It might seem like heresy to throw in a review of Ralph Lauren's big '80s style perfume Lauren among reviews of classics like Diorella and Vent Vert. But if this blog is about vintage perfume, as much as it pains me to date myself, Lauren is more than 30 years old, and in my eyes — it's vintage.
Lauren can be called a vintage perfume for an even more compelling reason than its technical age: because of the memories and associations that have undoubtedly accumulated in many a woman's mind around this scent. Honestly, who the heck wears Lauren anymore, except maybe a bunch of Texans who grew up unable to smell anything but this (or Giorgio — ugh!) in the halls of their high schools?
I never owned Lauren, but my associations with it are powerful, as is my memory of it. So powerful, that just a few months ago, thinking about it, I looked it up and as soon as I saw the ruby-colored, square bottle with the gold cap, my mind reconstructed a memory of the scent. Rose, spice, woods; a strangely masculine floral. And then there was the ad. The model had long dark brown hair, blue eyes that stared impassively at the viewer, and I could swear she was next to a horse. (The Ralph Lauren brand seemed to strongly need to associate itself with the horsey set, so in that world men are rugged and gorgeous, and the women are, too, in that "I just got through riding my horse through the woods" kind of way.)
Fans of the scent are convinced that there's been a reformulation that, according to one person on Basenotes, has caused the perfume to lose its soul. I picked up a fourteen dollar bottle (sans box) on a sad and disheveled shelf (is there any other kind there?) at TJ Maxx in Los Angeles. Wearing it now, I do sense that the florals have been amped up and the spices toned down. What I loved about the original version was the spicy marigold, oakmoss and and woody notes balanced out the floral nature of the perfume. This woodsy floral character created a sense that its wearer was feminine, elegant and refined but dynamic and earthy. (Update: I got a vintage mini and I would say the primary difference is that the ingredients in the original have more depth, seem of higher quality and the notes are better balanced than in the reformulation.)
Top notes: Pineapple, spearmint, marigold (tagetes), rosewood
Heart notes: Cyclamen, rose, jasmine, lily of the valley
Basenotes: Musk, cedarwood, oakmoss, sandalwood