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Original or Classic Fragrances - some philosophical thoughts

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Just this week I received a set of three perfumes I bought from a Basenoter: L'Origan, Emeraude and L'Aimant, all by Coty. These were purchased as a birthday present to my wife (June 11th). I leapt at the opportunity to acquire these three classic and historic fragrances in their older formulations. While I cannot be sure of the exact year or years in which these three Cotys were made, one can tell from the packaging and other clues, that they were made in the 1970s. I trust and hope that that is far enough back so that these three bottles contain the original formulations, or near original. There is no doubt that they contain formulations truer to the original product than the bastardizations Coty is making now and currently offered at drug stores.

All this brings to mind, or at least to my mind thoughts upon classic, landmark fragrances in general. I have a tendency to value old things as part of my nature, but I believe that many of these "old things" should be recognized and valued for what they are by others as well. Why? Well, because they are history, and the study of history is an important way of understanding the way things are now. You've often heard it said that 'if you don't know where you came from, you don't know who you are'.

For me, I feel that I cannot really understand current, modern day fragrances unless, and until, I have understood their progenitors. In a sense these old classic perfumes began a lineage of subsequent fragrances that one can trace through time to today. For example, to use one of the scents in this Coty set, L'Origan (1905) was the forerunner to Guerlain's L’Heure Bleue (1912). Victoria at Bois de Jasmin goes further, "Neither floral nor oriental, L’Origan can claim fragrances like Oscar de la Renta (1976), Vanderbilt (1981), Poison (1985), and Cacharel Loulou (1987) as its offspring". Similar examples could be given for Emeraude (1921) and L'Aimant (1927) as well.

As a newcomer to this website and to this passionate collecting focus I simply cannot get interested in the "newest scents", at least, not yet. Rather I want to learn about the industry and the whole subject of fragrance by going back to what might be called fundamentals. Then, once I have those in hand I can begin to move forward in time.

Given this approach to perfume study and perfume experience, I can only but lament the on-going "re-formulations" that have and are taking place. I prefer the terms "bastardization" or "degradation" to really characterize what is being done. Callling this process "re-formulation" makes it sound too benign and too easy to explain away. All three of these Coty fragrances have been degraded out of all recognition to their original formulas.

This presents a problem when one is trying to do any kind of research. If you wish to know as much as you can about one of these perfumes, such as for example, their notes, you must be careful to distinguish as to whether the source is talking about the true, original Emeraude or if all they have ever known is the current false, cheap incarnation.

The reasons behind these degradations seem to vary. For some it is perhaps to save money on the ingredients to satisfy some financial "bottom line". For others it is undoubtably to satisfy some authoritarian officialdom which has taken upon itself the non-mandate of protecting consumers from any conceivable health issue, however miniscule that might be.

If we are not already there, I predict we will be soon, in a growing market for so-called "vintage" fragrances, which is simply one way of saying that consumers want the real thing! It is far more important for the true fragrance aficionado that the fragrance be what its creator intended for it to be originally, than it is for the fragrance to be free of some potentially rash-producing ingredient. So in one sense, my purchase of these three Coty colognes was as much an investment as it was a gift to my wife.

I can't wait to sniff, along with her, and discover what Francois Coty had in mind when he created these legendary fragrances!

Updated 9th June 2011 at 05:56 PM by Saintpaulia



  1. Saintpaulia's Avatar
    After posting this blog entry, I received a helpful email from the seller of this trio. She is pretty sure that these items were made in the 1970s and I edited the post to reflect that information.
    Updated 9th June 2011 at 05:57 PM by Saintpaulia
  2. Laureline's Avatar
    Thank you for all the nice reading !
    Are those vintages still in good shape ? If they are surely interesting and 'nose expanding' are they also wearable ? I have myself a reformulation of an older chypre, and still the moss (oakmoss or not) is a bit much at times in its bitterness against the white floral heart. Yet I really like it, and there are moments when I love it.
    Please dont leave us in suspense any more about the original Coty's !
  3. profumi's Avatar
    I agree with everything SaintPaulia has said here, all so sad. I made the mistake of buying Emeraude and l'origan because even though I knew these were reformulations I hoped that they might have some of that Coty sparkle left in them - how wrong I was, absolutely dreadful and I am using them as toilet air freshners, they are not wearable. I am however fortunate to have a vintage bottle of L'aimant, pure bliss! I just want the old stuff back ... please.


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