One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Loose Change: Lancome Tresor


When I first smelled Lancome's Tresor in 1990, I was captivated by its soft radiance: hardly any top notes, mostly just a cloud of peach-apricot and ambered rose, rich, uncomplicated and lovely. (There are other notes, other florals and balsams: they don't matter much.) Every now and then I'd sniff at it in the department stores just to remind myself how beautiful it is.

Earlier this year, I noticed that the bottle had changed, and that this is because it was now available as an eau de toilette. (Previously, it had been an eau de parfum only: the EDP has a black collar around its neck, while the EDT has a pale-peach collar.) I took a sniff to see how it different from the original, and was horrified. They'd added a pile of top notes, all bright sharpness, and completely destroyed what made the original so wonderful. The EDP's rosy warmth was still lurking under the surface, but it couldn't compete.

Is this what people want nowadays? Everything to be fresh and clean and pointy and shiny?

For what it's worth, as far as I can tell, the EDP has also been modified. If my nose isn't deceiving me, Tresor isn't as it used to be: it's also had top notes added to it, to make it more of a piece with the EDP. It's not horrible, but it's changed, and not for the better. If I wore this, if I'd run out of a bottle of the old EDP and bought a bottle of the newer stuff, I'd be furious.

Still, the new-fangled EDP and the EDT together provide an object lesson in perfumery: EDP is not simply EDT with more essential oils and less alcohol. Not merely a less dilute version, it's something entirely other: it opens up differently and it develops differently. (The same is true, even more so, perhaps, of perfume; not just "stronger", it's usually richer and more complex, certainly longer-lasting, as a rule.) I wish salespeople were better trained so that they could explain these differences to buyers.

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