Saturday Question: Do You Buy Vintage Perfumes?

In the comment to the last week’s SQ post about special occasion perfumes Neva asked me if I owned vintage Climat. So, this week I decided to ask you about vintage perfumes.

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

Saturday Question #70:

Do You Buy Vintage Perfumes?

This isn’t a question about whether you own any vintage perfumes either inherited from relatives or those that became such over years while being in your collection. But do you hunt eBay, thrift stores or estate sales for vintage gems? If yes, are those perfumes that you remember and like from the time when they were contemporary, or do you experiment with perfumes you never knew in their heyday? If you buy vintage perfumes “blind,” are you more often delighted or disappointed?

My Answer

In general, I do not like vintage perfumes. Back when most of those perfumes that are sought after now were modern, I was a signature scent person. And since I do not have any emotional connection to those perfumes, I do not see any reason to start experimenting with online bottle purchases or even getting samples.

So, how about my all-time favorite Lancome Climat? Surely I should have a bottle or two of vintage version of my beloved perfume… I don’t. I have multiple versions that I bought over years, so formally they are already “vintage.” But only once I tried to buy a mini bottle of vintage EdT – and it was a bust: it was spoiled. It wasn’t extremely expensive, but still I was very disappointed. And I can only imagine, how upset I would be had I spent $300-$700 for 0.5-1 oz bottle and discovered that it’s either went off or was a fake. So, I decided that I should be fine with all the later versions of Climat that I collected. But who knows: maybe one day…

 

Do You Buy Vintage Perfumes?

52 thoughts on “Saturday Question: Do You Buy Vintage Perfumes?

  1. It’s a big fat yes from me. I have spent quite a few years collecting vintage versions of my favourites. I don’t seek out unknowns as I wouldn’t have any point of reference. I have been very lucky in my finds with only one bottle spoiled.

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  2. Yes, yes, yes. For the most part though I have limited my vintage purchases to old Guerlains. I find that the EDCs from the past are much stronger and more long lasting than many of the current EDPs, etc. That said, I don’t typically wear them for daily use, but I do wear them for my at home pleasure in the evening and when I go to bed.

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    • I remember several of your posts about vintage findings. If I were a Guerlain fan, I would have probably tried buying some of the vintage bottles from the brand. The other two that interest me – Chanel (I’ll never buy anything unsniffed – two many fakes) and Dior (I still might look for a bottle of Miss Dior EdT) got very expensive in the recent years. And price doesn’t guarantee the condition.

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      • I find that the smaller the bottle with some vintages the more preserved they are. I have purchased several Miss Dior parfum extraits on eBay in the small lipstick size and have never had a problem. Actually I have probably purchased 50 vintage perfumes over the years and have only had problems with 3. As for Chanel, yes, I would stay away from them unless you sniff them. I did find a Chanel 22 cologne at an estate sales once and it is divine.

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  3. I have a little in the past with success but don’t intend to do it again. I admire people with amazing vintage perfume collections but its just too stressful for me for the reasons you mention. I’m determined to be more relaxed and happy with what I have and what is currently available.

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  4. Here and there, partly because I prefer an older version, partly because I want to remember how something smelt when I first wore it, regardless of preference. My best buy was Blue Grass from the mid-70s, which Bois de Jasmin has sniffed and declared to be in excellent nick for its age. I wish I could say the same of myself ;)

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    • Lol. I think you’re in mint condition :)

      I’m curious about famous perfumes I missed in the past, and sometimes I’m curious what I would think about some of those that I didn’t like before. But not to the extent of spending money to check.

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      • I’d forgotten about Blue Grass! I have vague memories of being quite young and smelling it, and finding it very alluring. I can’t really remember the smell very well. Is it at all powdery?

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  5. You know my answer to the first question; yes! But I am really happy for this question as there seems to be a bit of negativity going around lately (Instagram) about vintage perfume lovers. Somehow it’s seen as more cool to be into modern perfumes, and ‘hunting vinegar’ is snobbish. ( actually pet peeve that all old perfumes turn to vinegar- NOT TRUE, in my experience more new perfumes have gone off, while I’ve owned them, than vintage perfumes I’ve bought)
    Which brings me to your other questions… yes I do go on eBay and find stuff there. To begin with only the famous ones, many of which no longer existed and which I wanted to experience ( Patou perfumes come to mind). Also, when I started making these purchases it was still (mostly) cheap, if you cared to search a little. So taking a gamble was an easy thing to do. And of course the more you do something, the more you get a feel for spotting when something is in good condition and when not. You also get to understand which brands have a quality of perfume that age well and which don’t. Not necessarily turning, just the maceration not working in its favour.
    I no longer buy a lot of vintage stuff, mainly because prices have gone up massively and I have A LOT already, but now and again something peaks my interest, the name, the brand, the fact that I can’t find any info, or the info makes it sound fun.
    I would buy more new perfumes, if I didn’t already have so much, that I can’t really justify the price of new perfumes, also I truly love what I have.
    Last vintage ‘blind buy’, was a perfume which basically smells identical to vintage Jicky. I got it for 10€! Try finding vintage Jicky, or any good perfume for that price 😉

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    • I guessed your answer :)

      I didn’t know anything about the current attitude towards vintage perfumes in IG circles. Interesting. From the Instagrammers’ point of view older bottles should be much more interesting for the purpose of taking pictures ;)

      I am curious about older perfumes, but many vintage perfumes smell for my nose very similar. I can’t say even that I dislike that part that is common for them, but I wouldn’t pay much to have it in slightly different interpretation again and again and again.

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      • I know what you mean, about how they smell similar. For sure there are many boring (generic) vintage perfumes. But imagine smelling ten mainstream perfumes from today; they would all smell pretty much the same. So smell a perfume from the 30s ( modern version or vintage), and one from the 80s, and it’s a very different thing to smelling ten perfumes from the 80s.
        Actually, I have way more modern than vintage perfumes, so I don’t even really like the fact that it has become either or… it’s all perfume to me 😁

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  6. Yes, I own a HUGE vintage collection. No, I didn’t wear most of them ever because I am not old enough. I own stuff from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. I got them before this sport got popular a few years ago and got them all for $10 or less. I wear them when I feel like it.

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  7. I’m a no. If I stumbled across an affordable old bottle somewhere of something that intrigued me I would buy it; but I won’t spend “real” money on vintage. I don’t spend that much money at this stage in any case – doing my no-buy made me much more hesitant to acquire, particularly at the higher price points. I do a lot of “adding to cart” and then closing the browser than I used to.

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    • I don’t even add to the cart! I keep a page open in a browser tab until it’s either sold or is lost during the next restart (if the browser didn’t restore all the previously open pages) :)

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  8. Not a fan of vintage perfumes and the few times I tried to buy an old love, it didn’t work out, the scents were spoiled. So I don’t even look any more.

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  9. I keep an eye out when I visit antique stores—sometimes I’ll get lucky and come across some minis, and if they’re cheap and famous and I’m interested, I’ll buy them. Only on a few occasions have I sought out specific ones online, and that was more to revisit something from my own past. I guess I’ve been disappointed more than delighted with the random minis, so I don’t go out of my way to get vintage perfumes.

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    • I also had a couple of mini finds in antique stores. But I was looking more for the bottle itself than perfume, so it was a lower risk of disappointment. I found the cutest Guerlain Chamade mini bottle with almost good perfume. I might eventually pour some modern extrait from my larger bottle in this one.

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  10. I don’t actively seek out vintage but a few bottles have come my way from dear friends. Many vintages I wore decades ago, when top notes were intact, so they don’t quite smell the same. I’ve never been lucky to make a hidden treasure discovery at a thrift store or garage sale and the prices on eBay are insane these days.

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  11. I haven’t chased vintage since 2016 / 2017-ish and even then, I pretty much stuck to Etsy. If I happen to come across vintage and the price is right, then I may snag it. Having said this, anyone with vintage Chanel Bois des Iles can contact me 😍.

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  12. I spent years amassing a bunch of fabulous vintage from across the world. It was fun.
    Lately I have sold a few of them off. It’s silly to have five unopened bottles if things that I’ll probably never finish my current one of.
    One thing I have hoarded and used up a few bottles of is vintage Miss Dior EdT and extrait. Also a couple of Shalimar extraits, the cigarette lighter bottles. Nearly emptied my second Silences PdT as well.
    Portia xx

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  13. I don’t have much experience hunting vintage. Years ago I got a bargain on three bottles of Miss Dior, but they obviously had not been stored well, much evaporation, and all the top notes were gone. Still, there was some enjoyment to wearing it. My unicorn, which I’m working on a post for my blog, was Lauren Tuxedo. It was on the market such a short time and I wore it at a time in life when I was young and everything seemed possible. I was not willing to pay a lot for a bottle, as I would be vastly disappointed if it was bad. I finally snagged one for under $100. It was a mixed experience. I do like it very much, although it was different than my memory. But it didn’t make me magically feel young, attractive, and all that goes with that time in life, which was all tied in with my memories of the perfume. I also realized there is a lot of great stuff out there today, and it took away, for the most part, my desire to chase vintage.

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    • I think that as a learning experience it wasn’t that expensive ;) Look forward to reading your post.
      Miss Dior – both extrait and EdT – are two of a very few vintage bottles that I ever bought (I mean, them already being vintage, since I have a number of bottles that are vintage now but got into my collection as regular ones :) ).

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  14. I have some nice vintage fragrances. Some of them make me feel like I stepped into a time machine-I feel like they wear me, rather than the other way around. A perfume store used to sell their vintage testers, with the proceeds going to charity. So I have Miss Dior, and Givenchy III, Van clef and Arpels, First, Theorema, and some vintage Guerlains. all $20 or less. Oh I have Mystery, too. There was a long table, and the woman who owned the store had packaged each 100 ml bottle prettily in cellophane and tissue. There must have been 50 bottles. One thing I would like to find is a good bottle of Je Reviews, which was my mom’s signature scent. Great question!

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    • I have purchase many bottles of vintage Je Reviens on E-b-you know where and maybe one was a little off. Do the usual due diligence: seller near you, sprays are better than splash, look for good reviews, look at what else they sell….I feel sure you can get some fabulous vintage JR for a modest price. And yes, I think I have mentioned here before that I do buy many vintage scents. I fell down the rabbit hole via The Non-Blonde’s blog. When I read there about reformulations I was transfixed with FOMO and/or the desire to “rescue” second hand perfumes. I have since found wonderful modern perfumes but….oakmoss! Sandalwood! Animalics! I have never regretted having a vintage perfume, but I have overpaid.

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    • I think that I would have bought more had I seen some of those perfumes at a store, because I really do not trust eBay sellers.
      I wouldn’t refuse Je Reviens as well: I tried a vintage sample a long while ago and liked it a lot.

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      • Not to go on too much, but Ebay’s buyer protection plan is very good. About four years ago, I had a seller take my money ($50 or so) and not send (from the comments it happened to others too) and Ebay quickly refunded my money and banned the seller. The seller was a long-time seller of vintage and newer perfumes, and I suspect another person began running the account for some reason. There was a long history of good reviews then a sudden change.

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  15. No anymore, but I did go for vintage Jicky and Shalimar (and am not sorry, they are really good). I don’t know if it’s connected to the general no-perfume buying thing going on in my life, but if I were to buy sth new, I wouldn’t go for a vintage. At least I think so. Maybe vintage Chanel 5 just for reference purposes. :D

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    • I’m not sure if there are any reliable sources of No 5, especially since it’s its 100th anniversary. I’m tempted to buy an old packaging while it’s available :) (And it’s me who doesn’t even like No 5! ;) )

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  16. To me the term “vintage parfume” is limited to perfume from the 70-ies, 80-ies and beginning of 90-ies. It means perfume I owned back then and I want to hang on to it because of the wonderful memories. There was a time when I used to hunt them down on ebay (unfortunately, the garage sale concept does not exist here in Croatia). I admit, most of the time I was disappointed because rarely the perfumes lived up to my expectations. Only once I think I bought a fake, the others were genuine but the top notes were mostly gone and they were the reason I liked the perfumes so much. The freshies are not the same, the heavier woody perfumes are still wonderful. I miss some of my old favourites but I don’t feel the need to spend money on them anymore. I’m good with the few I own.

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    • Where I live in the US, garage sales aren’t that popular any more, and even when those happen, perfumes that are sold there are mostly mass-market that I would never consider wearing – either new or vintage.

      There are a couple of perfumes that I would/will chase if/when what I have is gone, but as a rule, I prefer to make my own vintage (as in “buy new and keep for decades” ;) ).

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