Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's talk about it: Replacing a favorite perfume

One of the most frequent help requests I get is about finding an alternative for discontinued or beloved perfumes. I know the pain even though it's been almost twenty years since I had a signature scent. I may be polyfragmorouse but there are enough true loves in my collection and several of them are no longer with us, hence the stash of backup bottles.

Among the ones readers mourn are all the classic true chypres on all their oakmossy goodness. These are the hardest to replace, since IFRA has made sure no one uses enough oakmoss to make a difference. Tom Ford has discontinued his beautiful Moss Breches, which would have been my first recommendation. My current suggestion is to try the natural and indie perfumers. From Tauer's Un Rose Chypree to various creations from Ayala Moriel, Anya's Garden, Ava Luxe and others. Nothing is exactly like Mitsouko or Chanel 19 in original formula, but there are several gorgeous perfumes that would appeal to chypre lovers.

Then there such lovelies like Organza Indecence, Jil Sander No. 4, Fendi (original, though it actually belongs with the chypres above), Magie Noir, some of the classic Jean Patou perfumes... the list goes on and on. My opinion? Move on. If you don't like the weaker form of the current Jil Sander No 4 (available as an Ulta exclusive) try exploring  floral perfumes by Ormonde Jayne, Serge Lutens and Tom Ford, but don't expect them to be the same. They're excellent and very satisfying in their own right. Fans of Organza Indecence have a good chance of enjoying  Musc Ravageur (Frederic Malle) and should give Ormonde Jayne's woodier creations a chance: try Ormonde Woman and Orris Noir. Speaking of Ormonde Jayne, Tolu is a big boned floriental that could give some of the classic 80s scent a very good run for their money.

Many lament the death of the original Chloe as we used to know it. Add to that the disappearance of Mahora and Michelle (Balenciaga) and we have some huge gaps to fill in the white flower department. While recommending Fracas is a no-brainer, there's also Uncle Serge's Datura Noir (I can't stand this Lutens but it's divine on my mother). You might also like Rubj by Swiss perfumer Vero Kern, Frederic Malle Carnal Flower and Tubereuse 1 from Histoires de Parfums.

Mona di Orio creates bold and beautiful fragrances that aren't afraid to smell like real perfumes. They have an animalic feel and a rare backbone. They are the exact opposite of the shower fresh trend and are not to be missed if you're a fan of yesteryear scents. While exploring this style, also check Vero's Onda, anything by Parfumerie Generale (Querelle comes to mind), Parfum d'Empire and Robert Piguet.

I know this doesn't even come close to covering everything, which is where you come in. Let's talk about it:
Do you have any recommendations, questions and requests? Please share your ideas, brilliant finds and heartaches. Do you have a list of goners and acceptable substitutions? If not, let's start one here.



  1. Hi Gaia. I'm writing to you for the first time, even though i follow you every day. I must confess my lament. In the late 80's a new perfume of Rochas came around: "Lumiere". My mother brought me this as a gift. It has been vanished after a few years and recently i came across at a new one with the same name, different bottle, which i didn't even bother to test. The first one it was a bright, joyous, feminine floral, brisque enough as i remember, the loveliest, exquisite fragrance i've ever tried. I never searched the notes, i didn't care. It was so right with my age then without falling in the strawberry bubblegum,candy category usually targeting this age group. Not that this perfume is appropriate only for young ladies. If i knew then it would have been discontinued, i would have stocked up two dozens at least. What else can i say appart the sadness that all those facinating "beauties" are gone. Saluti!!

  2. Hi!

    I understand how it feels when your favourite perfume is reformulated or discontinued.
    That is what has happened to me with Lancôme Miracle, my first perfume. I have had several bottles and I have noticed that it has changed a lot in the last two years. Now it hasn't got the peppery, ginger notes which I love so much. Old Miracle was a floral-spicy fragrance like any other I have tried, and now it is a soapy floral with a hint of vanilla (nothing special). No pepper, no ginger. Fortunately, I found a "vintage" bottle which smelled just like I remembered my first bottle smelled in 2002.

    I have not found any other perfume (mainstream or niche) which is similar to the 2002 Miracle.

    But it has never been officially reformulated. Oh well...

  3. My first time posting here! For those who loved the original Chloe, I'd also recommend Delrae's Amoureuse. It has a similar scale and lusciousness to it. For those who lament the original Fendi, I'd recommend the Serge Lutens line, especially Chene and perhaps Chergui.


  4. I have spent much of the past 12 months (and not a little bit of money) chasing after vintage perfumes--some fondly remembered and some unfamiliar. I do think I have scored a few oldies but goodies. But it's often not worth the expense when you factor in the ones that have "gone off" and maybe a few fakes, too. I tend to agree that in the long run, it is better to move on. Cherish the memories, and create new ones.

    I love the photo of Elizabeth--thanks!

  5. I absolutely adore how you write about perfumes, it's a marvelously exquisite pleasure to read your posts daily!

    One questions I have is, what is your opinion on the current Guerlain Mitsouko? I'm no expert with perfumes as everyone here is, but how is the original richer?

    Also, do you have any recommendations for lovely vanilla note perfumes? I've been looking for one that's more creamy and woodsy than traditional sweet types.
    -Thank you!

  6. Wonderful article, Gaia - thank you for your wise insights and ideas!

    I do buy vintage perfumes on ebay or from The Perfumed Court, and I love them dearly, but that is partly because I am a vintage person :-) Yet even I, who grew up with what we now call vintage perfume, am blown away by the astonishing range of wonderful modern scents. Best of all, unlike a few years ago, one can easily buy samples online to explore niche and natural scents and find the ones that are right for you before investing in full bottles.

    I could recommend other lines in addition to the ones you mention, such as Etro, L'Artisan Parfumeur and Kilian, but the point is to sample widely and enjoy. ~~nozknoz

  7. Darling Gaia!
    It's a sad thing to try and do the impossible, sometimes it really just can't be helped for love or money.
    I still gravitate towards vintage but like Queen Cupcake stated- it's always a gamble.
    I got some Diorella and it is nice but yet seems watered down, nothing like what I expected. My gut tells me I was messed with but what do I know right?
    This picture and post is one of your best yet my dear!
    Elizabeth looks beyond fetching.
    I spied Caron's Bellodgia parfum bottle.
    How lovely she was and her collection was beautiful.

  8. FYI: Indécence is available again, though in a new bottle, at Macy's Online (not affiliated).

  9. *sigh* I miss Dior's Dolce Vita, which I think might still be available in Europe but certainly not in the US (unless you pay an arm & a leg to find and get it here). It reminds me of summer in Greece when I was a child.

  10. I miss Mariella Burani's original with the awesome, huge, Lucite flower cap. I got so many compliments and it made me feel so happy. I would love to find anything like it. Some say Chanel #5, but I just don't see it. (Smell it)


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