Vintage Fragrance. Which Tickles You?

Hi there Posse, I love vintage fragrances. Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments against. Here are four of my favourites. The top notes often go freaky, the nose is an artist and they create for current consumption, many of the ingredients are now illegal because they are harmful and how do you know if it’s the real thing.

My answers: Yes, the top notes can get freaky, totally true, especially on some of the aldehydes. They get a really oily, sea slick scent and sometimes the citruses can go rancid too. Five minutes in though and 90% of them are absolutely perfect. Yes, about one in ten is a complete falure if the top notes are gone, it’s a lottery that I am willing to play.

I love this argument but if the nose is an artist then I’m going to treat his work like a Manet or Dali and enjoy it forever. Perfume is not riesling.

Illegal ingredients? Well when they tell a chef he can’t use basil in my salad then I’ll believe he can’t use it in my fragrance. Seriously, put the fricken ingredients on the outside and let us choose. Nanny state be damned. Go and spend your money on helping the poor of the world or curing cancer not regulating my fragrance F.F.S.

Also, you never know when you are buying off Ebay or even reputable dealers if you will be getting the real deal. I recently spent quite a bit of money of a CHANEL No 5 EdC that gave us all headaches and smelled like No 5 with super raspberry additives, that was from a store in the USA that I’ve bought genuine from for years. They could not have been more apologetic.

Vintage Fragrance. Which Tickles You?

Here are a small selection of my vintages. Currently most of my fragrances are boxed up and sitting in storage but these have either arrived since November or I couldn’t live without them and they’re in my much attenuated collection here in the Redfern apartment.

Vintage Fragrance portia

L to R Vintage: Miss Dior EdT, Sherrer, Cabochard parfum, Arpege mist, CHANEL No 5 1970-80s splash & spritz, Arpege parfum, Madame Rochas, Guerlain Liu, Shalimar parfum in skinny waist bottle, Fille d’Eve by Nina Ricci

There is nothing like the thrill and decadent feeling of spritzing a vintage fragrance that will be gone forever when the bottle is empty. Dabbing a 1940s Shalimar parfum when there is little chance of finding another at a time when you have the money to purchase it. Don’t forget too my joy in the chase and once I have captured my vintage prey every time I spritz or dab I remember the fun I had getting hold of it.

If you liked this then jump on over to AustralianPerfumeJunkies where we continue the fragrant conversation every day.

A great place to find samples of Vintage and Discontinued Perfumes is Surrender To Chance<<<JUMP

So tell me. Which vintage beauties do you love? Do you have a story of how hard or luck or long your search was? Maybe you hate vintage, why?
Come on and join the conversation, share your story,

Portia xx

  • Neva says:

    What a great post! Since I fell in love with perfume when I was a teenager, I still love and miss that era in the perfume industry… If I had known that some scents would have disappeared, I’d stock them at an earlier phase. Nowadays I have to spend a fortune on some vintage stuff, but it’s worth it. Absolutely!
    My vintage collection contains my beloved Armani Woman, Shiseido Zen, Jil Sander III, YSL Nu and Paris, K der Krizia, EL Private Collection (the top notes are horrible, but one has to be patient…), EL Estee, Tamango de Leonard, J’ai Ose by Guy Laroche (ahhhhh….), VU by Ted Lapidus and Trussardi Donna 🙂
    I still miss some of the pieces that remind me of my glorious past, but I hope I’ll get them some day. Wearing my vintage collection makes me feel like wearing a new dress or shoes – I feel so special all the time!

    Btw, a stunning collection in the picture above…!

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Neva,
      I have an old bottle of the Trussardi Donna from when they had a little leather logo on it. MMMMMMM They have recently discontinued the fragrance all together. What a shame.
      Portia xx

  • tiffanie says:

    My vintage-ish bottle of Dior Eau Fraiche was in a white-capped ribbed-rectangular bottle like your Miss Dior. I loved it from top to bottom. Citrus, rosewood, vanilla. YUM. It eventually went unbearably bad, so I passed it along to someone who wanted the bottle. No heartbreak for me since the bottle was almost empty, and it was so great while it lasted. Recently I like Parfums DelRae Debut because it reminds me of what the great fragrances were like when I was a child while being thoroughly fresh and new to my nose today.

    • Portia says:

      I am so happy someone mentioned Parfums DelRae! I love their fabulous vintage vibe and the fullness of their scents.
      Excellent spot and purchase.
      Portia xx

  • flowergirlbee! says:

    great photo!! more collection photos please : ) they make me happy : )

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, Portia! Love your collection — nice!! I don’t have much vintage, just some Cartiers from the ’80s-’90s and a few other decants of things like Patou’s Vacances, Mitsouko, Coco, etc. But I heartily agree with you — label on the outside and let US decide!

  • Mary K says:

    Grain de Sable! I love that one. I have an old bottle with a few drops left that I don’t want to finish. I also have a mini of it, Another one I like is Sicily. I have a mini of it that is about half full. I’m so afraid when it’s gone, I’ll never see or sniff it again.

    • Portia says:

      It’s a fine line MaryK,
      Wear it and lose it or never wear it. I have some of each. There are a few that I know if I don’t use them they will be ruined. Some I won’t even take the cellophane off the box because just having them is enough.
      Portia xx

  • bamboogrrrl says:

    I’m starting to amass a nice little collection of vintage perfumes… But my deep love (so far) goes to a bottle of Vintage Coco parfum – absolutely symphonic. I just purchased a bottle of Nicky Verfaillie Grain de Sable, which I thought I’d never sniff otherwise. And Theorema – yes! Lately, I’m curious but ignorant about Monsoon, Djedi, Amouage attars, Gobin Daude.. Swoon. I’ll get there – perfume is all about the dreaming of the precious. Even if it starts only as an idea…

    • Portia says:

      Oh yes BamboooGrrrl,
      Pefume is ALL about the dreaming.
      Dreaming of smelling, dreaming of owning, dreaming while wearing, dreaming………….
      Portia xx

  • Pixel says:

    I have a whole bunch of vintage minis… and yes, etsy is a more reasonable place to find them than evilbay. I’ve observed that the parfums seem to hold up better than the EdTs, is that just my imagination or have others had the same experience?

    So far my most favorite vintages are YSL Champagne parfum (oakmoss! swoon!) and Vent Vert parfum, both so complex…

    And yes, nanny state, I do seem to have somewhat of an allergy to oakmoss, I can feel a tingle on my skin when I put on a real vintage fume. But I DON’T CARE and I’m willing to cope with a tingle — it’s my choice!

    Fab post Portia 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Thanks Pixel,
      Champagne parfum! WOW! I bet you smell absolutely amazing in it. What luxury.
      Interesting you say that about the parfums. I have a few parfums where the top notes are sliding, especially in the Arpege but they do seem to hold up over time.
      Portia xx

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Amen to ingredients on the outside!

    Fab post and great pic.

    You were kind enough to send me the glorious remains of a gold ‘lighter case’ bottle of vintage Shalimar. Which I flat out adore and will mourn when I muster up the nerve to spray the very last 2 sprays!

    I don’t have much other vintage mainly some of my beloved Shalimar, and then my grandmother’s bottles of My Sin, Arpege, Ma Griffe, Magie Noire (stunning stuff!) and Emeraude.

    I smell too freaking amazing when I wear them on the school run! 😉

    • Portia says:

      Hey FragrantWitch,
      How happy it makes me that you have worn the Shalimar parfum. How freaking delicious is it?
      I can’t think of a better place to wear the good stuff than on the school run. What a heavenly way to wear your good stuff.
      Portia xx

  • Amy K says:

    You have such a lovely collection of vintages! The only vintage I currently own is Nuit de Noel. Hunting down an older bottle of Caron isn’t quite as pricey as a comparably aged Chanel or Guerlain, and oh, that retro mousse de saxe is worth the hunt.

    • Portia says:

      Hiya AmyK,
      Nuit de Noel is an excellent vintage. I have old and new and they are quite different, both swoon-worthy though.
      Shalimar is the one vintage Guerlain you can always find for a good price if you look.
      Happy hunting.
      Portia xx

  • Glannys says:

    Thank you for an interesting post, Portia. And for the photo of elegant bottles!
    I do not have any full bottles of vintage perfumes, but I purchased several decants. In other words, I let other people hunt for bottles and wait till they decide to split htem. The truth is I am more into mondern fragrances, but sometimes I crave for old-school stuff. A causal vintage user, I guess?
    My favorites include Guerlain Liu, Rochas Mystere and Estee Lauder Private Collection. My latest vintage discovery is Jean Patou Joy.

    • Portia says:

      You have some lovely choices there, I have a vintage Lui that makes me smile whenever I wear it. Gorgeous.
      You should try Patou 1000 in vintage. Incredible.
      Portia xx

      • Glannys says:

        Ooh, thank you, Portia. I checked the notes of 1000 and read several reviews, and it does sound like something I would enjoy. I even found a reasonably priced mini, so I may buy it.
        Liu is something special, isn’t it? For me it smells very warm, sunny and comforting.

    • Neva says:

      Glannys, don’t tell me you have Mystere de Rochas. I was looking for a vintage bottle for a while, but it was sooooo expensive that I had to give up…sigh! I loved it!!!

      • Glannys says:

        It’s an oakmoss bomb! I have 5 ml of Mystere EDP, decanted.
        A full bottle is pricey indeed, and the parfum version is even more expensive.

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    I enjoy collecting and wearing vintage perfumes: Shalimar, No.5 (in many forms), Habanita (extrait, in a bottle dating back to sometime before 1950), Arpege, Scandal, My Sin, Cinnabar, Emeraude (a favorite, in many forms including parfum), Y (another fave), Jolie Madame, Safari (I wear this one a lot), Cabochard, Samsara, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue (love the extrait), Miss Dior, No. 19, Givenchy III, Tigress, Woodhue, Flambeau, Toulours Moi, Parfum Rare, and others. I recently scored a vintage bottle of the original YSL Champagne! It’s so lovely. It is getting much more difficult to find vintage frags in good condition at an affordable price, but I probably already have more than I’ll be able to wear in my lifetime. Guess I’ll have to be a better perfume fairy godmother!

    • Portia says:

      Hi QueenCupcake,
      We snap on quite a few of your list.
      When I die there will be quite a bit of fragrance left for my friends and family to deal with. I really can’t use it all but I love having it all so much.
      Portia xx

  • AnnieA says:

    Vintage Dioressimo, sigh…

  • Eloquaint says:

    I love the vintage Dior perfumes, and as a result have gone to some lengths to acquire vintage samples or partial bottles of Diorama, Diorella, Dioressence, Diorissimo, Diorling and Miss Dior. I also cherish the wee bit of Djedi that I have, and my Bal a Versailles and Caron’s Nuit de Noel, which I just yesterday found in an antique store. I have some original Coty Chypre and real Tabac Blond. Elsa Schiaparelli’s Shocking was one of my earlies vintage finds. I have some vintage L’Air du Temps that would make you cry. Rochas Femme. Balmain Ivoire. Actually vintage is one of my obsessions.

    I also have a lot of things that I purchased in the early 2000’s and stored well that turned out to be good buys because of what IFRA came along and did.

    • Portia says:

      Hi there Eloquaint,
      Yes, I have some L’Air du Temps too, The parfum in the Baccarat (?) bird bottle. It very nearly is enough to make me cry, so lavish and full.
      Vintage is one of my obsessions too. I never spend more than I can very comfortably afford and I’m not hurting anyone.
      Portia xx

  • SmellyDandelion says:

    I have vintage and new, my vintage collection is Jolie Madame parfum, a lifetime supply of vintage Chanel no.19 parfum (some from 80s, some 90s) and …well…as much as I can afford of the original Shiseido Feminite du Bois. I also recently scored a Dior Dolce Vita parfum for a great price. I also hoard some discontinued treasures like Bvlghari Black, some Goutals, Theo Fannel, etc.

    The rest are all minis (1ml to 4ml): L’Heure Bleue, RL Safari, Theorema, Arpege, Miss Balmain, Cabochard, Ivoire de Balmain, Carven Ma Griffe, and Lancome Tresor from the 90s. My favorite is Tentations by Paloma Picasso.

    It is so hard for me, because of where I live, to score decent vintage. Mostly evilbay, but sometimes friends and older relatives give me some decants or bottles they don’t want any more. I recently scored a gorgeous Opium edt (80s methinks) from my mother in law – though it looks like I only have 1ml left now 🙁 I will certainly miss all these treasures – I do intend to use them up, though, such is my philosophy in life!

    I cherish my collection, but it is not all doom and gloom for me. I adore a lot of new releases and I’m amazed at the quality and artistry of recent perfumes. Yes, Iso E Super is rubbish and those clean musks that have recently found their way into respectable niche lines, are really starting to grate on me.

    I enjoy the hunt for oldies and vintage. Still looking for a Miss Balmain parfum…in that gorgeous pink box.

    • Portia says:

      Have you tried Etsy? They have some amazing vintage stores in the USA and the prices remain much more reasonable than Ebay.
      Portia xx

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I actually have amassed a huge collection of vintage perfume. My top three that I have boat loads of is Shalimar (lots of vintage and dirt cheap), Deneuve and Bal a Versailles. But my favorite version of Bal is the PdT, which doesn’t come up often but when it does, it’s really expensive more often than not. But I’m starting to get more vintage Mitsouko. It’s these stupid regulations banning ingrediants have driven me to seek out vintage and sometimes to pay sky high (for me) on vintage.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Eldarwen22,
      I too have a large Shalimar collection. You’d probably be appalled how much, but I love it. I really REALLY love it.
      My favourite Bal A Versailles is the EdC, SKANKY WHORE PANTIES!!!!
      I do love some Mitsouko & Dune PdT too.
      Portia xx

  • Tiara says:

    “Well when they tell a chef he can’t use basil in my salad then I’ll believe he can’t use it in my fragrance. Seriously, put the fricken ingredients on the outside and let us choose. Nanny state be damned. Go and spend your money on helping the poor of the world or curing cancer not regulating my fragrance F.F.S.”


    The only vintage perfume I own is Straw Hat. All are partial bottles and one is so old that it looks like dark tobacco juice. The prices have gone too high for me so when they’re gone, I’m done so I’m enjoying while I can.

  • Michele42 says:

    Wonderful post on vintage! I wish I had better luck finding it in our junk shops and antique stores. I need to hit some of the larger antique places here on the East coast. I did manage a bottle of vintage White Linen – I’m assuming it was vintage because it was smelled like it did 20 + years ago. I tried the newer stuff recently and was appalled at how different it was. Maybe it’s just me, but I got a nose full of chemicals. White Linen isn’t one of my favorites these days, but for $10, the “vintage” bottle brought back some lovely memories of the 1980’s!

    • Portia says:

      One of the funnest things ever is finding vintage bargains. $10 White Linen from last century is a bargain and a half. You are a lucky duck. Those memories it brings back are priceless.
      Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    My favorite vintage scent is Arpege because my mom bought me my first bottle for my 21st birthday. I have that exact same tall thin black metal refillable flacon that holds a spray bottle. I wore Arpege exclusively all through my 20s, and went through many of those bottles. I moved on to other scents in my 30s and afterwards, but within the last couple of years, I was lucky enough to find one of those refill bottles on evilbay. So my black Arpege flacon is back in service again. I think I’ll wear it today. 🙂

    • Portia says:

      Arpege! It’s a wonderful scent. How lucky you are that the fragrance you were gifted is still quite readily available DinaC.
      Portia xx

  • FeralJasmine says:

    Also have to add that recently I came across vintage Chloe and was astounded at its rich plushness, quite unlike the wan little citrusy floral that is present-day Chloe.

    • Portia says:

      Hey there FeralJasmine,
      Yes the vintage Opium is amazing. Gloriously gorgeous stuff. I troll the internet for it for my BFFs Mum. She gets so excited when I find her another bottle.
      Portia xx

  • FeralJasmine says:

    My main vintage love is old Opium, and I have hoarded enough to last a lifetime. Edt, Edp, Parfum, if YSL made it in the late 70s and early 80s, I have it. It is so beautiful, and the last few versions are such a travesty by comparison. I was not surprised when YSL’s artistic director distanced himself from Opium Black. Evidently he has standards????

  • rosarita says:

    Ooh, your collection is lovely, Portia! I don’t actively seek out vintage perfumes but I have a few that I love that came from swapping or stumbling onto something on eBay, like my little bottle of Shalimar perfume. I’m addicted to estate sales where I search for vintage turquoise jewelry which is another great passion and sometimes I find some nice perfume among the ever present Avon bottles – My Sin, Magie Noir and my current favorite, a bit of Dune parfum (gorgeous).

    • Portia says:

      WOW! You scored a DUNE parfum. I would be much happier for you if I wasn’t so jealous. HA!
      I have bottles of Magie Noir EdT and My Sin parfum. YUMMY stuff.
      Portia xx

  • SolangeN says:

    Greetings Portia & thank you for your entertaining work.

    For me, the 80s is a lost, golden age of perfume. With that in mind, I spent most of my early perfume fund on a lifetime supply of original Fendi and JL Scherrer.

    I will emphasize that the new Scherrer is really pretty good, but I didn’t know that at the time, and the extrait is not currently in production. Vintage Scherrer extrait is green heaven in a bottle. So I wear the new JLS lavishly, and the old in controlled quantities.

    Every visit to the sad wasteland that is mall perfume shopping reinforces how glad I am I made those investments.

    Also stocked up on Eau d’Eden, Balmain de Balmain, Jolie Madame and Miss Balmain when supplies were more available. And I’m happy to have grabbed just one bottle of lost 80s wonders like Roma, Theorema and Asja.

    I seldom buy anything new anymore – don’t know if it’s just me but they all smell like plastic chemical amber or toxic scratchy “cashmere” musk/woods. They all smell cheap. Love me some Ambre Sultan, but there’s a lotta Iso up in that thing. Sniffed a new Obsession tester recently and it was just sad, burnt plastic and artificial “citrus” chemicals.

    It makes me sad to read younger perfume-people on fragrantica raving about crap, because they never had the opportunity to smell the difference.

    For example, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the point of Coco Noir, which I can barely smell, is. The Omnia’s are all a god-effing-horrid chemical mess to my nose. Prada Amber…why?

    • Portia says:

      Hi there SolangeN,
      Wow! You have sorted yourself. I have one bottle each of Fendi donna and Asja, and an older Sherrer EdT, a Miss Balmain still in her cellophane and a Jolie Madam (that has turned a bit)
      You know, those same people smelling what you don’t like will be saying in 20-30 years. “Oh they don’t make fruitchoulis like they used to. You can’t find a decent oud or pineapple fragrance anywhere nowadays. The poor kids today will never know the joy of smelling Taylor Swift”
      Portia xx

      • Ellen says:

        Solange and Portia,
        I have looked for a sample of SLScherrer and can’t find it anywhere. Any suggestions? It’s your fault, because your description made me want to huff it immediately.

  • caseymaureen says:

    I had some vintage 1960s Arpege. When we watch the film a Single Man at the moment where Colin Firth leans towards the receptionist and says ooh Arpege, we pause the film and dab a little on our wrists so we can do a little time travel. That is what I love about vintage fragrances they are a door into the past.

  • Asali says:

    Hi Potia, yes I love my vintages 🙂 I have a perfumed friend to thank for leading me down that track: she send me Dioressence, Eau de Joy, vol de Nuit, femme and l’heure bleue all in vintage and from then on I was sold. Those are still some of my absolute favourite vintages. It used to be easy to go treasure hunting for old stuff, but nowadays even no name vintages seem to fetch high amounts on evilbay, so it’s a lot rarer for me to buy vintage now than it used to be.

    • Portia says:

      Hey there Asali,
      Yes, they are becoming more expensive and sought after. That’s why I carefully remember the good sellers.
      Once you open the door to vintage it’s hard to go back.
      Portia xx