Like death and taxes, perfume reformulations are a certainty.
The word ‘reformulation’ pushes all the wrong buttons for many perfume enthusiasts, but I try to be positive. For today’s post, I will steer my ship away from the rocks of Guerlain and Dior reformulations into the safer waters of what I feel is a good reformulation: Lanvin’s Arpège.
I have two samples of vintage extrait: one which has turned quite badly, and one still lovely one that Danielle sent me. I also have vintage ‘Eau Arpège’ (which I take to be EDT), and the modern EDP. I like them all, but vintage Eau Arpege the least.
Perhaps my bottle is in poor condition, or perhaps I am just observing the difference between and EDT and and EDP. But there is something sharp in the top notes of Eau Arpège that I don’t care for: aldehydes perhaps, or the hesperidic notes. (You know you are serious perfume geek when you start to use words like ‘hesperidic’).
After that the perfume improves but there is also a kind of oily and artificial quality in it too, for me at least. I don’t know where that comes from. I have a faint memory of having smelled Arpège when I was a child, and this oily quality is what I remember. I don’t know how I came to smell Arpège then, as my mother certainly never wore it. But we also had a mini bottle of Lanvin’s My Sin as well, as I distinctly remember staring at it and wondering who in their right mind would call a perfume ‘Eau (Oh) My Sin’. Weird. I suspect these perfumes might have been presents from my mother’s older sister. Nice lady, but her gifts were constant reminders that her husband earned more than my father.
Right, back to Arpège. The modern EDP for me is beautiful from start to finish. I find it intensely rich and creamy, less hesperidic (there I go again) and less floral than Eau Arpège. I feel enveloped in sandalwood, amber, musk and patchouli. Vetiver lends a crispness which prevents the whole thing descending into a complete featherbed softness. As Victoria has said in her review of Arpège, the modern version is velvet to the older Arpege’s brocaded silk.
Vintage extrait is a different story again. I’m not sure how old Danielle’s sample is, but it is the darkest and richest of them all. And the dirtiest, probably because of an especially prominent jasmine note. It is amazing that something this big and sexy could uncurl from such an innocent little sample bottle.
Do you have a favourite reformulation? Do tell! Feel free to use the word ‘hesperidic’. Go nuts. Or – oh okay – just tell us again how much you HATE today’s Mitsouko or Diorella or whatever. Go nuts there too. You are among friends. 🙂