ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PERFUMES.

The actual vintage perfumes—has also piqued collectors. And no one loves collecting more than me! One voice  I’ve come to trust is Barbara Herman. Her blog, Yesterday’s Perfume, is a favorite source, as is her book, Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume. Barbara’s aptitude for vintage perfumery proved an invaluable guide as I developed my fourth fragrance, Erotique. That this scent immediately garnered praise from passionate perfume bloggers with nothing to gain  from advertisers only validated my own conviction to go with what I love, even  if it went against the commercial wisdom of “celebrity scents.”  What’s key when collecting vintage juices is that they must be from as close to their original release date as possible. All too often, formulations alter even slightly as prices for the ingredients fluctuate or governmental policies deem them no longer fit for public consumption (even though it might take hundreds of gallons of an individual substance to actually do any damage). The fact that they might no longer be, well, “street legal,” to steal a phrase from perfume critic Chandler Burr, possibly makes them all the more covetable in their original formulation.  Among my favorite vintage perfumes is Bandit. I love everything about it,  from the original ads to its formulation. It has been described as among the most daring of scents from the last century, made for the most daring of women. Count its creator among them. The beautiful, towering Germaine Cel-  lier was among the first women considered a master nose, and fashion houses sought her for her expertise in original, bold scents. When former Paul Poiret designer Robert Piguet set out on his own, he engaged Cellier, and by 1944,  her efforts came to fruition in Bandit.  With the distinction of containing one of the first leather chypres in perfumery, the original formulation included 1% isobutyl quinoline to imbue it with a powerful, leathery character. This, combined with sharp galbanum, blunted the sweetness of heart notes of rose, carnation, and jasmine. Inspired by the romance of the sea and pirates, the scent had its first public release on the runway, with models draped in couture Piguet along with villainous masks, toy revolvers, and knives. It’s also been described as the scent of a dominatrix. Is it any wonder it was Marlene Dietrich’s signature scent?  The original ads exploit its inspirational cues, specifically one of a surreal black-and-white photograph by Pierre Jahan from 1947 showing the bottle being broken open by way of a dagger.  Although Bandit relaunched in 1999, with a new formulation by Delphine  Lebeau of Givaudan, like so many replications in life, it pales in comparison to the original. Some of the original juice formulations can still be found online with a bit of perseverance and luck.

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