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Monday, February 17, 2014

On Vintage Stuff and the Polemics of Truth

It came to my attention that my article on Vintages on the mega perfume site has created much controversy. That's a good thing! It was written with a view of being controversial in the first place. I outright stated it from the get go that that was expected and in fact desirable. Still, there is some misunderstanding of the aim and the construction behind it and I feel like a couple of things need clarifying.

The core confusion seems to be that I have had a change of heart. That I loved vintages, reviewed them lovingly and somehow that's kaput. One commentator went as far as saying "The Perfume Shrine is bar-none the best resource for information on vintage perfumes available on the internet. Her vintage reviews are favorable and spot-on" continuing by saying that therefore the contrarian view therein is confusing. Well, thank you very much, and maybe there is a reason behind this accolade. Maybe it's because I double, triple, quadruple-check things. And people who do that often come across -shall we say- interesting discrepancies; I'm not alone.


Still, the question remains: have I lost my love of historical fragrances? No, actually that's not the case at all. In fact I intend to continue to review and smell vintage perfumes, just not pay crazy prices on them.

Indeed because I have been a huge collector (of vintage perfumes and otherwise) I have had a sort of epiphany lately. Lots of things I have amassed have ceased to be as they were the moment I had first bought them; not necessarily going bad always, but not what I had loved at that moment in time. This isn't going by memory alone, as many perfume lovers staked memory as the main argument into collecting vintages: "because they continue to smell as we remember them". No, I'm not going just on memory. I was actually keeping notes on them, very studiously too, with very specific attributes, marking this or that component and this or that twist; comparing and contrasting the notes with what I smell now I find that some of the attributes have changed. Some of these perfumes have been tossed because of this. Especially whatever was bought in decant form or air-seeping containers. (The suggestion on buying "nips" by one collector is -I concur- a good one). This is a valuable lesson to wear and enjoy what you have, for seasoned as much as for new collectors. Especially coming on the heels of the unfortunate demise of a huge and much loved in the perfume community collector, dear Linda. I didn't want to mention this in the article, it felt too personal for such a huge site, but this unfortunate event was a wake up call. The fact that her massive, beloved collection is being sold by relatives in an attempt to collect money for her children leaves me with mixed feelings. No matter how lovingly one keeps their collection, when one dies it's especially sad to see that a life's accumulation can't always be appreciated for what it was intended to be. That's point number 1.

Point number 2 is that apparently vintage collectors felt offended as if I had implied -through industry professionals' quotes- that they are not savvy. No, actually that's not true. I specifically mentioned that "people aren't that stupid" and that they can discern whether something has turned and has become dreck. It's the other nuances which are harder to pinpoint (authenticity to original formula, nuances between years and batches) and that goes for me too and any expert on the planet. A perfume, even from the same bottle, even from the same batch, is never the same twice. Octavian Coiffan had said it in his own erudite style too before closing his blog. Like Heraclitus said "you can't cross the same river twice". It's the transience of perfume that is accountable for that.

Besides, what constitutes "vintage", a term taken from wine? Vintage refers to specific year and perfumes do not have a date stamped on them, so what one refers to as vintage Miss Dior might be 1950s stuff and another's vintage might be 1970s stuff; two very different things! Unless we're 100% specific and unless we know EXACTLY when our bottle was produced we can't really talk about the same thing (and going by the packaging is not enough, because the professional I quote has seen with his very eyes that brands take left-over caps or boxes from one batch and use them for a later perfume batch as if nothing intervened.)

To revert to the feelings of collectors which have been ruffled: Even though once one has spent thousands of dollars on what they initially considered an investment or an art lesson it's hard to admit some error, the risk is totally legit. And should continue to be legit, something which the ridiculous hike on vintage perfume prices has rendered semi-impossible at the moment. (Not that I don't chastise the niche industry for their equally ridiculous prices as well from time to time and if you've been reading here you know it). Not a day passes by when I don't receive in my inbox some inquiry or other that goes along the lines "I have found X perfume at the back of my grandma's/aunt's/deceased relative's closet, how much is it worth?" It's a question that is impossible to answer straight for various reasons. Therefore my reply (after trying to offer some practical tips) invariably boils down to "as much as the market will bear". Because, I don't really know. People buy things that are claimed to be great and they buy them in whatever condition because they're a "MUST TRY" right and left. Whether they're then disappointed is a moot point, as the discussion following the purchase, much like a refutation in a tabloid paper, is written in small print. There is a public service hiding someplace rather than condescension when one says "hey, maybe it's not worth taking the risk unless the price is quite low, you know". This isn't such a bad reminder for very experienced players either, come to think of it. The other day someone had on offer an original Guerlain Parure "wave" design extrait bottle asking for thousands of dollars. Yes, Parure is fabulous and it keeps rather well too, oddly enough, but the price is more than ridiculous; it's scourging. We need to say it. I consider it a duty as a writer whose work is read by people budding into the hobby; not everyone is an old timer and "newbies" shouldn't be shunned in this vintage snobbery.

Some people felt offended all the same. What is easily forgotten is it is impossible to know exactly how something originally intended to smell, unless you have been to the Osmotheque, have compared the freshly made reconstitutions of vintage formulae with the vintage juice you have purchased from someone and ~assuming that this is even possible, since even the Osmotheque doesn't reconstitute everything under the sun~ you can speak with some certainty. Most of the time you can only get an idea. An idea is good enough compared to nothing and I know that very well. But it's just that: an idea and it's important to stress this when talking about something, even in the more formal context of a review. Much like classical antiquity isn't all white like we're accustomed to see in museums and idealized through the eyes of the 19th century ~I bet most of us we'd get a heart attack to see the vibrancy of color actually painted on classical statues (yes, painted on, you read this right)~ it's a similar case with perfume. We see the past through the eyes of the present and with a hope and longing for the future. It's an Utopia. And like all Utopias, an ideal one. I sympathize. I'm with you. But I prefer to admit it is and don't think I should be penalized for saying so.

One point which was resounding and which the industry would better heed to is the following, voiced by many: "I buy vintage because I don't like modern perfumes, niche or mainstream". Yup, I can see some of the veracity of that pronouncement. Maybe if mediocre stuff wasn't pushed as unicorn's tears, maybe I would be less harsh myself.

Finally, point number 3, it was rather disconcerting to see to have the authority of the people I quoted attempted to be undermined as non relatable, as "weirdos" (verbatim on another site) or with some invested interest into pushing new niche juice or into selling their own "versions" of vintage juice. The quotes are taken from the public forum and are just a choice picking because they are fascinating, coming from people who have spent their lives into the actual business and had access to the original formulae. As an example Musc Ravageur was recently reformulated, as officially admitted, yet no one raised an eyebrow; if Malle hadn't leaked this, no one wouldn't have been the wiser, because there is attention given to the work, it's not some hatched up job as widely imagined to be. Pity poor Thierry Wasser for all the shit he had thrown his way because he came on board at Guerlain at that particular moment in time: remember the vilifying, criminally rude implication that he should somehow forsake his position to allow Patricia de Nicolai gain access to the Guerlain canon? I consider this just one of the despicable milestones of the perfume world timeline.

Obviously people at large will continue to buy new niche juice because the concept of niche perfumes as connoisseur or exclusive stuff is too successful from a marketing point of view to stop anytime soon; market research shows it's the only rapidly growing segment of the perfume industry and everyone is jumping on board to grab a bite off the pie. And obviously the market for reconstituted vintage juices wasn't big to begin with, never was the prime objective or job of one of the people quoted and shouldn't be held as an ad hominem attack. It's highly ironic, let it be said in passing, that someone with a self-promoted controversial profile in our secluded circle, who has never been in any capacity involved into the creation of fine fragrance at any given moment, was deemed a quotable source than professionals who have spent their whole lives immersed into actual perfume making (let me here repeat that Malle's kin was fragrance head at Dior "back in the good old days" and that Dame has worked at Caron, Lauder, you-name-it etc). It proves something that is all too well known to politicians: that self-promo works and the more you say what people want to hear the more you're "liked" by them.




39 comments:

  1. Miss Heliotrope00:46

    Am stunned by the amount of effort you put into understanding & following scents - it explains the detail you can offer here, but I do wonder when you sleep...

    With any form of collection, especially one in which we can add a layer of "it's art", there seems often to be added an extra value to being seen to know/use/understand what are "the right," "the accepted," or "the superior" opinions or aspects that help one represent oneself in a certain way. Wine snobbery is one (I once read a novel when the wife washed all the labels off her husband's wine collection before shipping them to him following their divorce) that most of us have encountered at some point. It seems universal - you have obviously upset people's perceptions of a number of things.

    As an aside, I have often thought that the novel is just about the only art form without this: this availability of cheap paperback editions gives the reader the same access to & ownership of the artwork as an expensive first edition. Maybe the e-reader thing changes this slightly, but I am not sure.

    Not sure how much of this is on-topic, but it is what was inspired by your piece.

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  2. Morticia02:24

    Elena, I read the article and I agree with you 100%. C'est la vie my dear. You know what they say about "opinions"? Keep on doing what you're doing because in my humble opinion, you do it best.

    On another note, are you getting my posts? I haven't seen them here on PS and the last one was a long one about a "Valentine's Day" story (which was very long)? The only reason I mention it is because I always "lurk in the shadows" and hardly ever comment. I was kind of proud that I wrote such a long comment and thought you would've enjoyed the story. Oh well... I <3 your stories and writing. M.

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  3. I enjoyed your article on Fragrantica. I saw both views on the matter and it was an interesting read. If an article isn't thought provoking then it isn't worth a view. As it has been said, Perfume Shrine is the best resource for information on vintage perfumes available on the internet.

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  4. I'm wearing some of my treasured Chypre today (yes, the real deal by Coty).

    I so agree, perfume is meant to be worn and loved. Now, if only I could convince myself to open my great-grandmother's flacon!

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  5. Anonymous05:16

    I respect you and your views, Elena, and there is truth in your words: perfumes usually do change and go bad after a time quite often IME. It's natural that people would focus on the exceptions, where they get an OLD bottle that smells right, and overlook the many OLD bottles that smell all kinds of wrong and are in such a bad state that they cause a sensitizing reaction. But you do bring up good points. I think people should just buy what puts a smile on their face. (Oh and don't mind that weird little gothic boy who has been harassing you. I lurk sometimes on the Vintage board. The boy calls himself a "rare youth" and he has a hoard of cougars on the Fragrantica Vintage forum who tell him he's the greatest thing ever and build him up to make him think he's an authority on perfume. It's creepy. He always carries on about vintage perfumes in an arrogant and puffed up way and he feels like he has the authority, knowledge and experience to set people straight. He seems like a poser and an immature wannabe. lol. He wrote all sorts of crazy messages about your post on the Fragrantica site and now hearing he wrote 28 messages to your blog? He's a weirdo, and he needs to get a life. Good for you for blocking him.)

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  6. Anonymous08:42

    Wow, Elena! I found your original article and I have to say I agree with everything you say in that and this, your latest response.

    I am quite amazed at the ferocity of some of the comments you have received. I occasionally bought "vintage" because I yearned for my old favourites, but I never paid silly money, and was always prepared for the fact that the juice would have deteriorated so much that it would be unwearable. However, I was lucky to acquire good stuff too - you win some, you lose some. Recently, though, I decided that it was a fool-hardy habit, and have stopped.

    Everything you say is so true: all perfume changes character as it ages, right from the moment it is bottled; different batches have different characteristics and all houses have "tweaked" their formulas constantly, even in the "good old days", so no fragrance that ever existed is consistent. Vintage should not be used as an alternative word for best or perfect.

    You have sounded a word of caution - let the buyer beware. Of course people can spend their money however they like, but they should just bear in mind that they may not be getting their dream in a bottle.

    Jillie

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  7. MH,

    as always thank you for offering a perspective that takes one thing as a stepping stone to make the reader think in an alternative way.

    I believe you do have a great point in what you say about the "being in the know" factor. As much as we don't want to admit it (and I do put myself into this group), there is a sort of inward patting on the back about "being on the inside, knowing the good stuff". It's human nature.

    Another aspect is the "I don't want to be dictated what to like". That's valid too (up to a point, because people do selectively choose what to believe, so in a way they are being dictated what to like, but they heed to it when it's presented "a certain way" which from a psychological or cultural anthropology point of view I find it fascinating to watch!), though in some instances it was a bit out of line, I suppose. This is also human nature.

    Finally there is the acceptance of damaged as a protest against "ideal perfection" packaged as such and presented as such. To be honest this last part reminds me a bit of all the "fat acceptance" inspiration prevalent in many sites, many blogs. One on the one hand it's reveling in one's imperfection which is understandable (and it questions the "ideal" which is a good thing), on the other hand, maybe by engaging this "stance" one is losing some important aspects of their overall quality of life? I know the analogy is a bit distorted because having a perfume with floaters from another's skin handed down to you is not the same as carrying around 60 pounds of flesh in the repercussions it might have, I'm just trying to illustrate a point here. Don't know if it's perfectly clear.

    Anyway, had a belly laugh with the woman washing the labels off the bottles. Thanks! Wow, it must have cost a lot to ship them back though and wouldn't the husband have taken pains to have them shipped before she had the chance to even come near them, since he was a collector? Maybe I'm thinking too much on this.

    As to the novel being an art form that doesn't lose from the medium in which it's carried, this is a very interesting field for further thought and I will come back to it. (The poster reproduction can surely not be a similar experience as the original painting, that's for sure!)

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  8. M,

    thanks for commenting.

    I am very pleased there's open dialogue about these matters. Enough of the dirty laundry of perfume has been kept in the back burner, maybe it's time to see the sun?

    I admit that I went to old comments to see whether your comment was ousted automatically as spam or something (usually that doesn't happen but there a couple of occasions when it happens, esp. if something contains a link and Blogger decides before I have a chance to see it myself). Or maybe Blogger ate it? This happens more often and I don't really know why. I suppose it's having the servers crammed with things during the most popular hour peaks. I'm sincerely sorry about that.

    If you don't mind and have the comment saved somewhere, would you mind posting it again? Even if the prizes are set, I would love to read your long story and reply to it too. I so appreciate it your taking the time and effort to write it and promise to keep you in mind for next gift on the blog.

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  9. Jolene,

    thank you!

    I thought the irony of the situation would be apparent to readers. Since I have high respect for vintages (NB that have kept pretty well and are authentic) in my curriculum, wouldn't it be clear that any warning is meant to be as that, a warning, and a plea to sanity? Apparently it might not be that apparent.

    I also feel that too much emphasis and not enough political correctness are often misconstrued as condescension or patronizing. These days everything has to start with "I'm sorry if I'm stepping on any toes and I thought this is just one person's opinion blah blah", which is rather redundant I always thought because:
    1. If I'm stepping on any toes isn't it rather silly to apologize but continue stepping on them, and
    2.Since one reads an opinion piece with some facts included, wouldn't it be rather de trop to insist beforehand it's one person's opinion?

    Anyway, considering I have offered lots of valuable info on this blog for years for free, I kinda understand how Octavian decided to close his blog down. :-/


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  10. Erika,

    enjoy!!

    Chypre is surprisingly "modern" as a composition. It always astounded me how it could be so timeless, but it is. More than some of the interpretations of it by other companies.

    And yes, you grasped one of the main points: wear what you have and don't save it up for later or for cashing out because it can go off and you will have lost the enjoyment it can offer you right now.

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  11. Anon,

    thank you for commenting and for your kind words.

    Well, I think the warning and the plea to sanity brought up some interesting reactions for all the reasons I posted in my above comments, and some of them are perfectly understandable. I suppose the human mind chooses to gloss over the bad and to keep in memory the good and that's a survival mechanism and it's how it should be. Every big and lifelong collector has some story of "bad" experience, one way or the other, but we don't exactly dwell on them too much.

    The real wake up call, like I said in my post here, was Linda's death and the insistent listing of things on Ebay that were prior sent to me for inspection, which I had pronounced as "rancid" and which were ALL THE SAME listed as precious, rare, gorgeous etc. And some of them were bought! This is a sort of scamming, isn't it? If I know that information, shouldn't I have share it with the public? Shouldn't whistle blowers be thanked for that?

    As to the commentator who spammed the reviews with the "this must be older than 10 years, so isn't it dreck"?, I don't know if we're talking about the same person and haven't really followed anything elsewhere (no time!!) but the person who sent the spam comments DID email me personally, by name too, please note, most politely, he apologized for his inebriated spamming and offered some counter arguments to my arguments which do make sense. So yes, I have forgiven the spamming (and uncharacteristically edited out the part that said I would be blocking him, if you notice) and will be in correspondence with him to further the dialogue. I consider it a good thing he took the time and effort to mail me directly. If only all people were that direct! But most of the time people hide behind the anonymity the internet allows. :-)

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  12. Jillie,

    thanks for chiming in. I would have thanked you even if we didn't agree. :-)

    Like you say "you win some, you lose some". That's the spirit! Now that the "market" has been totally ruined because of people thinking they're sitting on -at the very least- original Da Vinci paintings when they have a derelict Roger & Gallet and a dusty bottle of a Lanvin splash eau, it was important to remind this axiom for those who are budding into the hobby. Some people took it very much to heart and felt offended. That's all right. It's part of the game. I can both understand it and even forgive it, no grudges. People say the most ferocious things when they're behind a screen, things they wouldn't say to my face in most cases.

    You distill my point very well, so I will refrain from saying more. Glad that not everyone took it the wrong way or that my less than crystal clear argument wasn't totally lost on some.

    Whatever happens, I'm glad that a dialogue has opened. I consider it a good job even if only for that.

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  13. You just rocked it. That is why I love you so much!!! jean

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  14. James15:55

    I'm a newbie to perfumes and i just wanted to let you know how much i appreciate you sharing your experience and opinions!

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  15. Jean,

    awww, aren't you sweet :-)
    Thank you, that made my day!

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  16. James,

    you're very welcome. I have always thought that knowledge should flow. Apparently PR deems otherwise. But I'm not much of a PR person, I'm afraid ;-)

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  17. Karin (from Savvy Thinker) sent me the following comment which was eaten by Blogger, so sent it in an email:

    < < I enjoyed your article today and missed the controversy.

    For myself, I wish I hadn't used up perfumes during the time when I felt I had to use up one to buy another, because I feel certain that mine would still be fine. (I could be entirely wrong). However, none that I have bought new have turned in the slightest, perhaps because they are not in sunlight or in heat. I would like to revisit those vintages that I wore at one time, even if I wouldn't care to wear them often or if at all. I remember Shalimar in the crystal cold of the snow. And Tabu (which I have but wouldn't wear, LOL.) And the original Rive Gauche (that I forced myself to finish, which takes the fun out.)

    Right now I no longer have that urge to collect, especially at really inflated prices, but also because somehow I realized that even if I had the monetary means, there is no way I could have everything new or try everything new or that I heard about. I haven't bought anything in maybe a couple of years. And some days I forget to put anything on.

    And I find myself coming back to Chamade as much as anything. It kind of fits the bill most days.

    Who knows what spring will bring. > >

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  18. To Karin:

    Perfume lovers know a thing or two about preservation and therefore have much higher chances to have their vintage bottles keep longer than 8 years (or even 10, LOL). Unfortunately lots of stuff circulates searching for the new or naive or very impatient buyer who will buy something less well preserved.
    The canister of Rive Gauche is the perfect vehicle for perfume and yet I had one turn a bit on top (maybe due to the heat, before I had transferred everything to A/C closet). Naturally I tossed it after spraying a couple of time in the bathroom (it wasn't that good for the bathroom anyway; this is a smart perfume for a person, not a room scent).
    Chamade is an elegant signature to be known for! Romantic in the best sense of the word and somehow youthful in its own particular way. :-)

    Enjoy!!

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  19. This was all very fascinating to me as a relative newbie to the perfume world. I've been into the perfume world about 2 years and have only gotten maybe 2 vintage bottles and a couple of tiny decants of vintage scents. I must admit that some of the vintages I got off Ebay (they were cheap, believe me- I'm no dummy) were a mess and got poured down the sink. I realize that they are faded versions of a great memory, but that to me is worth something. I hope to be able to visit Osmotheque someday myself and see what the real original formulae smelled like.

    I am not surprised that Jeffrey Dame's article caused much consternation among folks who have spent lots of $ on vintage. I have the greatest respect for you and for Mr. Dame. He knows his perfumes. I'm glad he wrote the article since I will now never again buy anything "vintage." Money saved!!

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  20. Anonymous19:23

    "you can't cross the same river twice". It's the transience of perfume that is accountable for that.

    i need to go back and read your original article and the comments it illicited, but these lines stuck out to me. i would say it's actually the transience of humans or humanity that makes it thus. we are changing in every moment, and we cannot bring exactly the same person or consciousness or awareness or cells to the new expeience of sniffing even if we wanted to - so of course things will be perceived as smelling different at different times - the perfumes and we are different!

    cheers,
    minette

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  21. Anonymous20:47

    okay, just read the article on fragrantica, and i really don't see why it blew up all over you. it doesn't feel like an attack on vintage perfumes or collectors at all, just a point of view to consider (one that i have already considered more than once as i love vintage perfume and have noticed how they can vary, evaporate and age well or poorly), and that's it.

    if someone is offended by what you said, maybe they need to spend some more quiet time with themselves, until they feel so safe in their own convictions that another person's convictions are neither here nor there, just interesting fodder for conversation. when you are sure of yourself and grounded, you can entertain others' ideas with a lighter heart and not be offended or swayed unless you choose to be.

    i will continue to explore perfumes both modern and vintage simply for the experience of it - i enjoy smelling a lot of things!making up stories about them as a form or appreciation doesn't make my stories more or less true than yours or someone else's stories. they're just my stories. everyone is entitled to their stories, and we don't have to act as though someone else's story diminishes ours (or vice-versa). just have them and enjoy them! it's all fiction and illusion, my loves.


    cheers,
    minette

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  22. Thank you for all your posts,Elena!Very informative and well researched.I always value and rely on your opinions and also on my nose and skin chemistry.So,there are a handful of bloggers whose vast knowledge I base my search upon,but ultimately the decision lies with me and only me.So it's beyond me how people can get so offended about someone's opinion which is different to their own.I never give a toss if I like what some respected bloggers don't like and vice versa.The only validation I need is my own,especially in the matter of perfume,a subjective one in the best of case,if not even highly personal.I realized,very early on,that hunting vintage juice on auction sites,estate sales and the likes it 's not for me.I simply don't have the time and also don't want to waste my money chasing something so elusive.I hate not knowing if the juice is in good shape or not.That's even something more unsure than blind buying,which,I confess,I sometimes indulge in.But it's always with new juice and only if it's a relatively good deal.I can understand that there are people who don't agree with you,but what I don't understand is the hateful stance that some have adopted.I mean,it's only perfume,we all love it,enjoy it ,adore it,but I never loose sight of its unimportance.

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  23. Anonymous22:25

    Ha. I was just going to quote Adrienne Rich and thought I better check the wording, and lo and behold googling could not confirm the quote. But I digress!

    Paraphrasing (or perhaps making this up whole cloth?) Adrienne Rich... Nostalgia is the sugar fix of the mind.

    Your article is messing with some peoples' serious fixes! I think, in the spirit you intended, people should just do what makes them happy, including spending lots of money on fantasy dreck. Is that so different from spending money on vintage wine that you will never open, or perhaps will open but some error in storing over the last several decades has turned the elixir to vinegar? Foolish? Perhaps. But other fools rush in to toss their dollar chips into slot machines... and goodness we wouldn't want to be sanctimonious about gambling. But to write an article that says that dollar for dollar, you WILL lose money at the slot machines... perhaps that is not so crazy, if also not surprising.

    If I understand you correctly, you are not saying that the emperor has no clothes, only that if you want to be penny wise in putting together your wardrobe, it is a good idea to buy clothing most people can see. I for one enjoy spritzing my vintage Escada Margaretha Ley edp in the air on occasion. It hardly stands as one of the great classics, and my bottle (purchased as "vintage" on eBay no less) smells much more chemically than I remember it from when I was a teenager... but oh for the trips down memory lane it serves me well. My sugar fix, as it turns out, comes in a tacky heart-shaped bottle. I could not possibly have overpaid for that nostalgia.

    I really enjoyed your article! Please keep educating and challenging your readers.

    --Ann

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  24. To the commenter above me, don't give up entirely on vintage perfumes! I didn't get that message from Elenas article at all. In fact other than the remark about the perfumer chuckling into his sleeve or what ever it was, I didn't find anything that would be so offending. (and I wasn't offended by that either) Maybe it is because I read all your posts and I am familiar with your eloquent style of writing and so I understood what you were trying to convey. It is really true that eBay is a crazy place to buy perfume yet I have done it and had good success. I have also had more than a few misses which you have to expect. That said my collection is filled with lovely vintage perfumes in very good shape for which I guess I am lucky. The point is, this should be fun and not a race to have this "investment" collection as that is a laugh to me. I just can't take it that serious even though clearly, others seeing my collection would think I was quite serious, ha! Onward and upward!

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  25. I really enjoy your blog. I'm sorry to hear you've been taking a lot of flak for your personal opinion.

    My personal take on vintage scents is that perfume, like clothing, tends to smell of the era when it was made, and I *really* like perfumes with the lines of particular eras. But just as I'll wear repro clothing, I'll wear 'repro' perfume. I haven't smelled most genuine vintage scents, but I do prefer (example) the current Caron En Avion to Coco Mademoiselle, that's just me.

    Right now I'm stocking up on favourites, because if the EU regs come into force, a LOT of people's favourites will only be available secondhand, and I want to get my faves before they all get discontinued and start selling for silly prices. Like Karin, I find my perfumes, stored away from heat and light, haven't turned (including a 25-year-old bottle of Obsession), so I'm hoping the ones I'm buying will keep for a couple of decades at least!

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  26. Anonymous04:28

    I too had that thought after the passing of a perfume addict. I saw the list of what she had and I have a good clue of what she spent for it. And now they are selling what they can to recoup money for her children.

    I don't want that to be my fate.

    I don't want to "save things" only to have never gotten to enjoy them and have them sold on ebay to strangers.

    I'm tired of the "hunt" for the vintage. It won't bring me back to 30 years ago. It won't change who I am today. Only I can change who I am today.

    I'm wearing my stuff. The good stuff, the rare stuff, and the fun stuff.

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  27. Ricky/K,

    thanks for offering your point of you.

    I don't think all vintages are condemned to die horribly, but better use up your decants; they evaporate, oxidize or sour over time. It's the fate of the "vehicle".

    Dame's claim has being a spike in the eye of collectors, but although his timeline is rather strict (IMHO), he has a logical point: that things do change over time. To think they will remain the same for ever is just wishful thinking.

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  28. C,

    thank you for pointing out the construction of thought behind the axiom by Heraclitus. People are transient too, I suppose. The ephemeron of things is a matter which greatly interests me since I was a teen. It makes for fascinating observations too.

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  29. C,

    thanks for reading the article and for your kind note of support.

    Honestly, I don't think it blew up all over me. Sure, I see that there was some ferocity in the comments, but that is understandable, in fact predicted and I consider a writer's job to provoke conversation.

    There is something about psychology of the masses as well as something about psychology of online fora which is at play. If you notice the first comments are "yeah, I can see what you're saying", then having the counterarguments "but I have had good experiences", then the escalation into "you're insulting our intelligence" and "you/the professionals quoted/the editors/the site must be corrupt to suggest so", then the more sanely balanced "but this is an opinion, it's not gospel and it has a point anyway, though it can come across as rather angering". It's the cycle of things.
    People digest things a certain way, some people don't even read carefully and get so angered up that they miss the counterbalancing sentences (perhaps not so prominent, I will give you that) and sometimes people REACT TO THE COMMENTS THEMSELVES. As any good troll will tell you, plant an incisive comment in the flow of something (even misrepresenting the original source) and you're bound to have people agreeing and being incised by the comment rather than the original text. I knew that. I anticipated that. It's all very telling, is what I'm saying.
    But free dialogue is important, therefore I chose not to respond to anything in the comments, allowing a free flow of opinions.

    I bet this will create some thought and some doubt later on. ;-)

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  30. Ana,

    thanks for commenting.

    I can see your point. LIke I said above, the hateful stance is a response to some of the comments themselves. If one opens up the bag of "preposterous! she's taking as for fools!", then others follow suit. It always happens online. Always.
    The unimportance isn't related to the perfume, it's related to egos. Egos are important. And as such defended bitterly. ;-)

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  31. Ann,

    I had absolutely no knowledge of the Adrienne Rich quote so thank you for bringing it here.
    "Nostalgia is the sugar fix of the mind". It makes you think. Nostalgia by its very etymology suggests algos (=pain), therefore its being also the cure to the pain is a most fascinating concept, but yes, it is "curative".

    Your analogy with the slot machines, another "gamble" hobby, is apt. One starts with the "what the heck" thought, hoping they gain some if the opening stake isn't too high. Same happens with most vintage buyers I bet. That much is sane. The paying exorbitant amount because one has to have it NOW and AT ANY COST because -panic!- IFRA is ruining perfumery is where it becomes a little more shady. Or so I think at least.

    No fault with keeping a nostalgic trip down memory lane. I do that too with some things. The heart is keener than the rational mind. :-)

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  32. Stelma,

    you got it right! No moratorium on vintage was suggested. Just careful, double checking and some sanity on both sides (sellers' and buyers').

    I too have some good vintages. They were lucky items. Some others I had to brace myself and throw away in the trash (Diorissimo parfum, I'm talking at you)

    There is wisdom in not taking the collection as "investment". Apparently one of the emerging trends has been that one and I wanted to point out it's rather misguided. Even re-selling diamonds is not the easy and secure task that seems to be (rarely if ever one retraces the value they paid originally), much less vintage perfume.

    It's funny that people were so up in arms against Malle! Malle doesn't even take our little hobby as accounting much of his business anyway, so the thought of "punishing him" through no purchases must be hilarious to him. Of course his PR machine wouln't be caught dead saying that.

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  33. Mim,

    thanks for offering your opinion on this and for your kind note. I do see your point. I have tried to do that myself with a couple of things (retain what I absolutely can't see my life without)

    I realize that IFRA-panic stocking is at the helm of many evolving collections. No one suggested it might all be a ploy of making us buy more perfume (we do, don't we?) but it's only a matter of time. :-D

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  34. Anon,

    wise words. Thanks for sharing!

    Glad to see I wasn't the only one thinking of this seeing Linda's list. It left me with a sad taste in the mouth. On top of her sad passing, this. Oh well. Who am I to judge, right?

    Sometimes I feel that our "nostalgia" for things past is just nostalgia for our prime. Or for a time we have envisioned through the media as "nicer", "purer", "more glamorous". I wouldn't want to live through the 1950s with all its racism, discriminations, political impositions and such. Would you? Humans and history move forward and it is the historian's duty to find what can be taught from the past to make it a lesson for the future. :-)

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  35. Anonymous04:07

    Aauugh, this box keeps eating my comment. Well, Elena I loved your article and I am devoted to your blog. Imagine a lengthy, humorous, well written and supportive note right here. Which there would be, only it did not get through. Trying this one ; 0) Mary

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  36. Where was Linda's sale list posted? I would love to see it.

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  37. Mary,

    thank you very much for saying so and sorry about the platform eating your comment. This one went through, thanks for the kind and supportive words!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Taffy,

    if I recall correctly it was on the POL forum Talk about Perfume page. The requests however were sent to the cousin (?) directly, POL had nothing to do with sales.

    ReplyDelete

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