Dreaded D-word and Back-up Bottles

Discontinuation is a horrifying word for many of us. More than once I caught myself feeling sad when I heard the news about perfumes being disconnected – sometimes even if those weren’t perfumes I loved or wore.

A while ago in the post on this topic Blacknall wrote:

Anyone who loves perfume tends to complain about the arbitrary way in which one scent after another can bite the dust, but we have to remember after all these are businesses, not revolving exhibitions. Either perfumers manage to stay current with public tastes and fashions or they don’t, and when they don’t, sales decline.

Even though I agreed with her in principle, something bothered me – so I kept thinking.

While discontinuation might be a necessary evil, a conspiracy theorist in me has a lot of doubts. Are those perfumes that get discontinued really worst sellers? Or, with everything else being equal, do companies put on the chopping block something that is more expensive to produce – be that due to costs of raw materials, bottle production, packaging or any other components that affect the bottom line? And isn’t it a negative reinforcement: companies train customers to like simpler perfumes that are cheap(er) to produce, put much more into promoting those – and as a result get lower sales for better perfumes and then discontinue them?

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I’m not even sure that reasons are the same for different companies in the same market. But I’m wondering if it is really in companies’ best interest to silently kill off the scent that didn’t meet whatever criteria are required for staying on the show for the next season. Is there really any downside to letting loyal fans know that the discontinuation is coming, which would allow them to stock up on their favorites? (And if we’re talking about the U.S., those would be acquired at full price since perfumes never go on sale in big department stores here.)

Whatever the truth is, I don’t expect to learn it from any of LVMH or Estee Lauder‘s companies. And since the reasons would be different for those brands, for which economies of scale do not apply, there’s not much sense in asking them either. So I’ll have to keep wondering until somebody publishes an all-revealing memoir.

When I recently heard of three of the perfumes I like being discontinued – Diptyque Volutes, Bvlgari Black and Tom Ford Fleur de Chine, – I realized that I wasn’t ready to buy a second bottle of any of them. Eau de Tommy Sooni II has disappeared with the brand, but even if I could find a bottle now, I’m not sure I would buy it. I might regret it one day but for now it feels like I have enough of them, taking into the account SABLE (Stash Above & Beyond Life Expectancy – Vanessa ©) state of my collection. I thought about it more and realized that Ormonde Jayne Ta’if is the only one, about which with a 100% certainty I can say that I’d buy a back-up bottle (or two) in a heartbeat at the first mentioning of the D-word.

Ormonde Jayne Ta'if

Look at your collection. Disregard decants, samples and “to buy” lists and concentrate only on full bottle of perfumes that are still in production. Now imagine that you learn that those all are being discontinued (not all at once: that would be too cruel even for a hypothetical question). Are there any perfumes for which you would buy a back-up bottle?

Images: my own


From Zero to Forty (ml) in less than 15… years: Bvlgari Black


Soon after Bvlgari Black had been released I picked up a bottle from a perfume counter thinking: “It looks like a hockey puck!” I sprayed a paper strip, sniffed: “It smells like it too!” And that was it. I haven’t approached Black for the next ten years.

Rusty And Bvlgari Black

Growing up I lived in a large multi-unit building in the downtown of a big city. After school children would play in the yard formed by the building. I wasn’t a tomboy or too sporty but there were almost no girls of my age in our building at the time so I didn’t have much choice but to play with boys. They weren’t super thrilled by my company (we’re talking about the age between eight and twelve) but when they needed an extra body for a two-team game mine would do (and on rare occasions I wasn’t even the last one chosen!).

Once in winter, I think I was ten, I was a goalie for an improvised hockey team that was one player short. I didn’t have a goaltender mask (none of us did, we were very poorly equipped in general) but I still was happy to be invited… You can guess where I’m heading with the story, right?

I was lucky: I ended up with a black eye that went through the usual rainbow of colors before getting better and a scar on my eyebrow that I carry through my life. No wonder I wasn’t too enthusiastic about something reminding me of a puck and smelling like burning rubber.

Rusty And Bvlgari Black

When I started my journey in the Perfumeland I read many praises for Bvlgari Black. I got curious and even managed to find it once at a store but I was wearing another perfume so it was a paper strip again. And again I smelled some rubber and smoke but that time I liked what I smelled.

It’s not an expensive perfume so I’m not sure why I didn’t go for a bottle immediately. Probably because it seemed easily obtainable once I make a decision to buy so I didn’t want to do it without testing on skin. Too bad I couldn’t find it in stores any longer.

Finally a couple of weeks ago I got a small decant of Black from Judith (the unseen censer). I sprayed it on, smelled and… It was the fastest start from the first application to the Place Order button: the burning tires smell was still in the air.

Rusty And Bvlgari Black

Up-close it still looks like a hockey puck but it doesn’t bother me any longer: over the years I mastered the art of covering the scar.


Images: my own.