Is Chandler Burr’s “clean anus” simply delicious ?

On pages 248-249 of the book, “The Perfect Scent,” by Chandler Burr, we are told:

It is one of the most astounding smells you will ever
experience. It is, to put it most precisely, the rich,
thick scent of the anus of a clean man combined with
the smells of his warm skin, his armpits sometime
around midday, the head of his ripely scented
uncircumcised penis (a trace of ammonia) and the
sweetish, nutty, acrid visceral smell of his breath.
There is simply no other way to describe it…

The smell of clean anus turns out to be extremely
helpful in perfume. In trace amounts it deepens and
enriches floral scents, fleshes out green scents.
Jacques Guerlain…famously said that all his perfumes
contained, somewhere inside them, the smell of the
underside of his mistress. He was referring to all three

First, I’m surprised these comments have been discussed as much as at least I would have expected (and I’m generally a low expectations kind of person!), especially considering how much online chatter there has been about scents like Muscs Koublai Khan and Musc Ravageur. And this is Chandler Burr, not some guy calling himself Bigsly with a small fragrance blog! Now I (and others) have pointed out that some “dirty” notes strike me as more “foody” than “dirty,” such as cumin, but I simply can’t relate to these claims. And I don’t think it’s because I’m apparently more “Puritanical” than Burr, not having engaging in any “ass play” in my life, but instead that I don’t associate “human smells” with these largely synthetic olfactory concoctions. Yes, MKK reminds me a bit of something one might encounter from an underarm area, but that was long ago (that I sampled it) and I can’t remember another scent that had that quality for me, other than Carlo Corinto (when I was newbie, and I have only a very vague recollection of it now).

So, perhaps this is due to sensitivity levels and/or one’s sexual lifestyle, but where things get very strange is when one uses the phrase “clean anus.” Let’s be blunt here, if you take a “fresh” scent and spray someone’s anus with it, what have you created? The point is that this seems to be Burr’s notion of what that might be like (though of course he may have tried it), and he seems to be talking about evocation rather than the perception of something that actually exists (since what one of these concoctions evokes for him, perhaps mostly in the top notes, seems to be a lot more important to him that to me). And I wonder what all those people who have been using the word delicious in their scent reviews would make of this! Can an anus be delicious (let’s assume you are not an “ass play” person and generally don’t go poking your nose in such places)?

My major criticism of Burr’s reviewing style, aside from putting too much focus on evocation, is that he isn’t specific about his tastes, and that can lead to misleading reviews. By contrast, I am very specific, having said on many occasions, for example, that I try to largely avoid any fleeting top notes. One major thing I always think about when reading a review is whether the reviewer is what I call a “top notes person.” If he/she is, then I know not to place much weight in it, in terms of making a blind buy purchase. Can anyone think that not only would he/she enjoy a “clean anus” scent, but also know that Burr’s notion of what this coincides with is what his/hers would be? Burr seems to be either a bit naive in terms of how much variation there is in the perception of these concoctions or he is trying to “make a name for himself” with such statements. Can you think of another possibility? If so, please leave a comment !

If nothing else, I think the “delicious people” and the “clean anus people” (however few there may be of the latter) demonstrate that it’s crucial to consider the way perhaps a majority of people perceive these concoctions. On the one hand, using the word delicious suggests a gourmand scent, whereas many if not most would likely avoid a “clean anus” scent, though some might be made more curious by such a remark, just as talk about Secretions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d`Orange seems to have led many (at least in the online fragrance community) to feel compelled to sample it. You may have a social circle in which describing things (that are not food or body parts) in terms of deliciousness or anal cleanliness is common, but do you really think this applies to the majority? Why not ask yourself if your description would make sense to your grandmother before writing up reviews that are going to reach those of many different demographic groups? You don’t want to make a “horse’s ass” of yourself, do you?

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A Two-For-One Special !

I had two ideas for a post but neither needs to be as long as my posts usually are, so the solution, of course, is to combine these! The first concerns “oud scents.” Since 2008 I’ve sampled quite a few, but only one smelled rather different from the rest, Asalah, by Mishal & Majid (in a swap someone included a partial sample as a “freebie”). About a week ago I arranged a swap which included a tiny sample of “real oud,” that is, Mi-Si-Da from the Oud Cave web site (I didn’t even ask for it!). Though it didn’t smell exactly like Asalah (which has a clear floral element), there seemed to be a similar accord. This quality is leather-like and quite smooth. I really like it, yet it lacks dynamism and doesn’t last for more than perhaps three hours, at least with strength. By contrast, the other “oud scents” I’ve tried (apparently with no significant real oud) smelled quite different, with a harsh and often medicinal quality. My main point here is that if my experience is consistent with real versus synthetic oud, then I don’t understand why the synthetic substance is even called oud – it doesn’t really resemble the real material. My guess is that there is a real oud that does have some of that harsh/medicinal quality, but I simply have not encountered it yet.

The second idea for a post involved the “problem” with recent designer releases, at least the “masculine” ones. Specifically, and what still surprises me, is that so many “cheapos” are more enjoyable than designers that cost several times more! Some cheapos even have niche-like qualities, the most obvious probably being Jovan’s Intense Oud. There seems to be a conscious decision on the part of the designers to “stick to the script” to some degree, whereas the “lesser” companies don’t always think along these lines. Sauvage seems to be an excellent example (from what I’ve read) of this new trend, and I’d say this is true for Bleu de Chanel EdT, which I’ve sampled at least a couple of time. That is, the plan seems to be to create a mish-mash or pastiche, so that it can’t be said to smell like another scent, and to use strong aroma chemicals so that it has longevity.

By contrast, I’ll mention Dunhill’s Custom, which definitely seems to have been formulated with Gucci Pour Homme 1 in mind (the 2003 release). Some things were removed, such as the ambery quality, and it’s considerably weaker. Then an apple note was added, which is nicely done. I like it, actually, but it’s two-dimensional for me, as if the thought of using essential oils was not even considered (I have no idea if this is the case but that is how is comes across relative to ones that smell more “natural,” especially vintage designers). The lack of depth makes it boring over time, but I do think that it might be useful for layering purposes. It seems that “amber” or something tonka-ish and/or vanillic is the main element these days that can add some sense of depth, but there is little of that in Custom.

The Secret by Antonio Banderas, though, doesn’t have much of a vanillic/ambery/tonka-ish quality, yet seems so much more complete (and enjoyable by itself) than Custom, and I wonder if this is because celebrity or “lower end” companies are willing to take more risks, whereas a “house” like Dunhill is content with making scents that smell somewhat like others that are or were popular. Their London smells a bit like their own Red for Men,which I find amusing (why not “rip off” yourself, so to speak?), though I do like London better, so at least it’s an improvement, unlike Custom. Then there is a scent like Black Sugar by Aquolina, which is sort of like A*Men (minus the mint and lavender) combined with Bvlgari Black, plus some strawberry added. If they had named it something like “The Noble Savage,” that would make some sense (especially if you think sweetness is noble), but from what I’ve read about Sauvage, the only way it’s a savage is in its “synthetic” quality !

On a recent thread one long-time member lamented his disgust with recent designers. I mentioned that I’ve found quite a few “cheapos” that I really enjoy over the last few months, but he dismissed my advice quickly, saying he had already tried plenty of them. From what I know of his activities (I’ve done quite a few swaps with him), he hasn’t tried Black Sugar, Dark Flower, Diesel Green for Women, or Playboy’s London for Men. I know he has tried The Secret because I obtained a bottle of it from him in a swap. My guess is that he’s just bored at this point, because I’ve obtained quite a few niche scents, and a whole lot if samples and decants are included, yet I can’t say I often find myself thinking that I’d want to wear one. The other day I wore Tobacco Vanille, after not having worn it for a long time, and it really didn’t do much for me. I was thinking that I’d probably enjoy Lanvin’s Avant Garde more!

In light of this and the recent online negativity towards the apparently non-savage Sauvage, I think it may be that too many aficionados are looking for a “bigger high” but it just doesn’t exist. After you learn to enjoy several scents, it may not get much better than that, because there may be a limit to how much personal enjoyment you can get from such concoctions! You may be able to change your preferences to some degree or your sensitivity (probably by accident, as was the case for me), but it may be the case that you can only enjoy so many scents at an optimal level. After that you can try layering, though the problem with this (I’ve found) is that you often don’t get what you’re seeking, and you wish you had just worn one that you know you’d enjoy. I guess this can be called the “comfort zone” hypothesis, meaning that if find your comfort zone, any attempt to go beyond it by a wide margin will result in disappointment. If you have any thoughts about this, in terms of your personal experience, please leave a comment !

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I’m sure I will “like” Sauvage !

There are some people who don’t seem to understand the purpose of reviews, and in fact there is a TV show on Comedy Central, not surprisingly named “Review,” that pokes fun at various aspects of reviewing. On this show, the reviewer attempts to do things like live the life of a cult leader, usually with at least some humorous moments (some of the “reviews” are much funnier than others). The one point about the show that’s important here is that many of us would be interested in knowing what it’s like to do this or that, but we have limitations. We might not have the time, nor the money, nor the physical ability, or we might believe the risk is too great. With scents, there are perhaps 2,000 releases each year, and if you already have quite a few bottles, how would you sample even half of these, assuming you had more than enough money to do so?

You could do what many reviewers seem to do, which is to spray some on a piece of paper and come to a firm conclusion in less than a minute. Indeed you might be able to detect some aroma chemicals used and the general idea of the scent – I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few can do that with Sauvage, perhaps only missing whether the drydown is “generic woody/amber” or something at least a little more interesting. I might do this, and in fact several years ago I did, but decided it was a waste of my time, as hardly any seemed to be worth purchasing, and in the few cases that I thought there might be promise, I didn’t think it was unique enough relative to what I already possessed. Therein lies perhaps the biggest problem with a release such as Sauvage – what does it have to offer someone like me, and after looking at the list of notes, none of which is compelling to me, why wouldn’t I think that the reviews, which seem to be as uniform as I can remember for any new release, are good enough for my purposes?

As I said on a thread, in response to someone who claimed that it appeared at least a few people were “coming around” to liking Sauvage:

I think what happens for many is that there are high hopes at first, and they spent $80 or more. Weeks or months later, if they didn’t get rid of the bottle and go on to other things, they lose most or all of their anger and can accept that it is “nice” and at least useful in some social situations. That’s when the reviews get more positive, and threads about versatility possess posts naming this kind of scent (from what I’ve read of it).

And another point is that some people are only concerned about how others will perceive the scent – they don’t care about how it smells, so long as it comes across as “nice: to them (since they don’t want to spray something on that will make them feel nauseous, obviously). I have often walked past someone in a store or other public place and thought to myself, “that person must be wearing a scent I have that is similar but never wear – it’s pleasant in this context, but it’s awful to wear, unless perhaps one was to do a lot of walking around during that day.” My walking ability is limited, so that is certainly a factor for me, but the key point is that if these kinds of scents were enjoyable I would wear them. A scent can be “nice,” “likable,” or “pleasant,” but not enjoyable, in my way of thinking. For one to be enjoyable, it would have to last long enough (the part I enjoy would have to last around five hours minimum) and it could not become irritating, as so many of the “fresh” scents do (assuming they possess reasonable longevity).

So, sure, I would be very surprised if I didn’t like Sauvage, but that’s not what I’m seeking, and for someone to presume to know what I’m seeking (as some seem to) is laughable, considering all that I’ve written on the subject on this blog and the major fragrance sites! I’ve got Zen for men, I really like it, but I don’t really enjoy it, for example, and I’m be more than happy to swap it off for a “vintage great” I don’t yet own, a niche scent that I could see myself come around to enjoying (such as Chergui, which I have yet to find especially compelling), or even a recent non-designer, such as Ferrari’s “oud” scent. I have no doubt Sauvage was designed to be a mish-mash/pastiche type scent meant to “tick all the boxes” for the “masses,” perhaps especially those who might be seeking a gift for their “significant others.” I have nothing against this, and in fact, as I’ve said before, I think this is great for the “hobby” in general. I might even acquire a bottle in a swap and then re-swap it for something I can enjoy! There’s no reason for negative emotions to be generated here – “it’s all good” – so long as you are realistic! For example, if you didn’t like any of the “Rocky” movies, do you need more than a few reviews to help you decide that “Rocky 82: The Geriatric Center Food Fight” is your cup of tea?

NOTE: Some have said there is a “barbershop”/fougere element to Sauvage, and all seem to agree that there is a clear fruity element. A “generic” drydown is a very common comment, and the interesting thing (for me) is that when I hear such things I am tempted to layer some of my scents in a way to see if can create such a combination with ones I already own. By contrast, the construction of Sauvage would not work for me (again, assuming the large number of reviews are anywhere near accurate), because even if I liked the first hour or so, the generic drydown would not be acceptable – I would view it as a stupid waste of money! I’ll also point out that there is a kind of “credible witness” element to how I assess reviews. Some seem clearly biased, but then there are others that I view as more likely to be accurate, such as this at BN (the member who wrote it joined the site in 2004 and has over 2500 posts):

Doesn’t seem like a chameleon to me. People are just trying too to find comparisons. I don’t think it smells like any one fragrance in particular, but its accords are just way too familiar to be even remotely interesting.

It begins with standard bergamot, which in itself is quite enjoyable. But in few minutes overload of ambroxan starts to rear its ugly head. Amber is accompanied with your standard woody base. Guess what is the 4th player I can instantly detect? That’s right, pepper it is. Base is very persistent and lacks naturalness and vibrancy, it just sits on the your skin, doing nothing and going nowhere. Eventually I did wash it off, but it’s not horrible, just very tedious affair. When the citrus fades, it is replaced by something else slightly bitter and fruity. This keeps the sweetness of the amber from becoming too much and makes it kind of nice to smell in the passing. But when you are exposed to it for a longer period, it becomes so very tiring.

Given my olfactory experiences to date, this comment seems to “nail it.”

UPDATE:  On another blog someone said this about my comments on Sauvage:

The question as to what it has to offer the writer can never be answered, as long as he refuses to try it.

Who is refusing anything?  Have I “refused” to sample about 2000 other scents released in the last year or so?  Some people seem to be really “hard of thinking!”  Send me a sample, Dior, and I’ll be happy to try it and review it here!  In the meantime, I’ll likely continue my “blind buying” adventures, which have been very successful, some of the latest ones being Black Sugar, Magnet, Bronze (Ellen Tracy), Playboy London Men, Unbreakable, Truth or Dare Naked, Diesel Green for Women, Cuba Prestige, and Rebelle.  I mention these because all of them combined cost me less than a new bottle of Sauvage (including shipping!), and I’m assuming the Sauvage price is $64 for 100 ml, total.  By contrast, the scents I’ve acquired by swap, which I didn’t blind buy because I didn’t think I’d like them, have a much lower “success rate.”  I’ll stick with my method unless and until it no longer works!

UPDATE: Sauvage seems to be picking up more positive votes now at, my guess being because those who were disappointed already “vented” and some have decided to live with the “positive” aspects of their purchase, and a review that was posted today (9/21/15) there makes this quite clear:

Women love the scent of this on their Men…

Do I like it? This isn’t the worst fragrance I’d ever smelled in my life, so yes, I do like it.

Will I buy a bottle of it? Already have!

There are a huge number of scents (including “cheapos”), for example, that I could say weren’t the worst I have ever smelled, but that I would never consider wearing. Why would I spend the retail price and buy a bottle of Sauvage if this was the case? I wouldn’t spend $3 per 100 ml on a scent that I couldn’t say anything better about than he did about Sauvage! This is exactly the kind of statement that would lead me not to buy a scent, even at a discount. Unless I could buy a bottle of this kind of scent for less than half of what it’s “street value” was (so that I should be able to swap it for something I’d like and save money on that other scent), I would not even think of a purchase.

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Sauvage: Is it a “nice” scent ?

I was criticized on another fragrance blog for pointing out that if I want a “nice” scent I have a few by Playboy I could turn to, and those cost about $4 each (100 ml bottles). This is an example of a critic being criticized because he is appropriately critical! I don’t review scents and simply call them nice. I might say that I find it pleasant, but I include more information that is specific. In the case of the review page for Sauvage at, it seemed (for a while) as though the only positive thing anyone could say about this scent is that it’s nice. Because of this I wanted to mention, especially for those who don’t know, that there are plenty of scents they might think of as nice that are obtainable for very low prices (some might even think of a few dollar store scents as nice, though I have yet to find one that is as good as a couple of the Playboy ones).

Now an individual can certainly try to mislead people by making it seem that I was the first to use the word nice when referring to Sauvage, but then you have to expect to be “called out” for doing it! In any case, one thing I often say to people (who say a scent is nice) in this kind of context is, what is the opposite? In other words, how many truly unpleasant scents can you name that are not “drug store dreck?” As I pointed out on that Sauvage page, comparing it to a niche scent designed to be “skanky” is ridiculous, and clearly an indication of desperation in argumentation. The other point I made (either at Fragrantica or is that many members already own several bottles of scents they perceive as nice, so you would need to explain to such people why they should buy yet another (that is rather expensive, at least to me). And I’ll leave it to others to ponder whether a scent called a savage should smell nice!

Now, with this context established, I’ll copy and paste some of the statements I posted on these two sites over the last several days (copying and pasting those I responded to would make this post too long, but I think you’ll get a good sense of what my position is from just what I said):  First, here are some from Basenotes:

…companies like Lomani seem to be going after the niche crowd, though perhaps not in an especially original way. As to the BdC bashing in the early days of that scent, I don’t remember that being the case at Fragrantica, which is why the negative comments there surprised me. I’m not a “fresh” scent person, so it’s possible that Sauvage features something special in it’s fresh approach, which might lead the fresh people to buy it at $80 or more, but my guess is that the fresh guys already have a few (if not many) fresh scents they already enjoy. Now if I turn to Playboy’s London for Men, I get a brandy note – one that I enjoy and that I don’t have in any other scents that I like, so for $4/100 ml, I’m willing to buy non-vintage/non-niche there. What does Sauvage offer a person like myself? I already have quite a few “fresh” scents that I basically never wear!

I would certainly agree that there are more than a few guys (and gals) out there saying things like, “I just bought that new Sauvage fragrance and it’s absolutely delicious!” Is it the same crowd who buy a new [insert brand name here] car without paying attention to any reviews, etc? As others have said, this may be Dior’s “answer” to BdC, but since BdC is being fairly well-received at this point, at least at Fragrantica (and plenty of BNers like it), I thought that would tend to keep the Sauvage negatives down to a minimum. And I do remember some negative reviews of BdC at Fragrantica, but nothing like what I’m seeing there with Sauvage!

One doesn’t have to take something “seriously” to garner information from it. I think in this instance it is quite telling, and I am quite surprised there is so much negativity there. Moreover, the negativity seems to be about it being “nice” and generic, rather than “bad.” Even some of the “bad” reviews suggest this indirectly. I wonder whether the response would have been so bad or lukewarm if the scent had been released as something like Dune Pour Homme Fresh. Another factor is that Eau Sauvage (and perhaps a flanker or two) seems to have a “serious” fan base, and many of those who are Fragrantica members wanted to voice their displeasure, whereas with Bleu de Chanel, there was no connection to a “great” scent. What would have been the response if BdC had been released as Antaeus Intense, for example?

I think people like myself should be grateful for the “hype train,” because it can save us time. In this instance, after what I’ve read I have no interest in even sampling this one if I passed by a tester in a store.

To get back to the OP’s notion, I recently acquired Zen for Men, which is not what I tend to enjoy at all. This is a pleasant scent but I doubt I will wear it more than once a year, if that. Now if Sauvage contained Zen for Men in it (let’s say very similar), wouldn’t it sell a lot more than ZfM (in factt, ZfM might be too “out there” relative to what Savage is like, from what I’ve read)? So the point is that this seems to be about slapping the Dior (and Sauvage flanker) name on a bottle and putting out a presumably “crowd pleasing,” mish-mash scent in it, one that is not likely to offend the “casual” consumer of such items. Good for them (in terms of profits) as well as for those who feel this scent fills a niche in their rotation (the BN crowd) and can afford it, but also for those who own vintage and want to see the prices rise for those (I think there is a “rising tide lifting all boats” effect). But if you want “innovation” or “creativity,” you can sample some niche scents.

…1. My perception is that Fragrantica members seem to be more “mainstream,” so really negative comments there are more telling in this context.
2. The review section there provides a “rapid reaction” resource that does not exist on BN, because it can take quite a while for new reviews to appear.

Perhaps I’m at a different point in my “fragrance journey” than most of those who were excited by the Sauvage release, but for me there’s no need for a scent that is going to do, more or less, what one I already have does. I’m past the “ooh, it’s got an interesting cherry/rhubarb note that lasts ten minutes, but then it’s not that unique, though I’m really glad I bought it [probably at or near retail]” stage of things, if I was ever fully there. Here’s an example: I obtained a bottle of Cuba Prestige not long ago, because I got it at about half of it’s already “cheapo” price, and my thought was, “great, now I can swap off my vintage A*Men bottle because this is close, and good enough for my purposes.” My Playboy London provides a good enough brandy note, so I’m not going to be enticed by any $80+ new release with that note, and I don’t like “fresh” scents (I have several that I hardly ever wear already). So, my main point here is that yes, for some of us, Sauvage had to be noticeably unique/special, or else the price is a joke. I’ll take it for $20, but it would most likely end up as “trade bait,” to get something that does seem like it would be at least somewhat unique.

And here are the ones on the Fragrantica review page (the first one in jest, due to my surprise at how negative so many of the comments where up to that point):

Beep beep, boop boop – I am the robot that created this scent and I am offended by many of the comments here !


There certainly may be some “niche snobs” saying bad things about this scent, but I think that there are a larger percentage of us, me included, who don’t see the reason why we should bother with an $80 bottle of this one when we really enjoy our $4 bottle of a Playboy scent, for example, more! If they can’t create a scent that is much better than my best Playboy “cheapo” (assuming it is better), then why should I consider buying it at that much higher price level? Are you going to call me a “cheapo snob?” Can there be such a thing? LOL.


I think there are two major issues. The “disgusting” remarks may have to do with too much of one or another (or several) aroma chemicals being used. That is a matter of personal preference, because as you say, there are expensive niche scents that use a lot of aroma chemicals. On the other hand, niche scents that smell animalic are a “red herring” here because that kind of scent is for those who seek it, and Sauvage does not seem to be that kind of scent at all.

The second major issue is price. As I said before, if I can get a “nice” $4 bottle (100 ml) of a Playboy scent, for example, why in the world would I pay $80 for the same size bottle of a “nice” Dior (and why would I “need” it, since I already have the bottle of the Playboy scent)? I think the best thing to do would be to conduct a totally “blind” test of Sauvage against a bunch of “cheapos” that are similar. Only then can someone say that this Dior is worth the extra money (IMO), if that person is seeking compliments from others and if Sauvage does indeed come out head and shoulders above inexpensive ones of this genre.


I agree that really nasty comments are not helpful to anyone. There do seem to be enough comments (here and at BN) to suggest that there is a use of aroma chemicals that bother some people, perhaps because these haven’t been used in the same way or in the same amount in any previous “major” release. Or they just expected not to detect any rough “chemical edges,” so to speak. And perhaps if this was released as a flanker to Dune Pour Homme it would make more sense (from what I’ve read) to the harshest critics.

And I don’t begrudge Dior trying to make nice profits with a “mainstream” scent, nor do I think it’s bad for the fragrance market overall. In fact, I think that the notion of there being no such thing as negative publicity applies here as well. That is, it serves to get people talking about “quality,” uniqueness, etc., exposing those who might not otherwise know that there are scents designed to be “edgy.” And from my perspective, I want to let people know there are some great scents that cost next to nothing, such as Dorall Collection’s Dark Flower, which has a nice frankincense note and is quite complex (cost was about $7 total for 100 ml), though it’s not for the “mainstream” crowd, that’s for sure. And I truly hope those who bought a bottle of Sauvage enjoy it !

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Sauvage is that it seems that Dior wants people to think it’s a showcase for ambroxan, as if that’s something special. Over at the Perfume Shrine blog (back in 2010) there is this statement:

…if you thought you haven’t smelled it [Ambrox/Ambroxn] before think again: Almost everyone has a rather good scent memory of it through the ubiquitousness of Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana, composed by Olivier Cresp in 2001, to name but one of the scents which use this raw material in ample amounts.

The author names several, including “masculines” that contain “perceptible” amounts in the base, such as the designer offerings Emporio Armani Diamonds for Men, Silver/Black (or Onyx) by Azzaro, and 1881 Intense pour Homme by Cerruti. So far I have yet to read a review that explains, in terms that make sense, why anyone should regard Sauvage as worthy of acquisition for those who already own a similar scent. And one BN member went so far as to suggest that those who paid a lot of money were jealous, bringing Aventus into the discussion!

That’s the exact reason why fragrance snobs are outraged. Because for mere $80, if not less, the millions of people around the globe can receive a fragrance that is similar, if not better, than their much coveted Aventuses with obscure batch codes. Dior has ruined all the fun.

I’ll conclude this post by acknowledging that not everyone wants to sample a large number of scents or do any kind of research. Some want to walk into a major department store and try out a new offering. To them, $80 or more for a 100 ml bottle is like buying a dollar store scent is for me. But then why don’t they tell us this, just as I’ve disclosed my disinterest in top notes many times? It seems as though such people are defensive about their approach to obtaining fragrance bottles, but for whatever reason, they serve up untenable claims. Another possibility for some is that they think only a “major house” can offer a “quality scent.” Again, that’s fine but you need to tell us such things! And for those interested, my favorite “nice” (meaning it includes nothing that the “average person” might find offensive) and “fresh” scent at the moment is Bambou by Roger & Gallet, which cost me less than $8 total for 100 ml.

NOTE: I’d like to see the results of a “blind” test consistent with social science principles; Sauvage would grouped with a bunch of similar “cheapos,” (those doing the comparing would have no background in “fine fragrances”).

UPDATE:  After I published the above, this review appeared at Fragrantica:

I can tell you where the hate is coming from. This site is for perfume lovers, i mean we are all here for a reason, and most people that comment on this site have perfume experience and have tried plenty of stuff. Then we have a house that has produced some of the most celebrated and in fact greatest masculine perfumes of all time – Fahrenheit, Dior Homme and Eau Sauvage. So, yeah, they have raised the bar quite high. And then, there is the personal taste, the subjective side of liking or not liking certain piece of art.
I have not tried Sauvage yet, but as a big fan of Dior i will buy this, of course. I may be disappointed, reason mostly coming from the three mentioned above…

This suggests many people are buying Sauvage due to Dior’s reputation and are not happy with it.  I’m not “defending” such people, because while I like vintage Dior Homme, for example (and respect several others), I wouldn’t blind buy Sauvage until I could read more than a few reviews due to the listed notes.  There’s bergamot, ambroxan, ambergris (obviously not likely real, and possibly there’s no detectable synthetic substitute in there either), and something “woody,” according to Fragrantica.  That sounds really bad to me, unless there’s a whole lot of one or another kind of ambergris in there, and so until I read some reviews that speak to this, I would hold off on a blind buy, even if $80 was more like $1 to me.  Why would anyone think this would be special, given recent trends among designer offerings and the notes listed?

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How to decide upon a “cheapo” blind buy.

Sometimes a blind buy sort of calls out to you, which (for me) has recently been the case with Lomani’s AB Spirit. This is a low-priced scent that apparently was meant to smell at least somewhat like Creed’s Windsor. The notes for it (from are:

Top notes are bergamot and lemon; middle notes are rose, iris and eucalyptus; base notes are cedar, sandalwood, musk and moss.

Moreover, some have pointed to this possible connection directly, and the reviews seem to be quite positive overall. Why wouldn’t I blind buy it? One reviewer of Windsor, who has sampled a large number of scents, had this to say about it (on Fragrantica):

Arguably one of Creed’s worst fragrances (in competition against Himalaya and Love in White), Windsor (new) is Vick’s Vapo-Rub on top, and an unremarkable and marginally unpleasant rosy cedar on the bottom. A hint of butyric fruit ester, probably pineapple, is the only point of interest, but it’s too subtle to dwell on. Pointless, surprisingly synthetic, and egregiously overpriced.

First of all, I dislike menthol or eucalyptus type notes – these smell nice but have an irritating quality over time. Then we have the rosy cedar, perhaps with a bit of iris, though not likely the “good stuff” at this retail price point. I’ve tried others like this (rosy/woody), including Cabaret (the “feminine”) but don’t find this combination to be compelling. Moreover, if Windsor has a fruit note, as the reviewer mentions, that doesn’t mean much to me as well (regardless of whether the Lomani does too), because I generally dislike fruit notes unless these are subtle.

For full disclosure, I own Lomani’s Intense Black, which some say is similar to Royal Oud by Creed, but I don’t like this scent (haven’t tried the Creed). On the other hand, I do like AB Spirit Silver, which is at least somewhat like Avents for some period of time. One can also try to conjure up a sense of what the scent will smell like, though this is problematic because notes listings (and often reviews) usually don’t mention predominant aroma chemicals, if any. Another issue for me is the sweetness, especially in the context of texture. For example, there is a kind of “cheap” amber or labdanum (I’ve seen it listed both ways), which isn’t “bad,” but too common – if I know that a scent possesses this, I generally have little interest in it (I already own a few of these). It’s not always listed as a note, though, and reviewers often don’t mention it.

Sweetness can be a positive or negative, depending upon the composition, which brings me to a “cheapo” blind buy that I did make. The scent in question is Cuba Prestige. The reviews are quite uniform on this one, that is, it’s similar to A*Men. Already possessing A*Men and a couple flankers, along with Rebelle (sort of like A*Men with strawberry but without mint and tar), I wouldn’t have purchased it if the price wasn’t really low (and I used it to get a free shipping deal as well). I’m very glad I bought it, because while it is similar to A*Men, it’s a smooth and mellow take, meaning that if I don’t want the full A*Men blast, I can reach for this instead (it seems to have a mild tar note but little or no mint). The longevity is very good but the projection is significantly lighter. I would also consider swapping my A*Men and flankers if the right deal came along.

Obviously, if you buy a “cheapo” and don’t like it, you can use it for gift purpose or just give it to charity, but unless you really hate it, you might want to keep it in case you come around to enjoying it, which has happened to me more than a few times, so I tend to keep these. Eventually, this can put you in “hoarder” territory, or at least lead to concerns about this possibility! I still might acquire AB Spirit, especially if it in a swap or if it was part of a lot. But at this point, I’m mostly curious about it – I don’t think I will like it, or like it enough to feel that buying it was a good idea. And that is what is holding me back on it, unlike Cuba Prestige – I like the idea of having several “variations on a theme” in this case, and since it might allow me to swap off the more expensive yet similar ones, I get some added flexibility for sales (if prices rise sharply for “vintage” A*Men, for instance) or swaps.

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Is “it’s delicious!” the new “fresh and warm?”

I once criticized a Basenotes member’s reviews because he seemed to always call the scent in question “fresh and warm.” I objected to this characterization on two grounds, one being that it makes a scent sound special, but lacks specificity, thereby possibly leading many to “blind buying” a bottle of it. And when you add the fact that so many of his reviews had this same phrase, with few or any negative reviews (from what I remember), and you have to wonder if he just wanted to reaffirm his positive emotional experience more than anything else! The other objection was that it seems highly unlikely that this is a reasonable description, because while there are a subset of scents that go from being “fresh” to being “warm,” how could a scent be fresh and warm at the same time? The only thing I’ve come across that might meet this criteria (for some people) are ones that have a kind of hot yet wet chili quality, perhaps Live Jazz would be an example.

Lately, I’ve seen quite a few reviews with the word delicious, and as you can guess the reviews always seem to be positive. Here again is an example of a lack of specificity and something that is inconsistent with at least my experience. That is, a scent that literally smells delicious is likely to lead to irritation after a short period of time. How long can one smell something like vanilla cupcakes without wanting to smell them any more, for example? And again, this kind of comment may lead to many blind buys that turn into regrets. My guess is that many if not most people who use this term have experienced a certain kind of scent for the first time and so to them it’s like some sort of olfactory revelations, but to those of us with experience it may be a waste of time (read the review), because it doesn’t help us in any way.

That brings me to a scent I recently reacquired, Carlo Corinto Rouge. I swapped it off when I was a newbie because I was dealing with some sort of chemical sensitivity issue at the time, and indeed it seems to possess quite a bit of dihydromyrcenol. This certainly imparts a “fresh” quality, though the fairly strong lavender note keeps it from being “sport”-like. In the base there is a nice cedar note, along with something slightly ambery (not “woody/amber”), and perhaps a touch of tonka, because it has a hint of a pipe tobacco element. The note pyramid, taken from, suggests another Cool Water for Men “homage:”

Top notes are lavender and oak moss; middle notes are nutmeg, granny smith apple and pepper; base notes are virginia cedar, amber and vanille.

Less is definitely more here, however, as there is no jasmine nor neroli, which seem to generate a note a clash in CW. It’s also not nearly as sweet as CW. The base isn’t “warm” as in a typical oriental scent but if someone described this scent as being “fresh, then warm,” I would understand that perception. Perhaps it’s best to think of CCR as a “mixed” scent of this type, sort of like “mixed voice” in singing. At some point (within the first hour), the two strands come together, in this case the dihydromyrcenol recedes and the warmer notes step forward. And while I can’t say it’s a very “natural” smelling scent, due to the obvious aroma chemical (s) used, it is handled well here so that

CCR has reaffirmed my sense that it’s often the composition that is problematic rather than the general idea, though perhaps the more natural-smelling cedar in CCR is necessary to make the composition work. If it had a “generic woody/amber” base I don’t think I would like it, and probably would have swapped it off again (someone actually made me an offer for it a couple weeks ago). However, as is always the case, i can’t vouch for what is on the market today. I think my bottle of CCR is vintage and so for all I know new batches could have a generic woody/amber base !

Unlike the picture I used for this post, which is clearly not literal, many might not realize that if you spray a scent in your mouth, it’s going to taste bad, due to chemical additives (to prevent people from drinking these for the alcoholic content). If you make your own scent, though, you could, presumably, drink it or spray it on you. And then you would know if it truly was delicious or not! The picture does point to one important reality here, which is that certain biochemistry must be present that produce a “pleasure effect.” However, using language that can only be misleading doesn’t seem to make much sense, unlike the picture, which is amusing precisely because we know it is meant to be figurative.

UPDATE:  I just happened to come across a review of Ambre Narguilé (by the legendary BN reviewer, “foetidus,” which contained the word delicious, used in a way that makes a lot more sense than any other review that contains it, from what I remember:

Off-Scenter is right on. Ambre Narguile is about food, not passion… not sex… It does food extremely well – it smells delicious. It’s linear and has good sillage. It is not a disappointment to me because I wasn’t expecting much (Not a big Jean-Claude Ellena fan here). My thought about gourmands in general and Ambre Narguile in particular is that it is not enough for niche gourmands to smell like savory food: There should be a more challenging intermingling of fragrance notes than this one exhibits; after all, if I really wanted to smell just like food, there are much cheaper ways of doing that. I own and love several what-I-consider gourmand fragrances (including Arabie and Body Kouros), and they all do more than simply smell like food. This is a pretty and pleasant but non-intriguing designer fragrance, and after a few hours of smelling it, it’s just plain … there. If it were a cheaper fragrance, I’d give it a thumbs up even though I personally don’t find it very interesting… its lack of complexity and development beyond the food notes are at odds with my expectations for an expensive fragrance.

After reading this review (along with a few others that are similar), I can tell that it’s highly unlikely I would be pleased if I bought a bottle of this scent, and in fact I just purchased a bottle of Cuba Prestige, with the thought that a fairly straightforward gourmand need not be expensive to be appreciated. I might do a review of that one in a future blog post.

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It’s very good, so just… Relax !

Relax by Davidoff is a 1990 “masculine” release with the following notes, according to

Top notes are mint, lavender, tarragon, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are bay leaf, patchouli, jasmine, vetiver, heliotrope, anise, cedar and geranium; base notes are leather, tonka bean, amber, benzoin, oakmoss and vanilla.

First, I’ll mention that this is not a vintage scent I had any special interest in acquiring. However, I did obtain a bottle as part of a lot purchase, not thinking much more than I might be able to swap it off for something I’d really like to have. Second, when I see mint and lavender in a 1990 scent, I’m thinking, “something I probably should avoid” (I’ve already got a few and very rarely wear those). Of course this seems to be a popular combination (Le Male, Cuba Gold, 360 White for Men, and so many others), but to me it can be the essence of cloying. And there’s also an anise note, which again does not make me think pleasant thoughts with this list of notes, as visions of “classic barbershop” scents come to mind.

Fortunately, this is something I’ve never smelled before and it’s great – it makes me wonder why there haven’t been “clones” of this one since 1990. The major accomplishment here is that there is smoothness, whereas others with these notes are too harsh for me. What else can I say about it? Despite the jasmine note, there isn’t a strong animalic element here – perhaps a hint of the animalic at most. It’s sweet but not like some recent releases. The fougere accord is very mild, and unlike in so many other “masculines,” it complements the other elements rather than announcing its presence like some “Leisure Suit Larry.” In some ways it’s like a precursor of the A*Men flankers, at least in the drydown (it’s got a near gourmand quality).

There’s no “Play-Doh” type of heliotrope note and unlike Cool Water for Men, there is nothing “synthetic” about this one (such as the apparently large amount of dihydromyrcenol in CW), but I don’t get strong vetiver, geranium, wood, leather, or oakmoss notes. So, don’t expect an “old school” scent with powerful aromatics here. Instead, what you get is a really smooth, natural-smelling blend, with just enough contrast to prevent boredom in the drydown – the whole point of “designer” scents, in my opinion (“Brut in a tuxedo,” perhaps). The prices for this one on ebay now are quite high, to my way of thinking, and I wouldn’t pay those prices for a bottle, but I might go for a mini at $10 or so (though I’m wary of mini bottles that are splash). I can see why a fan base for this scent might have developed.

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