Monday Question – Are You Willing To Go Vintage?

Are you looking for vintage perfumes for reformulation reasons?

Or are you sticking to readily available current formulas?

Where do you find your vintage perfumes?

Is “going vintage” worth it, in your opinion?

My Answer:

I’m debating that issue with myself for some time now. On the one hand, I don’t like the fact that looking for a vintage perfume is a risky business and it is never guaranteed you will get what you want, or if you do, whether you will get it again. Will I be able to just use such a treasure? Or will I be afraid to touch it? Which, in the end, is a waste of money, because I might just as easily stare at an empty, but beautiful baccarat flacon and spray a current formula with abandon.

On the other hand, I am unhappy when I read, this or that perfume are shadows of their former selves. Well, I do not want to smell the shadow, I’d like the real thing.

For example, I really like my current formulation EdT of Guerlain Vol de Nuit (at least, I think it is a current formulation, because in fact I don’t know from what year my bottle hails, and when major reformulations have taken place. See, what I mean, it gets complicated from the start.), but I hear the vintage version, especially in the perfume concentration is something so much better. Of course, I would like to smell “so much better”!

But I wouldn’t know where to start, the vintage market, especially here in Europe seems like a secret society to me.

Do I risk to trust an ebay seller who might have not the slightest idea? Do I pay premium prices for a decant of a vintage perfume, that leaves me without the coveted bottle?

What are your thoughts on the matter?

How did you come by your vintage treasures?

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55 Responses to Monday Question – Are You Willing To Go Vintage?

  1. civava says:

    Certainly I would like to try vintages. Very, very much. I also know that I’ve tried many of them when I was younger but I hadn’t been mature enough to appreciate them. I would be very satisfied just to be able to try and compare. I have already given up to the idea of posessing one. Just because it is so hard to get this stuff and you never know what you actually have. And I’m not experienced enough to talk about anything vintage I guess. I would buy from reliable source, but in Europe, like you’ve said is dark Middle Ages. And becouse those things are rather expensive I’ll stick to the current versions. Maybe, maybe, if something gets in my hand just accidentially for some resonable money I would buy it.

  2. Undina says:

    I thought about it for a while and I made a decision not to “go vintage” with any perfumrs but three or four special ones which I knew and loved in their previous reincarnation. With anything else I just do not want to go through all the problems and risks just to be disappointed in the end – either by a perfume that went off, a fake one or a perfect bottle of something I won’t be able to replenish ever.

  3. Ines says:

    I’m always interested in vintage but I don’t actually seek it actively. Because I don’t want to pay a lot of money for those bottles, at the moment, I’m happy to grab those that cross my path.
    Eventually then, the bottles I’d like to own in vintage form will find their way to me (at least, that’s what I believe). 🙂

  4. vanessa says:

    I agree with Undina that my approach is more random – things just cross my path and I am curious to try them, not always having a point of comparison in mind. Where I have actively sought out vintage scents is in a few specific cases personal to me: Magie Noire, Ysatis and Blue Grass: former bottles I owned plus a scent my teacher wore (on whom I had a crush at 15!). I do happen to have a bottle of Opium that belonged to my mum (she’s been dead nearly 13 years, and had had it a while before that). So that is vintage by default, if anyone fancies a snifter! I would like to try vintage Diorissimo, mind you, as I believe that is quite something, and maybe Apres L’Ondee and one or two others.

  5. masha7 says:

    I’ve had no trouble with ebay in the US for vintage perfumes, I’ve found some real gems for very low prices. I don’t wear them that often, but I really love them. My favorite is vintage Femme. But in Europe, buying used/vintage perfumes is so restricted, I guess you’d only find them through other perfumistas. I did find a few a flohmarkts in Germany, some very nice minis from the 1970s and 1980s for a few euros each.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I never have been lucky on a Flohmarkt yet, unfortunately. I always hear about the fabulous yard sales and antique shops in the US where the great treasures live. I’d love to browse those!

  6. lady jane grey says:

    I’m so unsure about vintage : I mean, already my 3-4 years old Double Vanilla has lost any resemblance to the parfume I bought (and liked) – how it’s going to smell like after 20 years ?! And it’s not exactly a department store concoction…
    I have a tremedous respect to vintage perfume, whatsoever… for example Chanel – but I’m not sure I’d like its scent now. And it certainly wouldn’t smell like it did 25 years ago – it’s just simply not possible due to the ingredients (they also have their best before date…). I’d rather prefer if they’d continue produce them with the original recipe and label it like “it contains blah-blah and oakmoss – danger of blah-blah – any health problems/concerns are the buyer’s responsibility”, or something similar.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Your SDV changed so much? That is unfortunate! Warning labels would be best… sigh.

      • lady jane grey says:

        Painfully, exactly that note got completely lost what I cherished the most: the earthy vanilla pod scent… 😦

        • Olfactoria says:

          My bottle is still fine, it is about two or three years old. Let’s hope it stays that way! I’m very sorry about yours. If you need a decant, let me know, I really have more than enough!

          • lady jane grey says:

            You think you could miss 5-10ml of DV ?
            Hm, what could YOU be interested in as a decant from me ? Probably some Jo Malone ? Or Malle’s Fleur de Cassie ? Or Uncle Serge’s Fleur de Citronier ? DelRae Bois de Paradise? Guerlain’s Angelique Noire ? Caron’s Acaciosa ?

          • Olfactoria says:

            No, I sure won’t miss it and I’d love to give you 10ml. And if you insist on giving something back, Guerlain Angelique Noire would be perfect! 🙂

  7. Alnysie says:

    I’m really trying to avoid vintage, it seems to be to much trouble for me, especially since I’ve only just started “perfumistahood” and there are so many amazing non-vintages for me to discover. But I recently sniffed vintage Caron Violette Précieuse that I won in a draw, among other scents, and I really really really like it. Now I’m even scared of using the sample, because I don’t want to empty it; how would I act with a bottle?! I read everywhere that the new formulation is nothing like the old, but I still might try it, maybe I’ll like it enough and it’ll “solve my problem”…!

  8. Tara says:

    As per usual we are on the same page, B! It’s definitely the vintage Guerlains that are most tempting for me. I used to keep an eye out for vintage Guerlains on Ebay but when they’d come up they’d be so expensive I never took the plunge. Especially because I couldn’t be sure of the quality. So (apart from vintage Vol de Nuit edt which isn’t so costly) I stopped looking and reminded myself that I am happy with the current formulations and it’s probably best not to fall in love with something so hard to find, unpredictable and expensive.

    However, of late I’ve been thinking “how can I call myself a chypre lover when I’ve never experienced vintage Mitsouko with real oakmoss?”

    Oh, it’s such a fraught issue and a great topic for the Monday Question!

  9. Caro says:

    Dear Birgit, have you read my mind?
    I had just posted on our blog about vintage Diorling and this week I intend to go on a vintage-hunt.
    I especially love chypres, so there’s no way to compare their former oakmossy glory to the pale juice that’s mainly sold today. And not only chypres, but lasting power of any fragrances, even in eau de cologne form was far superior not so many years ago.
    I would never buy vintage throught the internet, though. I visit this old store that has existed since the 1950s where the owner keeps many little treasures and lets me try them before buying.
    She knows I am going to buy, so we just open the bottles to check the contents are ok, maybe with just the top notes evaporated.
    There I found extraits of Diorling, Diorella, Dioressence, Dune (yes, there was an extract once), Cabochard (glory of glories!), Shalimar, Chamade…

  10. Caro says:

    I forgot to add L’Heure Bleue to the list ; )
    The lady who owns the shop is so charming…she has good and bad days for setting prices. Two years ago she was asking for 100 dollars for the 0.5 oz bottle Diorling bottle.
    Last week she charged me the same amount for the parfum + a bottle of eau de cologne and she asked me to pay it “when you can”.
    She is in her eighties. I am sure she keeps the store because she has fun with it.

  11. Asali says:

    I have a wonderful perfume friend, who has “fed” me some samples of her favourite vintages, so after she send me samples, I knew a few that I could then go on to hunt down online, and I must say, sometimes E-B*** is just excellent for that. Like you, I would dearly love to try some of those illusive Guerlain vintages, and I’d love to own a bottle of “Vol de Nuit” extrait. I don’t know how to ever get that at an affordable price, but on the other hand one could argue that it probably won’t cost you more than some of the pricey niche releases? I don’t think I’d ever turn into a vintage-freak though, since I like temporary releases way too much for that 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      That sounds like a very sensible, balanced approach, Asali. I love contemporary perfume too much as well, to ever completely veerin the vintage direction, but there are a few things I would really love to try, like Chanels, Guerlains and Diors.

  12. andrea says:

    I can’t see me ever going onto vintage, how would you ever know that they smelt exactly like they did when they were produced? I have enough perfumes to sample in the current market, (some being harder to get hold of than others), without embarking on the vintage market of which I know nothing about.
    Its great that the big houses are still producing their ‘vintage, if vastly reformulated’ perfumes but with the exception of Mitsouko, I have not found ‘vintage’ to my tastes.

  13. deeHowe says:

    Yes, I am willing to go vintage! But I try not to become obsessed with finding pre-reformulation because, as others here have said, the heartbreak associated with not being able to find the same vintage again!

    I have been very lucky with vintage finds: between eBay, thrift shops, and even a pre-reformulation pristine bottle of Vol de Nuit parfum from The Perfume House in Portland! Now there’s a place with a magical back room…

    But then there is my L’Heure Bleue problem. I’ve got a vintage EDT that I love, and have almost used the whole bottle of. My indecision over whether to try and find the same vintage again, or to go with the current formulation has left me not using the perfume! Since I don’t know what to do about replacing it, I’ve been barely using it at all… And it is the bottle in my collection that had been closest to being completely drained from use. It’s a tricky topic!


    • Olfactoria says:

      Re L’Heure Bleue – the decant you sent me was vintage, wasn’t it? It is sooooo, let me say that again: sooooooo much better than the contemporary version, I’d try my luck and go for a vintage replacement, if I were you.

      I still dream of your Vol de Nuit bottle, that was a triumph indeed! 😀 That backroom must have been a secret paradise, it is the one thing you’ll probably miss in Austin, isn’t it?

  14. dremybluz says:

    I have had good luck buying vintage on Ebay: Mitsouko, Shalimar, Channel 5 extrait, Sortilege,
    Detchma by Revillion. If you are into vintage, another good source is estate sales. At least at the estate sales you are able to open the bottles and smell the contents. Usually the prices are ridiculously cheap. I look at buying vintage perfume like buying a bottle of wine. You need to enjoy the bottle you have been lucky to find, and realize that there may not be another out there for you to enjoy. Even with present day formulations , you never know if the batch that you have fallen in love with will be the same batch in the next bottle you purchase. If you are lucky enough to buy a perfume when it first comes on the market, you soon will be considering it vintage due to all the reformulated bottles that will appear.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is very true, Dremybluz! You never know, even with contemporary formulas, perfumes are not books after all, where you can get an identical copy. Also your wine analogy is very succinct, savor it and when it is gone, you’ll have at least the memories. I’ll try to adopt that philosophy! Congratulations on your impressive vintage finds!

  15. Aaron says:

    I actively seek out vintage versions of 80s powerhouse scents eg. Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, Quorum, etc as they seem to hold their scent with some consistency and often aren’t that expensive or even cheaper than modern formulations. I would be wary of getting real vintage stuff though (pre 70s) as I would buy solely to use and would be worried about the state of the juice!

  16. I’m with Undina, Vanessa and Ari, I won’t actively seek vintage, mainly because it’s hard to find, the quality varies if I got used to something in a vintage formula it would be heartbreaking if I couldn’t find it again.

    That said, I have opted to purchase vintage formulations of new scents that have been changed, namely Dior Homme and I’m on the hunt for some vintage Pure Poison (OMG I love that stuff) but that’s because I prefer the older formulations *shakes fist at Dior*.

    I do have a small bottle of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait, it is the shiz!

  17. angie Cox says:

    Last year I nearly went vintage only . I had been lucky enough to buy quite a lot of vintage from an old lady who knew she could not use them all. I was very impressed by Lanvin vintage .I have bought a lot of discontinued this year such as Givenchy111, Mystere , Emeraude vintage , Scherrer and others. I want to buy Guerlain vintage but need to find prices I can afford . If it wasn’t for Malle, Andy Tauer , Amouage and a few others I would go vintage all the way.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I always marvel at your SotD posts on FB, such gems! Vintage buying and having lots of luck need to be closely intertwined, it seems. 🙂

      • angie Cox says:

        It might be where I live Birgit. The county I mean it’s a wealthy one on the outskirts of my town. I do wonder what is tucked away in other towns .It’s sometimes sad when I buy a dead lady’s fragrances but if they were mine I’d love to know they were appreciated.

  18. I am scared of vintage. What if I like it and then I have to pay a fortune to find it? Dreaded thought!!!
    I have actively sought Jacomo Eau Cendree because it was something I remembered from my childhood (and it also has a mean bottle!). I enjoy buying cheap discontinued fragrances because I like the style of perfume from past decades. But other than that, “vintage Guerlain” is the boogeyman!

  19. Eva S says:

    I have never bought vintage, and I would be too cowardly I think to buy a bottle from someone I didn’t know on Ebay. The one thing that would seriously tempt me is vintage Mitsouko, I so miss the oakmoss!

  20. Lila says:

    Decided to leave it to chance: if a vintage bottle comes my way, I wouldn’t be perverse enough to turn it down. On the other hand I made up my mind to look forward and not backward.
    I wore Fendi in my 20s and I would love to own a bottle again, just for old time’s sake, but I won’t pay the silly prices on e-bay just for a trip down memory lane. There’s so much wonderful stuff to smell that’s made today – they will be the vintage of tomorrow and we can tell our grandchildren about it then!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Very wise words, Lila! And you are right, looking forward can be just as rewarding, there are many great ones made today, and we are the ones who lived in “vintage Tauer” for example, at the beginning of the millenium. 😉

  21. Every once in a while I allow myself to go for a vintage of one of my favorites. For example, there are several formulations of Guerlain Vetiver. The one I have at the moment is the first reformulation. When I finish it I will attempt to find the original edc formulation because I have heard so many good things about it. Another one is Old Spice- one of my favorite cheap scents. But the old formula (made by Shulton) is much better than the current Proctor & Gamble one. Those are two examples that came to mind of vintage bottles that I will allow myself.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I hope you will find them both, Jim!
      As long as there is just one or two perfumes one especially loves, the vintage hunt is manageable, I think.
      One of these days I will find vintage L’Heure Bleue and be happy ever after… 🙂

      • Heh. Well, the Old Spice is easily found on places like ebay. The Vetiver might be a bit more of a challenge. I’m sure those aren’t the only vintage bottles I will end up with. It’s just that those two are at or near the top of the list.

  22. Lyubov says:

    I would define “vintage” as a feeling, not as an old formula! That’s why I don’t own vintage but I wear vintage – these days my Femme – Rochas is in the front row, for example!
    Yes, I’ve tried vintage Guerlain and Dior perfumes (and Gres, and Aramis, and even the old Visa!) but I think that even if they are my cup of tea, my nerves and my pocket are not thick enough to endure the pressure…

  23. I am having fun slowly expanding my vintage collection thanks to my mum and generous friends! I cherish my little vintage Guerlain coffret that my mother gave me; it’s only two years younger than I!

    I would absolutely love a decant of Bandit vintage, and Emeraude vintage. A girl can dream, no?

    As of right now, my financial situation dictates that I stay far, far from Evil-Bay so luckily, I’m not doing much shopping right now. If I could, though, I’d be online for hours scouring for bottles!

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