Psychoanalysis versus psychotherapy.

This has been a subject I’ve been interested in since I was a teenager, but over the last few years I’ve done quite a bit of research, including watching many lectures by psychologists, therapists, researchers, etc. By now you are probably asking what this has to do with scents, and I’ll begin to answer that with one of my recent posts at Basenotes.net:

QUOTE: When Jim Gehr sent me his perfumes, he also sent me a slew of samples from his extensive catalog of raw materials and synthetics… There were also a handful of synthetics, including alpha isomethyl ionone, bois ambrene, synthetic agar, cis-3 hexenol, coumarin, “Timbersilk,” a type of Iso E Super, and a few other marvelous things. My education in understanding these materials has been, put simply, a lot of fun. UNQUOTE.

That’s from the FromPyrgos blog (7/13/14). And then we have: QUOTE: …only 30% of masculines pre-dating 1997 incorporated natural sandalwood oil as a principal fixative, as per Nigel Groom’s “New Perfume Handbook.” UNQUOTE.

Comment by one Bryan Ross on my blog on 2/19/14. Does that sound a bit like: QUOTE: According to the 1997 edition of Nigel Groom’s New Perfume Handbook, real sandalwood oil was only used in 30% of the world’s masculines… UNQUOTE.

Posted by you on the Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur post here at BN yesterday.

And a google search reveals that Mr. Ross has mentioned octyn esters at least three times on his blog since last year.

When I first suggested that you might be the divine Mr. R., you said, “I don’t know who this blogger is, Bigsly.” That was from the BN post entitled, “Anyone ever experience a fragrance going bad?”

Go ahead, keep pretending – that only damages your overall credibility, even though your arguments about vintage scents make no sense on any level (others can decide for themselves). I wonder what the mods will do. I’ll go on record and say that you should get a second chance here, but then again I don’t know why you were banned in the first place, to be fair.

Of course you will require some reference point here (and I’ll mention that I took screen shots of the relevant statements). The thread was entitled, “What makes Green Valley green?” and a new member (joined in June of 2014) named “HankHarvey” stated (about Green Valley):

Definitely mint, vetiver, probably a bit of cis-3 hexanol, a leaf alochol, very dry green smelling, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some of GIT’s octyn esters in there also, lending it that violetty aspect.

When I was doing research about “psychopathy” (and I am by no means calling Mr. Ross a psychopath), which included works from the 1950s as well as some other possible historical examples, such as Becky Sharp from “Vanity Fair,” I was thinking that I’ve met quite a few people who just seem to like to “cause trouble,” as many used to say when I was a child (not about me, for the most part). The reason I bring this up is because it is one thing to get banned from a web site and then to try and get back on in an unethical way so you can do things like ask questions and obtain information. It is yet another to also “cause trouble” when you must know there is clearly a percentage of the membership that does not agree with you on a subject, in this case “spoilage.” Yes, American society has a “dog eat dog” quality to it, but do you really want to bring that into your hobbies? And if you can’t ever “agree to disagree” with anyone, would you prefer to live in a dictatorship? If so, suppose someone you disagree with on just about every issue becomes the dictator at some point?

I don’t know why people do things such as what appears to be the case here, but it may be that nobody will ever know, including the person doing it (in this post I’m assuming my notion is true, and so readers should regard it as entirely hypothetical). That’s what psychoanalysts attempt to do. They want to get to the root cause of “neurotic” behavior, as Freudians used to say (not sure if they still use the same language), and at some point it may be concluded that improper “potty training” was the key, for instance. I am with those who dismiss this kind of idea, and think of it as a kind of “Munchausen by Proxy” situation. By contrast, psychotherapy is an attempt to help people become more “functional,” and there are various techniques that can be utilized towards this end (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). An interesting example is the “hoarder,” who usually doesn’t see a problem at all, but often eventually comes to the attention of authorities, who may make demands upon the hoarder that can result in just about anything. To be sure, I have no idea how functional he is, and perhaps this is the only area of his life that seems rather “off kilter”

What I wonder in this instance is if this person enjoys the thought of “pulling the wool” over the eyes of the moderators at Basenotes as well as others who know about the banning. This is the same person who said he was done with Basenotes not that long ago, so it’s possible there are some internal conflicts as well. Then there are the shifting and contradictory claims against vintage scents and “spoilage.” And the interviews where people with conflicts of interest are thrown “softball” questions. I don’t like most recent designer scents, for example, and I don’t think about them often, but I give credit where I think it is due. I know a whole lot of guys seem to think Midnight in Paris is great, for instance. but I see no need to continually write about the large number of ways that I think it is an incredibly inferior concoction, even relative to other recent ones, and that includes ones that sell for a lot less, such as Yacht Man Chocolate. Mr. Ross, by contrast, seems to think he needs to go on an “all-out offensive” against people who mostly enjoy vintage scents, sometimes confusing the issue, such as by talking about the intention of the perfumer. Even in this case, he doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge the obvious point that some reformulations bear little resemblance to the original or are very poorly rendered – why does he not criticize these companies for paying no regard to the perfumer’s intention in those cases?

I am curious about why this person thought he would be able to make several very specific arguments on Basenotes that he made on his blog (or comments on mine) and expect nobody to notice that it must be the FromPyrgos author. It’s true that narcissists tend to underestimate others, for example. Does he not mind getting banned again but wants to irritate as many people as possible before that occurs? Does he think that people will believe that there really is a “HankHarvey” who is not Mr. Ross and that this person just happens to know quite a bit about octyn esters, cis-3 hexanol, as well as the same statement from an obscure books about perfumes? It’s one thing to become enthusiastic about a hobby like this and to want to share your views with others, but making the decision to lie suggests something is very wrong. Moreover, there seems to be an issue with personal boundaries or self-awareness, because if you decide to end your relationship with a site like Basenotes (while you still use Fragrantica) but then can’t adhere to it for just several months, shouldn’t you ask yourself if there is something “deeper” involved?

The last point I’ll make here (one which references the photo I used for this post) is that there is a difference between making a strong argument and trying to “win” in a “right fight,” which is how I classify Mr. Ross’ statements in this context (other than lies, of course), a good example being how he argued that the sense of smell is “objective,” despite the scientific evidence to the contrary and apparently no evidence to support it. Right fighters will do things like ignore points you make that they don’t have an answer for or will “move the goalposts.” One example of the latter is when people claim that most vintage bottles are “spoiled, but then when you use common sense and point out that there are just too many reviews and comments about vintage that do not mention this for it to be any kind of major issue, the “move” occurs and they might talk about the intention of the perfumer. With Mr. Ross’ post about Joint Pour Homme, he goes even further, claiming things about a scent of that era and type that nobody else seems to have ever experienced. This leads me to believe that it is just another lie, though perhaps self-deception more than outright deception. Whatever the case may be, I find his behavior quite fascinating, though I don’t think I’d like to be a psychotherapist who meets with him for an hour once a week !

NOTE: For those who don’t know, there was a post at FromPyrgos entitled something like, “Chandler Burr should just shut the hell up.” I don’t remember anything in it that was outrageous, though I may not have agreed with all of it, but for some reason Mr. Ross doesn’t seem to want his readers to know anything about its existence. He has never, TMK, explained why it was deleted, which I think a blogger owes to his or her readers. If a mistake was made, why not just apologize and “move on,” just as if he feels the need to be active on Basenotes, why not just tell us that he changed his mind about that site? Is there vindictiveness towards the owner of Basenotes? If not, what is the problem? People I have known in the past who do things like this have had major issues with mood swings, so I hope if that is the case here, Mr. Ross seeks professional help – you don’t have to tell anyone you are seeing a therapist, just please be fair to your readers, Mr. Ross. Isn’t it really “below the belt” to tell people that Basenotes is really bad and then become a member – what sort of person does these kinds of things?

Let me make clear. though, that I think his blog has provided his readers with plenty of interesting insights and valuable information, and I hope he continues with it. What simply isn’t acceptable is to do something like make a claim about an experience that is entirely unique (and contradicts what just about everyone else who has written on the subject has said – even the “expert” he interviewed, Mr. Dame, “walked back” his “dreck” statement), but then to dismiss what someone like myself has said on this subject. I’ve been studying vintage scents since 2008, and have or have had several bottles of the same vintage scent (Kouros, Red for Men, Lagerfeld Cologne, Boss Cologne, Quorum, Alain Delon, Iquitos, Giorgio for Men, Giorgio VIP, Lapidus Pour Homme, By Man, Il Lancetti, 1-12, KL Homme, Tuscany Uomo, Aramis, CPuH, Zino, Obsession, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Ho Hang Club, Heritage, etc., and that’s just the “masculines”). If you want to do that, then you had better present some strong evidence, such as GC/MS studies of the scent in question. The only one he mentioned contradicts his notion, and at The Raiders of the Lost Scent blog, some vintage scents were studied in this way and seem to have held up very well. Does he not think that his judgement could ever get clouded by a deep desire to perceive things a certain way?

UPDATE: For those interested in a documentary that does a good job of illustrating some common “dysfunctional” behaviors, I suggest “I, Psychopath,” which is currently on youtube:

However, one problem I encountered was that few experts tell people how to deal with dysfunctional individuals. For a quick but very good word on this, there is this video:

What I’ve found is that I often have to watch a documentary twice or read a book a few times before I feel that I really understand the subject matter. One thing you don’t want to do is to get discouraged, because even experts can be clearly wrong, for example, read about Dorothy Otnow Lewis’s notions on Ted Bundy’s Wikipedia page. Recently, there was the Elliot Rodger rampage, and what’s interesting is how he left a detailed “Manifesto” that seems to suggest a very odd but clear delusional aspect to his psyche (that is, “beautiful” young women were supposed to come up to him and ask him to go on dates, among other related things), as well as severe mood swings, yet few if any experts have pointed out that this seems consistent with schizoaffective disorder more than anything else!

Lastly, for those who are wondering, I have not contacted Basenotes’ moderators demanding that “HankHarvey” be banned. I have more of a “two heads are better than one” belief, which is why I like to read forums, even though there are some “trolls.” And I have no issues with those who feel they must have perfect top notes, if there is such a thing, and I have offered to buy “spoiled” bottles of Creeds (sealed spray bottles), though at a discount of course, so that they don’t have to feel they must throw these bottles in the garbage (as more than a couple have said at BN). The main issues are the shifting claims and the apparent pathological need some people seem to possess to claim that vintage aficionados are somehow unable to detect “spoiled” scents. They don’t know this is the case (I’m more than willing to participate in a study to determine if I have difficulty doing things like detecting food items that most people perceive as spoiled, for example), and the evidence we have supports the opposite conclusion, when viewed as a whole. Of course, conflicts of interest may play a role in some cases, depending upon who is making such claims, but it seems that some people aren’t willing to accept that others may have opinions that differ from theirs, and so they put forth nonsense arguments to try and “convert” a very small number of people who might be “on the fence” and willing to take their advice.

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So, now the claim is “spoiled base notes” ?

Over at the FromPyrgos blog, there is yet another strange claim (in a post entitled “Joint Pour Homme (Roccobarocco),” this one being about a scent from 1993 (my review of it is at the end of this post, in the addendum):

It begins with a gorgeous array of accords, but it’s obvious from the very first moment that it’s a clone of Zino by Davidoff…

My enlightenment occurs at the forty-five minute mark, when something interesting occurs: Joint suddenly loses focus and balance. It’s as if someone suddenly deflated its big red balloon. The woods begin to fuzz out, rather severely, and the tobacco slips away. The vanillic castoreum, which smells like the processed food flavoring in high concentration, suddenly defines the amber, and a semisweet blush of nondescript earthiness is washed out by a honey-like white musk. At this point it’s clear that two things have influenced past assessments of Joint. One, the fragrance is shockingly top heavy, to the point where it’s almost as if the top notes are the fragrance in full…

The second issue is that time has effected the balance of the fragrance. Joint has been out of production for twenty years, and my bottle is likely that old, if not older. For anyone to say that this fragrance is a good example of how rich and natural and powerful vintage designer masculines can be negates the prime effect of degradation that has obviously occurred here. Does my bottle of Joint smell very good? Yes. As such, one could argue that it has not “turned” or “gone bad,” but there’s a better definition of those terms – the fragrance is no longer balanced, and no longer smells exactly as it should. In this case, the drydown was effected instead of the top notes, which is certainly atypical of vintage degradation, but is still degradation nonetheless. Also there’s the question of whether this weakened, somewhat off balance drydown and sub-par longevity can be excused by the brilliance of the first few minutes. Although it’s clear that Joint is a lovely composition, it’s also clear that it’s derivative, and doesn’t add much to the genre of burly tobacco-themed scents from its period. Zino is better, in my opinion, and can still be had for much less money. Vermeil is also better, and also much cheaper, and it’s arguably the best of the three.

Based on my experience with Joint, I continue to believe that lovers of vintage perfumes live in a deeply-rooted and psychologically complex state of denial about the true quality and value of vintage fragrances. I can’t help but wonder if their noses are simply not attuned to detecting when notes have gone stale, or when whole accords have flattened and weakened and ruined structural balance and longevity. These changes are often subtle and can perhaps be intentionally overlooked in favor of enjoying whatever remains, but as with other vintages, such deterioration is clearly present in this fragrance. It’s still wearable, and still performs fairly well considering its age, but it definitely doesn’t smell the way it did fifteen years ago.

First, and most obviously, if he has just worn it for the first time in his life, how does he know what it smelled like 15 or more years ago? And why should we trust his judgment about a drydown “falling apart” and not smelling “as it should” (especially considering what he’s written on his blog over the last few years)? In order for his claim to possibly be useful to most people, it must mean that his bottle is incredibly bad-smelling, such as like smelling milk that has clearly “gone bad,” but his description does not sound like this is the case, other than the claim that it smells intensely of an artificial food flavoring (which is the last thing Joint’s drydown seems like to me). In fact, the first time I sampled Balenciaga Pour Homme, I didn’t think much of the drydown. That came from a vial someone sent me in a swap. However, not long ago I saw a good deal on a one ounce bottle and decided it was worth taking a chance, because I like this sort of composition (it’s similar to Laipidus Pour Homme, 1987), and sure enough the drydown was fabulous. It’s quite common, however, for one to enjoy a scent for first few wearings and then to find it “flat,” because from what I can tell, the mind no longer recognizes the notes/accords/construction as unique. I still enjoy the scent but it doesn’t have that same kind of “wow factor” unless I put it aside for a month or so, and even then it never seems to be quite as “special” as the first wearing or two.

Second, this blogger used an awful lot of words but there isn’t much substance, and what there is of that doesn’t make much sense (which is why I quoted more than I usually do in this kind of situation). Instead, this sounds like someone who mostly appreciates top notes, which is something I have thought (and mentioned on my blog) for quite a while now. On another level his claim of a “turned” or “bad” drydown makes no sense because there, the strongest ingredients are at work, and as one famous perfumer has said, the notion of top, middle, and base notes is largely a fiction. In this context. the relevant point is that you aren’t going to smell “good” notes for 45 minutes and then smell something very “bad.” If there is something “bad” present, you would likely smell it as soon as you took the cap of the bottle, unless your nose is stuffed up or your sensitivity is abnormally low for some reason. Moreover, his claim is not consistent with what anyone else has described about this scent, and we are again at a “dog that didn’t bark” type of situation, meaning if that it was common for 20+ year old scents to be “bad” then we would have read about it by now on the relevant sites and blogs.

Interestingly, this is the same blogger who cited the GC/MS study of four different Old Spice formulations, including vintage. Why would a clearly “high-quality” scent always “go bad” while a “cheapo” like Old Spice apparently retains its integrity very well? This could be true for some oddball concoction (no matter how unlikely), but keeping in mind how he thinks it shares quite a bit with Zino (as well as Kouros, Lapidus Pour Homme, and Vermeil, to a lesser extent) where are all the claims that there are “bad” bottles of those, considering how many more bottles of those two must have been produced (plenty of which were bottled well before 1993)? He is not a scientist specializing in this field, nor a perfumer, nor, apparently, someone who has collected a large number of vintage bottles, and the best thing to do under such circumstances, if one believes that a “great insight” has occurred, is to find some actual evidence to support it! Instead, he thinks that one wearing is enough to make such strange claims, and shows no awareness that his apparent experience is entirely consistent with “newbie olfactory fatigue,” as I’ve called it in the past.

Now he may indeed have a “turned” bottle, though the way he described the experience is not something I have ever experienced and I can’t remember reading about this before (and I don’t find it similar to Zino, so there is clearly some sort of perceptual issue involved on someone’s part; to me it’s much closer to Kouros, but with more noticeable dry woods and tobacco). The opposite is rarely the case (“turned” top notes), and you can read plenty of those kinds of claims, especially, it seems, from “Creed fan boys.” In two recent Basenotes.net threads, in fact, there were a few of those claims, as well as people talking about how they threw their bottles in the garbage or gave them away for free. I posted in both that instead of doing that they should send me a message because I would offer them money for their “turned” bottles, so long as they were sealed spray bottles (since I don’t want scammers sending me messages about splash bottles they want to sell). And obviously, even if his Joint bottle has “turned,” why is assuming that everyone else’s has? He doesn’t even tell us if his bottle came in a box (mine did), which might help readers who share the concern about “turned” scents, considering how his assessment of Joint is inconsistent with all the other reviews I’ve read and that one can simply refrain from buying bottles that are not boxed.

A recent Basenotes thread that readers may want to view on this subject can be found at:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/386914-Anyone-ever-experience-a-fragrance-going-bad

I tried as best I could to elicit descriptions of exactly what a “bad” scent was like, and it seemed as though some valuable insights/information was garnered. One is that many of the claims seem to be coming from “Creed fan boys” who own Creed bottles they think have “spoiled” even though these are less than ten years old, some five years old or less! Another person pointed out that an old scent smelled like burnt sugar and I mentioned a review of the first Guess “masculine” scent, which was described by the person as beginning with “hot vinyl and overheated electronics.” I then said that I had recently obtained an old Chanel No. 5 EdC bottle that seemed to have this same issue, though in the case of the Guess scent I’m not sure about if the harsh opening was intended or not. With the No. 5, however, the aldehyes were clearly missing (or largely missing) and instead there was that “burnt sugar” quality. However, after several minutes it was gone and I actually preferred it without those strong aldehydes! One person who posted to that thread, a woman,, said that this happened to the aldehydes in a bottle she owns. And it seemed that many of them didn’t realize that old spray bottles seem to have “spoiled” liquid trapped in the tubes, so the first spray or two may smell very bad (vinegar-like) but that the rest may be fine (and even the liquid in tube eventually goes into the same drydown anyway, in my experience).

If anyone seems to be psychologically grasping at proverbial straws, it would seem to be him! However, if he wants to believe in some sort of olfactory derangement syndrome, I think he is missing the point, which is that there are aficionados who enjoy such vintage scents much more than niche or current designer, and it’s not like this enjoyment is causing any harm to the person or to society, nor is it particularly expensive (if one has patience), so why should that be any kind of problem? Do people near these aficionados run for the proverbial hills because the person smells like a skunk but doesn’t know it? Again, we would know about that at this point, because there are just too many reviews and posts on this subject by now. If this blogger does believe he has discovered some sort of measurable phenomenon, perhaps he should contact some universities to see if any scientist or social scientist is interested in pursuing the matter, but as things stand now, there is no evidence to suggest his notion is correct, and considering all the strange claims he has made in the past about vintage, this just comes across as a “sour grapes” situation.

For those who have had experiences similar to mine, there seems to be a consensus opinion that vintage scents are clearly superior to everything else (or at least worth wearing fairly regularly), except perhaps compared to some sort of “bespoke” scent that would cost you thousands of dollars. Even if the notes have “shifted” a bit or the first few minutes are “not right” in some way, the experience these scents generate is not something I have found anywhere else. A good example of the problem with today’s scents can be found in Dior’s Escale a Portofino, which is certainly no “cheapo.” It smells great for a while, with strong bergamot and caraway, but after a couple hours or so I begin to detect what seems to be a “cheap” wood note (based upon what perfumer Chris Bartlett has told me about such notes). This is not something I have experiences in any vintage scents, and so the superiority of vintage is that one doesn’t have to be concerned with irritating “chemical” or “synthetic” type qualities (at least I have yet to experience it in the dozens that I consider vintage greats).

ADDENDUM: The lavender in Zino is very strong, and it’s much more floral overall than Joint is. Joint’s note listing at Fragrantica does not include lavender and I do not smell any (the Estonian site doesn’t list it either). Before I published this post, I decided I should wear Joint and then write about any new insights in this note section, especially since my sensitivity has been low for at least a few months now. The last time I wore it, when my sensitivity was significantly higher, it came across as similar to Kouros, but drier and with tobacco. With this wearing, however, I seem to be picking up more citrus and aldehydes (it has a kind of “sparkling” quality I have never perceived in any of my four bottles of vintage Zino), and a bit of a green/herbal aspect (at first). The Kouros quality is sort of lurking beneath the surface at this point, but it is most reminiscent of some older “feminine” chypres at this point (perhaps inspired by vintage Coriandre). There is absolutely nothing about it that seems “off.”

It never “falls apart” for me, and there is no “synthetic” quality of any kind. In fact, more than an hour in, and I wish there was a more vanillic element for balance, but instead it becomes awfully camphorous, which is something that didn’t register to this degree in previous wearings. The opening dissipates a bit but it’s still clearly present. The woody/patchouli aspect, however, asserts itself, and it’s a bit musky and floral (no lavender). Interestingly, now I would compare it to vintage Givenchy Gentleman at a similar point in development, and quite far from Zino, though the Kouros quality is there too. I’m getting only a little tobacco, unfortunately (one of my favorite notes). Am I more sensitive to camphorous qualities than I was a few years ago? It certainly may be the case, but it’s really obvious here, which suggests to me that it is a “major player,” though you may find that another note/accord/aroma chemical “spikes out” if and when you sample it. And all I can do is to “call them as I see them” when I wear them and decide to write about the experience, but there is nothing here that would lead me to think this drydown is somehow wrong, spoiled, turned, or such.

More than four hours in, and I’ve decided to wipe it off (as much as possible with a damp paper towel. I used one and a half sprays to the chest. And now an hour later and it’s more tolerable – it certainly has no “issues.” A few hours after this and it finally works a lot better for me. The opening actually is persisting with reasonable strength! It is now closer to Kouros than GG but with that Coriandre opening quality playing off of it – very interesting. This scent held up very well during this time, with a smooth opening to drydown transition, but I would not recommend it to those who do not like camphorous patchouli. The FromPyrogs author’s opinion of this scent is so different than mine that it’s difficult for me to believe that it reflects what he actually smelled, even if we assume that my preferences are “polar opposite” his. And intriguingly, a new Basenotes member (June 2014) named “HankHarvey,” who sounds an awful lot like Mr. Ross to me, wrote up some posts for the Basenotes thread I cited above. After he was bested on this thread (IMO of course), he wrote up the Joint post on his blog, which seems to be mostly an attempt to assail vintage aficionados from a new and bizarre direction, as discussed above. I’ll write up another post here about the evidence for “HankHarvey” being Mr. Ross and you can decide for yourself, if he doesn’t admit to this being the case by then. This may not have much to do with these olfactory concoctions, but I do find it interesting from a psychological perspective, which is another interest of mine.

The Fragrantica.com notes for Joint are:

Top notes: aldehydes, basil, bergamot, artemisia, lemon, green notes, coriander and cumin. Heart: cardamom, honey, geranium, carnation, rose, jasmine, orris root and tobacco. Base: amber, leather, civet, labdanum, cedar, musk, patchouli, vetiver and tonka bea

UPDATE: A woman wrote up a post on the Basenotes’ thread I cited above and talked about how her perception of “spoilage” might have been due to a newbie lack of understanding. What’s interesting is how I might have thought my Joint bottle had spoiled if I didn’t understand that heavy camphorous quality that might be most obvious in vintage Givenchy Gentleman. I don’t have the expertise to say whether that quality could get a lot stronger after a decade or two, but it may be that nobody has studied this possible phenomenon, and so as I’ve said before in similar contexts, the best you can often get, it seems, is an “educated guess” (and I would be very surprised if that quality had become very powerful, even if relative to the other ingredients).

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Should you be envious of those who own Envy for Men?

I’ve written about Gucci’s Envy for Men in the past, pointing out how it became a kind of template for several other scents, though one could argue that it’s a tweaking of early 1970s scents like Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur or Ho Hang, and ones that came later, such as Guerlain’s Heritage. There’s no way to say for sure how close one scent is to another because not everyone perceives scents the same way. Some might be a lot more sensitive to patchouli notes, for example. I was never a big fan of the Envy type of scent, but over the last couple of years I’ve been able to enjoy these (which include Devotion for Men, ST Dupont’s Signature Pour Homme. and Floris’ Santal, supposedly, as I’ve yet to try that last one). To be sure, though, I think I prefer ones that are bit different, such as Carven Homme and Micallef #31.

When an opportunity arose to obtain a partial bottle at a non-outrageous price, I decided to go ahead, because I thought I would be able to swap it for something I would like, if I wanted to rid my collection of it. Before I discuss the scent I’ll just point out that there may be two formulations that are distinct, at least to some people. Claims have been made that the liquid color is brighter in the newer formulation, and that it is inferior, though I think at least one person said he preferred the most recent one. I had owned two bottles before this latest one, and while it seemed like one was superior to the other, I don’t remember whether the colors were different or which one I preferred. I also had major sensitivity issues at the time, so I’m not sure my opinion would have been that useful to those who like these kinds of compositions.

Lately, my sensitivity has been low, so I think it’s the right time to reassess it. My bottle is 50 ml and the batch code is 30788. The color does not seem as bright and intense as some I’ve seen online, looking roughly like the picture above, but of course it could be the case that the colors in some online photos are exaggerated due to lighting effects. I decided to go with a light application for this first wearing after several years, using perhaps half a spray (at most). I could detect quite a bit of ginger at first, as well a whole lot of sweetness. For these first few minutes, I was thinking that this might be a bit unique, relative to the others I mentioned (excluding Floris’ Santal, obviously), but things soon changed.

After the ginger mostly dissipated, at least in terms of quantity, I perceived a very similar effect that one can get in Devotion and the Dupont in particular. There is some soft lavender, a syrupy ambery quality, spice, and a bit of patchouli and wood. The key point here is that it comes across as an accord, and this accord is very, very similar. By contrast, there is Pi by Givenchy, which is similar in some significant ways but is clearly a different kind of scent, with a nice cedar note emerging after an hour or so. And it’s not just that the Envy type scents possess patchouli and lavender, unlike some others (at least in fairly strong amounts), but that these also have some sort of “fresh” quality that is difficult for me to assess because it is blended into the major accord. Could it be a mixture of several synthetics used to convey “freshness?” I don’t think it is dihydromyrcenol by itself, for instance.

More than a couple hours in, and the wood note is clear, though not strong, and not as textured (nor as interesting) as the wood note in Pi. I was hoping that I would perceive Envy as unique and something that I could not sell or swap, as is the case for more than a few, such as Les Copains Homme, but I don’t find the drydown to be unique enough. I would suggest that anyone who is envious of those who own a bottle simply buy a bottle of Devotion for Men, which is now selling for low prices on major sites. Now as I mentioned above, it may be that the original was much better and that I have a bad reformulation. However, considering the history of “masculine” orientals that are at least remotely similar, as well as what was being done in “masculine perfumery” back in 1998, I can’t imagine that any formulation of it, assuming there was more than one, would lead me to think that it is worth the prices it usually sells for on ebay.

NOTE: If I were to write up posts with only self-interest in mind (when conflicts of interest existed), I would tell everyone that this is a great, unique scent, and hope that the prices rise further. I certainly wouldn’t point out that I think you could get what I view as nearly the same drydown for about $15 per 50 ml (the current total price for that size bottle of Devotion for men on ebay at the moment). As to Devotion, I have only a 1 ounce bottle and intend to keep it, unless of course prices shoot through the roof (to levels I simply can’t imagine at this point). I value my integrity very highly, and I only wish that my sensitivities didn’t change, so that when I write something about these concoctions I would be confident that I would never change my mind !

UPDATE: I acquired another bottle, and the color of the liquid is considerably brighter/richer. The batch code is four numbers and one of the check sites claims that it is from September of 2006. I have yet to wear it so I’ll update this post again when I do. I intend to do that within the next few weeks.

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The evidence concerning the importance of “name” brands.

In a recent thread at Basenotes.net, the topic of what makes a scent popular arose. I was reminded of something I heard quite a while ago about the The New York Times “Bestseller List.” Here is one take on it:

An endorsement from Oprah Winfrey. A film deal from Steven Spielberg. A debut at the top of The New York Times bestsellers list. These are the things every author craves most, and while the first two require the favor of a benevolent God, the third can be had by anyone with the ability to write a check — a pretty big one.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/02/22/heres-how-you-buy-your-way-onto-the-new-york-times-bestsellers-list/

The point is that I have no way to know if a scent like Bleu de Chanel would generate huge sales or hardly any if it were to be sold by a brand like Lomani. I decided to do some do some basic searching, to see if there had been any relevant research on this subject. Below are passages from a few papers that I thought were the most illuminating.
____________________

Title of paper: “Taiwanese Consumers of Perfume:The Importance of Brand Familiarity & Communication Channels.”

Brand Familiarity is Key Out-of-Store (before & after purchase). It affects Taiwanese consumers’ decision-making before (when they consider the purchase) and after(evaluation) the purchase moment per se. It provides trust and helps consumers easily scope their choices, ultimately leading to a final choice of purchase or not. It is less important while Taiwanese consumers experience perfume purchase: the scent becomes the most important factor of the purchase experience in-store…

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:fo3YjcerM_kJ:semioconsult.com/app/download/5792922729/Taiwanese%2BConsumers%2Bof%2BPerfume_The%2BImportance%2Bof%2BBrand%2BFamiliarity%2B%2BCommunication%2BChannels.pdf+&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

_____________________

Title of paper: “Measuring Consumers’ Luxury Value Perception: A Cross-Cultural Framework.”

Hedonic Value – Certain products and services carry an emotional value and provide intrinsic enjoyment in addition to their functional utility (Hirschman and Holbrook 1982; Sheth et al. 1991, Westbrook and Oliver 1991). Studies in the field of luxury consumption have shown that luxury products are likely to provide such subjective intangible benefits (Dubois and Laurent 1994). Additionally, research concerning the concept of luxury has repeatedly identified the emotional responses associated with luxury consumption, such as sensory pleasure and gratification, aesthetic beauty, or excitement (Benarrosh-Dahan 1991; Fauchois and Krieg 1991; Roux and Floch 1996; Vigneron and Johnson 2004). Hence, hedonism describes the perceived subjective utility and intrinsically attractive properties acquired from the purchase and consumption of a luxury brand to arouse feelings and affective states, received from personal rewards and fulfillment (Sheth et al.1991; Westbrook and Oliver 1991). In sum:

…P3b: The consumer‘s perceived level of hedonism towards a luxury product or service and its property to satisfy an emotional desire for sensory gratification as best as possible is positively related to the individual luxury value perception.
_____________________

A study entitled “An Experiment in Brand Choice” may provide some understanding about what is thought to be established as well as what such studies require:

QUOTE: The study of consumer dynamics-how people change their purchasing habits-is facilitated greatly by experiments in which marketing factors are deliberately varied. The cost of such experimentation in the marketplace is usually prohibitive…

The high level of brand switching observed in the
first few weeks did not last. After the period of search,
buyer behavior began to settle down as illustrated
by the 3-week penetration levels and average buying
frequency levels. These useful forms of analysis are
discussed elsewhere [3]. The average figures sum-
marized in Table 1 reflect those for the individual
brands (the comparable results from the earlier study
are documented more fully in [7]).
The pattern for each brand in the first half of the
experiment was a downward trend of penetration and
an upward trend of the average buying frequency.
From this is seen the development of brand loyalty…

CONCLUSIONS This study is the second of two similar experiments on consumer dynamics. It confirms and extends the earlier findings.The evaluation of experimental buyer behavior under stationary conditions turned out to be simple because there is a generalized body of knowledge which summarizes stationary behavior in real life and the same patterns were found to recur under the experimental conditions. But for the dynamic situation, of course, there is no such body of real-life knowledge. Indeed, these experiments were directed toward producing some generalizable results under dynamic market conditions. Two things are required if this is to be achieved. First, many experiments must be conducted to determine whether results generalize even within the experimental context. Second,once a reliable and coherent body of experimental results has been built up, their validity must be tested in the marketplace. UNQUOTE.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jBJRChC5HrUJ:marketingscience.info/assets/documents/120/328.pdf+&cd=19&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning here that the other day I saw a NatGeo “Brain Games” episode in which it was pointed out that simple things, such as blowing the scent around and playing the sounds of food sizzling on the grill, can lead to a willingness to eat “road kill” foods, such as Iguana Lasagna. Thus, one wonders how much major companies such as Chanel understand about how to influence consumer behavior. My guess is that such companies have more than a few “trade secrets” in this context! In any case, one thing that’s clear is that many if not most people are not going to do a great deal of research when they are thinking about buying a new bottle. To me the more interesting phenomenon involves people writing up reviews or posts defending a specific scent against charges that it is “generic” or mediocre. If a scent is considered “bad” by many people, by contrast, there is usually a reason why, such as a strong cumin or civet note, whereas what I noticed in the case of Bleu de Chanel, many people seemed to think that they needed to “defend” it, even though there was little mentioned about how it actually smelled. In any case, if you want to hear my thoughts about defending the mediocre or generic, you can read my recent post about the Bleu de Chanel “wars.”

Lastly, I’ll close with a thought I had about what might be the major problem with “mainstream designer” scents these days, at least to those of us who are seeking a reason to pay some attention to their recent releases. This thought occurred to me when I saw a “masculine” scent at Fragrantica.com called Club Men by Azzaro. The notes are listed as lemon, papaya, cannabis, hinoki, and musk. This makes it sound “niche,” and yet the reviews and online comments I’ve seen suggest that it is “generic” or like a light version of Black XS for Men, and not of any particular interest (very little if any detectable cannabis note), overall. If this is the case, why bother listing a cannabis note? Of course some of the reviewers may have been suffering from olfactory fatigue, but does any aficionado who hasn’t tried it think that it is going to be remotely like a niche scent? Instead, it may be that this is part of a new marketing strategy, which is to include at least one note that piques the interest of the aficionado while the scent actually is designed to appeal to the “average Joe.” While this is speculative, we’ve now seen a whole bunch of non-niche names/houses release scents with an oud note, for example, and in the ones I’ve tried the oud note is nowhere near as obvious as it is in a scent like vintage M7, for instance. However, another possibility is that enough “average Joes” have heard about oud at this point, so in this case these kinds of scents may not be marketed with aficionados in mind. Or it may be that there is a certain amount of groping in the dark occurring, with the “lesser” companies waiting for the major ones to do something “different,” and then they go ahead and make similar scents, though of course this would certainly be nothing new.

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Yacht Man Chocolate and the Search for the Best Gourmand Scent.

I remember reading some threads on the major sites with titles like, “Help me – I want to smell like a vanilla cupcake!” and I thought I’d discuss my views on gourmands, as well as mention a great bargain scent that some may view as an excellent gourmand scent to add to their rotations (and this one has “unisex potential”). Recently I saw a 100 ml bottle of Yacht Man Chocolate for little more than a few pennies, and after reading some positive things about it, went ahead with a “blind buy.” However, I didn’t expect much, and after my first sampling, which was one spray just above the ankle, I was not hopeful. There were some very fleeting and “fresh” top notes, clearly synthetic, though one can’t expect more. What one can hope for is some sort of gourmand base. Here is the list of notes for it, from Fragrantica.com:

…cinnamon, dark chocolate, musk, rose, iris, vetiver, patchouli, cacao, cloves and nutmeg.

One thought many people might have is, “how can anyone screw up those notes?” Well, if you don’t like “laundry musks,” then you might think they did! Interestingly, there is no company information on the box or bottle. If I had seen this in a shop in New York’s “perfume district” I would think it was some kind of “knock off.” There isn’t even a label on the bottom of the bottle. And thought heavy, the cap is flimsy plastic (the box is industry standard, though). So, for my “regular wearing,” I decided to go with seven or eight sprays, in the same area to the chest. Here is the review I wrote up for it on Fragrantica.com:

I think you will want to spray spray three or four times more than usual, but if you do I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! The notes seem right, and the musk, while of the laundry variety (at least at first) is not over the top here. At first there is a blast (if you can call it that) of obnoxious “fresh” aroma chemicals, but they only last a few minutes. Then it seems like it needs to get warmed up, but within perhaps half an hour it comes together nicely, and certainly smells reasonably natural. It’s head and shoulders above dollar store scents but doesn’t cost that much more! The spices are quite strong and rich here, and it’s not especially sweet. If you think Dior Homme smells like “lipstick” or that it’s too “feminine,” then you may not like this one, though. And if you want an outright gourmand scent, this is not it, as those elements are subsumed by musk, powdery florals, and spices. Longevity is very good too, while projection is average to good, but again, you may need to use quite a bit more than usual. Unlike what the other reviewer said, I see little resemblance to Code, which has a clear wood note.

Interestingly, when I posted about it on Basenotes.net, one person responded by saying he was looking for a gourmand, which this scent is not (and so I modified my review slightly to point that out). In any case, if you want a really inexpensive Dior Homme type scent (meaning the composition/structure), this is one to consider, especially if you prefer strong spices. By contrast, Dior Homme Sport (first formulation) is less powdery but does have nice ginger, the problem for me with that one being the irritating molecules used to create the wood note. The great thing about Yacht Man Chocolate is that it’s the kind of scent that provides a specific experience, so I doubt I will ever regret wearing it whenever I do. By contrast, another inexpensive scent that is clearly more complex and “artful,” Everlast Original 1910, is problematic for me to wear because I have no idea which facets of it will seem to dominate that day!

It’s not always clear to me what someone means by a gourmand scent, and many don’t seem able to distinguish between a gourmand and a scent that possesses a gourmand element. For example, many seem to think that Pi by Givenchy is a gourmand. Here is one review that makes this perception clear (on Fragrantica):

…a very sweet mix of sugar notes, vanilla, and almond. I don’t get much if any floral at all. It’s a confectiony sweet gourmand that reminds me of the marshmallow filling in a Rocky Road candy bar.

The last time I wore Pi (older formulation), it struck me as being mostly sweet resins, with a reasonably good cedar note eventually emerging in the drydown. The crucial thing with gourmands, at least for those who are concerned about “wearability,” seems to be providing some contrast, so that the scent doesn’t smell like marshmallows, for instance, and nothing else. In fact, there was an online store, jojoelle.com, which featured many scents that smelled like a food item (they seem to be out of business now), but for some reason few of those who say they want a scent that smells literally gourmand seem to seek out these kinds of companies. The one jojoelle scent I tried (ginger and marshmallow, or something along those lines) was quite strong and reasonably natural smelling, though not what I’ve ever sought to wear.

Perhaps the closest to an “outright gourmand” that is meant to be a “perfume” is Tea for Two. Fragrantica.com has this note pyramid for it:

Top notes are bergamot, star anise and tea; middle notes are cinnamon, ginger, spices and gingerbread; base notes are honey, vanilla, leather and tobacco.

I don’t get much if any leather in it and the tobacco is mild, though from what I understand it was common to chw the leaves at one time. And that brings me to my main point here, which is that unlike fougeres, chypres, and orientals (at least strictly defined), perceptions of gourmands seem to be quite relative. If you smell it and think you’d like to eat whatever it is, doesn’t that mean it is a gourmand? Also, I think it may make sense to distinguish between edible gourmands and beverage-oriented ones. For example, I recently tried Play Intense for the first time, and it’s a mild, creamy type coffee, without the lavender one finds in Rochas Man and some others that are similar. Thus, to me that is more of “true gourmand” than ones that include notes not considered edible/drinkable by most people. However, as I’ve said before, I think it’s best to just talk about the scent in question and to compare it to others that may be similar or that more than a few others claim to be similar, rather than to worry about whether a scent belongs to this or that genre (unless the scent is simple and conforms to the “textbook” definition or unless someone is making a ridiculous claim).

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The “Bleu de Chanel Wars” – what is the reason for its appeal ?

There have been quite a bit of recent attempts among those who like Bleu de Chanel to try and convince others that they too should like it, and those who don’t agree sometimes get labelled “haters.” At Basenotes.net, for example, we see threads with titles such as, “why is there so much hate for BdC.” First of all, not liking a scent does not mean you hate it. Why should I hate it? I appreciate the diversity, and for all I knew (before it was released) I might have liked it! Instead, it seems that the people who make BdC “hater” claims are engaging in what Freud called “projection.” Many of these people may have strong negative emotions against some vintage scents, for example, and they think that someone like myself feels that way about BdC. In fact, I find it humorous that such a scent would become so popular, and my main interest now is in trying to figure out why (at least to my satisfaction). One on such recent thread at BN I wrote this:

Well if this is true then it begs the question, “what is it about a scent that has great mass appeal?” What could they have put in BdC to make it so special in this context? I have never read any claim that it contains anything special, in terms of something like an expensive ingredient that has hardly ever been used before? So, that might lead one to conclude that the composition is somehow extraordinary, yet no “expert” seems to think this, and even many “amateurs” argue that it is “generic.” Could it be that throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that, then “amping it up” with iso e super.(assuming this was done – again, I don’t remember for sure), is the recipe for success? From what I do remember, it came across as having too much of at least one aroma chemical I found unpleasant and not having any note or accord (in large enough amounts) that I did find pleasant, so I’m really curious about why this one is so popular. I can understand why AdG has been very popular, and to a lesser degree Allure Homme, and with Cool Water it may have been the large amount of dihydromyrcenol used for the first time in a scent that for some reason began to catch on with the public, but I have to say that the appeal of BdC, relative to all the other choices people now have, is puzzling, and has led me to think that the Chanel name might be a factor for at least more than a small number of people.

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/308772-Why-do-so-many-men-not-like-Chanel-s-Blue-de-Chanel/page4

After “blind buying” a bottle of Lomani’s Body and Soul because I thought it would be similar to BdC, but not as harsh (and I think that’s more or less what it is), I decided to read the Fragrantica.com reviews of BdC to see if I was experience in Body and Soul what is described for BdC. To my surprise, I found that very few reviews described it in what I would consider detail. There is talk about how compliments are received while wearing BdC, and some mentioned citrus and pepper, but very few reviewers discussed the development over time or much of anything beyond the top notes. However, I can’t remember any other scent that contained so many reviews that mentioned what a great “office” scent it was, or how “versatile” it was. Clearly, if you have just ten bottles that represent good diversity, you do not need a versatile scent, however.

Perhaps BdC is a very good “blended” scent, meaning that the composition is actually very bad, but that it is designed to come across as a kind of bubbling cauldron of olfactory sensations (minus the high temperatures, of course). The “newbie nose” can’t fixate on any one element for long, and so there are no complaints about this or that note/accord being to strong, sharp, or harsh. Nor can he or she say that it smells like some common item, whether it be food or even something like “bandages” (I’ve seen that one more than a few times). In fact, this is what one BN member had to say about it:

Its a nice fragrance. I can see people disliking it because it has a crushed smarties candy vibe to it. Masaki Matsushima M*C is a similar scent but a bit lighter and fresher. I like both.

Another analogy would include Muhammad Ali, ducking and dancing, not allowing his opponent to land any solid punches. And one reason why I decided to write this post is because this may be an excellent way to understand the newbie experience as opposed to the aficionado one.

The aficionado, by contrast, is like that boxer stalking Ali, trying to land that solid punch, meaning that he or she wants to be able to detect notes/accords with some clarity. Otherwise, the scent comes across as a “blob” that may be pleasant but does not warrant a place in a large rotation. Body and Soul seems to have BdC’s polymorphous quality, along with a similar smell, though I don’t detect any strong aroma chemicals, which I thought I did with BdC. What’s interesting is that some people will say that Pi by Givenchy is boring, “generic vanilla,” or something along those lines (and I may have said that at one time too!), but about a month ago I gave it another chance, and this time I was able to detect a little resinous complexity, as well as a mild but pleasant cedar note that eventually emerged (and I generally dislike cedar notes, especially in more recent scents). This may be another thing that is different about BdC, which is that it was designed to stay linear for a long time, and the just fade out, without much development. This was something else I noticed while reading the BdC reviews, that is, a claim about linearity.

Whatever the case may be, and indeed there is likely some variability, with some “fan boys” simply defending their favorite company, while others like the effects BdC offers, I am surprised that there are so many people rushing onto BN threads (or creating them!) to justify buying a bottle of it. I can’t remember anyone doing this with Armani’s Code, for example (or more recently, Guerlain Homme). In that case, there has never been nearly as much interest in it, positive or negative! I can understand the appeal of scents like Acqua di Gio because it seems to have a theme, and with Cool Water at least the notes are distinct, but BdC seems to be something quite different, which is a pleasant “blob” that gives off bits of this or that note in mild form here and there. Of course, this is just an idea, and it may instead be that it’s the Chanel name that is the “big draw,” and after investing in a bottle (or two or three or four…) a rapid “fan boy” base developed, but at the very least it has led to some interesting questions getting raised.

NOTE: After writing the above I went over to BN an read looked through the BdC reviews there, and I saw the same kind of thing one finds at Fragrantica. That is, there is talk about compliments, “safety,” etc., but not as much attention paid to the actual smell as I expected. This passage from one positive review may be the most interesting of them:

…Some comment about this cologne being boring, ordinary, nothing special and, most hilariously, that it doesn’t “challenge their noses”. Well, the “unique” and “nose-challenging” colognes are not for everybody; in fact I think most of the colognes that fall under that category stink. There’s something to be said about a cologne that can literally brighten your mood and make you feel confident when you wear it (all the compliments you’ll get will certainly help with that)…

For me the obvious problem with this kind of comment is that there are probably hundreds of other (and considerably less expensive) scents that would accomplish the same thing. For example, I’d rather wear Burberry’s Sport Ice for Men, among many others recent designer scents that may get called generic or boring, and that one at least smells pleasant to me. And of course, claims about a scent being a “compliment getter” are anecdotal. I have yet to see a scientific, sociological, or psychological paper on the subject. So, to me, there clearly seems to be an “irrational” element here, at least in the fact that more than a few of these reviewers aren’t able to detect the illogical asepct to their main points. Sadly, it reminds me of people who think they need to “defend” a specific religion when people criticize the leadership of that religion for doing something that is obviously wrong, or even illegal. In this case, there is nothing “wrong” with BdC, but for the aficionado who already owns a large number of bottles it’s quite possible he really has no use for it whatsoever.

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How “good” can a scent possibly be ?

Many if not most of you likely have already read a review that makes a scent sound too good to be true. These often include a poetic quality, and sometimes the words “holy grail.” I seem to be going in the opposite direction, which is that after a few wearings most scents sort of “flatten out,” and while they may still be enjoyable, they need to be worn sparingly or else I might not only come to find them boring, but irritating as well. My guess is that after sampling a large number of different combinations of notes/accords, one doesn’t experience uniqueness as easily as one once did.

Over at the FromPyrgos blog, there is a recent post about a scent called “Nature Boy” by Garner James. I haven’t been able to find information about this perfumer, and the author of this post does little to fill the void. However, it sounds like yet another attempt at indirectly criticizing those who point out how much more complex vintage designer scents tend to be when compared to recent niche offerings:

Nature Boy is evidence that niche perfumery can be every bit as complex, sophisticated, and memorable as the best examples of designer fragrances.

Putting aside the possibility that hardly anyone will actually smell Nature Boy, this author once again seems blissfully unaware of the old, and almost always apt saying, “the exception proves the rule.” In any case, before pursuing my major point, I’ll cite some passages from the FromPyrgos post that describe the smell this scent:

…it begins with the skankiest muck note, an odor Xacto-knived from a North American forest immediately after heavy summer rains, loaded with bittersweet damp greens, rich tree barks, stones, mosses, animal shit, and hints of white flowers. Applied liberally, Nature Boy is intimidating, a bit of a green Kouros. Its castoreum is full-throttle, and the labdanum is quite deep and sweaty. Testosterone incarnate.

Ninety minutes later, and a minty floral note emerges from the mud. It is demure, very much present, yet soft and sweet, lightened by something remotely similar to eucalyptus. An hour after that, and there’s the Choya Loban, resinous, an intense vegetal green with a spiced evergreen exhale. In conjunction with lavender, it takes on a mild lilac effect for a while, before it rounds out with woodier tones and becomes part of an immense, vetiver covered amber… the wearer can expect to enjoy a weaving in and out of two accords: sticky green incense and mossy, sweaty sandalwood, with just enough herbal freshness from the lavender on one end, and natural labdanum on the other to make it balanced and coherent…

This sounds like reviews that I’ve read that come across as written by friends of the perfumer, the reason being that it doesn’t ring true to how scents are actually experienced (to be clear, though, I’m not accusing this person of anything here, just providing an opinion based upon my experiences and reading of the experiences of others). For example, we are told about these powerful resins and how it’s like a “green Kouros, yet a “mild lilac effect” becomes obvious “for a while.” And then the wearer experiences “an immense, vetiver covered amber?” No, I don’t think think it’s possible for an “immense” accord to come roaring out of nowhere after more than an hour an a half, during which time there occurs a green Kouros and a lot of castoreum, and then the mild lilac. This sounds more like an hallucination than the experience of one of these olfactory concoctions (at least so long as one is not “high”).

However, one can reach whatever conclusions that one likes on that issue. My main focus involves the search for “great” scents, and in this case, can one help but ask, “if this description is accurate, more or less (hyperbole omitted, perhaps), is this a scent I should purchase?” I already own some vintage Kouros, as well as a few vintage scents with strong castoreum notes. Some of these are complex, such as Krizia Uomo, One Man Show, and the original Davidoff scent. I’m not much of a vetiver nor amber fan, though I think these can be great as supporting notes for some compositions. Moreover, as I’ve discussed in a recent post, over the last moth or so I’ve been doing more layering than I ever have before, which has allowed me to create very complex scents based upon what is consistent with my mood. My guess is that I might enjoy Nature Boy quite a bit for the first few wearings, and then simply view it as just “one of the boys,” pardon the pun! The main prolbm, though, is that I don’t want to spend $50 or more dollars for something I may not enjoy any more than my vintage Krizia Uomo, which cost me very little (100 ml bottle).

The author spends quite a bit of time telling readers about some of the supposedly “top quality” ingredients used in this scent. An obvious question here is, “can one tell the difference, at least between the ‘quality’ of this scent relative to the best of vintage designer?” And that assumes the ingredients used in Nature Boy are in fact “better.” Recently, I started a thread at Basenotes.net on the DIY forum, because I wanted to know whether it would be relatively easy to create a deep and rich, resinous base using several inexpensive essential oils; for example, a few months ago I bought some rosewood essential oil. I simply mixed it with vodka and the scent was quite good, though a bit too “rough around the edges” for me. I don’t think it would be that difficult to buy several other essential oils and make something much nicer, but what would be the point? Wouldn’t I just be back to thinking that if I combined two or more of my vintage scents that I’d achieve a similar if not superior effect?

A good example of not thinking any one scent is head and shoulders above all others can been seen when someone asks about the “ultimate” this or that scent, such as pine-oriented ones. This note can be handled in quite a few different ways, but it’s also rather piercing if it’s too strong, so for me the key question involves which notes should adorn it, so to speak. And what I’ve found is that even if I find such scents that I enjoy, I may come to think that the other notes just don’t work that well, and I begin to seek a different combination. At this point, I think that layering could be the solution, though lately I’ve found that some scents with a pine note, such as Bowling Green, seem to scratch my pine itch, which may occur once a month or thereabouts. The big advantage to layering is that incredible complexity can be generated; one recent example is Roadster and vintage Uomo? Moschino. My “MO” is that if I am enjoying it then I’ll just keep doing it, because I already spend enough time on this hobby as things stand now !

Instead of Nature Boy being “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” as one of my teachers liked to say, isn’t it much more likely to be a person perceiving a scent as incredible the first few wearings, and then coming to find it “okay” but not “special?” As one Basenotes member said in a recent post (about the complex scent, Carven Homme):

I used to have it. My initial reaction to it was quite similar to yours – I thought it was destined to become my top 10.

After a couple of initial wearings however, it ended up sitting in my closet for months. I still thought that the scent was great, but I simply could not find time for it. I just sort of became indifferent to it.

Eventually, my 50 ml bottle didnt make the weed out cut and was sold on Ebay.

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/382682-Carven-Homme-first-impressions

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Filed under Criticizing the critics., The basics.