digging (into) vintage

(image source unknown)

The discussion of perfume has exploded in the past 15 or so years and vintage perfumes play an important role. A great deal of information that was previously need-to-know within the industry has found its way to the light of day. New information, new perspectives. Vintage perfumery is ripe for excavation.

I’m compiling some things I’ve written about vintage perfume over the past few years to see if any ideas come into focus. Ideas that apply to contemporary perfumery are relevant to vintage, the key one being that perfume can be read. It’s loaded with information and meaning. Even if we lack a language for scent we identify place, person (including ourselves) and time through it. Olfaction is ours for the taking.

Up front, a few of my biases:

  1. Notes are misleading. They ostensibly give information about the composition of a perfume but are fiction. Note lists offer the appearance of certainty but I would argue that they teach us not to trust our own perceptions.
  2. Lists of materials don’t capture a perfume. They’re just the stuff used to make it.
  3. Searching for narrative in perfume is a trap. Perfume works in ways that we’ve only barely started to investigate but it doesn’t tell stories.
  4. I believe that perfume is art but I accept the reasoning that it is not. A more relevant question is: What’s so great about art?

That said: 1) Notes do come up in the discussion and fiction isn’t the worst thing in the world. I try to be thoughtful if I utilize them and appreciative of other people’s use of them. 2) Ditto materials. 3) People use narrative in meaningful ways and I don’t discount their stories. 4) Art can easily survive my calling it out.

Below are perfumes that I know in vintage form. Extant classic perfumes that  I only own in contemporary form (eg. Mouchoir de Monsieur, Knize Ten and Fracas) are excluded.



Jean-Paul Guerlain’s masculine fragrances
Guy Robert’s woody florals.
Madame Rochas and Hermès Calèche
Bandit, et al
le Feu d’Issey & Yohji Homme 1998/1999
the rose chypre
lilies and valleys
Edmond Roudnitska’s manifesto

Guerlain Jicky-1889

Guerlain l’Heure Bleue-1912
Guerlain Mitsouko-1919

Coty Emeraude-1921
Guerlain Shalimar-1925
Lanvin Arpège-1927

Dana Canoe, 1930s
Jean Patou Joy-1930
Guerlain Vol de Nuit-1931
Worth Je Reviens-1932
Caron Pour un Homme-1934

Rochas Femme-1943
Carven Ma Griffe-1946
Christian Dior Miss Dior-1947
Rochas Moustache-1948

Hermès Eau d’Hermès-1951
Balmain Jolie Madame-1953
Christian Dior Eau Fraiche-1953
Estée Lauder Youth Dew-1953
Dana Ambush-1955
Christian Dior Diorissimo-1956
Grès Cabochard-1959

Guerlain Vetiver-1961
Guerlain Chant d’Arômes-1962
Jean Desprèz Bal à Versailles-1962
Aramis by Aramis-1964
Yves Saint Laurent Y-1964
Christian Dior Eau Sauvage-1966
Balmain Miss Balmain-1967
Christian Dior Dioressence-1969
Estée Lauder Azurée-1969
Guerlain Chamade-1969
Paco Rabanne Calandre-1969

Chanel 19-1970
Hermès Equipage-1970
Clinique Aromatics Elixir-1971
Weil de Weil-1971
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche-1971
Christian Dior Diorella-1972
Estée Lauder Aliage-1972
Jean Patou 1000-1972
Aramis 900-1973
Paco Rabanne pour Homme-1973
Chanel Cristalle-1974
Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel-1975
Guerlain Parure-1975
Halston by Halston-1975

Dior Dior-1976
Halston Z-14-1976
Halston 1-12-1976
Aramis Devin-1977
Oscar by Oscar de la Renta-1977
Azzaro pour Homme-1978
Cacharel Anäis Anäis-1978
Jacomo Silences-1978
Estée Lauder White Linen-1978
Guerlain Nahéma-1979
Jean Louis Scherrer by Jean Louis Scherrer-1979
Paco Rabanne Metal-1979

Christian Dior Jules-1980
Krizia K de Krizia-1980
Chanel Antaeus-1981
Giorgio Beverly Hill-1981
Yves Saint Laurent Kouros-1981
Aramis JHL-1982
Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir-1982
l’Artisan Parfumeur l’Eau du Navigateur-1982
Niki de St. Phalle-1982
Annick Goutal Passion-1983
Ungaro Diva-1983
Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle-1983
Yves Saint Laurent Paris-1983
Givenchy Ysatis-1984
Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum-1984
Caron le Troisième Homme-1985
Christian Dior Poison-1985
Estée Lauder for Men-1985
Paco Rabanne La Nuit-1985
Claude Montana Parfum de Peau-1986
Givenchy Xeryus-1986
Hermès Bel Ami-1986
Prescriptives Calyx-1986
Cacharel Loulou-1987
Boucheron by Boucheron-1988
Carven Vetiver Dry-1988
Estée Lauder Knowing-1988
Halston Couture-1988
Kenzo Ça Sent Beau-1988
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Bleu Gris-1988
Paco Rabanne Ténéré-1988
Yves Saint Laurent Jazz-1988
Guerlain Samsara-1989
Leonard de Leonard-1989
Ralph Lauren Safari-1989

Christian Dior Dune-1991
Jacomo Anthracite-1991
Rochas Globe-1991
Jean Patou Sublime-1992
Givenchy Insensé-1993
Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse-1993
Jean Patou Voyageur-1995
Gucci Envy-1997

Gucci Envy for Men-1998

Guerlain Coriolan-1998

Inès de la Fressange-1999

Guerlain Mahora-2000
Jean Patou Pan Ame-2001
Jean Patou Enjoy-2002


  1. Daniel says:

    I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that’s a picture of the back wall behind the counter at Osswald perfume shop in NYC…

    1. jtd says:

      I’ve never been to Osswald, though I’m a long-distance admirer of Josie.

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