I don't know exactly how old is my bottle of the original Magie by Lancome, but all evidence (the bottle, its stopper and the box) point to the early 1950s. I bought it sealed a couple of years ago after I already had the modern (late 2000s) reissue and liked it enough to be curious about what it used to smell like. To my surprise, I think I prefer the new Magie to its predecessor. At least for the first 80% of the perfume's life on skin.
The 1950s Magie is an aldehydic floral with an ambery somewhat chypery base (though it's not an oakmoss bomb, more like a hint of that lost in a big vat of Chanel No. 5. Lancome created a mostly polite and demure creature, but with an edge. The predictable rose-violet-jasmine core is inflated by aldehydes and feels more than a little boring, especially if one already have several vintage gems of the same denomination. But I fully enjoy the drydown, since they no longer make them like that. It reminds me of all that's good in vintage Caleche and then some. This is where I smell and get the magic of Magie- she's a good witch, for sure, but neither like Glinda from OZ nor is she Professor McGonagall. There's a certain sultriness as Magie turns all amber, musk and skin, so I'm thinking Veronica Lake as a witch.
The new Magie from Lancome's well-crafted and tragically aborted Le Collection is more seductive at first. I can probably blame that on the vintage juice's age. It might have lost its girly figure, while the modern one is quite voluptuous for a floral perfume and a little indolic. The comparison to vintage Caleche is still valid in the beginning and I definitely get the chypre structure here. March of the Posse found Magie way too sweet and ambery for her taste, to the point she actually used Bal a Versailles EdC to drown it. I have absolutely no idea what she's talking about, so this particular concoction sounds utterly insane to me. Then again March is a layering genius, so I'm taking her word for it.
The new Magie continues its journey in Caleche's footsteps, this time the modern reformulation that uses vetiver instead of all the good old stuff. I love vetiver, of course, and don't mind in theory, but finding this base in too many new versions of the classics has started to feel like an easy way out. We could all use a little more magic.
Lancome abandoned and discontinued its La Collection perfumes including Magie. I assume they found the cost of keeping a more exclusive high-quality line too high for their liking. Its not that their reps and SAs were ever good at selling the stuff. They all look a lot more comfortable pushing the insipid Magnifique. It doesn't endear them to me.
Top photo by me.
Veronica Lake and I Married A Witch film poster (1942) from imdb.com