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Wild Gardener

Unicorns still exist - but there are no Flying Horses

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Unicorns, like Nombre Noir, can still be found in some distant land, but the 'hidden gem in the pharmacy' is nothing but an urban myth. These days, you have more chance of hitching a ride on Pegasus than finding a forgotten classic.

First of all, any perfume that was good, or even decent will have left some footprint in perfume lore. Only the most wretched brands such as Bienaimé have slipped through the net, and, I can tell you, their stuff is definitely not classic. If a perfume was a classic there would be some record of it somewhere. But if a perfume has been forgotten by history, the reason is - it's not worth remembering.

The second reason why you or I aren't likely to unearth some classic (forgotten or not) is that vintage lovers and bottle collectors (hiss!) have been hoovering up stuff for a while now. And, because this is an informed clentelle, the best things always go first. It's like the Klondike all over again, sooner or later the big nuggets will be mined out and people will have to start panning for dust.

Barbara Herman was a pioneer in this field and her book is a good reference for those interested in heritage perfume. She gives descriptions and some background on a range of scents - mostly women's - and she's pretty reliable.
So, if something doesn't appear in Scent & Subversion - and you've never heard of it - my advice would be proceed with caution.

This is not a hard and fast rule, but I have noticed that most perfumes which aren't by a named author are not much good. Parfumo is good for checking up on this. If you can't find out who did a perfume, it was probably composed by nobody - or worse still, a committee of them.

Finally, I'll end on a positive note; vintage men's perfume is probably in less demand than women's, so it may still be possible to find good things if you rake about hard enough. You may even find a Unicorn, just don't expect any Flying Horses...

Updated 18th June 2020 at 09:03 PM by Wild Gardener

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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000