Sign the petition : Save Perfume’s Soul

La Liberté guidant le peuple (1830) by Eugène Delacroix

La Liberté guidant le peuple (1830) by Eugène Delacroix

A few weeks back I suggested an International Perfume Heritage Day on May 3rd. Although we’ve been told that new regulations basically address labeling issues and that our perfumes are not under attack (yet!), I still feel that the perfumes that our grandparents wore… and our parents wore… and WE wear today will eventually be reformulated out of existence.

So… there is a petition out there by Parfumo International and I’m encouraging all my readers to sign it and send a message to the stakeholders that we are aware of what they are doing and we don’t like it one bit!

Click here to sign.

Guy Laroche : Fidji

Created by : Josephine Catapano

Date : 1966

Genre : Green floral gorgeous (was)

Concentration : eau de toilette

I went looking for something to wear for the spring today.  Can you imagine that here we are in late March in Montreal and winter dumped another 10 cms. of snow?  And… it’s chilly, humid and windy!  I needed something to remind me of the summer.  So when I saw the Fidji bottle in the discount perfumer’s showcase, I asked to try it out.  When I think of perfumes my mother wore, I think of Crêpe de Chine, L’Air du Temps and Fidji, in that order.  And I’m happy to say that I was the one who introduced her to Fidji.  A girl I liked who lived across the street from our house wore it and I thought this girl was beautiful and classy and so I bought Fidji for my mother for Christmas and it became her signature scent for a long time.  I wanted to see if Fidji had held up or not.

The sales associate sprayed some on a scent strip and then on my skin.  I got a blast of “old school” gorgeous!  All the elements were there as I remembered them… green galbanum, a symphony of white florals, banana-tinged ylang ylang for that tropical edge and civet… but done so expertly, I thought… this is it!  What luck!  At my very first outing, I found what I’ve been looking for.  But… before pulling out my credit card, a little voice in my head spoke… “step away from the counter”… and I did… long enough to check out the notes on the Internet.  All the French classic ingredients were there… jasmine, rose, violet, carnation and a base of musk, patchouli, amber, vetiver and moss!  It was incredible… but still I waited and I’m glad I did because within 15 minutes Fidji had morphed  on my skin to be a soapy, floral, powdery concoction… the fresh green note had disappeared as had the ylang ylang. It wasn’t what it started out to be… but still I thought it wasn’t half bad.  But then, an hour into the fragrance… meh!  Beautiful Fidji had become a sweet, powdery nondescript scent that, although not unpleasant, wasn’t enough to make it into my magic closet.

And so… in the middle of the mall, a little ditty from about the same time that Fidji hit the market came to mind.

Fran Lebowitz : the New York City Ballet audience knew as much about the ballet as the people who made it

Of course, Fran wasn’t talking about ALL New York City Ballet audiences but the pre-AIDS NYCB audience of the 60s and 70s… the ballet of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. And the reason that that particular ballet company was so spectacular was  because the audience pushed it to be so… and they did so because they were knowledgeable about ballet.  Fran goes on to say…

“If you know that the people that are watching have these immensely high standards, you’re going to be better.. and that audience did.  If you write something and you know that the audience is going to get every little thing… you’ll work to put every little thing in.”

Such is the state of perfume today.  There are a lot of people out there who know as much, and even more, about perfume than the people who make it.  That’s why when reformulations come out, it’s so frustrating because you know that tens of thousands of women out there are saying to themselves, “they changed it.”

I think much of this knowledge is coming from the Internet in the form of blogs.  I mean… I’m not talking about MY blog.  Let’s face it, I sit at the kids’ table of bloggers.  But so many other talented and knowledgeable bloggers out there that I dare not list for fear of forgetting someone.  And, of course, as much as people have criticized Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, I think they did a great job of bringing that perfume knowledge out to the general public.  And, last but not least… the people who have worn the perfume for the past 40 – 50 years!  I am stunned when I go out with one such friend and she says, “Oh this smells like X of the late 50s!”  WOW!

Over the past 2-3 years, I have given at least 40 lectures on perfume and one of the questions I get asked most is, “Have they changed X?”  And, the perfume that is most often cited is L’Air du Temps by Nina Ricci.  It’s frustrating but it also makes me sad… particularly since my mother wore L’Air du temps for so many years.  After Crêpe de Chine by Millot, it’s the one I remember the most… L’AdT and Fidji by Guy Laroche. Now, wasn’t that spectacular!

I’ll be back shortly with a perfume review.

Here is a clip of Fran on Jerome Robbins.

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