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  1. #1

    Default IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    I came across Turin & Sanchez's relatively recent little book "100 favourite perfumes" (or some title like that) the other day, and was distressed to see how damning they are about the state of the art following recent regulations on ingredients (by IFRA, the EU and who knows what other august bodies).

    I'm new to this whole field, and was initially drawn to it by their Perfumes: A Guide... I suppose I'm naturally a bit of an aesthete and, although I'd never been interested in scents in the past, I suddenly saw this whole new field of nerdy/ aesthetic interest & rewards opening up before me.

    But, given that that's my approach (rather than anything practical; I mean, I'm not sure I'd ever wear a perfume other than to smell it myself...), I feel pretty put off by the idea that the whole game, at least at the highest level, is possibly up... and that it will never be possible to experience perfumes as rich as those created in the past again (or at least not until synthetic ingredients start truly replicating the wonders of the banned, natural ones like oakmoss and so on).

    What's the latest state of all this, though? How badly have these regulations affected things? Are most of the great perfumes sold in the shops now shadows of their former selves? Is there much hope for the future?

    (I realise that seeking out vintage stuff is one answer... but frankly I have a busy life and several other such interests and am unlikely to ever bother spending vast tracts of time on eBay or wherever tracking these things down. Plus, to be honest, I don't have much money to gamble on possible fakes, or the knowledge to work out if the vintage thing I've ordered still smells like what it oughta.)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    I am new to perfume as a hobby/obsession but old enough in years to have owned some of the great perfumes pre-IFRA. My thinking is that perfume artists will make great perfumes with the materials available. Will they be the same as the older perfumes? Probably not, but I can love my 2013 Comme des Garcons just as much as my 1986 L'Heure Bleue. I don't expect them to be made of the same materials just as I don't expect my car to be made of the same materials. I love loads of new perfumes.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtom1 View Post

    What's the latest state of all this, though? How badly have these regulations affected things? Are most of the great perfumes sold in the shops now shadows of their former selves? Is there much hope for the future?
    It seems like the limited amount I've read about this is that every year more substances are being added to the list of banned or restricted substances allowed in fragrances. I think these regulations have detrimentally affected things and most of the great perfumes being sold now are indeed shadows of their former selves.

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  4. #4

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    When perfumers have to work with limited ingredients, it will be tough. Maybe, it will be more difficult to create great fragrances than pre-IFRA.

    There will be great modern masterpieces. I am sure about that.

    The only concern is the price.

    I think if you really want to get modern masterpieces controlled by IFRA, I fear you will have to spend more money than pre-IFRA (most designers could use more ingredients and were free to create anything they wanted, but now, their ingredients are limited and most perfumers working for designers are forced to focus on costs, too).

    Now, niche brands have the advantage that they have more places of action, because they can demand their customers to pay higher prices.

  5. #5

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Interesting! Thanks for your responses! Gotta say I feel a little bereft about the idea... All slightly tragic, if you take seriously the idea of these things as artworks, or highly sophisticated craftworks. I suppose the problem is that this is essentially a commercial sphere; geeks like me might want to treat it like poetry or music, but for those with the power in the field, it's just a moneymaking activity... and if the chance someone might have an allergic reaction to something they create threatens their popularity or profits, aesthetic criteria go out of the window. Rather ironic that all this regulation has happened at the same time as the field has opened to amateur conoisseurship for the first time (which is the impression I've vaguely gathered lately - that the "perfumista" is a product of the internet age, and that there weren't perfume enthusiasts' magazines next to the trainspotters' periodicals and opera journals on the shelves in w h smith's back in the 1980s, say). A vaguely suggestive sort of poetic justice, or injustice, in that, tho I'd rather it weren't so

  6. #6

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    If you read around BN, you'll find enough despair about the demise of many old classics caused by IFRA's regulations. In some cases, actually, the culprit is not IFRA, but the debasement of the brand itself, which had long ago cheapened and ceased to care. In many cases it's both. Some old masterpieces have survived well, but many others are pale shades of their former selves.

    There will always be masterpieces to enjoy. These last years have seen the explosion of niche perfumery, for instance, and perfumers have created wonderful things many of which are just equally rich. If you will, it's as if certain color shades were banned. Painters will still create masterpieces, but simply, one will not be able to enjoy masterpieces with the banned color. It's as if you went to an art museum and you were able to see only half of the painting, because the others contained the banned color.

    In perfumery, I'd say the bigger problems are oakmoss (meaning the thousand of chypre masterpieces), and more recently jasmine and heliotropin (an almondy floral). A couple of materials are not banned, but are simply too rare and no full substitute has been found (Mysore sandalwood, certain animalic substances like ambergris).

    I doubt aromachemical companies have the incentive to find suitable substitutes. At least they have not so far. Who knows, it may still happen in some cases. There are voices, for instance, of a decent substitute for the oakmoss in Mitsouko (I have not smelled).

    Some old perfumes can be found for reasonable prices on ebay and the like, but as you say, one needs to learn a bit what to do. Also, a few brands (Chanel, guerlain, dior) are off limits, unless one has a lot of money to waste.

    cacio

  7. #7

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    There will always be masterpieces to enjoy. These last years have seen the explosion of niche perfumery, for instance, and perfumers have created wonderful things many of which are just equally rich. If you will, it's as if certain color shades were banned. Painters will still create masterpieces, but simply, one will not be able to enjoy masterpieces with the banned color. It's as if you went to an art museum and you were able to see only half of the painting, because the others contained the banned color.
    Actually, you cannot compare the perfume market with the painting market.

    The painting market is just a "closed" society. It means: Either you can afford this hobby or you never start with that.
    Having said that, the painting market is just for a specific group.

    But honestly, most painting pieces (art) are speculations. They just invest in paintings with the hope that the value will rise.

    The perfume market is a mass market. This market gets bigger and bigger (more customers).
    So why should the industry spend more money and time to create fragrances when the industry knows that they get customers anyway?

    We have had so many niche brands since they know that there are weaknesses in the perfume market (Look at many interviews with MFK or Geza Schoen. They tell us that they are treated like a piece of s*** when working for designers or mainstream perfumes).

    But there are also exceptions (Herm้s).

  8. #8

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Thank you again! All really informative. I suppose one option for the enlightenment of total newcomers like me would be to order samples/ small decants of vintage perfumes... e.g. these famous Guerlain ones that Turin/ Sanchez claim have been so severely changed/ compromised. That presumably wouldn't involve the effort or uncertainty of ordering whole bottles & would at least be an education...

    Do you have any suggestions about the best way/ place to do that? The only site I know so far is theperfumedcourt.com and I notice, for instance, that they could send me a sample of what they claim to be a vintage bottle of Mitsouko... but the range of vintage stuff they have doesn't seem huge.

  9. #9

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    I have never bought samples from these sources, but many BNers have, and I don't remember any particular negative comment. But probably somebody can chime in.

    cacio

  10. #10

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtom1 View Post
    Thank you again! All really informative. I suppose one option for the enlightenment of total newcomers like me would be to order samples/ small decants of vintage perfumes... e.g. these famous Guerlain ones that Turin/ Sanchez claim have been so severely changed/ compromised. That presumably wouldn't involve the effort or uncertainty of ordering whole bottles & would at least be an education...

    Do you have any suggestions about the best way/ place to do that? The only site I know so far is theperfumedcourt.com and I notice, for instance, that they could send me a sample of what they claim to be a vintage bottle of Mitsouko... but the range of vintage stuff they have doesn't seem huge.
    As cacio says above, Mitsouko is one that you perhaps don't have to order in vintage - as long as you look out for the most recent batches (those beginning with a 3, at the very least - see threads from the last few months). The latest formulation of the extrait contains both oakmoss and real ambergris.

    As for the perfumed court, I've never ordered from them but an element of risk would be involved (there are some question marks over their Caron extraits, IIRC). ... Others would be better placed to advise.
    Last edited by saminlondon; 13th January 2014 at 04:22 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by saminlondon View Post
    As cacio says above, Mitsouko is one that you perhaps don't have to order in vintage - as long as you look out for the most recent batches (those beginning with a 3, at the very least - see threads from the last few months). The latest formulation of the extrait contains both oakmoss and real ambergris.

    As for the perfumed court, I've never ordered from them but an element of risk would be involved (there are some question marks over their Caron extraits, IIRC). ... Others would be better placed to advise.
    Thanks so much for these tips & links re: recent Mitsouko!! This is exciting... I will research & try to track down this recent formulation!! Hope similar miracles might happen in the case of some of these other scents...

  12. #12

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Surrender to Chance is a sample source I've used many times. They might have what you are looking for.

  13. #13

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Oproust View Post
    Surrender to Chance is a sample source I've used many times. They might have what you are looking for.
    +1. They're a great resource.

  14. #14

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cwill View Post
    +1. They're a great resource.
    thanks! will check it out.

  15. #15

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    This is a really interesting thread. Thank you tomtom1, and I feel your pain totally as a newcomer myself to this interest. I am absolutely gutted by the effects of banning prime ingredients and debasement of perfume house values and ideology.

    There are, however, still some amazing olfactory experiences to be had. You'll see that several of the fragrances in Turin and Sanchez 100 best perfumes book have emerged unscathed in recent production. For example, I have an amazing bottle of Bandit bought new last year, likewise Jicky.

    And the niche market has some great new perfumes to try. It will always be very sad that the great old perfumes have gone, but start smelling and I think you will find some very interesting and exciting experiences.

  16. #16

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cashmerecardi View Post
    This is a really interesting thread. Thank you tomtom1, and I feel your pain totally as a newcomer myself to this interest. I am absolutely gutted by the effects of banning prime ingredients and debasement of perfume house values and ideology.

    There are, however, still some amazing olfactory experiences to be had. You'll see that several of the fragrances in Turin and Sanchez 100 best perfumes book have emerged unscathed in recent production. For example, I have an amazing bottle of Bandit bought new last year, likewise Jicky.

    And the niche market has some great new perfumes to try. It will always be very sad that the great old perfumes have gone, but start smelling and I think you will find some very interesting and exciting experiences.
    Thanks for your thoughts!! I also think it's great that forums like this can maybe keep us up to date on recent reformulation a of classics... e.g. Great to hear the news/ carefully researched opinion on mitsouko above.

    Anyone have a similar opinion on latest state of Chanel's cuir de russie? I'm going to google this one now...

  17. #17

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    The other one I want to research soon is "pour Monsieur". In the uk we can still get two versions... Pour Monsieur + pm intense or whatever it's called. Curious how the plain/old school pour Monsieur now compares to the real vintage thing...

  18. #18

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Chanel pour monsieur had a chypre base (oakmoss), which is now severely restricted, though probably it was on the light side of chypres. (Citrus has been restricted too). I'd say the thing I've smelled in Italy recently is not as deep in the base as old chypres, it's a more straightforward citrus, but it is still worthy. But it is not the reference citrus masculine Turin talked about in his first book.

    Unfortunately, the oakmoss restriction has hit several citrus masculines which were based on this structure, like Eau Sauvage, Eau d'Hadrien, and New York. They have all moved in slightly different directions.

    cacio

  19. #19

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    I am quite sad that eud d adrien was damaged because of this restriction, I think a cologne will be release because of this; but with the recent restrictions and greater push of aroma chemical companies for synthetic materials, I move forward and move on and hopefully find a modern beautiful fragrance in the future

    sadly chasing vintage perfumes is not an option because of time and effort required refreshing ebay or similar websites

  20. #20

    Default Re: IFRA & all that... latest. Your opinions/ advice

    Quote Originally Posted by tomtom1 View Post
    I came across Turin & Sanchez's relatively recent little book "100 favourite perfumes" (or some title like that) the other day, and was distressed to see how damning they are about the state of the art following recent regulations on ingredients (by IFRA, the EU and who knows what other august bodies).

    I'm new to this whole field, and was initially drawn to it by their Perfumes: A Guide... I suppose I'm naturally a bit of an aesthete and, although I'd never been interested in scents in the past, I suddenly saw this whole new field of nerdy/ aesthetic interest & rewards opening up before me.

    But, given that that's my approach (rather than anything practical; I mean, I'm not sure I'd ever wear a perfume other than to smell it myself...), I feel pretty put off by the idea that the whole game, at least at the highest level, is possibly up... and that it will never be possible to experience perfumes as rich as those created in the past again (or at least not until synthetic ingredients start truly replicating the wonders of the banned, natural ones like oakmoss and so on).

    What's the latest state of all this, though? How badly have these regulations affected things? Are most of the great perfumes sold in the shops now shadows of their former selves? Is there much hope for the future?

    (I realise that seeking out vintage stuff is one answer... but frankly I have a busy life and several other such interests and am unlikely to ever bother spending vast tracts of time on eBay or wherever tracking these things down. Plus, to be honest, I don't have much money to gamble on possible fakes, or the knowledge to work out if the vintage thing I've ordered still smells like what it oughta.)
    Hi tomtom1 - don't forget to check out the smaller 'indie' houses as well - these are pursuing their art quite determinedly!

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