mercoledì 19 agosto 2015

"FRACAS" vs. "Fracas": side-by-side.

I love Fracas. It's one of the strongest, heaviest, most intense female scents, and it brings me back to my childhood.
"Fracas de Robert Piguet" is, since 1948, the epitome of tuberose. 
Actually, Fracas is the benchmark for all tuberose-based scents, yesterday and today.
You could read volumes about this perfume, searching on the net, so I'll not waste many words about it, because a lot of perfume experts have written very interesting reviews examining Fracas. You will find a list of interesting reviews at the end of this article. 
One of the most intriguing aspects about Fracas is its recent story: it was produced by historical "Robert Piguet Parfums" until the end of Seventies. Then, during 1985, a few Piguet scents (Fracas, Bandit...) were reformulated, produced and distributed under "Alfin Fragrances Inc.", a well-known american luxury firm, under its Swiss division "Orinter".
Two different bottles were produced by "Alfin/Orinter" : a transparent bottle (1985-1990) and an opaque black one (1990-1995).

"Alfin/Orinter" stopped Fracas production in 1995, and sold Robert Piguet Parfums to "Fashion Fragrances &Cosmetics Ltd". It took a certain amount of time to completely re-orchestrate the scent, and finally to relaunch it, in 1998, with the prestigious label of the "original Fracas formula, certified by Givaudan". Apparently, this new, certified scent underwent at least a couple of reformulations after year 2007, due to IFRA restrictions.
Searching all over the net, you will find a general consensus about the "rogue", "poor quality", "watered down", "deprecable" version produced by "Alfin/Orinter" (1985-1995), opposed to the new, back-to-original, magnificent, and "certified by Givaudan" version produced since 1998 (and -even more- to the legendary 1950s-1960s historical version).
Is it true? Did 1980s Fracas perform really so bad, compared to the new one? It's almost impossible to say, since "Alfin/Orinter" bottles from the 1980s are very, very rare, and almost impossible to find, so it's very difficult to perform a side-by-side comparison. 
Until now....
Well, I was incredibly lucky, because our beloved Gianni from Milan remembered to have an old Fracas tester, in the transparent bottle (the first one, produced during 1985-1990), stored in one of his basements. He generously borrowed it to me, to perform a side-by side comparison with a modern version produced by "Fashion Fragrances&Cosmetics Ltd" (actually, this "new" bottle is a year 2009 one).
In my opinion, this is the first time that someone put two different Fracas bottles side-by-side for testing. Let's go and see the results!


OLD BOX AND BOTTLE, first serie (1985-1990) (TESTED)
FRACAS first serie, Eau de Toilette, in a transparent bottle (years 1985-1990),
 produced and distributed by Alfin Fragrances Inc./Orinter

(note the word "FRACAS" in capital letters) (from E bay)

OLD BOX AND BOTTLE, second serie (1990-1995) (NOT TESTED)
(from E bay) Fracas, second serie, black bottle (years 1990-1995),
always produced by "Alfin Fragrances Inc" in a different box
and bottle (note the word Fracas in lowercase letters,
 and the production for "Orinter, Geneva, Switzerland" )

This is the modern "Fracas" Eau de Parfum black bottle, since 1998, produced by
"Fashion Fragrances&Cosmetics Ltd" and "certified by Givaudan".


old "Alfin Fragrances Inc."/"Orinter" Eau de Toilette bottle (1985-1990) on left.
modern "Fashion Fragrances&Cosmetics Ltd" Eau de Parfum bottle (year 2009) on right

Bottom of the bottles

Bottom of modern bottle (year 2009) used during the test 

Modern Fracas Eau de Parfum 
(since 1998, bottle in picture actually dated year 2009)

Older Fracas (1985-1990) Eau de Toilette

The Olfactive Pyramid
 The Pyramid, according Robert Piguet Parfums.


As usual, if you want to perform a serious test (single test or side-by-side), you should use at least three different surfaces, in order to have different conditions to compare. 1) Test on paper; 2) Test on skin; 3) Test on fabric.

Side-by-side with paper strips

Test on skin (I personally prefer the back of the hand)
side-by-side, both hands.
Test on fabric (side-by-side, two piece of same fabric)
Heavy fabric traps a lot of scent and performs very well.


Unusually, I compared an "Eau de Toilette" (old transparent bottle) with an "Eau de Parfum" (new black bottle) and the first big surprise is that there are not so many differences in longevity and sillage. Both performs almost identically. But let's say it honestly: if you know Fracas, you should know it's a real Top Performer, in both longevity and sillage. On paper strips and on fabric, both old and new versions "stand" for more than a week (!!!). 
Really, Fracas, old or newis an intoxicating scent. If you love heavy, persistent floral scents, search no more. You have find it. Only old Balenciagas can perform in similar way. If you spray Fracas on any surface, stay sure it will remain for days. If you spray Fracas on your skin, a shower will not enough to remove it. The marvellous tuberose blast will remain stick on you, like an aromatic glue.
But what about the two versions? 
Let's check the tuberose first: actually, when you consider Fracas, you want the tuberose at its highest level. 
And I am pleased to say that no one will be disappointed. In both versions, old and new, tuberose performs exceptionally good and with the same strenght (no difference between EdT and EdP). In both cases, you smell unmistakably Fracas. You will recognize it immediately. Tuberose is a real smash in your face (or, in your nose). 
But is there any difference between old and new? Definitely yes! There are differences, but are subtle ones. Subtle differences between old and new are in the supporting notes (Jasmine, Violet, Bergamot, Musk....)
In the old transparent bottle produced by "Alfin/Orinter" the tuberose is literally surrounded by a "buttery" aura. Actually, you are smelling a tuberose submerged in a deep sea of butter. It's really pleasant, indeed, especially if you love "buttery" perfumes.
In the new formulation, on the contrary, the "buttery" notes, although present, quietly stand aside. 
The other difference (maybe derivating from the buttery note) is the sharpness.
The old bottle has softer notes -tuberose apart- and Violet, Bergamot and Jasmin appear almost smudged, "blurred", "overlapped", almost non recognizable each other.
The new formulation has different sharp notes, accurately separated each other; intense, clean, well defined. 
I'd say: notes sharp like razors.
If pictures say a thousand words, here are the examples:

old FRACAS, the transparent bottle from the Eighties: 
all notes in the background don't appear sharp, but almost "blurred"

old FRACAS, the transparent bottle from the Eighties: 
all notes in the background don't appear sharp, but almost blurred

And here is the new version: all notes are really sharp, not confused, not blurred.

New Fracas, in the modern black bottle:
 all notes in the background appear sharp, clean and refined
New Fracas, the modern black bottle: all notes in the background 
appear sharp, clean and refined

As a conclusion, I'd say both version are really, really good. When you talk about Fracas, you want essentially a tuberose at highest level.
And both version perform in an excellent way. 
Tuberose is magnificent both in old and new version.
In a nutshell, there are two mayor differences between old and new Fracas. A) the creamy aspect, much more relevant in the old version; B) the sharpness of single notes, more relevant in the new version.
It is possible that the high "creaminess" in the old version blurs all other notes; if it's true, the lower creaminess in the new version allow to appreciate better the jasmine, the violet, the bergamot still present in the scent.
What's the best of two? In this case, there is no better and no worse. 
I feel very comfortable with both and don't have a particular preference.
If you prefer "a buttery tuberose", try to find an old bottle.
If you prefer "a sharp tuberose", with all notes perfectly recognizable, go for the new. 
In any formulation, Fracas is still a benchmark in perfumery.





the old "Alfin/Orinter" black bottles (produced in 1990-1995) are very similar to the modern ones, BUT have the volume percentage on the front of the box, bottom right.
(in this case "90% Vol.")

On the contrary, new, modern boxes (since 1998) 
have NO indication about percentage on the front of the box.


All modern bottles (since 1998) have a sticker on the bottom reporting:
"Fashion Fragrances&Cosmetics Ltd", and:
1998-2004: "New York" address only.
2004-2009: "NY" plus "Amstelveen, Netherlands."
2010- to date: "NY" plus "Thorigny sur Marne, France"

First type sticker: "New York" address only, 1998-2004

Second-type sticker, adding address: "Amstelveen, Netherlands"
= years 2004-2009

Third type sticker: 
Address: "Thorigny sur Marne, France
(since years 2009- 2010)



ALL modern boxes (since 1998) have a 
"certification by Givaudan" signed by President.
1998-1999: Geoffrey W. Webster
2000-2003: Errol G.W. Stafford
2004-2014: Michael Carlos

The FIRST box =  years 1998-1999
Signed by Geoffrey R. Webster

The SECOND box =  years 2000-2003
Signed by E.G.W. Stafford

The THIRD box =  years 2004-2014
signed by  Michael Carlos

(from Ebay) another bottle signed 
by "Michael Carlos" (= after 2004)


Remember: until 2004-2005 only the short list of ingredients was reported on the box ("Alcohol, Perfume, Water, colorants....")
After 2005, the long list of ingredients/allergens became mandatory.

note the SHORT list of ingredients, used before 2005

note the LONG list of ingredients/allergens, 
adopted after 2004-2005


Interested in Fracas?
read here..... 

Robert Piguet perfumes blog 
Yesterday's Perfumes
Into the Gloss
New York Times (by Chandler Burr)
Kafkaesque Blog 
The Candy Perfume Boy
Olfactoria's Travels
The Non Blonde
Sweet Diva


Usually, when I perform a test, I try to contact the perfume house to get first-hand, genuine, authentic infos.
In most cases, I get no answer at all. In a few cases, I receive some elusive, vague answers. Very rarely I obtain really useful infos.
Well, I'm glad to say -in this case- I contacted "Robert Piguet Parfums", and I found an immensely kind person, very friendly, open-hearted and enthusiast, who gave me all infos I needed.
Thank you very much.

1 commento:

  1. Muchas Gracias Andre! como siempre, magnifico aporte!
    Saludos desde Argentina!


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