Beating a dead horse – with nonsense and lies?

Over at the FromPyrgos blog, there is yet another post, titled “Green Generation Him (Parfums Mavive),” that contains claims we’ve heard before, and again without evidence to support them. But beyond these, it’s a great example of what I consider nonsense, which is a term that isn’t used as much as it used to be, at least not in an academic way. Whether you agree or not, I suggest that you read his post for yourself and decide. I’ll try to sum it up here, for those who want to save some time. This reminds me of what we were told in grad school, which is not to “marry” an idea, doing the square peg into the round hole thing, in an attempt to construct a case that is persuasive.

Once again we get a “straw man argument” as well, possessing quotations without authors, perhaps in the hope that his argument will appear stronger by changing these phantom quotations so that they appear unreasonable. But let’s begin with the first sentence of the post:

One of the many things about perfume economics that makes no sense to me is the drive to inflate prices for no clear reason, other than severely miscalculated greed.

When I read this, I was thinking this would be about the major companies raising retail prices while saving money on ingredients, but instead it quickly “devolved” into claims about what is occurring on (and for some reason, this person, like several others, says “The Bay” instead of ebay, despite The Bay being a major Canadian retailer that sells fragrances, though he says ebay and The Bay, which will likely be confusing to some people). And once again we get an “exception proves the rule” kind of argument, at best, but no analysis of what specific scents are selling for, as opposed to what is being asked (as I have done in a previous post). I used the word lies in the title of this post specifically to refer to the title of his follow-up post, which I discuss in the UPDATE below. One question that seems to apply here is, Does this person think that his readers will believe him simply because he makes a claim? One wonders what kind of author would want such gullible readers in the first place !

In any case, one major thing that seems to stick in his proverbial craw is the notion of a “fan base.” Obviously, there must be a fan base for many scents, especially the ones that actually sell for “high” prices on ebay (meaning more than the original retail prices of many years ago). As you might expect, he never provided a satisfactory response to my old post, which documented the actual ebay sales (at “high” prices) of several different kinds of scents. If there was some sort of conspiracy, as he seems to be positing (an “idiotic” one at that!), then why is it that some scents seem to sell well and at high levels whereas others do not sell well at considerably lower prices? Fan bases don’t have to be huge, and ebay availability often seems rather small, except for when a “hoard” is listed. Sure, someone now and then will be interested in trying something new, but this phenomenon doesn’t explain the very high prices on some scents (especially ones like Patou Pour Homme Egoiste Cologne Concentree, Macassar, Jules, Bel Ami, etc.). And it also can’t explain why some very good (IMO) old scents, such as several made by Avon, still sell for next to nothing while “oddballs” like Stetson Country sell for a lot more than seems sensible. Moreover, we know there are fans of certain niche houses, and those scents sell for more than nearly all vintage, so why shouldn’t those people get criticized as well?

It’s illuminating to note how he thinks he can debunk the fan base argument – this seems to be his major notion in this context:

…a handful of guys who don’t have anything better to do with their money, most of them bidding on that overpriced bottle so they can resell it a year or two later at a profit, right back to the guy who sold it to them in the first place. Like I said, an incarnation of idiocy.

How does he know that “the guy” (many, I’d say most sellers I’ve bought vintage from on ebay were women, apparently “pickers”) who sold it at a high price bought it back a year or so later? To make a claim such as this, perhaps a couple dozen examples (meaning different sellers and buyers) would be a starting point. Instead, what I’ve encountered are what I call “stubborn sellers,” as well as “old stock liquidators.” Carven Homme is a good example, as it was selling at high prices for a while and then one seller (who sells fragrances on a regular basis and in large amounts) started listing “new old stock” 50 ml bottles for about $20 total. Thus, right here is an example that refutes his claim, and I’ve seen this happen before, even with Patou Pour Homme (though the prices for that one were much higher). And why couldn’t a fan base have developed, again no matter how small, from banter on sites like I remember posting about the seller who had a bunch of 90 ml PPH bottles on ebay and was quite surprised by how quickly those bottles sold after that post appeared (IIRC, the price per bottle was about $325).

I have never paid what I consider to be a lot of money for a vintage bottle, in the hopes of reselling it or not (I have only bought ones to possibly resell, though more likely to swap, if it was part a lot of several scents and I already owned a bottle, or if it was a lot several of the same scent). In fact, I mostly buy in the hope that I will like the scent, but with the possibility that I can swap it for something of fairly high value if I don’t like it. This is what drives my “blind” vintage bottle purchases. If I had been unable to swap (or on much rarer occasions, sell) these bottles, I would have stopped buying them from ebay long ago, even at what I consider to be very good prices (most of the time). Moreover, I’m not sure why people making money in the manner he describes should be called an “incarnation of idiocy,” since what he described seems to be exactly what happens during a rising stock market, for example! I agree that this seems to be quite risky, and I’d rather “buy low and sell high,” but ask some stock traders what “catching a falling knife” means!

In short, his explanation seems to be what is best described as an economic fairy tale (and other collectibles markets have appeared similarly “irrational” – I remember people saying that only an insane person would buy Mickey Mantle’s rookie card for $1000, for instance, though prices on most vintage scents are quite reasonable relative to retail prices on new designer releases). One clearly incorrect notion is that all the “idiots” are losing money, because he is proposing a “zero sum game” (minus ebay fees), which means that some of the “idiots” would have made profits (see note #2 below)! How does this person think “capitalist economies” function? Does he not think there is often unreasonable speculation? If not, what explains all the great economic setbacks (including the “Great Depression,” obviously) since the late nineteenth century, just in the USA alone? Does he think that every collectible type market is the same size and functions the same way (and wouldn’t one expect small collectibles markets to be more volatile than the stock market)? Obviously, with fragrances, the liquid may get used up (unless the owner is merely a speculator) or can deteriorate over time, which is different from most other markets, where preservation may be much better and the object is not used up at all (at least in terms of the owner’s likely life expectancy). This means that well-preserved vintage scents should sell for a lot more than current retail on designer scents, which is usually not the case, thus making this collectible market much less “irrational,” even though one can’t really claim that “rationality” is a strong quality in collectibles markets generally.

I remember an episode of “Pawn Stars” in which the plastic head of a mass-marketed doll (which I think was sold in the 1980s) was said to be worth more than $1000 (IIRC). There was no original packaging and the body was absent as well. It wasn’t clear why some people, “idiots” in he FromPyrgos author’s mind, presumably, would even want this item, other than having some “irrational” feelings about it, but there is no objective standard for such markets. Even a speculator who “does his homework” and gets a “great deal” might lose money due to a sharp downturn in the overall economy (which drags down most collectibles markets, it seems). And even if we accept the major claim here, at what point do a “small number” of “idiots” deserve to be called a “market?” Collectibles markets never seem to shrink until a “bubble” occurs, but this is never addressed by the FP author, despite the rise in vintage prices on ebay over the last few years. Capitalism is not about guarantees (though one can argue about “crony capitalism” in this context) – you take a risk when you make an investment, and with scents, some people simply want to smell it, as one experiences expensive wines in a similarly “visceral” way, which is not true for most collectibles. It’s not like stocks, which people buy and sell in a desire for profits (or to limit losses). In short, this person hasn’t made one argument that should be taken seriously, IMO, and he seems convinced that is he 100% correct! I wonder if that is a heavenly or hellish mental universe to inhabit.

NOTE: For those of you who might want to comment that his post is incoherent rather than an incredibly bad argument that warrants being called nonsensical, I will grant you that it’s worth considering (I didn’t mention his “red herring” argument about how the “Dr. Suess” books market seems to function above, because that would make this post even longer, and I want to avoid beating dead horses!). It may possess an incoherent quality because there is no reason to make various claims about how scents sell on ebay if one simply wants to tell readers that Green Generation for Men is an excellent “budget” scent (note that I don’t think $30 per 100 ml is an especially good price here – I try to get vintage “gems” around this level, for example, and I’m usually successful at least two or three times a month). If you want to argue that this scent is nearly as good as Patou Pour Homme, for instance, you can just state that explicitly. However, then you would have to argue that people with plenty of “disposable income” should “settle for second best” to save what is for them “chump change,” which is not exactly something the “1%” crowd seems to entertain any longer, if they ever did. Overall, though, I think his post is an excellent example of what used to be called nonsense by the professorial cohorts. Perhaps nowadays we see so much nonsense just on TV “news” networks alone that it has lost its power to shock !

NOTE 2: Let’s say I sold the vintage favorite, Patou Pour Homme (and the FromPyrgos author does not explain why some routinely sell for much more than others, which doesn’t make much sense to me outside of the “fan boy” explanation context) for $50 on ebay several year ago. The buyer waits for it to reach $150 (how does it reach that amount – is it a conspiracy?), and he lists it at that amount, making $100 minus ebay fees (I buy it back). I continue the process, and sell it again for $300. He waits and sells it back to me for $450, and then perhaps I sell it back to him for $600. What did I buy it for initially – it would be less than $50, so perhaps I made $20. If I sell it back for $600, I made $320 minus ebay fees. If he decides not to continue the process when he sees it listed at $600, then he made $250 minus ebay fees (I would have lost over $280 but I have the PPH bottle). But why can’t I find one of the other “idiots?” The point is that the FromPyrgos author has built absurdity into his model – and we have not seen PPH continue to rise in a way consistent with this notion (otherwise it might be several thousand dollars by now).

Nor can it be said that everyone who participates in this model is an idiot. Sure, you can call anyone an idiot if you like, but the point of doing that here involves the claim that people are doing something for speculative reasons and losing money, but unless they were selling back and forth at very low prices (meaning that ebay fees would render it non-profitable) someone has to be a “winner.” This author is assuming that these scents are being sold in a kind of thoughtless, speculative manner, but not only does that need to be demonstrated, can’t it be said that “free” markets contain some speculative element? If some of the most respected companies in the USA weren’t deemed “too big to fail” less than a decade ago, wouldn’t the people in charge of those companies deserve to be called much bigger idiots? Would “drooling imbeciles” be more appropriate? In my experience, and from what I’ve seen (in terms of who is selling, who is buying, and what is being said on sites like Basenotes), the more likely phenomenon here is “hoarding” by those who have the money to do so. Some of those people may at some point decide to sell off a “backup bottle” or two, after seeing a sharp rise on ebay prices.

NOTE #3: Here’s an interesting example. I sold someone a rare scent (Tobaco Latino) for about $30 (100 ml, new). The ingredients were of lesser quality, IMO, but it’s a nice composition, probably an attempt to do a niche kind of thing on a “drug store” budget. It received a little attention on Basenotes, but I don’t remember discussion on other sites. This buyer put it up on ebay for about $100 not long after she received it, and it took several weeks, but it eventually sold! What’s really odd is that at the exact same time it was listed on Amazon’s site for about $35, which is why I priced it where I did. The buyer in this case might be worthy of the designation idiot (suppose he or she thinks it’s the greatest scent of all time?), but I have yet to see it sell again for around $100 (never more), and that was over a year ago. My guess is that in these cases one might get lucky and someone might be very curious about a “rare” scent, but there still has been no “hype” about it, to my knowledge, and an ebay completed item search generates no results (it’s on Amazon for $45/100 ml now). Tobaco Latino cries out to receive the “FromPyrgos treatment,” if that’s what it should be called, yet where are the price-gouging, idiotic speculators for this one? I have a 100 ml bottle of it, and I don’t see a reason to sell it because it is at least rather unique and has an obvious tobacco note, but at some price I would sell it – this is the kind of thought-process I think underlies much of the “price action” the FP author has witnessed, other than the obvious, such as a discounter liquidating a hoard.

UPDATE: The FromPyrgos author seems obsessed with “right fighting” this subject, quickly following up the post I examined above with a new one, titled “The Dust Collectors: Why No Sales?” He spends a great deal of time talking about Yugos (the automobile), and his thoughts seem to be “textbook Freudian” here, but I’ll leave that for others to ponder. My main point is that there are sales, and at high prices. All one has to do is search ebay for sold items and see for oneself. Note that he does not mention this possibility, which is unaccountable, IMO. I did and noticed that Relax Davidoff and Derby has sold for a lot of money on ebay lately (I’ve never tried Relax and think Derby is overpriced, so I’m certainly not talking from a “fan boy” perspective). Red for Men is problematic because most people can’t tell the difference between the vintage bottles and the new ones, so sometimes vintage can be had a very reasonable prices. However, the FromPyrgos author seems to have confused thoughts here, as he feels that he needs to tell readers that comparing it favorably to Preferred Stock is ridiculous (apparently because PS was released first by a short period of time). What does that have to do with the economic argument in question? It’s a silly argument even if it was “on point” because Red is more complex and dynamic – the ingredients seems clearly superior as well. It is only relevant if the claimant argued that the “trailblazing” scent should be worn even if a similar one that came later was superior. I can’t remember anyone making this claim, it makes no sense, and I have argued the opposite (that is, that later releases sometimes seem to “fix the problems” the trailblazing scent possessed). Perhaps the same perfumer did both and had a bigger budget to work with on Red. Overall, it troubles me that this person can’t accept the undeniable reality anyone can see for themselves with an ebay sold items search. Perhaps it is time for him to stop calling vintage collectors deluded (and thinking about ways to argue against reality) and ask himself if he is obsessed !

As of approximately 9:30 PM EST on October 21, 2014, these are some of the ebay sold item results for Relax Davidoff (with a picture of the top results):

125 ml EdT (95% full) for $151.00 total
20 new 5 ml mini EdT bottes for $138 total.
New 75 ml EdT for $120 total.
New 75 ml EdT for $120 total.
New 30 ml EdT for $86.11 total.
New 30 ml EdT for $86.11 total.

Instead of asking, “Why No Sales?” of this scent, I am asking this person, why lie about these sales at what he seems to consider very high prices?

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Filed under Criticizing the critics.

The ongoing Cool Water versus Green Irish Tweed “debate.”

Over at the FromPyrgos blog, there’s a recent post about how the author has changed his assessment of Cool Water, especially relative to Green Irish Tweed. I’m certainly glad to see some flexibility in this person’s mind regarding these complex concoctions, and I agree with some of his notions. For example, I think CW (in the Lancaster formulations I have tried) has good note separation and is obviously more complex than GIT. I’d also agree that CW isn’t especially “chemical,” at least relative to GIT. The dihydromyrcenol in both is glaring, but that doesn’t bother me, so long as it’s not too strong (as is the case in something like Wings for Men by GoBH) and there are other notes that provide enough balance. However, anyone who is sensitive to dihydromyrcenol certainly should not be criticized for finding these kinds of scents (of which there are more than a few) too be “too chemical.” One could criticize them for not being specific, because as the FromPyrgos author points out, just about all these concoctions are quite “chemical” and of course naturals contain some of the exact same molecules anyway, such as eugenol in cloves.

CW may work well for this person, but to me there are huge note clashes, which are “smoothed” out in at least one Coty formulation I’ve tried, though that comes at the expense of making it smell like one of the many imitators that have been marketed since the late 1980s. At this point, I think I prefer Startdu8st for Men to any of these, but that could change, of course. The reason is that it possesses more interesting not contrast than GIT and yet it doesn’t have the kind of note clashes I perceive in CW. Those who don’t perceive a note clash in CW, and enjoy complex scents, may find CW to be the best of the bunch. However, what I’ve noticed is that many who claim that GIT and CW are very similar seem to be missing how sweet CW is, again especially relative to GIT. This doesn’t surprise me, though, because as a newbie I didn’t detect sweetness or dryness very well.

One thing I don’t understand is how violet leaf, lavender, iris, and citrus can be perceived as similar to neroli, lavender, rosemary, geranium, and jasmine. Of course, if you use a bunch of sprays and largely forget about the scent twenty minutes later, that could lead to a very different olfactory experience than mine, spraying once or twice and trying to avoid most of the top notes. Still, this is something that reviewers rarely mention in their comments. The FromPyrogs author perceives this in CW (up to the base):

…citrus, green apple, a saline breeze, lavender, peppermint, and neroli, all in the top accord alone. These notes are followed by clear notes of jasmine, cedar, amber, violet leaf, violet, and more amber… has CW’s notes as the following:

Top notes include mint and green nuances, lavender, coriander and rosemary. The heart notes include geranium, neroli, jasmine and sandalwood. The base is composed of cedarwood, musk, amber and tobacco.

This seems to be an excellent example of how notes can be perceived quite differently, though extreme sensitivity to certain aroma chemicals is another possible explanation (the claim about violet or violet leaf notes in CW makes no sense to me, for example), but I prefer GIT to CW for another reason (besides the note clash issue in CW), which is that I get a pleasant sandalwood note in GIT (regardless of how “natural” it really is, which is why I often say “reasonably natural” in my reviews). In CW, I get a “woody amber” effect, which screams out “generic” to me. If you put that with some notes I enjoy, however (Green Jeans by Versace, for instance), it can enhance the scent by providing some contrast, but in CW it’s just another element that serves to clash with other elements and is not of any interest on its own.

The point of this FromPyrgos post seems to be to take back criticism of Luca Turin. In his “Perfumes: The Guide” book, Turin gave CW five stars but GIT received four (out of a possible five). Perhaps it might help to use film analogies here. CW comes across to me as an ambitious film that just doesn’t work at all (such as “Inception”), whereas GIT is more like an “independent” film that tries to tell a “simple” story about “ordinary” people. From what I understand, “Inception” has been quite profitable, just like CW. My guess is that “freshness” (not the perception of a “fresh” smell) can be major factors in these instances, that is, after a while there are too many similar “products” and something very different can become popular quickly, regardless of how “good” it is. And this eventually happened to CW, which itself is now perceived as “old” by many, apparently.

A major issue I have with “Perfumes: The Guide” is that at times the tone (I’m speaking mostly of Turin’s, not Sanchez’) is authoritative, whereas at others it’s whimsical, and in some cases the reader is given no idea about the actual smell of the scent in question. This authoritative quality is entirely inconsistent with my experiences with these concoctions, because of how one’s perception can change significantly, even in a short period of time. I can’t say, for example, that at some point CW’s note clashes won’t be perceived as pleasant contrasts, but I’ve tried several times over the course of at least five years now, so I’ve given up hope on this possibility. On the other hand, I once perceived Pi by Givenchy to be too simple and sweet, yet now I’m able to detect and appreciate the wood note, which makes the scent pleasant (by contrasting with the gourmand elements and rendering the scent balanced, at least beyond the top notes).

I hope the FromPyrgos author will continue to reassess his earlier reviews. For me, this makes this hobby a lot more interesting. Otherwise, I can see how many get bored quickly – they seem to be too quick to dismiss scents as “generic,” uninspired, etc. I hope Turin also comes to see that it’s often a good idea to give at least some scents a second or third chance, but I doubt this will happen because he is likely bombarded with samples from companies that want him to review their scents, as well as in light of some of the things he’s said on this subject. My thought has been “it’s his loss, not mine,” and that’s why I’ve gone back to scents I’ve found quite irritating, such as CW, but we are not immortal, and so at some point one has to decide that one’s precious time should be devoted to something else, in this case a scent one enjoys or one hopes to enjoy (such as to sample something new). However, if someone wants to regard scent appreciation as a kind of battle, that is their right, but others have the right to criticize them for this !

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Stardust for Men and Women by Llewelyn.

For those interested (and following up on my last post), this is apparently the original press release on the two scents:

Parfums Llewelyn
Parfums Llewelyn is a prestige fragrance company with a vision of designing fragrances that express and affirm the value of the women and men who use them. Parfums Llewelyn’s fragrances celebrate the dreams and accomplishments, and fuels the desires of women and men, recognizing the uniqueness and value of each individual. The products by design and presentation allow customers to express and affirm themselves through fragrance.

STARDUST, the premier Parfums Llewelyn fragrance line is truly celebratory. From the stunning prismatic bottle with its star-embossed oval cap, to its brushed silver and blue outer packaging, to the translucent clarity and freshness of the floral – oriental “juice” inside, the STARDUST woman’s fragrance inspires and affirms her. Today’s woman is more confident and self-assured. STARDUST captures her sparkle and sensuality as well as her strength.

STARDUST for men is powerful without being overwhelming, invigorating and infinitely appealing. Fresh, but with a Fougere structure emphasizing a sensual woodiness intermingles with citrus, hints of bourbon vanilla, rich musk and impressions of leather. The fragrances are dissimilar yet complimentary. The STARDUST male is secure in himself and can find pleasure in the strength and continued growth of the woman. Both make a dynamic statement separately or paired.

Phillip (Philippe) Llewelyn Prime – Visionary, Perfumer and Founder
In a market that is jaded by too much of the same comes a fresh voice with a different cadence. Phillip has brought to the prestige fragrance industry a point of view shaped by his Caribbean roots and the influence of a powerful yet gentle mother who gave birth to fourteen children and nurtured every one to extraordinary success.

“My mother’s signature was her fashion elegance and her passion was mentoring children. Scores of successful men and women in different parts of the world credit their achievements to her inspiration. I grew up accepting the extraordinary influence and unlimited potential of women as a fact of every day life. My fragrance reflects that expectation. STARDUST celebrates affirms and inspires this vision”

Phillip discovered an interest in fragrance during his boyhood years as he explored the wealth of fragrant, exotic botanicals in his native Trinidad. As a Research Chemist, then later as a Perfumer with Elizabeth Arden, he was able to hone his creative skills and enhance his natural ability, contributing to the success of lines such as Chloe by Lagerfeld, KL and Lagerfeld for men.

Today, with more than three decades of industry experience to his credit, Phillip has shaped, STARDUST, a fragrance line that captures a woman’s true essence and comes as close to giving what every women desires in a sensory encounter – total satisfaction.

“STARDUST is the story of people, passion, relationships and the power of individual potential to create and enjoy a lifestyle that is exciting and self-affirming.” Phillip Prime – Founder

STARDUST Marketing
In marketing STARDUST, Parfums Llewelyn has taken a departure from the traditional thinking. There is no “sexploitation” and no particular celebrity endorsement. The STARDUST woman speaks with her own voice. She has an inherent sense of her own value and wears her fragrance because she enjoys it and it affirms her.

STARDUST sells because the fragrance itself is luscious. Because it’s unique, elegant, prismatic bottle echoes the multi-dimensional aspect of its user. It is – and she is – a surprise at every turn always alluring but never completely predictable. Like the cobalt blue embossed stars on the cap, she sparkles in her sphere.

Bold, modern, dramatic, STARDUST combines the mystery of the future with the romance of the past. Once used, it is not forgotten. In every decade there have been fragrances that have captured the spirit of the times and the imagination of the women who have worn them. Now comes STARDUST, sparkling, sensuous, satisfying, articulating the very essence of today’s aspiring and accomplished woman.

STARDUST The Fragrance
There is an element of surprise and intrigue characterizing STARDUST. It is, like the woman who wears it, complex, contemporary, passionate, unpredictable. STARDUST is a fruity, floral-oriental fragrance. Created for the woman of today, STARDUST captures the very essence of who she is and the intriguing nuances of all she is becoming

The fragrance opens with a modern splash of tropical tangerine and water hyacinth. A dash of pepper adds a burst of tingling excitement, while soft petals of purple freesia and osmanthus flower hint at the subtle fruity nuances intermingling throughout.

The heart blooms with the luxurious floral notes of Casablanca lily, night blooming jasmine, red carnation, peony and yellow mimosa. The sensuality of the drydown comes through an intoxicating blend of sandalwood, musk, precious woods, amber and luscious plum.

The STARDUST Fragrance Collection
Women’s Parfum, 30 ml $250.00
Women’s Eau de Parfum, 50 ml $ 78.00
Women’s Eau de Parfum, 100 ml $110.00
Women’s Eau de Toilette, 50 ml $ 65.00
Women’s Eau de Toilette, 100 ml $ 95.00
Women’s Perfume Body Lotion, 6.7 oz $ 40.00
Women’s Bath and Shower Gel, 6.7 oz $ 30.00
Women’s Moisturizing Body Mist, 200 ml $ 48.00
Men’s Eau de Toilette, 50 ml $ 58.00
Men’s Eau de Toilette, 100 ml $ 85.00
Men’s After Shave Balm, 5 0z $ 42.00
Men’s Bath and Shower Gel, 6.7 oz $ 22.00

STARDUST Packaging
How do you bottle passion, inspiration and aspiration? How do you contain the joy of living in the present and the excitement of future expectations in an essence? If a fragrance can, STARDUST does.

The very name STARDUST evokes an image of mystery and romance. The contrast of nostalgia and the era it implies, versus a contemporary feeling of constellations and starlit skies, creates an alluring appeal. At first glance you feel the contemporary drama of a cut rock crystal slab. Simple and elegant, it is both impressive and glamorous at the same time. Topped with its brushed silver nameplate and star-embossed cobalt blue oval cap, the STARDUST bottle makes a statement that is elegant, expensive and inspirational.

The STARDUST parfum bottle is considered a unique “work of art” by the fragrance industry. The brainchild of world famous designer Marc Rosen, the bottle represents a multi-faceted crystal prism through which light explodes and the crystalline fragrance comes alive. Winner of five of the industry’s most prestigious Fifi Awards, Marc Rosen considers STARDUST one of his most innovative efforts. The bottle represents the multi-dimensional aspects of the STARDUST consumer.

“Through the striking, crystalline prisms of the perfume bottle, she sees a reflection of herself.”- Marc Rosen

The STARDUST carton provides a simple backdrop for this dynamic perfume bottle. Echoing the brushed silver feeling of the nameplate, the front of the box is punctuated with the embossed cap design in a blue oval. The sides of the box contrast with the front and the back in a matching blue.

Selecting STARDUST, consumers are buying into a lifestyle and attitude they can relate…or aspire to. The bottle, touchable and appealing, provides each woman with a multi-dimensional reflection of herself.

STARDUST For Men (Debuts June 2001) “He is visionary, self-confident and affirms his relationships” STARDUST For Men is an original composition of fresh citrus notes and sensual woody tones. The fragrance is built on a Fougere structure, which includes Italian Bergamot, Spike Lavender, Egyptian Geranium, Oakmoss and a Tobacco accord. It opens with top notes of Mexican Lime, Mediterranean Lemon, juicy Green Mandarin, Siberian Fir Needle, French Cypress and shaved Nutmeg. Middle notes are a heady blend of Stephanotis Jasmine, Ceylonese Sandalwood and Indonesian Patchouli. The full-bodied base is composed of Haitian Vetiver, Benzoin Siam, Spanish Labdanum, creamy Amber, African Olibanum, Bourbon Vanilla, rich Musk and impressions of Leather.

The STARDUST male is at home with himself, yet embraces the sense of completeness that relationships provide. He is confident in his inner strength yet inclusive enough to value and encourage others. He is un-compromising, visionary, complex and ambitious, yet supportive and generous. He makes a great mentor and a companionable friend, and in his life’s journey, leaves the sparkle of stardust in his path.

On the site, there are two reviews for the women’s version:

After seeing on Neiman-Marcus online, I was finally able to quench my curiosity about this new fragrance thanks to a lovely swapper. Its notes are listed as osmanthus flower, water hyacinth, tangerine, purple freesia, and pepper; the heart of mimosa, red carnation, Casablanca lily, night blooming jasmine, and peony, and the base notes of musk, amber, precious woods, sandalwood, and plum.
Lovely as this hypothetically fabulous bouquet may sound, Stardust is just another watery floral a la Yves Rocher’s Ming Shu. My verdict: hold on to your $150+!

Got a sample of this from a Cosmic Perfumes purchase. I’ve never heard of it and there’s no maker name on the vial or its card. Anyway, ditto jjff’s Stardust review. “Watery floral” describes it perfectly although, on me, it’s much, much more watery than floral. I’m astounded by all the notes (thanks to jjff’s review) that go into Stardust. If some perfumes have a synergy, this one has a negative synergy, since its sum is so much less. It seems to have been very exclusive during its debut, and it’s still $50+ on most of the sites it’s sold on. Let me sniff again – it’s pretty but barely there!

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Filed under The basics.

Olfactory Stardust Memories.

For those of you who don’t know, Woody Allen wrote, directed, and starred in a film called “Stardust Memories” (1980). When I first saw it, some time in the 80s, my thought was something like “Woody uses his usual neurotic comedy schtick to do an homage to Fellini.” I enjoyed the film for the most part, though I remember thinking it would have been interesting to get some “backstory” on the several main female characters.

In 2001, a scent marketed to men called Stardust was released by Llewelyn. The notes for it (from the original press release) are:

…Italian Bergamot, Spike Lavender, Egyptian Geranium, Oakmoss and a Tobacco accord. It opens with top notes of Mexican Lime, Mediterranean Lemon, juicy Green Mandarin, Siberian Fir Needle, French Cypress and shaved Nutmeg. Middle notes are a heady blend of Stephanotis Jasmine, Ceylonese Sandalwood and Indonesian Patchouli. The full-bodied base is composed of Haitian Vetiver, Benzoin Siam, Spanish Labdanum, creamy Amber, African Olibanum, Bourbon Vanilla, rich Musk and impressions of Leather. .

I first sampled this in 2008, when it was “all the rage” on, but I was unable to appreciate it. For me at the time, it was just another “fresh” scent, and when I began this hobby, in 2007, it was the orientals that I first became drawn to in a major way. Then it was the gourmands. And after that the complex vintage “masculines.” Then various “feminines,” mostly vintage. It took a few years before scents that came across to me as “fresh” started to interest me. The reason is that I was much more familiar with notes and “naturalness.”

Stardust has been compared to Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water for Men, and this is the main reason why I think a post about it is worthwhile. Unlike those two it seems to have a lot less dihydromyrcenol and little if any lavender. It also doesn’t have the wood and amber base of GIT nor the “woody amber” base of CW. There no violet leaf, as in GIT, and I can detect perhaps a hint of jasmine, whereas it is obvious in CW. However, I’d say it is compositionally closer to GIT than to CW (it’s a bit more complex than GIT), though it’s heavier and drier. It’s certainly not a sweet scent, though I would classify CW as such. Here is part of my review of it (it’s not listed on at the moment):

I first sampled this as a newbie, and at the time my sense of smell was quite sensitive. This came across as harsh and discordant. Now I realize that was just the top notes, but these days I enjoy that lime/nutmeg/pine combination. For me, this does what GIT does, but in a more original, and hence more enjoyable way. There are so many “fresh” violet leaf/lavender type scents, and yet few like this one. However, to me the best part is the drydown, which again is similar in “feel” to GIT but doesn’t seem to have much dihydromyrcenol. Somehow, Stardust does what so many “dihydromyrcenol overload” scents fail to do, that is, create a slightly creamy (“crowd pleasing”), aromatic, and natural smelling effect, while possessing good note separation and dynamism. The sandalwood note is fairly good, but I don’t get clear leather, and the patchouli is mild, just a minor part of the blend. In a sense, this is Aventus for those who have some measure of “maturity” (in terms of how scents are often classified by age). Overall, I consider this quite an achievement and I can’t think of anything that is on this level. Oscar for Men (1999) had a similar idea, but feels rather heavy, muddled, and indistinct by comparison (and I consider Oscar to be quite good).

For me, Stardust for Men has a similar quality to “Stardust Memories,” in that I am led to reconsider previous assessments from years ago. I don’t find Woody Allen’s early films to be nearly as entertaining as I did at first (and I find his recent cinematic efforts to be laughable – not in a “good way”). By contrast, I can’t believe how good Stardust is, and how little I understood about scents back then (just as I didn’t know nearly as much about film when I first saw “Stardust Memories”). Using the word stardust in any name or title is problematic. In many people’s minds. expectations are likely to be raised upon hearing it, as a special, perhaps “sparkling,” quality is suggested. I don’t think of Stardust as a sparkling scent, though is does have a dry and particulate quality. One way to view it is as an attempt to combine Versace L’Homme type scents with the “fresh” ones with loads of dihydromyrcenol marketed to men beginning in the 1980s. I’d be quite interested to know what the perfumer had intended !

The latest contender for a “stardust” quality among “masculines” seems to be Aventus, if discussions on Basenotes is to be used as a major criterion to judge how special a scent is perceived, yet it does not supply the same kind of aficionado experience that Stardust does. There is nothing like clear pine, spice, sandalwood, etc. in the base. Instead, it comes across to me as too blended, though not unpleasant. Lastly, I can’t help but think of “Stardust Memories” when I think of Stardust – I wonder what all those Basenotes members who were scrambling to buy a bottle nearly a decade ago think about it now, or has it been entirely forgotten, other than perhaps being one of many bottles in a large rotation? Dust to dust…

UPDATE: When I take the cap off and smell it that way the lavender note is obvious but not strong. I think the other notes largely overwhelmed the lavender one when I wore it the usual way the other day.

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My short, “non-review” of Guerlain’s L’Homme Ideal

After reading a thread entitled “Guerlain L’Homme Ideal…pathetic generic trash,” which can be found here:

I decided to read the reviews at BN and at, and a bit later posted something like the following at the latter site, in the review section:

I have never been less interested in sampling a scent, let alone a Guerlain, as I am in sampling this one. From what I’ve read, I’d be better off wearing The Secret, FUBU Plush for Men, or Le Baier Du Dragon. I could also layer these, perhaps creating a similar but superior olfactory experience.

I say “like the following” because Fragrantica quickly deleted my review (less than 24 hours). This is their right, of course, but I wish they would be as quick to delete reviews that are simply attempts to sell bottles of the scent in question and also as quick to add new scents to their database. None of the submissions I’ve made, some of which I’ve made long ago, have been added, to my knowledge, for example, and this includes the popular (several years ago at Basenotes, at least) Stardust for Men.

In any case, I think my “non-review” contained information that at least some of those interested in L’Homme Ideal would like to know, which is the opinion of someone who has sampled hundreds of scents and who has read hundreds if not thousands of reviews. For example, The Secret, which is much less expensive, might work out perfectly fine as a substitute, whereas the other two have almond or amaretto type notes and the overall scent may be superior, so that person may want to sample these before committing to a bottle of L’Homme Ideal. This is especially true for those on a tight budget (in the case of The Secret).

And let me make clear that I am certainly no Geurlain “hater.” They’ve done at least a reasonably good job of creating scents that seem to be of good quality and don’t sell at very high prices, for the most part (it’s not uncommon to find their bottles at major discounter B&M stores in the USA, for example). I own (mostly from trades) Habit Rouge, Heritage, two Vetiver versions, Shalimar, Shalimar Light, Anisia Bella, L’Instant Homme, Guerlain Homme, and Vol de Nuit. What’s interesting is that I rarely reach for any of them, as there is something about these that comes across as lacking, probably dynamism, at least in the drydowns Perhaps the best of the lot, for me of course, is vintage Heritage EdT.

If Guerlain wanted to market a “crowd pleasing” scent for men, that’s fine with me. If I see it at a Sephora (which I haven’t visited in a couple years now) I might want to at least spray it on a card, but from what I’ve read about it there’s absolutely nothing about it that would lead me to think that it would fill a niche in my rotation. Would I swap for a bottle? Sure, if I thought the value was equal and I was ridding myself of something I don’t like, why not? I can then possibly swap it for something that I do like in the case that I didn’t feel the need to own a bottle of L’Homme Ideal. I don’t mind wearing The Secret, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I enjoyed L’Homme Ideal – the aficionado question is, should I spend money to acquire a bottle ?

UPDATE: This “review” of Encens Mythique D’Orient (below) appeared on the site on October 4, but it has yet to be removed, as my was, as of October 8. You can judge for yourself – does this “review” contain more useful information (about the respective scents in question) than mine did? If you are going to delete submissions in the review sections of your web site, shouldn’t you have some consistency? Isn’t that the professional thing to do? Or is professionalism out of style in this context?

Just had to comment about the person stating that @ $240.00 this was too expensive. Update, this now costs $275.00 + tax! I purchased Songe D’un bois d’ete from Saks on line before it sold out. They gave me 10% off, plus free shipping. I definitely don’t regret it at all.

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In Search of Big Foot and the Super-Charged GIT !

When I was quite young I remember being frightened by that “In Search of…” show hosted by Leonard Nimoy. Looking back on it, the music likely was largely responsible, because I didn’t understand much of what was being claimed. And I was a rather trusting child, so I don’t think I understood that there could be absolute nonsense broadcast on a “major network.” Nor did my parents explain to me that it was meant to be entertainment, though they probably should not have allowed me to watch it at all. However, there is clearly a percentage of the population that become “true believers,” and it doesn’t matter what argument you make or what evidence you present to them. Fortunately, I entered graduate school at a young age and learned about how to assess evidence – that helped me avoid spending a lot of time “chasing ghosts.”

Speaking of which, on a recent thread, a rather strange claim was made about a sealed Green Irish Tweed bottle:

When I got this bottle, there were a couple other people on BN complaining that it was extremely weak and light juice, no longevity at all. I didn’t have this experience, I’d wear 2 sprays and it would last around 6 hours. However, months later and my lord, my juice has matured a TON! Only one spray (and from a distance at that, i couldn’t even wear a whole spray) is CRAZY potent.

I pointed out that in a sealed bottle, there can’t be an incredible surge in strength without the smell being different, but one person who seemed to think he had a scientific explanation, made this claim:

If the precursors that they originally mix aren’t as strong smelling until after oxidation, then in that respect there are MORE of the strong-smelling, oxidized molecules (and fewer unoxidized molecules) post oxidation. In other words, if A –> B, after a while there will be more B and less A. If B has a stronger scent than A, then the result will be a stronger smelling perfume.

What I find especially humorous about this notion is that if this was the case, perfume companies would have figured this out long ago, and then they would be able to use less ingredients to create the same effect. In any case, this was my response to that statement:

Nobody is contesting that, though. The point I’m making is that A is not going to smell the same as B but much stronger. One molecule that is likely in GIT in fairly large amounts is linalool [I could have also mentioned dihydromrycenol, etc.], for example. It has two forms, and they smell clearly different. So, even with a molecule that has a mirror image, so to speak, the scent is different. At that point it doesn’t matter if it seems stronger or not because it does not smell the same. My guess is that you are not as aware as you think you are, in terms of either psychological effects or an ability to detect various aspects of a scent. For example, if you spray two similar scents on your ankles, and after smelling one you smell the other, what happens is common notes are “knocked out” and you smell mostly the notes, accords or aroma chemicals that the two do not have in common. If you want to make a claim about putting certain molecules in a sealed bottle, such as linalool, then letting one sit in the light after being sprayed a bit over the course of a couple months, or something along those lines, and then finding that is smells like the control (which hasn’t been sprayed and has been kept in cool/dark conditions) but is much stronger, go ahead and make it. But there is no “magic molecule” in GIT. The ones responsible for the vast majority of how it is perceived by people are not going to get much stronger but smell the same.

What I find so interesting, though, is how easily people can be convinced, or can convince themselves, that something “magical” has happened. I’m now wondering if the FromPyrgos author’s claim about GIT needing some room to “bloom” over the course of a few months is a factor here (in terms of the idea becoming disseminated online). This is his notion:

Green Irish Tweed is a rather weak perfume. It smells very green and crisp, but has limited longevity, and almost no sillage. But if you notice, Creed bottles aren’t airtight. They’re actually very poorly made. My last bottle of GIT used to leak from the atomizer base. That means air is getting inside the bottle, and mingling with the fragrance. It also means alcohol and water is evaporating out.

After a few wearings, let a bottle of Green Irish Tweed sit for six months. Then come back to it. When you spray again, you’ll be blown away by its strength. Suddenly, this perfume is an eighties powerhouse…

For those who don’t know, this person also made this claim:

Air in the bottle will change things, ever so subtly at first, but given enough time and a combination of other natural factors, like temperature, humidity, and exposure to sunlight, will eventually ruin the perfumer’s idea, and create a fragrance very different from that which he formulated.

What does one of the most famous perfumers, Guy Robert, have to say on this subject?

Once you have opened the bottle, a light oxidation process takes place inside. If you forget to close the bottle after you have used the perfume, this will only speed up the process. The fresh, fleeting top notes of the fragrance will tend to “calm down” a bit; it’s true that this will not completely ruin the fragrance, but it will change the initial impression you get from your perfume.

Note that it sounds like he is referring to a “splash” bottle here. However, at least we have something here to work with that seems “real.” That is, we first need a leaky bottle of GIT that the person doesn’t know leaks because it only had its seal broker after it was placed upright (and the person would have had to never turn it upside down for more than a short period of time). Then the top notes might get substantially weaker, though this is highly unlikely for a bottle that is a few months old or younger. Then there would be the psychological effect this would have, meaning that the person would not experience much olfactory fatigue at this point, and the drydown would seem to be quite a bit stronger, though the smell might be perceived as being the same. Is Big Foot sounding more plausible to you now? If so, are you wondering if it would appreciate the super-charged Green Irish Tweed?

Finally, the BN member I believe to be the FromPyrgos author decided to post to the thread in question with this:

Bigsly’s main fallback for when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about: “cite some evidence for your claim.”
How about everything tensor said. The truth behind the claim is owning and wearing GIT for years, and starting with new bottles. Unless you’ve been doing the same, I doubt you know what you’re talking about in this regard. Sorry, man.

So for him, science is trumped by perception? Isn’t the reason why science is so important precisely because impressions, bias, etc. need to be put aside in order to let the evidence speak for itself?

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My Own Magnificent Secretion Creation.

I’ve never tried Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d`Orange, but a few years ago it was a popular discussion topic at Perhaps it would have been better to market something apparently so “experimental” as a sample rather than in large bottles, but I have no idea how their business model works and this scent may have been quite successful, at least in terms of expectations. My thought is that it would be best to create several different “oddball” scents and sell samples as a “collection.” Then the company could also sell bottles (let’s say 50 ml), which they would fill up when an order was placed, rather than spending a whole lot of money on bottles that are sealed up (meaning they can’t be used for whichever scent becomes popular), along with fancy labels and boxes. They could use very plain labels and bubble wrap, which might become part of the attraction. Instead, it seems that (or at least ELdO)) wanted to be odd in a way that is appealing to those who view themselves as “hip” (or whatever).

Interestingly, I created a very strange scent unintentionally, though it smelled reasonably good to begin with, several years ago. It began with a purchase of a tomato leaf accord, and I don’t even remember exactly what I was thinking when I bought it. Then I tried combining it with a strong amber scent, I think Casmir. I then forgot about it for several years, rediscovering my concoction recently. I didn’t even know what it was, because the label had fallen off, but as soon as I opened it I could recognize the tomato leaf accord. It was in a small glass bottle that I wanted to use for something else, so I dumped this mixture out into the sink (there was probably no more than a couple of ml in it), then ran the water for several seconds. I quickly realized that it didn’t smell quite right, though the strength of it was amazing (and I’m pretty sure I followed the directions, in terms of how much to use).

Coincidentally, I also invited a couple over to the house that day, and when they arrived the whole house smelled like the weird concoction. The husband hated the smell but his wife thought it was nice (at first), though strong. Perhaps an hour later she said that it was beginning to irritate her. I didn’t know what to make of it, because there was something about it that seemed to cause pain to the nose, yet the notes seemed about right (I’d say there was at least a somewhat metallic quality to it, though). Needless to say, I don’t want to repeat this “experiment,” and I just threw that bottle in the garbage, though in retrospect I should have screwed the cap back on and put it somewhere for a few months and then tried it again.

By contrast, I began using a smock type garment while making up samples and decants because I hate getting a little bit of this and a little bit of that scent on my clothing when I do this. I guess one would call this inadvertent layering, but it generally results in an unpleasant olfactory experience. However, the other day, when I went to retrieve the smock to make up some samples, I noticed that it smelled very nice. It was a little sweet, a little powdery, perhaps at touch spicy, but very rich and “full,” though otherwise it was difficult to make any notes out clearly. It reminded me of what Luca Turin said in his “Perfumes: The Guide” book (co-authored by Tania Sanchez): “The difficulty with this kind of composition is that it works only if the raw materials are of exquisite quality. Nothing is harder to do on the cheap than diffuse, soft-focus luxury.”

On at least some level, the smell emanating from the smock has this “diffuse, soft-focus” and luxuriant quality. It reminds me of some very old scents I’ve encountered (marketed to women), but those tend to have poor longevity and don’t feel as rich or full. I’ve made samples of new scents that possess strong “synthetic” qualities, so I am surprised that the smock doesn’t have an unpleasant odor that is similar to the one I created with the tomato leaf accord. I do remember getting some of a scent on clothing for the first time and thinking that something was very wrong. One example is Cuba Gold. On skin I liked it, but when I got some on my shirt, it seemed like a sweet “synthetic” quality emerged perhaps an hour later, sort of like an attempt at a new candy flavoring that failed badly. Generally, I seek dynamism, and what’s on the smock doesn’t seem to possess much of this quality, but for some reason it never gets boring, though I haven’t yet tried sitting for a while with it on my lap, to see if it maintains all its good qualities without taking on any negative ones.

If there are any “new developments,” I’ll update this post.

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