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  1. #1

    Default Why do you seek out vintage?

    We all know ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ but what is it about vintage fragrances that makes you seek them out?
    For me its a number of things but to sum it up they feel more vivid, more real, they sparkle and shine in ways most new ones never will. Some bring distant memories back to life in an instant. Some touch your soul and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end but in my experience I’ve rarely found modern newer formulations and fragrances that do, at least not in the same way.

    Please share your thoughts.

    Thanks

    Sheik Yerbouti

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    ...
    Last edited by Sheik Yerbouti; 25th September 2019 at 12:10 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Why do you seek out vintage?

    I think you hit a lot of the main points. I feel a lot (not all by any means) of vintage fragrances come off more niche. In some cases more niche than niche. I hate to bring up the old “restrictions” subject but, let’s face it, some perfumers had the ability to just go for the creation without thought to restrictions. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. And when that occurred, a bit of magic came with it. Today it’s a bit different, no matter what hooey phooey people try to sell with a house just trying to modernize something etc. Patou can’t even do Patou at the same level. There are many cases though where I find fragrances splitting hairs on a style, as one house was trying to copy a profile that was successful for another. Not unlike today really.

    I’m rambling. I love the new experiences. I love finding hidden gems in forgotten bottles. I love finding true unicorns that no one has heard of and you can’t find any information on them (or extremely little). I also love reliving the experiences I had long ago when something was released and I thought, “wow”. I stopped by a fragrance outlet store recently and purchased only a sample of something called Green Leather that the sales lady was big on, just as an obligatory thanks for her time. Besides several overpriced Chanel’s, Dior’s, and Creed’s, the rest of the store was riddled with armaf stuff that nearly all smelled the same. Sure, that had a few of the goodies from Armaf but everything else was a variation on the same theme or Acqua di Gio. Big disappointment.

    I love modern stuff too. Last night I wore the damn near completely linear Sahara Noir and loved it. Today I wore something modern to work. But tonight I’m wearing Bourcheron EDT. Who’s doing that vintage smell better than Bourcheron today? And if I go silent on what I’m wearing, there’s a high probability it’s because I’m wearing a vintage (or even modern, like today) unicorn.

    Did I mention that it’s just so much fun?
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    I think I might have been doomed to fall into the vintage rabbithole from the minute I got serious about perfumes.

    Almost everything I own is vintage. Except for mattresses, electronics, and appliances, everything in my house was made before 1965. I used to buy vintage clothing until the early '90s, when vintage started to mean "1970s polyester". I even collect vintage cookware from 1950s companies like Cousances, the original cast iron that was bought out by Le Creuset.

    I originally stumbled into Basenotes because I was looking for info on scents I liked in the 1970/80s and couldn't find any modern perfumes that appealed. And boom! -- here was a whole tribe of folks who had a similar yearning and were willing to share what they knew.

    Sure, my BN exposure brought me to a few modern scents I've acquired, but as you say, the old stuff is just more vivid, more hair-raising. Whether it's all to do with materials availability or unbridled creativity or nostalgia, I couldn't say -- I only know it smells better to me.

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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    I think I might have been doomed to fall into the vintage rabbithole from the minute I got serious about perfumes.

    Almost everything I own is vintage. Except for mattresses, electronics, and appliances, everything in my house was made before 1965. I used to buy vintage clothing until the early '90s, when vintage started to mean "1970s polyester". I even collect vintage cookware from 1950s companies like Cousances, the original cast iron that was bought out by Le Creuset.

    I originally stumbled into Basenotes because I was looking for info on scents I liked in the 1970/80s and couldn't find any modern perfumes that appealed. And boom! -- here was a whole tribe of folks who had a similar yearning and were willing to share what they knew.

    Sure, my BN exposure brought me to a few modern scents I've acquired, but as you say, the old stuff is just more vivid, more hair-raising. Whether it's all to do with materials availability or unbridled creativity or nostalgia, I couldn't say -- I only know it smells better to me.
    Wonderful post, Cook.bot. I admire and appreciate your approach and I didn’t realize how comprehensive your love of vintage is.
    Note to self: Choose being kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time.

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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    No longer seek them, but many I bought decades ago, so they have become I guess vintage by default.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Both Diddy and Cook.bot have articulated aspects of why I'm drawn to vintage.

    Like Cook, my love of "vintage" extends well beyond fragrances, and while I haven't scorned AllClad in favor of Cousances (though I used to cook on a classic O'Keefe & Merritt stove), I look for furnishings that suit my 1933 house: Nouveau/Deco/Arts & Crafts, and I have a particular love of the Wiener Werkstätte c.1900–1915.

    Like Diddy, I generally prefer the arcane to the common, and I love the old-world craftsmanship that seems to have gone by the wayside in the making of modern mainstream fragrances, though it still exists in some parts of the niche world. While I don't equate "natural" and "good," I'm not too enamored of modern aromachemicals as a substitute for superior-smelling natural ingredients or a club to subdue the senses. I prefer the nuances of imperfect wood to the gloss of smooth plastic.

    Also, as a relative newcomer to serious engagement with fragrance, I wanted to give myself a reasonably solid foundation in where perfume has been before I ventured off into where it's going. That said, I'm content to set the outer limits of my backwards glances to the early 20th century.
    Currently wearing: Santos by Cartier

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    The later part of PS’s remarks are something I feel is important to do for any ‘collector’. Not only do I enjoy vintage fragrances (and things) but there also exists a span of fragrances which I feel are historically significant or stylistically significant to the point that they must be experienced. You don’t have to like Eau Sauvage or 4711 or Cool Water or “insert name of iconic fragrance here”, but you should nose them. Coty Chypre should be experienced. Chanel No.5. You get my point. Some fragrances are genre starters or game changers, and you should afford your nose a sampling for your mind’s scent memory. Not only does it help hone towards the things you really like but it also helps you understand what semi-modern and modern perfumers are trying to do (and also small batch artisans), for better or worse.

    Great points by all.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Part of the reason is being unable to conform and appreciate most fragrances that are released or reformulated during this IFRA era, I didn't abandon the fragrance industry, it abandoned me. Vintage fragrances from previous decades as well as original formulations of very specific fragrances bring closure and satisfaction.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Diddy, I agree with a lot of your points especially perfumers having more creative freedom to use whatever ingredients they wanted and the results they were capable of. I also think part of the reason that these vintage gems are unique is that if they get reformulated many of the perfumers that created the originals aren't around any more doing the reformulating so the original vision and intent gets lost. Its left to someone else and their interpretation.

    There are certainly gems to be found in modern fragrances and I wouldn't dream of writing them off but leaving it to the larger designer houses won't get us what we like from vintage most of the time and I think it will be makers like Rogue Perfumery that will lead the way in a resurgence of vintage type fragrances.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    I think there is a sense of achievement when hunting down a bottle of something old and well, a piece of history.

    I think scents of the past made more use of synthetics to support the overall composition, whereas now (in this "modern age"), aroma-chemicals have become the norm. How many scents are there now that are simply based on ambrox or ISO E, javanol, norlimbanol, hedione or cashmeran (probably I've spelt these wrong!) with little else going on?
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    I think I might have been doomed to fall into the vintage rabbithole from the minute I got serious about perfumes.

    Almost everything I own is vintage. Except for mattresses, electronics, and appliances, everything in my house was made before 1965. I used to buy vintage clothing until the early '90s, when vintage started to mean "1970s polyester". I even collect vintage cookware from 1950s companies like Cousances, the original cast iron that was bought out by Le Creuset.

    I originally stumbled into Basenotes because I was looking for info on scents I liked in the 1970/80s and couldn't find any modern perfumes that appealed. And boom! -- here was a whole tribe of folks who had a similar yearning and were willing to share what they knew.

    Sure, my BN exposure brought me to a few modern scents I've acquired, but as you say, the old stuff is just more vivid, more hair-raising. Whether it's all to do with materials availability or unbridled creativity or nostalgia, I couldn't say -- I only know it smells better to me.
    Wow so its not just the fragrances! You are vintage through and through.

    I agree that its hard to put a finger on what it is about the vintage ones exactly and everyone will have their own reasons. Not always but in most instances vintage smells better to me too. They have their own magic.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trilby Lark View Post
    Wonderful post, Cook.bot. I admire and appreciate your approach and I didn’t realize how comprehensive your love of vintage is.
    I was surprised too Trilby!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    No longer seek them, but many I bought decades ago, so they have become I guess vintage by default.
    Many of my vintage fragrances where also brand new when I bought them when first released. Having those as my benchmark, back when, was how I knew I was being duped as time went on by companies changing formulas and I couldn't be the only one thinking 'this doesn't smell the same as my last bottle'. That's when I found Basenotes!!! It was about another 10 years before I became a member.
    Last edited by Sheik Yerbouti; 25th September 2019 at 01:24 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    Both Diddy and Cook.bot have articulated aspects of why I'm drawn to vintage.

    Like Cook, my love of "vintage" extends well beyond fragrances, and while I haven't scorned AllClad in favor of Cousances (though I used to cook on a classic O'Keefe & Merritt stove), I look for furnishings that suit my 1933 house: Nouveau/Deco/Arts & Crafts, and I have a particular love of the Wiener Werkstätte c.1900–1915.

    Like Diddy, I generally prefer the arcane to the common, and I love the old-world craftsmanship that seems to have gone by the wayside in the making of modern mainstream fragrances, though it still exists in some parts of the niche world. While I don't equate "natural" and "good," I'm not too enamored of modern aromachemicals as a substitute for superior-smelling natural ingredients or a club to subdue the senses. I prefer the nuances of imperfect wood to the gloss of smooth plastic.

    Also, as a relative newcomer to serious engagement with fragrance, I wanted to give myself a reasonably solid foundation in where perfume has been before I ventured off into where it's going. That said, I'm content to set the outer limits of my backwards glances to the early 20th century.
    That's a considered approach and I think more would benefit from this when starting their journey in fragrance.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer View Post
    Part of the reason is being unable to … appreciate most fragrances that are released or reformulated during this IFRA era, I didn't abandon the fragrance industry, it abandoned me.
    N.CAL This summed up my feelings when I had ran out of a few favourite fragrances and went to get replacements. I actually stopped buying entirely for a number of years.
    Last edited by Sheik Yerbouti; 25th September 2019 at 08:39 PM. Reason: formatting

  17. #17

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    To remember my youthfull years walking in Paris, long hot summers....70 and 80s ...i hate all new stuff, really

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Great thoughts shared here about personal reasons why vintage is appealing to posters. I have similar feelings to many of the comments and agree with all that has previously been stated about style and quality in vintages, but there is another reason for me that vintages are so appealing to me. I just think the stories surrounding them - the histories of the fragrances and houses, and even the particular bottles in my collection - are more interesting to me than the stories surrounding current releases.

    Like Cook.bot I also collect other vintage items. I know they have had a life prior to coming into my possession, and are artifacts of place and time, and sometimes bear the mysterious marks of their prior owner. I wonder about the stories and am transported by thinking about them and how they came to be. This is true of my vintage fragrances, but even more so for a number of “strays” in my fragrance collection that I have felt compelled to buy in order to experience some rarer scents. These are bottles that are not new and would not be sought after as fine visual specimens, but they are accessible to me and I appreciate their individual histories. I’m happy to make them mine and become part of their story, and to use and enjoy the fine fragrance they have left to offer.

    When I pick out a vintage scent of the day I don’t really think about how I want to smell, but where in my head I want to go, be it a place or a time. There is something ritualistic about connecting with history when I lift a stopper and apply a vintage scent. Some vintage fragrances play out almost like live theatre in a bottle and it is rare that I experience this with newer stuff. Not to say that it doesn’t happen, it just seems harder for me to find that experience, but I’ve been lucky enough to test some independent perfumers lately that have some theatricality to their fragrances.
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    I think I might approach perfume the same way as wine tasting, beer tasting, etc., looking for the best for the fun of it - the joy of exploration. From sampling, I've found vintage way more interesting and engaging. I'd get 10 vintage samples, and like 8 or 9. I'd get 10 niche samples, and like 1 or 2.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    I agree with all that has been said on why we love vintages.
    I got into vintage almost as soon as I got into fragrance (about 4 years ago). I guess I was lucky

    One factor that has not been discussed so far is the output of a nose. How many fragrance did Sieuzac make? Roudnitska?
    Together they made as many fragrances in their lifetime as what Pierre Bourdon churns out in a year.
    Same with these artisanal folks. Areej has churned out 18 in two years. Bortonikoff 13 in about a year.

    A good piece of art takes time. You can't rush it.
    Quality , therefore, has gone down.
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by epapsiou View Post
    One factor that has not been discussed so far is the output of a nose. How many fragrance did Sieuzac make? Roudnitska?
    Together they made as many fragrances in their lifetime as what Pierre Bourdon churns out in a year.
    Same with these artisanal folks. Areej has churned out 18 in two years. Bortnikoff 13 in about a year.

    A good piece of art takes time. You can't rush it.
    Quality, therefore, has gone down.
    I don't think we can safely say that quantity negates quality. Certainly the pressure to produce—and to sell—quantity can weigh against quality. However, some artists work best under one sort of pressure or another, and some are simply more prolific.

    The pressure to produce a quantity of "hits" can act as a barrier between artists whose talents lie elsewhere and their potential fans. But, fragrance is a business as well as an art. Even a Roudnitska, whose output apparently numbers under two dozen fragrances, is only remembered because several were enormously successful. I imagine he had a library of unreleased scents deemed to be failures from the outset. Perhaps some houses or perfumers who seem more prolific simply haven't edited themselves as rigorously.
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    Perhaps some houses or perfumers who seem more prolific simply haven't edited themselves as rigorously.
    Or perhaps when the phrase "shareholder value" enters the company lexicon, editing becomes less of a priority.

    Here's a bit of calculating I did for the old vintage Dior thread:

    I just did a quick calculation and realized that the eight perfumes we've been discussing here, plus the masculine Eau Sauvage, constituted the entire fragrance output of the House of Dior for the 33 years between 1947 and 1980.

    Miss Dior -- 1947
    Diorama -- 1949
    Eau Fraîche -- 1953
    Diorissimo -- 1956
    Diorling -- 1963
    Eau Sauvage -- 1966
    Dioressence -- 1969
    Diorella -- 1972
    Dior Dior -- 1976

    And 7 of those 9 scents were created by Roudnitska.

    Contrast that with Dior's output since then: in the 38 years from 1985 to 2019 the house has released 143 fragrances. That's almost one every 3 months.

    And here's a bit of company history I found on Wikipedia:

    In 1988, [Bernard] Arnault's Christian Dior S.A.'s took a 32% equity stake into the share capital of Moët-Hennessy • Louis Vuitton through its subsidiary Jacques Rober, creating what would become one of the leading and most influential luxury goods companies in the world.

    Nine in 33 years versus 143 in 34 years. I think Epapsiou's thesis could be argued successfully.

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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cook.bot View Post
    Nine in 33 years versus 143 in 34 years. I think Epapsiou's thesis could be argued successfully.
    If you assert that, in the latter 34 years, Dior failed to come up with nine worthy fragrances.
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    If you assert that, in the latter 34 years, Dior failed to come up with nine worthy fragrances.
    If Dior did not become part of LVMH, could they have made better fragrances and survived?
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  25. #25

    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    I think epapsiou raised an important part of this puzzle. I would be interested to know how long it took the 'Roudnitskas' to create a fragrance. When they created one did they immediately start on the next? What happened to the ones that didn't make it into production? Do they just sit in a notebook in limbo collecting dust? Or did they constantly stew in the perfumers mind becoming new creations later down the line?

    The idea of churning them out bothers me in the same way that companies put part finished items now to be consumer tested after release. I don't recall this happening for most of the 20th century. For a perfume to be released it had to be tip-top, a finished article and signed off before it ever hit the shops. They would sink or swim but the ones that made it really made it.

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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by N.CAL Fragrance Reviewer View Post
    If Dior did not become part of LVMH, could they have made better fragrances and survived?
    Had Arnault not taken over the bankrupt Boussac and restructured it to save Dior, then Dior would probably not have survived long enough to make many more fragrances. That Arnault then used Dior to gain a majority stake in LVMH is secondary, but LVMH certainly provided additional clout in the marketplace.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Any perfumer if given a choice and not a deadline, would not be producing 4 fragrances/ year.
    It also depends on the perfumer's technique and approach.

    However, as regards the main topic of why one seeks vintages...
    For myself, it was to learn the trajectory and course of perfume notes as time has gone by, e.g., how the older musks smelled vs. newer ones, the scent of old bases now defunct, and how perfume-AC and scent accords have changed over time. It is very similar to how one is interested in paintings. If you never saw the evolution of impressionism and post impressionism, how would one know why the modern painting is what it is today.
    Imagine if you never got to see a Caravaggio or Ruben, or Rembrandt... even the thought is frightening.

    Second, vintages (in many instances) are different perfumes from their current name-sakes.
    I wanted to know what the parent (perfume) smelled like.

    A third reason is perhaps my perfume eccentricity. The urgent need (an odd tension) to find a certain vintage to make it a part of one's collection did become a
    a constant focus (during a certain time-period). Tracking it down till it was in my possession and then... as if, all was well with the world. I have all the vintages I want (now) except Iris Gris, but then I have smelled it enough from L'Osmetheque, so there it resides.

    And lastly, there is a melancholy attached to sampling vintages, the way one feels the weight of the past visiting archeological sites... you realize how it must have been, and what has been lost. But then, with perfumes, it is never lost since you can still sample it in its glory-- and yet you know-- when the juice disappears, so does the ephemera-of-a-scent.

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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    I have about 34 bottles or decants of vintage perfumes. I either stumbled upon them by chance or sought them out finding a good price on them. There a few more I'd like to have. I either find them or not. I don't obsess over it. The vintage perfumes I own bring back happy memories. Some, are quite different than a lot of today's offerings. I don't think vintage is the be all, end all. I just happen to enjoy some of these, that aren't even made anymore. And when these bottles / decants are gone, they are gone.
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    If you assert that, in the latter 34 years, Dior failed to come up with nine worthy fragrances.
    This will be contentious. But here you go

    Since 1988 - Just one worthy fragrance- Fahrenheit - and that was 1988 so maybe just half since 1988.
    And if you count Sauvage , the count goes to -1

    There were a couple semi-worthy ones like Dior Homme and Dune.
    Beauty needs no morality or righteousness.
    It, like nature, does not give a shit

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Why do you seek out vintage?

    Quote Originally Posted by epapsiou View Post
    This will be contentious. But here you go

    Since 1988 - Just one worthy fragrance- Fahrenheit - and that was 1988 so maybe just half since 1988.
    And if you count Sauvage , the count goes to -1

    There were a couple semi-worthy ones like Dior Homme and Dune.
    I'm not arguing the contrary; I'm just saying you have to make that argument to support the theory. Even then, I think it depends as much on which perfumer(s) as how much they produce.

    Personally, the last Dior aside from the original Fahrenheit that really interests me much is the pre-Arnault Jules, and I have a bottle en route. I have a milder curiosity about some of the Privée line, though not enough to pay those prices. I was disappointed in Dior Homme, but there's no denying its success. I'm not really attuned to the feminine releases, so I can't comment on those.

    It may be worth considering in this equation that a great many of the releases in the last 34 years are flankers. Not that it should take any less time or effort to produce a fragrance that shares part of its name with a predecessor.
    Last edited by PStoller; 26th September 2019 at 11:03 PM.
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