Mystery scent

Back in the ’80s, in my college days, when I was really starting to fall down the perfume rabbit hole, I ran across this fragrance, Folies Bergere, and fell in love.

Loved the fan-shaped stopper and the bottle’s rounded rectangle, and loved the fragrance itself. There was something about it (to my neophyte nose it had what I thought of as a slightly spicy green apple accord lurking in there) that I just adored. I bought a small spray of it at Maas Brothers dept. store in Florida (I think) and got the lovely little mini parfum. And as often happens over the years, it disappeared from the rare store counter that I’d seen it, and I forgot about it. A bit later, I did run across a scent called Decadence, which was similar, but not quite the same.

Anyhoo, rummaging around in my perfume bottle collection recently, I came across that Folies bottle. The juice has turned that shade of brown that we all know and dread, but when I gently released the stopper and took a whiff, I got a faint reminder of its former glory. Alas, I didn’t have the heart to even dab on a bit.

I played perfume detective and poked around on the Internet, trying to find out as much about it as I could, but there’s not much out there, except this: According to Perfume Intelligence, the Encyclopedia of Perfume, there seem to have been several scents with this name: one from 1943, from Parfums Bourjois, marked as discontinued, and another from 1952, called a green edp, also discontinued (date unknown). Yet another listing is dated 1985, called a re-orchestration of the original (but which original, I wonder?) with modern ingredients, re-packaged and re-launched, which I think mine might be.

I see it from time to time on eBay, but my fear that it has turned has always kept me from pulling the trigger on a bottle.

Are any of you familiar with or know anything about this scent? Are there any fragrances out there that you loved that have virtually disappeared?

  • minette says:

    i wore this back in the early ’80s, and actually had a man stop me in the street to ask what i was wearing because he wanted it for his wife. bought mine at furchgott’s, a really nice department store in florida that unfortunately did not survive the times. this was made and bottled in france, and smells great – if you like a nice chypre. i think someone mentioned bourjois above – that may be the maker, don’t know. the bottle and box don’t give it away.

    also like maxim’s – but only found some vintage maxim’s recently – did not know it years ago.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Minette — so glad to find someone else who knows this. And so cool that you got stopped by someone — that’s about the best compliment you can get!
      I grew up in Florida, and Furchgott’s rings a vague bell with me — where in Fla. did they have stores? So many good ones have gone by the wayside; kinda makes me sad …

      • minette says:

        hi, ann,

        the one in question was in downtown jacksonville. but i think the store was also in daytona at the very least. it was one of the more high-end stores in florida from the ’50s or ’60s untl ??? (moved away, don’t know when it closed) i became aware of it in the ’60s. loved going there with my mom.

        they also carried helena rubenstein makeup, which was gorgeous! i bought a pink and black HR eyeshadow duo back in the early ’80s that would be perfectly in tune today.

        yep, so many of the better stores have died. it bites. there is an ugly condo complex built of the site of one of the very last independent department stores here in houston (they even had bespoke perfumes). can’t recall its name, but it was like entering a time warp to go in there. they really catered to their local clientele.

        • minette says:

          Kaplan’s Ben Hur department store – that’s the one i mention above. if you want to take a trip back in time to when customers were really catered to, google the store.

          • Ann says:

            Thanks for the info, Minette! I vaguely remember Furchgott’s, and also there was a May-Cohen, I think maybe later, in Daytona and elsewhere in northernish Florida. I had not heard of the Kaplan’s store but will definitely look it up; it sounds like it was a class act. Thanks again!

  • nozknoz says:

    I’ve found most of the old scents that I used to wear on ebay. The one I can’t find was a Russian perfume called Laila (not to be confused with the Norwegian Laila by Geir Ness). I’ve searched by name and also simply searched for Russian perfume and looked through everything that came up. Never any luck. I found it originally in a small, eclectic gift shop near my college campus that also had the Judith Miller perfume Batsheba in its faux antique Roman glass bottle. Laila was a spicy oriental as I recall. I guess it must have been rare even then.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Nozknoz! I’ve never even heard of either of those; sounds like you were on to something very rare with them. Keep looking, though, you never know when one of them might pop up on eBay or you’ll stumble across one in an antiques store …

  • OhLily says:

    Wow, talk about a blast from the past! Some friends of my parents gave me a bottle of this in the 70s, when it wasn’t as ‘odd’ to be a perfume freak. As I remember it was pretty, fairly hefty and rather sweet, and I ended up passing it along to a friend who didn’t amp up sweet notes like I do. The bottle pictured is the one I had(or pretty darned close!), but it wasn’t something I remember seeing in stores here in the greater NYC area – I wonder if it was a more regional offering?

    I’d forgotten about a fragrance called Styx until I saw it on ebay a while ago, and then it came rushing back. I know I went through a couple bottles of it, but I can’t for the life of me remember the exact scent lol!

    • OhLily says:

      The one I had was by Parfums Bourjois, and it came with a carded intro.

      • Ann says:

        Ooh, ooh — do you recall what the intro said? The Parfums Bourjois sounds familiar though. Thanks!

        • OhLily says:

          It was your standard PR story spinning with a picture of the bottle and surrounding art images – Inspired by the glamour of old Paris, opulent beauty, yadda yadda. It was a small set with a little bottle of parfum, the carded ‘intro’, and something else that I just can’t remember – probably the powder, since those were very popular back then. Definitely Parfums Bourjois, though.

    • Ann says:

      Yay, OhLily! So happy that someone else has seen and smelled the Folies. I don’t amp sweet too much so it was quite a nice scent for me. I only saw it at one or two stores in Florida, so maybe it was just distributed regionally.
      I’m not familiar with Styx, but I hope you find it again and get to re-try it to see if the magic is still there.

      • OhLily says:

        It was an old Coty fragrance that got an image spruce up in the early/mid 70s, and I’m pretty sure it was discontinued long ago. *Big Coty sigh*

  • Lily says:

    My dad longs for a bottle of his long-lost favorite, Dante. The Dante with the soldier on the bottle. I’ve found the historical “info” about it on a few blogs but how will I ever find a bottle or even a decant? Anyone here know it? Posse Peeps are good at vintage and discontinued knowledge!

    • Ann says:

      Lily, I’m not familiar with that one, but now that you’ve described it, we’ll be on the lookout for it. Any luck on eBay? Add it as one of your saved searches and one day a bottle might just pop up — you never know! Good luck!

  • Eldarwen 22 says:

    Deneuve is one perfume that I wish someone at Avon would bring back. If they did, it would probably be a mere shadow of itself. Deneuve in extract form is the last perfume that blew me away. Even though I have spent almost 30 years on the planet, my perfume obsession is something new.

    • Ann says:

      So many people love Deneuve and would probably flip over the extrait of it. Lucky you to have sniffed it! You’re right, though, about Avon: Even if they were to re-issue it, it would likely not be the same. Still, it would be a lovely thought …

  • rosarita says:

    Hi Ann – Sweet bottle, very pretty! My lost 80s scent was Pierre by Pierre Cardin. I found a cheap mini of the parfum on ebay recently & bought it. Still smells great but disappears in less than a minute. Coincidentally, a sweet MUAer sent a decant of a bottle she bought in a vintage perfume lot at an estate sale (this was at the same time, after half heartedly searching for years.) Again, smells good but gone in 60 seconds. It smells like a typical chypreish oriental from the early 80s, but I remember going through at least two bottles. My best friend wore Halston and we spent way too much time *clubbing* in those days, big hair and all.

    Hope you are well and that junior high is going well so far ūüôā

    • OhLily says:

      I wore both of those – they were wonderful!

      • Ann says:

        Hi, ladies! Yes, I, too, remember both of those. The PC was not so great on me, but I did enjoy the Halston and loved that bottle. The mini was especially nice. And Rosarita, very happy that you got to smell/wear it again, even if it was quite fleeting.

  • Alison says:

    I’m still thinking about what may have disappeared (don’t get me started on what’s still there, but reformulated into oblivion). But – Perfume Intelligence! WOW! It went right into my “Perfume” bookmarks folder and I can tell I will spend many happy hours there reading. Thanks!

    • Ann says:

      Alison, I’m glad you found a new perfume resource. That site is quite helpful, especially with older perfumes — just wish it or some other site listed perfume notes too. And I’m right there with you on sorry reformulations. Have a great day!

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    Maas brothers was definitely a chain in Florida. I think the flagship store was in Tama.

    The brown color may not be the end of the world. Sometimes, the top notes go a little off but the rest of the fragrance is fine.

    A friend of mine wore Maxims back in the 80s and that can be challenging to find. That said, I did find a vintage mini. Talk about a bid 80s fragrance!

    The biggest challenge is finding 80s perfumes that are still in production but not as they were. I prefer vintage Poison, and I hear Lauren is not as it was.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Mrs. Honey, thanks for stopping by. If I can get up the nerve, I may try a dab of the Folies one of these days.
      I’m so glad you mentioned the Maxim’s — that was quite a fragrance, wasn’t it? And I liked Poison back in its glory days but only in tiny amounts. You are right about the Lauren; I think it has been drastically changed. It’s a shame, as I adored it in college and would love to sniff it again for old time’s sake.