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, 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

“…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:

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:

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 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.

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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The Worst Fragrance Review of All Time ?

The title of this post is meant to be humorous (as there have been much worse reviews), but that was my thought when I first read this (it’s about Sauvage). If it had been phrased with more discretion, it could have been helpful! Here it is:

3rd review, now the utter truth.

This scent is wonderful! dirty yet fruity! metallic yet sweet! Similar to Bleu de chanel, but some space apart, this has it’s own identity.

A cheeky, fun man wears this, yet slightly savage in personality, a modern man.

Given Diors line of flankers, I would assume this scent to receive an EDP version and some sort of flanker, an EDP version of this would be divine!

I am upset at my former self, who was caught up in the bad feedback talked about here, which led me to think I disliked this scent, how wrong I was!

Love it

First of all, are we to believe that this anonymous person has access to the “utter truth” but we do not? Second, are we to trust someone who gets “caught up in the bad feedback” rather than trusting what his “nose” is telling him? He got so caught up in it, in fact, that he thought the exact opposite of his perceptions! Yikes. How does one think that something smells terrible because others are saying it does but you think it smells great? I don’t know where to even begin to “unravel” this aspect of it, so I’ll just let readers decide for themselves. I can understand enjoying a scent but then becoming sensitive to one or more aroma chemicals (as has happened to me), but hating a scent because some anonymous “internet people” do is beyond my comprehension..

Next, there is his description: fruity, metallic, sweet, and dirty! Seriously, how many people would say that sounds like the recipe for a great smell? It sounds like how some have described Secretions Magnifique to me! And for me, I can’t imagine a worse combination, particularly fruity (which I rarely find smells natural, nor lasts long enough when it does) and metallic (which I simply detest). But then we are told what kind of man wears this scent, as if others were precluded from such a distinction, but even there I can’t picture the kind of person being referenced (it sounds like someone who has a clear “sadistic streak”). Then there is an irrelevant suggestion of a flanker, despite no mention as to why an EdP would be necessary.

It seems like a kind of emotional plea, perhaps to himself more than anyone else. And if he wrote this to exorcise the demons summoned because of his earlier review or opinion, that’s fine with me (it would make perfect sense), but the purpose of reviews are to help others as well as oneself! One reason I write reviews is to see how my opinion might change somewhat over time, as well as to help in a possible purchase (for example, if I didn’t think it was worth purchasing but sampled it at a store and later was offered a bottle in a swap). I think this person’s review is quite helpful in a psychological context, reminding us that we can’t rely on any one person, but it’s also at least a bit helpful to me, because it suggests that Sauvage is a scent I would dislike (in conjunction with the other reviews). And as I’ve said before, even if I thought it was mildly pleasant, I’d have to get it for the price of a Playboy scent because I likely wouldn’t rate higher than I assess at least London for Men.

Read my last post about my opinion on Sauvage based upon smelling it on someone else and on a card.  While there may not be anything exactly like it (or nearly so), it’s more of a room spray to my way of thinking, as it’s a strong, musky, and “tight” smell.  However, because I seem to have missed the top notes experience on it, I would not want anyone to give my review much weight if that person is mostly concerned with the top notes.  And, due to its popularity, it might not be best for “standing out in a crowd.”  In general, I find these kinds of reviews to be humorous, but it seems that more than a few people read such statements and become irritated that there is so little said about the scent itself.  After all these years, I expect a certain percentage of such reviews to be written each year, and can now enjoy them as “comic relief.”

NOTE: I’ve noticed a new trend, involving the use of the word oily when describing a scent. Since I began studying scents in 2007, I have yet to encounter one that I would call oily (except for the way it feels on the skin, not the smell itself). I wish those who use such terms would give the reader some idea of what is meant.  I have tried at least four oil-bases scents (that I can remember clearly) and none came across as “oily” to me.  Could people who use this term mean that there are resinous and watery qualities together?  I wish they would say!

UPDATE:  Here’s one (about Santal 33) that is in that “so bad it’s good category,” at least for me:

“Are you alone?

Now think of the woman you love.

Picture the two of in bed, sleeping.
You wake up, you open your eyes and the first think you see is she. She looks up at you, curls her back in to your stomach, you put your arms around her and kiss the back of her head.
Now hold your nose against head, go ahead rub your nose through her hair and take a whiff.

That’s what Santal 33 smells like.”

I haven’t tried this one, IIRC, but from the reviews it seems that the wood notes (s) is very strong.



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I finally tried Sauvage and…

I used the word “tried” because I didn’t spray it on myself.  A neighbor obtained a paper sample for me and sprayed some on her wrist.  I talked to her for a while (in a room that was perhaps 12 by 18), and she walked in and out a few times while I stayed in the same place, so I was able to get a sense of what it’s like when a person walks by wearing this scent.  She said it smelled “fresh” when she first sprayed it on, and she liked it, but that only lasted ten minutes or so, and then she really disliked it (she’s not “young,” if that matters to the “panty dropper” crowd).

I was struck by how it seemed to be so focused on a non-“fresh” marine quality, the major problems with it (for me) being the “synthetic” quality of it, as well as the lack of depth/complexity (the two problems possibly being related).  I liked the smell itself, but I think it would work better as a room spray, perhaps in some sort of “Florida room.”  I placed the card upon which Sauvage was sprayed in a bathroom and closed the door.  It lasted with strength that way for well over 24 hours.  I didn’t get any development from it, thought I did get the sense that it was musky (and it may be that the muskiness really bothered me).

At first I thought there was a hint of a fougere accord but over time I was thinking it seemed like there might be a touch of sweet fruitiness.  Nevertheless, the powerful marine accord never let up, and it almost felt like it was meant to repel people rather than attract them. I’m surprised that so many of the younger crowd says this is a great “compliment getter” with young women.  I let a few others smell the card and they all found it repellent as well, though none were below the age of 40.  Presumably, Dior did quite a bit of product testing/research, and knew it would sell well (with the ad campaign they had planned for it).

What I found most interesting is that such a scent hadn’t already been marketed by a niche company, but the odd thing is that ambroxan is supposed to be front and center here, yet Escentric 02 Escentric, which is also said to have ambroxan as the “star” is not described in a way that is consistent to me with Sauvage.  Some say E02E smells like iris, carrot, tobacco, etc., but none that I saw mentioned a marine element.  I can’t think of another scent I’ve tried that possesses the marine element that Sauvage does, the closest being Horizon by Guy Larouche, though that one is quite complex, or at least busy, compared to Sauvage.

I wasn’t surprised by Bleu de Chanel, in terms of its popularity (though it didn’t seem like it possessed “Chanel quality” to me), but Sauvage really is puzzling.  Early on, some did say it smelled “synthetic” or that it sickened them, so that makes sense to me.  And I don’t see how this composition is related to Eau Sauvage.  But it does suggest the smell of Johnny Depp in one of his “Pirates of the Carribean” movies.  In fact, if Disney used this scent in their Pirates of the Caribbean ride, that would make perfect sense to me!  And considering how “synthetic” so many of today’s designers seem to me (especially the “big name” ones), I imagine that those who buy such scents would not find Sauvage to be particularly offensive in this context.

Now to me a good question is, is this a “groundbreaking” scent?  Of course only time will tell, but it just seems so simple to have the kind of “legs” scents like Cool Water or Acqua di Gio had.  And I’d much rather wear Horizon, so I wonder if many others will come to that conclusion (probably not).  It does have a kind of smoothness that Horizon doesn’t, and the youngsters probably never smelled Horizon or think it smells “old man” for some reason.  By contrast, to me Sauvage smells like “typical department store scent” combined with the niche “single molecule” idea.  Who would have thought that proverbial circle could have been squared?

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Further adventures in vintage spoilage paranoia.

As I pointed out in a fairly recent post on the subject, it seems that most of the “rank and file” fears that bottles less than ten years old (highly synthetic ones mostly, in sealed spray bottles) are “going off” quickly, while the “experts” (some of whom might have conflicts of interest because they are profiting from very expensive niche scents) make claims about scents of which they may know little.  As I said in that other post, I’ve had around 300 vintage bottles (around 20 years old or older), if not more, pass through my hands since 2008, and I have only encountered a few with what I would say are “off” top notes – no spoiled drydowns!  How is that possible if spoilage is common?  Are we all walking around in public smelling like skunks?  Come on already, “experts,” your bluff has been called and you’ve got a “busted hand” on this one!

An article on titled, “Vintage Perfume Hunting: A Wild Goose Chase of No Practical Purpose (?)” apparently stirred up quite a bit of passion, with claims that  several response posts being deleted.  Here is one (of several) complaints about it:

Is it just me or does it seem that three days of posts have just now been deleted from this thread? 

My last post was – by anybody’s reckoning – broadly sympathetic to both sides of the discussion, where I discussed the difficulties of coming to an objective understanding of the issues concerned. 

There would obviously be no reason to remove it, so I wonder can this and the others also deleted please be returned….

Fragrantica, I would like to have a response on this, please. I am sure it is just a technical issue…But it needs a response.

My response post was:

Even if you had no interest in scent, it would be worth it simply in financial terms!  Most of the ebay sellers I buy from are obviously “pickers” who go to yard/garage/estate sales (judging from the other stuff they sell).  They are probably doing quite well with their “vintage hunting.”  Most people who have complained about vintage prices don’t ever seem to mention what the “chemical soup” designers are currently selling at dept. stores – isn’t that a good point of comparison for most people?  I’d rather “hunt” for something like vintage Jacomo de Jacomo (still not that expensive; usually quite a bit less than designer prices) than buy just about all the current designers at the dept. store, even if the prices were the same.  However, if you must have something like Egoiste Cologne Concentree, you’re probably going to have to pay at least a few times more than current designer prices.  And I certainly think it’s that much better – does anyone really believe that some day soon ECC will be selling for around $50?  If it did, I’d buy all of them immediately, and I think a whole bunch of other people would too!  But if you don’t want to vintage hunt, that’s fine – these are just smells, after all.  You can buy some decent ones at the dollar store.

I just wrote up a blog post on this subject, specifically what one might call “spoilage paranoia” (especially considering how so many are claiming that highly synthetic scents in sealed spray bottles are “going off” quickly).  In one case a person said a Creed bottle spoiled while it was in a Creed boutique!   Another said he thought his original Jazz bottle was spoiled because it smelled too good (still not sure what he was thinking).  I don’t know how many others have my experience, which is a few hundred or more bottles around 20 years old or older since 2008.  Other than a few (and I mean like 2, 3, or 4) that had tops notes that seemed wrong, all the others had very pleasant drydowns – much better than “chemical soup” designers, that’s for sure.  I have been getting some bottles from people who claimed spoilage but so far, the scents are fine, not even bad top notes.  We vintage hunters know the great bargains we get, but unfortunately word has spread and prices on ebay have risen sharply lately, so I’m just glad I bought almost all the vintage I wanted before that happened !

One person, who said he didn’t have an “experienced nose” bought some vintage Drakkar Noir but thought the two bottles had spoiled.  He offered to send them to me, but I suggested he wait a few days then try again.  Here is his response:

So I’ve given the Drakkar a second chance and I think that they aren’t as bad as the initial wearing. When I got them, I had really high expectations of having a verified 80’s powerhouse fragrance and it probably didn’t help that my SOTD was Rive Gauche so there was a mental and physical bias off the bat. The 3.4 splash (1987) smells good, just not as strong as my 2002/2004 bottles likely due to inevitable aging to some extent. The 1.7 spray (1986) doesn’t smell as off putting as the first wearing. Not as clean/green as the splash as there seems to be a bit of a spicy note to it? Cant put my finger on it, but i want to say coriander or something exotic -spicy like that?? I’m at the end of the day and the dry downs appear to be similar to my untrained nose.

We then did a swap for those two bottles, and the splash smelled “right” but weaker than my sealed spray one.  The 1.7 oz. one did have an odd added element to the top notes, and that lasted at least half an hour, but I actually prefer this to the others, because it offers contrast to the fougere accord (and in general, I find fougere accords to be strident and lacking in dynamism).  I can’t remember anything else like this with other vintage comparisons, and it could be a different batch.  I doubt it is a “cooked” bottle (the splash one could be) because it is quite rich and vibrant, but as I’ve advised people, if you can sample from the bottle you might eventually purchase that is by far the best thing to do with vintage.

The person who said her Chocolat Mat; smelled similar to “cat pee” sent me two more bottles, L de Lolita and Dune EdT by Dior.  The Dune looked like it was “vintage,”‘ since the label had no batch numbers and it didn’t say it was made by some other company.  This one did smell strange at first (the person said “like vinegar,” which I would not argue against), perhaps for a couple of minutes, then I smelled very little for a while (I’d guess 15-20 minutes), and then it started to smell good.  The funny thing is that it seemed to get better and better!  After a couple hours, I was thinking that it smelled a bit like A*Men but without the tar and patchouli, but with a strong wood note!  And the longevity was great.  So, I’m not sure what to say about this, other than what I’ve said before.  To be as concise as possible, I suggest that if you absolutely hate odd or off top notes (to the point that it’s a “dealbreaker”), then just stay away from vintage blind buys.  Here is the statement about Dune made by the person who sent it to me:

On my skin that vinegar note is sticking. The vinegar note is new. I really loved the original 90s Dune and it was my first signature scent. This one has been through reformulation. This one used to be more woody-ambers; less so now. The original Dune dried down to Amber and real sandalwood, which was really lovely and warm. This latest version is more sharp, but I still wore it until the sour/weird smell started. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it to seek out a vintage box, given how sensitive I am to any top note changes.

As to L de Lolita, the person said:

It doesn’t go licorice on me; more like cinnamon cookies. What’s up with the L is that the top notes have burned off. It used to have a floral top note which still exists in a newer bottle I have. Also, it’s getting stronger and more syrupy as it ages. It smells good still in the basenotes. I think it has just gone one-dimensional. But the wood structure is mild, you’re right- with a lot of vanilla.

I got a kind of mentholated licorice at first, which quickly gave way to the strong vanilla with some spice and woods/incense.  The licorice seemed to join the woods to form one accord, but it was in the background in any case.  I enjoyed the entire development.

It still amazes me that more than a few people are so aghast that quite a few others enjoy wearing vintage scents, some going so far as to say that because there’s no way the scent can still be “as the perfumer intended” we should throw our bottles in the garbage, or something along those lines (and how does this person know for sure that these are not so close to the original smell that there may be only a few people in the world who could tell the difference, if that many?).  Leaving people with conflicts of interest aside, I’d guess that the other claimants happen to be highly resentful people.  By contrast, if someone said that he/she loved dollar store scents and thought we were crazy for spending more than that, I would say that I can understand such a position, but I happen to derive a lot of enjoyment/pleasure from some scents that cost a lot more.  There isn’t more to say – these are just smells, and you either like them or you don’t (or you are using them to make some sort of “social statement” and it either works for you or it doesn’t).  Once you know what you are seeking, you can ask about things like batch variations/reformulations, though of course that too seems to make many people (probably almost all the same ones) angry.  I suggest we mostly respond (if we don’t simply ignore them) by being very precise, and not letting them “get a rise” from us.  They can wear their $300 niche or their $80 current designers and be as smug as they like, but we will still enjoy our “vintage gems!”


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