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  1. #1

    Default Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    A few days ago my mother and I did a little sampling tour of The Bay's perfume counters. We'd come to try Estee Lauder's Knowing and Dior's Hypnotic Poison ( the former won our mutual approval; the latter our mutual disdain ).

    Out of contrast-and-compare curiosity I tried the original Poison, knowing nothing of it other than its infamy as an '80s power frag hated by all who survived the decade.

    I smelled a high volume jasmine-tuberose that was effervescent and unnatural. I put the card down, satisfied at having smelled something that fit the infamy bill.

    Ten minutes later, I went back to the store and retrieved the card.

    The next day or so I just couldn't stop smelling it. There was something endlessly fascinating about it to me. Was it floral? Was it fruity? Was it oriental? Was it gourmand? Whatever it was it grew on me until today, when I returned and sprayed some on my skin.

    Here is how it smells to me.

    The first thing out is a powerful jasmine and tuberose accord. It doesn't really smell like either flower does in real life, but is anchored in qualities of both flowers. Aside from that, the first things noticeable are a loud fruity note redolent of grape crush, cinnamon, and a small dab of methyl salicylate. The latter is no-where near as powerful as in Tubereuse Criminelle, but does much to offset the overwhelming sweetness of the top notes. I think it, plus the grape, are the "cough syrup" smell many comment on. The top notes are both fascinating and revolting.

    I applied the tiniest dab, but the sillage... oh boy, is it something else. Spray this in Mumbai and it'll clime Mount Everest.

    The heart is the best part of this fragrance for me. The fruitiness calms down and changes from grape to blackberry or rather blackberry compote, pulpy and sweet. The jasmine-tuberose core dominates less and a certain spiciness comes forward, like allspice or clove, together with a warm musk that didn't show on paper. I find the balance of the various qualities extremely pleasing, and the sillage more manageable.

    In the base, which emerges around the five to six hour mark on me, the fruits and flowers take a surprising leave of absence and what's left is a warm, musky amber with faint woody and vanillic touches. It's quiet here; almost a skin scent.

    Poison, at least the EdT strength I tried, isn't a longevity monster on me, it lasts about ten to twelve hours. Such a small amount is needed - I applied a miniscule dab - that this is more than adequate.

    This is a very complex fragrance, and I feel I've failed to do it justice. It's too easy to dismiss, with it's sweet, loud, chaotic top notes, that I feel the need to defend its reputation; to take someone else on the little journey this fragrance has taken me on. This, to me, is the antidote to all those pallid high calonic creations that flood the designer section.

    As it is, I just hope its infamy doesn't kill it in the end. Being truly the opposite of the "fresh; fun" florals of today's designers, I can't imagine it sells well. Dior advertising tends to focus on Poison's flankers, which are unrelated, like Tendre, Hypnotic and Midnight, or a pale shadow, like Pure.

    Why am I posting this on the men's forum? Because I think this is a fragrance almost universally known among women and I think one that the more adventurous men on this forum might enjoy giving a try.

    If you can wear Carnal Flower, Sa Majeste La Rose or a comparable floral, this isn't too feminine for you. In fact the base notes are totally unisex. The "dangerous" part of a guy wearing this is not the composition of the fragrance so much as its instant recognizability as a women's fragrance by the older generation who lived through its vogue in the '80s. I think if it was released today by Tom Ford, Etat Libre D'Orange or Serge Lutens as a high-end unisex creation a lot more guys on Basenotes would be wearing it.

    Personally, I know a bottle is in my near future.

    ( As an aside, it does occur to me it's a little odd that this, of all fragrances, is the first designer frag I've fallen head over heels for... )

  2. #2

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Poison is indeed a force to be reckoned with. I think though, much like Giorgio in the late 80's, Poison suffered from over-use and over-exposure. I for one have always adored the smell (happy associations), and will willingly try this on myself. It has been more than a decade since I even picked up a bottle to sniff from, but I'll give it a go for the first time ever, and let you know what I think.

    Thanks for turning the spots onto this one again galamb_borong.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    When I think of Poison, I immediately think of my ex female boss. And not in a pleasant way. I nearly suffocated near her presence whenever she wore this. Her monster sillage of Poison beat my Obsession for men to submission every time. I hated the original Poison ever since. Twenty years later, it's about time for to get to know it better again.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Excellent in small doses and truly timeless!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    theres something unique in the creation process of Poison which is compared with none other than Shiseido's Nombre Noir...(read it on BN). worth investigating....

    as a scent, truly a classic. i clearly remember the aura/mystique surrounding it when i was a lot younger....especially in those glossy ads in Magazines one comes across while travelling...and ofcourse, the name. Poison. Jeez

  6. #6

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    I think your review did it great justice, Galamb_Borong! I love the part about "fascinating yet revolting" top notes. It certainly is fascinating though I'm unable to extract my experience with the fragrance from the idea of women with big hairsprayed hair and shoulder pads a la Brendy Dickson So indeed, a man wearing this would have to be an adventurous one!

    Not that they are similar in scent profile, but I feel them under the same genre of powerhouse women's fragrances not to be overlooked by those who are intrigued by this style... Have you tried Lanvin Arpege (the original women's fragrance)? If not I definitely would like to know your opinion of that one as well.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    To me Dior Poison is to women what Joop! Homme is to men.

    Meaning both have monster sillage and power with florals and sweet oriental spice - some women detest Poison yet men see to love it. It must be for it is so masculine in it's brute power.

    Where Joop! which is a equal in power to Poison is mostly hated by men but women love the scent. Reason it is so sweet and floral with that note of masculine patchouli.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Wow Galamb - I am very impressed with your descriptions of Poison. I think you summed it up quite perfectly...I've enjoyed the scent for some time but felt at a loss for words in describing it here on BN. You read my mind.

    Here's the thing with Poison. It's VERY strong. Even more so, when you smell vintage (old) juice. Of course, this was very in vogue, when it came out, but because the scent (as mentioned above) is so inextricably tied up as THE women's 80's powerhouse fragrance it's gonna be very hard for a man to enjoy it. Not impossible...but difficult. It would be like a woman easily wearing Quorum or Old Spice.

    But, since as you stated, you personally have no scent associations with this scent since it was before your time...I say GO FOR IT! Apply very, very little of it G. A dot or two will be all you need.

    I own the Esprit de Parfum version, which is even stronger than the EdT. It's a little more 'butch' mostly in the middle and top notes. The top notes are still very full figured and explosive. I owe it to moondeva (a Basenotes member you never see around anymore...) for recommending this version to me.

    The only other fragrance that, IMO, equals the power, strangeness and strange appeal of Poison is Black Orchid by Tom Ford. I find them very similar (in spirit). Of course, a bunch of us guys wear and enjoy that one. It goes without saying that there should also be a handful of guys who can (and will) wear Poison too.

    If I were you Galamb, I would search and find a vintage, mini of the Esprit de Parfum of Poison. That way you don't have to invest in a full huge bottle that will outlast you and your grandkids...plus you'll have the more complex version in the vintage formula. I think this should give you the opportunity to really give the scent a proper full wearing. I found mine on Ebay years ago, very affordably if I remember (less than $20 US).

    Good luck!
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 27th April 2009 at 07:01 PM.
    "One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple"

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    I can remember picking up Poison here and there (somewhere in the latter half of that decade if my memory serves me right). The first times I began noticing it, it seemed like such a unique / unexpected scent accord, but which somehow just "worked". It is definitely one of those fragrance icons.

    I've only experienced it from a "sillage distance" - which is a kind-of "snap shot" of the scent. Although I'm sure I'd recognize it again, I never would have thought of it as a jasmine / tuberose combination. I'm going to be giving it some more attention for sure. - I somewhat doubt whether I would be able to pull if off - mostly due the 'female scent' association I have with it.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Poison has always been absolute knockout - and in a good way , I absolutely love big time it but think its definatly one for the ladies

  11. #11

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    To be completely honest, there are so many scents that I LOVE on the cards after they settle. I loathe them, and fiend for them... only to test drive the frag to realize I can't pull it off. I still LOVE the smell, but I just can't wear it. Happen too often for me.
    I have: Davidoff Relax, Dior Homme Sport, Boss Selection, Azzaro Visit, and Creed MI (will provide # on bottle for verification) available.

    Looking for the following: DG The One, Himalaya, YSL L'Homme, John Varvatos (not vintage) Canali For Men or Paypal.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Thank you for all your responses!

    Quote Originally Posted by nthny View Post
    Not that they are similar in scent profile, but I feel them under the same genre of powerhouse women's fragrances not to be overlooked by those who are intrigued by this style... Have you tried Lanvin Arpege (the original women's fragrance)? If not I definitely would like to know your opinion of that one as well.
    Never heard of it - I'll have to go down and check it out! Thanks for the recommendation.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Here's the thing with Poison. It's VERY strong. Even more so, when you smell vintage (old) juice. Of course, this was very in vogue, when it came out, but because the scent (as mentioned above) is so inextricably tied up as THE women's 80's powerhouse fragrance it's gonna be very hard for a man to enjoy it. Not impossible...but difficult. It would be like a woman easily wearing Quorum or Old Spice.
    Maybe I'm feeling naively optimistic here, but if Poison manages to survive another decade or so, perhaps it can undergo something of a revival among the younger generation of perfumistas who didn't suffer under its '80s overuse. A man can wear Youth Dew or even Shalimar nowadays and don't think many would even know it was feminine, but back in the '50s it would have turned some heads, and probably not in a good way...

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    I own the Esprit de Parfum version, which is even stronger than the EdT. It's a little more 'butch' mostly in the middle and top notes. The top notes are still very full figured and explosive. I owe it to moondeva (a Basenotes member you never see around anymore...) for recommending this version to me.

    [...]

    If I were you Galamb, I would search and find a vintage, mini of the Esprit de Parfum of Poison. That way you don't have to invest in a full huge bottle that will outlast you and your grandkids...plus you'll have the more complex version in the vintage formula. I think this should give you the opportunity to really give the scent a proper full wearing.
    Thanks for the tip! On your advice, I'm in the process of making that happen just now.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    The only other fragrance that, IMO, equals the power, strangeness and strange appeal of Poison is Black Orchid by Tom Ford. I find them very similar (in spirit). Of course, a bunch of us guys wear and enjoy that one. It goes without saying that there should also be a handful of guys who can (and will) wear Poison too.
    Yes, I'll definitely have to try that now. I've read the reviews before, and frankly, thought the sound of a gourmand fruity-floral oriental sounded quite gross, but Poison has shown me that just such a mix can come together and create a beautiful fragrance.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Love the Mumbai mention

    This was my mother's signature scent when she was a banker, now that she's a working from home mom...she wears something more controlled


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  14. #14

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    I remember when it was first released, the malls would smell like Poison far away from the originating store. Poison was fresh, rich, lively and there was nothing else like it. Unforgettable. Alive.

    I love it but would never wear it myself.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Quote Originally Posted by Amit View Post
    Love the Mumbai mention

    This was my mother's signature scent when she was a banker, now that she's a working from home mom...she wears something more controlled
    Yes, I can imagine - 30+ heat, small spaces... Poison might just be a bit TOO much.

    Right now I'm trying to figure out where one wears this. My initial thoughts lead me to desert islands, air-filtered wind tunnels and the outside of planes flying at high altitude, and it's kind of hard to imagine an era where heavy application of this was popular.

    None the less, my bottle of the Esprit de Parfum strength is coming in the mail and I'm determined to enjoy it! I think I'm going to reserve it for days spent mostly alone, however.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    EDIT: Post deleted - question no longer relevant.
    Last edited by Sugandaraja; 26th May 2009 at 10:16 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    My bottles of the vintage Esprit de Parfum arrived!

    This is my impression of the vintage Esprit - my experience may or not match others experience of it.

    Two things have occurred to me immediately. Firstly, the older is not any more bold in its composition than the modern, and in fact, the esprit has somewhat less Herculean sillage. Secondly - and I realize this is totally subjective - I don't find the old any better than the new. Yes, the reformulation is obvious, and they are two different fragrances - but they are two different good fragrances! I love both.

    Much of my older review applies to this, but there are a number of factors that separate the two. The top notes are much more subdued and less floral, the floral accord leaning towards jasmine as opposed to tuberose. The animalic qualities are noticeable immediately rather than later on, and in general the feeling is less sweet and and rounded. The ambery, musky qualities are at the forefront and the fruity and floral qualities are more in the background. The only "new" note in the blend is the slightest hint of almond in the heart, something I don't detect in the EdT, but there is a curious creaminess here absent in the EdT - one that strongly reminds me of that "eggnog" accord I smelled in Michael Storer's Winter Star.

    All in all, the effect is smoother and more well-blended, the top to bottom of this fragrance being more coherent and less divided into stages. This is mellower and far more wearable - by either gender - than the modern EdT, but actually has a lot less of the shock factor that makes the EdT so captivating. The vintage Esprit is a gorgeous oriental and I love it. The modern EdT is a freaky floriental and I love it, too.

    I recommend trying out both.

    Now I'm kind of curious about how the vintage and modern EdT's compare.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Always liked poison. I used to wear it myself; 1989 I think it was. I never warmed to its flankers though. So glad you found your way around to it and let the undeserved reputation slide away.
    Support your local Leonberger rescue.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Dior's Poison - an unexpected new love...

    Quote Originally Posted by Galamb_Borong View Post
    My bottles of the vintage Esprit de Parfum arrived!

    This is my impression of the vintage Esprit - my experience may or not match others experience of it.

    Two things have occurred to me immediately. Firstly, the older is not any more bold in its composition than the modern, and in fact, the esprit has somewhat less Herculean sillage. Secondly - and I realize this is totally subjective - I don't find the old any better than the new. Yes, the reformulation is obvious, and they are two different fragrances - but they are two different good fragrances! I love both.

    Much of my older review applies to this, but there are a number of factors that separate the two. The top notes are much more subdued and less floral, the floral accord leaning towards jasmine as opposed to tuberose. The animalic qualities are noticeable immediately rather than later on, and in general the feeling is less sweet and and rounded. The ambery, musky qualities are at the forefront and the fruity and floral qualities are more in the background. The only "new" note in the blend is the slightest hint of almond in the heart, something I don't detect in the EdT, but there is a curious creaminess here absent in the EdT - one that strongly reminds me of that "eggnog" accord I smelled in Michael Storer's Winter Star.

    All in all, the effect is smoother and more well-blended, the top to bottom of this fragrance being more coherent and less divided into stages. This is mellower and far more wearable - by either gender - than the modern EdT, but actually has a lot less of the shock factor that makes the EdT so captivating. The vintage Esprit is a gorgeous oriental and I love it. The modern EdT is a freaky floriental and I love it, too.

    I recommend trying out both.

    Now I'm kind of curious about how the vintage and modern EdT's compare.
    Very interesting Galamb. Your perceptions do not surprise me at all - I half expected the Esprit de Parfum (which I also happen to own) to wear a little more muted. Which, as you explained, might be a good thing (when you want something butcher and/or mellower) and a bad thing (when you want to fly your freak flag and it's no longer an explosive floral).
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