Many of us (rightfully) whine about what has happened to so many of our beloved fragrances. Beauties from Guerlain, Chanel and Caron have been reformulated throughout the years. It’s a shame. However, many of these still have some character. Guerlain Shalimar still smells plush in comparison to what else is sold in department stores. Caron Bellodogia is not the same but it still smells good. Now, Chanel No. 5 is a complete and total joke in comparison to its purring vintage formula, but it does continue to sell. Somehow aldehydic floral hairspray still has character in comparison to what’s launched today!
What’s amazing is that these perfumes survived. The houses still exist and flourishing (well, Caron needs some help). The formulas may have changed but you can still get something Shalimar-ish or Jicky-ish. They still “represent” the originals, even if they are paler and limper than before. I feel like there are two houses that the vintage/perfume lovers must mourn…and then move on. These houses are Worth and Coty (saving the last one for another day). These perfumes used to be gorgeous, high-quality perfumes. And now look at them! They aren’t even shadows of their former selves.
Brief History of House of Worth:
Charles Frederick Worth was a Brit in France courturier dating back to the 1850’s. He did fairly well, fans of his clothes included actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lily Langtry as well as Empress Eugénie. Worth passed away in the mid-1890’s, leaving the family business to his sons. House of Worth turned more into a “ready-to-wear” fashion house, launching a perfume in 1924, the same year that Chanel No. 5 was heavily distributed by the Wertheimer brothers (perfume directors of Bourjois and the reason why No. 5 became a hit).
House of Worth ended in 1956 but the perfumes remained. Since the House offered such popular “signature” scents, Worth Perfumes were bought out by a French company. The perfumes were bought out again the early 1990’s and changed hands again in 1999.
There has been attempts to revive the fashion house, emphasizing its Belle Epoque aesthetic and heritage. And the fragrances,well there were some attempts to revive them. Only a few of them still exist.
I’m feeling slightly doleful. I’m reviewing the languishing, modern versions of this once epic house’s perfumes that were re-launched as EDTs in the early 2000s in a gift set.
Notes listed include bergamot, geranium, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, benzoin, patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla. Originally launched 1934.
Vers Toi (To You) is weird. It’s a bitter geranium and a hissy lily of the valley. The weirdness comes from a frutiness, like a really overripe red currant rotting in the sun. It’s so synthetic smelling that it verges into household cleaner territory. And there is an odd peppery thing going on. It’s sharp and weird. It’s sort of a hot mess. Actually, delete “hot” from that utterance. This is a mess.
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – Weird lily of the valley thing. As we say in the South, bless its little heart.
Vers La Jour
Notes listed include bergamot, red berries, rose, angelica root, narcissus, cyclamen, jasmine, osmanthus, May rose, peony, peach, pineapple, watermelon, cedar, sandalwood and musk. Originally launched in 1925.
My initial impression was fruit punch and pencil shavings. Vers la Jour (Just Before Dawn) is a very sheer fragrance in this EDT formula. And it’s laughable to think of this being anything from the 1920’s. They didn’t even try to make it resemble what it once was! And then there is a hairspray jasmine. And it burns off the skin so quickly, I can’t comment on the rest.
This perfume is super sheer. Good choice for a young teenager that is into body sprays.
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – An exceptional smelling drugstore hairspray. Seriously. If this was a scent in hair products, it would be OK. The fact that this was meant to resemble something launched in 1925 makes me want to flip over my coffee table in a fit of rage.
Dans la Nuit
Notes listed include aldehydes, green notes, violet, bergamot, lemon, carnation, cinammon, orris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, rose, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, vanilla and vetiver. Launched 1924. (re)Launched in 1985.
This is our hooker with a heart of pyrite fragrance. It’s all powder and musk and florals. Reminds me of Avon Night Magic. Dans la Nuit (“In the Night”) opens with malt liquor breath covered by clove chewing gum. The florals (mainly carnation and jasmine) start to bloom on the skin, mixing with a sweet, suffocating, powdery musk. I also get that “new tire” smell. I admit that there is something charming to this crude perfume. It’s so big hair, tight jeans and red lip gloss looking to get laid in the pool hall bathroom circa 1985. It dries down to a spicy amber incense. The fragrance is cloying which I like better than the body spray fragrance I reviewed above.
The problem is that this could smell AMAZING if they budgeted more for it. It’s spices, carnation, big florals and powdery incense. So frustrating.
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – Lot lizard pretending to wear Caron Bellodogia. Damn, that’s mean, especially for the best fragrance out of the set. I just feel that many people of a certain generation, people that lived through the 1980’s, will associate this with “cheap”/”hooker” perfumes. I find Dans la Nuit charming because of that. I can imagine trying to leave the house in something like this at 13 and it would have received one hell of a reaction from my parents. And this is why this perfume is my favorite from the set. At least this one gave me emotions and something to talk about…
Notes listed include jasmine, orange blossom, aldehydes, ylang-ylang, narcissus, jonquil, violet, sandalwood, vetiver and musk. Launched 1932.
Out of the Worth fragrances, this is the easiest one to find. I think it is still in production. Aldehydes. So many aldehdyes. Je Reviens (I’m Coming Back) is crisp with spring florals and a bitter “aftershave” neroli. The sandalwood is sharp and synthetic. Like many of the others, this one kills me. Je Reviens could be awesome with higher quality ingredients. And at one time, it was awesome. I guess if I want aldehydes and sandalwood, I’ll wear Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne de Bois.
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – Aldehydes and sandalwood. Out of this set, this one seems to be paying homage to the original. But, the ingredients are so cheap and pathetic. I mean, improve the quality and charge more. Why is this concept so difficult to understand?
Notes listed include green notes, citrus and watery notes. Launched 1925.
The original Lalique bottles of Sans Adieu (Without Farewell) were stunning but that’s not what this is about. If you feel sad about any reformulation ever, I want you to f’n smell the melon mess that is currently Sans Adieu. This isn’t a few tweaks or substituting with cheaper ingredients, this is is “Suzanne Somers, what the f did you do to your face?” bad. No resemblance. At all.
What we have is a dryer sheet covered with melon-cucumber body spray (Calone OVERDOSE).
And we’re supposed to believe that a perfume from 1925 inspired this. Somebody get me my pocketbook because I’m out of here!
Victoria’s Final EauPINION – See above. Sans Adieu, don’t you ever speak to me again!
Both vintage and modern Worth fragrances can be found on auction sites. A few of the modern ones can be found on discounter perfume sites selling for like $10-$15. Even at that price, they’re still not worth checking out.
More info on this set at:
*Set given to me by a perfume pal that wanted to remove the memory of ever purchasing such a sad set from his mind and his home. I have it now. It’s a curse. 1928 Worth ad from an eBay auction. Gift set pic is mine. Sans Adeiu Lalique bottle from www.crystalclassics.com.