Scent Semantics #11: MISANTHROPE

I am so behind with this collaboration: I started and have not finished at least a couple of previous topics. I still might publish some of those, but I decided to try to do it this month. I think it was my turn to come up with a word for this month’s joint project with six five bloggers: Portia (A Bottled Rose), Elena (The Plum Girl), Daisy (eau là là !), Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now Scents and Sensibilities) and Undina (Undina’s Looking Glass). Unfortunately, Sheila (Alembicated Genie), our sixth member, decided to call it a day (or rather a decade). I was late even with that, so Portia came up with the word. Scent Semantics Project Banner

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This month’s word is: MISANTHROPE

Misanthropy is a general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species, human behavior or human nature. A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings.

I’m curious how this word was chosen for the project. I thought about it for a while, and it just didn’t connect to perfumes in my head. In general, for me, perfumes have mostly positive associations. So, I was almost ready to give up and skip this month as well, and then it just happened.

I felt an acute pang of misanthropy towards large companies that buy niche brands. I’m rather sad that in the modern world selling your brand/business is the most common way of achieving success instead of growing it organically. But I understand niche brands owners who choose this route. What I do not understand is when big companies buy those tiny but great brands only to make them almost as miserable as the rest of their offerings. Why? It can’t be that much money in those niche brands (otherwise those niche brands would have grown organically and wouldn’t have sold their IPs, right?).

These thoughts were triggered by my testing of the modern version of Le Labo‘s Rose 31.

I’ve always liked Rose 31. But I figured out that 10 ml of it would be more than enough for me, so about 10 years ago I bought a relatively inexpensive decant from one of the FB groups (if you weren’t here 8 years ago, see my Know-how [not to]: Freshen up a linen closet post about the story of that decant). But now when my decant is coming to an end, I started thinking about replenishing it. So, with a purchase from one of the sites I got an official Rose 31 sample.

First, when I applied perfume from that sample I thought that I was experiencing a loss of smell due to Covid-19 that I’m getting over now: I could barely smell anything, and I didn’t recognize what I smelled. I hurried to the cabinet where I store my old decant and applied a little to the second wrist – and two thoughts hit me immediately: first, there was nothing wrong with my sense of smell, and second, Estee Lauder has completely butchered my favorite perfume. Rose 31 was one of those perfumes with a very original and distinct scent profile that, in my opinion, was very unique and recognizable. Not anymore. Instead of a crisp and well pronounced though perfectly blended rose-cumin-spices accord of the original Rose 31, I smell some muted and muddled concoction that bears a vague resemblance to perfume that I liked and valued for years.

And it makes me angry: why buy rights to produce perfumes that were good and change them beyond recognition?! They’ve “milked” already everything they could from the purchase of Le Labo. Why not discontinue older scents that they are too cheap to produce (or do a good reformulation in case it’s IFRA to blame for the change) and just keep churning out new perfumes that have nothing to be compared to? Rose 31, as much as I liked it, isn’t Chanel No 5 in popularity. And it’s not like people who used to like it will not notice the difference and keep using a new version just because they liked the old one. And new consumers will not read old raving reviews (nobody reads old reviews!) and be fooled into buying a new cheaper version. So why?!!

“Hatred” is probably too strong of an emotion for such an occasion, but I do feel strong dislike, distrust and contempt for these behemoths’ behavior. Today I feel a little bit like a misanthrope.


Image: my own


25 thoughts on “Scent Semantics #11: MISANTHROPE

  1. Rose 31 isn’t one for me personally, but I hate the idea of butchering such perfumes. Just let them go. I suppose there are plenty of new customers who won’t know the difference, are drawn in by the brand’s (former?) cachet, and will buy. And never know what they’re missing. Perhaps we all need to reframe our feelings about favorites – enjoy that first bottle/decant immensely but let it go when it’s done and search for something new to enjoy. So much disappointment in trying to hang on, in the days of brand acquisitions & reformulations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a shame. I feel the same way about Le Labo’s game of bringing out City Exclusifs one month out of the year and charging astronomical prices for them even though their formulas are probably not more expensive.


  3. Reformulation and discontinuation, the banes of every perfumista. This is partly what feeds my hoarding tendencies. Not to mention buying big bottles of an original release. You just know that within 2 years, it will be reformulated and the price jacked up, so I buy a big bottle immediately of anything I really like.


  4. I totally agree, Undina. The butchering of the original Rose 31 is a crime. It seems that every time a good niche perfume company is bought by a big conglomerate they start putting out only boring musky, muddly puddly things that masquerade as perfume. I’m done with the banal, ennui inducing offerings of LVMH and Lauder, et al. I’m going to spray on a big blast of Lutens La Fille de Berlin in protest….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t realise that Estee Lauder had taken over Le Labo, but it doesn’t surprise me. How deeply disappointing that Rose 31 is not the more distinctive rose scent it used to be. ;( Your misanthropy is completely understandable!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, I’m in full agreement with you. I’m not a Le Labo fan but I am concerned for Frederic Malle. I may just have to forget about my favourites and move on and get over it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never liked Rose 31 to begin with but it is sad to see the sad state of affairs of Le Labo.

    I am a misanthrope when it comes to smaller indie / niche houses that showed so much promise but have churned out disappointing perfumes.

    I am not a misanthrope:

    – including mainstream perfumes, I am not one to think that the vintage version of something seems to always be better than the modern version (hello my love Chanel No.19 EDP)

    – anyone can throw tomatoes at me for this because I don’t think this way: there are misanthropes in the perfume world who react with horror when a new mainstream perfume arrives in scene – so what if it is mainstream? If you like it, great; if you don’t like it, great. There is absolutely no shame in enjoying mainstream perfumes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No tomatoes here! I love my YSL Black Opium, it’s so yummy and comforting. It got me through my last awful leg surgery and I do adore it. And Elie Saab, wonderful!

      And you are right that some reformulations are good! Thanks for the reminder. For me it’s Chanel No. 5. I could never wear the original, but the reformulation of the pure parfum and the No. 5 L’Eau are very nice indeed.


    • I was thinking about Chanel’s perfumes! I do like current versions of No 19. And I still don’t like No 5 or Shalimar, no matter of which version I try ;)

      I agree that some “mainstream” perfumes are good. Too bad even those usually change in a couple of years after the release. But you probably won’t know because you’re much more decisive when it comes to quickly getting a newly released “large sample” :)


  8. BUMMER Undina,
    Yes, the beauty behemoths seem to love stripping the companies they buy of all exceptionalism, leaving us in a barren wasteland of mediocrity.
    The whole Le Labo schtick of mixing it for you has always rankled. It’s annoying to have to wait for it to fully macerate & oxygenate before it smells like the tester. Grr.

    I wonder though if many of the bought out companies would still be around anyway in 15 years if the big guns don’t buy them out? Some seem to be bought at the point of collapse.
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Saturday Question: Do You Know Any Successful Perfume Reformulation? – Undina's Looking Glass

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