· Let’s start with some news first: Emerald Dream, Estee Lauder’s 2007 travel retail exclusive, is currently making its way to select beauty counters. Here in the Netherlands, Emerald Dream is being sold exclusively by Douglas boutiques. Is it worth looking for? Umm, no. Don’t make a mad dash for your nearest Douglas just yet: Emerald Dream’s opening is no different than the typical fruity-floral fare, smelling like a soup of notes carelessly thrown together, while the musky-woody base, while not altogether unpleasant, is rather mundane and easily associated with standard, cheap-smelling drugstore scents. The most interesting thing about it is the unusually bright vetiver base note, quite reminiscent of Body Shop’s Oceanus body mist. Forget the word exclusive and give this one a miss.
· Speaking of travel retail exclusives, one that I have been extremely curious about is Cyclades, by Lancome. I had not smelled Tropiques, and last year’s exclusive, Benghal, left me completely cold, but partly due to my Greek heritage and partly due to the fact that the notes sounded quite intriguing, I was really excited about Lancome’s 2008 travel retail exclusive. There are not many fragrances that feature oleander, and I thought it was not only clever, but also really accurate to include this note in Cyclades: oleander is readily found on every single greek island I’ve visited, and on much of the mainland as well. Its bittersweet, almost musky and not-quite-flowery fragrance is one I love, so I really had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, Cyclades turned out to be another disappointment: Not only is this uber-light fragrance bland and boring, not only does it have absolutely zero staying power, but also, it smells nothing like oleander at all. Pity.
· We perfume bloggers are often guilty of waxing lyrically about the beauty of long lost, discontinued or reformulated scents, lamenting their loss and invariably comparing them to the currently available fare, often finding it lacking. This is a highly frustrating practice, and oftentimes even more so for the readers, who long to smell these so poetically described scents but have no means to do so. It was this realization that drove me to start a practice of offering a sample of any hard-to-find fragrances reviewed here on Fragrance Bouquet whenever I am capable of doing so, but still, I am aware that even this does not eliminate the frustration and disappointment. What doesn’t often get mentioned is that older doesn’t necessarily mean better. Even though the loss of old favorites pains me greatly, and even though their memories linger in my mind like ghosts that often decide to stir trouble and longing so powerful it becomes almost illogical, there’s still so much to love that is available right here, right now. The last year has brought many new fragrant discoveries in my life – new perfumes that have become staples in fragrance wardrobe. But what’s even more surprising and worthy of note is that sometimes, a reformulation is not a bad thing. ...I can’t quite believe I am writing this, actually. But it is true. I’ve had a little revelation of sorts in the last couple of weeks: I bought a vintage bottle of Jicky edt from a collector in Belgium I visit when I am looking for old fragrances. The surprising result? I like the newer version better. The opening of both is lavender, with the vintage being purer, more natural-smelling and slightly camphoric, as you’d expect. It is somehow lighter, fresher and less cloying than the reformulated version. However, as time passes, vintage Jicky becomes powdery and soft, casual and unpretentious, remaining fresh and clean. The modern beast? It roars. Time only makes it deeper, darker. A strange sensuality unfolds, mind-bogglingly, out of the innocence of lavender. There is the most gorgeous balsamic sweetness there, that can’t be found in the vintage. There is the marvelous beauty of opoponax, tinged by leather. When I am lucky, civet comes out to play. It is sad when a fragrance we love changes. It’s heartache. But in this instance... I’m not complaining. I really love this sense of optimism this revelation has given me. Please do let me know if there are more scents that in your opinion are better now than they were before. It’s a hard task, but it is rewarding.
Images: Bottle of Estee Lauder's Emerald Dream, www.perfumesand.com
Oleander shrub, commons.wikimedia.org
Vintage bottle of Jicky, circa 1935 from www.ragoarts.com (Rago Arts and Auction Center). Sold in auction for 2268 $.