Is it “burnout” or something else?

Image result for snuffed candle

These kinds of dramatic statements are nothing new, to this or other hobbies, but I’ve seen a few of them lately, and since I’ve experienced a change in attitude as well, I though it would be a good time to post about it (probably for at least the second time).  Here is a recent example:

The extent to which EO No 2 impacted me was both a surprise and a major relief. If you’ll forgive a personal digression, I’ll explain why. For me, it’s been an exceedingly difficult three months in an equally difficult year and I’ve struggled extensively with both a disinterest in perfumery and in writing, in addition to some other personal issues. In fact, fragrance has provided little interest, comfort, or distraction. Reviewing even less so. I approached analyzing a fragrance with the same enthusiasm I would feel for a root canal. Neither new releases nor my personal old vintage favourites motivated me to put pen to paper…

http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2018/10/06/ensar-oud-eo-no-2/

And there is this Basenotes.net post:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/457974-So-what-happened-to-Basenotes-And-why-do-you-stay-here

which began with:

…why do you continue to come here to Basenotes, even after it’s clear that no one (outside of those of us who continue to come here) cares about fragrances, outside of us?

…Do you also agree that the reason for the slowdown in the traffic on this website, and in this hobby in general, is due to IFRA regulations, and poor reformulations by “respected” houses?

A bunch of posts followed that brought up various issues about hobby “fatigue” of one kind or another.  But perhaps it’s just about change that were likely to occur, short of some sort of cataclysmic event.  And how many would be unhappy with the hobby if you got free samples of any scent that is available and then the most you would have to pay is $15 total for a 50 ml bottle?  I’m at the point where I would rather layer existing fragrances to get a novel effect than pay even $50 for anything new, but I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something special, or “deprived” in any way.  In fact, because I only buy or swap if it’s a “no brainer” I feel a lot less “burdened” by the hobby.  Regrets are unlikely and if there are any, they will be too minor to ponder for long.

What I see happening on ebay is that a few fragrances (such as Caesar’s Man, which is discussed in a recent FromPyrgos blog post) go into the “hype zone,” at least temporarily, which others sell for a lot less.  For example, I’ve seen a whole lot of Jo Malone, Etat Libre d’Orange, and Penhaligons bottles selling for great prices recently.  Perhaps a store closed and some stock was liquidated (for example, a couple years ago I bought three different partial Floris 100 ml bottles, as a lot, probably about 180 ml or more in total, for less than $30 total), but at least a few times per week a great deal seems to “pop up” (and I certainly don’t buy most of them; I’d guess  no more than 10%).  It’s the kind of fragrance I wish I would have encountered when I began to appreciate “oud scents,” but now I just think of it mostly as “swap bait,” because I have so many of these kinds of fragrances and actually like some “super cheapos” better (such as Classic Match’s version of Polo Supreme Oud).

And I purchased a lot of a few vintage scents, one of which was Canyon Cologne by Bath & Body Works.  It reminds me of somewhere between vintage Polo and L’Occitane’s Eau des 4 Voleurs, so that’s a “new discovery” that involved very little cost and I really like it.  With designer exclusives and niche, though, the prices are too high and so it raises my expectations too high.  Moreover, even if I like the fragrance, I usually think that it’s not “necessary.”  That is, I have something similar, can layer to create something similar, or I’m rarely going to wear it.  This is one reason why I don’t do much swapping any longer.  Perhaps it would be best for those who feel some sort of “burnout” to look inward rather than outward (especially if you own more than a few vintage bottles).  Do you really think some sort of incredible and unique composition is going to be released, with ingredients of the “quality” you think it at least good, so that you feel compelled to buy a bottle, more or less regardless of cost?  To me the answer it, I don’t even want to think about this stuff any more!

The author of the kafkaesque blog tells us that:

The Pure Parfum is, as you might expect, a lot more expensive. It is $795 for a 50 ml bottle as opposed to $395 for the EDP…

Having said that, I won’t lie to you: I could never afford to buy a bottle of the parfum… But would I buy a bottle for myself if I hadn’t been sent one by the company and if I had disposable income for scent indulgences? Yes, absolutely.

It’s easy to say this when you get free bottles sent to you, I’d guess.  The reason is that in my experience, after the first two or three wearings, the “magic” seems to diminish, sometimes considerably.  Then you ask yourself, “what was I thinking?”  But when you get the bottle for free, you can just put it aside and think that you just “need a break” and the magic will be back soon.  And indeed it sometimes does come back, but if it’s a very expensive scent, you might be thinking that a 5 ml decant could last you the rest of your life!  Could that be where so many mostly full niche bottles we see on ebay originate?  In the case of a seller who has listed a lot of different bottles, I wouldn’t be surprised (if they are listing a lot of Penhaligons bottles, for example, I’d guess it was a store closing or a store no longer offering a specific line).  But whatever the case, why not be happy that you explored modern perfumery and now you can “rest on your laurels” (in a good way), perhaps pursuing other things?

 

 

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Some thoughts about a few brief reviews in the 2018 Turin/Sanchez “Guide” book.

Image result for reading newspaper cartoon

I thought it might be useful to some readers if I provided my impressions of some of the short reviews in the 2018 “Guide,” now that I received a copy of it as a gift (I’m having difficulty motivating myself to read the longer ones at this point).  Let’s begin with The Hedonist by Cult of Scent, which was given three stars by Turin (and described as “holy smoke,” which doesn’t help me much, other than to conjure up the smell of a Catholic Mass):

I love smoky perfumes, usually mostly the smoky part. The rest often seems like lipstick on bacon. This one wears no makeup.

My first thought is a question, what does he mean by smoky fragrances?  I’ve experienced ones that I think of as a kind of “clean” smoke (which I tend to like), but then there are ones like Encre Noire, which I think of as an “iso e super nightmare.”  There are also some scents with really harsh “white musk,” which I tend to detest.  Or is it like the incense at a Catholic Mass?  We may never know for sure, and then there’s the “lipstick on bacon” comment.  I guess I have some sense of the bacon aspect, but bacon and lipstick?  I wish he had furnished us with an example!  And then we’re told, presumably, that it’s a smoky bacon scent.  Does he like it?  At three stars it’s right in the middle of the five star classification scheme.  I find this review puzzling, and I’d be frustrated by it, except that since I read their first “Guide,” I expect reviews of this type and just “shrug it off.”

But we get yet another (Journeyman by Soivohle), which is described by Turin as smoky wood.  He reviews it as, “The obligatory smoky woody fragrance every niche line must have, for the bearded dude in a lumberjack shirt,” only in this case the scent only gets two stars!  The several Fragrantica reviews for it are quite positive, and this sounds like one I’d like to sample.  Apparently, it was fairly limited and the owner stated there are issues with re-releasing it, but it sounds a bit like As Sawira by Penhaligon’s (I recently obtained a 100 ml bottle of that one at a great price), except that AS doesn’t have much of a smoky quality, which often doesn’t work out well for me (it can become irritating rather quickly).  But the main point is that for someone who says he enjoys smoky fragrances, one has to question exactly what he means by this!  Does it have too much of a lipstick and bacon quality?  I wonder what is the point of such a review, considering the difficulty almost every read will have in sampling it?  My guess is that he thinks this brief review will amuse readers (or enough of them), but it just makes me question if he generally has issues with being consistent with the criteria he uses to assess things.

Next up is Hedonist, by Viktoria Minya).  It it is described as a tobacco vanilla and given one star (by Turin).  The review is simply, “Smells to me like spray furniture polish.”  I looked up the reviews at Fragrantica.com for this scent, and they are “all over the map.”  Did he spray it on a card and just take a quick sniff?   It seems like there’s more to it than how he describes it, even if it’s not well composed.  Another that gets one star, by Turin, is Hedonist Iris by Viktoria Minya.  He calls it a scitrus musk; the review is the short sentence, “Iris? Now you’ve pissed me off.”  It’s not uncommon for a fragrance to have something like lavender, vetiver, santal, etc. ion the name, but to not have that note in the fragrance (at least not to the degree that many can smell it).  Turin “called out” a Creed scent or two for this issue in the first “Guide,” so one has to wonder why he would think it surprising, let alone why he would become angered by it.  And in this edition, he says, “If any oud at all is used here, it’s wasted,” about Incense Oud by By Kilian (and other similar things are said about others, such as Iris Fauve and Iris Homme).

Next up is In the Woods by Cult of Scent, which was given three stars (by Turin) and described as cedarwood neroli.  The review is, “Lovely simple cedarwood accord.”  My problem here is twofold.  It’s not “readily available,” and on the company site the price is $130 for 30 ml.  The other problem is that if Turin is correct, why not buy cedar essential oil from a site like Bulk Apothecary (half an ounce for about $5), with a bunch of great reviews?  You can also buy inexpensive citrus type essential oils from them and combine these (in the reviews on the site you will sometimes find simple recipes, but you can just do some quick google searches to find plenty).  At the very least, a “perfume expert” should mention this possibility for those who aren’t going to spend $130 on a 30 ml bottle of a very simple scent, IMO.

Then there’s Indigo by Thorn & Bloom, which gets a sole star (by Turin) and is called “caraway lavender,” the review being, “Truly awful from beginning to end, a perfect instance of a natural perfumery fail.”  This was a great opportunity for him to use an example of what he tends to dislike with “natural perfumery” fragrances, but it is squandered.  Another missed opportunity (IMO) for Turin occurs with Itasca by Lubin, which received three stars and is described as a citrus fougère,” the review being, “Nice lemony vetiver, very presentable.”  It seems to sell for over $100 for 75 ml, so an obvious question is, can I save money by purchasing a similar scent that isn’t “lacking” in any major way?  But as Turin said in the first “Guide,” there are different kinds of fougeres, so why not tell us which one this is?  And this is a good example of a situation where Turin could be quite helpful, in that a couple of Fragrantica reviews talk of the aroma chemicals they think are used in a clumsy way (one claims there’s obvious iso e super present and the other says, “…the heavy hand in the use of some deodorant aroma chemicals started causing me headaches after a while).  These kinds of scents often have this issue, in my experience.  Thus, if Turin thinks the aroma chemical are barely detectable, at best, why not tell us?  It’s not like his review will then become too long!

The thought seems to keep entering my mind that people like Turin are “missing the forest for the trees” by focusing on “edgy” niche scents.  Yes, there are endless possibilities for minor variations on a bunch of themes, but especially if you are mostly concerned with drydowns, how much “better” do you expect a niche scent to be?  For example, tobacco scents are popular among many hobbyists (compared to the general public, at least in the USA), or perhaps the general public just can’t detect it unless it’s a really obvious note.  In any case, there are some excellent “cheapo” tobacco scents (or ones that were for a while), such as Lanvin’s Avant Garde.  Yes, you might be able to get one that is a bit more this or that, but if you bought AG for around $12 (as I did a while back, 100 ml new), do you really want to waste a lot of time and money chasing after the “niche version” of it?  There’s also Samba Skin for Men, which is a solid “pipe tobacco” scent (like Pure Havane), which cost me about $9 for 100 ml new.  However, I might have some interest in the “niche versions” if my experiences led me to think that would lead to me obtaining a “better” fragrance, but that rarely occurred!  Why not enjoy what you have, even if you only have a tenth of what Turin does?  That’s probably enough to keep you busy for decades, at least.

And it’s not like Turin never takes issue with some of today’s prices.  For example, his review of Kingdom of Bahrain is, “Decent citrus-woody with a well-judged touch of rose in the heart. Yours for £425 per 50 milliliters.”  Moreover, as was the case for the 2008 “Guide,” I don’t’ understand the mentality behind the reviews, other than these being an expression of his sense of humor.  I know some people have a tendency to leave things “half finished,” but many of his reviews aren’t even 10% finished, AFAICT.  And after he tells readers he enjoys smoky scents, they get the impression (I think) that he will spend a bit of time on the reviews of those, but in some cases we don’t get much of anything!  Is Journeyman or The Hedonist a good “beginner smoky scent?”  Or is he deliberately trying to frustrate readers, perhaps with the thought that will compel them to get a bunch of samples?  I know that I’ve encountered some teachers when I was younger who seemed to have this kind of attitude.  However, I think if that were the case all the reviews would have this quality.  Is this supposed to be a whimsical guide?  It often doesn’t sound that way, but why not call it that if it’s the case?  To me, it may be most interesting as a kind of mystery, trying to figure out how the mind of Mr. Turin functions!

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A review of reviews: Les Heures de Cartier: L’Heure Perdue XI Cartier (2015).

Les Heures de Cartier: L'Heure Perdue XI Cartier for women and men

This fragrance was one of two in the free preview of the 2018 edition of “Perfumes: The Guide” to receive a 5 star rating (from Luca Turin), and since I probably enjoy fragrances with a noticeable vanilla note as much as anyone, I thought this is one I needed to write about, though buying a bottle is a different matter (Cartier web site price is $275; on ebay I saw one for $179, both 75 ml).  And with this one, you don’t get a list of notes, but instead (on the Cartier site and elsewhere):

…powdered with HELIOTROPIN elegance, from someone else’s desire? Voluptuous and intimate MUSCENONE like the scent of knowledge. Perhaps because everything is ruled by science, so clever in posing as natural when in fact it is a feat of alchemy, exploring the artificial through a precipitate of large synthetic molecules, particularly VANILLIN. This aldehyde with sensual aromas and a silky aura floating over the 11th hour, the lost and progressive hour, demystifying the conventional idea that beauty is only worthwhile if it is NATURAL.

First I want to address Luca Turin’s review.  As you might expect, it was composed by a perfumer he has high regard for (Mathilde Laurent), and was recommended to sample by a reader of LT’s blog.  This person used evocative language when describing it, including “most evocative” and, “like a memory you can’t quite place, but are certain to have lived.”  How could such a scent not be magnificent (sarcasm alert!)?  LT tells us that it’s “heaven-scent and disquieting in equal parts,” and this reminds me of his review of Bvlgari Black (I liked the idea of BB, but found it just a bit too simplistic).  We are told it has an oriental drydown featuring vanilla, labdanum, and praline.  He says the praline is fresh, but I’ve never encountered such a thing; perhaps he means that some of the top notes persist, such as what he claims is grapefruit.

Now this is a fragrance I wouldn’t mind sampling; I might think it’s worth buying (if the price ever comes way down) or I might dislike it (heliotrope notes are not my favorite unless they are subordinate).  However, let’s take a look at the Fragrantica reviews, beginning with a negative one:

L’Heure Perdue opens both acidic and vanillic and a bit cardboardy musty. The scent alters between sour and cardboardy vanilla…  Not my thing, had to scrub it off due to the acidic notes underneath.

The review of another could be positive, if you like the smell of Dove soap:

This smells a bit like Dove soap. If you’ve been dying for the perfume version of this classic, give it a sniff.

One that is positive actually doesn’t begin with a description that sounds all that laudatory:

Generally, I can’t stand anything that smells too heavily of vanilla. But while L’Heure Perdue does smell sweet and vanillic, it also smells really weird. Like glue or rubber. But powdery. The parts are familiar, but they’ve been reconfigured in totally new ways…

Now to be fair the idea behind it seems to have been to use synthetics to create an “abstract” but not “synthetic” or “chemical” fragrance.  The problem there is that some are very sensitive to certain aroma chemicals, and so I would like the company to disclose if particular ones were used in large amounts (I’m not going to hold my breath on that happening, as you might guess).  But LT compares it to Jicky and Habit Rouge!  It sounds to me like it could be similar, in terms of the general idea, to Reveal by CK (the “feminine”), where there’s something familiar (vanilla and sandalwood) with something odd added (a marine type note, clearly an aroma chemical or chemials).  Spending more time/effort and money on such a composition might indeed result in something quite interesting, though I think for me if there are some strong aroma chemical elements to it (which seems to be the case) it might be an unpleasant experience.

This is also an example of the “disconnect” between people like LT and myself. From what he has written, it doesn’t seem like he will wear this scent at least a few times a year, if he ever wears it again, but he probably got at least a free sample of it.  If this scent was priced lower, I would likely try to swap for a bottle, and if that didn’t work out, I’d wait for it to get to that point where it was at its lowest and buy one.  But given the pricing, I might never be able to acquire a bottle reasonably, and so I would not be interested in sampling, because I already have so many vanillic fragrances I can’t imagine thinking that I “need” another, even if it is different.  The reviews do not sound good to me.  I’m not a fan of “oddball” fragrances, and I’ve already got a few of those, such as Perry Ellis for Men (2008), which lists notes of, “grapefruit, woody accords, resins, iris root, leather and musk.”  The drydown, however, features an ambery/vanillic element along with some sort of marine type chemical (reviewers have called it blood-like or copper-ish, as in an old penny).  It cost me about $8 for a nearly full 100 ml bottle.

Is L’Heure Perdue XI better than this Perry Ellis scent?  That’s where I have major problems with fragrance reviews.  Does anyone doubt that LT would say yes?  But to me what matters is whether I find the drydown to be pleasant (assuming they all have at least decent strength).  If I like both, and they aren’t similar to something I’ve already got, then I’ll try to obtain a bottle in what I consider a reasonable way.  If I could only buy the PE scent for around $12 or more I would not own it now.  I simply have too many at this point to place much emotional (or other) investment in any one.  If offered enough money (within reason, though) I don’t think I’d have a problem selling any or a bunch of my bottles.  By contrast, some people (apparently LT), sample a fragrance, find it to be “artistic” and then talk about how great it is, but do they wear it on any kind of regular basis?  I think we are back to my old post about the “niche sampler” phenomenon, which I believe I observed on Basenotes.  That involved people doing a lot of sampling of less common, more expensive scents, talking about how great they were, but over time a bitter tone to their reviews emerged, along with claims about the “death” of the “art of perfumery.”  My question to them would be, since you’ve claimed to enjoy so many fragrances in past reviews, why don’t you just wear them and stop sampling/complaining?  Clearly, they were not thinking about or using these olfactory concoctions the way I do, nor in a way I suspect most people do!

 

 

 

 

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What do the “experts” have against “celebuscents?”

Image result for elvis cologne

Unlike the experience of many others, including some who are viewed or position themselves as experts, I have found “celebuscents” to be great deals.  They are often similar to popular scents that I like but are eventually they get sold at much lower prices, with very few exceptions.  An excellent example of an expert who has some harsh things to say about these releases occurs in the “Perfumes: The Guide 2018” book.  In it, Tania Sanchez states:

Celebrity perfume is effectively over.  While it gave us genuine grief to write the obituary for a lost world of fragrances in 2008, it gives us great pleasure to toll the bell for these cynical fame-monetization strategies.

First of all, aren’t the authors also quick to point out how the non-famous are trying to cash in on the niche craze?  And how are these fragrances so much worse that most of the designers that were released since 2008?  With celebuscents, at least you can eventually get great deals, which is much less likely the case for the “top designers.”  And there are so many “lesser designers,”‘ even if we leave aside the fake names, that one wonders why they aren’t criticized too, because most of them are just cheap clone type scents.  I’d guess there is more uniqueness to be found in celebuscents than in the lesser designers (some examples I’ve tried include Phoenix by Keith Urban, Adam Levine Perfume/EdP, KISS Him, IsaBella by Isabella Rossellini, Truth or Dare Naked by Madonna, both Queen Latifah scents, Kinski, Fancy Nights, the original Alain Delon, at least the vintage version of Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion for Men, and yes, Elvis Cologne!).

But things get even weirder in this book, as Sanchez then points out that celebuscents were very popular when the 2008 book was published, yet since 2011 there has been a steady decline in sales (in the US), with a 22% decline in 2016 alone (what about other markets?).  It may just be that sales had gotten ridiculous, and then there was a “natural correction.”  Notice that she doesn’t tell us how many bottles of celebuscents are sold relative to top designers, designers in general, and niche, and what the different world markets are like.  Now I’m certainly no fan of brainless celebrities who might have little or no talent, but does it really matter which CEOs or celebrities make money when I reach into the proverbial bargain bin to buy a bottle?  It seems to me that Ms. Sanchez is reading too much into these olfactory concoctions, and I have a feeling that she possesses a notion about “artistic” value, believing that this is not possible (or highly unlikely) among celebuscent offerings.  However, isn’t it likely that whether the scent is a lesser designer or a celebuscent, it is created by perfumers at the major fragrance companies?  And how many “top designers” and niche were created that way too?

Do celebuscents almost always cost less (meaning the liquid only) to make, and therefore can’t possibly smell as good as designers?  That certainly has not been my experience, but if so, the burden is on her to provide evidence that this is the case.  Some people seem to get irritated by the many clone type scents, but I’ve found that I like some of those better than the originals, and again, they often cost much less.  It’s the reality of our society, just like you can’t patent an idea.  You can copyright a slogan or simple logo, though – does that seem fair?  If you want me to buy my fragrances based upon your notion of fairness, then at the very least you need to articulate that notion!  I think much of the dislike is related to their statement (in at least the 2018 book) that “we are looking for beauty.”  This is an abstract concept, whereas these are not abstract creations.  Yes, some smell more literal while others smell very strange or abstract, and hard to “pin down,” but clearly most people don’t care.  Some want to “smell like everybody else,” while others want a “fresh, out of the shower smell, etc.  A tiny minority spray on a scent and think, “wow, this is a work of art,” or “this scent is the essence of beauty.”

To me the obvious question is, what do you want?  I want at least some of the listed notes to be detectable (I can usually tell if that’s the case if there are more than a few good reviews), and I want it to smell at least reasonably natural.  Then I can decide if I might like it.  One of the great benefits of many celebuscents is that a whole bunch of these have dozens of reviews just on Fragrantica alone!  And of course they often come down tremendously in value over time and are found at nearly every kind of sales outlet.  Of course, some are made in limited quantities and might soon be listed on ebay for prices that seem absurdly high, but usually there’s a time during which they are a great deal, so it’s really about taking the time/effort to do research and find those “diamonds in the rough.”  This is what I don’t think the “experts” will do, because it can be time-consuming.  And again, if you get free samples or even bottles, you’re probably going to be more interested in the “fancy” and expensive niche or designer exclusive offerings.  Moreover, if you are seeking “art,” then I don’t know what to tell you, because I just don’t think along those lines with these kinds of olfactory concoctions.

However, if you are looking for a really cheap bottle that gives you what you want, then celebuscents are worth keeping an eye on!  Another thing about them is because many are so cheap, they can allow you to try out fragrances you never thought you’d like, but for a few dollars you’ll give them a chance (not just spray once on paper and take a “quick sniff”).  In the new, 2018 “Guide” book, LT states that he usually wears Caron Pour un Homme and Mitsouko (why not tell us the formulation and/or “vintage,” if not the batch code?) when he isn’t sampling, and TS lists a dozen.  I would quickly get bored with just a dozen or so fragrances, but I question the mentality of people who apparently own a huge number of bottles (of a lot more than a dozen of the same), but wear so few on a regular basis.  If there is so much olfactory beauty in the world, why limit yourself to experiencing a tiny fraction?  Why do they do so much sampling if they would rather wear a small number of fragrances the overwhelming majority of the time?  Because they want to bestow their wisdom on us, such as that women should try wearing Kouros, etc?  Now I do think they have quite a bit to offer the “community,” but the definitive claims, such as the “death of celebuscents,” is not their strong suit, IMO.  I don’t value their reviews more than some anonymous person on Fragrantica, for example, because there is no reason for me to do so (their preferences seem different and their reviews are often vague, silly, too brief, or not even “on point.”

Coincidentally, I read a review of the new “Christopher Robin” movie that included the following:

McGregor is a perfectly likable actor, which helps soften the character’s shortcomings, but Christopher isn’t very interesting, and the film’s familiar lesson — conveyed via one of Pooh’s more ridiculous mantras, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something” — feels more than a little bit unfair. The movie basically ingratiates itself with kids by scolding adults for losing track of what’s important, and yet, both in the 1940s and today, a responsible father doesn’t really have the option of quitting his job.

Film Review: ‘Christopher Robin’

And my thought was this is a similar situation, in that millionaires with personal assistants or “perfume experts” who get free samples or even bottles are similar to the message that a parent should quit his/her job to go talk to fantasy animals of his/her youth.  Yes, send me free samples and pay me a nice “advance” for a perfume guide book, and I’ll be happy to spray or dab one on a card each day, then write down my thoughts (sometimes quite brief or not even mentioning what the scent actually smells like).  Otherwise, I’ve got more bottles than I “need” for the rest of my life, though I’m sure I’ll continue to swap, buy incredible deals when they present themselves, and acquire free samples here and there.  No, I’m not spending $200 or more on the typical bottle, but if I win a “mega jackpot” lottery I might (though the only way I play the lottery is if someone buys me a ticket as a kind of gag gift).  And if you asked me to give star ratings to fragrances, I wouldn’t subtract one for a lack of originality, as TS and LT apparently do; instead, I’d grab that super-cheapo “knockoff” and be quite happy, even if it didn’t smell quite as “natural” (they might take another star off for that).  Yes, the difference between $200 a bottle and $10 is significant to me, especially when I might only wear that scent once or twice a year.

NOTE:  I haven’t tried that many “celebuscents,” and I have tended to avoid ones I don’t think I’d like.  In addition to ones mentioned above, I’ve got bottles of a few different McGraw, Beckham, and Mariah Carey bottles, which aren’t bad but I don’t consider special in any way.  I sampled Adrenaline by Iglesias and that wasn’t bad, but again, not special enough (or close enough to an expensive scent I’d like to own) to pay the low price for a bottle.  I also own the two Lady Gaga scents, again not bad but not special, and Purr by Kay Perry, which is certainly good for a change of pace, along with Heat Rush by Beyonce, which I certainly would consider wearing if I was going to spend a lot of time outside on a warm day (I rarely do that these days).

 

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Is this a fake Gucci Envy for Men EdT tester, and other “mysteries?”

On a recent Basenotes.net thread, someone asked if this was a fake:

Gucci Envy Fake Tester.jpg

This is the thread in question:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/455949-Gucci-Envy-Weird-Bottle-Question

Of course the biggest problem here is that Scannon was spelled incorrectly!  On ebay one can sometimes see a tester of this scent, and it always looks like this (in my experience):

Gucci Envy Men real tester.jpg

Of course I can’t say that it can’t be real, but if you believe it is, I’d guess you are quite a gullible individual in general.  The person who posted the top picture on BN said that it, “almost looks like an internal tester that never should have seen the public,” but how does he know what kinds of test product bottles they use?   Also, a tester isn’t a “refill.”  I’ve purchased refill bottles and the ones I’ve seen have always been at least 200 ml (and none were spray bottles).  None have had the word tester on the bottles or boxes.  And what is it going to refill?  Legitimate Envy for Men EdT testers are sealed spray bottles!  I’ll also mention that the color is likely incorrect too, though it could be due to the lighting.  There are two color variations in real bottles, one being paler than what you see in the bottle that has the correct design, but it doesn’t look that pale, nor does it have that slight brownish tinge (I have tried both colored liquids and can’t tell the difference between them, scent-wise).

I happen to have a tiny bit of insight into the possibility (however remote) that it is an “internal tester” because several years ago I purchased a Lagerfeld test bottle (from a former employee of the company), so I thought it would make sense to post a picture of it here in case anyone comes across something like this; they will have at least some more information at their disposal:

KL Lagerfeld Aftershave bottle.jpg

And though it’s an aftershave, I’d say it’s more like and EdC or even stronger (and smells right; I have a vintage sealed EdT spray bottle to compare it to).  But I’ve never tried the aftershave of this scent that was marketed to the public, so that’s the most I can say about the smell of it.  Also, at the time KL Lagerfeld for Men was selling for very little – the cost of this bottle probably wasn’t much less than what I paid for it (total).  At the time I didn’t know if it was valuable as a unique item, and since it was a buy it now ebay listing I decided to take the chance.

Not long ago I saw an ebay listing for an odd-looking 125 ml EdT Mark Birley bottle.  It wasn’t listed as a tester, but it had no box or cap.  There have been testers of this fragrance on ebay, but they had round stickers on the back that said Tester.  The most troubling thing is that these bottles (I saw two of them from different sellers) had black sprayers that appeared to screwed off, and they were aesthetically quite ugly.  And when I compared the tubing to a real bottle I noticed that these all black sprayer bottles were not all transparent; towards the top they were white.  I think someone might have taken off the original sprayers and used a plastic one that wasn’t so different as to look utterly ridiculous (perhaps using some kind of “crazy glue” to hold it on), as you can see:

Mark Birley possible fake bottle.jpg

One of these sold for less than $30 total and while the other sold for just over $40 total (both around 90% full), at a time when real ones were selling for a whole lot more.  One of the sellers seems to mostly sell “name brand” makeup while the other sold mostly used fragrances that are not known to be faked.  And both had over 500 feedback each with only one negative (a fragrance bottle broke during shipping but the buyer just left the negative feedback without trying to resolve things first, apparently) and no neutrals.  Here’s a real bottle – notice how much smaller the sprayer apparatus is and there’s not white part to the tube, and you can also see the tester sticker, which is on the back:

Mark Birley real bottle.jpg

So perhaps a reader will be able to clear up one of these two “mysteries” up for us!

UPDATE:  After I wrote the above I noticed someone selling the odd-looking Envy for Men refill/testers for $298, but on these Scannon was spelled correctly.  To me this is even more suspect, and the seller had nine of them!  So, just when prices for this scent appear to be hitting all time highs, a “hoard” of tester/refills (which I’ve never seen before) that look really weird and are inconsistent with known tester bottle designs appear on the market?  And if you wanted to create one, all you would need to do is to print out this kind of label, find some old bottles, and get some of the “dupe oil” for this scent (perhaps you’d also have to buy some dyes to get the color close).  As they say, it would be like printing yourself money!  Needless to say, it appears that only those with little patience and even less aversion to risk would buy such bottles.

NOTE:  If you would like to see more posts like this one and the previous one, let me know by commenting to that effect.

UPDATE:  I was contacted by someone who said that postal codes for Paris are 5 digits, beginning with 75, so the testers in the weird bottle with Scannon spelled correctly are almost certainly fake, because they still have the code as 7001.  Apparently, the person selling these read about the online discussion and changed the label to correct Scannon, but since nobody pointed out the postal code issue, that was kept the same.

 

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Was there an Eau de Parfum formulation of Pino Silvestre?

One reason I decided to publish this post today is because it somewhat complements the latest post on the FromPyrgos blog.  A few months back, I obtained the EdP bottle of PS pictured below.  I also took pictures of the other two bottles I own, one I obtained about five years ago, from a discounter, which of course means  it might be quite a bit older (the largest bottle, 125 ml).  The one in the middle is a “vintage” formulation, though I can’t say how old it is for sure (it’s got a more natural lavender note and is smoother).  The EdP is also clearly different to me, with less lavender and the kind of base you find in many “intense,” “absolute,” “extreme,” etc. flankers (that is, it may have benzoin, amber, vanilla, etc., blended together to create that smooth but not too sweet quality).  It’s my favorite of the three by a wide margin, and something that niche companies might learn a thing or two from!  If anyone knows something about the EdP please leave a comment – I contacted Mavive through their web site for any information they could give me on the EdP but they didn’t respond:

Pino Silvestre 3 bottles.jpg

If you can’t read it, the EdP says Special Edition next to the number 50, and that number has the degree symbol next to it.

Pino Silvestre bottle bottoms.jpg

On the bottom of the EdP bottle, embossed in the glass, it says Weruska & Joel Torino.  It also has a transparent plastic label which says this, along with Eau de Parfum, Made in Italy, 75 ml, etc.  Then the batch code (I’d guess) of 6039 appears to be stamped over that plastic label.  The cap seems to be a wood veneer and there’s a mid green colored plastic liner that slides onto the sprayer (which is a gold metal).

In his blog post about Green Generation (by Mavive), Brian mentions Weruska & Joel, so perhaps he has some ideas about it, at least roughly when it was released:

https://frompyrgos.blogspot.com/2014/10/green-generation-him-parfums-mavive.html

One possibility is that not only was it a limited edition but it was also only released in certain nations (the person I bought it from was located within the USA).  And note that I didn’t try to contact Weruska & Joel because at the time I thought it was the company that made the bottle.  I’ll do that if I don’t get any information on it within the next few days.

UPDATE:  See the comments for the answer!

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Is it time to “call it quits?”

Perfumes The Guide 2018 by [Turin, Luca, Sanchez, Tania]

I came upon a thread in the General forum at Basenotes.net, which was about the new Perfume Guide book by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.  You can find it here:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/437337-New-Perfume-Guide

I then went to Amazon to see if there was a preview for it, and sure enough, it was quite good, even including many of the “A” fragrance reviews!  I read what was there, thinking that I’d likely buy the book (the Kindle version, which might be the only one, is $9.99), but as I read something coalesced in my mind.  Turin seems to think (at least this is what I’d guess, and agree with) that what has happened over the last roughly ten years is that enough people got tired of mainstream offerings, which became minor variations on a small number of themes, and so turned to niche, which then itself largely did the same thing.  A couple of things I’d say about this are that vintage fragrances often were similar to older, popular ones, and that while reformulations are often bad (as he stated), it’s still easy to get most of them at reasonable prices if you possess just a bit of patience!  Furthermore, there’s a lot more information now about how to identify a vintage bottle.

He more or less dismissed the great vintage masculines (especially those of the late 1970s to early 1990s) in their 2008 book, but didn’t explain why (at least to my satisfaction).  And in this 2018 book, he seems to be suggesting that now it’s highly likely you’ll get a bad reformulation if you go that route.  Obviously, if you started collecting them after you read the first book, you’d have quite a few that you obtained at very good prices, just like I did!  Turin then says that despite the lamentable state of things, there are still some perfumers providing us with fragrances that should be regarded as special.  Unfortunately, I have yet to encounter any of these, and I think the issue may be one of “artistry.”  Turin clearly believes in it, but to me, while I may really enjoy a scent for a short while (even one from the dollar store), it’s just going to register as “wear it once in a while” at some point in the near future, if it doesn’t rate even lower.  I’d rather just smell a new scent on a piece of paper, so that I’m not “stuck” with it for hours, and instead I’m usually content with a fragrance that has an obvious vanilla or amber note in the base, with just enough of something else to keep it from being too boring.  Moreover, I don’t seem to share his taste a good portion of the time in any case.

I guess it’s almost like a distraction to me these days, and what’s more, my sensitivity has been low for quite a while now, so I often don’t get much more than the top notes.  Even a powerful Jacques Bogart scent seems of just moderate strength.  Then, as I was reading through the reviews, I was thinking that there aren’t any fragrances that interest me!  If you told me you’d send me a sample of half of them, I wouldn’t want to waste the time reading about them!  The reason is that I just don’t care if a fragrance is a slightly different take on oud, oud/rose, leather, iris, gourmand, sandalwood, etc.  I’ve got so many bottles that I can’t even remember everything I’ve got, let alone try to figure out what I should wear on a given day!  Usually, something just pops into my mind and I decide to reach for this or that bottle.  I decided to write up a response to the BN post, which was:

I got involved in this hobby just before the first “Guide” was published, and a lot has changed for me, one of which is my thoughts about these olfactory concoctions. Back then, I got a copy of the book a couple of months after it was published (still have it), and read it within a few days. There was still so much to learn. Not long thereafter I developed chemical sensitivity and couldn’t go near anything with lavender in it. That lasted a few months before normality returned, and I was able to detect more and more notes. Since then, I’ve gotten involved in other pursuits and my sensitivity is rather low. I can appreciate Fahrenheit as well as traditional cologne type compositions now (unlike back then), but in general I don’t find the same enjoyment I did for those first several years, at least on most days.

And I’m just as happy wearing a cheap knockoff (that’s well done) as the “real thing.” When I read the free preview (at Amazon) of the new book by LT and TS, it was not a trip down memory lane. Most of the fragrances I had never heard of, and I didn’t have any interest in trying any of them. What’s worse, I really didn’t care what was said. What hasn’t been done? Or what has been done (and not yet sampled), but I don’t think I’d enjoy? When I decide what to wear (and once in a while I don’t use any!), there’s plenty to choose from. Sometimes I can’t even find the bottle! I still do some blind buying and swapping if the deal is too good to pass up, but I can’t say there’s any scent I’d really like to acquire. In fact, if someone offered me enough, I’d sell my entire collection tomorrow (I’d keep some “cheapos”). I’m glad to see that the magic is still there for a lot of people, but on some level I’m glad I don’t spend as much time thinking about this stuff any more!

In an introductory chapter, Sanchez tells us that celebrity fragrances are “effectively over,” but what does that even mean?  She tells us that sales are slipping, but people who read their book probably don’t care.  They either don’t wear fragrances marketed this way or, like me, they buy what they think they will like (or were able to sample, and liked).  And there is no discussion of layering, from what I understand (I think it might have been mentioned in the 2008 book), which is a way to deal with low sensitivity (for me).  If there’s a new scent with a unique combination of notes, guess what?  I can usually figure out a layering combination that is close enough for me (such as Born Wild Men or vintage Pasah layered with Red Sea by Micallef instead of Viking by Creed, which I prefer to the Creed, actually).

So, while I agree with some of what they say, I do think that they don’t distinguish between the different kinds of people who do much thinking about these olfactory concoctions.  I don’t remember reading anything about the effect Youtube reviewers have had, for example  At least they could mention that they don’t watch any and have no idea, if that’s the case.  It is mentioned that they have sampled thousands of fragrances since the first book was published, and as at that time, it seems to me that if you do that and do it competently, you wouldn’t have any time to enjoy your favorite ones!  Could it be that they find so much blandness because they don’t give many or even most of the fragrances they sample enough time to show what they can do over the course of hours?  It’s easy to dismiss a scent as “crude” if you just smell some rather strong and obvious top notes, but perhaps a few hours later things have really come together and it smells considerably better.  “Cheapos” often have this quality.

I’m not sure what this all means to this blog.  I think I’ll have enough motivation to  write up a post or two per month, but I’m not sure about the content.  I feel that I’ve explored as much as I want to, or perhaps 95% or more.  Will that other 5% or so be enough to sustain this blog?  If I don’t sell most of my collection in the near future, I should be able to write posts on just my reassessments for a long time to come, and I still have more than a few samples that I have yet to try!  So, I think the blog will keep going, but I wonder how much enthusiasm will exist, and whether it will be obvious to readers that there’s not much remaining, if that continues to be the case.  At least I often perceive the scent in at least a slightly different way than the prior wearing, but it’s also common for me to like it less than I did before.  One good thing is that I’m not spending much, even though I had mostly been buying $25 or cheaper bottles, and most of them were probably sub-$15!

Over at the NST blog, there’s a recent example of what I’m referring to, in Anela’s review of Musc Encensé by Aedes de Venustas:

Musc Encensé might be a non-musk musk. Me, I smelled a comfortable, warm musk like Coty Vanilla Musk, but much less sticky and thick…

How about incense? Any incense in Musc Encensé is subtle and not sharp or dank…

All in all, Musc Encensé is the ideal fragrance for someone who wants a warm, delicious, non-intrusive background scent to toss on. It doesn’t make a statement. It doesn’t demand attention — or detract from it. True, Musc Encensé might not break new ground.

https://www.nstperfume.com/2018/07/10/aedes-de-venustas-musc-encense-fragrance-review/

The best part?  It’s “only” $245 for 100 ml!  Seriously, the industry has gone off the rails on the crazy train.  Why would anyone have any interest in such a fragrance who has at least a bit of experience with niche?  It seems like Angela is trying to make it sound better than I probably would, especially after all the excellent incense and musk fragrance releases in the last decade or so (most of which cost a lot less, such as the Molinard Musc that cost me $12/100 ml a couple years ago).  But what impression is she trying to give the reader?  Why not say something like, “this is a good scent for someone who wants to try niche out for the first time but probably won’t enjoy anything too edgy, and who is rich?”  She says it’s for someone “who wants a warm, delicious, non-intrusive background scent to toss on,” but how many such people exist?  Yes, I agree there are quite a few who will buy a scent like this, but not at $245 for 100 ml, or even $100.  Is Angela rich?  Perhaps she should tell us that she can go around buying these kinds of fragrances the way I buy dollar store scents, if that’s the case, and then it would make a lot more sense, IMO.

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