Finally the new version of Vacances was released, and I got myself a sample as soon as it was possible.
Let me start with a little de-tour though. Some time ago I received a perfume bought at the big online auction site, an old (1944) version of a Jean Patou perfume. It’s one of the not well-known ones, and I got it because I managed to get it at a great price and because of the notes, particularly the one thing I was able to find out about it, was about a gorgeous sandalwood. Now when I hear sandalwood and we talk pre 1990, in most cases this will include the real deal not the newer, flatter ones pumped up with that sickening artificial stuff. When it arrived though, it was instantly clear to me that what I had read was a description of the 1980’s re-issue of the perfume, and since I had the real, early version, the emphasis in my perfume was not on the sandalwood.
So, all this to say, that re-issues are re-issues and they will never be an exact replica of the original, as they will have to draw into account the taste of current buyers. I suppose for exact remakes there really is only the Osmotheque to go to.
Original Vacances by Jean Patou was created in 1936 by Henri Almeras, and re-issued in the 1980s together with others as ‘Ma Collection’ re-orchestrated by Jean Kerleo. Now the house of Jean Patou is once again re-issuing the perfumes, this time the perfumer is Thomas Fontaine and the name ‘Heritage Collection’.
What does it smell like the 2015 Vacances from the Heritage Collection? It’s a pretty straight up soliflore lilac. Heritage Collection Vacances has that fresh yet soft lilac scent, and it isn’t screechy but rounded and rather tender. As a soliflore it’s beautiful, however, it really isn’t much more. I don’t get a lot of development neither on mouillette nor on skin, but from the initial full on blooming lilac bush it does soften in a musky way. The strip dries down to a somewhat boring white musk, but on my skin it’s just a nice soft, downy fade out of the fragrance.
So what has it got in common with vintage re-issue Vacances from Ma Collection by perfumer Jean Kerleo? I did try to look for similarities but truly, the answer is: not much. If you were hoping for 2015 Vacances to be a copy of the iconic fragrance, this is not it. Apart from taking into account maceration of the original materials etc, Vacances (80s) manages to be a lilac fragrance but with so many other aspects, giving it its deep emerald soul. Even if the sum of its parts leaves no doubt that you smell lilac, I keep getting whiffs of those parts; oh there was a jasmine in bloom, there a whiff of hyacinth, there a gentle mimosa… It has green galbanum emerging up from the depth of the fragrance, a non-pungent soft, dare I say feminine, galbanum, the mimosa adding a sweet innocent kiss and hawthorn with its more mature floral note, blending into the dark green, mossy hues to end in that true musky skin-scent.
To many, me included, Kerleo’s Vacances is the lilac to end all lilacs. It’s a lilac fragrance, without hint of a doubt, but it’s also so much more, and doesn’t ever come anywhere near reminding us of a toilet cleaners or room sprays. It’s a perfume, yet it feels like outdoors and beautiful country gardens, it embodies that sense of wanting to halt time at its most beautiful and precious, and yet by wanting to capture the incapturable it seems just always on the edge to be sorrowful.
I realised smelling the two side by side for several days in a row that it has just made me even more curious to smell the real Vacances by Henri Almeras, and while I hope to try it someday, who knows I might actually prefer my 1980s Karleo re-issue the way I’m sure some will prefer the new Heritage Collection version of Vacances.
Pics are mine and I purchased samples as well as bottles.
There are a few reviews of the 80’s Vacances online, a comprehensive review and background for Vacances is at Perfumeshrine