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  1. #1
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    Default Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    I spent a little time visiting the vintage fragrance discussion thread. Did not see a discussion on whether Vintage always trump's newer formulations.
    Thought of the following:

    1. What classifies a fragrance as vintage ?

    2. Are there fragrances where reformulation has improved overall
    performance and scent ? Which fall in
    that category in your opinion ?

    3. Are eBay and Amazon the primary sources when looking to
    purchase vintage ?

    4. Which reformulations have strayed the furthest from original?

    5. Which have stayed closest to the mark ?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    1) Over 25 years old ( debatable)
    2) I haven't come across any but people state that Fahrenheit got worse then improved again. I've also heard rumours about Kouros doing the same a few years ago and a similar thing for Givenchy Gentleman, though I have my doubts
    3) Yes, I think so.
    4) Not sure. Maybe Paco Rabanne Pour Homme.
    5) Hard to say. I've tried recent versions of Heritage and was perfectly happy, though I hadn't tried anything older than about 8 years anyway.
    There are likely better examples.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Here's the thing about people who insist that modern formulations are always worse than vintage; they're saying that unlike every other field that has progressed in the last decades that perfumery has not only not progressed at all, but has actually degraded.

    What's happening is that fragrances are changing, and the perfumers are trying to keep to idea of what a particular fragrance is alive even if the outcome is different. Take Eau Sauvage for example a fantastic fragrance that has been around for over thirty years. People love to say that the current formulation is garbage, because of the lack of oakmoss. I for one think the composition is better without it. I think oakmoss is only heralded so much because it is restricted (not banned, and the amount it's restricted to still leaves plenty in fragrances as it's strong). I think if oakmoss was still around like it was in the 80's that it would be hated just as calone and what people think ambroxan is today.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Democritus View Post
    1) Over 25 years old ( debatable)
    2) I haven't come across any but people state that Fahrenheit got worse then improved again. I've also heard rumours about Kouros doing the same a few years ago and a similar thing for Givenchy Gentleman, though I have my doubts
    3) Yes, I think so.
    4) Not sure. Maybe Paco Rabanne Pour Homme.
    5) Hard to say. I've tried recent versions of Heritage and was perfectly happy, though I hadn't tried anything older than about 8 years anyway.
    There are likely better examples.
    Thank you, appreciate your insight..... just beginning to learn about fragrances.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by newatthis66 View Post
    I spent a little time visiting the vintage fragrance discussion thread. Did not see a discussion on whether Vintage always trump's newer formulations.
    Thought of the following:

    1. What classifies a fragrance as vintage ?

    2. Are there fragrances where reformulation has improved overall
    performance and scent ? Which fall in
    that category in your opinion ?

    3. Are eBay and Amazon the primary sources when looking to
    purchase vintage ?

    4. Which reformulations have strayed the furthest from original?

    5. Which have stayed closest to the mark ?
    1. Debatable and not standardized with fragrances. Minimum 20 years.

    2. Yes.

    3. Not for me. eBay for many. Neither Amazon or eBay are primary for me. I never use Amazon for vintage.

    4. Too many for me to list. But they’ve not all strayed in a bad way.

    5. I’ll think on it.

    I’ll add that while I’m an oakmoss fan, it’s not at all the heralded note for all vintage lovers nor is it enjoyed by me because of being unavailable. In fact, for true lovers of the note, it is still available. Some of my all time great vintages do not feature oakmoss and in some cases (like original Givenchy Gentleman, which is an all time favorite patchouli centric fragrance) omit oakmoss altogether.
    Sent from the bayou, using homing gators.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    1. After 2 or more reformulations or 10 years (whichever comes first).
    2.Ombre Leather
    3.Taking a chance with both (be careful) but probably so.
    4.Polo by Ralph Lauren
    5.Vera Wang Pour Homme
    <div class="bnsotd"><b>Currently wearing:</b> <a href="ID26148387.html"><img src="http://www.basenotes.net/photos/products/33/26148387-7393.jpg"> Carven L'Eau Intense by Carven</a></div>

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    1. Pre-reformulation, or, as others were saying, old (20 years?)
    2. I vaguely remember a thread on this, but not sure. Cannot think of anything in particular-IFRA makes things difficult. There are cases where an initially disastrous formulation is partially reversed.
    3. Ebay for me. I also try to check antique markets. Uncommon, but things happen occasionally.
    4. Probably more on the feminine side (some Carons come to mind, or some classics that have shifted to mass market)
    5. I'm ok with the masculine Caron trio (pour un homme, Troisieme homme, Yatagan)

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by newatthis66 View Post
    Did not see a discussion on whether Vintage always trump's newer formulations.
    IMO not always but usually.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Honestly, the only formulation of a fragrance that I worry about is the one that I can easily buy in a store.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    1) 20-25 years, minimum

    2) No

    3) eBay or Etsy - never Amazon for vintage

    4) and 5) The questions are too general - lists would be endless (owing to individual tastes)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by newatthis66 View Post
    I spent a little time visiting the vintage fragrance discussion thread. Did not see a discussion on whether Vintage always trump's newer formulations.
    Thought of the following:

    1. What classifies a fragrance as vintage ?

    2. Are there fragrances where reformulation has improved overall
    performance and scent ? Which fall in
    that category in your opinion ?

    3. Are eBay and Amazon the primary sources when looking to
    purchase vintage ?

    4. Which reformulations have strayed the furthest from original?

    5. Which have stayed closest to the mark ?
    There is a bit of puritanism in vintage circles that must be navigated to truly enjoy vintage without confusion and unnecessary fighting.

    1) For me, if it launched 20 years ago. New production of an old fragrance still counts for sake of vintage style enjoyment to those who don't have the cash or patience to seek older formulations, puritan views will dictate it must literally be made 20 to 25 years ago (or before x year etc), and some will go so far as to say perfumery died after 19XX etc. You can decide for yourself where the line of demarcation is, but for me it's 20 years from launch, and any production you can get your hands on.

    2) Mostly no, rarely yes. Some scents are gutted of key ingredients to their scent profile due to depletion of natural sources, cost or regulation (sandalwood for the former, rose for the middle, oakmoss for the latter), and the synthetic proxies for them haven't yet caught up to the quality of the naturals (although in some cases like ambroxan for ambergris, they have). Synthetics are often purer, more direct versions of accords that in their natural state contain impurities that give complexity and diffusion. Synthetic evernyl is more intense but flatter than real oakmoss, for example. When a reformulation improves on a preceding formula, it's because the synthetics improved or a new perfumer toyed with something to get it closer to the original. Unfortunately, some purists will not except anything after a certain cutoff year, which is totally their preference and they ultimately pay the price trying to hunt down dwindling stock on their favorite iteration. There are also some who think only year 1 production counts as the "true" version of a given scent. You'll have to ignore list some of those folks because they won't let you enjoy what you have and will constantly rub in your face on every thread how the original is best and won't otherwise add anything to the conversation.

    3) eBay is the largest source, but also where the most corrupt selling practices exist. You'll find sellers colluding, buying up stock from lower-priced listing to monopolize supply, or otherwise bullying to maintain prices, even going so far as to scour Basenotes and Fragrantica forums to see what's recently been discussed so they can jack up prices according to projected hype. It's why I generally keep mum about a vintage perfume "until I've gotten my share", so I don't damage my ability to back it up in case a few glowing words sends something from $30 to $300 in 2 months (it's happened). Etsy is generally higher, but not prone to the same clownery. Sometimes Mercari, eCrater, or Bonanza has some stuff, and of course, there's the marketplace here too. Never use Amazon. Prices always higher, vintage not guarenteed because they always use stock photos, and less buyer protections.

    4) The further downmarket an older fragrance falls, the worse the reforms get. MEM English Leather (1949) is unrecognizable now from what it was. Dana Canoe (1936) was reorchestrated in the 90's to be "more modern", and Old Spice (1937) is a shadow of itself. However, direct sales houses like Avon aren't always beholden to regulations depending on country, so they only reformulate by choice. It ultimately boils down to how much R&D is willing to be spent on maintaining the fragrance as it was, which is why so many designers just reboot the fragrance under a different name. Literally everything Givenchy has now is rebooted as a different fragrance with an older name, from L'Interdit to Gentleman, and more.

    5) Higher-end houses like Guerlain, Caron, and Creed tend to do better, but they also have more reputation to lose if they butcher a classic favorite too much. Lauder also does a good job and so does it's sibling brand Aramis. In these cases, the smell is so iconic, they can't afford to make it noticeably different or they'd lose sales, similar to the New Coke debacle of the 80's. Chanel is a bit controversial as some say they do an amazing job with reforms and some hate their reforms depending on the individual fragrance in question.

    Overall, reformulations run the gamut from slightly flatter or less performance to being entirely alien when compared to the original. The majority of reformulations are recognizably the same scent with tweaks to make up for replaced ingredients, but some go a step further and drastically change the scent profile. Very few feel like a 1 to 1 carbon copy of the original (Pascal Morabito Or Black is an example of a near-perfect reform). Good luck!
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    It’s all pretty subjective, but if you like a scent and then it changes it’s pretty likely that you aren’t going to like any change.

    Then again, if you’re like me and you hate, for example, oak moss, you might think more recent formulations are an improvement.
    1. No, never blind buy (I do, but do as I say, not as I do. I'm taking no responsibility for your fragrance gambling).
    2. Get them both. You're a Basenoter and you know you're going to end up purchasing them both eventually.
    3. Yes, it has been reformulated.
    4. Looking for a signature scent? You've come to the wrong place.
    Currently wearing: Explorer by Montblanc

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zealot Crusader View Post
    There is a bit of puritanism in vintage circles that must be navigated to truly enjoy vintage without confusion and unnecessary fighting.

    1) For me, if it launched 20 years ago. New production of an old fragrance still counts for sake of vintage style enjoyment to those who don't have the cash or patience to seek older formulations, puritan views will dictate it must literally be made 20 to 25 years ago (or before x year etc), and some will go so far as to say perfumery died after 19XX etc. You can decide for yourself where the line of demarcation is, but for me it's 20 years from launch, and any production you can get your hands on.

    2) Mostly no, rarely yes. Some scents are gutted of key ingredients to their scent profile due to depletion of natural sources, cost or regulation (sandalwood for the former, rose for the middle, oakmoss for the latter), and the synthetic proxies for them haven't yet caught up to the quality of the naturals (although in some cases like ambroxan for ambergris, they have). Synthetics are often purer, more direct versions of accords that in their natural state contain impurities that give complexity and diffusion. Synthetic evernyl is more intense but flatter than real oakmoss, for example. When a reformulation improves on a preceding formula, it's because the synthetics improved or a new perfumer toyed with something to get it closer to the original. Unfortunately, some purists will not except anything after a certain cutoff year, which is totally their preference and they ultimately pay the price trying to hunt down dwindling stock on their favorite iteration. There are also some who think only year 1 production counts as the "true" version of a given scent. You'll have to ignore list some of those folks because they won't let you enjoy what you have and will constantly rub in your face on every thread how the original is best and won't otherwise add anything to the conversation.

    3) eBay is the largest source, but also where the most corrupt selling practices exist. You'll find sellers colluding, buying up stock from lower-priced listing to monopolize supply, or otherwise bullying to maintain prices, even going so far as to scour Basenotes and Fragrantica forums to see what's recently been discussed so they can jack up prices according to projected hype. It's why I generally keep mum about a vintage perfume "until I've gotten my share", so I don't damage my ability to back it up in case a few glowing words sends something from $30 to $300 in 2 months (it's happened). Etsy is generally higher, but not prone to the same clownery. Sometimes Mercari, eCrater, or Bonanza has some stuff, and of course, there's the marketplace here too. Never use Amazon. Prices always higher, vintage not guarenteed because they always use stock photos, and less buyer protections.

    4) The further downmarket an older fragrance falls, the worse the reforms get. MEM English Leather (1949) is unrecognizable now from what it was. Dana Canoe (1936) was reorchestrated in the 90's to be "more modern", and Old Spice (1937) is a shadow of itself. However, direct sales houses like Avon aren't always beholden to regulations depending on country, so they only reformulate by choice. It ultimately boils down to how much R&D is willing to be spent on maintaining the fragrance as it was, which is why so many designers just reboot the fragrance under a different name. Literally everything Givenchy has now is rebooted as a different fragrance with an older name, from L'Interdit to Gentleman, and more.

    5) Higher-end houses like Guerlain, Caron, and Creed tend to do better, but they also have more reputation to lose if they butcher a classic favorite too much. Lauder also does a good job and so does it's sibling brand Aramis. In these cases, the smell is so iconic, they can't afford to make it noticeably different or they'd lose sales, similar to the New Coke debacle of the 80's. Chanel is a bit controversial as some say they do an amazing job with reforms and some hate their reforms depending on the individual fragrance in question.

    Overall, reformulations run the gamut from slightly flatter or less performance to being entirely alien when compared to the original. The majority of reformulations are recognizably the same scent with tweaks to make up for replaced ingredients, but some go a step further and drastically change the scent profile. Very few feel like a 1 to 1 carbon copy of the original (Pascal Morabito Or Black is an example of a near-perfect reform). Good luck!
    Zealot, thank you thank you, I feel like I have just taken a crash course in "Vintage Fragrance 301 Masters level" ! Your narrative was awesome,thanks for taking the time.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by newatthis66 View Post
    4. Which reformulations have strayed the furthest from original?
    - Kouros
    - Old Spice
    - D&G pour homme
    - Givenchy Gentleman
    - Paco Rabanne ph
    - Antaeus
    - Polo
    - Grey Flannel
    - Fahrenheit

    All these were heavily reformulated to (almost) different scents imo!
    My Top '11' of main current rotation in no particular order:

    - Fragrances of Ireland: Patrick
    - Polo Blue Gold Blend edp
    - Antaeus (vtg)
    - Azzaro: Pour Homme (vtg)
    - TF: Ombré Leather
    - Al Haramain: Excellent
    - SA: Shaghaf Oud Abyad
    - SA: Al Basel
    - D&G: Pour Homme (vtg)
    - Mancera: Red Tobacco
    - Mancera: Aoud Vanille

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by CutSmut View Post
    Here's the thing about people who insist that modern formulations are always worse than vintage; they're saying that unlike every other field that has progressed in the last decades that perfumery has not only not progressed at all, but has actually degraded.

    What's happening is that fragrances are changing, and the perfumers are trying to keep to idea of what a particular fragrance is alive even if the outcome is different. Take Eau Sauvage for example a fantastic fragrance that has been around for over thirty years. People love to say that the current formulation is garbage, because of the lack of oakmoss. I for one think the composition is better without it. I think oakmoss is only heralded so much because it is restricted (not banned, and the amount it's restricted to still leaves plenty in fragrances as it's strong). I think if oakmoss was still around like it was in the 80's that it would be hated just as calone and what people think ambroxan is today.
    There's some truth in this, but it misses several points.

    Reformulations are not modern perfumery, per se. They are attempts to rework old formulae with different—usually cheaper and/or less restricted—materials. Sometimes the goal is to hew as closely as possible to the original within new confines; sometimes, to reconceive it to suit contemporary sensibilities. Occasionally, all the perfumers keep is the name. This is about maximizing the profit from cumulative marketing, not about making a better fragrance with superior technology. If they wanted to do the latter, they'd create a new fragrance rather than reformulate an old one.

    Fragrances aren't just materials or technology; they're intent and technique and, at best, art. However and why ever the original formulations were crafted (and however well or poorly), they were made with a specific intent by one or more perfumers with some sort of vision. Reformulation may make a scent better for some people and worse for others, but either way it's a step away from the initial intent. In that sense, reformulation is never better, because it can never be truer to the intent. The idea of a particular fragrance is not separate from the fragrance; any alteration to the fragrance is an alteration to the idea. You cannot keep an idea alive by changing it. And, for the fans of the scent, it will rarely be better because a reformulation can hardly be more like the thing you already love than the thing itself.

    Surely some people revere oak moss because they can't have it, or they think they can't. Nevertheless, oak moss has distinctive properties that are not replicated with complete accuracy by current synthetic substitutes. You might prefer the synthetic because of those differences, but many people don't, and their preferences are no less legitimate than yours.

    Analogies are inexact, but as music is my field, I'll make a musical analogy. It's not unusual for artists to rerecord their original hit records, or for other artists to remake them, or for engineers and producers to remix them. What is relatively unusual is for the popular and critical consensus to be that the remake is better than the original. Some of that is preference bred of familiarity. But, for the most part, all the freshness, the "magic," is in the original, and attempts to improve on that magic fall flat because the people attempting it—even if they're the original artists—are too far removed from the initial creative spark. I'm sure you can rattle off some marvelous exceptions; and if you can't, I can. But they're still exceptions. With contemporary digital audio workstations, we can record cleaner audio with flatter frequency response, we can make time and pitch more accurate. We can work all sorts of wizardry with the better tools we have at hand, but it's simply never going to be as good as great musicians playing together in a room without all those tools getting in their way.

    Oak moss is James Jamerson playing a funky, soulful bass line instead of Evernyl sampling and looping it. Personally, I don't need Eau Sauvage remixed. It's fine so long as I can have the original if I prefer it, as one can have with music. The problem is, with reformulations, you can't get the original anymore, and nobody tells you it's gone until it's too late.

    I applaud modern perfumers working with contemporary materials to make new fragrances. If perfumery has progressed, then that is how perfumers prove it. I don't need everything to be oak moss, deer musk, and ambergris. It's just that, when somebody gets a fragrance right, I'd rather they left well enough alone. Make flankers, if you must. Better, though, to simultaneously preserve the old and create the new.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    There's some truth in this, but it misses several points.

    Reformulations are not modern perfumery, per se. They are attempts to rework old formulae with different—usually cheaper and/or less restricted—materials. Sometimes the goal is to hew as closely as possible to the original within new confines; sometimes, to reconceive it to suit contemporary sensibilities. Occasionally, all the perfumers keep is the name. This is about maximizing the profit from cumulative marketing, not about making a better fragrance with superior technology. If they wanted to do the latter, they'd create a new fragrance rather than reformulate an old one.

    Fragrances aren't just materials or technology; they're intent and technique and, at best, art. However and why ever the original formulations were crafted (and however well or poorly), they were made with a specific intent by one or more perfumers with some sort of vision. Reformulation may make a scent better for some people and worse for others, but either way it's a step away from the initial intent. In that sense, reformulation is never better, because it can never be truer to the intent. The idea of a particular fragrance is not separate from the fragrance; any alteration to the fragrance is an alteration to the idea. You cannot keep an idea alive by changing it. And, for the fans of the scent, it will rarely be better because a reformulation can hardly be more like the thing you already love than the thing itself.

    Surely some people revere oak moss because they can't have it, or they think they can't. Nevertheless, oak moss has distinctive properties that are not replicated with complete accuracy by current synthetic substitutes. You might prefer the synthetic because of those differences, but many people don't, and their preferences are no less legitimate than yours.

    Analogies are inexact, but as music is my field, I'll make a musical analogy. It's not unusual for artists to rerecord their original hit records, or for other artists to remake them, or for engineers and producers to remix them. What is relatively unusual is for the popular and critical consensus to be that the remake is better than the original. Some of that is preference bred of familiarity. But, for the most part, all the freshness, the "magic," is in the original, and attempts to improve on that magic fall flat because the people attempting it—even if they're the original artists—are too far removed from the initial creative spark. I'm sure you can rattle off some marvelous exceptions; and if you can't, I can. But they're still exceptions. With contemporary digital audio workstations, we can record cleaner audio with flatter frequency response, we can make time and pitch more accurate. We can work all sorts of wizardry with the better tools we have at hand, but it's simply never going to be as good as great musicians playing together in a room without all those tools getting in their way.

    Oak moss is James Jamerson playing a funky, soulful bass line instead of Evernyl sampling and looping it. Personally, I don't need Eau Sauvage remixed. It's fine so long as I can have the original if I prefer it, as one can have with music. The problem is, with reformulations, you can't get the original anymore, and nobody tells you it's gone until it's too late.

    I applaud modern perfumers working with contemporary materials to make new fragrances. If perfumery has progressed, then that is how perfumers prove it. I don't need everything to be oak moss, deer musk, and ambergris. It's just that, when somebody gets a fragrance right, I'd rather they left well enough alone. Make flankers, if you must. Better, though, to simultaneously preserve the old and create the new.
    Logical explanation, makes perfect sense. Thank you!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    1. What classifies a fragrance as vintage ?

    Some people say "more than 20 years old" and some people say the "original formula."


    2. Are there fragrances where reformulation has improved overall performance and scent ? Which fall in that category in your opinion ?

    This would be rare. For all intents and purposes, the answer is no.


    3. Are eBay and Amazon the primary sources when looking to purchase vintage ?

    eBay and Etsy, for me.


    4. Which reformulations have strayed the furthest from original?

    Boss No. 1


    5. Which have stayed closest to the mark ?

    Equipage

  18. #18

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    1. Debatable and not standardized with fragrances. Minimum 20 years.

    2. Yes.

    3. Not for me. eBay for many. Neither Amazon or eBay are primary for me. I never use Amazon for vintage.

    4. Too many for me to list. But they’ve not all strayed in a bad way.

    5. I’ll think on it.

    I’ll add that while I’m an oakmoss fan, it’s not at all the heralded note for all vintage lovers nor is it enjoyed by me because of being unavailable. In fact, for true lovers of the note, it is still available. Some of my all time great vintages do not feature oakmoss and in some cases (like original Givenchy Gentleman, which is an all time favorite patchouli centric fragrance) omit oakmoss altogether.
    Agreed.

    4. Too many to list... Ones that immediately come to mind are Paco Rabbane PH, Givenchy Gentleman, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme, Capucci PH, Armani Eau PH, Halston Z-14...

    5. L’Instant de Guerlain... Little-to-no detectable difference from “vintage” to what’s available now with multiple comparisons.
    I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

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    Currently wearing: Honey Aoud by Montale

  19. #19

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    What fantastic timing to have this thread posted. I just yesterday tried the vintage Caron Pour un Homme (yellow liquid bottle) with the modern being my scent. I have to say the vintage does not live up at all. It smells like something made in the 80's. Reminds me of the feeling of Hugo Boss No 1. I think Caron does a fantastic job at taking the masculine scents they have and keeping the idea of the scent the same, but updating it for the current time. I would never wear vintage I actually just poured the bottle down the drain so I could use it for the modern. Another case of improvement.

  20. #20
    Dependent onethinline's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    This is such a tricky subject, because the terrain is full of hazards and subjective calls and misunderstandings. First, there’s no doubt that reformulations occur. But we all tend to make a lot of assumptions about WHY they occur, and we all, as human beings with human noses and brains, are ill-equipped to separate what is actual reformulation, to what is the normal effects of a fragrance aging in its bottle. Fragrances age! Top notes deteriorate, other notes can often start to blend or blur together, or deepen and take on colors that were not originally intended. I’d guess some of these qualities of aged fragrances are what some people like about “vintage,” except what they’re really enjoying is — chemically changed materials. I’m not saying this is always what’s happening, but it would be very difficult to objectively discern what is reformulation and what is aging.

    The WHY of reformulation is important, too, I think. Obviously materials restrictions is a thing. Nitro musks are gone, and more recently things like the components of the classic lily-of-the-valley accord are restricted. But everyone points to something like oak moss. Very interestingly, a few weeks ago I watched an interview from the Wafts from the Loft lads on YouTube where they talked to perfumer Sarah McCartney at 4160 Tuesdays. Among other things, she busted some myths about materials and restrictions, and explained that while yes, atranol-free oak moss is now more available (so, free of the allergen), even prior to that being the case, the maximum amount of oak moss allowed by restrictions in any given perfume is far more than enough for almost anything; she said something to the effect that if you were to use the maximum allowed amount, it would be just a huge mossy cloud. Right away I thought: oh YEAH I sure did think there was a lot of moss in my brand new bottle of Equipage! And modern Eau Sauvage? Absolutely has oak moss; it’s right there within the first 10 minutes. So ... what if oak moss ISN’T restricted in the way we’ve all assumed? If that’s the case, and I’m rather convinced it is, then what’s happened with a lot of those old mossy classics is more likely that brands have wanted to bring them up-to-date with current tastes, because a distinct oak moss note absolutely dates a composition. The first times I smelled Equipage or Derby (modern versions) I thought they were painfully dated. (Now that I’ve come to like oak moss, I like both of them.)

    Point being, unless we’re working perfumers, IFRA members, materials specialists, etc., we’re mostly guessing about what restrictions actually mean, and we have to consider that formula changes are just as often, if not most often, about companies trying to keep up with tastes in order to sell more (including adjusting strength), or reducing the cost of formulas — especially ones that are no longer selling as well — in order to keep profits workable. These are probably the most common reasons for reformulation.

    In one sense, I think the best we can do is sniff what’s in the bottle, and if we like it, grab it. But there isn’t a “one single definitive” Platonic version of any fragrance, because even if the formula never changed (and it usually does), that fragrance is going to change with time. That’s just how it is. Better or worse, these beauties we’ve built a hobby around are changing creatures, not fixed monuments, so we should enjoy them now, on their own terms, without being too fussy or neurotic about it.

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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by CutSmut View Post
    What fantastic timing to have this thread posted. I just yesterday tried the vintage Caron Pour un Homme (yellow liquid bottle) with the modern being my scent. I have to say the vintage does not live up at all. It smells like something made in the 80's. Reminds me of the feeling of Hugo Boss No 1. I think Caron does a fantastic job at taking the masculine scents they have and keeping the idea of the scent the same, but updating it for the current time. I would never wear vintage I actually just poured the bottle down the drain so I could use it for the modern. Another case of improvement.
    That’s great that you discovered your preference for the modern version! I personally found that the latest version was acceptable enough, even with the play dough accord it now has compared to previously. I am a little confused about pouring it down the drain. That was done just so you could put the latest formulation into the vintage bottle? Maybe I’m reading that all wrong, which is why I’m inquiring further. Thanks and congrats.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    That’s great that you discovered your preference for the modern version! I personally found that the latest version was acceptable enough, even with the play dough accord it now has compared to previously. I am a little confused about pouring it down the drain. That was done just so you could put the latest formulation into the vintage bottle? Maybe I’m reading that all wrong, which is why I’m inquiring further. Thanks and congrats.
    Exactly that. I found a small refill bottle for sale without knowing what was inside it. Cool find, but not worth keeping the old liquid. I also don't think there's a play dough accord when you wear this perfume enough to get to know it. In my opinion that's just an immediate reaction brain connection made when exposed to it for the first time because it's new and the brain wants to make connections.

    I am glad I smelled the vintage at least, because the civet accord is blended much less smoothly in the vintage, but I can now detect it in the modern. It's just so well blended that it's not fair to consider Pour un Homme a civet fragrance such as Jicky or Shalimar edt.

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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by CutSmut View Post
    Exactly that. I found a small refill bottle for sale without knowing what was inside it. Cool find, but not worth keeping the old liquid. I also don't think there's a play dough accord when you wear this perfume enough to get to know it. In my opinion that's just an immediate reaction brain connection made when exposed to it for the first time because it's new and the brain wants to make connections.

    I am glad I smelled the vintage at least, because the civet accord is blended much less smoothly in the vintage, but I can now detect it in the modern. It's just so well blended that it's not fair to consider Pour un Homme a civet fragrance such as Jicky or Shalimar edt.
    Thanks for your clarification and response.
    Sent from the bayou, using homing gators.

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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by onethinline View Post
    there isn’t a “one single definitive” Platonic version of any fragrance, because even if the formula never changed (and it usually does), that fragrance is going to change with time.
    I'm tending to agree with this. When a bottle works, it just works.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    First of all, there are new batches made and sometimes they can't get it exactly the same, at least for designers 20-30 years ago, or thereabouts, so while a "reformulation" was done it may not have been intentional, and they didn't "go cheap." I think the term should be used when it appears that an attempt was made to cheapen the formulation or just go in a different direction. Red for Men by GBH strikes me as both, possibly Z-14 as well (though I certainly couldn't say that the new, "cinnamon monster" formulation is any cheaper to make). Some reformulations seem to be just a little "less" than original, such as what some have said about different "chrome shoulders" Kouros formulations, and so many won't notice the differences. I think one needs to decide for himself/herself, and that it's more interesting to talk about trends, such as "amping up" geranium to replace a strong sandalwood note, or making a distinct fragrance into a "fuzzy"/laundry musk type of composition.

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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    Reformulations (and parsing of batches) are not a part of the fragrance universe in which I dwell. My general experience, however, in dealing with things that I do not control interfering with, limiting, changing or disrupting routines, practices and diversions that I enjoy is simply to expect something different.

    It has been alluded to several times in this thread, the assumption that a reformulation is necessarily a bad thing.

    If that is your point of reference, you've surrendered to self-fulfilling prophecy and a non-theological "believing is seeing" mentality, both of which are mentally and cognitively a lot worse for you than simply adapting to necessary, non-critical, and rarely unreasonable change.

    That doesn't preclude you from looking at the change, analyzing it and coming to your own comparative conclusions, but proceeding beyond that to full blown lament and virulent resistance - the decision to hang onto it forever - what do you gain and what do you lose?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    There is at least one notable reformulation I prefer to the original. In a number of cases, I've found the differences between reformulations exaggerated. But some reformulations are exceedingly significant to the point where different scents have been presented under the same name.

    Where reformulations go bad is when a brand doesn't care enough to go about reformulating a scent properly. Ingredients and sourcing will always shift and evolve. For me, the particularly frustrating reformulations are those that seem to be hackwork, where careless responses are made to supply chain changes that result in noticeable imbalances without any attempt at compensation.
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    Default Re: Reformulations....... are they always a "less than" vintage?

    The answers to your questions are largely opinion and/or arbitrary.

    1. Vintage is whatever the seller wants to call it. Typically for fragrances no longer available in retail or some notion of being a past formulation -- whether significant or not, for you to gamble with your cash.
    2. Sure.
    3. Probably not Amazon.
    4. Varied opinions.
    5. Varied opinions. Can't think of any scent to particularly emphasize either way.
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