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  1. #1

    Default Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    After a year of being active on Basenotes, educating my nose, sniffing left and right and learning to appreciate the most outlandish feats of perfumery, there's one area I have avoided to date.
    Vintage.
    I can rationalize *why* I haven't ventured into those parts: too expensive, too much trouble to obtain, uncertainty about degraded top notes and general going-off of the scent - but above all: I'm not a fan of what I consider to be "vintage style" perfumery. Nor current formulations of classics, for that matter. They seem to have in common a certain density that I find hard to appreciate.

    However, the vintage proponents on here clamor that it's infinitely superior. So help a clueless gal out, will ya? Brielle, Dimitri, Merlino, others with built-in vintage radars, I know you're out there.
    Where do I start? For learning purposes, I'm thinking finding a vintage version of something not discontinued is best; that way, I can compare. Should I like the modern day version at all? Does that help with appreciating the vintage version or is it a lost cause if I don't? Am I confined to Guerlains/Chanels/Diors?
    And while you're at it: where are those amazing second hand stores where you lot get all those good deals?

    So shoot, people - I'm listening.
    It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.

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    mr. reasonable's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Wish I could help, Veuve Amiot but I'm sure those you mention can. I have read a lot about vintage and would love to try more but I am not a fan of eBay so for me it's just being nosy in my home town whenever I'm out and about. I found a funky little pharmacy selling mainly Chinese medicine but at the back of the shop there was some stuff from the 80s - Parure & Vol de Nuit EDCs and old Maxims pH and Yatagan, so I grabbed 'em (and I really like them). I'm off to Shanghai next week and will probably hit the second hand market street there Saturday afternoon. It seems a lot of the best vintage stories are pure chance finds . . . happy hunting

  3. #3

    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Thanks for the response, mr R.
    Seems like this forum might not be the best venue for this question - perhaps a mod could move it to the FFD?
    It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.

    Douglas Adams

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    Sunnyfunny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Don't know how much help this will be, Veuve, but I saw your title and got kinda excited. And you all will appreciate this more than most, except my darling DH. I just spent a weekend at the coast checking out a bunch of antique shops, among other things. Most had something, some had nothing, one had 30mls of this
    in that bottle.
    I also bought an approximately 75% full Infini splash (not too old), minis of Organza parfum, Joy edt, and a small handful of obscure '40's & '50's stuff not listed in this database.
    Check everything out! You'll be surprised at what you find at the most random places.

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    odysseusm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by veuve amiot View Post
    ...
    I can rationalize *why* I haven't ventured into those parts: too expensive, too much trouble to obtain, uncertainty about degraded top notes and general going-off of the scent - but above all: I'm not a fan of what I consider to be "vintage style" perfumery. Nor current formulations of classics, for that matter. They seem to have in common a certain density that I find hard to appreciate.
    So shoot, people - I'm listening.
    By no means am I an expert in vintage scents. I do have an interest in anti-mainstream scents (and by mainstream I mean sweetish, thin acquatics and fruity scents). I also have an interest in history and historical scents, and how tastes and styles change over the years and from generation to generation. So, vintage scents (discontinued scents, "relic" bottles) and also on-going classics (e.g., Victorian-era scents such as those by Trumper, Borsari, Penhaligons) appeal to me. Your reference to "density" is one that I can understand. Two scents in my collection, ones that I'd call vintage, have incredible density, of a kind that I don't find in modern scents. They are Silvestre by Victor and my prize Fougere Royale by Houbigant. These are both bottles from the early 60's and they are a time-capsule for me (and amazing scents in their own right).

    So for me, the historical experience is part of the charm of these scents.
    Last edited by odysseusm; 26th July 2009 at 12:15 PM.
    odysseusm

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Good thread. I've been wondering about vintage as well (not that I'm going out and actually 'buying' it).

    Here's my question for the group:

    Should you be buying vintage bottles sealed (for the best quality juice)? I.e. if a splash bottle is open and half used -- would it mean that the juice has likely turned because of the exposure to air and 'dirty fingers'?

    Does the same apply to spray bottles? Or they are 'safer' when open compared to splash bottles?

    Thanks!
    For sale: Armani Prive (Cuir, Jade), Yves Rocher, Artisan Ambre body cream http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=228894

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    odysseusm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by kess View Post
    ...Should you be buying vintage bottles sealed (for the best quality juice)? I.e. if a splash bottle is open and half used -- would it mean that the juice has likely turned because of the exposure to air and 'dirty fingers'?
    Does the same apply to spray bottles? Or they are 'safer' when open compared to splash bottles?
    Thanks!
    The general principle for aged items is the least exposure to air and contaminants, the better. Also cool-stored in the dark, but that is difficult to assess. So NIB (new in box, sealed with cellophane) is the gold standard. Spray is seens as having less potential for contaminants (skin cells, soap etc) than splash. Mostly full has less oxidization then half-full.

    But the X factor is -- how rare is the juice, and how much do you crave it? The answer to that has lead to many compromises. Also how expensive or cheap the deal is.
    Last edited by odysseusm; 23rd July 2009 at 01:57 AM.
    odysseusm

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by odysseusm View Post
    Spray is seens as having less potential for contaminants (skin cells, soap etc) than splash.
    Ew. Didn't think about that! I was just stoked at my find! Would the level of alcohol counteract any level of contaminent? Not that I'm worried about getting sick over a used splash bottle, but "additives" (cough) are grosssss!

    p.s. I'm still excited about using it. Just a little bit .

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    I say go for it, Sunnyfunny. If it is quality juice it probably was used well and should be just fine. We will assume that the alcohol will be effective. Now if it was oil-based, that would be a more serious question.
    odysseusm

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Ody-- it is pdt. I've never used anything in that concentration before. Why would a higher oil percentage make any difference? And what kind of concentration is pdt, anyway?

    Veuve-- this being my first experience wearing vintage vs. reformulated, I'll say that vintage Bellodgia is quite a bit different than the new one. It is deeper, spicier, and has better longevity. The newer is comparitively light and flowery, even in parfum strength. I'm not sure I'd recognise it as the same thing, if the labels didn't say so. I know Brielle has mentioned this particular difference quite a bit-- I get it now.

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunnyfunny View Post
    Ody-- it is pdt. I've never used anything in that concentration before. Why would a higher oil percentage make any difference? And what kind of concentration is pdt, anyway?
    Hi again. Pdt (Parfum de Toilette) is a synonym for Eau de Parfum (EdP) which has the essential oil essences diluted in a 10-20% range. All of the terms EdP, EdC and EdT refer to the dilution of these minute amounts of fragrance essence in some medium. The majority of modern scents use ethanol as the medium, but some scents use an oil carrier.

    My supposition was that the oil carrier might have a greater potential to interact with any contaminants than would alcohol. But here, I will confess to being an amateur in the field of science. Redneck Perfumisto is the real expert there, you might check with him.
    odysseusm

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Vintage, oy! Don't get me started. I have a little bit of experience gleaned the hard way. I have accumulated a stash of classic vintage, mostly from ebay, some good, some off. It is a crap shoot, honestly. I have found some bargains & I have wasted $. I guess, in the end it all evens out.

    I really think with vintage, you have to be willing to gamble & lose. However, to increase the success rate, there are a few basic rules to which I try to adhere.
    1. Usually buy sealed, air hasn't gotten in. If it's in a wrapped box, light is also out, even better.

    2. Know your bottles. Keep an eye on the changing styles & know approx how old things are. Some of the items may be much older or more recent than it is claimed. This affects the price, alot!

    3. Find the brands you like & keep a search in place on ebay. When "vintage Caron" comes up for instance, you will get an email for it.

    4. Wait until the last day to bid to avoid raising the price too early, although if you really want it, the first bidder gets priority. So keep it in mind for that elusive vintage Tabac Blond bottle. Don't worry,you'll never get that one!

    5. Dark juice is possibly flat. You might still be able to get the idea of the scent, but the life and zip will be gone. I have a bottle now that is very old & the scent is delicate, but intact. I only paid $20 for it and it was sealed in a box so it is just evaporation. I may try adding a little grain alcohol, if anyone has any ideas, let me know.

    6. I have found some great stuff, but it has definitely been trial & error. Don't be discouraged & don't give up. I have even gotten bad vintage from TPC so it can happen any where. But good vintage is wonderful.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by odysseusm View Post
    I do have an interest in anti-mainstream scents (and by that I mean sweetish, thin acquatics and fruity scents).

    So for me, the historical experience is part of the charm of these scents.
    Oh, very true! Those two, plus a general distaste for writing off such a large area of fragrances, are a major reason I'm now maybe-sorta-kinda looking into vintage after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunnyfunny View Post
    Veuve-- this being my first experience wearing vintage vs. reformulated, I'll say that vintage Bellodgia is quite a bit different than the new one. It is deeper, spicier, and has better longevity. The newer is comparitively light and flowery, even in parfum strength. I'm not sure I'd recognise it as the same thing, if the labels didn't say so. I know Brielle has mentioned this particular difference quite a bit-- I get it now.
    Thanks for sharing that experience! Don't know the perfume in question, but that's what I was wondering before: does me liking or disliking the current of any given perfume say anything at all about my appreciating a vintage version? Guess that's a tentative "no".

    Quote Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
    3. Find the brands you like & keep a search in place on ebay. When "vintage Caron" comes up for instance, you will get an email for it.
    Good advice there, kumquat! So how did you decide which brands or scents you liked? Based on vintage samples or current formulations?
    It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.

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    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    I found the scents I prefer (usually) by first trying the modern version. Take Dioressence for ex. I tried it & flipped for it. then I thought it must have been amazing in its heyday, & started looking for older bottles. Hint, just bcs it's very $$ doesn't mean it's really great. In fact, sometimes, the opposite.

    I also really like Cabochard in its current form. It's a nice dry smoky aldehyde with a leather accord. And, even though the juice often goes dark, it is one that still smells lovely and there seem to be lots of them out there.

    I think if you do your research and hear of this or that that is supposed to be good, you can give it a try. I wouldn't get too carried away, though. Each bottle is a snowflake, individual, a risk. That's true of modern frags, too. Some have been stored differently. you just never know. I have 3 modern bottles of Dioressence & whether they are diff formulas or batches I don't know, but they all smell different.
    Last edited by kumquat; 23rd July 2009 at 04:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    So Kumquat, would you forego buying used vintage bottles altogether? Even if the liquid looks good? Sealed vintage seems to be really hard to come by. I guess that's what drew me to the antique shops in the first place, knowing I wouldn't get a fb, but also knowing I'd be able to tenatively check the quality, and try some vintage for relatively few $$. The one I'm now wondering about is that Bellodgia. I got 1/4 bottle for $6. One way or the other, I get to smell something different, but I'm just wondering if it hasn't been compromised too much. It smells fine to me, but I don't know. I'm happy with it, but I'm thinking next time I should save my $6?

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Oh, so you are wondering if it's good bcs you don't have anything to compare it to? Hmmm.. can't help there. If you smell some more you will know. I can't really explain what it smells like when it's 'off'. It's like when a wine is 'corked'. i didn't know that smell until someone pointed it out to me. Now I know it well. It's a musty, moldy smell, you never forget it!

    Off perfume is like that. if you smell fresh, then you smell off, you know the difference. It def smells stale. I'd say if you don't want to part with $6 you aren't ready for the vintage game. Weenies not allowed

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    I will chime in here, I really feel strongly about this. On scents (hah, most things in life actually), there are two aspects to the expense.
    (1) What you pay to get an item, a tangible asset.
    (2) What you pay to get an experience, and the opportunity to learn and grow.

    I am into both, but I certainly value #2 and thus view some glorious failures as all part of my learning curve -- an on-going investment in myself!

    That cheery guy Nietzsche said it:
    "A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all."
    Friedrich Nietzsche, Die fröliche Wissenschaft (The Gay/Merry Science) 41
    odysseusm

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    Sunnyfunny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    There actually wasn't a price on it when I bought it. I asked the gal at the counter, and she said, "Ohh, this is a good old one!" At which point I held my breath a little. I was perfectly happy with $6. It doesn't smell stale to me from my vantage.

    I get what you two are saying, kumquat and ody; it's about what the gamble is worth. I'd say so far I've been pretty lucky. I must say, I've been pretty stoked about my newbie vintage finds. Thanks for starting this thread, Veuve!
    Last edited by Sunnyfunny; 23rd July 2009 at 06:01 PM.

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    odysseusm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Glad to hear you are stoked, Sunnyfunny.
    Ultimately, any hobby should be ***FUN***.
    odysseusm

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Rolling the dice can be great fun, and most of my vintage purchases have been good. What odysseusm says about being prepared to accept the bad and indifferent outcomes philosophically seems important. Happy hunting!

  21. #21

    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Thank you all for the great advice!
    Will ponder my next step. *Ponder, ponder*
    It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely products of a deranged imagination.

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    odysseusm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    Hope the pondering process is proceeding, veuve amiot.
    Here is a recent vintage experience of mine.
    If you look at the BN reviews of Vent Vert by Pierre Balmain, you'll see that there are two listings, old and new. The "old" is the vintage version. A very kind expert in Vent Vert sent me a vial of this. It is wonderful! (Thanks, 3x!)
    The new(est) version is almost universally detested. It is a reformulation/new version that apparently is vastly inferior.
    So here you get into the much-discussed area of reformulation as a reason for seeking out vintage juice.
    Last edited by odysseusm; 26th July 2009 at 12:23 PM.
    odysseusm

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    Default Re: Vintage 101 - advice, please.

    What a wonderful exchange! I'd say it represents the heart of Basenotes: helpful, educated, respectful, supportive. And all done with words across the miles.

    My experience with vintage is purely accidental. I happen to have loved men's fragrance since youth. Joining Basenotes revealed that my bottles of Chanel for Men, Chanel Antaeus, and Van Cleef & Arpel (acc. to scentemental, the rare(r) concentrated edt) were all original formulations, now changed.

    Well, not quite purely accidental. Some members of BN sell vintage frags; you can find them as well on the website, Crystal Flacon. When I decided to try Hermes Bel Ami, I went for the vintage. I just received a free sample of vintage Habit Rouge. Thus, there are fragrances available in both vintage and recent formulations by which to learn. And chances are good you can buy them by the millilitre. With such a foundation, you'll have confidence when stumbling upon that dusty yet inviting flacon.

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