Dear Aunty Sam: More of your Perfume Problems Answered

a passing cloud arthur hughes
A Passing Cloud by Arthur Hughes

Two weeks ago, I invited you to send me your perfume problems.  rsz_dr_samThis week  a dear friend of the blog, Cassieflower, came to me with the following problem.  Reader, I share her pain.  It hurts when a favourite is reformulated or discontinued .  Cassieflower, you are not alone!

Dear Aunty Sam,

I hope you, or indeed some of your readers, can help. My all-time favourite perfume is Fidji by Guy Laroche, and even though this can still be found cheaply on lots of sites it really is only a shadow of its former self. I used to wear it in parfum strength but nowadays the only offering is edt, and that just don’t cut the mustard with me. Any suggestions for a replacement would be most welcome. Pleeeze and fankoo

Firstly, you have excellent taste. That’s a given. Guy Laroche Fidji is quality stuff. I had a bottle back in the 80s and it was green and gorgeous andfidji beach landed me compliments. Unfortunately, reformulations are so very widespread, as we know. There’s a whole support group for traumatised fans of original YSL Opium, or at least there should be.

I went out today and tried Fidji in my local Perfume Shop to jog my memory. It is indeed far weaker than I remember it. However, it reminded me of two perfumes. The first is Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps.  Fidji is almost a greener flanker to L’Air du Temps.  Both have the orris root, carnation, iris, violet, spices, oakmoss and aldehydes.   The second scent that Fidji reminded me of is Clinique Calyx. It’s not as close a match, but Calyx has the transparent greenery that Fidji has, albeit with a  touch more tropical/botanical fruit going on.

As for Fidji itself, it does seem to be widely available in eau de toilette form and not much else. The only advice I can offer is drench yourself in the EDT in summer and break out the L’Air du Temps eau de parfum  in colder weather.  I promise you will always smell wonderful.


I also had a plea from reader Mia who has fallen in love with Maison Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540– and who can blame her?  However with a hefty price tag,  Mia is looking for something in the same vein that is slightly kinder on the old budget. Mia- you are singing my song! I’m having a very frugal March at the moment.

Dear Aunty Sam

Hello! I’ve fallen in love with Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540. Smells like warmed skin and caramel but 100000x better. I can’t stop sniffing my wrists and cooing sweet nothings to this scent when I’m wearing. Problem is, I can’t afford it atm. Any cheaper recommendations to tide me over? Thank you so much!

Dear Mia,

Thanks so much for writing in. You’re among friends here.  Please help yourself to tissues.  We’re used to traumatised perfume fans.

Baccarat Rouge 540 is indeed as lovely as you say, although it barely stayed on my skin at all.  It was close to skin immediately after I baccaratsprayed and then poof! Gone.

I’ve been digging around on your behalf and I came across what I think is the best match.  There is a company called Dua Perfumes who make a scent called Casino Royale. This has many notes in common with MFK Baccarat Rouge 540: notably saffron, mandarin, cedar and  fir balsam ( actually pine in Baccarat,  but same forest).

The bad news is that they are based in the USA. The good news is that casinothere is a company in the UK called FragranceSamples UK who stock samples of other Dua perfumes, although not Casino Royale.  I’m sure if you ask them nicely they could get some in.  Sample prices are just over £11 for  a generous 5ml sample,  so not quite as spendy as Cap’n Kurk!  You could also try Givenchy Pi, which has a similar herby orange opening and a muted gourmand base via almond  and tonka notes.

Got a perfume problem?  A scent situation? A fragrant foible?

rsz_dr_samDo keep sending in your questions. If I can’t answer them, I am sure helpful readers will be able to share their experience and knowledge too.  We’re a lovely bunch.

Write your questions in the comments box below or email me on  If you are very shy, I will even answer them privately. I’m nice like that.

Over to you

Do you agree with my answers? Would you add or change anything? Do let me know.  I always love to hear from you.


EDIT: With warm thanks to the BlackNarcissus whose kind advice led me to revising my first opinion! Thanks Neil xx

14 thoughts on “Dear Aunty Sam: More of your Perfume Problems Answered”

  1. Ghost….someone gave me a bottle and the first time I sprayed, I HATED it! Sharp, metallic, invasive, totally yucky. In vain I tried to wash the stench off my arm but it lingered all day, making me feel sick. Then about 6 hours later, I realised that it had transformed into something deliciously quiet and interesting. What do you do when you can’t stand the first few hours of a perfume but love the eventual drydown?

    1. That’s an interesting one Miranda! I suppose the answer would be to look up the base notes and find a scent with those notes in. However, as you and I both know, perfume doesn’t behave itself when we want it to. You may just have to get up very early in the morning so that the yucky top notes fade by the time you leave the house! 🙂

  2. Can’t agree about Fidji and Magie Noire: you go from airy and almost tropical to the witch’s knickers: too dark! I reckon there are plenty of other aldehydes out there that are similar, but then they will also be vintage as well. The only solution is eBay!

    1. Right. I matched it by notes but I do have to go and try both and maybe revisit that answer. Thanks Neil. xx

    2. Dearest Neil, I have now been out to the Perfume Shop and tried Fidji and had a think. I have completely changed my mind and I thank you kindly for helping me out on this. And by the way- I adore Fidji now. I realised today that you cannot always rely on olfactory memory. xxx

  3. Thank you! My friend’s bf lives in Canada, and they kindly offered to purchase any beauty products unavailable on my end and…..guess what I will be ordering? 😂 Thank you Aunty Sam! Xoxo

  4. Thank you Aunty Sam for your suggestions, I will revisit both L’air du Temps and Calyx as I haven’t tried either of them in longer than I care to remember. I will report back when I do. Just had a good laugh at Nick’s analogy of Magie Noire and witch’s knickers😆. I know exactly what he means, though I would maybe replace witch with tart. I have a small bottle from 1981 or thereabouts, and also the all-new, all-singing, all-dancing reformulation that neither sings nor dances. The glam tart is sadly no more. My thirty something year-old bottle still has more attitude and kicks more ass, even if the top notes have faded somewhat, than this new excuse of a replacement. I think what I really need is a time machine, then I can zip back and gather up everything I want, bring it back and store very carefully. Would you like me to pick up something for you while I’m visiting the 70s and 80s? Or the era of your choice, distance no object.

    1. Dear Cassieflower,

      You would have such a shopping list off people if you could go back, wouldn’t you! I would start with a crate of Gucci Envy and then if you could pick me up some Avon Eau Givree and Avon Odyssey and some of that nice Monsoon original stuff with the pointy hat on, and then if you could pop into The Body Shop in 1988, I have a MASSIVE list for you there….

      I had an afterhtought- you might like Issey Miyake A Scent. it’s very green and floral and light but lasts me all day. Worth a try if you like green florals. It’s not that similar to Fidji but they could be second cousins. xxx

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