Christian Dior Poison

I think I´m overdue on a post on buying on eBay.  So here it is.  Don´t buy any fragrance on eBay, particularly vintage.  It´s all worthless crap – bottles, even “sealed” ones, are filled with substances like rum or vinegar or sulphuric acid.  Or Angel.  Trust me, you don´t want to take a risk on that stuff.

Because otherwise you end up bidding against me and I know one of you nabbed that bottle of Bakir, you shameless wretches!!  Which one of you was it?!? Damn your eyes.  I wanted that bottle, how am I ever gonna feel the Bakir love if you keep outbidding me?!?  Wah wah wah.  In consolation I somehow accidentally bought another purse flacon of vintage Femme, which I have decided has a mind control drug as its chief ingredient.

However, I also bought (and yes, look, in only three paragraphs I actually get to the point of this post!  A Christmas miracle!) some Christian Dior Poison, the old stuff.  Because in my Coco sniffage I wandered down memory lane and it was pretty clear to me that they´d been messing around with Poison as well.

There´s a limit to how much weight you can peel off Poison.  Luca Turin described wearing Poison as “like road testing an Abrams M1 tank in the evening rush hour.”  You can remove some exterior armor, and tie a thousand helium balloons to it, and hire Christo to wrap it in pink tulle, and it´s still pretty heavy.  It´s still the world´s largest Fruit Cocktail Dipped In a Molten Syrup of Um, On Second Thought I´m Not Sure I Should Be Putting This On My Skin.

Notes according to Michael Edwards’ Perfume Legends include orange blossom, honey, wild berries, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, ambergris, cistus-labdanum, opopanax. The perfume was created by Edouard Flechier and released in 1985.

Poison was the launcher of a thousand office-fragrance bans.  I can see their point.  I put the teeniest dab on my hand and it created a Yugioh-like force field around me for the next twelve hours.  If you can bear it, though, go give it a spray (not during work hours); Bloomingdale´s and Macy´s usually have it.  I am interested to see that places like Sephora and Macy´s have frequently given up on Poison entirely and just carry a couple of its lesser spawn, like Midnight, which seems to have been pretty successful.  For the record, Hypnotic, with its poisoned-almond smell, is next on my to-buy list — well worth owning, in my opinion, assuming one whiff doesn´t kill you like the cyanide it conjures.

It´s not that the current iteration of Poison isn´t strong – it is.  And if you hated the original, you´d likely hate this just as much.  But we fans love that long, resinous, cherry-cordial arm of evil reaching out to grab us by the throat, and really, what´s the point of Poison without that? The smell of Poison is almost indescribable, but I’ve always loved Marlen’s go at it: “Somewhere between a triangle of incense, cough syrup, and tanning lotion lies the olfactory pyramid for Poison.”  It seems to me that the current Poison EDT has been slightly emasculated (defeminated?) — it’s less intense.  It’s like the eau de cologne of its former self.  It also seems to have been tilted in the direction of mere nauseating sweetness, while lacking the taloned viciousness of yore.

This New Poison quasi-gourmand EDT seems faintly ridiculous to me.  I assume it´s some sort of money-saving measure, or a gesture toward the changing-tastes floral update Chanel Coco has clearly undergone.    Trying to remake Poison into anything that would appeal in the current marketplace would be to render it unrecognizable as Poison (again, see the flankers.) 

While I was at it, I bought a bottle of Poison Esprit de Parfum, which according to an old NY Times article (see link below) was the parfum version of the Poison EDT.  (Brief aside: Esprit is pictured in Perfume Legends and I only find it and the EDT online, including eBay.  Does anyone own an eau de parfum, or is the esprit the EDP?)  Esprit is apparently aimed to satisfy those of us for whom … you know … regular Poison isn´t quite potent enough.   Describing the difference between the two is like trying to gauge the difference in impact between a sledgehammer and a pickaxe.  Esprit is less sweet, slightly animalic and more amber/incense.  It is quite smooth, like many parfum iterations are.  It is also astonishingly powerful.  I had, at one point, a dot of Poison Esprit on my thumb I had applied with a toothpick, and the clerk at our corner store looked at me with an expression between suspicion and horror and correctly identified the scent.  I think she’s hoping it’s not making a comeback. 

If you´re interested, I thought this NY Times article from 20 years ago was fascinating.  They´re predicting that perfume makers were going to stop making parfum concentration because it´s too expensive and nobody´ll buy it.  Hah – this at a time when they quote a 1.7 parfum for $150, and a 1-ounce EDP for $25.   I want Santa to bring me a time machine.

  • sara says:

    I’m hanging on to my last drops/dregs of vintage Coco and Mitsouko because facing the “new and improved” versions will make me cry!

    FYI Ava-Luxe Bakir is a great dupe of the original and quite affordable!

  • Erin says:

    My Poison story: Back in the 8os when I was a teenager, my parents made me take a job at a fast food restaurant in order for me to prove I wasn’t an entirely useless git (still working on that). One of the other girls working there (Teri) liberally doused herself in her mother’s bottle of Poison before every shift…

    I’d like to suggest that one has never experienced the truly hideous potential of this monster until smelling it up against the stink factor of old fryer oil and chemically re-hydrated pickle chips. Customers would come in, take one sniff of Teri at the register and flee for their olfactory lives! Brilliant! It was like some kind of perfume guerrilla art

    Long story short, our manager (Creepy Larry) tried to ban her from wearing it at work. When she wouldn’t desist, I rushed to her defense, arguing her constitutional right to smell like a maraschino cherry dropped into a slaughterhouse, thus getting myself fired alongside her and beginning my life long affection for its awfulness.

    Have a merry holiday. Looking forward to hearing all about the scented presents you all receive.

  • pyramus says:

    I suppose you know that there was at one time an Eau de Cologne version? It was enchanting: lighter, fresher, with the hatefulness bleached away. It was still recognizably Poison, but without the attack-dog intensity.

    As far as I know, the Esprit de Parfum was the closest they ever got to an actual perfume. That was lovely, too: deeper and lusher than the admittedly strangulating EDT, which is how everyone seems to have experienced Poison.

    And now they’ve changed it. It’s reformulated, and absolutely no longer the same thing. I bought a bottle (the Amulet, that refillable dagger-shaped vial) and I thought it had gone off, so I checked one of the refills, and then a bottle in a department store, and then another in another. All the same, all changed. Ruined.

  • Robin says:

    I can’t contemplate Poison right now either…in an end-of-December mad rush, and just wanted to say Happy Holidays & all that…hope it’s perfect for you & BC & Hecate & Buckethead & Diva.

  • Pikake says:

    I can’t contemplate Poison right now, I’m still laughing over…. “and hire Christo to wrap it in pink tulle, and it’s still pretty heavy”. Nice work!!

    • March says:

      I forgot Jeanne-Claude. Should I feel guilty about that? 😕

      • Pikake says:

        **cue the violins** (I forgot about her too). We women…always getting the short end of things, even amongst our own. But don’t cry for us Argentina, we gots our fumes to make us feel better!

  • sweetlife says:

    Love reading these comments.

    I didn’t think I knew what Poison smelled like, either. But when I finally gave it a sniff, the 80’s came rushing back to me…

    And then, my sweetie and I were staying in a fancy hotel paid for by somebody else, and I kept smelling it when we came out to the elevators. Finally, I figured out that the manager wore it, and that I could smell her ages after she had been by to do a sweep of the floor. I shared this with DH and he said, “Are you sure? I thought that was some kind of cleaning product!”

    I don’t know whether to go google snipe-ware or be glad I don’t know about it. I’ve had some stunning ebay purchases recently, but though they were very good deals they weren’t exactly cheap, all added up together. I don’t think I need to be any further enabled…

    • March says:

      hahahahaha!!!!!!! I didn’t put it in the post but I asked Diva what she thought it smelled like and she said, that stuff you spray in the bathroom to hide smells.

      Sniping is setting up a bidder through a proxy — I think most sites offer 3 free snipes and then you pay some nominal amt if you win. They enter your bid in the last 7 – 10 seconds. That way you and theoretical Bidder X aren’t driving up the price hand-bidding over the last 30 minutes or whatever. Although obviously it doesn’t guarantee you win. Other people might snipe higher.

      And glad to hear about your eBay finds. They are still out there.

      😡 PS don’t TOTAL THEM, woman!! Are you nuts?!?!

      • sweetlife says:

        LOL! I know, I know, it’s not proper perfumista math to think that way! But what I really meant was that though they were a “good deal” in terms of how much I’d pay retail, or because they were otherwise unavailable vintage, they were still substantial purchases. I try very hard not to total but the damn ebay page does it for me. NOT LOOKING…

        Thanks for the sniping explanation. I have to admit I kind of like the nail-biting last-30-seconds thing…

        P.S. I screwed up on my nailpolish info yesterday and am off to correct. :”>

  • helenviolette says:

    😉 I was a youngin in the 80’s and had a mini bottle of Poison (aka Grape Ape)from my trusty perfume haunt (Drug Emporium)- surely there were other 11 yr. olds out there wafting around that stuff?

    • March says:

      Wow. 11? And I love the name Grape Ape. As usual someone’s sick over here, and I have noted the more than passing resemblance of that cough-syrup note in Poison to the various cough and cold elixirs we own.

    • Graham says:

      Well, I, for one, would MUCH rather be subjected to an 11 year old wafting Poison than, say, AXE… I say that, of course, but then only dare to get a little bottle of Sticky Pillowcase from Black Phoenix for my 10 yo niece….. I think her grandmother would have a conniption if I picked up Poison. [-x

      • March says:

        I can sympathize with grandma, though … Diva’s been hounding me for a bottle of Addict and separate from the sillage issue, I was honest and said, I am just not gonna buy you something called “Addict.” :”>

  • karin says:

    I was in my 20’s in the 80’s and Poison was one of my very favorite scents. I haven’t had a bottle since probably the early 90’s. I loved it, and wore it with abandon. I was clueless, though. Was I antagonizing everyone around me when I wore it??? Oh well!!! That purple bottle was awesome,too…fit right in your hand. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep the empty bottles, so have no trace of Poison left. I know Filene’s in MA carried it before they went out of business a few years ago. Haven’t seen it anywhere else since.

  • Olfacta says:

    Oh, Thank God! I was thinking maybe all that vintage stuff I bought six months ago was…fake? It’s just been too nerve-wracking for me lately, even the sniping. I’ve even forgotten my password.

    Not the one for paypal, though.

    • March says:

      I keed, I keed. Hey, it’s somewhat of a crapshoot, as we all know, with the vintage. With ANYTHING on eBay. But in general, the ripoffs have been balanced out by the screaming deals for me. My personal eBay philosophy is not to spend an amount of $ that would break my heart if the thing turned out to be total crap.

      • Shelley says:

        I agree with you there…though I am enough of a nutcase to believe that the energy I send by actually “being there” and not using snipe software helps me.

        Like I said, nutcase. (Though do you know some of the rituals baseball players repeat? Sheesh.) And I hardly ever bid anymore. But when I do, it is with that Vegas-like mentality of “what can I afford to lose today?”

        If I score, I admit to whooping. (Happy yell, not coughing.)

        • Shelley says:

          Though when I finished reading the comments, and saw helenviolette & you exchange, it occured to me that if I scored Poison, I could whoop both ways…and Grape Ape would answer both calls! :-j

        • March says:

          Nutcase. 😡 I got into it because I forgot to bid a few times, and also sometimes they end at 2 am or whatever. I will admit to occasionally watching my auctions I’m sniping. :”> That’s just dorky.

  • Magpie says:

    Oh, Poison. ::sigh:: Way back when, I was a tour guide for a group from Russia and they gifted me with a ginormous bottle of Poison. I wore it constantly. (I wonder if I still have that bottle somewhere? Hmm. Time to call mom and have her root through my old bedroom.) At any rate, after my girlhood perfumes of Je Revien and Niki de Saint Phalle (my crazy/fabulous aunt’s fault), moving into Poison for my late adolescence was, well, perfect. I’ve never tried the spawn, and I won’t venture near the new stuff. Like a high school crush, I prefer to remember Poison as she was.

    • March says:

      Hey, what’s your old address? I’ll go root through your bedroom… 8-|

      Love that Niki.

    • sweetlife says:

      It’s always an aunt! I’ve been working on a little series of posts about Other People’s Perfumes — the one magic bottle that my non-perfumista friends often seem to have lurking around–and in 75% of the cases to date it has been the gift of a crazy, fabulous aunt.

      I am now aspiring to become that aunt.:x

      • March says:

        BE THE AUNT. I get regular emails that start off, “I’d like to get some Perfume X for my niece and her mother says blah blah blah inappropriate blah blah.” And of course I always say BUY IT. What the hell are aunts for?!?!? My 7YO niece already has a sample collection.

  • Patty says:

    Can you believe I’ve never smelled Poison either??? I guess in the 80s I just wasn’t paying attention. Now I’m extremely curious, having read reviews like this one. Only problem is, no one seems to have the original anymore, only Pure, Hypnotic, Midnight, etc. I’ll keep searching and hope it doesn’t knock me flat when I finally do try it!

    As an aside, I’ve been lucky with the two fragrances I’ve gotten through eBay (Bellodgia and Bandit) – they both seem to be as they should be, with no strange additives.

    • March says:

      You can still find it around, as I said. It’s just a little less obnoxious. Depending on your feelings about that you can start trolling eBay for an older bottle — or just buy a new one on eBay, there are a gazillion of them on there all the time.

    • March says:

      PS And I was just teasing about eBay. I know sometimes we all end up bidding against each other. I’ve gotten wonderful things on there as well.

  • Musette says:

    I will always associate Poison with my longtime BFF who wore it during her third (and most disastrous) marriage – she was wearing it when her nutcase new husband tried to kill her on their honeymoon (or so she says – I wasn’t there).

    Anyway, that was the apex of 80 Bad Girlism to me and I never quite ‘got’ it. I think I was wearing either Anais Anais or Ralph Lauren at the time – pretty tame stuff.


    • March says:

      Do you think the Poison made him crazy? Maybe he was already crazy. Either way it would probably put me off that fragrance. /:)

      • Musette says:

        No, he was already muy horrible but I am betting the Poison made it worse=)) Something about that perfume always gave me the flux…


        ps. excellent below-zero scents: Femme. Fracas. Maybe it’s the ‘f’? as in Ffffrigid. Fffffrrrreeeeezing. Freeeeakishly COLD!

  • Louise says:

    Darling, are you sniping those desired auctions? The only way to go with so many aggressive perfume collectors running around 😮

    OK. Confession time. I have never knowingly smelled Poison…the flankers, yes (I like Hypnotic on others), but the original, nevah 8-| Do I want to start now???

    It takes a lot to scare me, but this might just do it….:-ss

    BTW, it’ll be Ruby pumps for the holidays, thanks!

  • Bryan says:

    I have the edp and the esprit sitting on my shelf and when I go to pick something for the day/night/middle of the night/Anytime, I avoid even brushing up against the sleeping dragons, for fear of spilling them and being forced to move. I do love them, once in a very rare while, but even I, who adores big bold monstrous sillage, is a bit afraid of the behemoth.
    You are welcome to any of the stuff I have for comparison. I shudder to think of how much it will take to wrap the suckers tightly enough.

    • Bryan says:

      I should have written, “I, who adores…..AM…” instead of I….is
      I just couldn’t let that terrible grammar go.


    • March says:

      Bryan, that’s so funny. At one point I was bidding on a 1.7 AND a 3.4 in the stoppered bottles and I thought, gah, what if I SPILL one? I have mine braced against something. The thought of living with that smell all the time is horrifying.

      I would LOVE to try the EDP, I take it they did make one? Any thoughts on it vs. the Esprit?

  • Masha says:

    The above website is Irma Shorell’s Bakir page. They do very faithful remakes of things like Chaos and Venezia, and reasonable prices. Is this the Bakir you’re looking for?? Loved the article on Big 80s Poison. I sure remember that one! But I was a Cristalle teen in those days….

    • March says:

      Thanks, hon. Irma Shorell does some great dupes (I think the Chaos is hers, and I hear Venezia is excellent.) The only thing that chafed me was, last time I looked they only had the large for $55, and I kept thinking, well, for $55 I should be able to snipe on on eBay, an old one. But i guess not. 🙂 I’ll go recheck the site.

      PS The perfume gods can be generous. I just got a *jeweled* Venezia (granted not a big one) from a bottle collector, full, for $30.

    • mollypenny says:

      Laura Biagiotti Venezia? I used to wear that in college. Memories. Then I switched to Safari, which smelled slightly of bug spray and I ended up swapping it with, I’m very scared to admit, Eternity! I really shouldn’t announce these things.

  • carlene says:

    Oh, no, they did not! I’m going out there tomorrow in 30 below or whatever it is, I’ve got to know. Not that I don’t believe you, I do. I just don’t want to. I need to know how bad it is.

    I’ve lost my faith in humanity. My only comfort is that I still have at least a half bottle of the old stuff. Crap.

    • March says:

      Well, it’s not terrible. It’s not as off as Coco is. It still definitely smells like Poison. But I *sprayed* it on (which should be the first clue, my old bottle was a dabber) and even then thought, well …. where’s the rest of it? The old stuff I put a teeny dab of on, as I said, and it creates its traditional … miasma. :d