For me, Vintage perfumes were not an easy route, it was the proverbial trip down the rabbit hole, without having any idea what was in there and what it was going to cost to get there and back.
It fascinated me, but I was always about stuff I could wear right now and was in steady supply. The Gobin-Daude search and find just about killed me — finding Seve Exquise, loving it, and now never being able to get it again. And let’s face it, a lot of vintage perfumes aren’tt wearable for everyday, not in the society we have that is sensitive to anything that makes a strong statement.
But more important, vintage of the really great stuff is super-expensive to get and super-impossible to find. Having a Black Belt in Sniping will not get you what you seek without lots and lots of cash. You are fighting those insane bottle collectors and the perfume collectors, and most of us don’t stand a chance of getting that much-longed-for bottle of Guerlain Djedi (weeps quietly) unless it’s an off day and everyone is asleep a the “buy vintage perfumes” switch. Further, if you were fortunate enough to score that treasure, what do you do when it runs out and there is no more to be had? Throw yourself in front of the Guerlain boutique in Paris, tying yourself to the door until they make some more? Well, yeah, that’s probably the approach I’ll take I would take, though overthrowing the French government, setting up a fast despotic regime so you can order Guerlain to break out the family recipe book and whip up a few batches of Djedi and Fol Arome may be a little more cool and trendy and less personally embarrassing.
Instead of dealing with that portion of heartache, I’ve ignored vintage perfumes until just recently. Then the siren song just became too loud, and I blame a few people, and they should know who they are, I’m scowling at them now. What happened was it finally became clear to me that enjoying vintage perfumes isn’t just about owning it or having enough to wear forever in an uninterrupted supply — it’s about smelling some of the greats, no matter how small a taste you can get, the things that they can’t/won’t make anymore, like vintage Lanvin’s Rumeur, which really is your favorite worn leather saddle after you spilled your wine on it when that handsome cowboy pressed you back against your horse while he was kissing you… or something like that. Sorry, that’s one of my favorite little, um, “mind vignettes,” otherwise known as MFs.
It’s about finding a scent that makes your heart pound because it is so gorgeous, like Guerlain’s Fol Arome — I don’t know what all notes are in this, a little anise, and who cares what the rest is, it is simply unlike anything else I have smelled, and it is utterly unique and beautiful. Others fall into this category — Miss Dior parfum, Weil Antilope, Sortilege, Lucien Lelong Passionement (whoever decided to ditch this should be shot, drawn and quartered and then shot again), the vintage Carons, which, thankfully, have stayed much the same (as of 2006, this changed after writing this post). Some vintage perfumes are not so old, but just discontinued, like Fath de Fath, Donna Karan Chaos (anyone want to go in on a bottle split? All this talk by March is just killing me).
Do I need to own those vintage perfumes? Well, yes!!! I mean, dang, you’ve got to be kidding me, I’d love to have all of them or at least one of them, but this is where I have changed in how I think of having and knowing a perfume. Regardless of possession, I will carry the memories of how these smell forever, and I really don’t need to wear them regularly or even once in a blue moon, though I find it most comforting to have a small sample or decant of all of them nearby. It is enough to know they existed at one time and were beautiful and still exist here and there in someone’s perfume collection or gramma’s bottom drawer. In the case of Guerlain, I will remain optimistic that one day Djedi and Fol Arome will find themselves on the re-issue list. In the meantime, there’s samples of these floating around, some on eBay, and it is well worth the scent education to have smelled them. Is it worth the trip down the Rabbit Hole? Oh, yes, it definitely is.
If you could pick any discontinued perfume in the world to get a little sample of, what would it be? And what full bottle would you most want?