You know the sad story of the lost scent, as tragic as Gilbert’s famous song: The Lost Chord. You knew the smell, you loved the smell, and suddenly, the perfume’s out of production. Moreover, when you try to track down the missing bottle, you discover that many other users have beaten you to the punch, hoarding bottles heartlessly, so that you are left with nothing but your memories.
Take as an example the case of Moment Supreme (although you can substitute dozens of perfumes for this one loss). Moment was extremely popular for a very long time, well into the late decades of the 20th century (see Rangtang’s Bet and this review by Olfacta), but was discontinued by the house after they were purchased by Proctor and Gamble.
P&G seem to have been after Joy revenues, and following a flurry of releases done by their new in-house perfumer Jean Michel Duriez, they let the enterprise fall into relative obscurity. Moment Supreme died when P&G failed to keep the re-issued series of Jean Patou classics from the 1980’s in production.
Released as Ma Collection, these were perfumes that had been major sellers for the house or otherwise distinguished as innovative in their day. The selection and the re-formulation was done by Jean Kerleo, who was at the time only the second in house perfumer* at Jean Patou, having succeeded Henri Almeras at the post.
The re-orchestration of these old perfumes was necessary because of the changes in the way scents were manufactured and availability of the ingredients, but M. Kerleo seems to have done a masterful job. Moment Supreme was one of the most popular perfumes in the line-up. I wish that I had not considered these perfumes “old fashioned” in the early nineties when they were on the main floor at Bloomingdale’s. Should have stocked up on Moment. Bottles have since become difficult to find, and quite expensive when you do.
I read, and cannot for the life of me recall where, that Almeras sold this formula twice at least, that Moment resembled something from the Parfums de Rosine line he’d created for his previous employer Paul Poiret, that he trotted out an extremely similar formula for Patou and sold a minor variation on the original one last time, to Elizabeth Arden which became Blue Grass. Having smelled both Moment and Blue Grass, there is a strong similarity.
This brings me to the pivotal point here.
Generally you can find reincarnations of your discontinued favorite. Michael Edwards has a service on his web site that connects you to scents which resemble one another – although I consider it rather hit or miss. Sometimes you can contact the Fragrance Foundation for information on discontinued scents, and Victoria at Bois de Jasmin runs a series on long lost perfumes and suggests alternatives. These are all good resources if you’re looking for something that’s gone. Sometimes the formulas just pop up again.
In the case of Moment Supreme, you’ve got the alternative Blue Grass and these days also the Patricia de Nicolai perfume Maharadjah. That one begins with a very strong lavender note, continues through a cinnamon dominated heart and ends with a very pleasant amber dry down. Not identical to Moment, but if you loved Moment, Maharadjah is close enough to give you some of the tonalities you have been missing.
In connection with this, a poster on Basenotes mentioned Jo Malone’s Amber and Lavender cologne as a stand in for Moment Supreme. Amber and Lavender does not smell to me like Moment at all. Probably re-formulated when IFRA placed restrictions on lavender as a perfume ingredient, the Jo Malone no longer smells of the flower to me, and that is a crucial part of Moment Supreme.
Anyway, the good news is that these days you have far more possibilities open to you when a fragrance goes missing, Ebay possibly, and even mailing a small sample to a perfume reproduction service and having the scent re constructed for you. I’ve never tried this, and would like to know other people’s experiences. It does seem a preferable alternative to moping.
*Although Henri Giboulet did Caline for the house in 1964.