A “mini me” Sécrétions Magnifiques? A Fragrant Mystery?

I have no idea why those who had the license to Perry Ellis fragrances released Perry Ellis by Perry Ellis for Men (I think that’s the official name for it) in 2008.  When I first sprayed it on, I was thinking that it doesn’t seem to fit in with other “masculines,” of that time or any other!  Of course I may just be ignorant of certain kinds of masculines of that period, because I was never a fan of citrus-dominant fragrances.  But let’s start with the notes – even there are not clear.  For example, Fragrantica.com has the notes as:

…grapefruit, woody accords, resins, iris root, leather.

But Parfumo.net has the notes as:

Green apple, Grapefruit, Patchouli, Woody notes, Amber, Musk, Leather.

Then there’s the Basnotes.net list, which is just apple and amber.  I don’t get a clear apple note, green or otherwise, and instead it seems like a soft grapefruit.  And it begins quite musky.  Several reviews talk of a metallic, bloody, or fishy note or aroma chemical, and when I wafted this to my nose I detected that, but since it’s not pleasant I stopped, and then didn’t smell it again.  My guess is that the people who say this smell it up close or waft it around.  Now in 2005, Everlast Original 1910 was released, which included these notes (from Fragrantica):

…lime, lavender, mandarin orange, mint and grapefruit; middle notes are nutmeg, cypress, cinnamon, tarragon and geranium; base notes are leather, tonka bean, patchouli, musk and guaiac wood.

However, EO 1910, while possessing strong grapefruit/citrus in general and leather, also has a fougere accord gets a bit oriental over time, whereas PEbPEfM doesn’t change much.  The citrus gets weaker but the musk really hangs in there for hours (thankfully, it’s not of the sharp “white” variety, but it’s not animalic either).  After a few hours, I do begin to think this isn’t too far from EO 1910’s drydown.  I never got clear iris, “resins,” nor woods, and the leather is more like a texture to me.  It’s a touch a sweet, but otherwise indistinct, though in its own way (I wouldn’t call it a “blob” because there are a few obvious facets).  There is still an oddball quality to it, in terms of the metallic, bloody, fishy element but it has dissipated more than a little.  And this brings me to Sécrétions Magnifiques, which was released in 2006, the official notes being (from Fragrantica):

Lodized accord (fucus, azurone), adrenalin accord, blood accord, milk accord, iris, coconut, sandalwood, opoponax…

And if you don’t know, this is a scent that has nauseated its fair share of aficionados, who claim to smell things like spoiled milk, metallic blood, etc.  My guess is that those who say this are more likely to smell it up close on the skin, but since I’ve never sampled it, I can only wonder whether the perfumer for PEbPEfM decided to do a low-level designer version of SE for the “masses.”  At Fragrantica no perfumer is listed for it, but Antoine Lie composed the other two.  Even if he had no part in the creation of PEbPEfM, another perfumer might have sampled the other two and thought about combining those.  In some ways it reminds me of the original Hummer scent (“vintage” formulation), in that it’s a fairly recent “mainstream” release with a strong (and interesting) but not entirely “friendly” muskiness.  Perhaps this would be great for someone who doesn’t want to smell too much like all the other young guys (many or most wearing Sauvage?) but doesn’t want to stray into the potentially weird waters of niche.

But wait, there’s another possible “mystery,” depending upon how you define them.  When I posted about PEbPEfM not long ago over at Basenotes, one comment on that thread was:

…it’s quite disgusting. It smells even cheaper than it costs. I can’t see any basenoter enjoying it. It is synthetic but that’s not the worst part. It’s just a total mess and it’s topped with this rotten ‘aquatic’ stuff.

My response was:

Perhaps you should have read the reviews before making the latter statement? And how many BNers like Secretions Magnifique? Is that one for “sophisticated noses” whereas because this one was released by Perry Ellis it’s got to be bad? Seriously, these are just smells, so if you don’t like them, fine, but you don’t have to implicitly (if not explicitly) assert that some scents are “bad” and some are “good.” I think more than a few BN favorites are a kind of olfactory torture, but I know that there are factors at work, such as sensitivity to certain aroma chemicals, that need to be taken into account. This PE scent is what I think of as a training wheels Secretions Magnifique, so I might actually wear it once in a while, and in fact if I spray the air with it and walk through the mist, it might be quite good. I’d much rather have a bottle of it than a whole bunch of other scents, and that would include TdH, Fahrenheit, the original Moschino Pour Homme, etc. (all other things being equal; otherwise I’d take one of those others and sell the bottle quickly).

Here’s the “mystery” element, IMO, embodied by this hypothetical question:  what if Antoine Lie had created PEbPEfM, and in an interview had said he was “perfecting” his Sécrétions Magnifiques composition, with one aspect being to make it more wearable?  Would it then be embraced by those who think they can speak to “objectively good” scents that “sophisticated noses” would appreciate?  Why can so many like the idea behind Escentric Molecule scents, but can’t seem to recognize an interesting composition released under the Perry Ellis brand name?  But one doesn’t need to go that far – what about Terre d’Hermes?  When I first tried it back around 2008 it felt like a chemical assault!  How in the world is that “objectively” better than PEbPEfM?  Again, for all we know PEbPEfM was Lie’s greatest achievement (in his opinion, at least), but even if he had nothing to do with it, how does one “objectively” say PEbPEfM is terrible but “vintage” TdH is great?  How can some people become so distorted in their thinking?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dior’s Sauvage or Leather Oud?

I’ve seen people mention these two scents in the same paragraph.  The point is usually one of two possibilities, along the lines of, “if you don’t like Sauvage, go ahead and wear Leather Oud and watch people run away from you,” or, “how could a house that released Leather Oud release Sauvage not long thereafter?”  The obvious thought here is that Sauvage was targeted at the masses, especially younger guys who think a scent will help them in their romantic quests, whereas LO is only for those who want something unique and don’t care what others think of the scent they are wearing.  One point I have made is that if Dior (or whatever corporate entity makes the decisions) is willing to release a scent like LO but has to also release a scent like Sauvage, why shouldn’t we all embrace this?  Sure, you might work in an office where one guys bathes in Sauvage, but that would likely be some other scent you don’t like (if Sauvage was never released)!

As of this writing, the last two reviews of Sauvage on Fragrantica.com do a good job of summing up the “two sides:”

in this non-innovative competitive market, being a market leader is a pretty difficult job and for this reason I admire this creation from Dior and the contemporary absolute genius perfumer Monsieur Demachy. Agree or Disagree this creation is a super crowd pleasing perfume around the world, making lots of money for Dior and changed the market rules and trends, brought up Ambroxan as a key ingredient to the industry as well. Dior Sauvage is not an easy forgettable perfume. It is a revolutionary product that won’t leave the scene for years.

And:

How could the man who penned Leather Oud and the house behind a modern classic like Dior Homme and a portfolio of legends commit such a crime against humanity?

Sauvage is the scourge of this age, tailored to fit the shallow and self-absorbed trend of the time. Grace, manners, style, respect, balance, wisdom, and art? Out with all that, now all that matters is who is the loudest for the longest time. And Sauvage is loud. I long thought, that Paco Rabanne’s Evil Million was the ultimate olfactory WMD, but somehow Demachy and Dior trumped it by several lengths!

The ambrox overload puts everyone on the vicinity of the “wearer” in a death grip, that would make even Darth Julius Vader himself give a respectful tip of the helmet. Usually ambrox is a great material to work with, as it enhances everything with an organic, soft and exalting glow, but its beauty and purpose has been corrupted, transforming it into a piercing weapon from which there is no escape.

No escape…..

The reviewer in the first passage quoted is outright wrong.  Adventurer II by Eddie Bauer also has an intolerable (to my nose) dose of ambroxan, and I would be surprised if there wasn’t another scent that also has such a dose, but was released before Adventurer II.  No matter; if you like it, you like it – that’s fine with me.  What I do find strange is how so many who seem to think of themselves as aficionados (or at least very knowledgeable about scents) are so quick to think Sauvage is unique or special.  Instead, they should say something like, “I only really sample the major releases, and compared to the others this is quite different, at least in terms of the use of ambroxan.”  Even when people like myself point out that this is not a new idea, they keep saying the same thing, as if that will make it true (perhaps this is appropriate in this new age of “fake facts,” where a recent poll found that a clear majority of Republicans, for example, thought that the nation’s colleges/universities are doing more harm than good)!

But I don’t want to pursue this further; instead I want to talk about why I enjoy LO so much (note that I am referring to a 2011 formulation).  Fragrantica has the following notes for it:

…leather and civet with noble agar and other woody nuances (patchouli, sandalwood, birch, cedar and vetiver). There are also ingredients of cardamom, cloves, amyris, beeswax, amber and labdanum, which complement this warm composition.

So there’s a lot that can “go wrong” here, such as the usual ‘chemical oud” note, but what I get here is what I want in a designer scent, which is excellent balance among the notes, along with naturalness (the opposite of Sauvage, to my nose).  Over time, it gets better, and my “mind’s nose” is able to appreciate the nuances that such a scent possesses.  Just as I think one note might be a bit too strong, another note comes forward, which is what I think of as great dynamism.  Like Sauvage, a little goes a long way.  I have sampled so many oud, leather, etc. scents, but there simply is no comparison.  LO packs all kinds of “heavy” notes (no tobacco, though) together and makes it work exactly the way I want it to.

Of course, LO is more expensive than Sauvage, but there is a similar scent, One Man Show Oud Edition, by Jacques Bogart, that is selling for very low prices at the moment.  It’s goes on similarly, but after a while the chemicals become obvious to me (iso e super in particular).  However, it might work just as well for you!  For me this is an excellent example of why an aficionado (who isn’t poor, obviously) would pay more for a scent that is similar to a cheap one (I obtained some LO in a swap).  By contrast, I have so often thought to myself that a “cheapo” was just as good as an expensive niche scent.  And this is not a new phenomenon, for instance I enjoy Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur more than Bois du Portugal (at least the Aladdin or older formulations of PCPM).  There’s another example of niche being much better (to me) than designer or below, and that is Cheat Day, by Haught Perfumes, which possesses powerful notes of waffle cone, chocolate, and coffee.  Rebelle by Rihanna has similar notes (no waffle cone but both have strawberry and the other two notes), but I have to strain to detect the notes I enjoy most in Rebelle.

What I get from Sauvage is a scent like Wings for Men by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, that is a “chemical nightmare” (though one that many think of as pleasant, fresh, etc.) that is very strong – it’s what I think of as a “drug store scent” (that, or an older scent that used to be quite good but has been reformulated and/or weakened significantly, is what I tend to think of as “drug store”).  As some have argued, the brains of many “youngsters” today seem to have been “wired” to appreciate chemicals like ambroxan and “laundry musks” in large amounts, so it’s really not fair to tell them they have bad taste (as some have), and olfactory fatigue can also play a major role (for those who nearly bathe in such scents).  Just like popular music today is often said to be awful by the older crowd, young adults need time to sort things out.  Many will say things like, “I can’t believe I ever enjoyed wearing that scent” (or listening to that music) when they get older, but others will persist with their preferences (as many wear Cool Water still, which seems to be loaded with dihyromyrcenol, at least in my “vintage” bottle).  Arguments can be made about why a scent is tasteful while another is not, but if you are going to say this to someone who can’t even comprehend your case, I would say you are wasting your time.  Just enjoy what you enjoy!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Fragrance Reviews.

A sign of how uncivil society has become?

Civil Unrest Sauvage.jpg

 

An interesting question occurred to me not long ago, and I decided to see what Basenotes.net members thought about it.  Those of us who have been to the major fragrance sites more than a few times know how popular Sauvage and Aventus are (there’s an entire sub-forum for Avtentus at BN!), but among those who don’t care for, or outright dislike both of these, are they disliked in the same way?  My original post to this thread I created at BN was:

This thread is for those who might like one or both, to the point that you’d wear it once or twice a year at most. For those people, which one do you prefer? To me the aroma chemicals in Sauvage are just too much, even using an amount that might have been 1/100th of a ml !

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/439524-Sauvage-or-Aventus-for-those-who-don-t-think-much-of-either-one

I was accused of “trolling” by a few people, despite this being a question many in the industry probably want to know the answer to!  The reasoning seems to go like this, “Aventus and Sauvage are really popular, so if you criticize them in any way you know you are going to set off some people.”  That may be true, but it can also be said of many other people who were branded “trouble-makers” at the time, for instance civil rights protesters in the 1960s.  Now you might say that this comparison is questionable, but it could be argued that it’s more ridiculous (taking the commonly held notions of the period into account) with fragrances, because it’s just a matter of personal preferences, whereas “Jim Crow” society was viewed as almost a religion by many “whites” in the South!  Indeed, one of the most horrifying things to such people, from the history I’ve read, was the prospect of “miscegenation;” unfortunately, that seems to be a “major issue” for quite a few people today in the South.

So then, the obvious question becomes, what do such people want?  I addressed that in one response posts to that thread:

I don’t know why the question is “trolling.” Everyone knows that scents as widely distributed as these two aren’t liked by all humans! Because they are very popular, there is no social pressure to dislike them (unlike Kouros, for example, at least in today’s world); I’m curious as to whether those who don’t like either (or are just “meh” about them) dislike them or are “meh” for the same reasons. If that’s “trolling” then perhaps it’s time to have a forum where only heavy praise is allowable! Yes, a few people who are “fans” of one or both might “lose it,” but that’s their psychological issue and we shouldn’t all be punished for it, just as movies have ratings to keep the young children from seeing inappropriate things.

The thread was closed by a moderator, though I’m not sure why.  The statement by the moderator on the thread (in the “thread closed” post) was:

It seems some of us cannot be civil or take a question seriously here. We are aware of certain trouble makers and they will be severely dealt with right now. Without having ANY posts or threads reported to the mods, it’s hard for us not to act sooner. That said, people taking the ‘rules into their own hands’ here is also not something we take lightly. So we will be taking a tough approach to a wide-range of posts here that caused trouble.

The best way to report spam, abuse, trolling, etc is using the reporting function at the bottom of each and every post on the site. This will alert all mods immediately to the offending thread/post/user.

I’d like to compare this to someone I know who was recently railing against “the Berkeley students,” who protested against a right wing pundit speaking there (the pundit, TMK, does not have sociological or political science or otherwise relevant credentials beyond being a right wing pundit for more than a few years).  The university  has their own security force and can also call the police if they think some students do unacceptable things when they protest, so I don’t see what the issue is from that perspective.  I think nearly everyone would agree we all should have the right to protest in a peaceful manner, but if things get violent, the authorities should have a plan in place, especially if they allow a known far-right pundit to speak at a “bastion of liberalism.”  How could they fail to predict that this might happen, with Berkeley’s history?  For those who don’t know about it, there’s a documentary called “Berkeley in the Sixties.”

So, my point here is that if these kinds of threads are to be quickly closed, then is BN a place where only praise towards at least the “big” scents of the today is acceptable?  If so, shouldn’t they make that clear to members?  In this case, I was not even criticizing the scents!  I simply wanted to know if people who thought these two were no better than “okay” assessed them in the same way!  I was surprised that nobody said something like, “they are both generic and meant for the masses – I don’t want to smell like everyone else.”  Instead, there were a few posts that lent support to my notion that many hobbyists who at least don’t care much for these two scents find Sauvage just too “chemical” and perceive Aventus as “okay” or “meh,” but definitely not special.  Note that some of the posts were deleted, perhaps because they contained obscenities, which makes sense, but this can have the proverbial “chilling effect” on one’s sense that a certain site is a place to ask reasonable questions on particular subjects.  BN once had a politics forum, but apparently they couldn’t handle the “heat” that predictably resulted, and so it was closed fairly quickly.  I don’t know if there is a “solution” here, since a person who owns a site can make up their own rules, but this does strike me as rather odd behavior – punishing the victims, so to speak, makes little sense to me.

NOTE:  I mentioned on that thread that I have edited some comments to this blog, simply deleting obscenities in at least a couple of cases, and wondered why such a policy was not in place (apparently) for the BN forums.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Should you be more angry at our “nutritional experts” than IFRA?

Imagine if I had only sampled a few fragrances in my entire life?  Would you have much interest in reading my posts about olfactory concoctions that I hadn’t even read the note list for?  Something similar seems to be the case with some of our “nutritional experts!”  Now it’s likely that more than a few of you have heard about the “big news” about coconut oil being “very unhealthy,”‘ brought to us by the good folks at the American Heart Association.  For those who don’t know, the claim is that coconut oil raises your LDL, and that this is unhealthy because of correlations to “heart disease” or “cardiovascular disease.”  Moreover, this is not a new claim, so one question I have is, why is this being touted as such?  Let’s put that aside, though, as there are more important things to try and understand here, IMO.  One thing I do want to mention is that these “experts” also claimed that:

Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil…

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/16/coconut-oil-isnt-healthy-its-never-been-healthy/402719001/#

There’s a huge problem with the initial claim, and it’s’ not something new either, which is that the evidence suggests in the strongest possible terms (IMO – you can do your own research on pubmed.com, for example) that LDL is only a problem if it gets oxidized (which is likely why so many antioxidant studies suggest eating antioxidant-rich foods is important if not crucial to long-term health – there really isn’t any other reasonable explanation, from what I’ve seen).  Here’s some evidence from 2011:

In the new study, Chen’s group measured the effects of a diet high in oxycholesterol on hamsters, often used as surrogates for humans in such research. Blood cholesterol in hamsters fed oxycholesterol rose up to 22 percent more than hamsters eating non-oxidized cholesterol. The oxycholesterol group showed greater deposition of cholesterol in the lining of their arteries and a tendency to develop larger deposits of cholesterol. These fatty deposits, called atherosclerotic plaques, increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Most importantly, according to Chen, oxycholesterol had undesirable effects on “artery function.” Oxycholesterol reduced the elasticity of arteries, impairing their ability to expand and carry more blood. That expansion can allow more blood to flow through arteries that are partially blocked by plaques, potentially reducing the risk that a clot will form and cause a heart attack or stroke.

But a healthy diet rich in antioxidants can counter these effects…

http://www.physorg.com/news169978803.html

And what’s worse, there have been studies which appear to show that low LDL levels are associated with a higher risk of cancer!  Now one question I hope you are asking, because I’ve been asking it for well over a decade at this point, is do these experts know about the evidence, or are they just spouting old notions without question (the kind of material you’d read in a college freshman nutrition textbook)?  For example, there is this, from 1981:

Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 34: 1552-1561, 1981.

“Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian
atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and
Tokelau Island studies13.”

Ian A. Prior, M.D., F.R. C.P., F.R.A. C.P., Flora Davidson,4 B.H. Sc.,
Clare E. Salmond,5 M. Sc., and Z. Czochanska,6 DIP. AG.

ABSTRACT: Two populations of Polynesians living on atolls near the equator provide an opportunity to investigate the relative effects ofsaturated fat and dietary cholesterol in determining serum cholesterol levels. The habitual diets of the atoll dwellers from both Pukapuka and Tokelau are high in saturated fat but low in dietary cholesterol and sucrose. Coconut is the chief source of energy for both groups. Tokelauans obtain a much higher percentage of energy from coconut than the Pukapukans, 63% compared with 34%, so their intake of saturated fat is higher. The serum cholesterol levels are 35 to 40 mg higher in Tokelauans than in Pukapukans. These major differences in serum cholesterol levels are considered to be due to the higher saturated fat intake of the Tokelauans. Analysis of a variety of food samples, and human fat biopsies show a high lauric (12:0) and myristic (14:0) content. Vascular disease is uncommon is both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect in these populations.

And for those who are not aware, the scientific method is not something that is supposed to be based upon textbook claims.  Instead, you can’t assert that something is a theory (the highest level a scientific claim can attain) if there is any clear evidence against it.  But go ahead and try to get one of these experts to speak to these kinds of well-done studies and you’ll likely be ignored, “stonewalled,” or told to go read a textbook.  One of the “major” studies experts like these have cited for strong evidence (and probably still do) is Ancel Keys’ “Seven Countries” book (published in 1979).  On page 135 of that book, there is this statement:

At levels below 200 mg/dl, decreasing cholesterol concentrations tend to be associated with increasing rates of non-coronary death.

Isn’t it cute that they never mention this finding in that study?  The folks at IFRA are rank amateurs compared to many of our nutritional experts, IMO, but what you eat is clearly more important (in the context of health) than what fragrances you wear.  After doing a huge amount of research on the subject, I concluded (over a dozen years ago), the the major problem in the context of “chronic disease” is chronic inflammation, and that the underlying problem is oxidation that occurs in the body when you eat food items that are easy to oxidize (fried food is really bad). Again, you can do your own research (using obvious search words), and you’ll discover findings such as:

Eating an apple a day might in fact help keep the cardiologist away, new research suggests.

In a study of healthy, middle-aged adults, consumption of one apple a day for four weeks lowered by 40 percent blood levels of a substance linked to hardening of the arteries.

Taking capsules containing polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in apples, had a similar, but not as large, effect.

The study, funded by an apple industry group, found that the apples lowered blood levels of oxidized LDL — low-density lipoprotein, the “bad” cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals to become oxidized, the cholesterol is more likely to promote inflammation and can cause tissue damage…

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121002143220.htm

So, while IFRA compliance irritates me slightly, claims made against healthy food items is much worse, IMO, and may lead to a many needless deaths and untold suffering (note that fish oil is very easy to oxidize and isn’t necessary, if you eat a diet that does not include items that are easy to oxidize, again, based upon my research).  I do not have any chronic diseases, and I am thin (in my 50s); I just had an eye exam and no signs of macular degeneration or glaucoma were found (and I have avoided major sources of omega 3s since 2001!).  Within the next month, I intend to review a few fragrances from a new niche perfumer who is using the older materials and is not in compliance with IFRA, for those who are interested.  Sometimes I think there is more “gray matter” in a coconut than in the heads of some of our “experts!”  Needless to say, I’ve been consuming coconut oil and shredded coconut (about as much as I find to be tasty) for many years now, and it does a great job moisturizing the skin as well.

NOTE:  For those of you who want more information on this subject, the more unsaturated a fat source is, the more susceptible it is to oxidation, which is why I don’t even consume olive oil (there’s also a problem with adulteration in the olive oil industry), though high quality olive oil possesses its own powerful antioxidants to protect against oxidation (processing can destroy or strip out these compounds).  Sesame oil seems like it doesn’t lose too much of its antioxidant protection, relative to other highly unsaturated one (canola, soy, vegetable, corn, sunflower, safflower, etc.).  And no, lard is not healthy, because it has no antioxidant protection and in the US is about 39% saturated, so I don’t even consider it a “saturated fat,” and question why any “scientist”‘ would (it’s more useful as a culinary term).  Often, it is sitting in hot warehouses, which can lead to it oxidizing in the packaging!  Why do our scientists often use lard as the “saturated fat” in their studies, where they show that “saturated fat is unhealthy?”  Again, it seems that they simply don’t know basic facts, ones that most people probably assume they learned as undergraduate college students!  Coconut oil is about 92% saturated, and seems to be highly resistant to oxidation (I’ve had jars of the stuff for years and it’s still good).  And the pork eaten by some native peoples is much higher in saturated fatty acids because guess what?  They feed their pigs (and chickens) coconut!  They also tend to eat the animals right away, and with food items that are rich in antioxidants, so the “balance” in their meals that contain pork may be in the pro-antioxidant direction, whereas an American who eats a meal rich in lard or pork is likely going to get a powerful pro-oxidative effect.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Do we need to be discreet when discussing discreet scents?

On a recent Basenotes.net thread, a question was asked about “discreet” scents:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/433269-Discreet-subtle-modern

The title was simply “Discreet/subtle modern.”  As one might expect, there were some rather questionable recommendations, such as Eau Sauvage, which is not only non-subtle, but it’s certainly not “modern.”  One person even suggested Pi, which is about as far from discreet as one can get!  I mentioned this, which seemed to offend him, and then I pointed out that if you are going to make such a suggestion you might want to ask yourself how that scent would fare if the opposite question were to be asked.  In this case, Pi would likely be suggested by many if the question involved the loudest scents that are widely available!

But the point I tried to make to the OP (and anyone who hadn’t thought of it previously) is that if you are like most people, and have a limited budget, then you might want to spend very little on a discreet scent that is “modern.”  I mentioned the $4 bottle of Cuba’s Silver/Blue (100 ml) I purchased recently.  It reminds me a bit of Allure Homme Sport, but simpler and more subtle, though of course one could spray more to achieve the desired effect (a major advantage of “super cheapos,” again, if you are on any kind of budget).  Someone took issue with my comment, at one point saying:

You’re not really asking why somebody would buy something nice for himself, are you? Yikes.

I guess some people see ‘discreet’ as being a bad thing. Not me. Not at all.

I never said it was “bad” to spend $80 or more on a scent that one likes, just that it might cause problems if another scent subsequently was desired but the budget had been “broken” on that discreet scent!  As most others might, I can go on a spending spree whenever I like, at least until the credit card is declined, but is that the standard for all such recommendation threads?  It sounds ridiculous to me, and what this person did was to set up a “straw man” argument, but he only made himself look desperate, for those who still respect logic to a large degree.  After all, if I could get a Lutens type scent at the dollar store, you can bet I’d stock up on them.  I wouldn’t say to myself, “I should buy something nice for myself, and there’s nothing nice at the dollar store.”  These are just smells.  You can either get what you want for let’s say $10 or less or you can’t.  If you can but you don’t you are wasting your money – at least admit it, for goodness sake!

My favorite approach lately to this “discreet scent” idea is to spray the back of my jacket with a scent that I think will be interpreted as “nice” by most people while I spray what I want to smell on my chest (when I go out in public), because to me the issue is the scent, not the strength.  One can always do things like spray into the air and walk through the mist to substantially lessen the strength – why not just wear what you want?  Just figure out how to make it subtle?  This brings me back to the Pi suggestion.  The person later claimed that one could simply wear Pi discreetly, which is true, but it’s not what the OP asked.  By contrast, my argument is that if one can barely smell a scent, why not spend very little on a “super cheapo” that gets the job done?  I can’t imagine that a subtle citrus/vanilla-dominant scent that is barely detectable is going to smell that much “better” if Lutens rather than Cuba released it (assuming Lutens would release such a scent)!  If it’s a tobacco-dominant scent, then by definition it would have to be quite subtle or else it would not be “discreet,” and again, Cuba has several scents that would function quite well in this context.

If one encounters an expensive, discreet scent that smells unique (and pleasant) then I think most of us would spray more, because we would not want to barely be able to spray it on rare occasion throughout the day.  Thus, it would no longer be “discreet!”  On the other hand, there are plenty of gourmand, oriental, etc. niche scents that people say are too weak, but it seems clear that the OP was seeking something like Prada’s Amber Pour Homme rather than something like Muscs Koublai Khan, and I’d guess this is the “modern” part of the request.  But this brings up another point I have made in the past, which is that if you want to ask for suggestions you should tell people what your experiences are – this person only mentioned two scents, and the obvious question is, if you found two that work for you, why not just wear those?  The OP’s question was actually:

What’s your preference in this area?

But everyone seems to have taken his post to mean what would they recommend to the OP.  For me, the suggestion would be the same.  In any case, I think there is often “subtext” to these kinds of threads, something along the lines of, “what do the people who really know great fragrances reach for when they are thinking they should smell modern but discreet?”  They don’t seem to want to know that there are really cheap alternatives, because when smells are really light not much is going to be detected – a musky vanilla is common, for example.  You don’t need to spend $400 per 50 ml bottle for that effect!  However, I do think there are more than a few people who do believe that there is a major difference between this and that very light scent of the same genre, as they may have been convinced by the marketing.  Nobody wants to admit this, though, and I’d guess that in most cases, once you have “bought the hype” it’s psychologically difficult to say to yourself, “you know, this Cuba scent would serve the same purpose and nobody’s going to be able to tell the difference, if they smell it at all.”  In many ways, life can be a constant struggle against self-deception.  For others, though, there is a preference to live in that happy land of nonsense businesses market to us all the time.  For those who have plenty of money, this may be less of an issue, but for those who don’t things can get bad in a hurry!

1 Comment

Filed under The basics.

L’Air du Desert Marocain reconsidered.

or:

Because my overall sensitivity has been quite low lately, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit L’AdDM.  I was able to obtain a decant and apply it as a spray, which sometimes results in different perceptions.  My very old vial sample was empty, only some fumes remaining, and so for all I know I now have a formulation that is at least slightly different, for “full disclosure.”  One thing that motivated me to do this is the number of positive reviews on the major sites.  Do people think they must like this one or else they would be a “newb,” or do they really enjoy it?  If this was in a bottle by Playboy or an obnoxious celebrity brand, would it have gotten the same kinds of reviews?  I don’t think so, mainly because I have some really interesting “super cheapo” scents that don’t get this kind of reaction.  An example is Black Oud by Remy Latour.

Right after application I was surprised because it didn’t seem as harsh or “chemical” as in the past, but again, that’s probably due to the low overall sensitivity to smell I’ve had lately.  Then I began to pick up the old perceptions, but with less strength.  There’s still the “cleaning chemicals” element, the dry spicy quality, the light but obvious florals, etc.  One way of thinking of this is it’s like looking at a painting with a transparent plastic sheet over it.  A new observation was that L’AdDM is sort of like a bunch of old scents combined, a bit of this here and a bit of that there.  Toujours Moi, for example, shares a bit in common with it.  However, L’AdDM adds a smoky quality that I haven’t encountered in any of the vintage scents I’ve tried, other than perhaps Smalto Pour Homme, though in SPH there’s a leathery/lavender smokiness that’s quite different from what I get in L’AdDM.  The smoky and somewhat “chemical” vetiver-ish element lasts a long time (with one full spray to the chest), with a touch of something ambery lurking in the background, but there’s not much sweetness.  I really don’t like this rendition of the vetiver and amber-ish combination; it’s kind of like a stew that went terribly wrong (though it does get a bit powdery and less “in your face” after a few hours).

So, would I like a bottle of L’AdDM, assuming my sensitivities stay where they are now?  No, I still prefer Black Tourmaline to it, and there are in fact still things in L’AdDM I flat out do not enjoy, which would make it a “dealbreaker” even if it sold at a third of its current retail price.  I’d much rather wear scents like the aforementioned Black Oud or Toujours Moi (I obtained an ounce of the newer TM for about $2 not long ago from Fragrancenet).  Like vintage Cool Water, which I’ve attempted to like on several occasions, there’s something about L’AdDM that does not work for me, almost as if it were designed to tease me with some “good” things but be unpleasant overall.  I think the reason is that it’s the composition that does not work, rather than the notes.  And on some level it reminds me of some “ground-breaking” mainstream releases, like Cool Water, where dihydromrycenol was used in large amounts.  This will make the scent stand out, but it will also make some of us say, “this is too much – I can’t stand this scent!”

And what about this scent evoking a desert landscape?  Perhaps a desert located next to a squalid third world city would work, as the chemical element (perhaps combined with the spices) suggests sweat shops to me.  The ambery element provides a sense of a cheap diet lacking in nourishment but rich in sugar.  I envision a person aged beyond his or her years, stumbling out of a decrepit building that serves as a factory (which might make trinket type items for the wealthy), in his or her filthy, old clothing (bearing chemical and other stains), after working 17 hours straight, then trudging through a makeshift village at the edge of a desert, collapsing onto a pile of straw, and trying to eat some lousy food.  No, I don’t really imagine this, but the point is that it’s just as realistic (IMO), if not more so, than what we have read in many reviews of L’AdDM (the wonderful spice market next to the picturesque desert stuff).

I think I understand what Tauer was trying to do here, and I can understand why some really enjoy it, but those who do should realize that it’s just like any other scent: some will like it and some won’t.  Those who call one of those olfactory concoctions a masterpiece should consider how those who don’t like it perceive it.  Just as few like it when a scent they enjoy is called garbage or something along those lines, going too far in the other direction is questionable.  If you want to call it a masterpiece, then go ahead and explain exactly why you think it is so far above all the others of the same genre.  For example, if it’s unique and really interesting for a few minutes, then just say that!  It’s often the case that such scents have wearability issues, but few mention this.  How many have said something like, “wow, this is so unique and interesting, a real masterpiece for a few minutes, but most people, even aficionados, probably won’t enjoy wearing it beyond that short period of time?”  Yes, people do get “carried away” sometimes when the smell something very different and compelling, but that’s one reason why I wrote this post, that it, to point out to such people that you don’t want to make those who dislike a scent feel like their noses are “broken.”

NOTE:  There have been some threads asking about a scent similar to L’AdDDM, and after wearing 1881 Bella Notte Pour Homme, I’d say that is a good inexpensive one (currently) to sample.  It’s more along the lines of a combination of Brit for Men and L’Instant Pour Homme (with a similar but subdued anisic element), but it does have at least a hint of L’AdDM, possessing the dry wood or incense, the slight powdery quality, the spices, and a mild floral.  The differences are that the 1881 flanker is considerably weaker and possesses a bit of a musky lavender that is, of course, very common in designer “masculines.”  That might be good or bad, depending upon personal preferences, obviously.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A Review of Sauvage, after an application on the skin.

I obtained a sample of Sauvage in a swap, and finally got around to wearing it normally, though that may not be the correct way to phrase it.  What I did was to apply such a tiny amount that I couldn’t feel it and didn’t see any liquid on my chest.  I was afraid I might really sicken myself if I applied more than that, and of course I could always apply more if necessary.  Well, the very good news is that it is outrageously strong.  A few ml of Sauvage might be enough for a lifetime, if you prefer a lot of variety, as I do!  And more good news – I didn’t sicken me (though my general sensitivity has been low for a while now), though after a while I wished I hadn’t tried it again, as it was not pleasant.

I didn’t get much in the way of fruity top notes – it seemed to just go straight to the drydown, at least within a few minutes, which could be good or bad news, depending upon one’s preferences.  The bad news is that it smells like something I tried back around 2008 and 2009, and thought was far too synthetic to take seriously.  It is “sticky”/blob-like and reminds me of chemicals one might smell in a hair products store.  I have tried to remember which scent it was that smelled like this nearly a decade ago, but I couldn’t seem to place it.  There was Samba Viva for Men, which I really disliked, but I think it was a bit different.  Could it have been something by Liz Claiborne?  Wait a moment – what about Adventurer II by Eddie Bauer?

This really surprised me.  I thought it might smell like a simplified Horizon by Guy Larouche, perhaps a a bit synthetic-smelling, because that was my impression of Sauvage on a smelling strip.  I also thought Sauvage’s composition was unique, in terms of using a lot of ambroxan in a “mainstream masculine” scent.  Another idea is X-Centric by Alfred Dunhill (which lists ambergris as a note) or John Sterling:

https://www.parfumo.net/Perfumes/John_Sterling/John_Sterling

I decided to do an ankle sampling of X-Centric, Sterling, and Adventurer II, the idea being that even if they are not all that similar, there might be a similar strong accord, or that the experience might jog my memory regarding another scent I tried long ago that is more similar to Sauvage.  Starting with Sterling, this is the least like Sauvage, but it may indeed have a touch of ambroxan in it (I obtained my Sterling bottle early in my forays into this hobby and before I had sampled Green Irish Tweed, so to me Sterling is more GIT than GIT is, in terms of the name being consistent).  X-Centric is closer to Sauvage, but it doesn’t have nearly as much ambroxan either, and it has a clear fruity/sweet element either doesn’t exist or doesn’t last long in Sauvage.  Adventurer II is the closest, and probably what I was thinking about, as it does seem to contain quite a bit of ambroxan (though it’s got a bit of sweetness I don’t get in Sauvage).  After a couple of hours it seems fairly close, but not quite as strong (and so, possibly wearable by me).  On a positive note, I think that these three smelled more natural to me than at any time in the past, so I may want to wear them occasionally (they had been relegated to my “sell when the price is right” bin due to being too synthetic to be bearable for hours).

My opinion of Sauvage has changed with this regular wearing, from perceiving it as having a niche-like quality to it being unwearably synthetic-smelling (and not original in any significant way).  However, as I said when I only smelled the strip, it could still be good as a room spray.  After this “regular wearing,” though, I don’t think I want to smell it any more, at least if I can avoid it.  This is why I like to try a scent in different ways and on multiple occasions (spread out over months if not years).  In this instance, though, I would not wear it again because it was an unpleasant experience (even with the near “homeopathic” application!).  I wonder if we will see a few more “major” releases where a strong accord from generic scents of the past is “amped up” beyond belief and presented as something “edgy.”  My thought, though, is why would anyone want this?  Isn’t the point of a “designer” scent that it possesses some complexity?  Didn’t the “drug store” scents get criticized for being simple compositions (some called those “cheap and cheerful”)?  Also, I wonder if Sauvage was designed to smell better on a card, because it smelled a lot better to me that way!

NOTE:  I still think Playboy’s Berlin has some strong similarities to Sauvage, and may be best for those on a tight budget (if the person likes this kind of scent), but I’d say Adventurer II is clearly the most similar, in my experience, though it does seem to have some juniper berry included, so if you hate that note you might prefer Sauvage.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized