I had a vintage-bottle score a couple months ago and finally got around to the work involved in unstoppering my beautiful little bottle of Raphael Replique, about which I knew absolutely nothing. My bottle is 1/2 ounce parfum, with maybe one-fourth remaining. The bottle is charming, I think crystal with rounded shoulders and an R on the stopper. It’s boxed, but given its age, how little fragrance is left and the fact that it’s stoppered, my expectations were pretty low.
The top notes have gone off on my vintage version — it’s got that garden-variety old-hankie musty opening I’ve smelled before countless times with vintage. If you’re lucky, it dries down to something worth smelling. I put it on, sniffed, shrugged, and went about my day. Eventually I remembered to check back in.
It’s stunning. The first thing that crossed my mind was: Bal a Versailles meets Tabu. Okay, granted, for some folks that must sound appalling, like King Kong mating with Godzilla. But for the rest of us, lovers of deep, dark animalic orientals, really — it’s the bomb.
I googled around and found this information from Irma Shorell, whom many of you probably already know; the company makes dupes, allegedly from the original formulas. (I think their Chaos dupe is great.) Here’s their blurb, which I’m lifting and crediting because I can’t see how I’d say it any different, much less better:
“Replique perfume has top notes of Italian bergamot, Sicilian lemon, cardamom, neroli, coriander, clary sage and fresh aldehydes. Mid-notes of ylang ylang, lily of the valley, Egyptian jasmine, mimosa, tuberose, heliotrope and coumarin. Base notes of oakmoss, olibanum, powdery amber, musk, vetiver, patchouli.
Replique has a dual personality, at times fresh, green, bright and calm soothing mosses…at other moments spicy and woody with deep exotic earthy tones. Replique is on occasion classified along with Youth Dew and Tabu, and the rich warm spices of an oriental fragrance are evident; but here the depth is more in the background and long-term dry down. The enveloping fresh mossy floralcy and greenness that embody the top and middle notes of Replique places the identifying character more in the chypre class. Fresh, floral, green, spicy, earthly…one…the other…really all together now…Replique is full of character and complex sensuality.” — Jeffrey Dame
Formula note: The Replique formulation offered here is based on the original 1947 recipe. In 1975 the Replique formula was changed to have a somewhat fresher and green accent. Replique has now returned to its more sensual and earthly pre-1975 original formulation.
I think that formula note at the end is especially relevant — if you met Replique in the 1970s (and it’s still available new online) it sounds like it would be a lot greener, and probably a lot cheaper-smelling and less interesting to me.
What I smell in the vintage drydown is oakmoss, civet, incense, musk and patchouli. It is literally almost all bottom, in every joyous way you could think of, its liquid darkness cut very slightly with the vanillic sweetness of coumarin. It’s less pervasive than Youth Dew and less meaty than Tabu — don’t get me wrong, I love Tabu, but man, a little of that goes a very, very long way. (I’m a fan of the vintage Youth Dew bath oil worn as fragrance, btw. One drop’ll do ya.) In feel, my vintage Replique is closer kin to the inky depths of Bal a Versailles extrait. My vintage is, at a guess, more raunchy than the Shorell version would be, as in my experience the animalic aspect of vintage fragrance is often what lasts the longest. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried the Long Lost Perfume version, and my guess is you can scare the vintage up on eBay. I’d also like feedback from anyone who’s tried the cheapie version still on the market.
photo: grabbed for this post from eBay, it’s on sale there for $50 BIN, it looks like the same bottle I’ve got only full.