I've recently become obsessed with the mad world of vintage perfumes.
In case you aren't familiar with the scene this is a pretty good article on the subject:
And when I say obsessed I mean trawling through pages, and pages of trademe listings desperately searching for some dusty old bottle of Intimate by Revlon from the 1950's listed by some nana on her first computer, no idea what its worth, and poorly listed with no useful keywords. I did this for hours and hours.
The thing with getting obsessed with vintage is that you feel like you're hunting endangered species. Every day these things are evaporating or going bad or being used and the temptation is so strong to just open your wallet and pay ANYTHING because you never know if you'll ever see it again.
Luckily, I didn't get too carried away, my innate stinginess won. I did dip my toe and go for an entry level classic that's not too difficult to find or too expensive.
I a little bottle of Emeraude Pure Perfume - I think perhaps from the 70's?
I had already bought the modern incarnation of Emeraude and I was dying to make the comparison. Vintage snobs love to clutch their pearls and shriek that that reformulation is nothing like the original!
I already adored Emeraude... She is a stunning beauty. First off citrus notes, lemon and bergamot, but to me Emeraude is pure balmy goodness, its the oppoponax and benzoins that give it that classic 1920's heart - and why I think it receives so many comparisons to Shalimar by Guerlain. But Shalimar has a very prominent smokey top note, and an almost gourmand vanilla amber dry-down. If I was forced to only wear one perfume forever maybe I wouldn't mind if it was Emeraude. I did not love her at first, benzoins are used extensively to fragrance talc and I couldn't help the association with Johnson & Johnson's baby powder and therefore by extension.... dirty nappies! I might be a bit of a perfume creep, I may even admit to not minding the smell of a man's dirty armpit (if I love him!), but baby shit has got to be a universally disgusting smell - I don't know, I'm not a mum, its not going to appeal to me. It took a while for me to remove the association to appreciate it.
My only beef is that it doesn't last much longer than 2 hours on the skin but a 50ml bottle of EDC is only $15 New Zealand dollars! Its hardly costly to reapply.
I just received my bounty in the mail yesterday, I went ahead and bought a little vintage bottle of Youth Dew by Estee Lauder from the 60's from the same seller. I love the name, Youth Dew - its neither youthful nor dewy, it smells bitter, ancient, an unguent for sacred rituals. I would never describe it as sexy.
I was so excited opening the package... Thinking I'm getting the real thing! I did my usual ritual of dousing myself and forcing everyone in the house to sniff me while they dutifully say mmmm nice and feign interest.
What can I say? That the difference was like the difference between black and white and technicolor? That I had an epiphany? Emeraude smelt beautiful... it smelt... a lot like the new stuff! There were the same notes, perhaps fuller, richer, deeper - but that could be owing to the fact that its an EDP rather than the usual EDC.
Perhaps I'm a philistine with an unsophisticated nose but I didn't feel let down in the slightest! I felt relieved because it meant I wouldn't have to go through the ups and downs of chasing down the final bottles of an endangered perfume. I can't handle the hunt or the chase, or the TIME SUCK. I can't go pure vintage, I wish I had the determination but I just don't - it feels like hard work. I don't think I could handle the guilt of actually USING them. I will admit Youth Dew smelt different. Where the new brew is sharply medicinal I find the vintage quite a bit more mellow, maybe she's lost her tang with age, but I want to believe its because the notes are probably the real deal, real oakmoss, maybe even real musk! I go through phases with perfumes and I think Youth Dew is going to spearhead my new fragrance obsession and that is with perfumes that smell like bitter herbs and poison. I'm going anti-gourmand - I want to smell the opposite of edible. If everyone is making themselves smell like cinnamon brownies I want to smell like dish washing tablets, broken light bulbs and anti freeze. A psychiatrist I saw for 2 years once pointed out to me that I seem to have a strong obsession with always being different to everyone else. This is no exception.
I have no interest in possessing something that no one else has just for the sake of owning something rare - I just have a mistrust of products that people ubiquitously like that coincidentally have an astounding marketing budget but suspiciously smell like Glade air freshener. I think the popularity of vintage perfumes really attests to the fact that peoples scent memories are so strong.
Perfume to me is all about pleasure, reminiscence and contemplation and vintage hunting just feels like hard work. I feel so relieved that I can go back to the instant gratification of ordering off fragrancex.