Frederic Malle Reformulations

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
Reformulations are inevitable.

But here some thoughts on some Frederic Malle fragrances that I know very well, before and after reformulation. Of course, maceration is a factor that I can't control, and may influence my observations.

Please post your own experiences so we can get an idea of how the current range is doing, and whether it's worth repurchasing after bottles have run out.

French Lover / Bois d'Orage
: I've owned 3 bottles of this.

2007: Sillage and longevity good but not nuclear. Solid.
2014: Sometime around here Malle increased the concentration, because of complaints that French Lover wasn't strong enough. Nuclear sillage and longevity. Extra dry, extra oakmoss, extra eucalyptus up top.
2020: Re-re-formulated back somewhat to the 2007 version, but perhaps a bit less heavy, easier to wear. Softer on the nose. Good sillage and longevity, but not nuclear. Easy to go nose-blind on this version.

Musc Ravageur:

2007: Skanky, almost pissy, vanilla and incense.
2016: Spiced vanilla, yet incredibly neutered, with the coumarin in the base increased. Still great though.

Angeliques Sous La Pluie:

2008: Gin and tonic, very good sillage and longevity. Transparent, lots of sparkle, lots of hedione/jasmine: feels fresh and dewy.
2020: Emphasis on angelica, pepper and labdanum. More body, a touch of powder, but less sparkle and projection. Big reduction in woody amber. More natural smelling, but less of that damp, "after the rain" feeling, less hedione/jasmine.

Cologne Bigarade:

2008: Transparent, lots of woody amber. Good longevity but thin. Emphasis on hay accord in the drydown.
2020: More body, less woody amber, less projection. Decent longevity. More powdery. More emphasis on citrus and leather, and closer to its inspiration Eau d'Hermes. Less typical Jean-Claude Ellena in style than it used to be, but an improvement.

L'Eau d'Hiver:

2008: Dreamy, with a big sweet cherry note hidden in the drydown.
2020: Still just as beautiful, but with less emphasis on the top notes, less of that "fresh white paint" note, and less cherry in the drydown. I prefer the new version's drydown, but I liked the original formulation's top notes more.

Une Fleur de Cassie:

2008: Voluptuous, dewy
2019: More yellow pollen notes than before, more dry. Quality is still top notch but maybe a little bit less loud. Still incredibly stunning and like no other floral on the market.

***

Overall, I'd say that like most brands, the original formulations are usually the best, but I'm not freaking out about it. Each fragrance I've compared still smells amazing, and some are even improved, depending on how you look at it.

For example, Cologne Bigarade and French Lover are easier to wear now, and a bit less jarring. Musc Ravageur is much less shocking (and perhaps less interesting), but also friendlier and easier to wear than before.
 
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L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
Any thoughts on L'Eau d'Hiver and whether it has been reformulated?
I'm pretty sure the entire line has been reformulated, but I have a bottle of L'Eau d'Hiver from last year and it's alive and well. Good performance, good quality materials still. Smells great.

I feel like there's a new, "synthetic freshness" in the opening which I'm less enthused about, and that might not have been in the original formulation... but I don't know the vintage well enough to confirm.
 

cheapimitation

Basenotes Dependent
May 15, 2015
I've been trying/buying Malle since they launched but never done a scientific side by side because I don't do backups so I never find myself in the situation of having an old and a new bottle at the same time. So, most of my observations are purely based on memory, which is terribly unreliable, especially considering how much our perception of the exact same fragrance can change as we get to know it better.

The most experience I've had with comparisons is owning a 10ml for several years before finally buying a full bottle. And so far I've never once been disappointed by the currently available version of anything.

The few observations I have made are very nuanced and I'd be hard pressed to even call one better or worse than the other. They are:

Angelique Sous La Pluie: after I used up an older 10ml I got a full bottle which seems stronger than I remember. Could totally be due to the larger format putting out more juice per spray

Dans Tes Bras: When I first tried this I was very new to perfume and found this incredibly strange. It smelled like mushrooms and a woman's skin baking in the hot sun (it evoked a memory of going to the beach with my mom, this isn't as pervy as it sounds). Today I do find it less strange and more violet focused, it might have changed but likely I am also much better at recognizing what I"m smelling than I was before.

Vetiver Extraordinaire: There were a good 5 years between my 10ml and a current bottle and I was afraid it had changed. I sampled it first at the boutique and it smelled off. After getting the full bottle though, it smells exactly how I always remembered it. Possibly the tester bottle I tried was off.

French Lover: Like VE at first I thought I detected a difference comparing a brand new sample to my very old bottle, but honestly it's like I'm squinting to try and see something. In a blind test I bet I couldn't tell you which is better or which I prefer. I imagined the newer one to have slightly less of a wet woods feel in the opening; feeling a tad fresher and less dank.

En Passant: I felt like the new bottle I purchased after finishing a 10ml wore a bit lighter. It has always been a delicate perfume but the lasting power of the 10ml seemed greater and had a stronger "wheat-y" note that lasted. Again, could totally chalk that up to age as that 10ml was quite old and possibly became more concentrated over time. Otherwise, the smell is exactly the same.

Overall, I would say buy with confidence now and don't bother worrying or suffering FOMO that an older version was better. It probably wasn't. I think a lot of the sense of "lost magic" is simply due to the fact that when we are discovering a brand for the fist time and everything is totally new, it all feels more magical than when we are very familiar with it. Malle was great 10 years ago and it's great now, here's hoping they're still great 10 years from now!

OP's observations are totally reasonable, but every once in awhile a comment comes up on BN from somebody claiming the brand is ruined, their favorites are gutted etc etc. And I just think wtf are you talking about? Some ppl just want to imagine the sky is always falling.
 

hednic

Basenotes Institution
Oct 25, 2007
All of my Frederic Malle fragrances are the original releases, so no reformulations to contemplate.
 

rum

Moderator
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Mar 17, 2011
So it sounds as though Musc Ravageur, which began as a kind of dirty remake of Meharees, has become more Meharees-like with reformulation.
Meharees is lovely, but is certainly redundant if you have Musc Ravageur.
I tried Meharees towards the latter part of 2021 and I have to agree with both of these statements.
I should also add that the newer bottle of MR do tend to change with time. They mature somewhat with all the different notes coming together better to form a more complete, "finished" scent if that makes sense.
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
I should also add that the newer bottle of MR do tend to change with time. They mature somewhat with all the different notes coming together better to form a more complete, "finished" scent if that makes sense.
You're definitely right. I've had a few fragrances in my own, carefully stored collection, change with time or "extra maceration", and usually for the better. IIRC, I remember hearing a quote from Andy Tauer confirming this, years and years ago.

That being said, I've tried MR three separate times over the past few years while passing through high end department stores, and I keep getting the same experience. I'm not a die-hard MR fan anyway, so if MR smells great to people now, that's all that matters. Still my favorite vanilla out there, along with L'Heure Perdue.
 

Emanuel76

Basenotes Dependent
Jun 16, 2018
Portrait of a Lady

Vintage

Smooth, warm, with many nuances, winey, slightly fruity, without any annoying (detectable) fixatives.
It's perfect.

Current
A persistent green astringent sourness covers some of the myriads of facets of the original.
I also detect a woody/detergent/bug-spray fixative, the same fixative that I detect in many many recent perfumes (Porpora, its "clone" from Tiziana Terenzi, is destroyed by it. The same with Xerjoff - Irisss). Here it is not very strong, or very annoying, but it is present.
I love it, it's still very good, but it doesn't compare with the vintage version.


375x500.10464.jpg
 

Opiate

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 19, 2010
My observations don’t mirror yours.

I’ve got bottles of Bois D’Orage/French Lover from 2011, 2018 and 2020, and have smelled other years.
Aside from the slightly different opening in my 2011 bottle, They all perform the same and the differences are negligible. Especially once the bottles have been opened for a couple months and have macerated from some air.
I’d be happy with a bottle from any year and wouldn’t even bother to check the date.

Musc Ravageur- I have both vintage and newer version, and again- I find the differences negligible. The older version has a bit more ‘umph’, but I wouldn‘t bother tracking down a vintage.

And I’m someone who’s pretty picky regarding vintages and reformulations.
 

Emanuel76

Basenotes Dependent
Jun 16, 2018
Aside from the slightly different opening in my 2011 bottle, They all perform the same and the differences are negligible. Especially once the bottles have been opened for a couple months and have macerated from some air.

I have the bottle (POAL) for a year and a half (I checked now - June 18, 2020), and the differences, as far as I remember, are not very big.
It's true that I'm an undersprayer, the bottle is almost full ~ 98 ml. Maybe if I had used more, it would have speed up the maceration. I don't know.

I would be excited if in 3-5-7 years it would get close to the vintage sample I have. But it's not the case for now.

My rule - if I can instantly identify a perfume without testing side by side, then the differences are not negligible.
 

cheapimitation

Basenotes Dependent
May 15, 2015
I've got pretty recent bottle of Musc Ravaguer and quite like it. I have no doubt the original formulation had more "skank."
I think it's quite nice and not ready to compare it to Dana Canoe yet.
That's my experience. I don't recall the smell of the matte cap which very well could have been more skanky. But I've tried it many times over the past 10 years and I haven't noticed any change. I just wore it yesterday from a 10ml I bought last year and it smelled great, better than I ever remember it. A strong clove opening gives way to smooth but not sweet vanilla and a hint of something furry lies underneath. I think the musks take some getting used to, because the first few times I tried it I just got a soft vanilla and wondered what the big deal was about. After a lot more wearings, I now detect a sexy purr of something animalic but not skanky underneath. As it heated up on my skin in the cold weather yesterday it really came to life and remained heady and intoxicating all day and night.

I don't get anything metallic but I wonder if the sharp clove at the opening could be read as that by some? It actually took me forever to like this, but yesterdays wearing finally convinced me I finally need a bottle.
 

cheapimitation

Basenotes Dependent
May 15, 2015
To me, it's not at all worth worrying if another batch was infinitesimally better than the one you've bought. It just causes undue stress and fomo and sucks all the fun out of the hobby for me. I know it might be the opposite for others, where hunting down THE batch is actually the fun part, and I think those people tend to exaggerate the difference whether they mean to or not just to justify their insanity.

I also think people just get attached to whatever version they knew first, whether it was truly "the best" or not. I can almost guarantee if Chanel did the reverse and the EDT's came out to replace the EDP's, just as many if not more ppl would complain they ruined everything.

Not to say people who notice differences are wrong, and I enjoy this thread and reading about them. Just to say, everything I've experienced in the line is still fantastic as is today and this is the house I know better than any other. If you're into vintage hunting then knock yourself out. But if you're new to the line, buy what's out there now with confidence and don't worry about what you may have missed out on, it was nothing.
 

ultravisitor

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 4, 2014
I totally agree, it's not at all worth worrying if another batch was infinitesimally better than the one you've bought. It just causes undue stress and fomo and sucks all the fun out of the hobby for me.
Yep. My concern: is the current version something that I like? If so, then I'm not going to be bothered by other formulations that I've never smelled.

I'm also not going to write off a perfume that I've never smelled because I heard someone somewhere say that a previous formulation was better.

If I've never smelled it and it's out of production, then that's fine. I wasn't meant to have it. There really are many, many, many other perfumes out there and currently in production that I can focus my attention on.
 

Opiate

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 19, 2010
If people want animalic or “skank” from Musc Ravageur, you’re looking at the wrong fragrance entirely.
Muscs Koublai Khan from Serge Lutens is what you want.

A fun, and somewhat eye opening comparison is to compare Musc Ravageur, Original Musk from Kiehls, and Muscs Koublai Khan all side by side.
Musc Ravageur smells like a cinnabun gourmand next to the other 2.
 
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GoldWineMemories

Basenotes Dependent
Nov 22, 2019
Yep. My concern: is the current version something that I like? If so, then I'm not going to be bothered by other formulations that I've never smelled.

I'm also not going to write off a perfume that I've never smelled because I heard someone somewhere say that a previous formulation was better.

If I've never smelled it and it's out of production, then that's fine. I wasn't meant to have it. There really are many, many, many other perfumes out there and currently in production that I can focus my attention on.
Agreed. I could care less what 2000 Iris Poudre smelled like since this current one is so nice. Chasing down vintages sucks.
 

ascentofdreams

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
May 18, 2021
I think that there are nuances of the whole vintage vs current formulation dive - it is quite interesting to follow a scent in its evolution from first conception through modern formulation though I speak of this more in terms of those fragrances which came out decades ago and you can see how the preferences of each decade informed the direction of the reformulation, not just fiscal motivations.
having recently smelled vintage and modern Musc Ravageu, I will say that the vintage one definitely has that animalic note on first spray but surprisingly, I found the modern iteration to open up more as it wore, to become more diffusive on my skin as time went on. I really enjoy both versions as much for their differences as their similarities.
 

mr. reasonable

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 1, 2009
I have a dozen or so 'original matte cap' Malles that I love.

L'Eau d'Hiver is the only one I have repurchased a couple of times. It does seem slightly less 'warm' in the 'warm water' sense that the original was often described (including by Malle and Ellena). The more recent version seems slightly 'sharper' and IMO favours almond over heliotrope . . . not life or death, still a nice quite trad style EdT for winter.

Une Fleur de Cassie is my other favourite. I bought a back up bottle - not because I have used up my original but simply because I consider it a unique piece of work and if Lauder ever get around to dropping non big-sellers I figure this might be one of the first to go. I tried the new one and it seems fine.

A girlfriend of mine uses Lipstick Rose every day - her signature (fifth 100ml bottle and counting!). She commented that it seems a bit 'wan' compared to the original and I tend to agree. It's still lovely up front but after half an hour or so it seems to fade away a bit. Not 'nose fatigue' BTW . . . it just seems a bit limp :)
 

Emanuel76

Basenotes Dependent
Jun 16, 2018
never done a scientific side by side

Overall, I would say buy with confidence now and don't bother worrying or suffering FOMO that an older version was better. It probably wasn't. I think a lot of the sense of "lost magic" is simply due to the fact that when we are discovering a brand for the fist time and everything is totally new, it all feels more magical than when we are very familiar with it. Malle was great 10 years ago and it's great now, here's hoping they're still great 10 years from now!

OP's observations are totally reasonable, but every once in awhile a comment comes up on BN from somebody claiming the brand is ruined, their favorites are gutted etc etc. And I just think wtf are you talking about? Some ppl just want to imagine the sky is always falling.

To me, it's not at all worth worrying if another batch was infinitesimally better than the one you've bought. It just causes undue stress and fomo and sucks all the fun out of the hobby for me. I know it might be the opposite for others, where hunting down THE batch is actually the fun part, and I think those people tend to exaggerate the difference whether they mean to or not just to justify their insanity.

I also think people just get attached to whatever version they knew first, whether it was truly "the best" or not. I can almost guarantee if Chanel did the reverse and the EDT's came out to replace the EDP's, just as many if not more ppl would complain they ruined everything.

Not to say people who notice differences are wrong
So, "I never done a scientific side by side, but speculations."
Priceless! 😄
 

cheapimitation

Basenotes Dependent
May 15, 2015
So, "I never done a scientific side by side, but speculations."
Priceless! 😄
Well, who has?? For that you would need two never opened bottles from different eras stored in the same conditions and tested with gas chromatography or some other method that removes human subjectivity to determine if there are differences in the juice.

I'm intentionally precise with my language to say that my experience in comparing Malle from various eras is subjective and imprecise, just like everyone else.

But that's not to say my opinions are ill informed, you'll note I also said Malle is the house I'm most familiar above any others and I do have experience trying and owing several fragrances from different eras over the last 10 or so years. I'm just providing my opinion in regards to Malle reformulations, which is an informed opinion based on experience but I readily admitted the scattershot nature of all this and that your mileage may vary.

Don't take my careful language as some damning evidence to invalidate my experience unless you've thought about it a bit harder first. :)
 
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Aug 12, 2021
Portrait of a Lady is my favorite fragrance, except during the depth of winter. Had I first experienced this scent from a tester, and not from sitting at the next table from a woman wearing it, I doubt it would have appealed to me. The dry-down is, to me, divine. One spritz per day, often in my hair, and I'm set.
 

SubUmbra

Basenotes Junkie
Jul 9, 2018
Any report on En Passant? Reformulations are rarely as bad as I think the community worries they are, but they do sometimes result in differences. I might get En Passant in the warmer weather, so I was curious to know if there's any real change from the old sample I have.
 

heavy black heart

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Mar 20, 2022
If people want animalic or “skank” from Musc Ravageur, you’re looking at the wrong fragrance entirely.
Muscs Koublai Khan from Serge Lutens is what you want.

A fun, and somewhat eye opening comparison is to compare Musc Ravageur, Original Musk from Kiehls, and Muscs Koublai Khan all side by side.
Musc Ravageur smells like a cinnabun gourmand next to the other 2.
not sure if a fair comparison but I do kinda consider Le Lion to be a slightly more animalic & sophisticated interpretation of what current MR is trying to do (I have never tried the vintage so can’t compare) & it kind of sort of rendered MR useless in my collection - I still love MR but most of times I think to myself “I’ll just do Le Lion instead”

have you tried it?
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
not sure if a fair comparison but I do kinda consider Le Lion to be a slightly more animalic & sophisticated interpretation of what current MR is trying to do (I have never tried the vintage so can’t compare) & it kind of sort of rendered MR useless in my collection - I still love MR but most of times I think to myself “I’ll just do Le Lion instead”

have you tried it?
I've tried Le Lion briefly, it's really great. It's a bit too powdery and loud for me (I prefer Tom Ford Noir for Men, Cartier's L'Heure Perdue and Guerlain's Jicky for variations on the same theme), but I totally see the appeal. I think it's one of the best releases in the past few years. For what it's worth, I also still think MR is great too, it's just not quite the same as it used to be.
 
Jun 8, 2020
Regarding Musc Ravageur; I own a 2010, 2011 and a 2014 bottle. The reformulation seem to have happened in 2014 because it smells distinctly different from the 2010/2011 bottles. I think it might be the cloves that are a little too amped up.

However, I recently sampled it at a department store and was shocked to find that it smells shockingly similar to the matte cap bottles of 2010/2011. The amped up clove is gone, and the skank is definitely there. All stages of dry down seem the same to me too. I think FM might’ve tweaked the formula to resemble it’s glory days more recently. I didn’t get to compare it side-by-side to my vintage bottles but to me, it was pretty much the same.
I plan on doing a side-by-side comparison soon though and see how it measures up to the vintage formula.
 

SubUmbra

Basenotes Junkie
Jul 9, 2018
Regarding Musc Ravageur; I own a 2010, 2011 and a 2014 bottle. The reformulation seem to have happened in 2014 because it smells distinctly different from the 2010/2011 bottles. I think it might be the cloves that are a little too amped up.
A 2014 bottle may smell different when compared to a bottle four or five years older than it, even if there was no reformulation between the two. Perfume ages and oxidizes, and the process is quickened, slowed, or paused depending on how it was stored and what’s in the formula (does it have materials which act as preservatives? Was there excessive light and heat impacting the bottle on a shelf?)

Because there are nearly-endless factors involved here - not to mention the obvious subjective factors of human testing and how different individuals perceive perfume - any data produced by side-by-side comparisons is effectively useless, albeit potentially fun to write and to read.

The best data would be a word from the brand itself backing up any theory or timeline about reformulation. I wish more brands which cater to those nerds like us who actually care about this would let us in on their process - after all, reformulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just misunderstood, and has the ability to be cleared up if a brand is brave enough to explain their reasons when it happens.
 
Jun 8, 2020
For what it’s worth, the 2014 bottle had the same clove heavy note since I bought it in 2014. It never changed or dialed down after all these years.

I bought the 2014 bottle straight from the Frederic Malle website after loving a 1ml sample of it I bought from The Perfumed Court. Right off the bat the bottle I bought smelled different to the vial. I didn’t know why because at the time I wasn’t aware of reformulations or fragrance notes, but I didn’t appreciate it as much as I did with my TPC vial. It appears the TPC had a bottle from before the reformulation while my bottle was right after.

Anyway, I still have the 1ml tucked in with other samples, and it still smells like my matte cap bottles more than the shiny cap 2014 clove-heavy bottle. I understand your argument and I think it’s valid generally, but I still think that the difference between these bottles isn’t age as much as it’s the change of the formula itself.

Frederic Malle himself admitted to reformulating most of his line when the 2014 IFRA regulations where announced the prior year, so that’s another data point that leads me to think that the difference is formula-related.
 
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