Marc Jacobs Decadence


I reached young adulthood in the 1980s – when the shoulder pads were big and the hair was bigger. Perfume was big too; I thought nothing of wearing Poison to the office, and out in public I was constantly awash in a sea of people rocking Giorgio or Opium (technically from the late 70s but huge on my college campus.)

When I saw the new Marc Jacobs scent, Decadence, with its poison-green bottle, snakeskin-embossed cap and chunky gold chain, it screamed Eighties Flashback to me. This impression is affirmed by the listed notes: plum, saffron, iris, Bulgarian rose, Sambac jasmine, orris root, amber, vetiver and papyrus wood.  That sounds exactly like a list of ingredients for a big, sickly-sweet sillage monster I’d adore.

And for about five minutes, Decadence plays along. The plum and rose are massive, the jasmine is skanky, and there’s a syrupy quality to the whole thing that I love and that also reminds me why people support office bans on fragrance. Then the fragrance begins to quiet and it gets a bit peppery and woodsy; I was trying to decide how I felt about it when it simply collapsed like a meringue into a heap of vetiver/laundry-musky nothingness. The drydown is so enervating to sniff I can’t even work up some outrage about its mediocrity. You know how sometimes you sniff a scent-strip version of a perfume, and the entire thing seems weirdly flat and compressed compared to the actual fragrance? Well, Decadence is like that in its entirety. It’s annoying, too; early reviews on Fragrantica mention a lot of sneeze attacks, and the sharpish woodsy base that lingers for hours on the skin.

I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece from Marc Jacobs – the best thing about Daisy is the bottle, and it’s the kind of cheerful scent best worn by young girls who grow up and (one hopes) move on, but I’ve given it as a gift multiple times. Somehow I did expect more. The guy’s got a certain louche sensibility, and before he cleaned up he was a regular, hot tabloid mess in his personal life, so I figure he’s got as good a shot at bottling decadence as any of New York’s denizens of the dark. Instead I’m left with a sad scrubber and an incentive to dig up my ginormous vintage flacon of Poison from basement storage.

What’s your favorite old-school Sillage Monster?  Did you love Poison the first time (or ever?)  Would you wear it now?  Raise your hand if you wore Giorgio!  If not, did you ever drench yourself in something you look back on and cringe a little?

  • nicole says:

    The 80s bring back such great fragrant memories… I loved Poison & Obsession always reminds me of my mom & her Xanadu-esque headbands

  • Julia says:

    I was in 6th grade, carrying around a vial of Poison that my grandmother had given me at school. I used to get bags and bags of samples from bergdorfs, lord and Taylor, and saks from my Long Island grandmother every Christmas. My favorite was from Tiffany and co, and was called Tiffany. I got a full bottle of it once. I also had full bottles of Lauren and spellbound, which I bought an old mini of a few months back just to smell its clove goodness again.

  • Musette says:

    Did someone say ‘Old School Sillage Monster’? I wouldn’t even know where to start, since nearly everything I wear is Old School and wafty.

    My 80s were awash in YSL Paris and Anais Anais…then I discovered EL’s Private Collection – oh! and a lot of the original Chloe.
    Polo and Grey Flannel on the guys – you could smell the waft 40′ away, outside, on a windy Chicago day. Inside, you could smell it (esp. Polo) even behind a closed door. It’s a wonder any of us 80s folks have any scent receptors left!
    I wear none of those now, preferring vintage No5 and Mitsouko, which are like couture armor (I’m embarrassed to say it took me 4 tries to spell ‘couture’ correctly)……. no matter what, they keep their cool and are never scary-loud!


  • Dina C. says:

    Back in the 80s, I wore Lauren and Flora Danica, a floral. I had girl friends who wore Cinnabar, Ysatis, Rive Gauche and Opium, so I remember them really well.

    I sampled Decadence a couple weeks ago and found it really disappointing. The list of notes is full of my favs, but it’s not reflected in the actual smell of the juice at all.

  • Barbara B says:

    I was an Opium girl. Loved loved loved it! Wish I had some vintage because my husband told me he loves it. Bought the dreck they sell now and couldn’t tolerate what they did to one of my favorite scents, so my husband has never smelled it on me properly!
    My best friend wore Giorgio which aggravated my migraines horribly! I’m sure everyone could smell us at the clubs a mile away!

  • fleurt4fleurs says:

    I have enthusiastically tried many contemporary perfume samples that initially seemed complex, then trailed off into that dull, woodsy dry down so popular now. Half the time the woodsy finish seems to have no relationship with the initial fragrance whatsoever, and there are absolutely no traces of the initial notes, nor anything of interest, nothing pleasurable, at all in the dry-down. Often there is synthetic smelling vanilla and/ or musk in there as well. I also get an itchy nose or throat. . I am always glad a sample is involved, or I would truly feel badly cheated! I also remember those 80’s blockbusters. I had my own: Bucheron, and Bellodgia, Opium (Georgio always hit me like a brick, and it was on someone else!) Still, the quality was often better. There is quality to be found, but It seems a bit more challenging to find, and usually more costly!

  • Petunia says:

    I remember Giorgio. I remember loving it the first few times that I smelled it but then it was everywhere. For me, it became a cloying scent that I tried to avoid as it was a monster amount monsters. I don’t recall avoiding Poison but I never wore it.

  • Neva says:

    Oh how I love the 80-ies!!! The music, the clothes, the make up AND the perfume. I miss the sillage from back then. You know, when you put on perfume in the morning and still smell it when you get home in the evening 😉
    I never had Giorgio, but Red by Giorgio Beverly Hills. That one was strong too. My favourites back then were Giorgio Armani Woman, White Linen, K de Krizia, Trussardi for Men, Halston and Private Collection (that one I stole from my mother).
    I could never stand Poison. It was an absolute killer and if you went to theaters or concert halls all you could smell was Poison – resistance was futile 😀

  • Gwenyth says:

    I’ll be the “different” voice here. I sampled Decadence over the weekend and it worked amazingly well for me. Skin chemistry and perception are the Wild Cards when it comes to experiencing perfumes.

    On my skin, Decadence is sweet, sultry and has a very nice base of woods, amber and vetiver. I admit I spritzed it only because of the fantastic bottle….because I have not enjoyed the Jacobs stable of perfumes since his first one. This one? for me it is quite appealing and it lasts a very long time. That alone is a huge positive for me because my skin eats perfume. Another positive for me is that even though Decadence is sweet, it is not sweet like so many of the “popular” fragrances (like Flowerbomb, Jimmy Choo and La Vie est Belle). In my opinion, it is the base that saves Decadence, gives it incredible lasting power and separates if from the crowd of sweet sweet fragrances worn by so many people these days.

    For these reasons, I would definitely consider a small bottle of Decadence.
    That’s my $.02 opinion, anyway. 🙂

  • teri says:

    I adored those big ole monster ‘fumes from the ’80s. All of them, although there were only two I wore. I liked getting into an elevator and sniffing the fantastic miasma of big rocking scents. Guys, too. Some of those male scents of that day were every bit as big and bold and wonderful.

    I wore Giorgio’s Red and Animale in those days. And i still do now and again. Animale is a beast as large as its name, but a drop in the decollete and you are set for the entire day. And it honestly is beautiful in small doses.

  • Nina Z says:

    I wore Magie Noire to work in the 80s, even on the hottest days in Boston. After I had children, I toned it down though. I wanted to smell my babies and wanted them to be able to smell me, the natural me. So even though I loved perfume, I gave it up for a while. Then the nineties came, I was in Northern California, and there was Coco. My only regret is that I did not collect perfume in the 80s before the kids were born. I lived walking distance from an amazing perfume shop in Harvard Square and I used to stop in there and sniff the Guerlains, etc. all the time. I kept track in a database at work (I was in the software industry) and probably tried over 100 fragrances. I just had this misguided idea that I had to have a single, signature fragrance.

  • Heidi says:

    Oh, this is a fun trip down olfactory lane! I was also Team Cinnabar, and was obsessed with Obsession for Men, which I liked a lot better than the “female” version. Does anyone else think Diptyque’s L’eau de l’eau smells a lot like it?

  • Caroline says:

    At the tender age of 12 or 13, doused myself in the original Tatiana. I loved it, others…well, I quickly learned to reign myself in.
    Musette, are you around? Mallomars have arrived at Sunset (the Christmas season comes earlier every year)!

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, dear March! Love your post! I wore Giorgio some but really loved Poison the best. When the ad campaign debuted with the mysterious, smoky-eyed model in the ad campaign and that gorgeous bottle, i was chomping at the bit to get it. And when I did — ooh, la, la — had never smelled anything like it! Even now I like to dab it occasionally when by myself for a little ’80s high. Also need to grab my vintage Ysatis. Thanks for the fun memories! Hope you and the girls are all doing well and are enjoying some fall weather now. Hugs to you …

  • SolangeN says:

    Fendi Fendi Fendi – Got a lifetime supply before it ran dry. Considering demand and EBay prices, it’s got to come back one day. And be missing moss & density & leather, and make me depressed, but my old stuff is liquid fur coat & the definition of Autumn in the Air.

    Can a perfume expert explain – why is it necessary to put that bugspray musk into everything?

    I’m not talking about the “laundry” chemical from EL White Linen, I mean the substance that smells like buzzy toilet cleaner. Is it cheaper than other synthetic musk? Is it meant to substitute for both musk and wood? They’re all pretty inexpensive, if DIY supplies are an indication, so why use it at all? I have yet to meet somebody who doesn’t hate it – the thing is that it shows up at the bottom of a scent, after somebody who hasn’t learned to sniff it out up front’s already tested and bought.

    Some fumes hide it better than others – Chanel Chance you can barely smell it cuz the heavy “pineapple,” vetiverol or whatever vetiver derivative and other stuff mask it for longer. Chance eau Tendre, on the other hand, it’s front and center in the lighter composition. It’s got to be the same chemical coming out of the same factory – one just hides it better than the other.

    It’s also the reason I hate Cinema. It shows up at the very bottom of Cinema, the next morning, like a nasty hangover.

    The 21 year olds snapping this cheap crap up will catch on eventually – once you recognize it, you’ll detect it immediately. I can sniff it out in a second. I can’t believe this godawful substance isn’t losing sales across the board.

    • Petunia says:

      Bug spray musk = Red Door. I can’t believe that I still see this scent at TJ Maxx all the time. Also, Rafinee… Ugh… I don’t remember who made that scent but it was terrible.

  • bevfred says:

    I wore them all! Opium my fave, Paloma Picasso, Giorgio, Poison, Le Must by Cartier and for quiet days Lauren.
    Then there were the Guerlains. We mock them now but they were better than some of the drivel that has come since.

  • solanace says:

    I wore Loulou, Samsara, Magie Noire, Beautiful and, yes, lots of super bright Giorgio. Mom wore Opium, Cabochard, Miss Dior. Still like my fumes to be big and bold, rather than delicate and subdued, and I just might wear a couple sprays of my old Giorgio today. I just might, uahahaha…

    • Neva says:

      Ooooh…Loulou, I loved it! It was so special and I think I would gladly wear it today (strictly winter for me). Is it still on the market? What about the reformulation? Anyone?

  • poodle says:

    Let’s make big hair beautiful again. I loved the 80’s. I was wallowing in Poison, Giorgio, Cinnabar, and Ysatis. I also dreamed of having a boyfriend that smelled of Paco Rabanne.

    • March says:

      Those were happy times, yes? Big hair, big dreams. I loved that hair. Whether you went sleek or Lacroix or Madonna, it was all good. Grunge and the minimalist nineties — saddest thing ever.

      • FeralJasmine says:

        I loved looking at the decadent fashions of Yves St Laurent in the 80s, loved wearing Opium, and still wear it a lot. Might be my favorite. And your remark about the 90 s hit home. I still recall my disappointment in the 90s at trying to find any fashion to look at that seemed in any way worth looking at. Yech. Why bother?

  • Bee says:

    I spent my youth reeking of Cinnabar and I still love it in the winter months. I did once have to step off an Underground train because of an overdose of Poison but mostly I liked the giants of the time. My biggest regret is that I did not buy a ton of Samsara when it debuted.

    • March says:

      Cinnabar! GO TEAM CINNABAR!!! (vs. Opium.) I have a big, vintage stoppered flacon of Cinnabar that is absolutely The Bomb. In fact thanks for the reminder to go get it.

  • Teresa says:

    I have worn Rive Gauche every night (my husband loves it on me) since 1974….41 years! It’s changed over the years but I still adore it!

    • March says:

      For whatever reason, this made me tear up massively…. you go, girl. I had a roomie who BATHED in Rive Gauche so it took me awhile, decades later, to come around to it. I’ve re-smelled the vintage and

  • cinnamon says:

    Oh, March, louche is such a wonderful word. Makes me think of the Limelight in New York and a backless black angora minidress I wore dancing. My 80s staple was Opium — definitely too much, and definitely to the office, out dancing, wherever. I steered clear of Giorgio, but knew someone who wore Perfumers Workshop Tea Rose, which was equally awful and equally ubiquitous in NY in that period.

    • March says:

      I would have LOVED you at Limelight! I was wearing combat boots, a flat-top, a pierced nose and a sneer in my prime… lord, Tea Rose. I was never on Team Tea Rose. ugh

    • taleofahare says:

      Wow, the limelight!! Blast from the past..woot! Animale was a big one for club nights. Or Paloma Picasso…yum.

  • tammy says:

    I have never been able to do tuberose, so no Poison or Giorgio for me, but I contributed to that glorious 80s miasma with plenty of Opium and Lauren, both of which I still have and love. I wish I had been as diligent in buying back-ups of Victoria by Victoria’s Secret.

    • March says:

      Lauren! I was never a Lauren girl, those glorious, blonde preppy goddesses I went to school with. Does Lauren even exist any more? I smelled it a few years ago and it seemed all wrong.

      • Ann says:

        Ooh, Tammy, loved that original Lauren! Got the quarter-ounce perfume in the glass cube as a gift once and I was over the moon!

      • tammy says:

        Lauren still exists. Butchered, of course….but to be honest, if you didn’t know what the original was like, it’s not bad.

    • malsnano86 says:

      Victoria was really wonderful. Wish I had bought it and worn it then… and wish even more that it aged well. It doesn’t.

      • tammy says:

        Yea, the topnotes get that nail polish remover scent. But the heart is still pretty good! I still have a few drops of the mini you sent me, and am dreading using it up, even with the wanky topnotes!

  • Rina says:

    I am a Poison girl from way back and still to this day! Vintage only, I bought way to much of it back then and have a lifetime supply. I am, however, intrigued by the modern extrait that Saks carries but haven’t smelled it yet. The other powerhouse I wear from way back is Egoiste (also vintage). I also loved shoulder pads (hangs head in shame…).

    • March says:

      I looked a bit silly in the shoulder pads (too short) but man, I loved them! I loved the power of those clothes. Egoiste was phenomenal (remember those great ads?!) I too have a lifetime supply of vintage poison. I have a post on here somewhere… I even own the extrait, lol, in case regular isn’t enough, ya know?

  • KimB says:

    Magie Noire (Lancome, 1978), now sadly and completely defanged and ruined
    Paloma Picasso (1984) – still have a vintage bottle, don’t wear this often but I still love it – not sure if the current version compares
    Best of all – Chanel No 19 (1971). The parfum extrait still has claws and fangs, I still wear it and love it !!
    clearly, I am a chypre lover – never liked or wore Giorgio or Poison (although I did like Opium (1977) in the day, another one sadly ruined)

    • March says:

      LOL that is a whole ‘nother category of sillage monster — I loved all of those and aspired to them but they were always wrong on me, somehow. I can remember the scent of old Magie Noire, what a giantess!

    • fleurt4fleurs says:

      Magie Noire was amazing. It took such a tiny drop: gorgeous, rich, concentrated. I received the perfume as a gift. Sadly, I wore it rarely, because it gave me headaches, but I appreciated the beauty of it just the same. I wish I still had the bottle. I loved just taking little sniffs.

  • Heya March,
    My Mum had Giorgio as her purse scent, so when whatever she had been wearing got a bit soft the Giorgio would layer over the top. She LOVED the 80s big frags, and I loved the way she smelled.
    Portia xx