT is a bit harsh (though I do wear it from time to time). But the parfum is just wonderful.

    When I first smelled Jicky I scrubbed it off, because of the poo! But it kept intriguing me and I now own a wonderful vintage bottle. I have to be in the mood to wear it though. Somehow the vintage poo is less invasive.

    I also love Shalimar and L’Heure Bleue and wear them pretty often.

    Mitsouko and I don’t get along though. I had a bottle of the EdT, but gave it away (swapped for Feu d’Issey). I’ve smelled the EdP a few years later and it keeps calling me… I found it and old ladies scent at first, but I’ve probably turned into one now. September 17, 2015 at 10:53am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree on No 5 parfum. It’s the softest version.

      Perfume doesn’t have an age specification though. It’s just whatever you like. September 17, 2015 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Carla: Very good post! I still struggle to ignore perfume packaging, branding, whether it’s a classic, and just focus on the smell. I like some updated versions of classics that others critique, like Eau Sauvage and Diorella. There are few classics I don’t like but probably more than half of my perfume collection is from after 1990 September 17, 2015 at 1:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like Eau Sauvage too. It still resembles its old self. Diorella does too, but there is a sour plastic note at the start that I can’t seem to ignore easily. It goes away eventually, though. September 17, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

  • Wendy: I’m a believer in wearing whatever you enjoy and that makes you happy. I appreciate the classic a but tend to wear the updated versions, such as Shalimar Initial and the newer Chanels. Those just are easier on the nose in the contemporary world. I have friends who will tell me Coco Noir and Terracotta smell “old”. September 17, 2015 at 4:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s such a random thing, this “old” vs “new”. I also don’t pay attention to this and just focus on what makes me happy. September 18, 2015 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Tiffany: What a fun discussion! I loved reading all the the stories. I figured out when I was 14 or so that I needed a “signature scent” (no idea how this happened as my mother/grandmothers did not wear perfume daily). Love’s Baby Soft was not cutting it for me, so I headed off to the drug store and mall to find it. I tried all the things I thought I was “supposed” to like and landed on Chanel 19 as smelling the most ME. I went to Paris at 17 with a goal of bringing home real 19 parfum (which was even more glorious). I wore 19 for many years, and though I did try other perfumes on a regular basis and loved Coco, Opium, Paloma, Safari, Beautiful, I came back to 19 regularly. I don’t know if a reformulation coincided with my stopping smoking, but once I quit smoking, 19 never smelled quite as magical on me (but I still have a huge stash of parfum and use the hard soap in my dresser drawers, which is wonderful). I wandered through many other perfumes over the past 15 years, but my new “sig” is 31 Rue Cambon which knocks my socks off in the same way 19 did many years ago, and just suits “me” better now. But I am always open to new scents and love reading about what people like so I can try new things. I appreciate the Guerlains but very rarely wear them as I just don’t think they smell good on me. I find Mitsouko very melancholy on me for some reason. Angel hates me, but I love it on others.

    Another scent that I rarely hear mentioned in reviews is Halston. I loved it in the 80’s (and it was really funky and long-lasting then) and I love the reform. It’s really cheap and should be awful, right? But I don’t think so. 🙂

    Speaking of memory/association – the one fragrance that I do associate with my mom is orange blossom – she had an orange blossom talc when I was little that we both loved. I have Fleur d’Oranger but that one has a strong camphor scent to me, so I layer it over other fragrances. Any recs for a great orange blossom?

    Now….off to rummage around my perfume drawer…. 🙂 September 17, 2015 at 7:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Another terrific story! How do I love that you at 17 selected No 19. I was a bit younger and I selected Poison. 🙂 We sure weren’t going to settle for something specifically targeted to teenagers.

      Halston is one of the perfume legends, and actually you’ve reminded me that I need to review it. September 18, 2015 at 1:48pm Reply

      • Tiffany: Poison is definitely a bold choice…wonderful! I feel sorry for teens today and the “lighter” nature of the choices they have. Though truth be told, I very rarely smell fragrance at all on my young co-workers. I think they are missing out on a wonderful facet of personal beauty.

        I will look forward to your Halston review!

        I just re-read my post and didn’t edit myself well, as I see I discussed more of what I love than what I wished worked for me. Whoops!

        Does anyone have thoughts on an orange blossom? A soliflore would be grand, though I am open.

        Happy Friday 🙂 September 18, 2015 at 6:34pm Reply

    • angeldiva: I liked 1970’s drug store Halston! And, Cache, too. September 18, 2015 at 10:52pm Reply

    • AnnieA: How about Afghanistan Orange Blossom from 7 virtues? Not a big orange blossom fan in perfume, but this is pretty. September 22, 2015 at 6:43pm Reply

  • angeldiva: Today, I reached into the samples I have ordered in the past, and made another try with Gucci- Envy. It was so fun hearing BDJ folks rhapsodize about this on the Discontinued Perfume Thread. Then, I noticed it was for sale at my discounter along with Gucci EDP -which I quickly bought, and love.
    I think I just don’t understand Gucci Envy… I adore the color of the juice. It smells like a chypre/metalic on me, and actually similar to my Kenzo-perfume solid.
    So, I did like the Envy just slightly more, and will use up my sample.
    I read here about the online Posh Peasant, and ordered a variety of about 10 samples. This article has been so inspiring. I have had a deep and abiding curiosity about perfumes that I have read about here, and discontinued perfumes of a historical nature.
    So, I’m happily awaiting the first two that I’m going to try; Knize Ten
    and BALENCIAGA – LE DIX !!!
    Wow, when that Le Dix giveaway was going on I was swooning!
    Sometimes One must satisfy the curiosity. Even if I don’t want to spend my time and retirement money tracking down full bottles of historical perfume!

    🙂 September 18, 2015 at 1:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Envy is a cool, metallic green floral. You have to enjoy that kind of crisp effect, I suppose, and I see what you mean about chypre.

      Enjoy your new samples! September 18, 2015 at 1:50pm Reply

      • angeldiva: Yes, I can’t wait! Thanks for recommending the P. Peasant here, on BDJ.
        I felt a certain privilege, even testing Gucci Envy, because it’s almost reached a cult-like status amongst the perfumistas that I read about. I think it could grow on me.

        *Also, in the order that is coming: your beloved Apres L’Ondee !!!
        I’ve never smelled it , and can’t wait!
        I hope this exercise will distract me from my house upgrades, and move. Plus, these samples are easier to move that FB’s. September 18, 2015 at 10:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: Having moved many times, I agree with you, samples are so much more mobile and less prone to breakages. Keeping fingers crossed for Apres L’Ondee. I hope that you enjoy testing it, whether or not you’ll end up loving the perfume. September 19, 2015 at 8:40am Reply

  • carol: I loved Jean d’Albret’s Casaque, Balenciaga Quadrille, Clarins Elysium, sadly gone. Original Chanel Cristalle, No.19, Diorissimo, & Fath de Fath were also great faves.
    I savor my dwindling talcs in Quadrille, Jardins de Bagatelle, & Poison, & WhiteShoulders. September 18, 2015 at 11:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I miss scented talcs. They’re hardly made today, but it’s such a good way to wear perfume, especially if you’re in a warm, humid climate. September 18, 2015 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Aliora: I struggle to understand the allure of Nahema…mostly because it reminds me of Tresor, which I dislike.

    I used to be a clean fresh and floral kind of gal (am in my late twenties and grew up in the aquatic 90s era), but I actually love a lot of the classics now BECAUSE they smell “vintage” and remind me of another era. I like to think of it as an unseen olfactory talisman, as though all those women who wore it before me will give me their wisdom or something… September 19, 2015 at 12:09am Reply

    • Karen: What a beautiful image, Aliora! September 19, 2015 at 8:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Nahema was a prelude to the big 80s perfume, but when it was launched, it was too early for it, and it was a big flop.

      I love your idea of an olfactory talisman. September 19, 2015 at 8:42am Reply

  • nadineisthatu: Most of my perfumes are from pre-1983. When I lost my sense of smell I quit using them. After I got medicare I had surgery and my sense of smell took about a year to come back but not fully. A month ago I put on Ma Griffe: Five men came up to me and asked me what it was, three writing it down. How often would you have men asking a 68 year old what she was wearing? And then I thought, they have probably never smelled anything like it. September 20, 2015 at 1:09am Reply

    • Victoria: I can just imagine how great it smells on you! September 21, 2015 at 5:02am Reply

    • angeldiva: I’m so glad that you got your sense of smell back! September 21, 2015 at 7:05pm Reply

  • Laura: Victoria, I absolutely love your statement “I’m a product of my own time too, for better or worse.”‘ So very, very true! It is very hard to undo some scent memories. Youth Dew is one I still struggle with, hehehe. September 20, 2015 at 4:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Our preferences are shaped so much by what we encounter around us, and although I’m prone to romanticizing the past, in perfume and many other things, I like the explore what the present has to offer. There are many things perfume lovers can complain about today (regulations, discontinuations, etc.), but there are also lots of amazing perfumes in different styles. We also have more access to information and more chance to try indie brands that previously either didn’t exist or weren’t accessible. September 21, 2015 at 5:07am Reply

  • Masooma: I am so happy to have come across this discussion. I love going on perfume testing sprees and always felt sad that I was unable to enjoy some of the iconic ones from guerlain and channel. In fact just yesterday I tested shalimar souffle with my best friend and we both fell in love with it. But after reading its reviews on line and how people were disappointed at how it had nothing to do with shalimar I was put off by it. I am feeling much comforted knowing that I’m not alone. Could never appreciate channel no 5 or mademoseille (I’m just not there yet). But have absolutely fallen in love with Misia and Beige. April 6, 2016 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Shalimar Souffle is very different from Shalimar, but this doesn’t make it bad. If someone wants a sweeter, cuddlier version of a classic, it might just be the right thing. April 7, 2016 at 7:10am Reply

  • Kim: Shalimar and Fendi are the 2 icons I can’t abide. 1 is the dregs of vanilla lemonaide , the other stale ashtray. Blech! June 25, 2016 at 12:15am Reply

    • Victoria: You aren’t the only one, especially in regards Shalimar. June 30, 2016 at 3:21am Reply

  • Kelly: I know this is an old post, but I can’t handle No. 5. I try and try and have tried again and I just can’t. I feel like there is something wrong with me that I just cannot love it. Shalimar, on the other hand, rocked my existence since the first time I tried the EdP and crave it at times. I just ordered a 2 mL sample of vintage L’Heure Bleue and cannot wait to see how I feel about it. January 13, 2017 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Samantha: I’m new to really exploring perfume. I loved LouLou as a teenager, and have worn Magie Noire, Fracas, and Arpege at various times in my adult life. But I got curious recently about vintage perfumes, and have started accumulating a little pile of milliliter samples.

    I really wanted to love Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit (the name! The concept!) but just couldn’t. It smells to me like one of those unidentifiable, brownish, empty perfume bottles that you find at an estate sale of the recently deceased. With that same order, though, I received a sample of L’Heure Bleue EDP, and after initial recoil, tucked it away in my nightstand drawer. Over the months, though, I found myself drawing it out to take increasingly frequent whiffs. It is haunting, elusive, and beautiful, and will be my first extrait purchase come summer. February 10, 2017 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Susan: Here I am, at least 6 years late to the party. I am 73, and remain enamoured of many older fragrances – Deneuve, Joy (Patou version), Madame Rochas, Diorella, Youth Dew, Jean Louis Scherrer, etc. It finally struck me recently – the way I would describe so many of these fragrances is that they are loud and in your face. But I’m OK with that. Maybe it’s even what I love about them. I have many other more modern fragrances (I’m a bit out of control) which I love wearing, but these still something about these oldies… July 26, 2023 at 2:12am Reply

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