Fendi’s Fendi (EDT, 1985)

Fendi's Fendi (1985) EDT © Victor Wong
Fendi’s Fendi (1985) EDT © Victor Wong

There is a good reason why Fendi’s debut perfume is discontinued – it’s not an unique perfume. I know, this is crazy, I’ve spent good effort and money finding this perfume and I am now badmouthing it. (But not really, read on.)

At the same time, it is one of the most sought after discontinued perfumes. Go search on eBay and the price is a good indication. I think I know why people miss it so much. If all the strict IFRA ingredient bans and regulations really are meant for protecting consumers, wearing Fendi from 1985 might give you some serious cancer. I mean, it is such a rich and potent perfume, (and it’s just an EDT), the oakmoss is real and fat, the leather is fat , the florals are fat, it’s just phat and bad ass with no implants and zippers are useless. The opening almost smells like cognac, then instantly the curtains are pulled wide open, it’s an all-you-can-eat chypre buffet. It’s the epitome of the opposite of a reformulation, it’s a fragrance porn.

One of my coworkers has really big boobs. One day we were walking down the street to the bus stop and we stopped at the red light. A huge truck tried to make a right turn and I saw the truck driver’s eyes keep staring at my coworker’s boobs as he steered the 10 ton truck. I was afraid the trunk might flip on us because her boobs distorted gravity. Yes, she definitely can rock Fendi.

Rochas’ Mystere (1978)

Rochas Mystere © Victor Wong
Rochas Mystere © Victor Wong

I don’t think there is a single shop in Toronto that carries the long discontinued and highly sought after perfume, Mystere (1978). Actually, there is one, but they are not selling: they have a 100ml tester bottle that’s half-used. The shop owner has a policy that they never sell any testers unless all the current stock of that perfume is sold. In this case, they still have some mini 5ml Mystere Parfums up for sale, but they are very expensive for their size. They want me to buy all of them in order to let me buy that tester bottle! I didn’t oblige, but I was curious enough to ask why they had that policy.

The salesperson told me that some years ago a man begged the owner to sell him a tester bottle because (drama alert) it was his dying wife’s wish to smell her favourite but discontinued perfume. The owner was very moved and sold it to him, but he didn’t want to open a new box to use it as a tester. As a result, people couldn’t test it, and they ain’t gonna buy them. He got frustrated and came up with the policy that no tester is to be sold.

(I was initially very moved by the story, but I wondered why didn’t that guy buy a brand new bottle? The only possible answer is that that tester bottle was vintage, but new ones behind it was reformulated/redesigned.)

The original Mystere bottle looks very confusing and strange to me at first – a parallelogram bottle with a giant black oval cap, unexpectedly weird for its time or even now. The one I own is just a generic round Rochas bottle, but that doesn’t deter me from appreciating the scent – it’s one of those scents that I’ll occasionally take the cap off to sniff, put the cap back on, and immediately take it off and smell again.

Leather is not listed in the formula, but Mystere smells like supple moist leather that gives off the most addictive herbal and animalistic scents, the kind that you’d like to feel in your hands, but wonder what is it used for because it’s so soft; it has tons of floral in it, but all the heavy-scented ingredients such as rosemary, carnation, trees, spices, oak moss, patchoulis, civet butts suppress it to almost a semi-masculine scent. It smells vintage now, but you cannot go wrong wearing it!

Rochas’ Byzance (1987)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

Luca Turin in his book says that Rochas has so many great perfumes, he wonders why they are not as successful as they should be. I certainly didn’t start my perfume adventure with any Rochas perfumes. Their perfumes are often hidden on the bottom-most shelves in almost any perfume shops I have visited, and their bottle designs often have weird or non-distinctive look to stand the test of time. So I am glad that I’ve read Luca’s book to discover some of their greater scents.

I didn’t know the existence of Byzance (1987) until I saw someone posted a picture of her bottle recently. Coincidentally Basenotes.com just posted the article, “Top 10 Discontinued Fragrances for Women” and Byzance is on the list! (By the way, Vocabulary.com says Byzance is an ancient city on the Bosporus founded by the Greeks; site of modern Istanbul.)

Byzance was actually not easy to find in Toronto, an indication that it was popular (and not to mention it’s 27 years old). I finally found a 50ml bottle and my first reaction was, “Ok, I see.” It’s a comforting perfume, doesn’t smell dated, a bit on the mature side, aldehydic but not bombastic, powdery with some light floral. There isn’t a “wow” factor, but applying it makes me feel like I have had a very satisfying shower. I feel pampered. Hang on to your bottle if you have one already.

Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom for Women (2004)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

In a land far, far away, there was a kingdom called McQueen. Its king Alexander was looking for someone special to share his life with. He sent thousands of special packages to shops all over his realm, each sealed with red wax and stamped with a mark of his initials. “If you follow the instructions inside and you could become the King’s special someone”, read the box.

Years had passed and no one ever became the lonely king’s special someone. The packages were becoming scarce. Greedy people put their packages in auction houses at ridiculous starting prices. One day, Victoria found an unopened package at a shop that few people visited. She brought it home, and eagerly opened the beautiful package. She found a perfume bottle inside that looked like a quartered small cantaloupe. “Spray it, and come to my castle. If I can smell you, you will be my destined wife.” Victoria sprayed it all over her body like a crazy bee. “This scent is not that special. It smells like any other spicy orientals that I’ve owned,” she thought. Nevertheless, Victoria set off her journal to meet the king to try her luck. An hour later, she reached the castle gate. There was a notice and it read, “King Alexander has a massive windfall, and he is away for vacation.” Frustrated, and just before Victoria turned around, she smelled her skin again, but couldn’t detect a trace of the perfume, except her own B.O. ~The End~

Gucci’s Gucci Pour Homme (2003)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

[This post was originally posted on Facebook Fragrance Friends group and got me in hot water. In the post I wrote, “The things that he designs and his style, is so manly that makes me wonder why he is gay.” which is in very poor taste. I am a gay man, and I thought it was a casual tongue-in-cheek joke, but in fact, very politically incorrect. My apology.]

As someone who is overweight for decades, I cherish finding a clothing brand that has sizes that fit me. I never pay attention to designer clothing; their awesomeness stops at size L. May be that’s the reason I never realized how legendary Tom Ford was until I’ve started paying attention to perfumes. When I looked up information on Gucci Pour Homme, the perfume that made me stop looking for another incense perfume, I discovered that it was created when Tom Ford was the creative director of Gucci. Look at that bottle – it’s still marvellous to hold and look at. The things that he designs and his style, is so manly that makes me wonder why he is gay. Luca Turin says that after Tom Ford has left Gucci, Gucci perfume bottles all return to their kitschy looking belt and buckle design.

Gucci’s Envy for Men (1998)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

This is my second bottle of Gucci Envy for Men. The first bottle, only half-used, is now probably buried in some landfill, glass-broken and heart-broken. Yes, I threw it away a few years ago because I hadn’t used it for more than 10 years, and as I was preparing to move to a new home, I thought I could “de-clutter” my life.

Since I have caught the perfume bug, I wanted it back badly. I feel very puzzled by myself – from throwing away perfumes to collecting perfumes that would take me ten lifetimes to finish. It’s like a kid who hates ketchup and as he grows older suddenly he wants ketchup on everything.

Out of all the five or fewer perfumes that I threw away, I only missed Envy for Men. (Clinque Happy for Men, I am glad that you are gone.) Although I still don’t think I am the right man to wear this perfume, the ginger/spice/floral/leather combo is boozy and unforgettable. Now I have this perfume back, somehow I miss my old self.

Emanuel Ungaro’s Ungaro pour L’Homme II for Men (1992)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

Here’s another purchase from the perfume store that sells a lot of discontinued perfumes. A friend messaged me and urged me to get all the Ungaro pour Homme (I, II & III), particularly I, because they are very hard to come by. Well, even that store doesn’t have any Ungaro I left (except the aftershave), so I picked upUngaro II & III.

Anyway, Ungaro II is amazing. 90% of perfumes that I own are “for women” and only 10% “for men”, and I almost don’t care about colognes, butUngaro II is just wonderful, sophisticated and mellow .

Coincidentally, basenotes.com just published “the top 10 discontinued fragrances for men” and Ungaro II is one of them! http://www.basenotes.net/content/2058-The-Top-Ten-Discontinued-Men-s-Fragrances