Perry Ellis Oud: Black Vanilla Absolute is (was) back!

And why would anyone think it was gone forever?  That may not be the key question, because unlike other collectibles markets, these olfactory concoction bottles represent something else as well, that is, a kind of “upscale” personal care product (one that gets used up over time).  So, while it may have strong similarities to most other collectibles markets, it also exhibits some unique qualities.   For example, some scents produced not long ago may be cheaper today to produce, but there are the IFRA regulations that may make that impossible now (at least for the major companies).  One can argue that the biggest companies may have worked “behind the scenes” to accomplish this, because they want to produce cheaper scents, but I don’t think that is clearly the case at this point (if so, please disclose your evidence!).

For me, the key question is, why is this scent considered something special?  Now to be clear here, I rarely think a scent is special in the context of what I already own, which is why I was very pleasantly surprised by Dolcelisir by L`Erbolario, a great gourmand that possesses enough balance not to become cloying.  And I had fairly high expectations when I decided to “blind swap” for it, which is rarely the case.  Other than already possessing quite a few gourmands, I read complaints about the longevity of PEO:BVA, so I did not buy it when I had the opportunity the other day.  However, I do think I might acquire it in a swap, especially if and when enough bottles are produced to meet demand (at a price of say $50 or less at the major discounters).  Another fragrance blogger has some very different ideas.  One statement he made recently is:

“…most people have never heard of this fragrance…”

I don’t see this as an issue because nobody I know has heard of many fragrances, including nearly all by Chanel that don’t include numbers!  What appears to have happened here is that a fan base built up quickly for this one, and then there are those who want to grab a bottle at around $50 or less, even if they just want to resell it quickly.  The people who released this scent couldn’t have predicted that this one would be the “blockbuster,” but then again we have no idea how many bottles were produced.  It is certainly possible that the fan base isn’t that large – and the company may now want to release it in small numbers to keep the prices high, though it’s also possible that they have a protocol and they follow it no matter what the sales are.  This blogger then says something I find rather strange, especially in light of the recent success of Sauvage:

“The problem with OBVA is that it’s a Perry Ellis fragrance. Quality-wise, this brand might, when standing on its tippy-toes, brush the Chanel Allure line, and just barely at that.”

First, I consider the initial “masculine” PE scent to be outstanding, but of course times have changed.  On the other hand, this was PE’s attempt at an “exclusive line,” so if they just threw a lot of vanillin and “the usual” masculine “suspects” together, it might have come across something one would find in a Cuba scent.  Then again, Cuba Prestige is an excellent A*Men-like scent!  Things get awfully complicated quickly when trying to get answers to such questions, especially when you add plenty of speculation into the mix (or write as if something must be the case that you cannot verify!).  But after the “ambroxan-overload” Sauvage , why shouldn’t we expect similar things from “lesser” companies?  They might skimp a bit on the aroma chemicals to save a few pennies, but my sense lately is that the main differences involve how much time is spent on “tweaking” the formulation, assuming the perfumers are of roughly equal competency (which may not be the case, for all I know).

The nature of “hype” in this context is also worthy of mention here, as I did my best to describe Amber for Men by Iceberg, pointing out similarities to Ambre Sultan (though Amber also has a rum note!), but I still see it on Scentedmonkey, for example, at $8.73 for 100 mls.  And I’ve been told by people, now and then, that they’ve made some purchases based upon my recommendations and were very pleased.  But again, we simply have very limited information.  For all we know, for example, there may have been 100 times the number of Amber bottles produced relative to PEO:BVA!  The rum and vanilla combination seems like it would get cloying to me, and I have yet to read a review of PEO:BVA that suggests there is enough contrast for my tastes (unlike in Amber, where there is contrast with an herbal note and a hint of the marine-like quality of ambroxan).  Now as to :

“Who Pays Over $50 For This? (Hint: Nobody.)”

Two people did recently, about $100 total per bottle (see ebay item number 381628715126).  Presumably, this was prior to the temporary restocking, but it’s out of stock again, and people spend money on all kinds of “frivolous” things every moment of the day – to me $50 per 100 ml is rather questionable.  I only do it once in a long while when I think the bottle will not lose value and may be something special.  For me, PEO:BVA doesn’t seem like something I should pursue because I can imagine getting a bottle on ebay for $25 a year or two from now, and also because I doubt I’d find it better (or unique enough) than the gourmands I already possess.  I find HM by Hanae Mori to be a unique gourmand, for example, but I don’t wear it because I simply don’t like the composition!  With PEO:BVA I don’t think the composition will be unique enough and also pleasant.  If it were around $10, like Amber, then I would be too tempted to see what it’s like, but otherwise, I don’t feel at all deprived, and that is where I want to end this blog post: perhaps what is mostly driving the sales is that most buyers don’t want to feel that they let something “great” pass them by, so to speak.

NOTE:  My referencing of ebay item number 381628715126 has been called into question so I’ll include a screen shot below.  From what I understand this means that at least one bottle was purchased for $99.95 on May twelfth of this year.  When I clicked on the link to the auction page, it showed that two were purchased, so I assumed this meant both were purchased at this price.  Now considering what the listed prices on ebay have been over the last few months for PEO:BVA, as well as how ebay’s sold items search only goes back a short period of time, I have little doubt that both sold at that price, but if anyone can explain why this is unlikely please leave a comment here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to “downsize” your wardrobe ?

I guess I could have also titled this post, “Jack of all trade but master of none.”  However, I think there is some “mastery” present.  I’m referring to recent releases that seem to be a “bit of this and that.”  Some  people seem to have a strong negative reaction to these kinds of compositions, which is understandable (at least for a short period of time).  An example is Bleu de Chanel EdT, which was criticized on Basenotes.net for being “generic” and/or a collection of bits and pieces of other designer “masculines.”  But here’s a key point: if you’ve already got a whole lot of bottles and would like to rid yourself of some, it might be useful to think about which scent may be able to replace three or more others!

For me, this might be the case with Fan di Fendi Uomo.  This scent is technically sound (good projection and very good longevity) and is similar to Gucci Pour Homme II and HiM by Hanae Mori, and has a touch of Le Male as well!  I’m not a big fan of GPH2 or Le Male, but I do like HiM, which is ambery, unlike FdFU, so I might want to keep that one.  There’s a good chance I’ll swap or sell off a few bottles now that I acquired 80+ ml of FdFU at a good price.  Or if the prices for FdFU were to rise sharply, I would likely sell it and keep one or two of the others.

I also own Cubano Gold, which is a good Le Male type scent (to me it’s not as “in your face” as Le Male), which cost very little, so there’s no reason to sell it and it’s got very little swap value.  A scent like this is good for layering as well as for using on its own, so it’s value is very high relative to what I paid and how it is valued by others.  Any scent I own that I think might do well with a touch of Le Male can be layered with it, and sometimes I just get bored with a scent after an hour or so and want to experiment, so it’s good to have these kinds of scents lying around, since a spray or two cost next to nothing (and if the bottle were to break it would hardly bother me at all).

But getting back to “downsizing,” I think an important thing to do is to be able to recognize when you are “done” with a scent.  During my first few years of being a fragrance hobbyist, I swapped a few bottles off that I regretted, and then reacquired them, so it’s crucial to make sure you know that have no interest in the scent going forward.  For me this is the case with certain kinds of scents, such as ones with a lot of calone, or another aroma chemical that really bothers me.  Also, scents that feature strong wood notes and little else are ones I simply dislike intensely (other than sandalwood, which has more of a creamy quality).  After several years of trying to enjoy certain scents, I’ve decided that some are never going to be agreeable.

Another type of scent that lends itself to downsizing, for me, is the fougere.  As a newbie (who is interested mostly in “masculines”), one might acquire more than a few of these, because they are so common.  The fougere accord is such that it usually is very obvious, and once you get to know it, even if you like it, you might not feel the need for more than one or two (perhaps a more herbal one and a more gourmand one).  I think I could rid myself of more than a dozen bottles which are of this type and still have too many, for instance.  Of course if you read reviews and company descriptions, you might think that perhaps 90% of masculines are fougeres, but I’m referring to a scent with an obvious fougere accord here.

Then there are those who say they will swap/sell off many of their bottles and use up their samples before acquiring more bottles.  This certainly seems like a good idea, but for me samples have a bit of a “fool’s gold” quality to them, if I were to buy these at retail prices, at least.  The reason is that I usually dislike the sample, and I feel I’ve wasted a day.  The sample usually gets thrown in a box and forgotten about, whereas with a bottle I’d try to swap it off.  If I really like a sample, which is rare, I wasted money on the sample!  I’d rather not assume I’m going to like a scent and just wait for the deals to come to me (a deeply discounted bottle or a swap).  Doing this, I recently acquired a bottle of Dolcelisir by L`Erbolario, for example.  It has been compared to Ambre Narguile by many, but for me Dolcelisir is one I’d reach for rather than Bogart Pour Homme, Pure Havane, and a bunch of others it doesn’t necessarily get compared to often.

And this may be the best notion of all, which is that if you know that when you wear a scent (let’s say Bogart Pour Homme or Pure Havane for me) you are going to be thinking that you would rather be wearing Dolcelisir, then you can feel confident that swapping off those scents (BPH or PH and others  in this case) is worth doing.  Here, BPH may not bring back enough to make it worthwhile, so you might want to store it in your basement and wait to see if prices rise for some reason.  PH, though, is not cheap and many want a bottle, so that would be the one that might be “disposable,” even if you like it.  Another idea is a kind of fragrance bottle stock exchange; I’m surprised nobody has done this.  It would be like Ebay except that everything would be “buy it now,” but also there would be “sell it now,” meaning that those who own a bottle might find offers for it (either sales or swaps).  Makeupalley.com had something like this, but sales were not permitted and of course it’s a lot more difficult to match up a swap than to simply input a “bid” or “ask.”  Why hasn’t anyone done this already?

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“Pennypincher” or is some other factor involved ?


On Fragrantica.com there was this passage from a review of Club de Nuit Intense for Men:

It’s one of the best Aventus clones out there, and it’s an affordable and completely viable option to those don’t want to dish out the dough for the Aventus King.

Similar?, yes. Good scent? Certainly, but Aventus is still Aventus, and can’t be topped by this imitation. Chill out on the comparison saying this is equally as good as Aventus in the performance and the scent.

There’s the niche lovers who have the tendency to believe their fragrances are cut above the rest because of the $ they’ve spent, and are in denial when it comes to imitations.
And then there are the opposite, the penny pinchers who keep lookout for fragrances like these and compare them to the already classics like GIT, Aventus, Tom Ford frags, etc, and believe these to be the second coming of Jesus in their limited fragrance world

Can you see the glaring assumption here that being made? Where is the evidence that most of the people who buy “clones” believe these are identical to the “real thing?” Sure, some do, but most of what I have read involves percentages, such as 80% top notes and 40% drydown. Other say things like, “it’s got the smoky quality down but the pineapple isn’t as good” (the reviewer said somethng to that effect elswhere in the review). Now in the case of Aventus, the popularity of the “clones” may be due to the notion that something quite similar to a scent that is very appealing to a certain demographic in the romantic context may be just as good – that has been my impression of a large number of these claims. I tried Aventus a few years ago but didn’t think much of it, though I already owned a bottle of the original Zara Man Gold, which to me is rather similar, so I didn’t see the need to consider spending “big bucks” on a bottle of Aventus.

When I heard about Lomani’s AB Spirit Silver, I decided to buy a bottle when it looked like prices might “go crazy,” as has recently occurred with Perry Ellis’ Oud Black Vanilla Absolute. I’m glad I did, as I like it on its own terms – if it had a designer name on it and a $70 price tag, I’d wait for it get to the discounters/ebay and possibly buy it at that point. And that brings me to my main point here, which is that while I (and a bunch of others) might be viewed as “pennypinchers” by a segment of the online fragrance community, that doesn’t mean our perceptions are warped. In fact, I am finding, in recent months, that I enjoy a slightly “synthetic” quality, at least in some compositions. By contrast, some of Creed’s scents seem to be “too much of a good thing,” with Virgin Island Water being an excellent example. Interestingly, it’s drydown is similar to Dali’s Laguna for Women, which I already have (an ounce bottle), but rarely wear because again, it’s like too much of a good thing, sort of like a cake that tastes great but just has too much sugar in it.

Obviously, I can’t convince people who want to believe things about “pennypinchers,” but for me the reality is that I have been worn quite a few really cheap scents recently (ones that never retailed for much or hit the discounters quickly, not “one time only” bargains I try to find on ebay, etc.). New additions to these include Jesus Del Pozo in Black, Rogue by Rihanna, Black Oud by Remy Latour, Cubano Gold, Phoenix by Keith Urban, Berlin by Playboy, Amber by Iceberg, and Rocawear Evolution. Of course, this could change, but the point here is that it’s not like I have no niche scents or sought-after vintage. In fact, I’ve got more than a few niche samples I’ve had for a couple years or more but haven’t sampled once! The reason is that I wear mostly what I know I will enjoy. If I am wrong, as occurs once in a while, I then layer another scent that I think will help, and it often does!

Now some people may be able to afford to buy a few hundred bottles at a couple of hundred dollars each, but that would be financially unwise for me (not sure if I could charge up that much anyway!). Yet I keep coming back to my experiences, which point to the “cheapos” as being more enjoyable than seems to make sense. I’m guessing that someone like Luca Turin would call most if not all of the ones I have that fit this category things like crude, generic, or even ghastly, but one thing that can’t be denied is that they are just smells. And none of them smell like feces, vomit, urine, etc., though there are people who do things like claim that some of their bottles are spoiled (in some cases not being very old and almost certainly being nearly all synthetic) and smell like an unpleasant bodily secretion (as I discussed in a recent blog post titled Someone finally took me up on my “spoiled bottle” offer!).

As the old Starkist tuna TV commercial stated, people want tuna that tastes good not tuna that has good taste. If I owned a bottle of Aventus, I might wear it once in a while, but I certainly can’t imagine wearing it often, as it’s just not what I have been enjoying recently (which are mostly oriental gourmands and outright gourmands in the drydown, sometimes with something like a bit of leather to provide contrast).  And I can’t speak for anyone else but I tend to enjoy eating the same kinds of things every day, whereas I can’t remember the last time I wore the same scent twice in a week’s time!  I wouldn’t be surprised if quite a few people did the opposite, which is the kind of thing that should make readers of reviews consider while pondering what the scent smells like.  Because you can’t know much about the reviewers, I think it’s best to try and put the reviews in perspective, such as if a newbie wrote it, or someone with particular tastes, or a “fanboy,” as well speculating about what it might be similar to, such as the many scents similar to Cool Water for Men (the date of release and the “official” notes can sometimes be quite helpful, in conjunction with the reviews).

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Finally, a fougere I can enjoy !

Not long ago on one of the major fragrance sites, I said that calling a “masculine” scent a fougere these days is like going to a  non-ethnic restaurant (in the USA) and ordering “American food.”  Many seem to think that if a scent possesses a fougere accord, even if largely imaginary, it should be called a fougere.  It could have a strong oriental or gourmand element, but it gets classified as a fougere, again, even if one can barely smell anything remotely resembling a fougere accord.  And then there are the scents that simply do not possess a fougere accord, but again get classified as fougeres because there is a lavender note that is detectable, though not necessarily strong.  A good example of this is Cool Water for Men, which doesn’t have the tonka/coumarin that is necessary for the fougere accord.

Some claim that oakmoss is necessary too, but in these oakmoss-restriction days, the fougere claim can be even more ridiculous.  Why is the oakmoss important, assuming it is?  My guess is that some “bite” is needed, which balances the fougere accord enough to prevent it from becoming irritating (though that doesn’t seem to work for me).  Perhaps this (i. e., little or no oakmoss) is the reason why so many scents with a strong fougere accord have irritated me, though I doubt it.  On the other hand there are the really sweet scents that possess a fougere accord, but again, there’s often nothing to counter-balance the fougere accord – the sweetness tends to enhance it, actually, making it outright cloying to me!

Another phrase used quite a bit is “barbershop fougere,” which of course can mean different things to different people.  However, I do think most who say this mean that the scent has a strong fougere accord, though not necessarily any oakmoss.  These can be sweet, a bit bitter/herbal, or contain something else that seems to  generate the “barbershop” effect (such as anise), but usually aren’t outright gourmand (the fougere accord being strong enough to render any sweetness as non-edible).  In 2003, Yves Saint Laurent released Rive Gauche Pour Homme, which is a rather gentle star anisic fougere that has often been called a “barbershop fougere.”  I tried it a few times, and while the star anise and fougere accord are acceptable to me, there is something in the drydown I find irritating (perhaps the vetiver/guaiac wood combination, or a musk aroma chemical)  By contrast, I have enjoyed Grigioperla (1991), though the fougere accord there is a bit stronger than I would like it to be.  Thus, I really have to be in the mood to wear this one.

Not long ago, I acquired a bottle of Cabaret Pour Homme (2004), which seems to have been part of the gentle fougere trend of about a dozen years ago.  I had held off on this one because it has been called weak, and it sounded like the fougere accord was at least clear if not strong.  However, when a good opportunity presented itself I decided to give it a try.  The notes for it, from Fragrantica.com, are:

“Top notes are rosemary, pineapple, coriander, juniper berries, basil and bergamot; middle notes are lavender, jasmine and lily-of-the-valley; base notes are wormwood, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, patchouli, musk, cloves, oakmoss and vetiver. ”

The atomizer produces a very fine mist, so I sprayed three times to the chest, but I’m not sure if that is equivalent to one spray of an atomizer that produces a strong stream of liquid.  I was surprised by the pleasant fruitiness, especially with a fougere accord being present, though it wasn’t strong at all (and I don’t perceive any “synthetic” qualities).  The florals provided a softness without being obvious, and the base notes were also gentle.  It’s the kind of scent I would wear when I knew I couldn’t pay as much attention to a scent as I’d like, but still want to experience some amount of enjoyment from it.  I am surprised by all the online praise for Rive Gauche Pour Homme and all the scorn for this one, though I’d guess many aren’t bothered by whatever bothers me in the base of RGPH.  Moreover, I also tend to dislike fruity qualities, whereas so many others seem to become enamored by these (the pineapple note in Aventus is an obvious example).

“What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play…”

And splash on some Cabaret !

NOTE:  Due to the apparently large amount of the”fresh” aroma chemical, dihydromyrcenol, in scents like Cool Water, I suggest calling these “chemical fresh  lavender scents,” though of course I doubt this will become a popular designation.  Also, there have been a few other fougeres that I enjoyed at times, but the fougere accords were always stronger than I wish they were.

 

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Berlin by Playboy: Dior’s Sauvage “done right” (and on the cheap!).

For the first few hours after spraying on Berlin for the first time, I was thinking, “this isn’t bad but I don’t envision myself reaching for it often.”  The fruit notes seemed to blend together, with just a hint of sharpness, and no “blob”-like qualities.  However, there wasn’t much else there that I could detect, in terms of notes.  Then, after perhaps half an hour there was a kind of accord reminiscent of a bunch of “old school” drydowns crammed together (very little if any lavender, though).  At this point, I was thinking that it might develop into something interesting, but the hours wore on and that was it, which certainly wasn’t bad for a scent that cost about $4 for a 100 ml bottle!

Finally, after at least four hours, I began to think something else was present, something I had encountered not long ago.  I looked again at the list of notes (from Fragrantica.com):

“…opens with sparkling notes of icy gin, orange and spices, embodying the energy and strength. Its heart is dominated by fruity notes of apples and cranberries, blended with the accords of geranium. The base is woody and musky, made of moss, sandalwood, and ambrette seed.”

At that point I realized that “ambrette seed” was likely ambroxan or something very similar, and that Berlin was (for me) an improved version of Sauvage (though Berlin was released first, in 2012, that was not the order in which I experienced these).  The perfumer of Berlin, Lucas Sieuzac, composed Amouage’s Reflection Man and Ciel Pour Femme, among several others by different companies (such as Play Intense, which I like).  Whatever it is, it was tenacious, though the marine quality I perceive in Sauvage is minimal in Berlin.  That’s fine with me, because I can always layer Berlin with Guy Laroche’s Horizon if I want that kind of quality, and my guess is that I’ll enjoy it more because it will be more complex than Sauvage.  I think when people claim that Sauvage in complex, this involves perceiving different facets of ambroxan, and perhaps the musk molecules used, rather than it being anywhere near a truly complex “masculine” scent of the 1980s.

Because I didn’t experience Sauvage on my skin, and wan’t present when it was sprayed onto a card, I can’t speak to how the first several minutes of it compare to Belin.  However, from the reviews, it sounds like I’d prefer Berlin, because it has the apple and cranberry notes, whereas Sauvage sounds too one-dimensional at this point.  Here are some excerpts from Fragrantica reviews of it:

“…it opens with a refreshing blast of well done citrus that quickly turns into a synthetic-leaning freshness.”

“It opens with a citrus and slightly fruity blast, which is quite pleasant.”

“That opening freshness due to the bergamot is very nice…”

“Sauvage opens with an abrasive, chemical interpretation of bergamot that’s sweet and mildly pleasant.”

“Opens very fruity feels artificial and forced. Quickly, the fragrance dries into a “thing” that I can’t describe. It is a semi-sweet odor, like something woodsy and powdery. Awful. And that’s it.”

One point of contrast between the two scents, if the reviews are roughly accurate (especially the last excerpt I quoted), is that the fruitiness in Berlin lasts a long time, and the obvious  ambroxan (or whatever it is that is similar) isn’t noticeable for at least a few hours.  Before that, it’s more like the fruitiness is sitting on top of the old school accord and slowly dissipating.  I suspect that if this had been put in the Sauvage bottle, though, there would have been too many “it’s okay” or “meh” type responses to it, and that the idea was to “make a splash” rather than to be “nice and safe.”  Cool Water for Men made such a splash because of the high dihydromyrenol content (IMO), but then there were a bunch of imitators and now it comes across as tired and old to many of the under 40 crowd, it seems.  This may be the fate of ambroxan-rich scents, but we’ll have to wait and see.   And I want to close this post by quoting a Fragrantica reviewer who seems to have had the same thought I did (though I wouldn’t compare London to Sauvage – I think he confused Berlin with London):

“Trying Sauvage for the first time tonight. And I’m not even joking….this reminds me of a fruity/metallic Playboy scent I owned years back.(London I think, but I owned a couple so not 100% sure)…”

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“I want a niche version of Dior’s Sauvage.”

The title of this post is related to posts one can find on the major fragrance sites.  I think there was one about a “niche version” of Bleu de Chanel not long ago, and there have been more than a few others.  The idea seems to be that the person asking the question wants the same smell but with “higher quality ingredients.”  I certain can understand this sentiment.  In fact, I often think to myself that a scent could be excellent, if only it didn’t have a “sticky,” synthetic, metallic, or even “chemical mess” quality to it.  In other cases I’m thinking that it needs to be stronger, though usually that can be overcome by spraying more.

Now the reason why I chose this title in particular is because I made up several samples for someone the other day, one of them being One Man Show “vintage” aftershave.  It’s a splash bottle so I used a disposable pipette to decant into the vial.  I put the pipette aside and forgot to throw it away.  Later, when I went into that room, I thought to myself, “something in here sort of smells like a niche version of Sauvage!”  And then I realized what it was, since that was the only thing in that room that could generate  any scent at all.  It didn’t have the “blob” type quality of Sauvage and I could get a sense that some actual notes were present.  It didn’t seem quite as marine as Sauvage, but the idea is something that can be identified as similar without necessarily being identical (since that is probably asking too much).  I would consider layering Horizon with OMS A/S if I really liked Sauvage (but didn’t want to spend any more money) – it only has to satisfy me, not anyone else in the world!

I thought it was a good idea to mention this because the Pour Monsieur blog is back again:

http://pourmonsieurblog.blogspot.com/

I enjoyed this blog and recommend it.  However, the author argues that he only obtains the latest formulations of many vintage scents, since he doesn’t want to go out of his way to find the originals (or something to that effect).  Now this is certainly a reasonable position for some of the vintage “greats,” such as Boss Number One; I obtained a bottle about five years ago and thought it wasn’t too far from Boss Cologne.  It’s also problematic to find on ebay, because a lot of sellers will call it Boss Number One even if it doesn’t say that on the bottle.  And in some cases (with other scents) one doesn’t know what is vintage and what is not, especially if no box is present.

However, it’s very easy these days to set up a notification for free (there are several sites that provide this service, though I’m not sure if all are free).  This will allow you to receive an email when something like a One Man Show aftershave bottle is listed on ebay (I think all the splash bottles of this formulation are “vintage”).  Of course, sometimes the listing is wrong or the description is problematic, but it will save you a lot of time, since you won’t have to go there every hour or so and search for it (and perhaps a bunch of others that interest you).

Most “vintage hunters” seem to be interested in only one or two at any given time, so I’m not sure why so many have claimed that “vintage hunting” is some sort of major burden, to be avoided at all costs.  And while I’m not a fan of bottles that aren’t sealed, I have never had a problem with drydowns with any scent, even ones that looked horrible in the bottle (assuming more than a tiny amount was present, and I’ve only gotten some of those for free in lots or from relatives/friends).  But again, you can just set up the parameters that work for you and ignore the “alerts” that you think are not worth pursuing.

It also seems that most of the critics don’t understand the “thrill of the hunt.”  I wonder how many of them went hunting or fishing as children (I’m a vegetarian so I certainly don’t advocate these activities), or did anything of this sort, even an Easter Egg hunt!  I knew quite a few people back in the early 90s who went to estate sales seeking expensive works of art or antiques – they definitely enjoyed the “rush” they got from it.  The critics seem to be overly negative in their assessment of these kinds of activities, so I suggest they try to see things from the perspective of others.  It’s a very “low risk/high reward” kind of activity, for those who have the time and enjoy doing it.  After all, if you get something at a yard sale you can likely spray it before buying it, and if you buy from ebay there is buyer protection (and obviously you should avoid listings that are suspect).

Why be a “Debbie downer” in this context?  But there’s another major issue here: even if you just go to a local store or major discounter site to buy, you might get a vintage formulation by accident!  And if you do, because you are not aware of the differences in formulations, you could be misleading your readers when all you had to do was search one of the major sites to read about the differences.  I’m sure no blogger wants to do that, but because of this attitude, it’s likely to happen from time to time, and it probably already has in some cases.  Moreover, considering how some of the vintage greats are being reformulated into chemical messes, baby bath soap scents, or weaklings, it seems more important than ever to learn a little something about a vintage scent before writing about it.

NOTE:  One free alert site is Stuff Alert:

http://www.stuffalert.com

I have no affiliation with it whatsoever, though I think I used it for a scent or two a while back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is that vintage bottle of Escada Pour Homme worth $200 ?


There was a recent thread on Basenotes.net addressing this type of question, and the responses led me to write this post, one reason being that the answer should be obvious. For example, if a person perceives a particular scent as special and it provides a great deal of pleasure, why wouldn’t that person pay the $200 or so? Of course, if you can only afford to buy a $10 bottle every few months, then again the answer is obvious. Are you going to stop eating so that you can buy a fragrance bottle? Only a person with a mental illness (probably a serious one) would likely do such thing! Ask a Southeby’s auctioneer what most “entry level” oil paintings sell for at their auction house and you’ll see the difference between that number and $200. And with art, you can buy a reproduction for very little at a poster store – the framing of it will likely cost considerably more than the poster did !

To be fair here, the person who created this thread seemed to be asking if Escada Pour Homme was worth the money relative to other scents that sell for about that price level, but after well over a day and a dozen responses, he did not clarify, though he said:

Thanks….seemed too high…so I will pass on this one

after a short period of time, but again we don’t know if he was looking for a specific kind of scent that sold in a specific price range. One person who responded did at least touch upon this:

Great fragrance with an enjoyable cognac-leather-tobacco notes, but would most likely not pay $300 for it, simply because quite a few niche and/or designer exclusive houses do have fragrances with similar notes (though admittedly not always similar skin development/final impression) permanently in stock, priced anywhere between marginally to significantly cheaper

Unfortunately, nobody then responded to this, saying that another scent that currently sells for a lot less will more or less “do the same thing.” The person who started the thread did not disclose why he was even considering this scent in the first place, so I think criticism largely should fall on his shoulders, but this is not the first time someone created such a thread, so here are some of my thoughts:

1. If you are going to ask this kind of question, do you really want to base your decision upon what some anonymous “internet people” say? Sometimes a person sends me a message and asks for my advice because he or she apparently thinks we share preferences – that would seem to make more sense.

2. Almost everyone can afford one expensive scent, even if the charge card has to be used, so isn’t the question really about how special a particular scent is? For example, I would much rather wear what I call vintage Escada Pour Homme (not the one with Scannon on the label) than Patou Pour Homme, and that one sells for a lot more than EPH. But what does that mean? Should I pay $500 for EPH if someone steals my bottle? Or can I just buy a “cheapo” that is close enough for me? The point here is that these prices are highly relative, so you need to ask the question with information that will help others give you reasonable advice!

3. Several of those who responded said they got their bottles at very low prices and couldn’t imagine paying more, which suggests obvious bias. They should disclose whether they would pay those kinds of prices for any scent. I know I doubt that I would, the reason being that there are so many scents I would not want to be without that it simply would be too costly to buy them all at such levels if I lost all my bottles and had to decide which ones to replace.

4. My response was, Yes, if it’s exactly what you want and you have the money. No, if you are not sure about it or if a couple hundred is going to cause financial hardship. Considering how much other “luxury” items cost and how much use you can get out of a 125 ml bottle, assuming you spray twice per day and use it no more than once a week, a couple hundred is not that much.

My guess is that the person is a “newbie,” and happened to read about EPH for one reason or another, then checked prices and was shocked (and then wanted to get some opinions by those with more experience). So, if you are a newbie and are thinking of writing up such a post, why not be more specific? And why not say something like, “I’m a newbie and I don’t understand why some vintage scents are selling for up to a few hundred dollars whereas others you can still buy for about what the designers are selling for at my local department store, and in some cases, quite a bit less. Could someone please explain that to me? He should certainly disclose if he really wants a scent with certain notes, and ask if those notes are strong in the scent (as well as what kind of note it is, such as the different kinds of “leather” one finds in some of these concoctions).

Interestingly, one person responded simply with a link, to a blog page that was a review of EPH. In that review was this passage:

I finally managed to pick up a full boxed bottle of Eau de Toilette from eBay for 125 dollars. It seems quite hard to find this now. This is something that I will touch on again later because it feeds into the notion that some older vintages have attained a status beyond their worth. If enough people believe something to be truly great, then over time, it becomes that – irrespective of its true qualities.

http://www.uneasynostalgia.com/blog/2014/8/21/escada-pour-homme-1993

Now on the one hand, I sort of agree with this for Patou Pour Homme, because while it’s an excellent scent, it’s not a “wow factor” one for me. Something like Phoenix by Keith Urban is, though again, I doubt I’d spend a couple hundred dollars on a bottle of it (my guess is that Pure Tonka would be similar enough to me). In fact, a person who responded to that BN thread summed up my notion, at least partially:

“It’s very good but I don’t reach for it often enough to justify paying current ebay prices.”

The thing is I don’t reach for any scent all that often – I certainly wouldn’t pay that much for a “signature scent” that I intend to wear five days a week. So why would someone pay more for a scent that is going to be used up relatively quickly? Out of all the scents that one can buy, surely one could find a reasonably priced scent that is “signature worthy!” By contrast, if I thought EPH was so “good” that I had to wear it at least once a week, I would want at least a couple bottles of it, though I always seem to be able to find a scent that is similar enough for my purposes. Isn’t it amusing how such an apparently simple question requires such explication! But the older I get the more I think this is true of just about every question – what’s odd is that so many people think such questions can be answered with little more than a yes or no!

NOTE: While it by no means smells very close to EPH, you can still get Starring for Men by Avon at very reasonable prices.  Its 1997 release date suggest it may have been Avon’s “answer” to EPH.  The notes for it are:

“Bay rum, Bergamot, Green apple, Cardamom, Mandarin, Musk, Nutmeg, Sage, Tonka bean, Vanilla.”

To me it seems to have a mild woody quality as well.  It’s a little sweet, moderately powdery and fruity, spicy, and with a clear rum type of note.

 

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