Women's scent reformulations since IFRA etc

pinklady

Basenotes Member
Jul 9, 2020
I know this topic has been covered in older threads, but I have been unwell (Covid) and actually lost my sense of smell for 18 months - no joke, as you can appreciate. But I now want to start sampling scents again, and my tastes are for the feminine classics, Caron, Guerlain, Van Cleef, Chanel, Bulgari and so on. Since the IFRA crackdowns and various market fluctuations I know there have been some - many? - reformulations, but what I would like to know is, are any of them actually any good? Yes, I could spend a small fortune on samples (don't live near a large department store), but if anyone has any experience of the greats since, say, 2018, do you like any of them? Would they be a good place to start sampling? Very grateful for any help.

PS - also, I know our sense of smell is said to decline as we age, but as far as I know mine has come back and is the same as ever, judging by how I currently experience my collection.
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
Good that you're back smelling!

I smelled some of the newly reissued Guerlains (in the new mitsouko/hb bottles). I tried them on a day when I was walking around town on vacation, so not the ideal way. They felt good, but they seemed to lack persistence. Apres l'ondee felt again very lovely, but it didn't last much on my skin. It did on my shirt and was good. Jicky was correct, and slightly more persistent, but again lacking the longevity of the old.
Overall the Chanels are also worthy, but with differences with the vintage (Cuir de Russie more ambery/soft, No 5 lacking jasmine, etc). I was not impressed by current Dior classics, they just lacked the sparkle of the old. i would stay away from modern Carons. I have not smelled them under the new Rotschild ownership, but I have not heard anything about any improvement from their sorry state.

I don't know where one can find samples though. I go to NYC often and was recently in italy, so I simply smelled in the store.

cacio
 

pinklady

Basenotes Member
Jul 9, 2020
Thank you, Cacio, I appreciate your taking the time to tell me about the new Carons. I also have a bad feeling about them, especially as Les Senteurs (which I found is still doing samples for a very reasonable £5 each) say they are out of stock. They said they would not be getting any more in until 2023, which I thought was quite strange, and I'm wondering whether the current Carons are simply not up their standard? And I completely agree with you about the longevity problem of reformulated scents, which I have noticed before. I don't know what the ingredients are that give longevity - oakmoss perhaps? Eugenol? I don't know enough about perfumery to make a good guess. Do you happen to know which ingredients they are, as they are probably among those banned by IFRA? It would be really helpful to a lot of us to understand just what has been removed, as we could then avoid these scents in future!

Lucky you going to NYC and Italy! I have arthritis and use a wheelchair for longer journeys these days, and most airlines are really bad with disabled passengers. These days I find that perfume is even more precious to me, as it helps me to experience another culture without leaving home!
 

Bonnette

Missing Oakmoss
Basenotes Plus
Jul 25, 2015
I've just about concluded that unless one has a big enough budget to go after vintage versions of classics, the best thing to do now is bow to fate and accept a new paradigm of beauty - one based, not on a past aesthetic of memory and association, but availability. It's necessary to start from scratch with the older houses, avoiding comparison to prior versions of favorites, because they're not going to come back...not really, in spite of a growing arsenal of innovative molecules; and, as restrictions tighten, change has become the order of the day. In 20 years, we'll be seeking today's batch codes. The new versions of Guerlain, Caron, Chanel and other classics hark back to their roots, and are best appreciated on their own merits, which means - for those of us who no longer travel or wish to acquire hundreds of samples - acceptance of different (not necessarily diminished) standards of judgement.
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
Hello pinklady!

I‘m glad to hear that you have recovered your sense of smell and are ready to enjoy perfumes again.

Reformulations occur regularly. If you care about a particular classic perfume, you will probably notice differences among bottles from different years. Some changes might be acceptable to you; some might not be tolerable. It all depends on the specific perfume and your own individual perceptions. It is possible to research and buy vintage bottles, but this may not be a hobby that you wish to take up. It is fun though.

Let us know there is a specific classic perfume about which you would like more Information. There is no general rule of thumb that can be applied to all perfumes.

There are also very good modern perfumes being produced by independent perfumers to explore. You might want to try some samples from Liz Moore’s Papillon line. She composes rich, dense perfumes in a classic style. I am also a big fan of Sonoma Scent Studios and Olympic Orchids.
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
Trying to appreciate the reformulated classics on their own is sensible, but still, hard to forget what they were. also, in many cases, the results are much inferior.

Interesting about Caron samples. perhaps these will be the first batches under the new ownership. I am not optimistic. Plus, with Caron the parfums were usually better than the edt/edp. As for materials, oakmoss is a common culprit, so chypres tend to fare worse. But not just that, musks have been substituted. For instance, I don't think apres l'ondee or heure bleue have much oakmoss, but it's probably more about heliotropin, eugenol, and musks.
 

Bonnette

Missing Oakmoss
Basenotes Plus
Jul 25, 2015
Trying to appreciate the reformulated classics on their own is sensible, but still, hard to forget what they were. also, in many cases, the results are much inferior.
Yes, and this is precisely what I mean - new versions are inferior by comparison, across the board, and will always be odious next to vintage; so acceptance on their own terms, absent hope or expectation of past glory, is fast becoming the most viable perspective on reformulation. I'd always opt for vintage, but new versions of classics need to be assessed by different standards. That's starting to be my take on the matter, given the inevitability of more restrictions (and I never thought I'd hear myself saying such a thing.)
 

pinklady

Basenotes Member
Jul 9, 2020
m
Hello pinklady!

I‘m glad to hear that you have recovered your sense of smell and are ready to enjoy perfumes again.

Reformulations occur regularly. If you care about a particular classic perfume, you will probably notice differences among bottles from different years. Some changes might be acceptable to you; some might not be tolerable. It all depends on the specific perfume and your own individual perceptions. It is possible to research and buy vintage bottles, but this may not be a hobby that you wish to take up. It is fun though.

Let us know there is a specific classic perfume about which you would like more Information. There is no general rule of thumb that can be applied to all perfumes.

There are also very good modern perfumes being produced by independent perfumers to explore. You might want to try some samples from Liz Moore’s Papillon line. She composes rich, dense perfumes in a classic style. I am also a big fan of Sonoma Scent Studios and Olympic Orchids.
I've been lucky in trying out some new perfumes from Les Senteurs in sample form, but sadly I have not really liked many of them. I do appreciate La Fille de Berlin and Portrait of a Lady, though, so I know there are some very good ones out there. Not living near a department store puts me at a disadvantage, but I'll keep trying.
I think I am really more of a vintage enthusiast. But they can be so expensive!
As far as a classic perfume that I'd like to know more about, my favourite discontinued scent is Bulgari Rose Essentielle. It has gone forever. There are some samples from time to time, but apart from genuine, unopened bottles I'm very wary of those ads which say the perfume has no top, and is mostly used up - what would one be getting? It sounds a bit dodgy and not worth investigating.
Is there a modern scent which has a similar feeling to the Bulgari? Or am I just holding on to a dream? Thanks for your help!
 

pinklady

Basenotes Member
Jul 9, 2020
I've just about concluded that unless one has a big enough budget to go after vintage versions of classics, the best thing to do now is bow to fate and accept a new paradigm of beauty - one based, not on a past aesthetic of memory and association, but availability. It's necessary to start from scratch with the older houses, avoiding comparison to prior versions of favorites, because they're not going to come back...not really, in spite of a growing arsenal of innovative molecules; and, as restrictions tighten, change has become the order of the day. In 20 years, we'll be seeking today's batch codes. The new versions of Guerlain, Caron, Chanel and other classics hark back to their roots, and are best appreciated on their own merits, which means - for those of us who no longer travel or wish to acquire hundreds of samples - acceptance of different (not necessarily diminished) standards of judgement.
Yes, I have to admit you are right about needing a big budget to collect vintage frags. But they are so lovely! And apart from the sheer expense, if you can't find something from a well-known source it may just be a rip-off anyway. On the other hand, while I agree with your philosophy about accepting change and appreciating the new, there are so many new scents that just don't appeal to me at all. I've sampled that smell of rubber, and others of dirty undies (that's why we have washing machines). Why on earth would you want to splash them on and smell terrible? Even if you like them, others around you might not appreciate someone smelling unwashed! I will go on sampling new frags that emphasize floral notes, because they seem to be the least tampered with.
 

grayspoole

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 4, 2014
m

I've been lucky in trying out some new perfumes from Les Senteurs in sample form, but sadly I have not really liked many of them. I do appreciate La Fille de Berlin and Portrait of a Lady, though, so I know there are some very good ones out there. Not living near a department store puts me at a disadvantage, but I'll keep trying.
I think I am really more of a vintage enthusiast. But they can be so expensive!
As far as a classic perfume that I'd like to know more about, my favourite discontinued scent is Bulgari Rose Essentielle. It has gone forever. There are some samples from time to time, but apart from genuine, unopened bottles I'm very wary of those ads which say the perfume has no top, and is mostly used up - what would one be getting? It sounds a bit dodgy and not worth investigating.
Is there a modern scent which has a similar feeling to the Bulgari? Or am I just holding on to a dream? Thanks for your help!

I‘ve never tried Rose Essentielle, but it does sound very pretty. Since it has been discontinued, it does seem as though new sealed boxes are being sold for very high prices. That said, if you do see a decent-looking tester bottle (sold without caps) or an opened bottle on EBay UK being sold for a reasonable price, you might give it a try. I would only try a full or nearly full bottle. Many good perfumes are sold in this way, and EBay protects the buyer if the item received is “not as described.”

What did you think of Fille de Berlin? It does have something the rose and berried fruitiness that is said to be in Rose Essentielle.

And how about Portrait of Lady? I would guess that PoaL’s strong patchouli and woody basenotes did not resemble Rose Essentielle.

Luckily, there has been a spate of new rose perfumes lately. Keep on sampling and I’m sure something will appeal To you.
 

LeChypreSexy

Super Member
Oct 13, 2022
I know this topic has been covered in older threads, but I have been unwell (Covid) and actually lost my sense of smell for 18 months - no joke, as you can appreciate. But I now want to start sampling scents again, and my tastes are for the feminine classics, Caron, Guerlain, Van Cleef, Chanel, Bulgari and so on. Since the IFRA crackdowns and various market fluctuations I know there have been some - many? - reformulations, but what I would like to know is, are any of them actually any good? Yes, I could spend a small fortune on samples (don't live near a large department store), but if anyone has any experience of the greats since, say, 2018, do you like any of them? Would they be a good place to start sampling? Very grateful for any help.

PS - also, I know our sense of smell is said to decline as we age, but as far as I know mine has come back and is the same as ever, judging by how I currently experience my collection.
I sell Estee Lauder, and we still sell all our old classics (from a drawer behind the counter). Estee, Knowing, White Linen, Alliage, Private Collection, Cinnabar and a handful of others. They have been reformulated but the Lauder company is careful to keep them smelling the same as before. Some aren't quite as strong as before, but others like Cinnabar will blow the doors off the hinges still. Maybe give those a try next time your at the mall.
 

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