When my sister came to stay with us in Berlin two years ago, she was clad, beautifully, in Daim Blond: a fuzzy, apricot-led nuzzle of suede that surrounded her, elegantly, like a warm, sunlit halo. Top notes of hawthorn and iris were wedded, velvetly, urbanely, and suggestively, to spiced, ambered, heliotropic effects that had a real, three dimensional dust-mote texture (the actual imagined olfactory texture of suede; blonde suede, the name of this most successful, in commercial terms, of the Lutens range).
I bought a new bottle of Daim Blond for her yesterday at Shinjuku Isetan, Tokyo, as this is a perfume she likes to go back to, and which she has been getting a lot of compliments on. But I should have trusted my nose before I reached into my wallet. Strangely, I thought the version in the tester I sprayed seemed thinner, less lush and smooth than the one I knew somehow, and I really knew that version because it filled our apartment deliciously for the entirety of those days that Deborah was staying with us; I also surreptiously sprayed a whole load of the perfume inside a CD cover as a remembrance, something I often do with perfumes that strike me as meaningful in some way and that I want to lock in place in my mind, and it was so thick and perfumed, so reeking of that time that we were hanging out in Berlin bars and clubs all night and of the brunches we were having all the days after, that the case still smells of it.
I stupidly handed over the yen anyway, I suppose, because I thought that it might have just been my imagination – anosmic from all the things I had been smelling and thus not able to properly judge – and also because I need to be getting on quite soon with the family Christmas presents. But I should have trusted my instincts. Naughtily, I have just opened this ‘Daim Blond’ just to check, to be sure, before sending it off to England, and I am quite sure that this is not the same perfume. Yes, the base is the same lovely suede, and I hope she will still get a kick from that stage of this scent. But all the ripe fullness of the perfume that I remember has gone. There is no apricot, no hawthorn: people, this perfume has been stripped.
Perhaps I am naive to be so surprised. Exactly the same thing happened to my beloved Un Bois De Vanille, which was also shaved and defluffed, all its creamy, wispy pink coconut top clouds skimmed, knived off and replaced with harder, less dreamy, woods; and also the great Ambre Sultan, which is just nowhere near as strong and extravagantly gorgeous, as ambered, basically, as it was when it was first released (when it was almost embarrassingly opulent and strong to wear out in public). Yes, I know all the crap about IFRA and all the regulations and everything, but this is embarrassing. It cost too much to not send, I can’t take it back now I have opened it, and yet I feel I am sending my sister something second rate. I can see her expression on Christmas Day when she puts it on, a quizzical look on her face as she tries to mentally compute what is wrong, why it isn’t ringing quite the same bells. No, I don’t know the reasons for this reformulation. But I do know that it seriously pisses me off.