I saw this one on sale a while back at a very low price, hesitated, and someone else bought it, but a few weeks ago I had another opportunity and took it. Before making the purchase, I did some research, but the reviews were not promising, for example (from Amazon):
This does NOT have the Royal Secret fragrance that my mother has used for many years. She still has a small quantity left in another bottle – the fragrance doesn’t begin to compare and it’s a different color. Where oh where is the wonderful Royal Secret??
However, for the most part the comparison seemed to be with the original Royal Secret (by Germaine Monteil), which is a real “old school” oriental (I have some of that one in EdC formulation and I don’t “need” more, especially at current prices). Also, the fact that it is made by Five Star Fragrance was a concern, not that they are a terrible company but that IMO it’s “hit or miss.” These are the fragrances that are marketed under their name (apparently they were bought out by Perfumania):
What I really wanted a scent that was consistent with the note pyramid for EdRS, which is:
Pink pepper, Italian bergamot, Mandarin, Blackcurrant, Night-blooming jasmine, Orange blossom, Lily-of-the-valley, Vanilla absolute, Indonesian patchouli, Tonka bean absolute, Frankincense, Golden amber, Tobacco, Cocoa, Musk.
Of course, it was possible that some notes (that I’m not a fan of) would be too strong, but I thought it was a chance worth taking at a very low price. Fortunately, the scent is excellent, sort of a “feminine” TF Tobacco Vanille! Instead of the fruit and spice of TV, EdRS has a clear jasmine to go along with the tobacco, amber, etc. The cocoa note is present, though overall this does not have the edible sweetness one might associate with outright gourmand fragrances. Moreover, for men who don’t mind a bit of jasmine, this is worthy of consideration if you like TV type fragrances. Indeed, EdRS is less “in your face” than TV, and so one doesn’t need to really be in the mood for a tobacco or gourmand-ish scent, as I find to be the case with TV.
Another idea is to layer this scent with one that is complimentary, such as the Ungaro Oud fragrance, which is devoid of florals and tobacco. Once you start to really understand these concoctions, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to make them work for your particular preferences. The only “downside” is that you may sacrifice a day if your layering combination is mediocre or weird, but not especially pleasant,, as does occur from time to time. However, when I find that the first scent just petered out and not much remains other than a generic or common base, that’s the time to try another fragrance that may complement it, in my experience. In any case, EdRS could have been marketed by a niche company – I think the formula should have been tweaked a bit, though. The jasmine could have been weakened and the tobacco and cocoa could have been strengthened, and then it would be a unisex niche scent! Yet once you already own a scent like that, I find I’d rather have something a little different, and that’s where EdRS comes into play!
By contrast, what does niche have to offer? Coincidentally, while writing this I took a break and noticed a Clive Christian scent, L for Men, for $100 (50 ml, nearly full), so I looked up the reviews. One of those at Fragrantica is:
I… own and wear mostly CC fragrances. L is masculine and has a distinctive rich smell. CC fragrances are made with the finest ingredients so you only need 1 or 2 sprays. The notes on the dry down is green and woodsy. L is for the mature and confident individual.
First, a “distinctive rich smell” is culture-bound. The “party boys” will likely say you smell like an “old man” if you wear a scent like L, I’d guess. This is obvious, but what about “finest ingredients?” How would we know? The company would need to be totally transparent to know this for sure, including allowing anyone who wishes to visit their facilities without notice. Even worse, expensive ingredients (I won’t say “finest” because that notion requires definition) aren’t necessarily especially strong! It depends, and can vary significantly, especially for some ingredients (presumably natural?)_that are used for top notes. Also, what does “green and woody” mean? I see that quite often, but it doesn’t really help me – if you don’t know what galbanum is, for example, how can I take you seriously when you say “green?” What about ivy or violet leaf? In some cases a few people seem to think that cypress is green. So, it’s one thing to get a green impression, but it’s another thing to be unable to detect major notes yet to say that a scent possesses the finest ingredients know to humankind! Fortunately, there are better ones (for my purposes), such as:
…Opens with undeniable petitgrain and a musty body odor lemon vetiver combo which to a large degree, I found it to be alluring. Thanks to a volley of firs, the composition “greens up” a bit as a Irish Spring Soap Bar gone niche. Now I’m getting to the part of the fragrance that’s more comfortable and not as green. In the base, the prominent note is arguably the musk. At this moment, gone are the body odor vibe, but this rides into the sunset as a woody, soapy, green frag with sweet musky nuances.
Others say that it becomes a rose/oud “masculine,” while others say vetiver is strong, and I certainly don’t need more fragrances of that type, so I wouldn’t blind buy it, due to the price and my preferences. But I think the key point here is that just like anything else, at least for me, “quality ingredients” can get boring if the composition is not compelling. Otherwise, people can (and some do) just buy essential oils, which can be very inexpensive. Then they dilute to safe/preferable levels, possibly adding two or three together. This is why a scent like EdRS is so appealing to me – it’s a unique, enjoyable composition that does shout “chemical nightmare” and cost very little. I’ve also probably got enough (100 ml) to last me the rest of my life!