Out of Time: The Allure of Smelling Retro

Franco65

Well-known member
May 13, 2012
Yatagan, Giorgio for men, Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, Quorum make me travel back in time, so I'm not able to wear them if not in my leisure time.

Anyway i still feel the allure of smelling "Retro"!!!

What's your take on this?

Any similar experience?
 
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StylinLA

Well-known member
Aug 9, 2009
Re: Out of Time: The Allure of Smelling Retrò...

I like it. Today wearing Pinaud Clubman and Dana Canoe.

I periodically enjoy wearing some of the powerhouse stuff like Kouros, Giorgio, Versace L'Homme, VC & A Pour Homme, Givenchy Gentleman.

They are big and loud and 80s. Sometimes get good reactions, and sometimes not. At my age, it either suits me, or makes me seem like someone stuck in a time warp of their youth.

Although, I must say I am a big fan of Givenchy Gentleman, dated or not. That one snuck up on me.
 

Bavard

Wearing Perfume Right Now
Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Jul 20, 2015
Re: Out of Time: The Allure of Smelling Retrò...

I don't think I like retro stuff for its own sake. I'm thinking about houses and cars - I like the newer styles. And perfume. I'd like to have houses producing stuff as good as pre-1995-ish perfume, which I think Rogue Perfumery did with Chypre-Siam and Amouage with Tribute attar.
 

NickZee

Well-known member
Sep 19, 2014
Re: Out of Time: The Allure of Smelling Retrò...

This is Basenotes, the directory hasn’t been updated for new fragrances all year and Azzaro Pour Homme is the most worn fragrance on the forum. I am pretty sure you are in the vast majority.
 

Sheik Yerbouti

oakmoss fiend
Basenotes Plus
Jul 20, 2017
I feel more of a pull to fragrances from the 80’s and early 90’s and also seem to derive more enjoyment in fragrances from that era than the current. It feels more like home. I guess I like retro fragrances but then I consider Viking to be relatively retro compared to most new designer releases today. I don’t go out of my way, modern or retro, just what I feel smells good and connects. Last month’s wearings might give some insight

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egrorian

Well-known member
Oct 12, 2008
Generally, the fragrances I love the most are those I first owned many years ago and the memories they envoke; Obsession, Antaeus, Jules, Jazz, Polo, Fahrenheit, Cerruti 1881, Iquitos, Givenchy Gentleman, Cacharel pour l'homme... I suppose most - if not all - of these might now be considered "retro"?
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
Re: Out of Time: The Allure of Smelling Retrò...

Yatagan, Giorgio for men, Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, Quorum make me travel back in time, so I'm not able to wear them if not in my leisure time.

Anyway i still feel the allure of smelling "Retro"!!!

What's your take on this?

Any similar experience?

That's probably what people also felt in the 80's when wearing the lemon forward CD Eau Sauvage, G Habit Rouge and C Vetiver, while regretting the new trend imposed by those fragrances for young hipsters like Antaeus and Bel-Ami, with real masculine fraghead men pushed to wear all those notes seen as feminine leaning at the time (oriental, animalics and moss - noting that Bandit and Cabochard, with their prominent moss, were initially marketed towards women). Just a funny thought.
'Allure' is great if it makes you feel better. So is retro, as far as it is limited to perfume tastes, not to societal ideas :)


This is Basenotes, the directory hasn’t been updated for new fragrances all year and Azzaro Pour Homme is the most worn fragrance on the forum. I am pretty sure you are in the vast majority.

Yes. BN is definitely not a place that represent the average current frag customer (a positive thing in my book). Although that unavoidably generates some narrow-mindness for some in terms of tastes, and a wrong idea of great/bad, a negative thing in my book when it comes to make blind buying choices. But choosing wisely the reviewers to trust is the best strategy (even if time consuming).
A balanced mix of conservatism and progressism is always healthy and necessary in every matter of life, including tastes.
 

knightowl

Well-known member
Aug 3, 2004
I had a decant of Vintage Tabarome once . The scent really took me back to a time before cars and electricity. Wonderful stuff. Creed Royal Delight and Royal English Leather had a similar effect as well. All impressive and sadly discontinued.

Bogart Signature and One Man Show are both retro fabulous!
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
"A balanced mix of conservatism and progressism is always healthy and necessary in every matter of life, including tastes."....words of wisdom. Totally agree. Today a great retrò vintage for me: Valentino Vendetta Pour Homme.

Thank you, Darvant!

I blindly bought a 100ml bottle of Vendetta PH just 2 weeks ago, after having read your review: WHAT-A-BEAUTY!!! Cypress-ish myrtle, labdanum and frankincense heaven! The performance is a bit low, but for the $30 I cashed-out on that ~25yo bottle, I couldn't feel happier! Thank you for your review, that purchase gave me a lot of happiness, not sure how I could live without that one until today..
 

deltasun

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2017
I wasn't a fraghead when I was younger (or let's face it, before finding BN a few years ago). I just had a signature scent like most people probably, so never really got to know a lot of the 80s/90s releases except for a brief sniff here and there while hunting for my next signature scent. The very first memorable hunt I remember was in '91 which culminated with a bottle of Fahrenheit. Before that, I just remember stealing sprays from my dad's stuff - the usual Old Spice and Brut.

Nowadays, I've not really had much interest purchasing past signature scents. I've not really stopped to think why, but I would guess it's because I want to keep my memories with those fragrances tied to those times. If I wear them now, I feel they would dilute those fond memories.

So for me, I do enjoy finding an older fragrance from the 80s/90s that I didn't wear as a signature scent, but now enjoy in terms of its aesthetic and composition that's rooted in those times. My wardrobe is a mixed bag of old school and modern scents that I choose from depending on mood for the day or week.
 

Varanis Ridari

The Scented Devil
Basenotes Plus
Oct 17, 2012
With different ages represented on these boards, smelling "retro" to one person may be considered smelling "modern" to another; but in general I think the allure of smelling whatever one personally considers retro is to revisit good times or reconnect with a past level of confidence.

I guess for me, this is going back to the popular things of the 90's and early 00's. Going back much further than that (to my dad's or granddad's scents) can also be a rewarding experience too, but more of sentimental one in my eyes; I think of them and not of myself.
 

MisterK

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2003
I don't find frags remind me particularly of different eras (Drakkar Noir being the exception) so I don't worry too much about a frag being associated with a certain time. I think if I had stronger scent memories tied to certain eras I'd feel differently. I only started wearing frags in earnest in the mid 2000s, only having Escape for Men, Obsessionfor Men and Drakkar Noir before then. No one in my household wore frags (though my mom had a bottle of Rive Gauche which I think she still has)
 

slpfrsly

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
I suspect the popularity is twofold: one is from older men, probably in their 60s by now, who would have made up the first wave of the 'fragrance community' online in the 90s and early 00s. Thus, their tastes - which would have been formed in the 70s and 80s - have longevity online through the visibility of simply being the first group of men who populated boards like this one. In particular, they would stand out against the very contemporary tastes of the 90s and 00s - and certain online realms develop their own particular monoculture. This is why there is a certain reverence for these vintage fragrances; it's not only the scents themselves, but it seems to be an acknowledgement of the first 'online fragcomm pioneers', of doffing the virtual cap to their experience and taste.

The second category is slightly younger: it is early-middle-age men in their 30s and 40s, who may well have come to fragrance much more recently - in the era of social media and a far more user-friendly interface between participant and information online. This would be some time in the last 10 years or so, where 'avatar consciousness' set in and started completely changing the way people thought and behaved - in just about every aspect of their lives. While I suspect that this group of men are in large part the ones who are showing reverence to many of the older gentleman from the early days of sites like basenotes, they also clearly engage in a more 'fetishised' and conceptual manner of relating to fragrance than those who preceded them. Certainly as a group, in any case: there will always have been those who saw fragrance as a way to 'become' something, but it seems much more widely sought after and more openly accepted - my suspicions are this is due to the aforementioned avatar mindset, and effectively taking on the cultural cues of the online world, which have been controlled and shaped according to the desires of various parties who wish to control and shape customer/user behaviour and thinking. As such, vintage fragrances become a kind of materialistic way of 'gaining' something, in the way that has been encouraged by the marketisation of every aspect of our lives. Vintage fragrances are not just vintage fragrances; they're also a way of donning an aromatic surface of accomplished masculinity, whether in the form of professional achievement, marital and familial leadership, or the wider social standing. They are scents from the time 'when men were men', or something like that. It's also a reaction against fragrances designed for women - which is most fragrances made since 1990; even the ones marketed to men are designed with women in mind, as they will be the ones choosing the fragrance a man wears due to more money and agency being afforded to female customers (and taken away from males), and thus it has to appeal to women in one of several ways. The sporty-fresh-chemical scent and sweet-gourmand-vanillic scent leaves little room for the mosses and woods of vintage scents. So, wearing these fragrances becomes an escape from this paradigm - a sensory trip back in to the past, a 'checking out' of the restrictive game that modernity encourages men to play. It is the same thing that drives vintage clothing in hipsterdom, or buying LPs in an age of internet streaming - it's a regression to the tastes and mores of a previous time, in part due to a dislike of those in the present. As well as that, there's also the aforementioned idea of 'embodying' a type of patriarchal confidence that is very much discouraged and more difficult to achieve than it was 50-60 years ago. Finally, I think there's also a virtual hierarchical competition, of sorts, within the fragcomm: it becomes a way of signalling status, taste, disposable income and a handful of other attributes by rejecting modern releases and mass-pleasing fragrances for the sake of vintage fragrances. There's also the element of scarcity - most vintage fragrances are discontinued, or reformulated, to the point where older bottles take on the quality of an antique: despite the fact perfumes degrade, older fragrances can often increase in value, and it is another status game to acquire a bottle for four or five times what it sold for prior to discontinuation.

I'm not sure where vintage fragrances are heading. There's been something of a fougere revival but I'm not sure how popular it is for the next generation of men, who would be in their 20s. Instead, I think vintage fragrances will probably retain their status as per the above, but once they've lost the older chaps, the numbered of people interested in wearing them will diminish, until all that remains are those who chase novelty, clout, scarcity and so on, with a few who feel an attachment to the past still wearing them because they like them for what they are. Given that teenagers today are physically much more isolated than they ever were in the past, I'd imagine most vintage fragrances will smell almost foreign to them, rather than simply 'old'. With that in mind, I'd say the difficulty for fashion and fragrances companies will be to get them to buy contemporary fragrances, let alone manage to convince them to buy 50+ year old releases because they have a certain status. That said, you never know what the power of 'retro' culture could do, and the way that Old Spice has been marketed to hispters very recently could itself become a small yet potent online community or social trend, where part of the rejection of the contemporary is expressed through fragrance choice as well as fashion etc.

Personally, I like elements of vintage fragrances, but the execution often falls flat in some ways, so a pairing of the best of both the old and the new in something like Beau de Jour or St. Clement's by Heeley is where I would gain the most fragrant satisfaction.
 

StylinLA

Well-known member
Aug 9, 2009
I wasn't a fraghead when I was younger (or let's face it, before finding BN a few years ago). I just had a signature scent like most people probably, so never really got to know a lot of the 80s/90s releases except for a brief sniff here and there while hunting for my next signature scent. The very first memorable hunt I remember was in '91 which culminated with a bottle of Fahrenheit. Before that, I just remember stealing sprays from my dad's stuff - the usual Old Spice and Brut.

Nowadays, I've not really had much interest purchasing past signature scents. I've not really stopped to think why, but I would guess it's because I want to keep my memories with those fragrances tied to those times. If I wear them now, I feel they would dilute those fond memories.

So for me, I do enjoy finding an older fragrance from the 80s/90s that I didn't wear as a signature scent, but now enjoy in terms of its aesthetic and composition that's rooted in those times. My wardrobe is a mixed bag of old school and modern scents that I choose from depending on mood for the day or week.

Your experience is very similar to mine. Some of the older scents that are much loved here I wore heavily in their glory days. But I find I can't embrace them now. I had my time with them, and don't want to relive them. I am very averse to some of them. Polo, Grey Flannel, Pierre Cardin, Eternity, and especially Obsession. I don't know if it would dilute any memories per se- I just remember I wore those things into the ground.

But, some of the older scents I never wore I have embraced. Kouros, Antaeus, Azzaro Pour Homme, Versace L'Homme, VC&A Pour Homme were all discovered after I joined here.
 

deltasun

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2017
Your experience is very similar to mine. Some of the older scents that are much loved here I wore heavily in their glory days. But I find I can't embrace them now. I had my time with them, and don't want to relive them. I am very averse to some of them. Polo, Grey Flannel, Pierre Cardin, Eternity, and especially Obsession. I don't know if it would dilute any memories per se- I just remember I wore those things into the ground.

But, some of the older scents I never wore I have embraced. Kouros, Antaeus, Azzaro Pour Homme, Versace L'Homme, VC&A Pour Homme were all discovered after I joined here.

Yes, exactly. I do find I've worn a bunch of them to the ground, especially in a signature scent setting where I wore them daily for a year or so. I do enjoy fragrances that I didn't wear, but have a strong association with a time in my past. For example, the dry down for Eau Sauvage Parfum 2012 reminds me so much of something my grandfather wore or smelled like. Obviously, he didn't wear the Parfum version (didn't exist yet in the 80s), but that vetiver phase in the progression never fails to make me think of him and I enjoy it quite a bit for that nostalgic feel.
 

incense+heliotrope

Well-known member
Nov 20, 2017
I'm another who has no wish to revisit past scents worn by me, or associated with others - that was then, this is now. Thereby ruling out Polo, Antaeus, Armani Eau pH, Carven Vetiver (original), Hechter Caractere..... though not necessarily Old Spice (my father's aftershave). I enjoy similar scents that I didn't wear or know back then, but that does not equate to wishing to smell 'retro' per se.
 

Beck

Well-known member
May 13, 2014
Pretty interesting topic. Believe it or not, now I find Allure Homme Sport smelling a bit dated. Still a lot of gym rats wear it.
 

Kotori

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 17, 2006
Sure-smelling retro is fun. But more than anything, like Bavard, I just like what I like, regardless of whether it’s considered dated. Love me some Mitsouko. But also love modern houses producing high quality or retro-style pieces, such as Mito or Chypre Siam.
 

bibo

Well-known member
Jun 18, 2015
When wearing YSL Pour Homme or L'Heure Bleu. I feel myself trapped in a time warp, same goes with Kouros or Yatagan!
 
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cheapimitation

Well-known member
May 15, 2015
I actually really don't like to smell retro and it prevents me from buying some classics whose importance I respect but don't think I'd wear because they smell dated.

That said, some classic fragrance have aged well and still smell modern which only makes me appreciate them more.

Probably the most retro smelling thing I own is Guerlain Lui, which is not that old but the carnation and spice made it feel old school to me. I like it, but also probably would not have bought it for more than the $60 I paid, because of it's retro nature, I don't quite feel it's "me" although I do enjoy smelling it.
 

Kaern

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 2, 2008
I can only think of two or three that I hanker after now although I understand the appeal of 'retro'. Maybe our memories of them are affected by nostalgia.

I don't want to live in the past -- I like trying new creations.
 

ChuckW

Well-known member
Aug 21, 2001
I almost always regret wearing a retro scent just shortly after application. The older I get, I realize that nostalgia is a dangerous trap and I feel healthier mentally when I focus on moving forward. So, it's on to the new and improved for me most of the time. When I say "retro", I'm talking about the scents that I wore back in the 80's and 90's.
 

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