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Friday, July 14, 2006

Underrated Friday or I Can’t Believe They Were Discontinued

Writing the Tuesday’s article on Lancôme’s excellent and sadly defunct Cuir made me think of other wonderful scents that were inexplicably and unjustly discontinued. When I die and meet my creator, among the questions I’d ask Him/Her, such as, how the Universe was really created and why was it not made any better than it is, why is yawning contagious, why do men have nipples, and what is the attraction of Kate Moss and The People of Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo, I would beg for an explanation behind the discontinuation of Caron Violette Precieuse and Matthew Williamson Incense, among many others. So, continuing the tradition of Underrated Friday, started by Aromascope, I present to you the list of my most lamented discontinued fragrances. I love them and I know many people love them, some of them have quite a cult following. But they were discontinued, which I guess means that an “average consumer” and the brands that released these scents have failed to appreciate their value. Thus- underrated.

In alphabetical order:

Chaos by Donna Karan
Herbs, spices, precious woods…Chaos is dark, balsamic, resinous, wonderfully soothing. It is simply superb. Donna Karan has released some interesting fragrances in the past (Black Cashmere) and I adore her recent Essence Collection. But all the bottles of Wenge in the world won’t replace the amazing Chaos.

Djedi by Guerlain
Originally created in 1926, it was re-released at least once, in 1996, to celebrate its 70th anniversary. And then it was gone again, perhaps this time for good. Why wouldn’t Guerlain add Djedi to its permanent “exclusive” line is a mystery to me. Granted, this blend of vetiver, patchouli and leather is strange, dry and an acquired taste and perhaps Guerlain is concerned that it won’t sell well. But here is what puzzles me even more. In their Les Parisiennes collection, right next to the exquisite Attrape-Coeur, the sharply chic Derby, there exists…wait for it…Purple Fantasy! Surely, not many people would buy that insipid concoction and surely Djedi is more deserving of a place in the permanent collection. Caron still sells its Yatagan, which is almost as bizarre a scent as Djedi…

Grape & Vine by Fresh
es, you saw it right. I rue the discontinuation of a Fresh fragrance, and a fruity one at that. It is the only one of their creations that I liked and of course it is not sold anymore. It seems to be gone so completely that even my relentless stalking of eBay does not produce any results. One of my favorite fruity scents, the promised vines of the title were very apparent in it, adding wonderful, dry greenness to the sweetness of grapes.

Incense by Matthew Williamson
Incense is all about soft woods and spices (sandalwood and saffron) with a little bit of amber and musk added for more richness. Like Chaos, Incense has a soothing, relaxing effect on me, it is a comfort scent of sorts…not that I have enough of it to comfort myself with. Williamson discontinued this beautiful perfume and replaced it with the very pink, fruity-floral Matthew Williamson Fragrance…Why? Why?...One of life’s imponderables…

Nombre Noir by Shiseido
Gorgeous, indeed nocturnal perfume, the smell of a black rose, rich, darkly-fruity and slightly smoky…Released in 1982 it was soon gone, perhaps because, as Chandler Burr points out in The Emperor of Scent, “despite its (significant) price, Nombre Noir lost money because of the packaging”. I don’t care about the black octagonal glass bottle. I’d buy Nombre Noir in the most humble container imaginable. Would the scent be as good if it were to be re-released now, would the formula have to be changed to meet the new regulations and would that damage something essential, something that makes Nombre Noir as beautiful as it is? Who knows…

Orchidee Blanche by L’Artisan
It is not completely gone yet, you can still buy bottles at L’Artisan’s boutiques and in some online stores, but the word is that in the very near future my beloved, dry and honeyed Orchidee Blanche, this gorgeous iris scent, will be no more. Oh woe is me!

Violette Precieuse by Caron
efore I smelled Violette Precieuse, I have always found violets to be passive, quiet, pretty, rather boring flowers…Caron’s creation proved me wrong. Violette Precieuse is like no other violet scent out there. This is a daring, very confident violet. It is wonderfully dry, supremely elegant, rather aloof …and this chic, remarkable scent is gone…The Perfume House of Caron, who is obviously not afraid to keep such original, striking scents as Poivre and the aforementioned Yatagan in their collection, saw it fit to get rid of Violette Precieuse…

There are of course many more discontinued perfumes to be lamented. I haven’t even touched those, like Givenchy’s L’Interdit, which, although still widely available, might as well have been discontinued, since the new version does no justice to the original. I am sure you have your own list of fragrance that you can’t believe were discontinued, so share them and let’s mourn together.

The painting, La Belle Affligée, by A.B.Marti, is from
Please tune in on Sunday, July 16, when Perfume Smelling Things will be featuring an article by Erin (Tigs), The Week in Scent.


Blogger tmp00 said...

It's not truly discontinued, so perhaps it doesn't count, but it's very difficult to find in the states: Annick Goutal Sables. Wonderfully boozy; burnt caramel, tobacco woods and immortelle. I have two bottles in deep storage, one of which is sealed against the day when I can truly get no more.. :-(

12:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Whatever you do, don't try Goutal's Eau du Fier. You will love it and it is being discontinued. Compared to that, Sables would seem to you widely available :-)

12:41 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I had tried it years ago, and it didn't quite work on me. Of course now I want a bottle. Oy.

1:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fresh Grape & Vine was perfect, and I'm still mourning its loss. It was better than all their other fragrances combined.

1:22 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Eau du Fier... such a pity! And of course Guerlain had to discontinue the two best of only three wearable Aqua Allegoria scents, Winter Delice and Lavande Velours. Then there was Bourjois Stephanie, a gorgeous oriental in my memory. Not to mention the classic Cotys, Ambre Antique, L'Origan and their like. And l'Artisan Fleur de Carotte..... I'm getting all melancholy and will probably spend the weekend in tearful contemplation of scents past....

2:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

I will be very sad when my vintage Vent Vert comes to an end, that's for sure. Also Laura Ashley's Emma.

2:40 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

I'd like to submit a petition to have lust or gluttony (please, how bad is it to crave more Chinese plums?) taken off the list of 7 deadly sine so that perfume reformulations could be added on and hopefully strike fear in the hearts of perfume makers. The reformulation of Fidji was pure evil. Oh, and I keep all my perfumes in the boxes they were moved in inside a walk in closet, which means I don't have them all out where I can see them. *Total* joy when last year I came across a bottle of Chaos that I'd forgotten about for years.

6:42 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I weep for all of these, except for Grape & Vine, which I never tried and can't imagine liking (oh, OK, I'll weep in sympathy for your loss!). Also for all the discontinued Lanvins, especially Scandal. They are supposed to be bringing Rumeur back, but I bet it won't be the same.
J--I don't think l'Artisan Fleur de Carotte is discontinued; at least, I just saw two bottles at the Boston Barneys.

7:03 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

And adding--because I just had more coffee--more recent sadness:
the Gobin Daudes (esp. Nuit au Desert)
the Iunx line (esp. Splash Forte and l'Ether)
and (although they SAY it's just on hiatus)
Czech & Speake Dark Rose!!!!!

7:23 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Purple Fantasy. (Shudder). I have often pondered that one. I can't imagine, with all those amazing Guerlain scents in the archive, how that one survives.

7:58 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Cait on Laura Ashley's Emma - it was SO beautiful! Every once in awhile I get a remembrance of it in Ormonde's Osmanthus (WAY down in the dry-down). What were the notes in Emma? I still adore and one day will mourne Ropion's Safari - I have bottles squirreled away and its in lots of places online - but still why quit this one, with all the insipid new stuff hanging on?

10:33 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Purple Fantasy. A fragrance only Barney the Dinosaur could love.

Excuse me, I have to go find my Kleenex after reading your post.

10:37 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

For some reason I thought you might enjoy that one, that smoky-rubbery strange lapsang scent...well, don't re-try it in case you do like it now :-)

11:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I knew you'd join me in the mourning for Grape & Vine. Nothing else Fresh has done has worked for me . :-(

11:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have never tried Bourjois Stephanie...I probably should even if I can still find it somewhere. What was it like?

11:06 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Can you tell more about Laura Ashley's Emma? Maybe you could write a review? We should remember these Dear Departed ...

11:08 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am with you there. Lust and gluttony are nothing compared to the Sin of Reformulation and that of Releasing Dull Fruity-Florals All The Time. Hrmph.

11:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I haven't tried the old Rumeur and I probably won't be able to...and that would insure that I give the new Rumeur a fair try :-)

I must confess I don't mourn IUNX. I honestly did not get the point of that line of magical disappearing scents. And the two with good lasting power (the ones you named) I just didn't like :-)

But what is up with those Czech & Speake people? I wish they read the perfume forums and such. :-) Then they would've known that Dark Rose is most eagerly awaited re-release. Not No. 88 or whatever it is they are re-releasing first.

11:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah...Purple to Attrape-Coeur...puzzling.

11:14 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That's what I tell myself, but then *someone* sends me something old, wonderful and discontinued...and my heart gets broken. :-)

11:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Now I am really curious about Emma. What was that like?

And Safari...I actually didn't not know it was discontinued. Surely it is much more interested than anything Lauren has released in recent years.

11:17 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

*snort* I loved your remark about very true...

11:18 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the Gobin Daudes were lovely, weren't they? And I'd light candles for the return of Dark Rose if I were sure that would work?

TWO bottles of Fleur de Carotte? Ooooh, I'm going green with envy. I'm afraid they're not making it to Switzerland.

Bourjois Stephanie was at the time, some 15 or so years ago, the spiciest vanilla scent I've ever encountered. Not as sweet and heavy as Casmir, not as unusual as Shalimar, a very rounded scent with a beautiful ambery drydown. Says my memory, anyway....

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Martin said...

I can soon look for my beloved Helmut Lang Cuiron and CdG Calamus and CdG Tea in the stars...

11:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Stephanie sounds very appealing! I wonder if I can find some on eBay :-)

I've never been clear on the subject of Gobin-daudes...are they discontinued everywhere or just in the States? Oh wait, you mentioned you are in Switzerland. I see now...they must completely gone. That is very said as they were very interesting. :-(

12:58 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I love CdG tea too. It's a shame they got rid of those series.

12:59 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

As you can imagine, our lists are vastly different. Caron Violette Precieuse, in particular, is the fragrance that cured me of buying unsniffed (I shudder to think of it even now). I am apparently the only one in the world who smelled MH's Matthew Williamson and said "whats the big deal"? Nombre Noir I found only mildly interesting, but that one may have been overly aged. *slinks off to my corner again*

1:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

What would be on your list? I'd love to see that! I am thnking a couple of Gobid-Daudes might make it there, right?

1:58 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You and Robin agree on MWI then. What would you say is your favorite incense fragrance? At the moment I'd have to say Messe de Minuit, it rocks my world these days :-)

4:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I envy you! :-) I guess, with eBay, nothing is really all that unavailable...if one waits long enough, the rarest things pop up there...there is of course the issue of the price of those rare things. But still...I am not losing my hope of finding a bottle of Djedi (that I could afford) :-)

4:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still yearn for Lauren's "Safari", Oscar de la Renta's "Ruffles", Faberge's "Tigress" and "Woodhue", and Coty's "Elan".

The "L'Interdit" reformulation?? Aaack. Fie on reformulations!!

5:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Fie on reformulations indeed!

5:57 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Oh, ladies,I concur...perhaps what we crave isn't universally considered "marketable" or "fashionable". Sometimes , I think faddism overtakes popular perfumery, and some people will buy anything with a name on it [the way I feel that some folk will marry anything with an MD after it!]
One ought to pursue beauty , not status, when it comes to perfume...
I loudly lament the passing of fragrances created for the individual, the voluptuous, and the fearless-

8:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am lamenting with you...

9:36 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back - Emma was soft and floral and pretty without being a cliche, and lasted for ages on me. Hard to find official notes. But this is what I found secondhand on a discussion somewhere (so who knows!)
Top notes: Bergamot, Freesia, Hyacinth Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lily of the Valley/Muguet Base notes: Amber, Brazilian Vetiver, Moss, Musk, Sandalwood

I think I said earlier that something in Ormonde's Osmanthus occasionally smells like this, but I really don't know of anything else that smells even remotely like Emma. Still would like to see it back! Hope this helps

4:07 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you so much! Emma sounds truly lovely...eBay, here I come :-)

5:08 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh I read about Muthhela pour Homme in your journal yesterday. I tried to google it too, with very little success. It sounds wonderful.
I've seen DK Fuel being praised on Basenotes...wonder what that's like...

8:26 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

The 2 perfumes I've been wearing for over a decade have both been discontinued - Safari by Ralph Lauren & Casmir by Chopard. If anyone has any tips on places to find these in useable condition, please email me at

11:40 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Emma. Martecci's is working on recreating it, but I continue to mourn the loss every day of this miserable existence on Emma-less Earth. Laura Ashley No. 1 is my second greatest loss, and Laura Ashley No. 2 is my third. Layering all 3 fragrances works, too. And no other perfumes can do that. There is nothing that smells like Emma's light, fresh, and slightly floral scent. Most perfumes today smell like laundry detergent or cloying insect repellent.

4:01 PM EDT  
Blogger donna maui said...

So glad Martecci is still working on Emma. They now have samples available, so if you want to see this really happen, please order the test set. Planning to get this as a birthday gift this month (to myself!)
Link to Martecci's Emma

12:47 PM EST  
Blogger Booknplays said...

Growing up, Mom always wore Tigress by Faberage when she went out. I had never smelled anything like it, it was so exotic and heady. I loved it! It was so unlike my Mom's day to day life! I remember the year I had enough money to buy Mom a bottle for Christmas. It was the same beautiful golden color with the the tiger print felted cap. When she opened it and put it on, however, everyone let out an ewwwww! They had changed the formula without notice! Why didn't they at least but "new" on the bottle? I was so disappointed because my Christmas gift to Mom was ruined! I still remember that disappointment. Now, Mom is 89 and losing some of her memories. They say smell is one of the strongest senses. How I would love to buy her a bottle of the real tigress and perhaps it could trigger memories of happy times with my Dad who has been gone for over 20 years.

1:25 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember Elan by Coty. It came out sometime in the 70s. I thought that was Coty's best fragrance and then they go and discontinue it! I also loved the ORIGINAL Norell. A new company took it over and it is not the same fragrance. I also love Antilope by Weil. My mother wore that. You can still get it but its extremely hard to get....Also, does anyone remember Jovan Grass Oil? That was a beautiful scent as well.

12:06 PM EDT  

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