One of the things new perfume lovers discover is vintage perfumes are held in high esteem. These are older formulations of existing perfumes which contain currently proscribed ingredients. It also refers to discontinued perfumes of a particular style usually from the first half of the 20th century. In the last year I have received a couple of interesting questions from readers asking me to describe a vintage-type perfume. Because of the difficulty of finding them I tried to come up with a good answer. Except it eluded me.
What kept running through my head was these are what are frequently called “old lady perfumes”. That kind of description is lacking in many ways. What makes them interesting is these are the opposite of today’s lighter offerings. These are the fragrances which left a trail behind the wearer, for better or worse. That power is part of the appeal as well as the reason some turn their nose up at them. I kept wondering if there was a good example that might come from the Discount Diamonds section. After a year of thinking about it, Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum might be the affordable vintage experience.
Mon Parfum was released in 1984 by Sra. Picasso. She had a career designing jewelry before giving perfumery a try. Her goal was to create a perfume which hearkened back to the earlier part of the century. Working with perfumer Frank Bocris they would create a multi-layered floral over an animalic base which snarled.
It begins with a citrusy green top accord. Lemon is surrounded by coriander and angelica giving the contrast. The floral heart is headed up by a duet of jasmine and hyacinth, but it is so much more. M. Bocris adds in the freshness of muguet, the lushness of rose, the fleshiness of ylang-ylang, the powderiness of mimosa and the opulence of orris. This is what those early florals were all about a recognizable leader with a parade of others adding nuance and depth. The fun of this is if you concentrate you will notice all the flowers I mentioned. They don’t just become flower soup they are a filigreed bouquet.
As much as I enjoy the floral heart what makes this amazing is the animalic base. In my original bottle M. Bocris used all of them. There are times I wondered if it wouldn’t sprout hair on my shelf. That isn’t the version you can purchase today. Those animalics have been significantly changed or banned. Whomever oversaw the current reformulation did a great job. While this might not roar as loud it still shows its fangs in as fully an animalic base as can be achieved today. That turns this into a sultry sexy perfume.
Mon Parfum has 16-18 hour longevity and gigantic sillage. Trust me a drop or two will do.
I recommended to my correspondents to go pick up a bottle online. Once they did, we had a really nice conversation using Mon Parfum as a starting point on vintage perfume. If you want to see if vintage-type fragrances are for you here is the most cost-effective way I can think of to start.
Disclosure: This review is based on an original bottle and a new bottle I purchased.