Category Archives: Vintage

Mini reviews of random vintage aquisitions – Part 1

I have bought a lot of vintage goodies recently, almost too many to do individual reviews on (although see reviews of others in Full List of Fragrance Reviews)… so here’s part 1 of my mini review series :) Oh and these first four are all in pure parfum concentration.

Crepe de Chine F Milot

Crepe de Chene Parfum – F.Millot opens as a big, traditional chypre – although extremely soft (texture wise not volume). There’s oakmoss, sandalwood, a hint of carnation… in the same vein as Mistouko without the lactonic peach. There’s a little aldehydic chain up top, patchouli… lots of big, mossy, earthy greens… and the subtlest of florals weaving in and out. As I said, for some reason I keep getting carnation although not listed, and no one else seems to mention it… but my nose is always super sensitive to the note.

It’s powdery, classical, soft, very dated smelling but so well put together it’s timeless. Crepe de Chine doesn’t have the most distinctive personality, but follows a chypre trend often found when exploring vintage, done very well.

Shocking Schiaparelli

Shocking Parfum – Schiaparelli starts with bright, Chanel-esque aldehydes, along with a honeyed floral that smells similar to the indolic Paperwhite Narcissus. Very quickly, an animalistic honey comes in – thick and almost bitter, laced with a floral spice. There’s a touch of rose and a scattering of powder… and then begins the slow development into a construction similar to the beautiful Onda extrait by Vero Profumo (minus the vetiver)… you can tell that Vero was greatly inspired by Shocking!

There’s an amazing balance between bitter and sweet, the honey smells sticky and skin-like; Shocking feels extremely classical (although my partner calls it old-fashioned) – pshhhh!!!! It’s very musky, although not as filthy as I expected – the overload of civet adds a plush, richness to the honeyed florals, and the powder (which seems to be coming from a sandalwood) softens the whole thing. Shocking is quite a skin scent in parfum form, one that on first glance smells tame and refined, and when inhaled a little closer – primal and furry. A new favourite of mine, absolutely beautiful.

Cialenga Balenciaga

Cialenga Parfum – Balenciaga starts with a rooty, earthy vetiver overload, partnered with oakmoss. The vetiver has a nutty, castoreum-like quality to it, the whole composition extremely dry verging on masculine. There’s extremely subtle hints of jasmine and aniseed, similar to Balenciaga’s Quadrille. It stays relatively linear, revolving around the vetiver and oakmoss with an overall, obvious “chypre feel”. It’s extremely classy and refined, green throughout in colour, but without an overload of florals or citrus (at least in this parfum version). There’s a little spice, again from clove (something that seems to be popular amongst vintage chypres so I’ve discovered…), a pinch of rose… but almost solely deep base notes. Very nice, almost too “nice” though and not enough “amazing”.

Soir de Paris Bourjois

Soir de Paris Parfum – Bourjois starts with a hint of peach, aldehydes and a slightly sour, heliotrope/violet powder. Violet dominates Soir de Paris (Evening in Paris), like an old school Insolence by Guerlain without the sweetness and the overload of hairspray. It also brings to mind Apres L’Ondee and L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain – it has an old school, melancholy feel to it – coloured in lilacs and blues – a wash of scent but of course not “watery”. It’s a dreamy violet fragrance, with a base of musk, sandalwood and iris. Hints of jasmine and fruits keep it interesting and multifaceted… but the heart of Soir de Paris has become one of my favourite powdery violet accords… it’s familiar, and unbelievably romantic, like a long lost love. Beautiful.

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Video: Where to begin with “Vintage Fragrances”

Hey guys – sorry I’ve been off the scene for a while and haven’t updated the blog in ages. I have this awesome secret project thingie going on with a popular fragrance brand (a collaboration – but not on a perfume) that I will hopefully be able to talk about and reveal all details of soon…
So anyway, for now… here’s a video of me rambling and chatting shit for 10 minutes on how to get in to “Vintage”… hope it helps

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Vintage Diorissimo – Christian Dior

I picked this up very cheaply at a Vintage Fair here in Birmingham, quickly sniffing out the bottle to check it still smelt good… it certainly does!

Vintage Diorissimo

Diorissimo opens with a clear, clean and green lily of the valley with a powdery lilac (and a very light citrus). It almost has a slightly “peachy” feel to it in the opening, an not-quite-ripe green peach and maybe even apple? The fruit accord isn’t dominant however, slightly alcoholic even (maybe the top has been tainted a bit… my bottle unfortunately leaks a touch after all…). The lily of the valley isn’t the powerful waxy and slightly spicy beast of the gorgeous Carillon Pour Un Ange, but more delicate, feminine and a touch “soapy”.

There’s a dewy scent of fresh greenery and a little heady jasmine, reminding me of the honeyed jasmine of First by Van Cleef & Arpels (without the aldehydes). There’s a light spice of lily – but all in all, the lily of the valley and lilac dominate… giving off an almost “laundry-clean” vibe, but all round more perfume-y. Whilst the lotv is pretty realistic, the rest of the composition smells undeniable-y dated, although too classical to smell old-fashioned… if there is such a thing. It’s quaint, very pretty, very delicate on my skin but with a spring-like throw (that somehow conjures up green melon? – although it’s not aquatic).

Underneath Diorissimo has the slightest civet rich musk, but it’s cleaner to my nose than many seem to get… all on top of the most subtle transparent woods and green. To me, Diorissimo remains relatively linear, gradually fading away in time not too dissimilar to how it started – fresh from top bottom, seamless, green and floral. Of course it’s not at all a challenging wear, but very, very pretty <3

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Vintage: No.5 – Chanel

My sample of Chanel No.5 was gifted to me by a generous Facebook-er and her bottle is from the 50’s :)
I admit my review is totally pointless, but it was something I wanted to jot down for myself.

Chanel No.5

No.5 opens with aldehydes galore, unlike the sterile, soapy aldehydes of Stephen Jones – more the jasmine-laden cleanliness of First. A bright bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine are the first to appear for me – “floralizing” the aldehydes into something that now smells dated (ironic). It’s not quite soap-y, but almost – hyper clean, tainted slightly with the indoles of jasmine and subtle narcotics of the tropical ylang ylang. It’s a sterile smelling floral bouquet (at first – and not in a negative way), and whilst still lush – totally refined (as expected).

No.5 is actually relatively linear on me, and because of that I struggle to describe it. After the aldehydes settle and burn off,, diminishing any of the overt cleanliness at the beginning, what’s left is something that smells familiar to the opening, with the distorted floral heart of jasmine, a pinch of rose – a faint memory of ylang and a crisper pinch of lily of the valley, sitting in a soft, plush, skin-like layer. There’s a touch of powder from iris, giving off a suede-like texture, and a beautiful sandalwood in the base, reminding me of Bois Des Iles which I’m a little more familiar with. It gives No.5 a dry quality without smelling charred or jarring, with hints of butter and even the faintest touch of liqourice. It’s perfectly balanced of course, and a classic for a reason, but there is honestly little more I can say about it. At the end of the day, everything has been said about it already – everyone’s tried it, and is familiar with it. So this is my very, very brief review on something that I can’t impart much more in to. It’s wonderful.

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Vintage: Mahora – Guerlain

Ok so I finally got my bottle of Guerlain Mahora in the mail, so can write about it properly having lived with my sample for a little while. To be honest, I’d only sniffed my sample once or twice, knew I liked it… found a great deal on eBay and snatched up a bottle without a second thought. Oh and I hear this discontinued fragrance has been re-released in the more exclusive Guerlain line-up named Mayotte – old news but worth a mention.


Mahora opens sharly aldehydic, before an intense spice of clove, some green, culinary herbal accords, and maybe cinnamon? – sit atop a loud, sweet tuberose (Fracas style only more syrup – less bubblegum). The spicy tuberose opening is awesome – throwing off random gourmand scents of anise and cherry – an abstract, more floral Rahat Loukoum-esque thing.

After no time at all, the narcotic methyl-benzoate-y, “wintergreen” tuberose top-notes come through loudly. It’s hectic, but cool and mentholated – still spiced and syrupy. It’s pretty epic to be honest.
The tuberose is paired with an ylang-ylang which screeches subtly in the background – I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it doesn’t lead… what part it does play though – is definitely a screech – a good screech.
Frangipani joins in with the tuberose and pretty much dominates – paired with the mentholated aspects of the tuberose it creates this distorted impression of the tropical floral and smells like a hybrid of them both.

In the background there is almond, the merest touch of coconut, a decent dose of indolic jasmine – I say background but it all comes out at once, it just takes a long time to figure it all out.
I love it – and I don’t understand the hate, or even the people who say “Love the drydown but the opening is too much! Wait for it to settle”… The opening is the best bit – and I’m sure it sounds cliché coming from myself, but truly – there is NOTHING wrong or weird about the opening, it’s just fabulous.

It smells like Serge Lutens was back to his old, experimental self and released something called “Frangipani: Elixir de Nocturne”. This is a “nuit”-style tropical floral to me, but I wouldn’t go as far as “noir” ;) It smells like flowers at night – I don’t get the hot sand and suntan lotion others mention, it smells like you’ve crept outside in the tropics (I love stupid blogger-descriptives…), and discovered a flowering plant reeking of this (Mahora). It’s mysterious, tropical, heady and humid, with a bitter/sweet base of Guerlain’s infamous vanilla, a touch of vetiver and sandalwood.

In the late drydown where the vanilla dominates along with a touch of powdery iris, a carnation appears and leads the now-subtle Mahora into a skin scent not too dissimilar to the late drydown of Terracotta Voile D’ete. A lightly spiced floral with a tropical edge (tuber-pani), laid on a fabulous vanilla. What’s not to love? <3

Mahora – Guerlain discontinued but can be found for a great price online (I got my 75ml EDP for £23 including postage).

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Vintage: First EDP by Van Cleef & Arpels

I say vintage… all I know is my bottle is oldish. I don’t even know if the fragrance has been reformulated much… I don’t think so… anyway :)
I noticed I reference this fragrance quite a lot (both here and on my YouTube channel). I’m not too sure why, it’s not exactly a favourite of mine, but I do get drawn to it every now and again.
I also have a massive jasmine plant growing in my bedroom which is literally stinking out my whole apartment (beautifully of course!). My narcissus is practically a brown crisp with dead leaves that I can’t quite bring myself to throw away yet – and considering the two main florals I get in this are jasmine and narcissus, this is probably a good time to write about it :)


First opens aldehydic and soapy – very old-school, with a fruity astringency up top that smells intense and dated. A touch of peach, a bit of honey, and a faint indolic accord that pretty accurately conjurs a narcissus accord – only with a big bar of soap rubbed over it.

The development is very slow – which is very nice. The aldehydic opening hanging around for a lot longer than expected, the “soap” practically producing suds in my nose until they let the florals underneath become a little more dominating. The leading jasmine is nice – a hint of indole adds to the old-fashioned feel of First rather than add something challenging. The narcissus and jasmine pretty much merge together at this point and round out into a very smooth, honeyed floral accord.

I get a touch of carnation and clean rose – a bit of warmth and spice but minimal underneath the pastel florals. There’s a hint of dewy greenery, the slightly de-sweetened honey note still going strong – a dry woodiness underneath smells physically hot on my skin with a bitter edge that smells a little like glue. Yes PVA glue.

A civet/jasmine combination could easily turn my stomach, but its balance just about helps me to continue enjoying First – it’s not too strong, not too “thick” – just a hint of piss pants to soil First in (what is now) a typical, old-fashioned, urine-musk as I call it :) It smells like decay.
Ok doom and gloom blah blah, I sound so unsure about this fragrance don’t I? I totally am that’s the thing… but let me continue…

So the piss pants, soap, dated florals and bitter honey manages to be both thoroughly enjoyable to me, and pretty gross too. In the later drydown (much later) – there’s a touch of sweet vanilla, a dry woodiness (sandalwood) – that’s smooth, classical and expected.
What I don’t like about it – is the flattening of the florals into a persistent, non-dimensional floral accord that truly grates on me in time. WOAH where did that come from?! Harsh. Ok… I did some Googling on this before I started my review… turns out Jean-Claude Ellena used a ton of hedione in this. He brags he uses “Ten times more hedione than in Dior’s Eau Sauvage”… fantastic. Ok so this may have been a big deal at the time as it was a new material and what-not… now though (at the time of this review) – for me, I can totally smell that. I didn’t recognize it as hedione (even though I have a sample of it lying around somewhere – gah!) – but this literally engulfs the jasmine in a watery, green, grandiflorum-y layer – tainted with honey, and that’s what we get until the end. Doesn’t sound too bad no? It is for me anyway – I just see it as an unnecessary mass in the fragrance, like if it sat down, a roll would bulge out… what the hell am I on about.
For me, the hedione note gets boring – but the PVA glue accord keeps me amused I suppose.
So I will continue to wear First to bed and not out the house where I can’t experience the irritation I get when smelling most of JCE’s work.
So there you have it, probably the most unglamorously worded review of First :) Thanks <3

Verdict: I like it I promise!

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Vintage: Poison Esprit De Parfum – Christian Dior

Recently a generous friend on Basenotes sent me a huge sample goody bag of vintage juices. Vintage is an area I’ve never explored, and having tried a couple of these now, I feel like it’s an area I can imagine exploring a little more. I don’t think I’ll ever be spending 4 x previous retail price on half a bottle of used juice, but these have definitely been very interesting to try.
For now, I’ll start with one of my favourites of the bunch…

Poison Esprit De Parfum opens with a harsh, medicinal intensity. A clove note pushes to the foreground, along with the rich fruitiness of red and black berries. This spiced berry mix brings to mind the subtle heat of candied cinnamon and a tiny high-pitched screech of anise – a sweet, rich stew that on blind sniff I could’ve easily mistaken for a good Lutens.

After a couple of minutes, the florals present themselves. A creamy tuberose is hidden in the distance, but it pulls that medicinal opening into the heart. There’s rich jasmine sambac in here, not quite indolic but luscious and full bodied like a bouquet – paired with the tuberose, the white florals are syrupy sweet and overwhelming, they take on a honeyed texture that coats the skin in a dense layer of floral juice, rather than a scattering of dated petals. I use “overwhelming” in the best possible way, it’s almost edibly delicious and not at all as loud as I imagined.

A smokiness comes through from the base, a trail of incense? Maybe even sweet myrrh. The resinous undertone definitely brings to mind smoky incense and rich amber, sweetened with a rich vanilla. This oriental is pretty huge – the aroma is that of such a dark lacquer, it becomes almost gothic – I’m kind of craving for a sharp metallic edge to be cutting through the heart of it. Thankfully the sharp incense just about fills this craving.

As it dries down further, a heavy chop of timber sits underneath – sandalwood, maybe even cedar? Something raw, dry and smoky, it hits hard with a masculine edge, keeping the power of the opening throughout the life of Poison Esprit De Parfum. Along with the clove note that I still find prominent, there seems to be some kind of green, herbal mix trailing throughout the spicy floral. Whether it is a hint of rooty vetiver in the base, or there is some other clever work at play – something green and almost culinary seems to hind underneath the syrupy florals.

This is an impressive piece of work, full of textures, pitches and colours – but seamless in its execution. I have actually never smelt the original Poison (but have a little sample of it next to me which I will look at in time), but knowing its popularity, I don’t feel like I have smelt this before. Whilst it smells quite familiar – I can’t imagine it being particularly true to this juice.
The Esprit De Parfum  smells like a classic – as pathetic as that sounds – but it is a high-personality, rich fruity floral with an oriental twist, that I think would be extremely hard not to enjoy unless you have been scarred through its overexposure before. For me, who has never smelt a Poison (knowingly), it’s a delicious scent that I wouldn’t say no to having in my collection.

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