Tuesday, 20 July 2010
No Formula Changes Permitted
A quick stop at a Chanel stand confirmed that Bleu will be released on the 16th of August, but by far the most memorable moment of the day's olfactory explorations took place at the Dior counter of a high-end department store. Eager to give my nose a whiff of a classic, I asked the sales assistant if she'd spray some Diorissimo on a blotter for me. As soon as I saw the tester, I knew I was about to be treated to the substandard, new version of the scent, but 'never mind,' I told myself, 'at least it won't smell like Acqua Di Fruit Salad.'
I passed the strip under my nose and couldn't stop a frown from crossing my features for a moment. "This is the new one, isn't it?" I said with a sigh.
"The new one? Do you mean the repackaged one?"
"Yes, the one they've messed around with."
From a few feet away, her male colleague suddenly perked up and walked towards us. "It's exactly the same as the old one," he said, raising his eyebrows.
I shook my head and smiled. "You wouldn't happen to have any stock left of the old one, would you?"
He was about to say No, but the woman beat him to it and opened a drawer behind her. "Actually, we've got an old tester. It's been sitting here for ages." She placed the bottle on the counter.
"Great," I said, "we'll spray this one too and compare them."
Monsieur Dior was getting more agitated. "But it's exactly the same as the old one."
"It definitely isn't, you know."
His voice went up a notch. "But it has to be the same. They're not allowed to change it!"
And at this point, the serene look on my face must have slipped for a moment, because he scuttled away faster than I could shout "IFRA!"
Thankfully, his colleague seemed genuinely interested in my little experiment, so I sprayed a blotter with the older formulation and passed it to her. "Have a smell of this one," I said, "and don't feel you have to agree with me."
She smelled both blotters and, sure enough, the older one drew a much bigger smile from her.
"It's smoother, isn't it?" I said. "Or perhaps I shouldn't ask you that. You can't really comment, can you?"
"No, that's all right. And yes, it's definitely much smoother... much more natural. But maybe that's because..."
"Maybe that's because the new one's eau de parfum and the old one's eau de toilette? Is that what you were going to say?"
"Trust me: that's not the reason. My wife's got some of the old parfum, and it's perfectly, beautifully smooth. This new one..." I took in another whiff of what now seemed a woefully abrasive concoction compared to the veteran mix, "is just pretending to be Diorissimo." At which point, I picked up my tester strips, thanked her for her time and walked away as she replaced the tester in the drawer.