Seattle Vintage Sniff 2012 Recap by EauMG

It always seems to shock people when I tell them that I’m not into vintage perfume. I’ve heard gasps before! They assume since I’ve always been into vintage style that I must love everything vintage. There are many reasons why I’m not a vintage perfume person. It’s not that I don’t appreciate or love them, it’s that I’m a perfume lover, not a collector. I don’t have the patience or money for vintages. You vintage collectors would crush me like a little twig. I can’t last a day in your on-line bidding world.

vintage perfumes
Seattle Vintage Sniff 2012

One Tuesday in October, a group of us from the Seattle area met at Blackbird in Ballard to share our vintages and love of perfume. I really didn’t have much to contribute, see paragraph above. I don’t collect vintages. I did have a bottle of Madame Rochas from the 60’s, a bottle of Estee Lauder Youth Dew bath oil from its launch year and a bottle of Lancome Magie Noire from the 90’s (pre-the awful reformulation). I haven’t inherited perfume. My family members didn’t wear perfume. I have a grandmother that wears Estee Lauder Youth Dew and Clinique Aromatics Elixir; however, she wears them. She uses the bottle, replaces it with a new one. Because of this, there are no random Guerlains in the bottom of closets. AND I don’t have any scent associations with people. I have no need to search for a discontinued vintage since I have no memories associated with those perfumes. In a way, this is a blessing.

Enough about me, let’s talk about this meet-up. It was a small event at a nice location, very well-planned and organized. (Thank you, Christy of House of Matriarch). People brought the vintages they wanted to share. We sprayed glass bells with the fragrance. I was bad at taking notes, so I’m working from my memory here…

vintage Shalimar
Behold. Shalimar.

Chanel No. 5 from the 60’s – Gorgeous. I never felt an attachment to this classic even though I have always respected it. After smelling this vintage, I “get” it. I just don’t “get” it. I love it. The vintage Chanel No. 5 is stunning. Now I believe this is what Marilyn Monroe smelled like. The vintage version purrs. The new stuff is as soulless as that Brad Pitt commercial. There is no relation between the two. They’re completely different.

Guerlain Jicky and Shalimar (can’t remember the date) – Stunning. Some of the best stuff on the planet. This is why Guerlain is amazing. This is why Guerlain will always be amazing.

White Shoulders (I don’t know the date but old)- Smells like grape juice, white grape juice. This is how I remember it. I like to think about all the mamas that rocked their babies to sleep wearing this stuff. It’s such a “non-threatening” scent. That Chanel and the Guerlains I smelled were on the prowl. White Shoulders has already found a spouse and has pro-created. It’s out of the game. And listen, we all can’t be in the game at once. The world doesn’t work that way.

Jean Patou Vacances from the 30’s – A full-bodied spring floral that will bring to mind lilacs and hyacinth in full bloom. I mainly got a stunner of a heliotrope. Perfumes like this would turn me into a floral fragrance lover. It’s sad that this one has been discontinued. The world needs more perfumes like this. I’d be happy with a 2012 version.

Coffret of vintage Carons ( I think from the 80’s)- It took me too long to get over the shagreen packaging. This is luxury. This is how perfume should be presented. All of the perfumes were great, remember I’m a Caron person. Many are better than the stuff we can buy off the shelves now. Saying that, I still think what you can buy off the shelves now is better than most of your other “off the rack” options. But, man, that Aimez-Moi had some heft to it that I really liked.

Caron coffret
Shagreen Caron coffret. These colors have inspired my wardrobe.

There were many more. Like I said, I didn’t take notes so I’m reporting on the ones that I remember.

My bottles:

Madame Rochas – This is a surprising skank bomb. I have an EDT and that thing is strong. It’s a slow burner in the way that naturals are slow burners. It takes patience. That thing continues to evolve even after 24 hours. The base is skank. The top is rotting fruits florals. It’s actually a really mean and aggressive fragrance.  You can usually find this vintage for cheap.

Estee Lauder Youth Dew – Glorious. It amazes me how little this formula has changed. I think the differences I get in my vintage bottle and the new bottle is that the patchouli has aged. It’s a classic that you can still buy easily and cheaply.

Lancome Magie Noire – This one isn’t that old. It’s from the 90’s before Lancome gave away little minis of Miracle like it was going out of style. Wait. Miracle did go out of style. Magie Noire was a great perfume and one that the company didn’t seem to care about. It became harder and harder to find in the U.S. You usually had to ask for it, it was hidden behind the counter. They reformulated it. Messed it up by destroying its composition and getting rid of the groovy phallic bottle 🙁

Other vintages that I own have turned such as a vintage Shalimar from the late 1930’s in a gorgeous art deco bottle. It’s bloody awful. I didn’t bring it to the meet-up because I wanted to make friends and act like I didn’t have bottles of sour Shalimar in my possession. Sour Shalimar doesn’t make friends.

Here I am sniffing non-vintage perfumes.

 My thoughts & conclusions:

I’m still not going to collect vintage. But, I’ll happily smell any vintages that find themselves under my nose. You vintage collectors intimidate me, but I love you guys. You’re like scent historians.

If for some reason I were to buy vintage like I won the lottery or something, I’d buy vintage Guerlain, Caron and Chanel. These seem to be the most impacted by the modern era. I wouldn’t mind a bottle of “real” Chanel No. 5 so I can pretend to be an early 60’s sex kitten. I already pretend that, but at least I can smell like the person I pretend to be.

IFRA is dumb. But, I’ve always thought this. I ain’t skeered of some oakmoss.

I love the people in Seattle. Well, not all of the people in Seattle because we have some real passive-aggressive a-holes. I love the people in Seattle that love what I love 😉 I love all of my ‘fume friends, but I’m very thankful to have perfume friends that I can meet-up with. It’s a great group of people. These meet-ups are monthly. You can email me if you are in the Seattle area and would like to be added to the Facebook group. If you don’t use Facebook because Facebook is lame since you’re mom uses it now, I can email you the dates.

Do you collect vintage perfumes? If not, do you own any vintages? What are your favorite vintage perfumes?

*All pics were taken by Christy of House of Matriarch and are © Christy Meshell.


11 thoughts on “Seattle Vintage Sniff 2012 Recap by EauMG

  1. I try to avoid vintage perfumes as much as I can: I tend to fall in love with perfumes and I just don’t want a heartache of not being able to find a bottle or worrying that it has gone off. I have a couple of vintage perfumes in my collection – Climat by Lancome (my first and eternal love) in one of the older packaging but not the most “old”. I would have paid a lot of money for a real vintage Climat but it’s really hard to get and, as with any wintage, you never know how bad will be a juice in that expensive bottle from eBay. Or if it actually is going to be authentic. I also have Miss Dior parfum in old bottle (when parfums were still dabbed, not sprayed).

    I’d love to visit such an event though – thank you for sharing your impressions.
    Undina recently posted..A Postcard from Undina: Happy Halloween!

    1. That’s why I don’t buy vintage either. You could pay a lot of money to get something rancid. OR it could be a pretty bottle with tinted alcohol in it. I don’t have that kind of money to gamble with.
      I’m sure both of the vintages you own are lovely. I remember loving CLimat and I even like the Miss Dior you can buy now. So, I assume a vintage Miss Dior is even better!
      I think an event like this is the way to go. You can smell vintages, compare and see if yours is off. ANd it’s free and you’re not wasting hours bidding on eBay. 😉

  2. I really enjoyed your report and got a kick reading what you wrote about vintage White Shoulders (ie, “And listen, we all can’t be in the game at once. The world doesn’t work that way”).

    I don’t collect much in the way of vintage either, for many of the reasons you cited. Plus, I just find a lot to love in the current releases, so why bother? I am very happy, though, that I purchased a vintage bottle of Chanel No. 5 … it really is a whole different kitten from the current version. Glad you got the chance to sniff it!

    1. And that is why I like White Shoulders!
      Yep, my current list of new stuff is quite long. I don’t need to add vintage 😉 I can’t keep up with what I want as is. And honestly, there are a few indie perfumers out there doing “vintage” quite well because they don’t have to restrict their palettes for IFRA.
      You’re lucky to have vintage No. 5. It really is a stunner. I am now in love with No. 5. – Vintage No. 5.

  3. I stay away from vintage. If some turns up on my doorstep I won’t turn it away but I don’t seek it out. Too much disappointment. It’s sad when you smell how they used to be wonderful and aren’t anymore.

  4. Yay, more vintage for me!!

    I just dropped the most foldy-green-American I have EVER spent on eBay (and that includes the nice leather purse I bought two years ago), on a four-bottle lot of vintage Cotys. Which I tend to adore: I already had several bottles of old Emeraude, plus some L’Origan parfum and L’Aimant parfum de toilette, and a sadly deteriorated bottle of Muse, which was juuuust good enough ($14. don’t judge me.) to make me rue the day it was discontinued.

    I think your observation that either the vintage stuff speaks to you, or it doesn’t, is right on target. There’s very little perfume available at my local mall that I’m interested in at all, so it’s a) splits of niche stuff and b) vintage via ebay for me, pretty much.

    There are tricks to buying vintage. First, it’s like gambling. If you go to Vegas, the only way you can gamble without losing your house is to put the money you can afford to lose gambling in your pocket, and leave your wallet in your room. Similarly, you never ever bid more than you can afford to lose if the juice turned out to be skunky.

    Second, I’ve had pretty good luck buying stuff USED, but stored in box. Most of the spoiled stuff (might be somewhere around 20% of my vintage purchases) has been unboxed, stored god-knows-how. That 1950s No. 5 parfum still double-boxed ($36, about 29ml left in the 1-oz bottle) is absolutely stunning. It glows. I only buy stuff that I think that I’ll like, based on descriptions and notes lists and the like, because I’m really more interested in wearing than collecting.

    Third, do your research. FInd out what the packaging looked like during the time frame you’re interested in, before you bid. Try to find out what the juice looked like when fresh, but keep in mind that jasmines and balsamy ingredients tend to darken but still smell great. Citruses don’t last well, and aldehydes are prone to deterioration but sometimes burn off quickly so that what’s left after 10 minutes is stunning.

    Fourth, be patient. If that bottle of Joy parfum is going for a ridiculous price, just let it go. More will come along. And if it doesn’t? Well, there are plenty of other things to sniff.

    Those Carons are gorgeous! Incidentally, Aimez-Moi was released in 1996… it wasn’t N’Aimez Que Moi, was it?

    You love what you love, that’s all there is to it. If you don’t love vintage, you can be interested in other things. (I’d bet that you own more Serges than I do… I only have a partial bottle of La Myrrhe.)
    mals86 recently posted..NaNoWriMo 2012 starts today!

    1. Thank you for the awesome advice! Those are all great points. I think you haven’t been “burnt” by bad bottles since you know your stuff and have done research. You know what to look for, for example my awful Shalimar is boxless. My other vintages are in boxes. And they smell good.

      Oh, Emeraude that may be the one that makes me spend the house on eBay! That was my first perfume ever and the vintage stuff is worth the wait and the money.

      Caron – I will see the owner of that coffret next week. I’ll ask. Like I said, I didn’t take notes. It smelled like Aimez-Moi but it was different. It was an intense violet but with more. I did not smell the dry-down. I’m thinking it could be N’Aimez Que Moi or the coffret could be from the 90’s. Either way that set is a looker.

      It’s true. You love what you love. I think I try to avoid vintage in fear of loving what I can’t have 🙂

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