Reformulation is much more difficult than it seems, to the point of becoming an integral part of the perfumer’s job. We are often asked to alter a fragrance slightly, make a fragrance more floral, more diffusive, creamier. In the case of reformulation, we have to do the same thing. We have to change the fragrance without really changing it, without losing its character, because some consumers have been buying a perfume for such a long that they know it by heart. So the challenge is to figure out how to change without changing.
— Read more in Olfactory reformulation a delicate exercise at Premium Beauty News.
I would like to believe this, but we’ve all experienced terrible reformulations that seem to jettison the basic idea of a fragrance only to piggyback on its established brand recognition, or add/remove notes and chords to make it fit more closely with popular tastes. The list is too long to even begin.
There are some good reformulations: the modern Habanita is pretty terrific. But on the whole, a reconstruction is a step downwards. My mother fell in love with Dior Addict when it was new, and was so disappointed a few years later when her replacement bottle was an obviously different scent with no lasting power.
I think sometimes it is cheapness or poor workmanship, but other times I do think it is almost impossible to recreate a scent at a price people can afford, when materials become impossible to use for whatever reason.
And adding…other times, I do think it is a purposeful way to make an old scent appealing to new, young consumers…
Oh, I’m certain that’s the number-one reason. Sales of a pillar like Samsara or Coco begin to flag, despite all the flankers, because they’re perceived as old-fashioned, so the beancounters so all the math and the scent is reformulated to be more like the top-selling names. Longtime buyers don’t understand why the newest bottle of the scent they’ve loved for decades has changed, but the company already has their money (while losing their lifelong devotion), so as long as the sales figures are where they should be, nothing else matters.
Not every fragrance is that easy to reformulate and certainly brands do think on the money, but more about how much that fragrance still profit to see if you will spend more than what you will get in return.
Dior is certainly a special case because they are always reformulating all of their fragrances and it is so confusing. But with LVMH fragrances they had to reformulate all the fragrances from their brands because LVMH stopped to purchase the fragrance from the companies that developed the formula and started to do their own – and thus they lost access to the captives, the materials all fragrance houses uses to create special effects and make it harder to reproduce the fragrance they have created.
Dior Addict certainly did sell well but it was never one of their best sellers, so Dior certainly didn’t care to mess with it (but seriously, which fragrance of their line haven’t they messed yet? besides sauvage and joy, of course)
Lilybell derived from orange peel? Thats pretty cool.
It’s always great when perfumers and fragrance companies admit that they reformulate. Once, they would swear blind it never happens and probably many fragrance SAs still do. Of course they never list cost-cutting as a reason, it’s always about IFRA and the availability of raw materials. But in the internet age it’s pointless for the fragrance industry to be as secretive as it used to be.
There are so many fragrances on the market these days that consumers are discouraged from thinking in terms of ‘signature fragrance’ for life anyway. It’s not in the industry’s best interests to promote that idea any more. But it’s tricky for the houses that want to leverage off their heritage. Where would Chanel be without No 5 or Guerlain be without Shalimar?
Yves Saint Laurent gave Opium a very careful reformulation and was quite open about the fact that they had to reformulate. Dior just shoved Miss Dior out the back door and into the garage with sad pathetic label ‘originale’. The best bedroom has been given to a brash young thing in pink.
But they have messed even with the young thing in pink, since miss dior cherie has gone through a lot of changes as well and it’s very different from what it was in the past. Dior is a case to not be followed
Absolutely. Dior hands its customers more reason for cynicism than any other house.