It was suggested to me , by the Perfumed Dandy no less, that when shopping for Je Reviens, I should look out for the Couture version (2005). Just as I was searching for it (online of course, it’s not in any High Street near me), my head was turned by a tempting trio and I committed a blind buy sale before you could say Amazon dot co dot UK.
Created by Maurice Blanchet in 1932, this pre war classic has not aged well I fear. Where is the Lilac? the Jasmine? the Hyacinth? the Violet? the Rose? I certainly had plenty of aldehydes, but not in a good way. This was high pitched and cheap smelling. Where did it all go wrong?
I have two theories. Firstly, Je Reviens is an aldehyde meaning that many of its notes are also used in soap and detergent. This is no bad thing- look at the marvellous First by Van Cleef and Arpels– a soapy and heavenly scent that I cannot find fault with.
However in 1932 when Je Reviens was created, soaps and detergents were more basic and Je Reviens would have smelled sophisticated and different to the discerning scent buyer of the Thirties. Indeed, it began as a luxury product before it became a mainstream inexpensive classic. Therefore to my spoilt Twenty First century nose, used to Ambi Pur, Cistern blocks and Toilet Duck, Je Reviens sadly has too much in common with them.
My second theory is that the formula for Je Reviens has been changed so much that it is barely a shadow of its former self. A few IFRA tweaks are to be expected these days, usually with stoicism, but Je Reviens has been super morphed into something different. It would be like making Grandma’s fruit cake but leaving out the fruit. And the nuts. And the Cherries. And the butter. And the eggs. In fact, you’d just have flour and sugar, but could you still call it Grandma’s fruit cake? The House of Worth closed in 1956, was bought by the Maurice Blanchet Society and then sold again in 1992. It’s changed hands, formulae, and probably budgets too.
It smells very similar to Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass, of which I am fond. However this is like Blue Grass that has been kept in a tropiquarium under hot lights and has gone shrill and bitter, like an unemployed diva. I can pick out spicy geranium and carnation and the aldehydes (in spades) but there is a twang of Bloo cistern blocks about it, which could explain why its lost in translation. I bet if my modern nose hadn’t been so desensitised to aldehyde and cleaning products, I would probably like this more.
I won’t give up straight away. It took me a few goes to appreciate Guerlain Apres L’Ondee and Mitsouko after all. I would still try the Couture version, which I understand is nearer the original vintage formulation. However when Je Reviens wears off (it doesn’t take long), I get excited about choosing something else to wear instead. Never a good sign.