It is fascinating to consider the survivors of the 1970’s. Some perfumes just had too much of a hook, formed too much of an emotional link in fragrance-wearing minds to be let go, even in reformulated, attenuated – ruined – form.
Thus, YSL Opium – the grande dame of Studio 54 Disco Perfumes – remains still popular; its ( reducted ) heart still beating; as do the demurer Anais Anais: Chanel No 19; Rive Gauche…..the interlinking ingredients recognisable themes in the mind and on skin, more tenable, memorable…………..classic.
Other more subtle perfumes from the 70’s that I love, Balenciaga Michelle, Balmain Ivoire, Rochas Mystere (so strange, divine in my opinion : I save my extraits for special occasions) are gone. Remain shuttered away in closets. Sold online at vintage auction.
Some live in a netherworld in between.
Still available in some form or other – resurrected as newly priced ‘heritage’ scents by their parent companies in limited edition collections, or else as Drug Store bargains ( in the case of Guy Laroche ), Givenchy III, Dioressence, and J’ai Osé, are like spiced, fluttering, final nails in the coffin of a decadent decade.
The much lauded Givenchy III is a dry and bitter aldehydic chypre that I have smelled in various incarnations, including a lot of vintage parfum, and always intensely disliked. Similar in some ways to Bandit – another perfume whose charms I have never fallen for (is it that phenolic, leathered unsugaredness that doesn’t work for me? Something too frowning, too serious; too manly? ) I feel that I need to be educated by you on this one as I really just don’t get it.
Forever closed to me.
Though I can imagine III having smelled quite spectacular on a cream satin blouse under fur coat in New York in clouds of cigarette smoke (because all of these perfumes are made for such occasions…dragging themselves through the pall and the strobes for a dahhling moment perched on the side of a sofa as the thick perfume tenders out from the drenched fibres into the next person’s conscious); the androgyny, angularity, meannessss…., whenever I smell this perfume it just smells to me like yesterday’s ashes.
Dioressence has similarly never floated my boat. The thing with Opium was that it was so immediate: capturing a quintessence of what it was trying to do; loading the spice, the citrus, the flowers, the balsams, the resins, the animalics, the patchouli, into the perfectly aestheticized package. A cultural phenomenon.
Most of its apologists were simply just less interesting.
(they couldn’t even use a real leopard – a case of the latest raging coronavirus tearing through the nightclub? )
Patently a flatterer of Opium, like Cinnabar by Lauder, and KL by Lagerfeld, Dioressence is a scent that I have always found rather dowdy somehow :: Cruella De Vil down with the influenza, nursing a hot herb tea with honey in fraying slippers.
Again – perhaps you just had to be there. It is an elegant perfume, to be sure (as is Givenchy III – this cannot be denied), a removed competitor, older, more considered, with a softer internality, but for me there is just not that originality (and yes I am writing about the vintage parfum): that remarkable refrain that stays in the mind like the more committed, and characterful classics.
I need more fire.
J’ai Osé (I tried, I dared, I did my best) is yet another Opium; nice actually; soft, sensual and rounded, spicy, with a certain flair …..but again, very, very much of that time. That ilk. And though I know I would enjoy this in certain contexts, on a person with the fashion wherewithal to carry it off knowingly (or else completely obliviously….just finding it at a garage sale and wearing it what the heck), generally I do think there is a reason that these perfumes have fallen by the wayside, unlike other perfumes that have transcended the times because of their ‘timeless appeal’, or more imaginative tenacity.
They’re like dancing with ghosts.