Jean Patou Vacances – 1980’s reissue Ma Collection VS The Heritage Collection Vacances 2015

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.ny indstilling sony åbner ikke 460 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

29 thoughts on “Jean Patou Vacances – 1980’s reissue Ma Collection VS The Heritage Collection Vacances 2015

  1. This was a fascinating read for me because Vacances has always been one of the vintage fragrances I’ve been most curious about. It sounded like the perfect blast of floral/green scented air. Too bad the re-issue doesn’t live up to the 80s version you have. But at least you have it.

    If anyone knows what the 40s version smelt like it you’d think it would be Thomas Fontaine. He led our session at the Osmotheque.

    • Oh, I didn’t know Tara, I’ll send you a sample 🙂

      Perhaps it was a little bit disappointning, a tiny bit of somthing green and mossy surely would have done no harm 😉

      I did consider whether perhaps Thomas Fontaine build this new Vacances on the first Almeras version? And if that version was more straigh-up lilac. However, I actually believe that the further you go back, the less likely you are to find soliflores that resemble the soliflores of today, in that they would be more like an impression than like a photorealistic image of the flower.

      • Yes, you’re absolutely right. I think he actually said at the Osmo they’d be loads of perfumes called “Lily, “Rose” or whatever but they’d all be something different – not really soliflores at all.
        So I do wonder where his straight-up lilac came from. I was hoping for something with a fair bit of galbanum in it.

        Thanks for the offer of a sample! Only pay the postage if you come across something else you think I might like though.

        • Exactly, it would otherwise make no sense that every perfumer in Paris would have a ‘Rose’ or a ‘Oeillet’.

          I thought Vacances would have more green too, but unless it’s a green note that I didn’t know I was anosmic too, I’d say not much green in there, unfortunately.

  2. I’m not a huge lilac fan, but I love that they are resurrecting this old perfume houses. So the perfume is not quite like the vintage version, but Jean Patou needs to stay around. Although the prices on their reissued EDTs are a bit pricey I think.

    • Hi Steve, if you’re not a lilac fan, this new Vacances will not be for you, but I agree that it’s great that Jean Patou perfumes stay around. And hopefully this Heritage Collection will just bring some glamour back to the true stars; Joy and 1000.
      And I suppose for prices it’s just the norm these days, even if it is a shame. It’s almost the other way around, that whenever a house brings out a great fragrance at a reasonable price I am really astonished (Jardins d’Ecrivains being an example)

  3. Oh well, it would have been a miracle of the greatest order if the re-issued perfume smelled as good as the original. 😉

    • Ha, Ines. True enough. But I did try and lower expectations, and to see if perhaps it was not a replica but just different. Still I wonder what original Vacances would have been like, even better? Or not?

      • I’m afraid I think that one would have been much better. 🙂

  4. It sounds lovely, Vacances, Asali. I love lilacs and would love to try this. Especially as it is not only lilacs but so much more Than That. Jean Patou is one of my favorite perfume houses and I treasure Ma Liberte. Will this be reissued as Well, you think ? You should go to THE Osmoteque one day, I presume they have THE oldest version of Vacances of Henri Almeras as Jean Kerleo was iTS founder.

    • I must look out for Ma Liberte, because it wasn’t part of the first re-issue I didn’t pay it much (any) attention, thanks for the heads-up. As they, quite curiously, haven’t even mentioned Ma Liberte on their web-page under ‘Heritage’, I don’t see it being re-issued anytime soon, but I hope I’m wrong 🙂
      I do so want to go to the Osmotheque, I hope I’ll go soon, and then I’ll definitely sniff Vacances.

  5. I’m a huge fan of lilacs – just not in perfumes, as I figured out. I do not mind it as a note among many other notes but a soliflore of something that doesn’t exist (real lilac oil/CO/etc.) just seems really wasteful.
    I’m not sure you’d like the original perfume more: our tastes were built on the decades of perfume development and older might not be better.

    • Dear Undina, I do love lilacs too, I think that’s why I keep trying with the lilac perfumes, even if 80’s Vacances will probably always be the only lilac perfume that I’ll ever truly enjoy. (I’m leaving out Parure because I don’t find it to be a lilac perfume, even if the note is there) I think you could be right about the old Vacances, it might be too dense for a floral perfume.
      My own lilac tincture turned out rather nice. Of course it doesn’t last beyond a few minutes or so and will probably not keep the scent but ‘darken’ over time, still, I think it might be interesting for you to try for fun and comparison to what lilac smells like in perfume. I should send you some.

  6. What a beautiful review Asali. When I heard that it wouldn’t be an exact or even similar copy of the original, my interest dicipated but now having read your review, I’ll definitely give it a try. I just hope, though, one day they would create more true to the original version.

    • Thank you so much Magpie, you know considering the number of straight up lilacs, I should have thought that re-creating a lilac fragrance somewhat closer to the Kerleo vacances would be a good thing and could be done without being too old fashioned. Obviously I’m not quite the person to pass verdict on this, but I don’t even find Vacances so very outdated, that it’s necessary to change it so much. Ah well, it is a shame, but as I said, if one goes in only expecting a good lilac, one might be very pleased with the fragrance 🙂

  7. Ok, I have to ask you this first, on a purely unrelated question to the perfume itself: did your bottle of Vacances (the 80s version) come with one of those beautiful silk scarves that Patuou used to include with their bottles in the Ma Collection? I was always tempted to blind buy one of those bottles, in large part due to the scarf, feeling pretty certain that I would also like most of the fragrances from that collection.

    And as for the perfume, I’m sorry to hear that the 2015 version is so one-dimensional, but at least you have a bottle of the good stuff. Have you ever tried vintage Coty Paris? It has a lovely lilac note in it, though it’s not a lilac-dominant scent, so I’m not sure that it would satisfy you entirely. (Yet it does strike me as an Asali kind of perfume … please try it if you ever get the chance.)

    • Dear Suz, Unfortunately the only one I have the scarf from is Divine Folie. I LOVE the scarves too, but the opened/used bottles rarely have the scarves. I think most of the fragrances of the Ma Collection are very likable, I’m not sure which one you’d like best, but only very few of them are ‘an aquired taste’. ‘Que je Sais’, for one, being an incredibly sweet fruity chypre which could give ‘Angel’ caries.

      As you say, for me, I already have the old stuff, still, I suppose from new it would have smelled slightly different, and I do like the retro vibe in perfumes anyway and of course find it a great shame that many people won’t get to know 80’s Vacances. It’s funny you mention Coty Paris, because most people when mentioning Coty always talk about Chypre, L’aimant and L’origan but Paris never seems to get much attention, so I’m happy that you mention it, I’ll now keep an eye out for it 🙂

  8. You finally did the review I had been waiting for on Vacances and its reissue.

    Vacances is such a lovely perfume almost as much mimosa and hawthorn as lilac, but there didn’t seem much chance that the new one would be as good as the old. Perhaps releasing some of these old things in very limited editions would be wiser? They could take a few more chances… like hawthorn and mimosa!

    • Well, I was waiting and waiting for those samples, they kept postponing the release date, so that’s the reason it took so long. I’m planning on writing the Colony comparison next, that one has at least got some vintage vibe, but overall I feel that those who knew the old Ma Collection will not really be satisfied.
      I wondered why the new Vacances didn’t dare to add a bit of a vintage touch; hawthorn and mimosa as you say. I mean, there are so many soliflore lilacs, so a touch of something different surely wouldn’t hurt?

  9. I just got my decant of the rereleased Vacances today, and I am – as I expected – disappointed with it. I had a bit, maybe 5ml? of the 80s release of Vacances, which I love for its greenness and its tender florals. I kept telling myself it would be lilac and laundry musk, and that’s pretty much all it is. No green.

    (Really? No green at all, Patou? Then why bother?)

    I EXPECTED this. But I am very disappointed. Gah. If I’d wanted a lilac soliflore, I could have stuck with the one I already have (DSH White Lilac, very nice, considerably cheaper than the Patou). I don’t feel particularly sad that I never smelled the 40s original, probably because I loved the 80s one so much, but I wish they’d redone that version. It was just so… tender. Softness and grace, but joy as well.

    I’ll probably wear this decant – the longer it’s on, the more I like it – but I really miss those sweet green leaves.

    • OH – and forgot to say, thanks for the review and comparison. Well done. 🙂

    • Thank you Mals, I see we feel very similar then; the big WHY, when it’s just an ordinary soliflore lilac, and then the ‘well it is pretty’ even if it’s undaring and especially un-green. I’m glad you feel you can at least wear it, even if it won’t replace your Kerleo Vacances. Thanks for giving me your opinion too 🙂

  10. Oh how I adore the scent of fresh, authentic lilacs! My loveliest memory of it was while I was waiting one gorgeous spring evening at a bus stop near Granchester Meadows, and suddenly the fresh breeze carried a whiff of something musky, sensual and dreamy. I looked around for the wonderful flower this celestial breath must be eluding from, and spotted to the left behind me a few blooms of the lush clusters of delicate lilac. I breathed one in, the true essence of a summer dusk, and felt a profound peace. Thank you so much for sharing this post; I MUST smell the lilac perfumes mentioned!

    • Dear Neyon. I’m afraid nothing will ever come close to that memory (thanks for sharing). I know that scent so well, and I think the reason I keep trying all the lilac centrered perfumes I can come across, is because of that magic. Unfortunately the closest I’ve ever come are only in discontinued perfumes, and Vacances certainly is the Queen.

  11. Belatedly catching up with my blog reading – you are hands down the most prolific poster on the scene at the moment, so I am right back in June, hehe. Now this post is of great interest to me, for like Mals – and possibly thanks to direct liaison with Mals, I can’t quite recall – I had a sample of 80s Vacances and then scored a mini on eBay which was in excellent nick, and which I sadly dropped and spilt. I have also tried the new Heritage Vacances and while I do get a deal of galbanum along with the lilac, it lacks the mystique and depth of the original. It has an altogether more breezy, EL Pure White Linen feel to it, while not smelling remotely like that particular perfume. I meant it is modern and sanitised in feel. Such a shame.

    • Wow, Vanessa I know how busy you were, I certainly didn’t expect for you to catch up with everything, but I ma glad you did 🙂
      Sorry about your mini, since it was such a lucky find to get one that wasn’t spoiled, minis haven’t normally been exposed to light and heat. I suppose because of the breeze/ white linen feel, I simply didn’t sense the galbanum. Yes, IFRA or not, I do find that a lot more could have been done to make this perfume stand out.

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