mercoledì 16 settembre 2015

YVES SAINT LAURENT "La Collection": a side-by-side comparison.

Since the launch, happened in 2011,  the "Yves Saint Laurent La Collection" (eight historic male and female perfumes) arose an huge amount of debate among perfume lovers.  The bigger complaint were about the "reformulation" of all eight scents made by L'Oreal (owner of YSL brand); then there was a minor complaint about the new "double cube" bottle (an identical one, for all eight scents), and -at last- the biggest cry: the stop of production of previous versions. 
Aesthetical considerations apart, what about these "new" scents? 
Was "reformulation" so drastic? 
Are these "new" perfumes so "awful" (as reported by many during past years), or "acceptable", or even "good ones"?
I was able to obtain all perfumes both in vintage and modern versions, and perfectly stored (especially the vintage ones). 
So, finally I could perform a side-by-side test with the four "new" male scents produced under "La Collection" line: Rive Gauche - JAZZ - YSL pour Homme - M7 Oud Absolu, and I compared with different "vintage" versions, under strict conditions.
How did they perform?
Let's go and discover it!

(Foreword: in this review I tried to compare accurately 4 different scents, using a great number of old and modern bottles. I tried firmly to be impartial, and without bias. I have no interest in describing ingredients and top and base notes, since you can read tons of reviews all over the Net. 
I'm more interested in describing "differences and similarities").
For understanding of various YSL eras and batch codes, see HERE)   

"La Collection" line: the front side of the four male scents

"La Collection" line: the back side.
from left: Rive Gauche - JAZZ - YSL pour Homme - M7 OudAbsolu

"La Collection" line: the bottom of each scent. 
It's clearly visible the batch code 62Hxxx. Letter "H" means "year 2011"


For convenience only, here you can read and see pictures  of "M7" and "M7 Oud Absolu". An identical procedure was followed for other three scents.

All comparisons were made separately, to not to mix various scents and smellings. 
All comparisons were made inside a clean, no-windows, odorless room.
All comparisons were made at the same temperature: 20°C / 70 F.

As First step, the "paper strip test" was performed. Each scent was closely sprayed over the paper, and two strips were compared at different times. 

Step 1: Paper strip Test

The Second step was the "skin test". It consists in closely spraying scents separately on my own skin (I prefer back of my hands), and smelling over the hours.
Step 2: Skin Test

Third and final step was the "clothes" test. Both scents were closely sprayed on two pieces of heavy fabric, and evolution was observed. Heavy fabric "traps" an enormous quantity of molecules (much more than paper) and it is really effective if you want to observe even minimal differences.

Step 3 : Heavy fabric test



First perfumes considered was JAZZ, the famous one from the Eighties. YSL's Jazz was a perfume to write volumes about, but this is out of our intentions here. 
What about Jazz side-by-side comparison "yesterday and today"? Well, answer is not so simple. If you compare the new "La Collection" version with the most recent one (the bottle with clear, transparent glass, especially the ones produced after year 2000), you will hardly find any difference. Actually, both versions smell exactly the same. 
But if you compare the new "La Collection" version with most ancient bottles, i.e. the magnificent postmodern "Memphis-style" plastic ones, well, you will definitely notice a few differences. Old juice is "darker", heavier, thicker, more intense, deeper. The new one (i.e. "La Collection"), on the contrary, is almost "gentle", refined, lighter, "brighter". The only exceptions are clear bottles produced before or immediately after year 2000, still apparently retaining "vintage" juice.
Please don't misunderstand my words: this is still JAZZ in every version tested, and you will immediately recognize it. So, if you liked vintage JAZZ, you will appreciate the new one, too. 
But there are definitely differences between two scents.
What's the best? Personally I'm fond of old, classic black&white JAZZ from the Eighties, and I prefer the vintage "thicker&denser" version. But other people could prefer the new "brighter" version. 
In a nutshell, it's hard to give an opinion about the new JAZZ "La Collection" scent: it's different from vintage, but it's not that bad. 
I can't honestly say it is a bad reformulation since it's identical to previous one produced in the 2000s.
So, I have no particular advice about JAZZ: my suggestion is not to waste time and money for a transparent glass bottle, since the new "La Collection" perfume smell the same. 
But if you find old "postmodern" plastic bottles (produced during 1988-1998, a true collector item), buy it (splash or/and spray, they are different), at least for collection purpose. 
And juice is even better, in my opinion.
(please note: "Jazz" has nothing in common with "LiveJazz", launched in 1998: they are different perfumes)

Comparing the new "La Collection" version with the clear bottle in picture (1998-2010)
especially the ones produced after year 2000, you will hardly find a difference.

Comparing the new "La Collection" with the old scent contained in the "Memphis-style", postmodern   bottles (1988-1998, here in the Spray version), you will notice the differences. Older juice is more intense, thicker, deeper.. 
Newer juice is brighter. 

Comparing boxes.
On left: vintage "postmodern" plastic version (1988-1998)
on right : "transparent" one (1998-2010)


"YSL pour Homme" was the second scent to be tested. Also known as "the missing link between Eau Sauvage and Monsieur de Givenchy" (this is probably the best definition), it was launched in 1971, nearly 45 years ago (as for 2015) and it was necessarily reformulated at least a few times. And this is exactly what I found during the test: smelling different samples, I immediately noticed different reformulations.
I tested three bottles: a "Parfums Corp." labelled bottle (year 1988), a "PPR-Gucci" one (year 2005), and the new "La Collection" version (year 2011).
The new "La Collection" (year 2011) is similar, but not identical, to the YSLpH (year 2005) by PPR-Gucci
But it's completely different from the Parfum Corp. version (year 1988).
The old Parfum Corp. version was incredibly rich, creamy, pleasant, intense, almost "dirty", with a legendary warm and cozy drydown.  
The PPR Gucci bottle from 2005 appears to be "sanitized" with much of  the "creaminess" removed.
Finally, the "La Collection" version (year 2011) appeared to be slightly watered down, even compared with the year 2005 bottle.
In all three version the only things in common are the topnotes. Citrusy topnotes are very similar each other. 
But from this point onwards, things messed up. 
The oldest version develops in a marvelous symphony, while the other two ones steer towards an unusual, strange "plastic" drydown.
That's the strange story: if we consider only the two most recent previous ("PPR-Gucci" and  "La Collection"), these appear similar and we could say it was a decent reformulation. 
So, perfume reviewers were accurate and trustful when saying there was not so much difference ...because these two bottles smell "almost" the same from top to base.
But when we compared it to the older one (Parfum Corp. year 1988), the show changes dramatically: vintage YSLpH is, really, out of this world. It's impossible to compare to modern ones.
Anyway, I don't dare to say the new scent is a bad one. All of all, it is very similar to its previous edition. 
But if I have to buy YSLpH, I'd prefer to find an old bottle. Honestly, I wouldn't pay big $$$ for a YSLpH bottle produced after 1990.  

YSL pour Homme, batch 8255 = year 1988
(Parfums Corp. Era)

YSL pour Homme, Batch 5GAA = year 2005
(PPR-Gucci era)

Just as curiosity: an empirical "colorimetric" test of YSLpH versions.
Inside test tubes you can see (from left):
year 1988 -year 2005- year 2011

The third test was "Rive Gauche pour Homme". Launched in 2003, it was the smart, the last, and the (finally) successful move by Tom Ford after the commercial disaster of both NU (2001) and M7 (2002). Not very original as a scent, since the "star anise" theme was already exploited earlier, but it was a very well blended and pleasantly crafted scent...and one of the most original bottles ever produced, a tin can, much appreciated by perfume lovers, who elected it as a collector item. It was produced since 2003 until 2010 without -apparently- any reformulation. 
I tested Rive Gauche thoroughly and carefully in two version only: the "tin can" and the new "La Collection" cubic bottle. 
Are there identical? Well, surprisingly, the answer is no. They are very similar, but no identical.
The "La Collection" version is slightly (I told slightly) sweeter, but you can appreciate the difference only on side-by-side comparison. If you have nothing to compare with, you could hardly tell a difference. That's all. 
Both version have a monster sillage and longevity, and there is no trace of watering-down. Both are strong, deep, and intense.
I am really pleased with new "La Collection" Rive Gauche and wholeheartedly recommend it as a scent. 
Are the old tin can bottles worth buying? Yes, but only for collection purpose. Perfume smell nearly the same. 

The tin can bottle (2003-2010)


The fourth and last scent tested was M7 Oud Absolu. I'll not spend many words about M7, the scent that launched the Oud-mania in western world (although not the first western Oud-y scent, since the first mainstream one was the legendary "Balenciaga pour Homme", in 1990). M7 and its "brother" M7 Fresh were two of the most incredible scents ever produced, a complete commercial failure during years, followed by a cult status during (and after) phasing out. Since the original M7 received so many appraisals, the new version rapidly became a favourite target for detractors, slanderers and backbiters.
Well, I tested two versions, a year 2002 bottle (one of the first ones produced) and the new M7 Oud Absolu
The first thing to say is: you're right, the two perfumes are not identical , they smell different. 
M7 and M7 Oud Absolu actually are not the same scent. But this should be obvious, since even their names are different ("M7" and "M7 Oud Absolu", respectively). 
The main difference is in drydown. While topnotes are nearly identical, the drydown is quite different. And as you can read, classic M7 sport "Amber", while new M7 Oud Absolu sport "Myrrh". 
Yes, there is definitely a difference: M7 Oud Absolu could be considered a M7 "flanker". 
However, there's no reason therefore to slander the "La Collection" new scent, since it stand -from very beginning- as a different perfume.  
The most interesting thing is that M7 Oud Absolu is a really pleasant scent: in my opinion it is on the same quality level of classic M7If you like M7, you will hardly dislike M7 Oud Absolu : Myrrh instead of Amber.
Anyway, I personally prefer old, classic M7 because of its very pleasant -and a bit dated- ambery drydown. 
The old, classic M7

Why are these comparative reviews so complicate? Because it's really easy making mistakes. 
Smell the same perfume inside and outside your house, and it could appear different.
Smell the same perfume at different temperatures, and it will not be the same.
Smell the same perfume in different environments, and you will be concerned.
Unfortunately, if you want to seriously evaluate a scent, you should have a "scientific" attitude. Perfumes should be tested under controlled conditions.
Since at least 4 years passed since the launch of the new "La Collection" line,  and all heated discussions are now calmed down, it's time to get conclusions.
Frankly, all scents tested are not badI found one of them (Rive Gauche) very, very good, worth of buying.
Other two (JAZZ and YSL pour Homme) are adequate, similar to previous versions (but not to older vintage, which I prefer instead).
The last (M7 Oud Absolu) is, practically, a new scent.
In a few words, YSL / L'Oreal did a decent job. Older vintages are probably lost forever,  but when compared to some really horrendous reformulations of great classics, the effort has to be considered positive.

similar "comparison" articles:
FRACAS by Robert Piguet: side-by-side comparison
Fahrenheit: 10 batch comparison
Dior Homme: Yesterday and Today
Dior Homme Intense: 2007-2014
- Terre d'Hermes: 9 different bottles.
- L'Instant de Guerlain Extreme: yesterday and today

1 commento:

  1. Have these been reformulated again??? I just purchased a bottle of M7 Oud Absolu and it does not have the black on the bottle... It's all clear glass and still has the same notes and date on the side of the bottle... Still has the same style of cap and shap as the covered in black plastic bottles... I've never had my nose on the other bottle of Oud Absolu to compare the juice but I really enjoy this one... It will be my every day M7 so I don't use my vintage 2003 juice unless it's a special occasion... ^_^ Just wondering if you had heard anything about a change... Wonderful article BTW...


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