Resurrecting the Past

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Can this old gem be brought back to life?

Back in December I was conversing via email with a fellow Basenoter who is very fond of vintage fragrances. It turns out that he possesses a rare bottle of Jean Desprez’s 40 Love and this generous Basenoter even mailed me a decant!

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40 Love, released in the 1940’s, has been discontinued for quite some time. I cannot begin to imagine why; it is a wonderful, soft masculine chypre, somewhat like Dunhill for Men (1934). Both are of the same category but Dunhill steers in a complex direction of soft leather, iris and woods; its lemony opening seems to set a serious tone upon the first spritz. 40 Love is simpler, brighter, it’s fun and carefree.

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My very generous decant of 40 Love

With Dunhill I can picture a reserved, business-minded gentleman in a neatly tailored, worsted wool waistcoat and silk tie…maybe even spats over his patent leather shoes. The wearer of 40 Love, rather, would indeed be a gentleman but dressed in roomy heathered pleat trousers, polo shirt and spectator shoes.

My decant still holds some bright topnotes. I detect orange oil, bergamot and some petitgrain before a neroli-jasmine accord steps forward. At the drydown is some sort of amber base, smooth vetiver, cool moss and a deer-like musk with little civet facets…upon further review, what I detect as civet facets may actually be cresyl notes which were popular back in the day for building white florals like narcissus. Smelled on their own cresyls can come off as something between a freshly run horse and mothballs.

So here’s the idea: I want to resurrect 40 Love to preserve its memory and its availability for other frag-heads to enjoy. I’m sending out a tiny bit of this frag for GC/MS analysis. It can be a bit pricey; anywhere from $200 up, depending on how detailed one wants their results. I will then work on deciphering the results and begin the process of reverse engineering the formula. All in all this project can take up to a year, but I’ll give periodic updates.

I want to be tasteful and very up front about this project and its intention of offering a glimpse of a long discontinued fragrance. I’m not in the business of selling knockoffs as my own. When this becomes available I will clearly label it as an “Impression of the classic 40 Love”.

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