Etro Magot ~ fragrance review

Imagine seeing a friend in person after almost fifteen years apart — perhaps gray hair and wrinkles will startle you, or you’ll be amazed at how unchanged he is, or how your friend has finally learned to dress (no more neon colors, chicken-sized athletic shoes, or gym pants).

I’ve not “seen” (or smelled) my old flame Etro Magot1 since 1998 — back in the day we were very close, in fact, Magot was once all over me. After an affair that lasted a good two years, Magot went his way, I went mine, and I never thought of revisiting that “relationship” till now.

"Original" Magot’s fragrance notes2 were lime, lemon, tuberose, jasmine, iris, lavender, clove, peach, vanilla, cedar, patchouli and musk. I remember Magot as a dark, intense Oriental perfume — a fragrance that went from a syrupy brew of flowers and spice to a rich, opulent powder-house of peach-saturated patchouli, amber and oak moss.

My old “beau” has changed: today’s version of Magot has become quiet, stopped his weight lifting routine, and given up wearing fanciful, colorful brocades, velvets, and gleaming gold cufflinks set with semiprecious stones. Now, Magot is skinny and wears simple cotton and linen pastel-colored shirts with his tailored khakis; his hair is no longer pitch-black, long, thick, curly and fragrant, it’s close cropped and flecked with gray. For fun, Magot now reads Wallpaper, not Arts of Asia.

“Modern” Magot starts off with tart bergamot mixed with iris and lavender (Jicky-esque). The fragrance begins to sweeten quickly with clove, vanilla and a touch of white flowers (no more assertive tuberose as in olden days). A “peach-like” note arrives late and leaves early (abdicating its once prominent role in the Magot composition). The base notes are wan and powdery: there’s amber and mildest musk and patchouli. There is a “ghost” of old Magot (and Mitsouko) in the “new” Magot, but apparently, Magot lost money in the recent financial crisis; he no longer smells expensive.

Current Magot is like a stripped-down Eau de Cologne version of its old self; no doubt IFRA can be blamed for some of Magot’s transformation (the vital musk, candied peach and real moss are lost), but maybe Etro felt Magot needed to be lightened for current tastes. I can sense my old paramour’s presence in today’s Magot, but honestly, he’s not as interesting, exotic, or fun as he once was. I should have emailed him instead of embracing him one more (or should I say, one last) time….

Etro Magot Eau de Toilette has good lasting power and mild sillage. Magot has always been marketed as a women’s perfume; the old version was more unisex than today’s formula, and I never felt self-conscious, or “womanly,” when I wore it. Current Magot has no cojones and is more feminine in character. Magot is $145 for 100 ml. (Sad, Magot once smelled worth that price.) For buying information, see the listing for Etro under Perfume Houses.

1.  A magot is a tiny, “grotesque” figurine (often shown seated) from Japan or China.

2. Today’s list of notes includes bergamot, lemon, rose, iris, lavender, cloves, patchouli, vanilla, cedar and musk

Note: top image [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Rappleyea says:

    I usually get along pretty well with the Etro fragrances, so it’s heartbreaking to read that they, too, are cheapening their products. Thanks for the review, Kevin.

    • Robin says:

      Kevin’s article made me wonder how Shaal Nur is faring…I have not smelled it lately.

      • Haunani says:

        Scary thought! I have a backup Shaal Nur, purchased fairly recently. Fingers crossed.

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: I did recently try Sandalo and it’s still good (no doubt using Australian sandalwood these days, but still.)

  2. ladymurasaki says:

    Ahh.. The original composition sounds so nice. Damn the financial crisis!

    • Kevin says:

      LadyM: well, at the price they are charging, this should smell better…I’m guessing most of the fault lies with troublesome ingredients that can no longer be used.

  3. I have only smelled the current formulation of Magot it stroke me as a very indifferent fragrance. I usually love Etro’s so I might be really missing on a good thing. I also find the new bottles and boxes so …. non-Etro. I loved the paisleys…

    • Kevin says:

      Memory: I liked the old packaging too…the new boxes are so glaring.

  4. FragrantWitch says:

    I love your reviews, Kevin! It sounds like old Magot would have been great fun and pleased to be both indulgent and indulged. The current one sounds like he could be an LL Bean or Lands End model. Ho-hum.
    Etro had better not mess with Shaal Nur! Grrrrr…..

  5. Kevin says:

    Fragrant Witch: Thank you…and I guess it’s time one of us tries Shaal Nur to see what, if anything, has happened to it!

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Off topic but I tried the rerelease of Nu ( the Heritage Series in the cream-coloured cube ) yesterday and was massively disappointed. Granted, I have a cold but what I smelled didn’t even resemble the original. All watery metallic floral. No incense! None. At some point I am going to have to fork over some big moola for some original….

      • Kevin says:

        FW: too bad! I never got around to trying ORIGINAL Nu….

      • Subhuman says:

        Honestly, don’t break your heart searching for the original Nu. I recently swapped away a bottle of it; it’s a lovely scent, but in my opinion not worlds away from what you’d find in a department store or specialty shop searching for a spicy incense/ambery fragrance. I mean, we’re not talking about Donna Karan Black Cashmere, here. Nu was a better-than-average scent for YSL, but nothing that hadn’t been done before. Nice to have on hand, but don’t break the bank hunting it down.

  6. nozknoz says:

    Wow, Kevin, your “old friend” metaphor NAILS reformulation in general (laughing and crying at the same time here).

    • Haunani says:

      Same here. Darling review, Kevin!

      • Kevin says:

        Noz & Haunani: thank you both…I’m getting fearful of buying old favorites…

        • Jillie says:

          I have now lost count of old faves that I have bought in their reincarnations and which have totally disappointed me. It’s strange – some still have a ghostly presence of their previous glory, but some aren’t even the same animal. Most obvious is the fact that they are all – no exception – so much weaker now. And it’s not my nose playing tricks with my memory, as when I have an older version, I test the two side by side. I don’t think it’s just the IFRA restricitions playing a part here, but cost-cutting. My heart is a bit broken ……..

          • Kevin says:

            Jillie: IFRA, cost-cutting, “let’s get MODERN”…a perfect storm to ruin old faves from pre-IFRA days.

        • nozknoz says:

          Let’s just be grateful that actual people have the possibility of deepening in character and style!

          • Kevin says:

            Noz: maybe! HA! I live in a city of zombies…people with a phone glued to their ear even when walking the dog at 5 a.m…faces aglow with electronics.

  7. pigoletto says:

    Shame. Magot was always an oddball but interesting scent for me – it translated exactly into those green incense sticks burned in oriental shops with tinned peach syrup. It wasn’t terribly wearble but very intriguing and a great example of imagination in perfumery.

    • Kevin says:

      Pigolette: yes, it was different and original. Usually when the word “unwearable” is tossed about, it’s about a scent I love to wear. I’m still waiting for an Eau de Kerosine

  8. Nile Goddess says:

    Mmmm read “Margot”originally and wondered at their choice of flacon …:-)

    The original formula made my heart skip a bit – it read like my wonderful Mira Bai by Chopard, now unfortunately discontinued.

    In loving memory of Mira Bai, will try this one if a bottle happens upon me .

    • Kevin says:

      Nile: I can’t hear the word “Margot” without thinking of that British sitcom “Good Neighbors” that used to run CONTINUALLY on a PBS channel up here! “Margot” was such a snob, yet so “white bread.” She’s probably LIKE the “new” Magot.

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