Monday, June 15, 2009

Voodoo, the perfume: Revisited

To be honest, I tend to wear modern fragrances more often than vintage. But since I don't care too much for decants, if I'm buying something contemporary it's going to be full bottle purchase. That being the case, I try to only buy things that I think are really special. More and more now, I want to limit myself to perfumes that have a certain level of quality and a beautiful presentation that I believe is going to stand out even years from now.

(Mine says Patchouli on the side.) But I'm not wealthy so when I buy something like this, I'm expecting it will keep well enough that I'm going to be able to use it for years and then pass along whatever I don't use up to my niece. Perfume isn't cake, after all. Provided that it is genuinely a fine and well-crafted product, why shouldn't a perfume remain relatively stable for a [really, really] long time? Perfumes are more similar to honey or wine than other, more perishable cosmetics and food stuffs. I have a number of 50 to 70 year old fragrances that seem to be holding up quite well although I do notice the best ones tend to be those that were more costly, originally. But if the perfumes of today are going to be made of disposable ingredients without quality carriers so they begin to deteriorate even after only a year or two then perfume collecting as we know it is all but a thing of the past.

Despite these mildly torturous thoughts and my supposedly high standards in perfumery, I remain a complete and total sucker for (almost) anything vintage! Even though I say I'm only going to buy things that I like, or that smell good on me (or at least, to me), all too often I give in and end up lugging home another box full of half-offs and embarrassingly grimy containers of cloudy oil residues and worse... and I've done it too many times to count! But I swear to you that from now on, no matter what I say, that I'm not going to buy even one more miniature bottles-- don't even ask. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere and if I don't draw it at this point, you might as well look forward to seeing me on an upcoming episode of Obsessed!

And I still have scores of scents I've barely touched just sitting in the vault waiting for me. But despite my overstock piles, I'm suffering from an odd sort of ennui this summer. I've noticed just lately that it's become much harder to find new stuff, vintage-wise, to buy. This hasn't really ever been a problem before so I'm wondering if the recent down-turn has trickled down into the very farthest corners of even our second hand economy already? I don't know exactly what the cause is but hopefully it's only a matter of time before things start to turn up again. So I've been thinking lately about the slightly mundane things, like the scents that I actually wear in my everyday life but usually take for granted...

And since things are slow around here I've come up a little perfume game and of course there will be a prize for the winner. The photograph above contains an important clue as to the identity of a certain 'mystery perfume' that I've been wearing quite often lately. I won't say more about it than that, so this is going to be challenging enough that I may never have to make good on the prize I'm offering. So Good Luck! The first person who guesses the mystery scent correctly will receive a set of samples of some of the vintage scents I've reviewed here, the most prized of which will be a 1 ml sample of another favorite that I've been wearing again, lately- Dana's super rare-and-deserves-to-be-legendary vintage VuDu (Voodoo) parfum. There's only one caveat: I will post the identity of the mystery perfume in one week's time. At that point, the contest will expire, winner or no.

Now you might recall I did an earlier review of Vudu here on TVPV and I have to confess, I'm really loving this perfume. That it stacks up to anything modern, given it's age and our general changing tastes in perfume styles, I think is quiet amazing. On wearing Vudu again, there is an incense-y quality that I didn't focus on so much before, which positively hums next to the turgid, vulcanized tuberose that forms the heart of Vudu. I still consider this to be one of my most 'cherry' perfumes but it's an accent, really. The top notes seem more ordinary to me now as well- just some nice candied citrus paired with a cooling kiss of menthol from those narcotic whites, rather than the more adventurous herbs (basil, thyme??) I'd smelt so keenly before. I still get that odd human hair note, or is it more musty-mildewy now? The chypre base, a mossy, slightly powdery-resinous delight, still forms a perfect cradle, tenderly cupping and swirling all of those other scent notes into a coherent composition. Sometimes I write about a perfume like this one hoping to jar someone's memory or perhaps draw a few more examples of the fragrance out of the woodwork. And some times it even works out. But as for Voodoo, no. Apparently it has dropped away into a sad oblivion of nearly total extinction. Why? Was it just another fruity chypre in the end, and all too ordinary? Or maybe something closer to the opposite is closer to the truth... perhaps it was too extraordinary, too different? In fact, it seems that Voodoo was the most expensive of Dana's offerings stateside at the time of its USA release and if by chance it was brought back today I believe it would receive rave reviews.

CONTEST NOTE: Because I'd like someone to possibly win this contest: please read comments for an important clue, to which I'll add the initials C.J.

The Vintage Perfume Vault, where the scent of yesterday's vogue lives.


Melissa said...

My vote goes for Yves St. Laurent Yvresse or Champagne as it was originally called. :)
A super fruity chypre.
Oh, and good luck with the miniatures! I swear off getting new bottles all the time & fail miserably.
Right now my count would last me through several lifetimes! Oh well. :( I guess I could have a worse habit.

Amelia said...

Good guess, but I'm going to have to give more hints! I love Champagne/Yvresse. It's fruits are soft and golden compared to Voodoo, which is spicer and darker similar to Rochas' Femme. The miniatures! I've already broken my promise- with a set of Fragonards. You're right about it though, we could do much worse;)
Happy sniffing!

Amelia said...

The photo was run as an advertisment for Dior (the shoes & hose), circa 1980(ish). But the shoes were manufactured for Dior by another shoe designer from the 1980s-1990s (a less famous although 'known' name). If you can discover the name of that shoe designer, then you will be getting very, very warm ...
Also the perfume is not Chypre, so think more about the hint above, if you are still in the hunt. GOOD LUCK!

Perfumella said...

Great contest!

I wonder if the shoes were made by Roger Vivier? If so, then the perfume could be the original Vivara.

Am I close?

Perfumella said...

Okay, having read the rules more carefully (der....), I'd take a stab and say that the shoes are made by Charles Jourdan and the perfume is Votre.

Any closer?

Amelia said...

Perfumella: You are a winner! The shoes were made by Charles Jourdan but I really admire his perfumes the most. Votre is one of only two of his that I really wear, a lovely classic french perfume with the best sillage! His The Parfum (2004) is a stunner as well, a non-foody, foody gourmand that I happen to be wearing today:) Please email me your shipping address at so I can send you your prize!

Perfumella said...

Bless you, Amelia!