Déjà vu, Episode 2: huge floral vs. abstract floral

 

For those … everybody who hasn’t read Episode 1  of my Déjà vu [supposed to be] series, I want to explain that the idea is to feature those perfumes that to my nose are very close smell-alike. Not just a feeling or an association, not just the same genre or several recognizable notes but really close scent resemblance.

What is a perfect starter house for a young perfumista? I’m not talking about a real estate to store all 3 bottles in the collection. A perfume house. If you ask me now, I’ll say L’Artisan, Hermess (Hermessance) or Chanel (Exclusifs). But I didn’t know it when I started my journey so the first niche brand that I tested intentionally on the onset of my hobby was … none of these. I placed my first ever samples order: seven 1 ml vials from the same brand.

The second perfume from the line that I tried was one of the most expensive perfumes I’d ever tried at the time. I read many great reviews and mentions of the house itself and of this perfume in particular. I was expecting a miracle. And it was a miracle… in a way.  In a couple of minutes of wearing it, with astonishment, I realized that to my nose that perfume smelled A LOT like another perfume I knew and liked. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t at home so for several hours I kept smelling my wrist and thinking if it was possible. As soon as I could I applied my perfume to another wrist. My first impression: it wasn’t the same perfume but they smelled very similar. And I liked my perfume more.

I checked available information. Sure, there were some notes in common but it didn’t mean much. I needed somebody else to acknowledge and confirm my discovery. I ran multiple searches and couldn’t find any other mentioning of this similarity. I even tried to contact one of the bloggers who I noticed was familiar with my perfume and wore it but I’ve never heard back from her. When I asked my friend lyu what the perfume I tested reminded her of (if anything) she told me without thinking: “my perfume name>!” But I wanted more.

Rusty Testing

Almost a year later I asked several blogo-friends to participate in a blind testing and contribute their thoughts for this post. I sent each of them two vials. I needed to distinguish them but I was afraid that using numbers or letters would somehow reveal my attitude towards those perfumes or will suggest my preferences. So I wrapped vials with electrical tape – blue and yellow. Here are their thoughts. Keep in mind that these are fragments of e-mail exchanges and not finished reviews. I did some minimal editing trying not to introduce too many errors from me as I was selecting paragraphs to publish here. Emphases (bold, italic and color) mine.

Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume:

I have tried Yellow and Blue about four times now, and have more or less used the samples up, so I thought I should jot down my impressions while I have got them on again and they are relatively fresh on my skin and in my mind!

Firstly, I don’t think they are the same, but I think there are very similar all the same – a bit like the same perfume but with different facets accentuated in one vs. the other:

Both have a powdery (aldehydic?) retro feel, both are florals with a hint of green in them.

Blue has a smoother quality, is a little more green and less aldehydic.  It reminds me a bit of Antonia, but is more powdery and not as vanilla-y or ambery, so it never entered my head that it could BE that.  But the greenness reminds me somewhat of Antonia out of the few perfumes I know that are anything like these two samples.

Yellow, on account of its greater powderiness, reminds me of Chamade, though Chamade is sweeter and fruitier, and somehow a bit more approachable.  Yellow feels very old school, which is why – when I read the reviews and notes of the new SSS Nostalgie – I instantly wondered if it could be that though I haven’t smelt it.

And then the fact that you showed Climat to Natalie at your recent meeting made me think that maybe it [Yellow] could be that (having googled the notes), however on reflection neither of these scents are remotely animalic, whereas Climat has civet.  I like to think I have good radar for civet, but who knows?!  And Climat sounds like it might be a richer scent overall, based on the base, so possibly not such a good contender (plus I have never smelt it either!)  All of which goes to show how suggestible and easily led I can be by something topical, or which looks like it might count as “circumstantial evidence”.  : – )

The other perfume that Yellow and Blue both remind me of, Blue slightly more so, is Niki Saint Phalle.

What I learn from eyeballing all these note lists (Vanessa has included those for all the perfumes listed above but I’ve decided to omit them – Undina) is that the perfumes I think Yellow and Blue smell like, as well as being retro in style, and prickly aldehydic florals (in varying degrees), and green (in varying degrees), they all have LOTS OF NOTES, i.e. they are “busy” perfumes, quite big productions, as used to be the fashion.  These are not contemporary scents, of that I am fairly sure, unless it is a new launch inspired by an earlier era like a Miriam or Nostalgie, but not those (and I haven’t smelt Miriam either!).

(later)

Am at the far drydown stage now, some 7 hrs after application, and the two are not as similar at this point as I thought from previous trials. It could be that my nose cross contaminated the two sites by transferring traces of one perfume to the other hand or it may just be that I am more familiar with them now and hence able to spot differences more easily.

They are both smoother by far now, but Yellow remains markedly more powdery/aldehydic even at this late stage. Blue did get even closer to Antonia as it wore on but I still don’t think it is that, as it lacks the rich ambery vanilla warmth. The smooth green facet is very like it though.

It struck me […] that the more I tried them, the more distinct they became.  Yellow was more powdery and Blue more green – what confused me was the fact that they both felt from the same time, so that in itself was a point of similarity.  And as it is not a category of scent I am very familiar with, it is perhaps all the easier to lump things together.  Like young people’s “old lady”.

 

Rusty Testing

Suzanne of Eiderdown Press

Both of these smell like one of my very favorite categories of fragrance: rich, aldehydic-floral perfume with a complex bouquet, done in the classic French style.

I opened the blue vial first and my first thought was, this smells like Amouage Gold pour Femme.  Then I opened the yellow vial and things got very difficult because, though there is a difference between the two perfumes, they so smell very, very similar.

After much sniffing, I still think that the blue vial resembles Amouage Gold most closely. It smells a bit brighter in its florals than does the perfume in the yellow vial.  I feel like I can smell the silvery lift of lily-of-the-valley in the blue vial perfume. Not that it smells like a lily-of-the-valley perfume (not at all), but it smells “higher in octave” than the perfume in the yellow vial.  It has a little more lift, while the perfume in the yellow vial smells somewhat deeper to my nose.

To me, the yellow vial smells like it has more of a Chanel base when it dries down: I smell more of that warm jasmine that reminds me of a Chanel perfume (though I’m not necessarily saying this is a Chanel perfume).  A little more musk, too.  This perfume has a slightly more animalic drydown than the perfume in the blue vial.  It reminds me of vintage Chanel No. 5 in its drydown, but its top notes don’t smell quite the same as Chanel No. 5.

(a day later)

I kept thinking about the drydown on the perfume in the yellow vial: there is a urinous tinge to that drydown that I find rather appealing (sexy, even though it doesn’t sound sexy) that reminds me of vintage perfumes.  And I tried to think of other notes, besides jasmine, civet and musk, that can have an animalic tinge to them — and I thought of narcissus.  I don’t know if narcissus used as a perfume note smells urinous, but if you’ve ever smelled narcissus flowers — the ones they call paperwhites — they smell urinous.

Quite some time ago, JoanElaine had sent me a fragrance package that included a small dab vial of Lancome Climat edt. And I remembered that when I originally tested it, it reminded me of Amouage Gold, but the dry down was more animalic (on the urinous side, rather than on the indolic side) and I remember it had narcissus in the base.  So today I dabbed some on my skin and then dumped the remaining drops on a perfume blotter.  On skin, I couldn’t come to any solid conclusions, but on paper — oh my goodness!  The scent really matched up with what you sent me in that yellow vial.

My final assessment — I think the blue vial smells like Amouage Gold.  I think the yellow vial smells like Lancome Climat.  And I think both of them smell very much like one another.

 

Rusty Testing

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog:

I’m pretty sure the blue vial is Climat. I find it fuzzy, warm, like someone took the idea of Ivory soap and transformed it into a very luxurious-smelling perfume. At the very beginning, there is an animalic touch, but it is slight and does not last very long. On my skin, the whole life of the fragrance is peachy, warm, and golden. I can smell the florals (mostly jasmine and I think lily of the valley), but they are not “white floral diva” to me, because of the powderiness of the fragrance as a whole. The drydown is even more “golden” and I can smell a bit of the sandalwood, but it remains very peachy and powdery.

The yellow vial I don’t recognize. At times it smells very similar to Climat (or the blue vial, I should say) to me, so maybe it is another formulation or concentration of Climat? I suppose it could be, but really I don’t think it is. Although it has similar notes, it actually smells to me as if someone took the blue vial and said “Let’s do this perfume, but focus it on the animalic notes rather than the powdery peachy notes.” This one to me has an almost metallic musk that I find rather unpleasant, and I feel the civet is very prominent. It’s a bit too much for me at the beginning. As it dries down, it gets a lot prettier and more similar to the blue one, but I think I smell more iris in the drydown of this one. Once when I wore it, it almost reminded me of No. 19, but I haven’t ever experienced No. 19 having that metallic-animalic-civet thing going on. Maybe I would have liked this better if I had not always had the Climat/blue vial on the other wrist. :) But I would have to get through the first hour for sure!

I won’t keep you wondering any longer. Let’s see what perfumes Vanessa, Natalie and Suzanne tested.

Blue Vial contained Climat by Lancome (my first perfume love) – created in 1967 by Gerard Goupy, notes include violet, peach, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, bergamot, rose, narcissus, aldehydes, rosemary, tuberose, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, bamboo and vetiver.

Lancome Climat

Yellow Vial contained Amouage Gold – created in 1983 by Guy Robert, notes include rose, lily of the valley, frankincense, myrrh, iris root, jasmine, ambergris, civet, musk, cedarwood and sandalwood.

Amouage Gold

I thought it was hilarious: Suzanne has identified both perfumes but switched them.

Even though Natalie hasn’t recognized Amouage Gold, she’s being very consistent in her not liking this perfume. And here’s is her review for Climat.

By now I’ve worn both of these perfumes on many occasions, I’ve tested them separately and in parallel again and again. I think that I can tell them apart, at least on some stages. But, in my opinion, they are so similar that could have been, as Vanessa pointed out, “same perfume but with different facets accentuated”.

Twins: Lancome Climat & Amouage Gold

Please give a link to your blog’s post(s) if you reviewed any of these perfumes.

If you’d like to be entered into the draw for two color-coded vials (red and green?) of these perfumes to do your own comparison, please mention it in your comment.

Images: my own.

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46 thoughts on “Déjà vu, Episode 2: huge floral vs. abstract floral

  1. Wow, that was a fascinating project, and thanks so much for inviting me to take part! Congratulations to both the others on their nasal detective work: Natalie nailed Climat while Suzanne did an amazing job at identifying both – as the two scents are so similar in feel, the switching around in her mind is perfectly understandable!

    I think I have smelt Amouage Gold once on a blotter. My memory is of a fatter, more unctuous white floral blend and I can’t bring the aldehydes to mind, but it was some years ago on my first sniffing outing in Harrods where I was a kid in a candy store suddenly discovering this wonderland of niche scents! : – )

    Doing the blind tests hasn’t made me like this “old school” style of scent any more. Well, not that Gold is in fact as old as it felt to my nose – my mind may have just made the period association with the other vial in the trial. All in all it was a ton of fun and thanks again for the opportunity!

      • PPS I meant to add that my supposed civet-detecting antennae are clearly “pants” / (as in non-existent or at best fully retracted……: – ) !

    • Thank you for participating, Vanessa! I enjoyed that project as well. I felt really bad editing everybody’s contributions for the purpose of making the story more manageable – great job on notes and parallels!

      Not recognizing perfumes but still making the correct assumptions was really impressive. I hope one day I’ll grow up and be exactly like you and Suzanne ;)

  2. This was fascinating! What great noses all four of you have. How nice to find a smell-a-like of such an expensive scent. I can’t believe no one on the Net has clocked it before. Although isn’t Climat discontinued?

    I don’t know either of the perfumes so please enter me in the draw. Thanks!

    • I’m not sure which perfume is less expensive currently ;) Climat is discontinued and prices for different formulations go from $4.2 to $42 per ml (and I would have probably paid for this one if there could be a guarantee that it’s the original bottle content and it’s still not off).

      You are in the draw.

  3. That’s a great experiment! It reminds me of Vanessa’s test with Coco Mademoiselle and Lidl’s fragrance. It’s really fun to read! And I’m impressed by your noses! I wonder if I’d have thought the same thing… Could you please enter me in the draw so that I can try it? :) Thank you!!

  4. Oh goodness, this experiment was so much fun — and a little initimidating too, but I like a challenge. I think all three of us have snatches of description that are very similar (Vanessa, I think calling Gold “Old School” is very appropriate), and it’s interesting to me that Natalie and I could smell the lily-of-the-valley note in Climat and that we both referenced a Chanel fragrance when analyzing the contents of the yellow vial (Amouage Gold).

    Thank you for inviting me to participate, Undina!

      • Suzanne, thank you for helping me! It was a lot of fun to read all the responses and, as you know, yours just made my day!

        When I realized I couldn’t use pictures of actual perfumes in the first part of the story I decided to take a picture of the vials… that I didn’t have any longer since I sent them away without thinking. I made new vials (but without perfumes) and when I was shooting Rusty introduced himself into the scene. He would be knocking those vials down to the floor as I was taking a picture, I’d put it back on the sideboard before he could chase them. Then everything would repeat. At some point (20-30 pictures later) he just sat there looking at me – at vials – at me as if asking: What do you want from me if you’re not allowing me to play with them?!

  5. I LOVE reading about scent twins, especially when one is more affordable. Mals’ throwdowns, Elena’s Twin Peaks, all of them. (The Unseen Censer just had a post about similarities between OJ Woman and AL’s No. 23)

    I’ve never smelled Climat or Gold, as I haven’t felt the urge to seek out the aldehydic, kitchen-sink style of floral yet. Howeer, Nostalgie is sitting upstairs waiting to be tested, so that may change very soon.

    • I also like those series! But, as I told Tara above, in this case, unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s a more affordable option.

      I’m not sure if you wanted but just in case you are in the draw.

  6. Oh, this is cool! I love both fragrances (although I have a new version of Climat, the one in the white box rather than the blue one) and I will have to test them side by side to see if I feel these are alike.

    I am always up for Blind Testing — as a matter of fact, we do these on Basenotes all the time and the February one was centered around the twins/sisters theme.

    Here’s the link in case you’re curious

    http://www.basenotes.net/threads/294798-February-2012-Blind-Sniff

    Maybe you would be interested in sniffing some time? Let me know. We always look for sniffers.

    • After you try, please let me know what you think.

      I have both – a bottle in a blue box and Lancome’s re-issue for La Collection. I can’t tell the difference. Though I think that it was slightly different in the previous packaging – a blue box without a gold square (as the one in the link I gave above in my answer to Tara).

      Thank you for the link, I’ll check it out. I enjoy comparison sniffing but after I ran this project and read everybody’s responses I feel really intemidated: all my contributors were so great with their analyses, I’m afraid I have a long way to go before I can do anything even close to what they’ve done.

      • I know, sniffing blind can really be intimidating, and you actually took the intimidation to a whole new level — we do put the perfumes in clear vials and always discuss the color and feel of the liquid when we Blind-Sniff. Quite honestly, before participating in this event for the first time, I look into my heart of hearts and asked myself whether I will be able to still live with myself happily everafter if I won’t be able to recognize correctly even a one note. If the answer was in the negative, I wouldn’t have participated! But it was positive… and the rest, they say, is history :)

        I’ll let you know, but from my memory they are different to me. I have never smelled LOTV in Gold, and have never smelled anything resembling incense in Climat (I have to wait for a long time to get it from Gold though!). But anyhow, I will test them side by side and will let you know what I thought.

        • In this case I was so positive that they smelled alike (at least for my nose) that I wanted to remove any other suggestions, not only the name and brand. The idea was not as much to identify notes (I’m not sure I can identify in any perfume more than rose, orange blossom, iris and a couple more very straight-forward notes) but to say if those two did smell alike for other people or not.

  7. Climat is a perfume that I wore years ago – I had a whole bottle leak in my weekend bag the last time I had it, which was a very big deal for an impoverished student. Gorgeous, glorious scent. Thanks for giving me the chance to relive it vicariously, and for sparing me the desire to track down Amouage Gold:-)

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

    • Anna, it’s nice to see you here.

      With my first bottle of Climat (that reminds me – I forgot to link to my own post about it!) I was so afraid it’ll spoil if I use it “as is” (since it’s a splash bottle with a cabochon) that I had a special glass applicator I used to apply the perfume from the bottle. And I stored that applicator in a jar with rubbing alcohol.

      You are in the draw.

      • Hi Undina – it’s nice to be here in Climat-ville.

        Mine was a splash bottle too and, with my very early start that day, I clearly didn’t stopper it correctly.

        It leaked away and disappeared but I never noticed it happening. It was Winter at the time so I can only assume that there wasn’t enough heat around to alert me to the perfume’s passing.

        Poor Climat: such an undignified end for an elegant perfume. (Wah!)

  8. A very interesting experiment. I am not sure my nose is quite as good to be able to isolate all those different notes. Of course, I always like Mals scent throw downs. I like these comparison reviews as it helps me narrow down the multitude of choices out there. I would like to be entered into your draw. Thanks.

    • Tatiana, you’re in the draw.

      I also always liked those comparison reviews and actually did my Episode 1 following Mals’ throw down. I’m not good at parsing out notes (yet?) but I always had a nose for “twin scents”. I think I’m either more sensitive than a regular person or, the opposite, can’t smell some nuances that make scents different to others.

  9. It is so nice to read Vanessa’s and Suzanne’s comparisons! Like Suzanne, I was intimidated by the process, but it was really fun. And bravo to you and Rusty for organizing it!

    I’m glad this post is awakening and reviving interest in Climat. I think it is underappreciated. :) As you know, I was very lucky to get a full bottle recently, so I was able to pass on my mini via my blog sale. I’m sure it will create another Climat fan!

    • Thank you, Natalie!

      I also felt that my favorite perfume was underappreciated – while reading all the praises to Gold (which I also like a lot!). But then I felt much better when I checked out the Guide (from where those two definitions I used in the title come): LT gave Climat 4 stars (ok, Gold got 5, but 4 isn’t bad for an unknown to most perfume).

  10. You never cease to amaze me with your infinite attention and scientific approach to things. This was a real blind study! I know how crazy it can make you feel to smell strong similarities between two perfumes that are not supposed to smell alike because they are classes apart. It was with real fear of god that I wrote that L’Eau Froide reminds me of L’Eau d’Issey, but I can’t help it…

    Excellent post.

    • Christos, I was reading posts about the blind sniffing (yours and the one by the organizer of it) as I was working on this project, so it spoke to me in a special way and I knew that you would appreciate my approach.

      I’m still waiting on my sample of L’Eau Froide but your review made me cautious: I never liked L’Eau d’Issey. But I’ll test it when I have a chance.

  11. Sounds like a great experiment! I’ve done a bunch of these side-by-side blind sniffs on another sit–always humbling and rewarding.
    The pix of your cat are too wonderful!

    • Thank you, CherylQuimby!
      I think I’d be horrified to do a true blind testing, I don’t think I could pick up separate notes – only impressions.

  12. What a great piece! And so investigative, so scientific, really. I see now why you were so interested in my discover re: 23 and OJW.

    It’s interesting to me that people seemed able to identify Climat more often than Amouage Gold (but then, I have Gold and don’t have Climat – I don’t think I’ve ever even tried it.) Now I’m going to find some Climat and do my own side-by side test!

    • Thank you.
      Yes, when I read your post I knew exactly how you felt. I couldn’t believe myself nobody before me has noticed the similarity of these two perfumes.

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  16. Hello there, I just sampled Amouage Gold today for the first time, and my first thought upon sniffing it was “OMG…this is vintage 1980s Climat.” I was very shocked and wondered why I had not heard of this strong similarity before when people discuss Amouage Gold. It really is uncanny. After the first couple minutes, Gold does diverge a little from Climat and becomes more subtle and indistinct, but the strong influence of 1980s Climat on Gold is not to be doubted. Climat was reformulated in 1979 to the version in the marble blue box, and Amouage Gold came out only 3-4 years later in 1983 – I think perfumer Guy Robert was clearly influenced by the Climat of that time period. I wrote a blogpost last year about identifying vintage Climat on my old Perfume Fountain blog. I have a decent stockpile of old Climat, now I just have to figure out if Gold resembles Climat enough to be a cost-effective substitute: $400 for 14ml of Climat parfum vs. $250 for 100ml of Gold EDP. Hmmm. *looks at shriveling bank account and weeps* LOL

    I have read that Amouage Dia smells like Climat as well, I think I’e better sample that one too. :-)

    • Hi! It’s nice to see you here. I loved your post when I came across it last year (I even commented on it there).
      You can’t imagine how glad I am to hear that you find these two perfumes similar as well. I would still spend $400 (or even more) on a well-preserved original Climat but I enjoy wearing Gold from time to time. Dia is also very beautiful but I think it’s less similar to Climat.
      BTW, have you tried the latest Lancom’s re-issue – Climat EdT (the one with golden cap)? It’s available only in Europe. I think it’s better than previously available EdT (the bottle with the plastic blue top, I could never decide if it was fake or not) but still very different from the perfume I loved all my life.

      • Thanks very much, hopefully my blogposts is keeping some people from making costly mistakes!

        I have not tried the EDT with the gold cap but I see a large amount of them for sale on Ebay (I wonder if that style of bottle is now being faked or if they’re all real…) Does the gold cap EDT smell like the La Collection EDP of Climat from 2006? I didn’t really care much for that.

        When you talk about the old EDT with the blue cap, I assume you’re talking about the 2.5 oz spray with the removable dark blue cap that comes in the marble blue box. Yes, those EDTs are almost all fakes. I’ve bought two of the fake ones and they are just disgusting. They smell awful, and one even had a sticker on the bottom that said “Eau de Parfum” even though it was supposed to be Eau de Toilette! On the side of the box, they mention the year 2002 – but that style was long gone by 2002! Horrible fakes…

        I’m lucky enough to have found a real one though, they come on the market only very rarely, and it smells very nice, like an everyday version of the parfum. The overall style of bottle and box are the same as the fakes, but the text on the front of the box is a bit different and the sticker on the bottom of the bottle is totally different.
        And the old 1.5 oz EDT sprays in a similar style are real apparently, but I had one and the topnotes smelled spoiled and plasticky, unfortunately.

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