Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Humorous Look At The Trauma of Discontinuation And A Review Of Yves Rocher, Nature Millenaire


The writing of this post began on Sunday Evening..

We possessed years of shared experiences, moments of euphoric happiness; we ate chips from a paper wrap on the seafront in Whitby, danced all night with the trannies at legendary Leeds night club – Vague, we camped and hiked in the verdant hills of North Yorkshire, lost time together in the debauchery of the fields of Glastonbury, got drunk and sang along theatrically to Kate Bush records and cosied up close in the baltic cold of my tatty flat. Then you left me.. and I can’t even remember your name.

The melancholy of discontinuation (possibly) by Picasso 

I speak not of a man, but of the fragrant hole left behind by my favourite discontinued scent. The scent was a kind of aromatic body spritz by the French natural skincare company – Decleor. It smelt of licorice, spice and citrus, I‘ve spent years trying and failing to remember it’s name. This happened some 8 or 9 years ago and the only fragrance that has offered a ghost of the memory has been Caron’s Eau de Reglisse (which is extraordinarily beautiful in it’s own right). 

Which brings me to the frantic and emotional search that is the phenomena of ‘hunt my beloved discontinued scent’, a task undertaken by thousands of fume junkies across the world. Really, we should give up and accept the fact that it’s gone. After all, it’s not like having a limb blown off on a peacekeeping army mission or the sad demise of years amassed in a loving relationship. I did spend a few (hopeless) years talking to (clueless) Decleor ladies in department stores, I even wrote several times to Decleor directly. The trouble is that my bottle ran out about a year after it’s demise from the shop shelves, I was too late.

It’s perceivable that it didn’t sell very well given that it was a rather quirky product in a mass market line. I guess that’s why it disappeared. What is surprising though is the departure of scents such as Dior’s Midnight Poison without a subsequent resurrection. Take a peak at the prices that this scent draws on Ebay. People will pay a lot of money for even a half full bottle which might have gone off languishing in it’s own headspace for too many years. Dior must know of it’s hardcore of obsessive fans, so why don’t they bring it back?

Yesterday I arranged a swop with a fellow Fragrantica member. In return for my unloved Annick Goutal’s Vanille Exquise (an example of why I should never blind buy from a house that I’m not enamored by in the first place) she has promised me a slightly used bottle of Yves Rocher’s Nature Millenaire and a few other goodies. I’ve never smelt this iconic discontinued scent but the notes sound splendid, a highly natural exercise in the woody oriental genre. It was authored by Olivier Cresp, who ironically also created the long lost Midnight Poison, amongst other mainstream giants such as Angel and niche darlings Olfactive Studio’s Flash Back.

Whilst arranging our swop, I googled the scent and checked out it’s reviews on Fragrantica. I was amazed to find that there is a Facebook group dedicated to trying to tempt Yves Rocher to re-release it!  Additionally, it’s Fragrantica page revealed ardent fans bemoaning it’s departure and sharing tips on other perfumes that smell a little like it in a desperate attempt to recreate the sensation. It was well loved..  

As I write this post it’s Sunday. I’ll return when I receive the parcel. Oh the anticipation.!

Today (Wednesday):

It’s here.

I peg it home from work via the Royal Mail depot. Entering the flat, I abandon my usual routine of coat off, boots off, heating on, hands cleansed of teenage student effluence and kettle switched to ‘desperate for a brew’ mode. Instead, I grab my trusty Stanley knife and settle myself on the sofa in readiness to gouge at the mass of brown packing tape. Three perfumes are in the fortress like box, Nature Millenaire, Donna Karran’s Essence Labdanum and another Yves Rocher creation that I’ve owned before, Vanille Noire.

My new brown scent collection

Of course I grab Nature Millenaire first.

The bottle is in great condition, with only 1 or 2ml missing I am hopeful that it won’t have turned. After all, this thing could be between 8 to 13 years old and vintage fumes are decidedly risky.  With a significantly increased heart beat, I offer up my wrist and take a lengthy indulgent spray..

Crikey, this juice is strange! I immediately understand two things; firstly, why it was destined for discontinuation being clearly far too odd to sell to a mass market clientele on the high streets of Europe, secondly, I appreciate why it has a such a dedicated following of heart broken fans. It is utterly unique, like nothing I have ever smelt before.

I rather like the moulded glass bottle

As I write I am at the ‘four hours in’ point. The first two or three hours have been arduous because it reeks of benzoin. Although this would be a state of bliss for many oriental lovers, benzoin is a difficult note for me. I own a bottle of pure benzoin tincture which I have used in my perfumery experiments. Benzoin is a key ingredient in orientals, providing a stable, slightly spicy and warming base note in similarity to vanilla but less obviously sweet. It appears as an anchor in a great many perfumes and (playing a supporting role) you are unlikely to smell it with absolute clarity. Alike jasmine, it’s an Odiferess bogey man. I don’t mind either of them hovering in background far away from me, but if they get up close it’s an olfactory terror. Remember ‘Anusol’? This benzoin rich antiseptic pile ointment was coined by the beauty press as ‘the greatest cure for under eye bags’ in the nineties. At risk of sounding coarse, hell I’ll do it anyway, benzoin whiffs of bum cream..



Ignoring the fact that (for me) it borders on the vile, this is a startlingly original niche perfume. Behind the great wodge of dominant benzoin lies a slightly woody note, which I interpret as cedar. I sense a little cinnamon too but benzoin itself shares similarities with this note. As it progresses a dirty musk and a leathery labdanum note appear. At this point I’ve moved into Etat Libre D’ Orange territory, where I smell much too close to feral. As I write my last words of this review, what remains is a soft ghost of the above combined with a distinct tonka/coumarin note. I feel less disgusted now but I’m going to scrub hard before I write my conclusion.

It won’t wash off. To those Fragranticans who have stated that it has poor lasting poor, you are wrong! I won’t be keeping this bottle. I’ll be swopping or selling it to a new owner, hopefully someone who has spent the last 8 years trying to get hold of a bottle and will melt with pleasure at the delight of it’s skanky embrace. It could potentially appeal to those who enjoy Hermessence Ambre Narguile or PG’s Tonkamande. Although it doesn’t smell like either of them at the outset, it does project (slight) similarities to aspects of both towards the end.

My swop wasn’t a total disaster as the Donna Karan Essence Labadnum is a bonkers beast! A bottle of incense and leather as unsettlingly peculiar as it is magnificent. This will be an another story for Odiferess..

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15 comments:

  1. Have you smelt Cashmere Mist, speaking of Donna Karan? That has a bit of benzoin overload for me. Pretty sure I would be swapping your one away, though props for its moulded bottle! The Labdanum one was a bit of a coup, mind. That doesn't come cheap I am sure.

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    1. Hi Vanessa, I have smelt Cashmere Mist but it's a vague memory. I don't remember being assaulted by the Benzoin, it must be a little more tender. I truly find benzoin revolting! I'll be sending some of the labdanum your way, it's a must smell. I don't adore it but I really admire it if you know what I mean?

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    2. Whoo, thanks, I would be interested, am a big lover of labdanum as a note!

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  3. Tinc Benz? Like the stuff used in hospitals? I would't be using that in your creations :-)
    The Benzoin I use is like a mild sweetish effort. I might get another from a different source to check :-)

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  4. You might be getting Castoreum? That's got a hospitally/animalic butt-esquness about it?

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    1. Hi Keith. Good to see you here. It's defo not castoreum. I think if that were in here too it may have rivaled Secretions Magnifique. My benzoin (styrax benzoin) is a dilution (as you probably know benzoin is a thick substance that won't pour easily). It might not be a tincture though, is tincture with alcohol? It might be in jojoba or something. Benzoin is in many antiseptic products so I'd imagine it does carry an 'Eau de NHS'.

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    2. The stuff I have at work is mainly used because it's hideously sticky with a bit of anti-microbial thrown in.
      It's dark brown and stinks!
      Nurses seem to love sniffing it, the weirdos!
      The stuff I have was bought from an EO type company on ebay.
      I have some Peru Balsam which is more like the icky sticky brown, but even stickier!
      I'll take a peek on ebay at some of the available stuffs.

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    3. Keith, I got mine from Neat Wholesale, the company that I put a link to in the 'shopping tips' page. Their Lavender Absolute is just phenomenal! Myrrh appears in a few antiseptic products too doesn't it? I like the idea of the Three Kings bringing 'gold, frankincense and germolene'..

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  5. Love this post - thank you. Your anguish is familiar!

    My own obsession with fragrance began when my trusted Fendi Fendi (also known as Fendi Donna) EDP (http://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/Fendi/Fendi-200.html) was discontinued... for a long time I was able to stock pile it at massively reduced prices, but then my options became limited to bottles selling on ebay that were way over my budget. For a long time I actually felt like a piece of my identity was missing; it was my trusted companion on nights out and first dates throughout my early twenties and everything I owned smelt of it. But in a way, I'm glad, as my quest for a replacement led to the development of my fascination with all things scented.

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that IFRA banned a material that was used commonly to create a carnation note, and as this was prevalent in my beloved Fendi, I suspect this might have been the reason for it's discontinuation. This is also what happened with the original Poison (which I also loved) - have a look online and there are several news reports of strange allergic reactions that were attributed to this fragrance (one high profile one at an Ice Hockey game and another, which can probably be more realistically attributed to mass hysteria and the desire to take an afternoon off work, where 30 office workers 'fell ill' as a result of a colleague wearing Poison...

    Incidently, I recently was able to buy a full 100ml bottle of Fendi for £50 - I couldn't believe my luck. And you know what? Whilst the first spritz bought back a flood of memories and emotion, I realised I've moved on... it seemed a bit old fashioned now that my horizons with fragrance have widened. I felt a bit peculiar when I wore it... I'm simply not the person I was when I was in my twenties any more. BUT, I am still delighted to own it; it's tucked away in a cool dark place and when I'm feeling particularly rebellious, or in need of a reminder of those heady days, I sneak a little squirt on my sleeve, and just like my 23 year old self, I feel ready to take on the world...!

    @madameanglaise

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    1. Hi Clare,
      "But in a way, I'm glad, as my quest for a replacement led to the development of my fascination with all things scented."

      This is exactly what happened to me too. It was the hunt for the licorice note, that led me Caron, that led me to Fragrantica and then that was was it, boom! Obsession. It's also fascinating what you say about moving on. That thought never really occurred to me, that the quest might have been superseded by better or new scents.
      I love your response, you've really made me think.
      Luckily, none of my work mates wear anything offensive but if anybody comes in wearing Elizabeth Arden's Sunflowers or ELDO's Jasmine et Cigarettes I am most definitely going to use it as an excuse to go home.
      Thank you for stopping by at Odiferess and please do return.
      x

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  6. I loved your story for several reasons: not only I'm so well familiar with your feelings (my search for the vintage Climat by Lancome has never stopped though it's a little easier for me since at least I have a couple of re-issued versions; not the same but better than nothing) but also I smiled after reading your introductory passages.You actually tricked me, I believed it was a life story. You did better what I tried to do a couple of years ago.
    I never liked Nature Millenaire because it was a flanker to a flanker to one of my favorites (sorry for multiple links: I just wanted to demonstrate why this your post spoke to me).

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    1. Aha! I see your point. Great article Undina, despite knowing already that it was going to be about a perfume, I did actually get sucked in there before remembering there was a literary trick. Angel would be a very difficult scent to keep to yourself. Amazing isn't it, how it's still selling with such gusto? And so many others influenced by it's notes..

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  7. Dior Jules is a long lost love and another by Worth that I can't remember and isn't on any of the fragrance boards. But that's not why i'm posting a message. The Cream you speak of that was heralded as a cure all for every kind of facial puffiness back in the 90's and early noughties was Preparation H. Well at least I hope it was because me and all my friends who worked in retail up and down South Molton Street and then the Kings Road swore by the stuff. I think together we increased Pfizer's profits by at least 0.0000001% 1993 through to 2001 :0)

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    1. Hi Chorando,
      Preparation H, that was it! Anusol confusion.. Odiferess does get odd now and again, I think discussion of piles cream is up there with my comments on Fergie's goggling eyes and roller booting through dog effluence!

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