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