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Taking Time To Rant, Whassup with New Perfumes?

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It's now been over a year since I'v'e smelled anything I wanted to own (new perfumes, that is) in any of my local perfume shops here in Central Europe. A few have been wearable and inoffensive, most have been harsh and cheap. Yesterday I tried Escale Portofino and Escale Pondicherry. Yeesh! What's with these cheap laundry musks and super-harsh synthetic citrus chemicals? The Portofino smelled identical (but cheaper) to the lemon cologne used on Anatolian buses to help refresh the passengers. It's nice on the buses, and free, but come on, Dior, you bottled it, slapped a designer label on it, and charged $100 for it??? I was, shall we say, disappointed. The Pondicherry was basically the same formula with a fake "tea note" and a teensy smidge of cardamom added. Fortunately, both were gone from my skin in 15 minutes, so my suffering (and my family's) didn't last long.
The really sad thing is, 90% of the new perfumes I've smelled, including some from niche houses, have been practically identical to the two above. Or they've gone the cheap gourmand direction instead of the cheap citrus route. All have galaxolide-based drydowns, I can get that from fabric softener much more cheaply. Even the newer Kenzos have fallen down. I've bought 2 deodorants from Fa that smelled more sophisticated and interesting than any of the perfumes of the past year. They cost less than $5.
I sprayed myself with a tiny bit of my hoarded 1990s-era L'Heure Bleue last night and almost cried, it was so gorgeous, and so...gone.


  1. David Ruskin's Avatar
    How right you are! Modern fine fragrance perfumery is in a terrible state although I have noticed recently that there have been a couple of half decent new launches. I'm not really sure why we should have gotten into such a bad place. Fragrance houses select their new launches by commitee and play safe. I doubt if Poison, or Opium would have been launched today. There are too many fine fragrances on the market and the customer has become confused. I think the developers spend more money on the bottle and the ads than on the juice. Most new pefumes are not expected to last more than a few monthes, years at the most, on the shelf. We don't care for classics anymore. And don't get me started on all the new regulations which limit the use of vital raw materials. Get as many of the old classics as possible, there aren't going to be many left soon.
  2. Elf's Avatar
    My thoughts exactly, David. Things could be a lot more exciting out there with new aromachemicals, newly discovered natural materials, lots of talent. So sad, isn't it?
  3. 's Avatar
    I feel your pain.:o I smell synthetic overload in just about every new release I sample. It's almost to the point where I won't bother anymore.

    Basically, I'll stick with vintage designers and some future exploring of higher-end niche.
  4. Elf's Avatar
    Yes, the synthetic overload (and resulting headaches) is one of the main reasons I went the DIY route. Most of the perfumes I make for friends and family are over 50% natural, and several are totally natural. I think synthetics, used in small amounts, add structure and longevity. But only synthetics? Yuck!
  5. David Ruskin's Avatar
    I don't think it is a question of synthetics vs. naturals, with naturals being the good guys. Many perfumery notes cannot be achieved without synthetic aromachemicals, Muguet for example; no synthetics, no Diorissimo. Fine fragrance perfumery from Fougere Royale onwards has been about the creative use of new chemcals. What I am complaining about is the lazy, badly compounded fragrances that are being launched today. There are exceptions. There are creative people (perfumers, marketing people, etc.) who care about their product. Unfortunately, it seems that these are in the minority.
  6. Elf's Avatar
    Yes, I love quite a few synthetics, and couldn't build many perfumes without them. What would Mitsouko be without C-14?? I agree that the problem is that most formulae for new perfumes these days, even many niche, seem slap-dashed together, with cheap chemicals often used instead of better quality ingredients. Some synthetics, like Cosmone and muscenone, are quite cher. I swear some perfumes by the bigger brands are created by computer programs, not people. Popular perfume "recipes" are plugged in, and a variation pops out. Could this be why so many new mainstream releases smell nearly identical?? ;-)
  7. David Ruskin's Avatar
    I hadn't thought of that but it makes perfect sense! Do a bit of market research, type in the results, and chose from a selection of standard formulae. Give it a bit of advertising, a bit of a fancy launch, watch it die after six monthes and then on to the next one. How depressing.


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