Vintages Personal Tales of a Vintage Collector

Personal Tales of a Vintage Collector

05/13/14 16:26:10 (75 comments)

by: Miguel Matos


So many of us vintage perfume collectors gather not only bottles and their juices. We collect feeling, memories, stories ... And in the activity of hunting and collecting we go through some strange or funny processes. Whether it's a ridiculus bargain, a bad deal, a free treasure, or even a juice turned bad, we all have stories to tell, especially the obsessed ones like me. So I thought I could share some of my stories and bottles with you. And I had the help of a cute furry cat model ...

MYRURGIA MAJA

More than 10 years ago I was travelling though Spain in a business trip. I had some meetings in Barcelona and I had a free day to explore the nearby cities. I went to Girona, a charming medieval town full of history and memories of long gone centuries. As I strolled up and down the streets, I saw a souvenir shop and I entered it. Among the usual paraphernalia, there were lots of boxes of art deco-style perfumes and soaps.

So I bought one of them, red with flowers and a spanish woman wearing a flamenco dress. At that time I didn't collect vintage perfume, so this was mainly for decorating purposes. I think I didn't even open the bottle, but it was so beautiful, with the wonderful soaps and the red velvet box ...

I just had to have it. It sat for years on display in my bedroom until I eventually put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Until very recently, already an avid perfume collector, I was searching through the database in Fragrantica for Myrurgia perfumes and I suddently saw this name: Maja. I started investigating on the net and got really interested in it. Days passed and my brain still wasn't connecting the dots, inexplicably. I don't know how, but finally the neurons sparked. “Yes, I think I have a bottle of this and two soaps!!!”

And there they were, still in that drawer. I was thrilled and puzzled at my nonchalant attitude regarding this gem from the past. I opened the box and smelled the bottle. God, that is a rich scent, old-fashioned and woody with lots of patchouli, a bit sharp and intense. Carnation and cloves playing the main theme in a rather simple but interesting composition that unfortunately fades out very quickly.

But this was made to be a very cheap scent, affordable to everyone. Where I come from, Portugal, we had a lot of Myrurgia perfumes, mostly sold at drugstores and all the grandmothers wore Maja or Maderas de Oriente, side by side with another one of this kind, Dana's Tabu.

SCHIAPARELLI S

Before this, I could never find a Schiaparelli perfume that I would wear and enjoy. I have my secret store where I can buy—for a cheap price—vintage Shocking and Zut! But I just can't stand them. They are typical scrubbers on my skin, even though I absolutely love the bottles. But I just can't keep perfumes only for the bottles.

My collection is made solely of perfumes I love and wear. I consider this a living collection. I always see bottle collectors (the ones that never open nor wear the juice) as sextons keeping glass coffins or jailkeepers with their prisoners inside glass cages. But one day I was browsing through a charity shop under a church near the place where my office is, never hoping to find any perfume as I never saw one single bottle there. And all of a sudden I found two small boxes in a corner, marked 2.5€ each. Can you believe they were Esteé Lauder's Youth Dew vintage cologne (maybe from the 1960s—can you tell me if I'm right?) and the other one I had never seen before: Schiaparelli S.

Well, needless to say I got both, even though Youth Dew can be a migraine bomb for me. Now, S by Schiaparelli is a treasure and I would pay a lot more for it. The bottle is simple and it already has the female figure, with a white label in the middle. The box is very cute, pink with gold details. When I opened the bottle, I was in heaven. An initial burst of fresh and soft aldehydes that develop in a hyacinth-lily-vanilla note and a subtle animalic tone. It's sexy and fresh, but also sweet in an apparently complicated composition, going from bright to sweet, dry and powdery, being always cheerful and gentle.

I can't seem to find any information on this, but it surely deserves more attention. I've heard that this was relaunched in the 60s and I think both bottles—Youth Dew and Schiaparelli S—belonged to the same person. I wonder who she was? That's a question I think about sometimes when looking at my vintage bottles.

PRINCE MATCHABELLI GOLDEN AUTUMN

I have a friend who is the pioneer in vintage clothing boutiques in Portugal. Her name is Carla Belchior and she has some shops in Lisbon, one of them is the most famous in the whole country, called A Outra Face da Lua. She has a small empire of beautiful items from the past and she just opened a new shop based on the upcycling concept, called New Waste. Now, one day I was chatting with her and I confessed my love and obsession with vintage perfumes. I saw her admiration as she had never thought about it before. She is truly a vintage fanatic—I mean, she lives for it—but somehow she was never interested in vintage perfumes and so she told me she had a box that she had been given by a friend. I guess it belonged to an old woman who had died years before. The box was full of old perfumes and she had kept it for quite a long time. She is not a huge fan of perfume, so she wanted to give me the box. I was hysterical, of course, but I restrained my enthusiasm.

photo from princematchabelli.blogspot.com

So, a couple days after, I met her at one of her shops and she took me to the warehouse/atelier where the box was stored. She put it on a table and said, "Now open it." Well, my hands were trembling at the sight of dozens of bottles. Some of them completely empty and others were full. Some ruined, some still in perfect shape. All in all, and after a long screening with very rancid smells, I finally could separate some great bottles with pristine juices. I'll tell you some of them: Myrurgia Joya, Coty Paris and Emeraude, Avon Occur!, Jade East Coral, Jovan Musk Oil, Anjou Side Glance, a beautiful jasmine in Elizabeth Arden's Blue Grass Flower Mist, etc. ... All of them vintage treasures and some are extremely rare. I suppose she was an American woman living in Lisbon, because a lot of these fragrances were American and they were never sold on this side of the ocean in the time of our dictatorship. The list is huge but I want to highlight this one: Prince Matchabelli Golden Autumn. I had heard about this brand but had never smelled any of their perfumes so this is the only reference I have. And boy this is a strangely beautiful fragrance. A perfume of moist moss in a forest under warm sun.

It was a bit hard for me to start enjoying this, since the aldehydes explode violently in the first minutes. It is very, very intense with very, very harsh aldehydes. Then there comes a piney note that can be a bit off-putting too. Only after this comes a very warm and cozy amber with woods. I think I really dislike the opening notes and I try not to smell them until the middle notes start to emerge. Then it turns into a creamy woody fresh scent still infused in aldehydes in an unmistakeably vintage mood. It lasts forever and it came in a full 96 ml rubber-coated black bottle with a golden metal cap.

A beauty of the past that I find strange to be for women, since it is so piney, mossy and woody. But hey, those were different times. Just think of Bandit and Cabochard ...

PIERRE CARDIN BLEU MARINE

I think this was one of my first good fragrances, way back in the 90s. I loved the dark blue bottle with that strange form and the smell was very grown-up for a teenage boy. I suppose I had over three bottles of Bleu Marine until I finally started wearing other fragrances like Yves Rocher Samarkande, Tuscany or Kenzo Pour Homme. More than 20 years later, I had a sudden need to smell Bleu Marine again, since I never stopped loving it. So I looked for it and I found some bottles in the supermarket, in a slightly different and cheaper bottle and packaging. I smelled it and it was horrible, a hot mess that only mimicked the original in the worst materials. Revolting, having in mind the original. Well, no wonder: the fragrance is now produced by Coty and they always seem to ruin whatever they put their hands on. I decided to just mourn my beloved Bleu Marine and get over it ...

Until some months ago when I was in Paris and I visited the Pierre Cardin Boutique in Faubourg St Honoré. It was the first time I had been there but I was very warmly received by a beautiful woman who was Cardin's muse and model in the 1960s—Marise Gaspard, who now runs the Haute Couture store. She was showing me the boutique and at one point I stared at a shelf with lots and lots of vintage Pierre Cardin perfume bottles, new and unopened, for sale. As she saw my eyes sparkle in excitement she wanted to offer me a whole bottle. And I have a policy of never saying no to free perfume! As soon as I smelled it I immediately saw my bedroom at my parents house, the bedside table with the bottle ... everything came back in memories.

And the smell... This unique amber/marine/woody perfume that can be so elegant and sexy. Why did Coty destroy this? Well, later on I came back to the boutique, climbed the stairs to the office and got to meet and interview Pierre Cardin himself, at the age of 92. A very nice man, old and tired but still very passionate about his brand and his creations. And when we talked about his perfumes I could see stars in his eyes. Such a charming man. I'll never forget this experience and I now have an added memory to associate with this scent.

GOOD DEALS / BAD DEALS

Every now and then we, the avid collectors, find amazind things at low prices or even bring home risky choices for the sake of discovery. Along the way we are bound to make some errors. Let me share some good and bad decisions with you. Starting with these two bottles at the left, both bought in the Marché aux Puces (the French flea market) in Paris. Well, this is a bad place to find bargains, since they have there a strong perfume culture. There are small shops entirely dedicated to vintage perfumes where I was gobsmacked both by the treasures and the high prices. However, I found this seller who was dealing mostly with commercial collectibles like stamps, key holders and pins. Somewhere on the floor there was this small basket full of trinkets where I found two things for which I had been searching a long time: Lanvin Eau Arpège 30 ml (it was full at the time) and 15 ml Nina Ricci's Nina. The price bor both? 6 euros!!! The downside of that: I was stupid to hesitate when I found a 50 ml bottle of Yves Saint Laurent Champagne (yes, not Yvresse) pure parfum for 40 euros.

When I went back the bottle was gone ... In another flea market, this time in Portugal, in Aveiro, I found this guy selling a bunch of old bottles. I remember I had 5 euros in my pocket and each bottle was being sold by 5 euros. What I found: vintage Magie Noire, Samsara, Paloma Picasso, Le Roy Soleil ... I didn't know what to do, so I chose Samsara. A year has passed and I never wore Samsara and I cry whenever I remember those bottles of Magie Noire and Paloma Picasso, which I know I would wear very often. Well, collecting is a thing of chance, isn't it?

Let me just tell you about the bottle of Patou Eau de Joy that I was chasing for two weeks in Lisbon. When I finally decided to buy it, the price decreased from 20 to 10 euros—a real bargain but still I was suspicious that this dark juice was already rancid. Turns out it smells great!

Finally, I have to refer to the swaps, also a hit or miss experience. In this case I waited for two months for this gorgeous bottle of Shalimar Secret de Parfum to come from Israel. When it finally came, I had to go to customs where I was asked to explain why the hell was I receiving mail from Israel. Next, I had to see the employees of the customs office unbox the various items and comment on them. “Oh, this bottle is almost empty, is this guy crazy? What do you want this junk for?” They even wanted me to pay a tax even though this was not a commercial trade. Revolting and humiliating. But it smells heavenly now ...

KEEPING MEMORIES ALIVE

I have to add to this article mentioning another dimension of collecting vintages: the memory aspect of fragrances. Everyone remembers someone by their scent. Everyone has in their memory the smell of a special place. So I have some perfumes that I may not use personally, but I keep tkem because they evoke some cherished memories from the past. Like Calandre, the perfume my beloved aunt used to wear in the 80s. I think she is responsible for my love of perfume. I have the same taste for strong perfumes as her and back then she was into the floral andehydes like this and Rive Gauche. I even remember being eight years old and seeing this strange minimalistic glass and metal bottle of Calandre (not like the one in the picture below).

She was always walking in a cloud of strong perfumes, like L'Insolent, for example. Whenever I want to recall her cheerful spirit, I smell Calandre. Another memory from childhood was Marlene, a forgotten perfume that nobody seems to remember. I used to think I had just imagined this until I finally found a bottle of it. It was produced by a Portuguese company, MBB Teixeira, as an hommage to Marlene Dietrich and the TV commercial was ricidulous! My mother had bottles of this, but even she can't remember that. It's a floral fresh green chypre with woods and a very powdery drydown. Finally, I want to talk about this bottle of Diorella.

I always wanted to find vintage Diorella and I did in a website. I made arrangements to meet the seller in a mall, so there I was waiting for some stranger to hand me a bottle in exchange of 5 euros. A woman came and we exchanged items. She explained to me that this perfume belonged to her 90-year-old mother but she never liked it, so it sat on her dressing table for 30 years. I loved this story so when I look at it, I imagine how this woman was like.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE TURNED AND EMPTY ONES?

Here's a suggestion. Very recently I was at the IKEA store and I found this acrylic light box. I took it home and filled it with all the empty or turned bottles I was keeping God knows why. It is now a beautiful lamp in my living room.

Lamp with turned and empty perfume bottles

Dear readers, I feel many of you will identify with these stories. Our endless search for vintage treasures is a source for small anecdotes like these, so would you share them with the rest of us?

 
Miguel Matos is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with art and perfume. He is the editor of the art section at Time Out Lisbon and directs his own cultural magazine, Umbigo, besides contributing with texts for museums and art galleries. He collects perfume and is especially fond of vintages. He is a Fragrantica writer, translator and editor of Fragrantica.com.br

 



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ClairaNoir
ClairaNoir

Thank you for sharing! Although I am just now finding this article, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Those Mae West bottles are gorgeous.

Off the top, I cannot think of any stories that compare to yours, but I do have a few of my own.

THE GOOD:

A few years ago, I was in a department store one day when an elderly lady stopped me and asked, "Are you wearing Shalimar?" She proceeded to tell me about her history with Shalimar, and of course I loved listening to it. She told me of how her bottle was a gift from her husband, and that in those days it was expensive for the times. We also talked some about reformulations and how Shalimar has changed over the years; I only wear vintage Shalimar, but it made me wonder if she would have recognized the scent had I been wearing today's Shalimar.

THE BAD:

More recently, I purchased a vintage Shalimar powder box which at this point would be considered a collectible. However, the merchant ended up sending it to an address not even remotely near me, and unfortunately I never received it.

***On a side note, I was able to find a couple of vintage Shalimar powders elsewhere that had never been used; I bought them immediately and all is well.***

THE UGLY:

A couple of years ago, I was getting ready for a holiday party one evening when I accidentally dropped my Shalimar bottle; thus breaking it and losing all of the contents. It was the first time I ever cried over spilled perfume. Considering it was the holidays, I was already short of money to spend on myself and knew I could not immediately replace my bottle; vintage bottles of Shalimar tend to be more expensive, obviously.

At this point, I have realized that I will go to great lengths to obtain and keep my vintage Shalimars; she is the queen of my collection.

Dec
17
2016
Andreab969
Andreab969

I learned so much! Thank you, Miguel! I'm currently going through my (pretty old) fragrance collection, and don't want to toss the ones that have "turned" or emptied. I'm going to copy your "light box" idea! Wonderful!

Dec
17
2016
carneiro7
carneiro7

Great article, Miguel! I love the idea of such a unique and beautiful lamp. Genious!

Dec
17
2016
FishTank
FishTank

Thank you for an interesting article.

There's absolutely nothing 'marine' about vintage Bleu Marine, however.

Dec
17
2016
antinoo
antinoo

As always, a fantastic article from Miguel! Reading it I just felt like a kid opening a pirate's treasure. Beautiful.

Dec
17
2016
shanon206
shanon206

génial la lampe! très bonne idée pour profiter des vieux parfums! j'ai aussi une petite bouteille Maja des années 80! il n'a pas bougé.

Dec
17
2016
migueldematos
migueldematos

@Ferminadaza What an interesting story. Thank you so very much for sharing it with us. Enjoy your bottles and I am certain that there was some supernatural intervention in the process. When you wear those fumes I am sure your mother can smell them and smile at you!

Jun
01
2016
Ferminadaza
Ferminadaza

My ultimate legendary vintage fume collecting story (those of us who love the vintages all have one, don't we?):

I lost my mother in August last year rather unexpectedly. When she was with us, she and I would often go to estate sales together or just drive about. In my area, there's one neighborhood which boasts a coterie of lovely old homes. One in particular always drew my eye because it had such unique masonry and stain glass windows. I would often joke with my mother that I wanted to see the inside of the house and that I would go knock on the door and ask the owner if they minded. We would both laugh about how ludicrous the idea sounded.

Fast forward to the months immediately following her passing. It was the beginning of December which seemed especially bleak to me as I was the sole caregiver for my elderly grandmother (my mother's mother) as she muddled through a bout with cancer. I was also still reeling from the grief of losing my mom, raising my children, going through a divorce, and I had the added weight of a lonely Christmas season far from the rest of my family and friends.

I had left my grandmother at the hospital for a short while to run errands and I happened to be driving through that neighborhood of stately old homes when I saw signs announcing an estate sale. For old times sake, I decided to follow the signs just to see the house to which they belonged. Lo and behold, imagine my shock when upon following the posted directions, I found myself sitting right in front of the very house that had once fascinated me so much.

There it stood wide open with people milling about and signs announcing the sale of everything inside. I went inside eagerly and spoke with the estate sale agents who were assuring everyone that it was a happy sale, no passing of anyone, no resettling into a facility. The owners were happily moving into a traveling lifestyle and had other homes in other places. The house was as unique and beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. There were incredible floors, artist commissioned stained glass windows, carefully collected mid century furniture...

The perfume! Well, in this ultimate estate sale fantasy of, not only was the house that I'd been fascinated by on sale, but also the contents of the house next door which I'd also fawned over (stately georgian mansion) to a lesser but still enthusiastic degree. Evidently, that house had been owned by a wealthy restauranteur and was filled to the brim with furs, crystal, china, and all manner of lovely things. I'm always on the look out for costume jewelry as well, so I happened to pass by the register where they had several displays when I saw a group of liquid filled glass bottles. Could it be???

Upon closer inspection I realized the bottles were....Shalimar, Mitsouko, and L'heure Bleue.

The Mitsouko was the extrait form and the edt, both circa 1960s. The Shalimar was the extrait and the edc early 1980s (with 2 FULL back up bottles of edc for a total of 3 full bottles) and one watch style bottle of cologne circa late 1980s. The L'heure bleue was the edt circa 1960s.

A total of 8 bottles of vintage Guerlain including extrait formulas!

Asking price? I prepared myself for the sticker shock. I just knew that the amount would be hefty and I resigned myself to perhaps being able to enjoy a sniff and then have to move on.

The sales agent looked at them with a curled lip and said dismissively, "I'll let you have the old perfume for $20 total"

SOLD!!!

The most epic perfume haul! I literally felt as if my mother were smiling down at me.

Jun
01
2016
MeanSuga
MeanSuga

Fabulous article Miguel :) <3
Jomoves - wonderful tips :) <3

Mar
06
2016
zimatar
zimatar

"Personal Tales of a Vintage Collector II - Fulfilling my Teenage Cravings brought me here." ^_^

My mom who is now a retired dressmaker here in the Philippines, was always given a box of Maja soap (that came in three bars per box) by her more jetsetting clients. I remember the scent well.

Will share my thoughts in the latest article:)

Mar
05
2016
Fragaria
Fragaria

Wonderful reading. My mother seldom wore perfume. As a young teen, I would clean her bottles in the bathroom and test them every so often. Wind Song, Golden Autumn...in bottles like the first pictured, and my love of all, L'Origan. I even took care of her Tigress bottle. The smell was one of the worst I've ever encountered. Still, I had respect for it, for what it was, to perhaps some other person in the world that might love it. I guess I would do the same for a vintage bottle of Chanel #5 now. It would have value to me only because it does to others? How childish is THIS? I have a few of the old bottles and they are treasured. I understand your love for vintage perfumes/bottles, but have never felt the need to go beyond my own back yard.
I still love reading or hearing of someone's excitement of finding a treasure....maybe you should make up a "treasure map" of each place you've found one since you travel.
Good day!

Mar
01
2016
migueldematos
migueldematos

Dear Java Sparrow. You can weat your older perfumes. They last for much longer than 3 years if kept from sun light and heat. Just see if they are cloudy, which is usually a bad sign. Also, if they still smell good, It's a sign that they are ok.

Feb
29
2016
Java Sparrow
Java Sparrow

Great, fascinating article. Thank you! However,I would ask you a question (or perhaps someone of the readers could answer to my question). Is it safe for health to use old parfumes?
I have in my collection a few bottles opened four, five years ago. I am afraid to use them now or to give them to somebody else as they all have this mark of 36 months which means that their expiry date is 36 months from opening. What do you think about it?
And what about parfumes kept in a drower for years, like 6 years or more, but never opened? Have they any expiry date?

Feb
29
2016
Le parfum c'est chic
Le parfum c'est chic

I really like your idea of the ''perfume lamp''. A nice way to use old perfume bottle.

Feb
29
2016
faerywren
faerywren

Great article! I love to collect vintages, too. I'm always searching for my favorite fragrances before they were ruined by too much reformulation.
As much as I love your light box, it pains me to think of all that spoiled juice.

Feb
15
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

LOL, eu tambem Miguel!!!

Feb
15
2016
migueldematos
migueldematos

HAHAHA I love you Angela!

Feb
15
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

Yeah gal, can you imagine trying to compete with 500 scents, 1000 samples, 300 reviews, 50 perfume/art faires, a cat, and a mega vintage hoard??? Not to mention questioning yourself every now and then 'do I smell right???'

Feb
15
2016
migueldematos
migueldematos

@Parfumamour can you handle my addiction?

Feb
15
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

LOL!!!!!!

Feb
15
2016
ParfumAmour
ParfumAmour

Miguel marry me!

Feb
15
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

I recently got a small sample of the Occur by Avon, from the Eighties, it was hugely animalic with undertones of mossy freshness and floral at the dry down. I also nearly had an argument with one of the Post Office staff, apparently receiving perfume from Overseas is prohibited!!!!!! I told him what to do with his prohibition and went straight to the manager who assured me that small quantities are fine!!!! Honestly...

Feb
14
2016
Bob Marley
Bob Marley

Really enjoyed reading the article and. Looking at the designs and styles of the vintage bottles. Works of art some of. Them. The only vintage i have is my addiction for Vintage M7 the all Amber bottle. Thanks for writing the article.

Feb
14
2016
SuzanneS
SuzanneS

I love vintages because it's the closest thing we have to a time machine. I found myself going to antique malls looking for Maggie noire, or whomever lived in the past. To see if they're still good and walking out with a piece of the past..is just a thrill. I suppose I'm more of a sentimental sort, but vintages have more soul to them than the frags of today filled with synthetics...a sign of the times , and one can argue a sterilized synthetic world we find ourselves in. Great article!

Feb
13
2016
GrandmaGaga
GrandmaGaga

Loved the article...it amazes me the wealth of entertaining and informative articles to be found on .Fragrantica!

Jul
28
2015
cleo cupcake
cleo cupcake

Lovely article. Oh the missed vintage treasures I could cry over - and the things I sold on ebay only to deeply regret it. But the lamp is pure genius!

Jul
28
2015
raw umber
raw umber

I think it's so cool that you met Pierre Cardin. Your description of him and his persisting passion is very moving. Also, your light box lamp idea is brilliant! I really want to do that too.

Jul
27
2015
fleur fragile
fleur fragile

My thoughts on vintages have now been perfectly articulated by you. Few people understand the importance of almost empty little bottles with worn away labels. Those bottles... They captured memories that would have been lost, and kept them sealed away. The memories would be forgotten by everyone, until the bottle gets opened once more, and there it is: The most vivid memories that one could ever experience after such a terribly long time. And at the same time, it is capturing new memories for the next generation to experience.

Jul
27
2015
Planet_X
Planet_X

We collect feeling, memories, stories ...
THESE links its how I feel myself..It's like in a movie The Giver, when Jeff Bridges is transferring his own memories into the head of young Jonas.
Vintage lovers and collectors mostly collect not for sake of having bottles, they just don't want TO FORGET, want to keep within those smells forever those people we loved, countries we visited, moments we been through, feelings we shared, the Epoch...

Jul
27
2015
Readysniffer1
Readysniffer1

Wonderful article, gorgeous cat! It's a great feeling when you realize a dream of acquiring an old perfume love. There's nothing like the ones you loved when you were young, when perfume was a kind of magic.

Jul
26
2015
veda
veda

Thank you for this lovely article.Lots of infos.I own a vintage mini "Beloved" by Matchabelli, I haven't open it yet.
I also have a bottle of "Blue Marine" pour lui.Two bottles of "Champagne"by YSL, the one is sealed and both with not spray mechanism.I own also some other sealed treasures.Oh, lucky me!!
I wanted to add that the shape of "Shocking" and "S" by Schiaparelli are inspired by the body shape of Mae West!!

Jul
26
2015
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

I came by this article the other day and it reminded me of my own efforts on the vintage scent hunting front some time ago. First I started with my nearest and dearest, my mum. She was a young lass in the late 60s and well turned out, I remember she had still, when I was a kid, some bottles of perfume from her youth in her bedroom cupboard. There is also the fact that she is a hoarders nightmare, so there were more chances of finding Uranium in those cupboards than any fume from the Hippie era.
Next came the Family Seat in the countryside. All my grandparents came to Greece from Anatolia, today Turkey, after the end of the 1st World War and the loss of our land in Asia Minor (for the uninitiated, Anatolia was Hellenised in antiquity mainly for their gold than the pretty eyes of Helen, then by Alexander the Great and later became a part of the glorious Roman Empire and a great centre of Culture and Christianity until it fell under the Ottomans in 1453). So I had great hopes, my gran Eudoxia was born in a suburb in Constantinople and was always well groomed and super clean. Well, I found nothing, where were the little glass bottles of fragrant oil bought in the markets of Constantinople that she could have worn as a young woman? And later, married in the 30s, where were all those gems of the time (she wouldn't wear Tabu though, such concoctions were for women of ill repute, guilty as charged gran...). Am afraid gran was a strictly 'soap and water only' advocate as a mean of personal hygiene, so there my quest ended. The house in the countryside has antique gems(I set my eye on a pair of old porcelain oil lamps..)but not of the fume kind. It was pointless to turn my attention to the Agiannidis clan, the paternal side,(which was a pity as it could be very promising, granny Angelika had a reputation in her youth, she was a dark horse and a bit of Femme Fatale apparently, well dressed and even better scented....)They all perished sometime ago being of a more delicate constitution than the more robust country bumpkins the Hatzes. I must say I never felt so disappointed in my family, and they have done their best over the years..
However, on second thought, I remembered I actually had some vintages in my possession, and preformulations at that. I dug them out of the bottom of the dark wardrobe, 3 little bottles, a Dolce Vita, a Poeme, and a Tresor, all from 1995. In most cases the owners of vintage finds are unknown, but I do know their owner. She was a girl of twenty, impulsive, restless, studying at the Aristotle University English Language and Literature, a party animal with loads of friends, with a ready Witt and even readier tongue....my good self!
Those bottles ( I have a great picture of them but couldn't upload it for love or money....), were not kept at the time as possible future vintages but as a memory of the great times they evoked, the times of laughter, enjoyment, disappointment, everything that was part of my life at the time. I also had a bottle of Paris, ysl, from the same time, given as a present by a lover(and my university tutor at the time, long story), but lost it. I opened the bottles and the magnificent juice, and memories came flooding back. What do they say to my 40 year old self living and working in London for the past 16 years? Well, my tastes have not changed much, what were strong florals then, now became bolder, more complicated and heavier with the addition of incense, civetta and luban (Maroussia, Boucheron, Tabu, Oleg Cassini to name a few), I still over spray and suffocate my coworkers(brave lot), with a few more obsessions added to the existing ones(love collecting antiques and my little porcelain gems are the only crockery that weren't used as weapons at times of heated debate with my ex, a control freak that would make Christian Grey pale into insignificance). Older but wiser....?I don't know, what is for sure is that I adore fumes and who knows, I may pluck the courage and overcome my phobia of possible rancid finds and take a trip to the nearest London flea market.
Watch this space..

Feb
21
2015
butfly23
butfly23

Great article especially by a male and like your blue eyes. Does the beard hold scent well?

Feb
11
2015
diego.lesgart
diego.lesgart

Miguel nice to met you by this way ... great article, i love vintange - retro fragances ... nowadays I only have Armani 87 for women, but I long to wear La Nuit by Paco Rabanne, Eau de Givenchy, III , Gloria Vanderbilt, Rive Gauche, Anne Klein s , Drakkar, Paradox by Pierre Cardin, Colours by Benetton 86 . . . I don t know why this treasures are missing . . . I really admire your lamp, gorgeous . . . All your notes are very interesting, great work!!! Loves from Argentina

Feb
08
2015
sfdla
sfdla

I *loved* this article--you are a wonderful writer.

My mother wore L'Air du Temps (though she denies it) and Rive Gauche on date nights. She doesn't have a strong sense of smell and wore a generous amount of each. It never occured to me to look for these, but I will now

:) thank you

Feb
08
2015
goldenfire5
goldenfire5

I am not much of a vintage enthusiast, but I loved your article! I especially liked your stories of the perfume shops in Paris and how you met Pierre Cardin. Then I looked at some pictures of his clothing designs - wow, they are past-futuristic! Thanks for sharing.

Nov
12
2014
Jitterbug Perfume Lover
Jitterbug Perfume Lover

I loved this article. I love that there are still some of us that hunt for vintage all the time, and cherish them when we finally do find them!

Nov
12
2014
Peridot75
Peridot75

Thank you for the wonderful article! It brought back many beautiful memories of my Spanish great grandmother who loved her Maja! She would always let me use her Maja along with the dusting powder...definitely one of my early childhood perfume memories!

May
19
2014
veda
veda

Thank you for your beautiful article.
I also collect vintages and don't know what to do with the ones that had turn...
Thank you!!

May
19
2014
pamelapuffadder
pamelapuffadder

enjoyed your story and adore your cat. I have three felines and they don't mind getting in bed with me even when I reek of a perfume that won't wash off.

May
18
2014
shasta
shasta

Wonderful article. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

May
17
2014
jasonx
jasonx

I'm not a vintage collector but story like this is always fun & lovely to read. Bravo :D

May
17
2014
christelucas
christelucas

I had and wore Golden Autumn in my teens. I also have Shocking and "S" bought for me by my father on his trips to Europe. My Spanish professor in college got me on to Myrurgia. My favorite is/was Flor Bloson.

Compared to these most modern fragrances are water, smell alikes and non classic. The proverbial dime a dozen.

So many were bought up by New Dana. Dana itself was a very good company. New Dana produces watered down knock offs. My hope is some one will invest and restart companies manufacturing great products.

There is also a Shocking you, a bit more formal. The Shocking is a perfect feminine fragrance for frilly as in "prom", dance nights for spring and summer.

I also grouped Youth Dew and Chantilly and Moon Drops in those less formal categories.

I lost much to a horrid debacle of fraudulent contractors and an attorney (s) in an insurance claim. While I do cherish my "things", I will now also use and enjoy them rather than have some mishap take them away or leaving a cache in my own demise. Just a thought for all of you collectors.

By the way, I am still fighting for justice and to nail them and will until I do in life or death. They have done this to others, destroying possessions to maximize a claim and then protecting each other.

May
16
2014
jameshb
jameshb

Muito bom, Miguel! Parabéns!

May
15
2014
drugstore classics
drugstore classics

Vintage beauties are a personal passion of mine, and have been ever since I first began acquiring perfume just a few years ago! It feels as though I've been making up for lost time, trying to gain a sense of what the PAST smelled like. :)

Many thanksm=, Miguel, for your excellent suggestions, info, and anecdotes. I think I speak for every vintage lover when I say that we appreciate the Good Karma of your delightfully 'sharing' article.

May
15
2014
Chickenboo
Chickenboo

Love your article, your illustrations and your (personality-plus!) cat, Mr. Matos!
Keep 'em coming!
Fond regards,
CB

May
15
2014
SumoTigerCat
SumoTigerCat

Thank you for a charming and interesting article! Love the picture of kitty with perfumes! What's better than that??? The lamp idea is terrific, as well. Bravo!

May
15
2014
migueldematos
migueldematos

@Jomoves Very useful ideas... I will keep them in mind. And also I want to add: if you are desperate for a specific bottle and it seems impossible to find, just wait and be persistent. Experience tells me that if you keep an open eye, someday that bottle will come to you. You just have to keep looking :)

May
15
2014
Jomoves
Jomoves

I have a couple of tips for vintage perfume fiends/hunters like me:

- If you are looking for a pre-reformulated version of a somewhat recent scent, have al look at the testers of the fragrances you are after. These are often the original versions that have been hanging around the store for ages, and the staff will sell them to you very cheaply if you make an offer. This is particularly applicable to older perfume specialty shops.

- If buying an unpriced bottle on its own add a few little things before taking it all to the counter. They often just give it all to you for one cheap price, as the perfume bottle gets "lost" amongst the other items.

- Look for younger salespeople who usually don't realise just how great that old bottle is. A lot of them have an old=crap mentality. I'm always surprised how many people, young and old, don't know much about the perfumes they sell.

- And lastly, keep the perfume karma going. Those old bottles that you no longer use/want are someone else's dream find. Put them back in circulation!

May
15
2014
miracleborgtech
miracleborgtech

Love, love, love this article! I have been a gatherer of many collections over the years, and it is great hearing stories from someone who enjoys the chase as much as the prize too! As a new perfume addict, vintage is one of the mesmerizing horizons that beckons us all. What with lesser reformulations, discontinuations (too expensive to still make), and price escalations, vintage often gives us the hope and journey we need. As you show in your article, vintage is more connective - you most often interact with people instead of computers. Vintage is sentimental - evokes wonderful memories for everyone. And it is uplifting . . . when you find that bottle of vintage scent that has been the subject of a long search, it's as exhilarating as winning a race! Great topic!

May
14
2014
fire2heart
fire2heart

I'd love to be able to afford vintage perfumes!

I do have a bottle of vintage bath oil but the label is illegible so I have no idea what it is. It's nice to sniff, but too floral for my tastes. I'll post a picture of it in the forums and see if anyone recognizes the bottle and can tell me what it is.

I LOVE Lisbon btw! I took a trip there with my mom last year <3

I also love this article and I think @gallian is a snooty snob!

May
14
2014
physalis
physalis

What a beautiful and sensitive article!
It represents the true spirit of a collector and enthusiast. I was touched by each of the short stories and delighted with that seductive cat model in the photo.
She is stunning. Purrrrr

May
14
2014
julieab
julieab

What a great story.. i really enjoyed reading it & I adore your lamp!
I want one.

May
14
2014
krmarich
krmarich

I am absolutely thrilled to hear about that Golden Autumn bottle. To begin with Prince Matchebelli was so common in the USA until about 1999. My mother always had bottle on her vanity and used it generously in the fall.

I was lucky enough to find a bottle online last fall as exactly pictured above in the black rubber spray bottle. The bottle is mostly full and as potent as the day it was bottled. It has a big floral heart of red rose and carnation. It contains fluorocarbons that has since been banned due to the danger they posed to the ozone.

Ironically, about the same time discovered a mint condition Bleu Marine. In its original formula, it was stunning and means a lot to me as well! Its the most jasmine I can think of for men. Pierre Cardin was genius in his time.

Calandre is another passion of mine. Its the most futurist creation ever even though its 45 this year.

I am in good company here.

May
14
2014
Jomoves
Jomoves

Great article! I live in Australia and it is nigh impossible to find vintage french classics as most of them never made it to our shores in the first place! Ebay still has some treasures but I have found my best bet in old second hand stores, where amongst the usual Avon bottles there is often something that catches my eye. I'm slightly obsessed with 80s fragrances and only last week found an almost full bottle of Jacklyn Smith's California that a disinterested saleman sold me for $5.00. Sure, it's no Shocking or Diorella but to me it was a real find as it had been on my radar for quite a while. One of the good things about customer service being generally so bad these days is that the people behind the counter just sell you anything at a cheap price so they can get back to their texting!

PS I like the batman mask on your cat.

May
14
2014
fazalcheema
fazalcheema

brilliant article, many vintage perfumes mentioned in this article i love and own such as Shocking Schiaparelli, Diorella vintage version in houndtooth bottle, Calandre, Rive Gauche, Scandal, Arpege, Myrurgia, joy, eau de joy, and vintage samsara edp (the best sandalwood fragrance i have smelled so far)

May
14
2014
verdigris
verdigris

Thank you for the wonderful article full of sweet memories of the thrill of the hunt, the lovely kitty with the 'houndstooth eyes' and the great lamp ..it was all such a generous gift!

May
14
2014
migueldematos
migueldematos

Thank you all for your comments, they made my day. I'm very happy to share this with you and this is just a small part of all the stories...

@Sherihan, the bottle you are refering to is Calandre.

Oh and yes, regarding Maja, the tall bottle is the current reformulation, not the vintage. Mine is the vintage. You should look for the rounder bottle in the second image.

For Pierre Cardin Bleu Marine, NEVER buy the bottle that is shown in the ad image. Buy the bottle in the first image.

@Maeva, yes here in Lisbon there are a lot of hidden treasures and Feira da Ladra is a constant surprise. I envy your Arpège but I'm sure someday it will come to me :)

May
14
2014
Maeva
Maeva

Thank you for a very pleasurable read, Miguel! I don't have a huge vintage collection but I go to Portugal very often and I usually find many gems there. The last time it was in Lisbon. At the Feira da Ladra, I found two of my most treasured vintages: Arpège and L de Loewe, so different from their modern formulations...

Speaking of reformulations, allow me to warn the readers not to buy Maja in the oval bottle from the first picture. It's not a reformulated Maja, it's simply another formula, created by a company called Grupo Grisi in Mexico. It's such a shame that Puig sold Maja as a brand to them :(

The power of memory is amazing. Our vintages make us remember ourselves when we were children, and the people that wore those fragrances in our past, and the happy coincidences that led to our acquiring them. This is like evidence that we really played a part in the history of perfumery, or perfumery played a part in our own history ;)

Wonderful collection, by the way!!!

May
14
2014
zoebo1403
zoebo1403

I once won an auction online for a full houndstooth Dior bottle, the label was barely visible on the picture, i bought it for 4 euros, big was my surprise when it arrived, a pristine vintage DIORAMA !

May
14
2014
Aafridi
Aafridi

Very interesting and increased my passion to discover the vintage / discontinued perfumes.

May
14
2014
asali
asali

Thanks for this piece Miguel, really interesting.
And I have to say I love the lamp idea AND your beautiful cat!

May
14
2014
judyk
judyk

What a lovely read. Your responses to some of the situations, and many of your choices in perfume, match my own. (Back in the days when I had few perfumes, Calandre was my going-out-to-dinner staple. To this day, the smell of it makes me hungry.)

May
14
2014
Lorna_May's_Collection
Lorna_May's_Collection

The woman in Maja's label is not a 'flamenco dancer' as usually everyone thinks. It is a 'Maja', a popular style of woman in the XVIII century in Spain.

May
13
2014
eutrapelia
eutrapelia

What a wonderful story!
Your lamp is amazing.

May
13
2014
9-na
9-na

Mister Matos, thank you for sharing these stories. They sound very... How to put it... With a handful of sunshine. Which reminds me of vintage scents that are gifts from my mother and great-grandmother.

May
13
2014
Islandaromatika
Islandaromatika

Thank you so much for these wonderful memories. My family spent summers on the island of Ibiza when I was a kid in the 60's, and my mother's scent was either Joy or Maja. Yes, Maja was cheap, but she said it always made her time in Spain come alive for her, the rest of the year! Muito 'brigado!

May
13
2014
Sherihan
Sherihan

I have collected a collection that I'm proud of. I don't wear them like you, I'm the type "jailkeepers with their prisoners inside glass cages" haahahah . Only 2 or 3 are perfect to indulge, as a lot are from 50's to 80's. Me too had good bargains and bad ones. The worst of them all was when I were in a trip to one of Germany cities(Dusseldorf), I found perfume shop that sells som old stocks besides the new mainstream ones, I purchased some and asked the sellers to check if they can bring som of the "lost treasures" the ones I'm in searching for,like Nina and som other things, they got a deal with a vintage collector/seller and got me what I wanted and more, and purchased a big collection,most of them were testers in white boxes and som unboxed, I was happy to the degree I shed tears. When I came home and tested them, I was shocked,they were rancid, they looked clean and fresh, but seems were kept under light and bad storing, 2000 euros gon with the wend and it was the first time I really decided to wear the vintages. The best collection was from Franc, and this contains masters like Shalimar, Mitsoko,som Chanel's in Extraits, Je Reviens de Worth and soaps and loose powders,the prices were fair and the bottles clean, but I didn't open one of them, most are Extrait de Parfam and for the historical sake must kept with their golden thread connecting the stoper to the bottle for ever. I enjoy just looking and holding them in my hand.
By the way, I hope no one get offended by anything I said,I was very honest and said only what happened with me (:
And by the way, what is it that perfume in the picture that Diorella sitting on? the one with grayish blue cup?

May
13
2014
Ginger Kitty
Ginger Kitty

Lovely to read this and I especially like the picture with the cat :o)

May
13
2014
CitrusHead
CitrusHead

Mr. Matos:

I really look forward to your articles. They are always so interesting and insightful.
Thank You!

May
13
2014
KaseyC
KaseyC

a very nice article of sharing your personal experience. love to study old bottles and the labels on them. bringing me back to the 80s :)

May
13
2014
Cybernoir
Cybernoir

Miguel,

such a pleasure as always to read one of your articles, but especially your memories of vintage perfumes. I have been hoping for a substantive piece on vintages, with photos, so thanks.

May
13
2014
ChouliGaloria
ChouliGaloria

I love that lamp! Great idea.

May
13
2014
westernlady
westernlady

I appreciate your viewpoint on vintage perfumes. I am new to vintage perfumes myself, but I enjoy the thrill of the chase. There are many beauties I would not have discovered if I had not wandered through random shops.

I also keep some small bottles of vintage perfume in scents that family members wore. Opening them for a sniff is like being transported back in time to memories of them. I cherish them greatly, and it brings me comfort to be able to share what my grandma smelled like with my own children.

I also like your light box idea because perfume is essentially art. It is nice to see it appreciated as such. That is one reason that I enjoy seeing threads with people's collections. It is like a window into their lives.

May
13
2014

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