Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A long post for the perfume people

The trip to New Orleans last weekend was a pleasure, as always. This was our second trip back since Katrina, and the city was more relaxed, and a little more pulled together than the last time we were there. We stayed in the French Quarter (at this affordable little hotel), and things were reasonably lively for Halloween weekend. When we went to Jazz Fest last year, I was alarmed at how dead the Quarter seemed, but there were a respectable number of tourists around this time. Taxi drivers and hotel staff seem to have given up the habit of warning visitors about crime, which is a good thing.

Our friends' anniversary celebration was delightful. They're a smart, funny couple with a great family, and they do know how to throw a party. The people were interesting, the food was delicious and the music was perfect. Go hear Dr. Michael White if you ever get a chance. You won't be disappointed.

I hit Bourbon French and Hové on Saturday. Neither place was terribly busy, but the people who were in the shops seemed to be spending, not just sniffing. I spent my share, mostly topping up my supply of old favorites, but I did try a couple of new Hové' scents: Grandee, which is a drier, more grown-up version of Spring Fiesta; and Azalea, a delicate, faintly green soliflore.

The big perfume news on this trip was my find in a Magazine Street antique store. Actually, I should say Dave's find. Dave is my truffle pig in the search for vintage juice. This is the second time he has rooted out a great cache of old minis I would have overlooked. It's strange, because he has precious little interest in perfume, and his shopping skills are stretched to the limit by a grocery run. I think it's the combination of his desire to please and his intense boredom at being trapped in an antique store that makes him such a tenacious and successful perfume hunter.

That's a picture of our haul above, which included:

A 1/4 ounce mini of Le Dix, probably edp, though it's not labeled. The bottle has some age--I'd guess it to be at least 20 years old. The juice is a little faded, but not soured at all. The powdery drydown is still very satisfying. I am a fan of the current version, and this old stuff is surprisingly similar to it.

The bottle of very dark juice is, believe it or not, Je Reviens, and it is in amazingly good shape. The bottle suggests 50s vintage, but it could be older. There's no way it's less than 35 years old. The top notes are "crushed," as someone on POL used to say. The aldehydes are going off, just edging into olfactory nightmare territory. Fortunately, they disappear completely within a minute or so, and then you get the most exquisite classic floral imaginable. Nothing stale, sour, musty or anemic about it. It's gloriously potent and rich. Compared to the current juice, it is sweet and deep, with a wallop of narcissus that makes for a much more full-bodied character. I can't believe how good it is. It gives me a pang of longing for other ancient beauties.

The pretty gold bottle is Corday Toujours Moi, and the perfume inside it absolutely perfect. If you have only sniffed the current Dana TM, you just have a vague idea what the Corday was like. I happen to think the Dana version is perfectly nice--or at least it was until a few years ago. The last bottle I bought was very watery indeed. The original Corday, though, was a unique, vetiver-rich oriental. It was opulent, without a hint of tackiness about it. It could hold its own with the best of the Lanvins--in fact, I'd say you could almost call it My Sin's Eastern cousin. I got this lovely mini for $12, a fraction of what it would have cost me on eBay.

The Ma Griffe mini is PdT, and came with its original box. I would guess it as 70s vintage. It certainly pre-dates the 80s dilution. I have enough Ma Griffe to last the rest of my natural life, but I could not resist this little guy.

Finally, the precious Jolie Madame parfum was not part of my NOLA booty. It's a recent gift from a very kind and generous perfume buddy. I just wanted to show it off, because I'm so thrilled to have it, and it looked pretty sitting up there with the others.

I'm going to make a point of wearing all these great oldies, instead of letting them sit lonely on the shelf. The Je Reviens especially needs to be enjoyed before it goes south completely. I'm not going to let my good fortune and the talents of my truffle pig go to waste. If any of you would like to engage Dave's services as a personal perfume shopper, let me know. I think he will work for food, especially birria tacos and red velvet cake.


Aimée L'Ondée said...

ooh, ooh! **waving arm urgently in the air like Hermione with the answer in the classroom**
That Je Reviens is actually the bath oil, and I have a couple of bottles just like it. It's faaaaabulous stuff, ain't it? I attribute the smoosht, almost-off feeling of the topnotes to the fact that it's a bath oil, rather than a perfume. Unbelievable stuff.

BitterGrace said...

Ah, I thought it might be a bath oil, but the bottle looks so ancient, I thought the dark color and oilier texture were due to age. Any idea when it was produced? My bottle doesn't give a clue, but if it's bath oil it could be a lot younger than I thought.

David Maddox said...

Goat meat. Hmmmmm.

Aimée L'Ondée said...

I wish I had any idea how old it is! I do have a couple bottles in various shades of sludge brown, and yours looks like the darkest of mine. I'm guessing early 50s? I actually like the darkest one the best, maybe because the off quality gives this incredibly animalic undertone to it.

BitterGrace said...

This stuff is clearly like fine wine--just gets better with age. It is as impressive as any vintage scent I've got in my little collection. I trawled eBay last night looking for more. I'm so weak ...

Whodoo said...

That's a gorgeous little collection of vintage, all right!

I make a mean red velvet cake. I'm just sayin'.

Unknown said...

You are quite fortunate to have such a truffle pig looking out for you. I am the truffle pig for Je Reviens on Ebay - I just made a fabulous score for under $10 and have enough to last me a lifetime, including the beautiful "stars" boule in three iterations.

I haven't had the bath oil in years, and IIRC, it is darker and never had the aldehydic lift, so yours may very well be in prime condition.

Perfumeshrine said...

Aaaaaaaah......wonderful simply wonderful!

And that Corday gold bottle: it's supposed to represent a ladybug? How cute!

Love Le Dix, Ma Griffe and Jolie Madame as you know. Great finds and gifts!

BitterGrace said...

R, I shall forward that information to Dave. In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that you may also have to look at some contemporary art and listen to some free jazz, as well as produce the cake. He's a demanding employee.

Anya, I had no idea you were such a vintage lover. Congratulations on the eBay score. I had forgotten how wonderful the old Je Reviens was. I'm not surprised that you love it.

E, how clever of you to realize the Corday is a ladybug. I could have looked at it for years and not seen that. Duh! I do feel very lucky to have so many new/old pretties.

ScentScelf said...

I feel like I'm late to the party...but the discussion here adds even more to the...WOW. What an incredible find, plus generous gift. (Jolie Madame is one of my faves, though I like just about everything here. Only Je Reviens = so-so for me, and I'll bet that's because I've never sampled the real stuff.)

Turning things up as treasure is even better. Most awesome. Thanks for the long post, and the pictures; this perfume person is vicariously happy.

Glad your friends are happy, the trip was good, and the return full of promise.

BitterGrace said...

Hey, better late than never, Scentscelf, always. Glad you enjoyed the post. Je Reviens is not for everybody. It sure did inspire some hate at Perfume of Life, back in the day. Then again, there are even people who dislike Jolie Madame. Go figure. Just leaves more for the rest of us!