I've seen some discussions online among perfumer writers about the merits and pathologies of vintage perfume collecting. I'm kinda live and let live on this one. If it feels good do it. If you accept that well-kept perfumes can last quite a while, then what's the harm in having a little vintage? I've had pretty good luck, myself. I found a bottle of Miss Dior eau de toilette from the late 70s, early 1980s on eBay once. For whatever reason, no one bid on it and I bought it for $8. It was in its original packaging, sealed and in perfect condition. I have a couple of 1960-1970s bottles of Lanvin Arpège that I bought for sentimental reasons. As to be expected, the top notes are faded, but they are all sensational.
But how far will you go for vintage? Me, not far. Of course my consolation prize is all of contemporary perfumery, so I’m not panicking.
But sometimes you can't say no, yes? I just came across a sealed boxed bottle of Dioressence of indeterminate vintage, but probably late 90s early millennium. Dioressence the Tease, the Trap. Known to have made the progression from old school, animalic grande dame to complete rubbish. To believe the stories, the vintage is the Grail, and the later reformulations weren't worth pissing on.
So what vintage had I found? Fuck if I know, but it's interesting. It's not the monster that I suspect the original formulation was. But is it trash? No, actually. It’s a powdery, sweaty chypre, that's built for human scale. The topnotes are definitive grandma perfume * and have that come-hither-yet-stand-offishness that only an old-school powdery perfume can convey. The powder is the key. Up top it's prim and upright. By drydown, it folds into a muskiness, making a tartness that smells like perspiration. In the end, it's something like the drydown of Chanel Pour Monsieur sprayed on after a long run. MMmmm...
* No jibe here, and no irony. I just value grandma differently, I suppose. Grandma, who wore all the 'perfumey' 'powdery' nose-scrunching perfumes back in the day, knew better than we do. Credit where it's due. I applaud grandma.
Darn it! Great perfume makes me feel glamorous no matter what I'm looking like. I'm wearing the same t-shirt and camouflage cargo pants I've been working in for the past three days, but I've just spritzed on vintage Dioressence EDT and with the lock of hair that keeps falling over my eye, I feel like some kind of 1950's femme fatale, smelling of dusty, rosey florals and spicy sweetness underlined with a subtle note of skank on this 90 degree + day in Washington, DC. It doesn't get any better than this.
Dioressence opens up with a pungent green floral accord that grows progressively more powdery as it develops. The green notes and powder become seasoning for a "doughy" rose that soon dominates the composition. Because it remains relatively dry and green, the rose in Dioressence is neither heavy nor heady. Instead, it remains quite crisp and relatively bright. Once settled, Dioressence continues for some time on its green and rosy way in a relatively linear manner.
Only after an hour or more do traces of spice and some woody notes emerge in the base. These soften and sweeten the composition while providing some additional complexity. Dioressence is notable for the clarity of its construction, if not for any great longevity or projection. It doesn't really excite me, but it is a very finely tuned, dignified, and understated scent that would work well in a professional setting.
Barbara Herman describes this as a spicy, floral chypre with an initial green note. Heady and intense – for experienced women, glamor, cigarettes and champagne.
Turin describes it as an Orienta l"Green" Chypre – 4 stars
Ingredients as per Ms. Herman:
Jasmine, Geranium, Cinnamon, Carnation, Orris, Ylang, Tuberose
Patchouli, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Vanilla, Musk
My sample was a pre-reformulation edt. I found it a warm, slightly spicy, light chypre – reminiscent of Breathless (Charbert), but with no lasting power - longevity nil. What I got of it was lovely and tres sophisticated, but sadly gone in an instant.
I've been sampling the current version, not anything vintage.
It's a wonderful green chypre, which seems to be built on a sweet green leafy note (sort of like Guerlain's signature sweet pea note, but brighter and tinged with shiny verbena), which rides its way through the day over the ever-changing chypre structure, starting with aldehydic citrus and working its way down to a green grassy patchouli and deep moss. There's a slightly vinegary plasticity to Dioressence, which will be familiar to fans of the classics but may turn off new noses.
As for 70's green chypres, Eau de Campagne is still the one to beat IMHO, but I'd happily take Dioressence over No. 19 and many of the other most popular.