Trying to figure out what aroma chemicals smell like: Potion Royal Black.

If you don’t want to spend money buying aroma chemicals just to get a sense of what these smell like, your other option is to find a scent that apparently is loaded with a specific one. This is easy to do with dihydromrycenol, which has been used in large amounts in many “masculines,” Wings for Men by GBH being one example. Cool Water for Men is another, though with that one you might get distracted by other notes. A less common one is cashmeran or cashmere wood. One reviewer has claimed that Potion Royal Black is loaded with it, and I was able to obtain a bottle in a swap. The notes listed for it are:

Top notes are bergamot, pimento and incense; middle notes are rose, leather and tobacco; base notes are cashmere wood, musk and guaiac wood.

Correlating what I smell in PRB with other scents that have been said to contain large mounts, I have a strong sense that the reviewer is correct here. A striking aspect to PRB is how “perfumey” it is, which for me means, among other things, that it has a tenacious quality that never seems to let up, change over time, or allow other notes to break away from it, even for a moment. It’s there for hours and keeps coming at you, so to speak. It doesn’t smell “bad” to me but it doesn’t really smell “natural” to me either, other than if compared to natural gas. It dominates the other notes that are supposed to be present, which may be another reason why it feels “perfumey” to me. It’s almost like the other notes are swimming in a vat of this aroma chemical.

Reading the list of notes, you might think you are getting a niche scent for a great price, but it seems the idea here was to showcase cashmeran. What is the point of doing such a thing? My guess is that this was meant to create a sense of “masculine elegance,” as some have phrased it. What that means to me is that it’s more for other people rather than the wearer. It might smell great if someone walked by me wearing it, but it doesn’t seem to provide the kind of olfactory experience I find most enjoyable.

On the other hand, there is certainly something to be said for unique compositions. I’ve found that sometimes I need to wear a scent like this a few times before the dominant aroma chemical (s) seems to recede into the background and then some of the other notes can be enjoyed. I think that at this point, dihydromyrcenol and hedione don’t bother me much even if they are used in relatively large amounts. However, the key seems to be that perception that these are “background” elements. And that may be the biggest problem with such aroma chemicals, that is, I can never know when this will happen and when it won’t. If my overall sensitivity is low, then I’m usually willing to give such a scent a chance, whereas when it is high I’ve found it’s best to avoid these. My “last ditch effort” with such scents is to decant them into a dab vial and use them for layering purposes, though of course swapping or selling is a possibility.

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Okay, the references to the FromPyrgos blog are a thing of the past.


I began this blog with the notion that I should share my thoughts, insights, opinions, etc. with those interested, and perhaps I would learn a thing or two from readers as well. I am now dealing with some health issues, along with a relative who has a major health issue, and I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be writing up new posts (though I hope to do at least one per month). The “intellectual jousting” (if that’s the best name for it) that has gone one between the two blogs has run its course, at least in my mind. I don’t want to be the proverbial broken record, and my conclusion is that is how most readers perceive the situation. Moreover, I got involved in this hobby because others were closed off to me, and I wanted something new, interesting, and enjoyable to spend some of my time on. And while I enjoy the debate quality to many of my recent posts, I think I’ve made my positions clear and that it wouldn’t make sense for me to reiterate those positions with slight variations.

I hope the FromPyrgos blog continues, whether or not the author wants to discuss the same issues or not. I think this informal debate situation has revealed quite a bit of information, at least to me, and I wouldn’t mind continuing with it, but with health issues and a sense that readers might not be too pleased, I’ll focus on subjects that are new or where there is something new to say. I also might do some “short” reviews, such as that I write on Fragrantica, because I have a feeling that is of more interest to most readers, though I’ll continue to try and include things that go beyond a “simple” review. If you have any requests as to things you’d like to read about, go ahead and leave a comment – that might provide me with some new ideas as well. One idea, for example, is to talk about how to lower the risks associated with swaps, such as to ask the person to take a picture of the bottle you will be getting before you give that person your address. This is something that seems to come up when people tell me their disappointing swap stories.

And whether he is “HankHarvey” now on Basenotes.net or not is something I will leave to others, if they wish to speculate. I’ve pointed out what I think is strong evidence for this, but since I don’t want to see him banned from the site again, there’s no reason to pursue this notion further. Finally, for those who are asking, why now? I think the “internet controversy” about what color the dress is led me to question the value of spending whatever time I have left on this planet on restating an argument. The fact that so many people didn’t ask about the lighting conditions under which the dress was photographed goes to show that even obvious and basic questions are often not asked, leading to some sort of supposed controversy. That said, I’ll be thinking about some “fresh” ideas for my next blog post, “controversial” or not, which I intend to publish before the end of March.

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The “get some air in the bottle” myth and variable perceptions.


Over at Fragrantica.com, a review of Caron’s Third Man contained this passage:

…I tried this fragrance a couple of times and just couldn’t get past the “sweet wax” impression and decided I would get rid of it. I very much enjoy Caron Pour Un Homme (vintage) and the only thing I detect similar between it and Le 3rd is the lavender. CPuH is much more gentle and understated and softened by the vanilla. But a friend of mine became quite animated about my giving it more time. “Don’t give up on it–it’s a masterpiece, just give it time!”

So I did…

And I gradually changed my mind. I don’t know if it’s something to do with “olfactory familiarity” or simply air getting into the bottle to let it tone down a little (maybe both), but I’m warming up to it more. It’s in my “like” category and may just make it to “love” one of these days.

First of all, I never perceived a “sweet wax” quality to vintage or recent formulation, and I find Caron Pour un Homme (“CPuH”) to be quite harsh, especially in the more recent formulation, but also for vintage. Thus, I am not trying to suggest that this is a person whose opinion I hold in high regard (nor would I want anyone to think I hold his/her opinions in low regard). Instead, I cited this passage because it seems to reveal a great divide in the way people who think about such things come down. For example, the FromPyrgos blog author has spoken about using up a significant percentage of at least one Creed bottle (sealed spray) because it would allow air to change the scent into something clearly more pleasant.

Now for all I now there is a possibility of this for highly volatile chemicals that generate most of the top notes experience for some scents, but to me it is entirely illogical as a general notion. The reason for my conclusion is that I have acquired so many bottles since early 2008 that I have experience with all kinds of situations. I have mostly swapped for bottles that were used once by the person, and then used once by me. In some cases I initially really disliked the scent but months later decided to give it another chance. And some of those times I found the scent to be considerably more pleasant. In other cases, however, a scent I thought I’d always want to have in the rotation became harsh or irritating (I usually don’t wear the same scent within a two or three month period, if not longer).

This has happened over and over again, and I think I have a good idea about the kinds of things to be concerned about if I get a chance to at least spray a bottle once, but many of my acquisitions are “blind buys” or swaps. And I think the reviewer cited above made a good suggestion when he/she said that “olfactory familiarity” was at work. My guess is that this is similar to how many of us acquire a taste for food items that we previously disliked. If getting air into a bottle, perhaps after 5 ml or more was used up,were a major factor, I think I would have noticed. Instead, I’ve experienced this with only a spray or two missing from a bottle, and if anyone wants to claim that makes a huge difference, go ahead – I have only so much interest in debunking ridiculous ideas (though it’s certainly possible that a scent might change over the first few months presumably because the company didn’t do a good job of letting it macerate long enough, in rare instances).

My contention is that the kinds of perceptual differences can be so vast from one wearing to another that chemical reactions simply cannot account for this. The scientific state of the art with perfumery is such that this is rarely if ever an issue with the usual techniques used to create them. On Basenotes.net, there was a recent thread in which the first post contained this:

On some days, certain notes pop their heads up more so than others. I find this interesting, and I really enjoy it.

Aventus is one of the culprits. Some days, like today, the vanilla stands out and is quite noticeable even in the opening, but most days I get no vanilla at all.

GIT is the same way. Some days it’s just green, green, green. Other days, not as much.

Any of your fragrances do this for you?

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/399761-Sometimes-fragrances-smell-different

Several people responded, all of whom (at the time of this writing) agreed with this sentiment, except for “HankHarvey,” who I believe to be the FromPyrgos author. In the past this author has claimed something along the lines that scents are “objective.” I pointed out that for some reason this might be his perception, so it’s his reality, but clearly it is not the overall reality, because we are talking about perceptions here, and you can’t tell others what they are perceiving, though of course there are some people in the world who think they can do such things. In the psychology community, this is often called “gaslighting” (based upon what occurred in a very old film called “Gaslight”), meaning that a person might say something like, “no, I never yelled at you, but you yelled at me many times,” even if the opposite is true. I’ve had one person do this to me (a relative) and found it to have both irritating and amusing qualities. I wonder how many of the people who do this do it on purpose. In any case, one person’s perceptions can’t be “objective.” That is the realm of science (though science is concerned with theories, at best) or technology (such as if you were to fly a plane around the earth to verify that it is spherical).

NOTE: A good example of variable perceptions (in this case between those who have studied scents and those who have not) was documented recently when perfume bottles that were a century and a half old were opened:

…The smell of the fragrance was overwhelming of rotten citrus with some notes of hydrogen sulfide (commonly known as rotten eggs).

The perfumers characterized the smell as unpleasant however to the amateur nose of the archaeological researchers the smell was characterized as surprisingly citrus, grapefruity, and inoffensive.

http://www.cafleurebon.com/150-year-old-lost-fragrance-found-in-a-shipwreck-piesse-lubin-perfume-rescued-off-the-coast-of-bermuda/

NOTE #2: In the past the FromPyrgos author seems to have put quite a bit of weight behind the responses to threads such as the BN one cited above. However, in this case, do any of us believe he will admit that it’s likely that most people who become “fragrance hobbyists” (if not all-out aficionados) can experience quite a bit of variance when they wear a scent at least several times?

UPDATE: After publishing I went to the thread and counted 15 who agreed with the thread starter and one who agreed with “HankHarvey.” That person, “hednic,” is someone I may have alluded to in a previous post. He claims to have perhaps thousands of scents, which means he is either a liar (which I doubt) or else there is no way he could remember what the scent smelled liked during his previous wearing – it would have occurred years earlier! Moreover, he talks about his acquisitions, which appear to be a couple of hundred a year if not more. Not only does this seem to be another “exception proving the rule” situation, but hednic seems to be terrible at detecting notes and has admitted that on more than one occasion. Someone who has thousands of bottles but can’t seem to detect more than perhaps a few notes (not necessarily most of the time) may indeed think that a scent he smelled a few years (or more) earlier doesn’t seem to have changed – to him it may all be an olfactory blur !

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Something, something, la, la, la… Zino.


The other day at the FromPyrgos blog appeared yet another post that makes little sense, and seems more like evidence for obsessive-compulsive disorder to me than anything else! It’s not even an entertaining read, and the “information” provided is not helpful. I’ll try to sum it up here and then state some points I think are worth mentioning. It seems that because this author doesn’t smell any significant difference between what others think are two different formlations of Zino (presumably related to the bottle design), then that must mean everyone else should have the same perceptions. Also, we are told about some molecule created to render a sandalwood-like note (before Zino was released), as if that was significant.

Now indeed it may be significant, but if this was a criminal investigation I don’t think that would rise to the level of “person of interest,” whereas the author thinks that means the suspect has been arrested, tried, convicted, and executed! And there are claims about top notes in older bottles, which is irrelevant to the sandalwood note issue. What he needs to do, if he wants to be taken seriously by those who have some knowledge about fragrance creation, is what blogger Andre Moreau has, that is, to have a scientist with some understanding of these concoctions to compare the liquid obtained from the different bottle designs. He has cited a study of Old Spice that did just this, so not even mentioning this point suggests what I consider intellectual dishonesty. There may be more “something, something, la, la, la…” in the post but I don’t want to burden readers with any more of it.

As to my points, the first one is that people like myself are simply reporting our perceptions. I took the caps off the two different bottle designs of Zino I once owned and smelled them, and no matter how I did it (which order) the one with Zino Davidoff in all script smelled liked it has a strong sandalwood note whereas I didn’t detect one in the other bottle. I also found it difficult to wear the newer design as the first hour or so was harsh and unpleasant. So, at this point that’s all there is for me, until a GC/MS study is done or until the people who formulated Zino make public relevant documents. One can present all the supposed anecdotal evidence one wants, but that is meaningless to those who feel they know what they want and who make their fragrance purchases accordingly.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that one kind of anecdotal evidence he uses can be used against his claim, I’d say in a more convincing way than anything he says in his post. That is, if we assume he is correct in that there are more people who think Zino has never been reformulated significantly, and that some sort of “democracy” is in effect here, then what do we have to say about the huge amount of claims about the significantly different batch variations in Aventus, not to mention other Creed scents? They must be correct too! But if there are such huge batch variations in a recent release, why is it so difficult to believe that whomever created new batches of Zino decided that fashions had changed (or it would be cheaper) and so it would make sense to remove or diminish greatly the sandalwood note it contained? One reasonable explanation is that those who don’t detect the Zino sandalwood issue are “top notes people,” and the Aventus batch variations are obvious in the top notes, at the very least.

Why do we need to know about sandalwood and various synthetics? I’ve never said I can detect Mysore sandalwood or even any natural one. All I know is what smells “natural” to me (and I almost always use that term in quotation marks or say natural-smelling). I can’t remember anyone saying they know for sure that Zino once had Mysore sandalwood or a natural one. And if one person did say it, we have yet again arrived at an exception proving the rule situation. What I have said is that in some cases there appears to have been a reformulation of this or that scent (usually ones from the early 90s or prior) which rendered it “synthetic” smelling, or lacking in depth, complexity, balance, etc. And I’l just mention here that I have heard claims that some newer scents seem to have been reformulated into a weaker version, and my guess is that this was done with Rochas Man, based upon a few bottles I’ve owned.

One of my favorite “sandalwood scents” is Barbara Bui Le Parfum (2004), which I assume has no natural sandalwood. Another favorite is the first formulation of Heritage, which has a complex, dry, particulate, sandalwood note that I assume is at least partially due to natural sandalwood of one kind or another. Sensitivities do change significantly, at least for some people, and at one time the Barbara Bui scent was too strong for me, but what I’ve learned is that when I read reviews it’s important to distinguish between “top notes people” and those who are able to get a clear sense of the drydown. For example, a “top notes person” might say something like, “this is great for about an hour and then I can hardly smell anything, just a fuzzy and generic nothing scent.”

Now this might be accurate, but I read what others say, look at the notes, consider the “house” that released it, and consider any other piece of information that might be of use. It’s also true that due to sensitivity differences, one person’s soft/generic/fuzzy drydown might be another’s deep/rich/complex one! And though I’d never want to be without a bottle of many vintage formulations, I enjoy variety – that includes many “super cheapos.” I have no axe to grind, though I do point out that if a company reformulates a scent significantly it seems appropriate to give it a new name. The new formulation of Z-14 is quite interesting, and I may wear it more than the first formulation simply due to personal preference (which in this case may involve variety being a high priority to me), but I don’t understand why it couldn’t be called something like “Z-14 Now.” I don’t think it’s fair to sell this to people who may have worn it twenty or thirty years ago and have no reason to expect to smell what’s in the new bottles.

NOTE: The bottle pictured above is what some of us believe is the poorly-reformulated Zino, though as I’ve said more than once, even if this is accurate, it’s possible that some older batches of liquid were put into bottles with the new design, or that some extra older style bottles were filled with a reformulated liquid.

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The Niche “rabbit hole” versus Vintage Fever.


On a recent Basenotes.net thread, one member wrote up a description of the progression of his experience with this hobby (which is dissimilar to mine). There were eight stages, with the eighth being simply “Enlightenment.” I want to focus on his fifth and seventh (niche rabbit hole and vintage, respectively). He describes the fifth as:

You start sampling and sniffing all the niche stuff you’ve heard about. The scents are so far out and weird in comparison to what you’ve smelled before you become completely entrenched, wondering what’s around the next corner. You find some great stuff here, and some stuff you hate. Your previous concept of what you like and what defines your taste is shattered. You buy some stuff thinking you like it, only to realize for some reason you can never really wear it. Then you realize maybe you really don’t like it, or it’s just not for you. You smell some things and wonder how anybody in their right mind could like it, or pay hundreds of dollars for it. And you smell other stuff that’s so damn good and such high quality you think designer’s not even worth your time any more. You spend a shitload of money. If you’re married, you might be hiding certain fragrances around the house. If you’re not married, you spend a good amount of time questioning whether or not to discuss your new obsession on your next date.

In the past, I have called such people “chronic samplers” (mostly of niche or designer exclusives, it seems). His seventh is described as:

I can’t expound upon this as I’m in stage 6 [a reassessment of designer]. I know stage 7 lies ahead, and I’ve seen what it does to people. I’m hoping I can hang around 6 for a while. I think stage 7 is brutal. Everything’s discontinued and sold on eBay at inflated prices. The juice may have turned if it’s been stored poorly. Or maybe they replaced your Patou Pour Homme with apple juice. Why’s this seller have two negative feedbacks? What’s his return policy? Should I invest in a sniping app? Will this make me smell like an old man? It looks rough from the outside. Treacherous. I think FSU92Grad is in stage 7 right now. It’s taken a toll on him. Badarun seems to be trouncing through it like a champ.

It seems to me that the stage five people don’t have much “middle ground.” That is, their reviews tend to be overwhelming positive or negative. I don’t dislike niche, in that there are some I enjoy and I’d buy decants of some if I really wanted some immediately but didn’t want to pay retail for a full bottle, but I’m thankfull I have never felt that desire. I recently swapped for a decant of Portrait of a Lady, which I like, but I’m not sure I would have paid what the major sample/decant sites would charge me. Overall, I’m more than satisifed with what I have, and in fact there are plenty I’d like to sell or swap, including a few “masterpieces” (such as vintage Yohji Homme). I don’t feel the need to wear vinrage every day, and in a sense my main thought is elimination, meaning that I reach for a bottle or decant with the thought that I”m going to make a final decision on whether to keep it or not.

Not long ago I purchased a bottle of Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum because it was a fairly good price. I liked what I read about it and thought it would be popular enough to quickly sell or swap off if I didn’t like it. What’s interesting is that it may allow me to be content with keeping, while simultaneously selling/swapping my bottles of M7, Habit Rouge EdT, and Third Man (all vintage formulations). The reason is that HR EdP covers all these bases for me (though of course it may not have this effect for others). It’s got the sweet floral yet “masculine” quality of Third Man. an accord that seems similar to M7″s (in the drydown), and enough of the vintage HR scent for me. I thought to myself, “you don’t think any of those other three are great and don’t wear them often, so why not just keep this one and move out the rest?” Keeping the HR EdP would still allow me to make up a few samples for swap as well, since I doubt I would wear it often.

My main point here is that there is a limited amount of time one can spend with any one scent, though if you only wear one that’s a lot more time than someone like myself, who prefers a large and diverse rotation, possesses. However, there’s no reason to suppress your current preferences. If you are in a “rabbit hole,” see where it leads! The key is to not get disappointed when you start to feel that things are becoming boring. Just move on to something else – there is so much variety, so long as you aren’t a “niche snob,” for instance. Lately I’ve been sampling “cheapos” and inexpensive “feminines/unisex,” for example, I found that “super-cheapo” Yacht Man Red is more pleasant yet very similar to Dunhill’s Desire for a Man (it doesn’t have the metallic quality and is softer). These are just olfactory concoctions, and do not represent anything “objectively” special, “high class,” etc. unless they are performing that kind of function for you on a given day!

NOTE: The BN post I quoted can be found in its entirely here:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/398522-once-you-go-niche-you-never-go-back!/page2

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“Moving the goalposts,” yet again !


Over at the FromPyrgos blog, there is a new post that screams out, “that’s the exception that proves the rule.” The claim is that if a “jerk” on ebay is asking $100 for a used bottle of Max Factor Signature for Men, then something, something, la, la, la… Seriously, you try to figure it out! The other day I noticed that someone was trying to sell a four ounce bottle of Aventus for about $1500. In the title it said “collectors pricing,” suggesting that at least some who view themselves as collectors are very stupid or very particular (and well off financially, presumably). What does that mean in the grand scheme of things (and does that mean we should stop buying Creed scents)? I’ve seen all kinds of apparent stupidity just on ebay alone (I’ve been buying and selling from that site since the late 1990s) – does that mean that any time there is an apparently ridiculous listing the entire market to which that item belongs is bogus? Yet that is what the FromPyrgos author is suggesting, whether he realizes it or not.

Something seems highly suspect in his way of thinking, and to be honest I fear for his mental health. First, as any collector knows, you look at actual sales, not asking prices, and you want to get a sense that the sales are “real.” Anyone can do completed or sold listing searches on ebay and see for themselves, yet the FromPyrgos author seems entirely unaware of this possibility. Secondly, no market is “rational,” and we saw where “irrational exuberance” can lead a world economy not that long ago, and that was directed by the “great economic minds” of our age. And as anyone who has watched CNBC once in a while, it appears that fear and greed are the major motivators of major market swings, leaving the author’s claims about greed irrelevant, or perhaps even supportive of the opposite conclusion !

But what really made me worry about this author’s grasp on reality is the following statement from his post:

…perfume is not a design product that becomes more valuable with time. Perfume is “perishable.” It goes bad, it goes stale. It doesn’t last forever. Even if it does last, it changes. It becomes distorted. Time is usually not very kind to it.

Here he is making assumptions that are contrary to just about everything one can read online! First, vintage aficionados don’t seem to care about or don’t share his views involving “spoilage,” so that is irrelevant, and again may be supportive of the opposite possibility. That is, these aficionados seem to be so willing to overlook what he considers spoilage that the market will continue to rise as the stock diminishes. Yet somehow this author is trying to claim what? Again, it seems like “something, something, la, la, la…” How can he not see that if there are as many vintage aficionados as all evidence points towards (that includes ebay sales and what one can read on the major fragrance sites) prices are going to rise, no matter how much this displeases him? Moreover, the rise of retail prices on the “department store” designer scents might be another element that is contributing to the rise in vintage prices. And let’s not forget that some niche fans also desire at least certain vintage, and compared to niche prices vintage ones are usually an incredible bargain (especially to those who are patient!).

I just did a sold item search on ebay for the scent in question and saw that a 3.1 ounce bottle sold for $29.99 total. That seems more than reasonable, and if I were given $30 and told that I could buy that bottle or use it towards a new designer scent, I would buy Signature, even if the designer scent was on sale. Now if I could sample all the scents I was interested in, that might change things, but blind buying is something that many of us do because so many scents have been released over the years that no store could offer even 50% of those released in the last thirty years (or perhaps could do so for a while before most likely going out of business). So, where are the proverbial goalposts here? Are there ebay sellers who appear to be greedy or unrealistic? I’d say yes to that, but who would disagree? Why is this even worth mentioning?

Thus, one is led to ask, what is this author’s argument, exactly? Are vintage aficionados a bunch of fools? That may be his conclusion, but we do not care one bit! Does he think that vintage aficionados are walking around in public smelling like skunks (wouldn’t the Muscs Kulai Khan fan have more to fear in this context, for example)? That claim seems so ridiculous I really hope he has never entertained that notion. Is he angered that the “original intent” of the perfumer is being “violated?” First, he doesn’t know if that’s the case for any particular bottle, but even if it was for all bottles of a particular scent, I would be the happiest person in the world if that was the worst thing that existed on this planet! It’s clearly not something more than perhaps a few hundred people in the entire world occupy their time pondering. Perhaps one day this author can regain his composure and make a cogent argument on a specific and relevant subject. I would have liked to have read a review of Signature, along with getting a sense of availability and pricing, but instead it’s just a muddled diatribe that is somewhat frightening in its disorganization – have the goalposts left the field at this point?

NOTE: The FromPyrgos post in question is titled “Perfume Econ 101 (The Not-For-Dummies Version): Max Factor Signature for Men – And It Doesn’t Even Have Your Name On It.”

NOTE #2: More on claims, if there are any, about vintage scents smelling “bad.” Here is a passage from a Fragrantica review on Muscs Kublai Khan:

Oooo!!!! What have we here??? What a dirty and naughty thing this is. I have never blushed like this when smelling a perfume. Like the previous reviewer said in small doses can be erotic but in large doses you will smell like a hobo sprayed down with rose perfume. I love it. This is one of the dirtiest anamalics around…

This one received a bunch of approval balloons and there are other, similar opinions. The FromPyrgos author seems to be incapable of imagining that a non-perfect (at least in his opinion) vintage scent might be preferable to recent releases for a whole lot of people. Why he refuses to address this point is puzzling, but it would make sense if there is some sort of mental health issue involved, it would seem.

One vintage scent that might get similar reviews to MKK is Kouros, but vintage fans seek out that formulation for just that reason! They want that “skank!” Moreover, even if about 75% of the vintage scents I purchased on ebay had “spoiled” horribly, I would still think that my money was well spent, relative to buying niche or designer (most of which I would hardly ever wear or just return or sell for whatever I could get). But no, I would not seek out the dumbest vintage listing and buy those – I have patience and wait for excellent deals to materialize.

UPDATE: I just noticed an ebay Aventus listing, about 425 ml for $5000 (item # 141570189637)! Why doesn’t the FromPyrgos author talk about these kinds of listings? Why is he fixated on how “bad” vintage is (though it’s no longer clear to me what his point is), and why are his vintage “horror stories” (my characterization) usually about bottles that sell for perhaps $20 or $30 more than he thinks is appropriate (such as past posts about Kouros and Joint Pour Homme)? Even his example is about $70 too much, at most. Compare that to the Aventus listing!

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“Honesty,” “spoilage,” and spoiling fun for others.


In a recent FromPyrgos blog post, perhaps the most disingenuous thing I’ve ever seen on that site was written:

My mission in life is not to ruin the fun for vintage enthusiasts. My mission is to be more honest.

Now it’s possible that someone is so self-deluded that he or she actually believes this, and I think this is the case here because of the first sentence – who does he think cares about his opinion enough to stop wearing scents he or she thinks are fabulous (out of the small number of people who read his blog)? In any case I’ll move on to what I find to be more significant:

There was a basenotes thread a while back in which the OP touted the notion that he’s never encountered a spoiled vintage, or that at least the number of times he’d smelled a spoiled scent were far outnumbered by the times he’d smelled perfectly preserved vintages. He kept asking people to send him their spoiled scents, I guess to prove the point that people were lying about their claims of encountering spoilage, which seemed downright strange, if you ask me. It didn’t occur to him that people usually toss their spoiled fragrances shortly after purchase, nor did it seem reasonable to him to suppose that nobody would want to be bothered to go to the trouble of packaging and mailing a bottle of skunked juice to god knows where. What would that prove?

I know I’ve said this more than once and I don’t remember reading anyone else making this offer so it clearly is referring to me. If the FromPyrgos author is such an “honest” person why doesn’t he tell his readers about the person to whom he is referring? Oops – that must have escaped his mind for some reason, as did a blog post of mine from November 30, 2014 entitled Bigsly “mythbusting” basics. In that post there is the following passage:

The first point about this is that the claim always seems to shift, or at least means different things to different people. Some seem to think that a Creed scent they bought a few years ago is “spoiled” if the top notes seem different after a few months. Interestingly, the FromPyrogs author, apparently a supporter of certain spoilage claims, thinks that Green Irish Tweed needs to age for several months, in order to improve the smell! Then there are those who don’t realize that sometimes the liquid in the tube does smell bad (at first), and those who are lacking in olfactory self-awareness (meaning that they can’t imagine that their perceptions have changed rather than the scent). I’ve pointed out that not only do I try to avoid most of the fleeting top notes, but I have also encountered vinegar-like or varnish-like top notes (rarely), or as one person phrased it, a “burnt vanilla” quality. I have yet to experience a drydown that seemed wrong, let alone spoiled. In any case, how is one to address a subject that includes such different definitions, especially when most of the claimants seem unaware of the fact they don’t agree with each other about what they mean? And even for those who are willing to admit that it’s highly unlikely that what one may call “true spoilage” is common, I have yet to hear a reasonable argument about why someone should be criticized for enjoying vintage drydowns, even if they are slightly different than they were 30 or 40 years ago – why does that seem to greatly upset some people?

There are some simple “solutions.” A sample swap or purchase of several vintage scents of interest (for perhaps $12 total) would provide plenty of information. If I said that the scents in question had non-“spoiled” drydowns and the person thought at least one was spoiled, then he or she could refrain from future swaps with me. But here’s an important piece of information: out of all the vintage swaps or sales I’ve done (hundreds at this point, if one calls a scent “vintage” at about the ten year mark), there have been no complaints about “spoilage.” Here is what I remember:

1. A complaint about particles in a B*Men sample. I contacted Mugler and they said that was normal as the scent ages but that it doesn’t affect the scent. I still have that bottle and the scent is fine.

2. A complaint about a Monsieur Rochas sample’s top notes. I disclosed before the sale that I can’t speak to top notes because I try to largely avoid the first ten minutes or so of a scent.

3. A few remarks about how good my vintage Polo is, and more than a few telling me that my samples seem much stronger and richer than the ones they’ve gotten elsewhere (on retail sites).

4. Something about a 273 Indigo for Men bottle (sealed spray), but at the time I was a total newbie and had no idea what “spoilage” was. It may be that the guy really just hated the scent, as I did.

5. I’ve pointed out to several people when I think top notes are “off,” though the only scent that may have a problematic drydown is an Early American Old Spice bottle I recently acquired. It supposedly contains ambergris so I’m not sure if that’s what it is (in other scents with strong aldehydes that seems “off” at first, that quality doesn’t last long), or if there is a problem with the aldehydes. I’ve never smelled this kind of thing before, and I enjoy the scent as is. I would not sell or swap my bottle but would make a few samples, though I would be certain to disclose my perceptions before a swap or sale was agreed upon.

If someone fears “spoilage” and can’t abide the thought of “losing” $12, that is his or her decision. If I was a newbie and read many posts by someone who clearly had studied a large number of vintage scents (both “men’s” and “women’s”) and I was interested in these concoctions, $12 would be a small prices to pay for several samples, so that I could get a sense of what the reality was. I do ask others to smell the scent I’m wearing and nobody ever said it smelled like a sewer, nail polish, bug spray, varnish, etc. Moreover, I’ll mentioned that my feedback on Makeupalley was 114 (it closed the swap section recently) and it is 283 on Basenotes. In total that’s 397, and all positive! What does the author at FromPyrgos have to base his honesty claim upon?

Lastly, I’ll bring up the old saying about the exception proving the rule, except in this case there is no exception, that is, not one person has offered to sell me a “spoiled” bottle. If you had the choice between throwing some horrible-smelling leftover food in the garbage or sending it to me and getting $50 in return, what would be your choice? The FromPyrgos author reaches new heights of absurdity by mentioning this, because it is close to an outright refutation of his position. It’s made even funnier by him saying that a package would have to be shipped “god knows where,” even though on my Basenotes posts one can see the US flag and on my swap/sales pages I say USA only. Of course it would take less than a minute to send me a private message there, saying something like, “Hi, would you buy my spoiled bottle of Bois du Portugal, 2.5 oz, about 95% full for $50? I can only ship within the USA?” Again, “mister honesty” either can’t imagine this or is deliberately being misleading, it would seem.

For another possible issue with this individual’s claim about being honest I suggest reading this old post of mine:

https://bigslyfragrance.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/psychoanalysis-versus-psychotherapy/

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