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  1. #1

    Default Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    It may very well just be me as I haven't exactly applied the scientific method to this hypothesis. Using Azzaro Pour Homme as an example: I have three different bottles of this stuff, a very early vintage (the anise note is more natural and almost leathery), a more recent formulation from the mid-2010s (pretty sure), and a bottle from within the past year or so. They all smell great, different in subtle ways, but I have to say, the most recent one seems better calibrated than the mid-2010s one. Perhaps the newest bottle I have was stored better than the newish bottle. Maybe it's as simple as, older bottles can sometimes smell less vibrant. Maybe I'm looking for a difference that isn't there. But I've also read in various places, threads and reviews and such, of recent improvements in the formulations of certain fragrances. Egoiste comes to mind. That one I can't weigh in on since I only have a new bottle—smells fantastic, but I don't know how it compares to a five year old bottle or 20 year old bottle.

    Are we finally getting to a point in the fragrance industry where the science has caught up with the restrictions? Will classics be restored to their previous glory, will new classics be all the more impressive for the higher quality synthetics being used?

    At the end of the day, all that matters to me is that I enjoy the scents I have (or am able to easily get) regardless of the formulation. But I can't help but wonder if perhaps this could become a fragrance enthusiast-friendly trend in an industry that generally confounds us.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Polo got a bit better. So did Santos.

    I don't think there's a widespread trend or anything, but I do think perfumers have more experience coping with IFRA.

  3. #3
    Basenotes Institution Danny Mitchell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    I'm speculating but I figure perfumers are tweaking their reformulations to keep them in sync with their original vision. It's easier to do once you've had time to explore options rather than trying to cobble something together right after a restriction is put out.
    "Ducks eat for free at Subway."

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Either that or earlier reformulations were simply piss poor hacks which made the latest version smell better in comparison.

    Welcome to Basenotes, @mrnibbles.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Either that or earlier reformulations were simply piss poor hacks which made the latest version smell better in comparison.

    Welcome to Basenotes, @mrnibbles.
    I agree, Diamondflame. It just seems to be hit or miss, these days.

    Welcome from me, too, mrnibbles.

  6. #6
    Basenotes Institution Danny Mitchell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Either that or earlier reformulations were simply piss poor hacks which made the latest version smell better in comparison.

    Welcome to Basenotes, @mrnibbles.
    Kinda the same thing.
    "Ducks eat for free at Subway."

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    I think there are more misses than hits.
    <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>

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    I have noticed that a few are better than their previous/initial reformulations. Magie Noire, for example. L'Air du Temps also improved drastically around the same time a number of good carnation-based florals were launched, so I assumed they found a substitute for carnation that did not involve restricted ingredients. I think whether this becomes a trend depends on the continued discovery of substitutes, and an individual company's dedication to their heritage. I do hope it continues.
    Currently wearing: Infusion d'Iris by Prada

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Thanks for the warm welcome, everybody! I've read and enjoyed Basenotes for years and finally decided to make the relationship official.

    Whether it is truly a widespread trend, it is heartening to hear that some fragrances are being improved with time. There's so much grousing about the opposite and choosing to chase vintage unicorns can be exhausting and expensive.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Hope the chemists are coming up with safe alternatives faster than IFRA is banning said safe alternatives of safe alternatives that lost their patent.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    It's not dissimilar to the early days of digital remastering in audio: many of the earliest examples were poor because the engineers were used to vinyl and not yet intimate with CD (let alone mp3). Also, the digital technology wasn't yet mature. As a consequence, significant recordings have been remastered multiple times, though one eventually reaches the point of diminishing returns.

    We should expect reformulation to improve. However, we should also expect that, with increasingly rare exception, few houses will really care about faithfully recreating old fragrances when their resources would be more profitably invested in developing popular new ones.
    Currently wearing: Private Label by Jovoy

  12. #12

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diamondflame View Post
    Either that or earlier reformulations were simply piss poor hacks which made the latest version smell better in comparison.

    Welcome to Basenotes, @mrnibbles.

    Exactly. The worse the prior version is the easier it is for the next version to "seem" a return to form even if it's just less bad.....
    Currently wearing: Blue by Brooks Brothers

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    It's not dissimilar to the early days of digital remastering in audio: many of the earliest examples were poor because the engineers were used to vinyl and not yet intimate with CD (let alone mp3). Also, the digital technology wasn't yet mature. As a consequence, significant recordings have been remastered multiple times, though one eventually reaches the point of diminishing returns.

    We should expect reformulation to improve. However, we should also expect that, with increasingly rare exception, few houses will really care about faithfully recreating old fragrances when their resources would be more profitably invested in developing popular new ones.
    Which is why some of the very best CD pressings were the original "warts and all" vinyl masters brought over to digital in the 80's. Yeah, they're a lot more neutral in sound and have all the tape hiss etc. from the original recordings, but no loudness pumping or dynamic compression means you can EQ the sound to your liking, they just suck listening to through headphones because the decibel RMS is like -16.8 instead of -8.0 ) like in modern "loud" remasters.

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  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    IMO some are and some aren't. It simply varies.
    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.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Glad I’m not alone on thinking some fragrances got better when reformulated.
    I don’t understand.It is so vast that surpasses all understanding.Understanding is always limited.But not understanding can have no boundaries.I feel like I'm much more complete when I don't understand.Not understanding,like I say,is a gift.Not understanding,but not as a simple-minded.The good thing is to be intelligent and not understand.It's a strange blessing, like having craziness without being crazy.It is a meek disinterest,it is a stupid sweetness.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zealot Crusader View Post
    Which is why some of the very best CD pressings were the original "warts and all" vinyl masters brought over to digital in the 80's. Yeah, they're a lot more neutral in sound and have all the tape hiss etc. from the original recordings, but no loudness pumping or dynamic compression means you can EQ the sound to your liking, they just suck listening to through headphones because the decibel RMS is like -16.8 instead of -8.0 ) like in modern "loud" remasters.
    Well, you can blow it multiple ways. The loudness wars all but destroyed audio mastering, but they were not unique to digital: it's just that you could only get so hot in analog mastering without making the needle jump out of the groove. They still used compression to cram signal onto the discs (and cassette tapes). Tube compression, but still…

    Some early digital remasters were indeed great, but many suffered from super-bright EQ due to engineers (some of them quite good) accustomed to compensating for the highs lost to vinyl, and sometimes even because they used EQ masters (pre-EQ'd for vinyl) as the source. It was a bit later that most mastering engineers adjusted to the new realities of digital frequency response (and dynamic range) and became more meticulous about using first-generation sources. And really, the loudness wars applied more to new material competing on radio (remember when radio mattered?) than archival stuff.

    But I digress, as I am wont to do.
    Currently wearing: Private Label by Jovoy

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by PStoller View Post
    Well, you can blow it multiple ways. The loudness wars all but destroyed audio mastering, but they were not unique to digital: it's just that you could only get so hot in analog mastering without making the needle jump out of the groove. They still used compression to cram signal onto the discs (and cassette tapes). Tube compression, but still…

    Some early digital remasters were indeed great, but many suffered from super-bright EQ due to engineers (some of them quite good) accustomed to compensating for the highs lost to vinyl, and sometimes even because they used EQ masters (pre-EQ'd for vinyl) as the source. It was a bit later that most mastering engineers adjusted to the new realities of digital frequency response (and dynamic range) and became more meticulous about using first-generation sources. And really, the loudness wars applied more to new material competing on radio (remember when radio mattered?) than archival stuff.

    But I digress, as I am wont to do.
    Yeah, vinyl compression is the reason some symphonic records groove track in reverse from center to edge, so the loudest bits at the climax of a movement benefit from slightly higher RPM, straighter grooves, and the extra dynamic range that affords.

    But yes, let us not digress further.
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    As for Egoiste - I used to wear it a lot in mid 90s and still have a little rest left in an old first formulation bottle.
    Last year I've tried the current version and got a decant from a fellow fragrance enthusiast who just bought a new bottle - it's really nice and smells like it should.
    I also like the current Antaeus version and don't think it's watered down massively, lasts easily over 8 hours on my skin.

    To be fair I have to say that I always had the feeling that Chanel stands out with keeping batch to batch tolerances low, too.
    They care about the quality and also don't want discounters to sell their fragrances (some of these greymarket sellers don't even store the fragrances properly).

    What I wanted to say is that Chanel is probably the best example how to do it right and not butchering fragrances with reformulations.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Agreed on Chanel standing out with their quality control. I do think they make an effort to keep their classics smelling as good as possible. I have a current version of Antaeus, never smelled the vintage. And only knowing the current, I always find it funny that it is known as such a hairy chested macho powerhouse, because when I wear it I pick up that trademark Chanel make-up accord. It has this sly femme side to it that I suspect was probably an intentional move on Chanel's part to either give it broader, or perhaps more contemporary, appeal.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrnibbles View Post
    Agreed on Chanel standing out with their quality control. I do think they make an effort to keep their classics smelling as good as possible. I have a current version of Antaeus, never smelled the vintage. And only knowing the current, I always find it funny that it is known as such a hairy chested macho powerhouse, because when I wear it I pick up that trademark Chanel make-up accord. It has this sly femme side to it that I suspect was probably an intentional move on Chanel's part to either give it broader, or perhaps more contemporary, appeal.
    I know women who wear it too. Why not?

    It has a certain "parfumey" quality and smells like a "classic" fragrance though you could also see it as a timeless creation.

    That animalic castoreum note is what people may dislike and where that "hairy chest" associations come from.
    I can guarantee you that it's still quite polarizing nowadays. I've read comments from people who got complaints when they wore it sitting in a train or bus from other passengers.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zealot Crusader View Post
    Which is why some of the very best CD pressings were the original "warts and all" vinyl masters brought over to digital in the 80's. Yeah, they're a lot more neutral in sound and have all the tape hiss etc. from the original recordings, but no loudness pumping or dynamic compression means you can EQ the sound to your liking, they just suck listening to through headphones because the decibel RMS is like -16.8 instead of -8.0 ) like in modern "loud" remasters.

    Back to perfume!
    Listen to Metallica's Death Magnetic for an example of some of the worst mastering out there. At the opposite end, I think the original mastering of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is absolutely stellar.
    "No one wants advice - only corroboration." - John Steinbeck

  22. #22

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrnibbles View Post
    It may very well just be me as I haven't exactly applied the scientific method to this hypothesis. Using Azzaro Pour Homme as an example: I have three different bottles of this stuff, a very early vintage (the anise note is more natural and almost leathery), a more recent formulation from the mid-2010s (pretty sure), and a bottle from within the past year or so. They all smell great, different in subtle ways, but I have to say, the most recent one seems better calibrated than the mid-2010s one. Perhaps the newest bottle I have was stored better than the newish bottle. Maybe it's as simple as, older bottles can sometimes smell less vibrant. Maybe I'm looking for a difference that isn't there. But I've also read in various places, threads and reviews and such, of recent improvements in the formulations of certain fragrances. Egoiste comes to mind. That one I can't weigh in on since I only have a new bottle—smells fantastic, but I don't know how it compares to a five year old bottle or 20 year old bottle.

    Are we finally getting to a point in the fragrance industry where the science has caught up with the restrictions? Will classics be restored to their previous glory, will new classics be all the more impressive for the higher quality synthetics being used?

    At the end of the day, all that matters to me is that I enjoy the scents I have (or am able to easily get) regardless of the formulation. But I can't help but wonder if perhaps this could become a fragrance enthusiast-friendly trend in an industry that generally confounds us.
    I've been hunting for another bottle of the second iteration of Azzaro Pour Home but now I'm intrigued by the new stuff out there.
    "No one wants advice - only corroboration." - John Steinbeck

  23. #23

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by FragFrog View Post
    I know women who wear it too. Why not?

    It has a certain "parfumey" quality and smells like a "classic" fragrance though you could also see it as a timeless creation.

    That animalic castoreum note is what people may dislike and where that "hairy chest" associations come from.
    I can guarantee you that it's still quite polarizing nowadays. I've read comments from people who got complaints when they wore it sitting in a train or bus from other passengers.
    Turin thought it a great scent for women..but not saying it's feminine.

    It just smells really good, warm and sensual.

    I agree CHANEL does do a good job of maintaining quality. I don't have a lot of them, but what I've got I love.

    It is somewhat annoying how they have clamped down on gray market and decanters, but it has probably helped them.

    I must admit buying from them online is a great experience top to bottom. Their packaging isn't gaudy or opulent, just very nicely done.
    They have branded themselves well.
    Between Covid and retirement I don't get out much. But when I do, I smell real good.
    Currently wearing: No. 89 by Floris

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    I think overall, the reformulations are getting slightly better, but, of course, some are still garbage in a fancy bottle.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    Quote Originally Posted by FragFrog View Post
    What I wanted to say is that Chanel is probably the best example how to do it right and not butchering fragrances with reformulations.
    I have to say the reformulations on a few of their classics did throw a wobbly around 2012-13, but I quite agree with you from then onwards the classics have become really good, stable formulations. Egoiste, Antaeus, even Pour Monsieur EdT is really good (it lacks the powderiness of the vintage formula but it works really well in current form).

  26. #26

    Default Re: Is it just me or are reformulations getting better?

    I like that Chanel makes it worth your while to buy directly from them. And as good as their online setup is (free shipping that is pretty fast, a couple of free samples with any order), their boutique experience is even better. Pick a sales assistant to throw all your business at, and every purchase you make they will shower you with whatever samples you want. (This is how a so-called luxury house should operate it; how irritating and chintzy is it when an expensive brand is tight-assed about samples?) This is how I am slowly but surely getting through all their les exclusifs, as those are wonderful but simply too pricey for my budget to justify blind buys (and as far as higher end scents go, they're not even the most overpriced of course).

    As for Antaeus, or any other "masculine" scent smelling great on a woman (or "feminine" smelling great on a man), I've no doubt there. Wear what you love with confidence and you can pull anything off. I fail to see genderizing perfume as anything other than noise.

    And yes, still a lot of garbage out there for sure. Which makes the ever-rising pricing even more frustrating. Zealot mapped out a theory on a different chain about the perfume industry cycling back to embodying luxury rather than utility (I'm over-simplifying and possibly butchering the thesis, sorry ZC) that I found pretty convincing. Perhaps this change was inevitable and the timing is merely bad, but it seems particularly tone-deaf, and potentially unwise from a business standpoint, for houses to want to concentrate more on catering to the super rich rather than casting as wide a net as possible. But now I'M digressing...




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