Sultry and somber Sun Moon Stars (Karl Largerfeld 1984) begins with a boozy pineapple and freesia. Meanwhile, a pungent jasmine, supple carnation, and a lily-of-the-valley wearing stilettos meet lotus. And sure, fruity, peach kissed sandalwood and vanilla add warmth and sugar but again, this fragrance is as ultimately blue and otherworldly as the bottle. Perhaps it’s the way the vanilla and pineapple come crashing into each other accompanied by a symphony of perfect notes moment by moment from start to finish. Whatever it is it’s certainly one of the most evocative scents in my collection.
Nose: Sophia Grojsman
It starts with an alluring, sugary burst. Impeccable oud and gentle rose mixes with almond. Musk and patchouli are at the base. But it’s a bright gourmand with a dash of subtle coffee flanked by opulent, airy, and utterly sensual cedar and balsam. And while it certainly has the open, expansive beauty found in some of the best contemporary fragrances it’s not without a unique sincerity and depth that is rare in today’s scents. As the name would suggest it’s truly romantic.
Top notes: bergamot, agarwood (oud), cardamom and rose. Middle notes:agarwood (oud), almond, atlas cedar, coffee and heliotrope. Base notes: amber, musk, patchouli, vanilla and tolu balsam.
Nose: Daniel Josier
Lemon. Fresh, uplifting pine embraces lemon opens this classic gem (Visconti di Modrone 1949). Then lavender and bergamot arrive in a gentlemanly flourish. This extraordinarily pristine and airy scent is the sort of fragrance one wants to smell wafting from a man with perfectly starched and impeccably tailored shirts. It’s so crystal clear and pine tree cool that it reads as minty despite there being no mint notes listed… But the musk and peat base comes through at just the right moment to bring grounded depth. Slightly reminiscent of Blenheim Bouquet this is the sort of fragrance a well dressed man should own.
🎶And on a related note, this bottle was procured at an estate sale of an individual with great taste indeed – the retired director of the Minnesota Orchestra. I like to imagine detecting this scent during a discussion about the violin section playing Sibelius.
Top notes: lavender, bergamot, lemon, rosemary and basil. Middle notes: thyme, pine tree, cloves, clary sage and geranium. Base notes: peat, cedar, musk and vetiver.
While Giorgio Beverly Hills is a blast of tuberose that can almost be offensive (or just is offensive depending on who you ask and their experience with the scent) Giorgio Beverly Hills For Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills 1984) is a bit more regal and refined. Marbled orange and aldehydes start and then are flanked by smoky, sandalwood emboldened honey mixed with carnation. Orris and patchouli are nearly sublime as they meet with musk, sweet benzoin and just a perfect dash of oakmoss. I expected to be moderately pleased with this vintage sample but instead I’m a little taken.
Top notes: aldehydes, orange, fruity notes and bergamot. Middle notes: carnation, sandalwood, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, cedar and rose. Base notes: honey, tonka bean, amber, musk, benzoin, oakmoss and vanilla.
This vintage chypre is very earthy, green and musky (Studio Girl Hollywood 50’s or 60’s?). To be honest, it’s one of those sort of vintage fragrances you don’t necessarily wear but it’s fun to have. There’s something a little funky about it and while I think it could be layered it’d be hard for even me (who loves vintage fragrance) to truly use it. Or maybe if just the right person found it they’d enjoy it? At any rate it’s still novel.
Supple, citrus laced freesia haunts rose, tuberose and an orange blossom reminiscent of a perfectly sweet apple in Tendre Poison (Dior 1994). The asafoetida is melancholy and demure as it mixes gracefully with heliotrope, vanilla and rosewood. But always that apple-like sugary, loveliness returns. This is a definite beauty.
Top notes: bergamot, mandarin orange, asafoetida, and Brazilian rosewood. Middle notes: orange blossom, rose, freesia, tuberose, and honey. Base notes: heliotrope, vanilla, musk and sandalwood.
Nose: Edouard Flechier
This fragrance is another exercise in whether or not vintage fragrance actually can hold up over time. I remember Tiffany well. Got some reason I wore it in the fifth grade…
I’m taught the same bitteersweet lessons: some bottles last better than others and in the bottles that don’t hold up well the notes become tangled. I smell the black currant, violet leaf, orange flower and ylang ylang I recall. And the sweetened sandalwood mixes with the opulent rose. But I remember it being more supple and fluid. The juicy notes flowed in a perfect swirl of floral charm. I’ll have to find a better vintage bottle…
Top notes: black currant and mandarin orange. Middle notes: ylang ylang, violet leaf, lily-of-the-valley, taif rose, African orange flower, iris, and jasmine. Base notes: vanille, amber, sandalwood, and vetiver.
Nose: Francois Demachy
Although Knowing is heralded for its sharp, but engaging beauty and Magie Noire for the figure eight created by the notes, Diva (Emanuel Ungaro 1983) instantly reminds me of these classics. I detect honey (a base note) and breathtaking rose right from the start. The green, ebullient spices then mix with citrus brightened civet and amber but always they return to the start: earthy, bold florals and aldehydes centered around rose. Of course, orris, narcissus and tuberose are also present but they don’t overpower the other notes for even a moment. Diva is a true gem.
Top notes: mandarin orange, aldehydes, Indian tuberose, coriander, and bergamot. Middle notes: carnation, orris root, Turkish rose, Moroccan rose, ylang ylang, Egyptian jasmine and narcissus. Base notes: honey, iris, amber, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, vanilla, civet and musk.
Nose: Jacques Polge
An extremely herbal but ultimately elegant Guerlinade is Véritable Eau de Cologne Impériale Extra Dry (Guerlain 1904). It’s green but demure and detached in a cool, breezy sort of way. The lemon verbena is especially noteworthy. It meets other very verdant notes to create an olfactory sensation akin to taking a drink of cold mountain fresh water. The neroli is lovely too. And while I can’t find a complete list of notes is it possible the bergamot is mixing with vetiver, a delicate rosemary and cedar? Of course, all these sharp notes are held to earth by the perfect choice of warm base notes.
With grassy, herbal and sweet notes, Hardy Amies (Hardy Amies 1985) has a clean but slightly bold start. It almost smells like a vintage gourmet sugar coated candy… And it’s a little powdery. The petitgrain, rose and chamomile are airy but covered by sugary citrus. You almost want to eat it it smells so delectable… But that herbal quality freshens the entire thing to a point of wearability even on a hot summer day.