What kind of particular are you?

On a thread at Basenotes.net about Patou Pour Homme, I pointed out that one might want to try a scent like Missoni Uomo, rather than thinking that a re-release of the Patou offering will be very similar to the original, especially considering the new IFRA regulations. Someone responded by saying that the Missoni is nothing like PPH.

Fragrantica.com lists the following notes for Missoni Uomo:

Top notes are juniper berries, galbanum, basil, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are coriander, carnation, patchouli, cinnamon, jasmine, vetiver, cedar and rose; base notes are leather, tonka bean, amber, musk, oakmoss and incense.

And these are the notes it lists for Patou Pour Homme:

Top notes are lavender, clary sage and basil; middle notes are patchouli, geranium, vetiver and fir; base notes are leather, civet, vanilla and tonka bean.

The Estonian site (www.parfyym.pri.ee) adds a few more notes, which seems likely, given that it’s not a simple scent:

Petigrain oil, carnation, cinnamon, amber, and sandalwood.

Castoreum is listed there rather than civet, but it’s possible that “civet” may mean castoreum, or vice versa (or both may have been used, but since it’s not a very “dirty” scent at all, I don’t think it would matter to me). Also, the Estonian site lists pine needles rather than fir, so that’s probably meant to be the same thing as well.

Then there is Bijan for Men (1987, not the reformulation), which according to Fragrantica:

…starts off with mandarin, lavender, nutmeg, musk, oakmoss, fruity notes, lemon, bergamot and sage oil. The heart follows with iris, cinnamon, sandalwood, fir, amber, carnation, honey, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang and tarragon. Base notes include rosemary, clove, patchouli, vetiver, benzoin, cedar, leather, Tonka, vanilla and musk.

Now keep in mind when you see jasmine listed in these old scents it might be of a “dirty” variety and used instead of the word civet. Similarly, you might see sandalwood instead of incense or vice versa, but it could be the exact same thing! You have to figure it out for yourself. In any case, I can certainly understand thinking that the newest formulation of this Bijan scent should not be viewed as similar to PPH. The balance is off and some of the nice woody notes are gone, among other things, but other than differences in top notes, have very similar drydowns. Even vintage 1-12 by Halston isn’t that far off !

However, if the new PPH must comply with IFRA, is it possible for it to be closer to the original PPH than vintage MU or the Bijan? I suppose some people might claim that is the case, but I can’t imagine that being true for my purposes, whether that is due to my enjoyment of rich, deep, natural-smelling notes/accords (not top notes though) or for some other reason. I’ll certainly update this post if and when I get around to sampling the new PPH, and I’d really like to sample it, but I don’t want to spend money on what I think will be disappointing, so I have no intentions of buying a bottle of it “blind.” But I do wonder what people who have put PPH on an olfactory pedestal are smelling, or think they are. The reason is that from what they write it seems like many if not most who post on these kinds of threads aren’t especially good at detecting notes, and so one would think they would be less particular than I am!

Can the PPH fans really detect the slightest hint of rosemary, for example, that the vintage Bijan may have but that PPH does not? Would that be a “dealbreaker” for you? How about if the Bijan was a touch sweeter and more complex (which is my general assessment)? My guess is that if a similar vintage scent were put in an old PPH bottle (from what I’ve read, never having seen one in person, the spray mechanism on those bottles are not sealed, but can be taken off by simply turning them, or they are splash bottles) few would notice a difference. Those few might simply think the scent had a top notes issue of some kind, though if the Bijan were used it might have to be diluted slightly with perfumer’s alcohol. Of course some of them may simply be paying for a few minutes of unique top notes, whether they realize it or not, and if that is important to them, they have every right to value that brief experience as highly as they like.

Putting this one possibility aside, and unlike the author of the FromPyrgos blog (frompyrgos.blogspot.com), I take a completely different view of the “classics”/vintage greats, it appears. Instead of essentially buying the bottle and packaging, regardless of how badly the reformulations to comply with IFRA (or to increase profits) may be, which this person seems to be suggesting, I prefer to compare samples of the expensive vintage ones like PPH to much more affordable ones (my one ounce vintage Bijan for Men cost me $10 total, for example) and see if it fulfills that olfactory desire as well or nearly as well. Because my sensitivity changes somewhat over time (back and forth), there really is no one PPH for me, but rather a kind of zone it inhabits in my “mind’s nose,” and perhaps because of that variability, similar scents usually work out fine, whereas I have rarely found reformulations to be satisfactory.

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