Memory Lane Monday: Molyneux Quartz

QuartzNot long ago, I saw that Surrender to Chance was carrying Quartz by Molyneux – and my eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store. I loved that scent to death back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

It came out in 1977-78, and following the much-loved Chanel’s Cristalle in 1974 and Estee Lauder’s Aliage in 1972, it fully cemented my love of the bright, crisp chypre genre. Quartz was a little softer and more approachable than Cristalle, and not quite as lean and green as Aliage, and I wound up going through a honkin’ spray bottle of it at one point.

Jan Moran’s “Fabulous Fragrances” gives these ingredients: peach, hyacinth, cassie, jasmine, rose, carnation, orris, melon, sandalwood, musk amber, moss, benzoin, and cedarwood.

Quartz had fallen off my radar and I wasn’t even sure this was even in production anymore, and if it was, what its reformulation status was, but just had to satisfy my curiosity.

Anyhoo, with bated breath I applied. Whooo-eeh!! Don’t remember it being quite this potent right out of the gate! Seems like it was a bit softer and subtler back in the day, or perhaps that’s just my faulty memory. One of the first things that popped into my head was, “Wow! This could be Eau Sauvage’s little (or not so little) brother!” It also brought to mind O de Lancome, and something else that I can’t think of right now. But it definitely seems much more unisex now than it was way back when. I’m not getting a lot of the peach, hyacinth or jasmine, etc., and it lacked the softer undercurrents that I loved back in the day.

I’d read others comparing vintage Quartz to Diorella, but honestly, I probably haven’t smelled enough of that Dior in my perfume life to have any clue.

A week or two later, I got a bit of older Quartz (not sure the age but it looked like original-ish packaging at least) and tried it out with the newer formulation in a wrist to wrist comparison.

My older mini was closer to what I remember, but still had a bit more kick than I had thought. Or maybe my nose back then was so used to those heavy-hitters that it didn’t register the way it does now. And I guess it must be the more potent ingredients they used back then, but it definitely had more presence in the drydown.

Now I’m not going to worry about getting a full bottle, but I will be enjoying them both on warm-ish days. And DH and I now know where we can get a reasonable facsimile of Eau Sauvage whenever we’re craving a hit of that.

Also with my STC order, I got a sample of Molyneux’s Quartz Pure Red, which I completely missed when it came out in 2008.
It containst fruity notes (apple, peach, mandarin) and I seem to detect a hint of cherry, cushioned by a gently floral (jasmine, violet) background, and a slightly powdery feel. It was a bit sweeter than I like, but it did remind me a bit of something vintage, but I can’t think of what.

Anyway, did any of you wear Quartz back in the day? Or have any ‘70s or ‘80s scents been floating your boat lately?

  • maggiecat says:

    I wore, and absolutely loved, Aliage in the late seventies. When I tried it again a couple of years ago, my first thought was “Whew! That’s strong…” and I ended up washing it off. Still wondering if it changed or if I did – or both?

    • Ann says:

      Hi, maggiecat! So glad you stopped by. I, too, adored Aliage, but haven’t sniffed it in ages (afraid to, I guess). I think you are right — your experience could easily have been some of both. The scent got reformulated (probably more than once) and maybe our noses change, too, so what smelled normal to us 20 or 30 years ago, now seems odd or overpowering. I definitely think that’s what happened to me and Quartz. Not to worry, though, plenty of other lovely “greens” to enjoy!

  • March says:

    I loved Quartz! I felt the same way you did — my best friend wore Cristalle and that was always a bit Too Much on me (great on her, though.) I agree with your theory that compared to a lot of the power-suit frags, it probably did seem lighter. Thanks for the memory!

    • Ann says:

      Hey, dear! So nice to see you and to find another Quartz fan! I did love Cristalle but only at certain times; the Quartz did seem lighter, as you say, and better suited for day in, day out wear.

  • Dina C. says:

    I don’t remember Quartz from way back then. I wasn’t a perfumista in the 80s — just had a few bottles. So this was really interesting and fun to read about. I do know about Diorella. I have a couple of drops left of vintage extrait which reminds me of a structured green tweed suit. Love those chypres in the fall!

    My mom wore Anais Anais back then, so it was fun to remember that one, too. I remember wearing Emeraude, Jontue, Lauren by Ralph Lauren, and Flora Danica.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Dina! Your “structured green tweed suit” sounds like a perfect description. I really need to give Diorella a go soon, before cold weather hits. I am loving your mention of those other oldies; I loved Lauren as well, and had forgotten about Jontue — thanks!

  • Portia says:

    Hey there Ann,
    vintage Diorissimo and Miss Dior have been making quite a few turns on my skin lately. Also found a Bal a Versailles parfum from the earliest days of its creation and it’s powdery, silken skank has been floating around the house too.
    Portia x

    • Ann says:

      Wowza, Portia! Your house must smell divine, between the Dior classics and the Bal. I need to try the BaV again; haven’t sniffed it in years. Thanks!

  • Neva says:

    I love vintage scents and of course I know Quartz. I have never owned it, but the comparison with Diorella may not be wrong. It was that freshness but not citrusy, that I remember. More kind of powdery fresh. And I never perceived 70s or 80s scents as strong. That was normal to me (and it still is)
    My favourites from that time are Armani Woman and Jil Sander III. I have some of it on stock and I use it regularly. Only Amouage can come close to the glory of the old days 😉

    • Ann says:

      Neva, I nearly jumped out of my chair when I saw you had mentioned that Jil Sander! I really liked that when it came out, and got a spritz every time I passed the tester in Neiman’s. Alas, they never seemed to have samples and no one at the time that I can recall was decanting it, so it was a short-lived love. So glad you are enjoying it!

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I can’t remember how old I was when Debbie Gibson released her perfume called Electric Youth but I craved that bottle and wanted to wear it. One of my grandmothers got the smallest bottle she could find for me. I think that I lost interest in it quick but I do remember it was this plastic, candy fruit bomb kind of thing. But it was the typical teen celeb scent of the time.

    • Ann says:

      What a good memory, eldarwen, and a cute bottle, too! I had forgotten what it looked like and had to go look it up. Funny you should mention her: Not too long ago I heard her in an interview with a local radio station; she sounds like she’s still a pretty cool lady — upbeat, fun, and still doing music (contemporary Christian now, I believe).

  • Heidi says:

    I haven’t smelled Quartz! I do know Diorella, though — smells like an olfactory power suit to me! My perfume back in those days was Anaïs Anaïs.

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Heidi! I remember liking and wearing Anais Anais,too — and wasn’t that just the prettiest bottle? I remember wishing I had wallpaper that looked like that lovely floral swirl of pink, gray and green.