So where have I been all this time?

Dark Desigual for men

The simple answer is that I just didn’t feel I had anything new to say, but I decided to try Dark Desigual Man again and I certainly can say a few things about this one. First, the notes on Fragrantica are listed as:

Top notes are nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, saffron and cinnamon; middle notes are orange blossom, patchouli, vetiver and driftwood; base notes are oakmoss, musk, amber, tobacco, tonka bean and black vanilla husk.

I found a very good deal for 100 ml tester a while back, but my first wearing was not especially good. Here is my review from back then (March, 2019):

Not bad if you get it for “super cheapo” prices. I prefer something like CK Shock for Him, at least in the older formulation I have, as this one doesn’t have clear notes. I guess you could call it a beginner “dark” or “black” fragrance. This is definitely not “niche quality.” On the other hand, something like Black Rose by Lomani (both cost me about the same for 100 ml) is. In fact, I would say it’s not even up to the level of most mediocre designer fragrances, though at least it’s not a total “chemical nightmare,” as some designers are. The competition at these really low prices (around $15 or less) these days is amazing. One Man Show Ruby Edition cost me less than $10 for a tester, and I’d rank that one higher than Desigual Dark, for example.

UPDATE: After an hour or so I detect some “fresh” aroma chemicals enter the scene. It’s certainly pleasant but compared to the list of notes I’m definitely disappointed. No more blind buys from this brand for me.

The other day I was looking around and saw the bottle so I decided to see what my impression would be now. I used several sprays this time and was impressed. It was in the Tom Ford Tobacco Vanilla range. However, after an hour or so, what I got mostly was ambroxan. So, if you want a light version of Sauvage after a TFTV type first hour, this might be for you, just spray enough (the sprayer puts out a fine mist so it is easy to under-spray).

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Move over Black Afgano… or perhaps not?

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Revisting Vermeil, including its initial iteration, and a Kouros “clone.”

Apparently, before Vermeil there was this Guepard scent:

The bottle is very similar except this one is transparent.  However, while the scent is clearly meant to be the same, this Guepard is smoother and to me, clearly superior, with excellent longevity/projection.  It seems there was some sort of legal action taken, and to the name was changed to Vermeil.  I also had the chance to try the latest formulation of Vermeil, which was fairly close to “vintage Vermeil” but seemed considerably weaker.  So, rather than spend $50 or so on any Vermeil bottle, I suggest buying a bottle of Guepard, because the price difference now isn’t that significant.  And if you haven’t read my original post about possibly different formulations of Vermeil, I suggest taking a look:

https://bigslyfragrance.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/a-tale-of-two-vermeils/

Since I don’t have much to add here, I thought I’d also speak to what some regard as a Kouros clone, The Man Silver by Milton-Lloyd:

edtspray, Jewelry, Men, Men's Fashion

There is a kind of burnt rubber quality missing in vintage Kouros, so it is not much of a real clone, but there is also a strong animalic element that isn’t too far off, perhaps 50% vintage Kouros and 50% old school leather (without much lavender), with that burnt rubber note added (and it’s only obvious if smelled up close and for the first 20 minutes or so). One spray to the chest might be good enough, as this is very strong, so that alone is worth it, IMO. To me it cannot replace vintage Kouros if that is what I really want to wear on a given day, but instead it is a Kouros-like scent (and a better scent than the 2017 Kouros bottle I have, again, IMO) that can be worn the way I would wear other similar scents, such as Joint Homme, Furyo, Orange Spice, Vermeil/Guepard, etc.  A friend of mine said that it was like an animalic leather scent combined with some “old lady scent” of decades past, but he is a big fan of Gucci Guilty Absolute for Men, and he isn’t a fan of older style scents.

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Dior Homme 2020, a great “generic, dumb-reach, masculine freshie?”

Dior Homme (2020) Christian Dior for men

If you haven’t heard, Dior has decided to go in a very different direction with Dior Homme.  To be specific, apparently they’ve decided to keep the look of the bottle and the name, but put an entirely different scent inside.  Why?  To me this is the most interesting thing about it!  And as is the case with so many recent releases (including most niche), not only haven’t I tried it, but I really have no interest in it (so this is another one of my non-review reviews).  I don’t even want to waste the couple of minutes it would take to walk into Sephora and spray it on.  I’m done with this game, to put it crudely (though if a friend or relative gives me a sample, as occurs on rare occasion, I’ll spray it on a piece of paper and report back).

As I’ve said before, if you want “generic masculine freshie” just go to the dollar store;  those scents are quite good these days, so there’s no reason to spend a lot on these kinds of scents.  But you likely already have one of these scents, so why are you even thinking about it?  There’s something more here, and I can only speculate about what it is because I have the opposite reaction (as the above clearly indicates). That is, “the appeal of Dior” means nothing to me.  I have several bottles of their fragrances and I’m pleased with those, but apparently some people act like a new Dior release is the same as a new Star Wars film is for a fan of that “franchise.”  It’s almost like hardly anyone can identify, let alone appreciate “no name” presentations that are “quality.”

Also, as I’ve mentioned in the past, at least in the winter, I lay out my coat on my bed and spray the back of it with a scent like Cool Water, while spraying the scent I enjoy on my chest.  Why would I buy Dior Homme and do that, when I have a few bottles of Cool Water and several other “generic freshies?”  Over at the From Pyrgos blog, the answer seems to be “to get laid.”  I’ll add that what seems to happen is that after a while the old “ground-breaking” freshies become generic, until the perfumers concoct a new, clearly “chemical” formulation that pleases a certain feminine demographic, and then we get the numerous “clone” scents.  If that’s the reality, there isn’t much I can do about it, obviously, and at this point we are back to the question I asked in the first paragraph – why didn’t Dior come up with a new bottle that is more “youthful,” as well as not being associated with the “feminine” (as many reviewers call it) original formulation?

My guess is that they did their product testing and evaluated sales, then concluded this was the best way forward for them, financially.  However, it is quite disappointing to think of what they might have been able to create, given the resources they possess and the past upon which they could build.  As of this writing, this is from the most recent review of it at Fragrantica.com (which seems consistent with most of the other reviews, though they tend to be more negative):

…this doesn’t smell like anything on the Dior Homme line. I love and own the entire Homme line but this Homme 2020 needs to be evaluated differently.

If you can past that what you got left is a very bright, clean and more masculine scent. Dior Homme 2020 is easier to wear, performance is good and it gives you a very clean smelling feel which is typical of Iso-E super.

This is “generic” in a good way. Is a dumb reach, mass appealing and better office scent than anything Dior have released before.

I only wish this was a standalone fragrance.

I can picture The Joker from the Batman “franchise” being the one who made this decision at Dior (or whatever corporate entity is making the decisions), but while it seems like a terrible joke by a deranged fool, it’s probably just the “bean counters” doing what one expects of them (as Luca Turin might say).  Yet was there just one person who pointed out how idiotic this decision was?  Or did they want to generate a “controversy?”  Is it that bad publicity is likely to equal higher sales, and so it is welcomed?  And if so, did they learn this lesson with Sauvage?  It seems to me that what was once olfactory art has become a craven corporate game of “how can we best take advantage of the deluded fools?”  Or have at least some corporations provided the proverbial love potion that has been sought after since the beginning of recorded history, if not earlier?  Whatever the case may be, I’ve decided to pass during this round of the game.

NOTE:  I do not think that a “generic, dumb-reach, masculine freshie” can be great, so the title was meant to be at least somewhat facetious, for those who harbored any doubts.

UPDATE:  Could this have all started with Cool Water for Men (1988)?  That is, before then, “freshies” were mostly like “traditional colognes” or, on the men’s counter, fragrances like Paco Rabanne Pour Homme.  Synthetics might be present, but in relatively small amounts.  However, with Cool Water there was a large amount of dihydromyrcenol, which was also present in previous scents (Green Irish Tweed of 1985 and Drakkar Noir of 1982), so it seems that perfumers were trying to figure out how much they could add before people began to think, “chemical mess.”  Since then it’s almost like the “chemical mess” is the feature, not the “bug,” as they say.  The whole point of “modern perfumery” used to be using synthetics to enhance the scent, perhaps providing an “abstract” quality, as well as improving performance (significantly, in most or all cases), but now, in the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” overpoweringly chemical fragrances seem to be the ones making the biggest impressions (perhaps especially on certain demographics).  I guess I should not be surprised, but again, why the same bottle and name?  Perhaps an entirely new release would require a certain amount of marketing from a company like Dior and they don’t want to spend it at this point for some reason?

UPDATE #2:  I was provided with an official paper sample of this scent, and while it certainly smelled “nice,” it also smelled like paper, and I’ve often found that paper samples don’t help me much, in terms of getting a sense of how it will perform on paper.  Moreover, back in 2007, I was given a paper sample of Nautica Voyage and thought it smelled great, but I never got that when I wore it on skin (both vintage and reformulated versions).  So, while it does smell “chemical” it doesn’t smell like a chemical mess, though again, I might perceive it that way if I sprayed it on skin.

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A Status Report: Time for some wine?

Image result for red wine

Since the last post, nothing has changed, other than learning how to better deal with my olfactory situation.  Back in 2008, I was dealing with severe hypersensitivity, so it’s not like these kinds of odd issues are new to me.  I can still smell (for more than a short period of time) and appreciate some scents, vintage Kouros being one of them  (and the other day Marbert Homme wasn’t bad).  The main issue now is that most of the scents I can smell for a while are coming across as too crude or “chemical.”  I wore Mitsouko EdP today (a recent formulation) and was able to catch some wafts on rare occasion, but my main response is, “yes, that’s somewhat nice, but I’ve smelled it before and it’s not doing much for me.”

Perhaps it’s just a “natural” progression with most hobbies of this sort.  I have had other that I no longer pursue, and I can find interest or amusement in discussing those once in a long while.  Fragrances aren’t that “far gone” for me at this point, but I do feel that to some degree it’s a “been there, done that” perception most of the time.  This led me to pursue a somewhat similar hobby, red wine.  In the mid-1990s I became interested in it due to the claims about the health aspects to drinking it.  I didn’t want to drink too much, though, because the claims seemed to be “all over the map” (which seems to still be largely true today!), so I would drink a few tablespoons of an organic red wine with one or two meals a day.  By about 2000, I had tired of it, and instead, drank white tea (other than water), though I “experimented” with other “teas,” such as Rooibos.

This time around, I had an idea in mind.  I don’t think drinking more than small amounts of alcohol are healthy, so that was one criteria.  One option is non-alcoholic beers or wines.  The beers seem to be fairly close to the “real thing,” but that doesn’t seem to be the consensus on wine.  Moreover, non-alcoholic wine isn’t cheap relative to alcoholic wine that isn’t “box wine bilge water.”  Of course, I could drink fruit juice, or a combination, but I find them too sweet, too “thin,” and/or something else that is not appealing.  I also don’t mind drinking filtered water.  The key thing is that I was curious to learn about red wines and see what my perceptions would be like, given the situation with fragrances.  So, I started doing research and watching Youtube videos on the subject, along with doing some tasting.

To make a long story short, as they say, I discovered that I enjoy dry red wine that have at least fairly strong tannins.  As with tea, tannins generate a dry sensation, but there was a context.  I found that there is evidence that such wine can be healthy, but for the alcohol:

A study conducted on a group men with heart disease tested the effects of regular wine, non alcoholic wine and gin (as a control) for a period of time. Of the three drinks tested, the men showed measurable improvement when they drank non-alcoholic wines…

The Surprising Potential of Non-Alcoholic Wine

Now when I said I like dry red wine high in tannins, I didn’t mean to drink “straight,” but rather to mix in with fruit juice (cranberry and orange, along with the dry red, seems to be one of the better combinations).  In this way, the wine prevents the juices or juices from being too sweet and also imparts a “finish” to the beverage, which means the pleasant quality lingers for quite a while.  The red wine makes up perhaps 25% of this beverage, and I can drink an ounce or so throughout the day.  The wine contains around 12-14% alcohol, so if you “do the math,” you can see that very little alcohol is consumed this way.  I plan on doing more such “experimentation,” and this has replaced my fragrance interest to some degree, though there is some overlap.  For example, while it doesn’t mean much to me in the traditional wine connoisseur context, swirling the wine around and then smelling can be interesting.  One time I got what seemed to be a violet note.

There are a lot of similarities between the two “online communities,” as you may have guessed.  In both, you can spend a small fortune or find “super cheapo” deals that work for you (or me, at least).  There are “experts” who people like to talk about, as well as arguments about quality deterioration, mega-corporations trying to buy everything they can, regulations, which Youtube reviewers are worth watching, etc.  Fakes are also a major issue, though not for the “low end” wines the vast majority buy.  And just as some use “bad” fragrances as room sprays, wine is often used in cooking.  I found, for example, that combining ketchup, mustard, ground rosemary, salt, and dry red wine makes quite a nice dip (I usually dip cheese in it).  On the other hand, I can’t remember when it was I last read about a fragrance that seemed like it would be of interest to me – with wines, though, it seems to be more about assessing them relative to notions of certain qualities.

By contrast, those buying fragrances often seem to be seeking something novel, and to some degree this does occur (new aroma chemicals are invented or used in much larger amounts).  On a positive note, because I have so many fragrances (including plenty of samples I have yet to try), I do find it satisfying to see what my latest perceptions are, even if I don’t get the hours of enjoyment I used to on most days.  Could this be a kind of expected “evolution.”  After all, didn’t Luca Turin say that he mostly wears New York by Parfums de Nicolai?  From his writings, I don’t get the sense that he wants to wear many other fragrances, but instead that he prefers to sample on paper.  I don’t know if I would enjoy wearing vintage Kouros every day, but there could be personal variations, and I think I would enjoy wearing it every few days, if not more often.  Of course, if someone paid me to sample a few fragrances on paper each day, I would be more than happy to accept that offer!

 

 

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How does one “lose interest” in this hobby, or any hobby?

Moonlight Patchouli Van Cleef & Arpels for women and men

I haven’t posted in a while because I didn’t think I had anything new to contribute.  I have been reviewing fragrances, mostly at Fragrantica.com, and intend to continue to do so, but to write more than a review, I think there should be more content, some larger issue.  That doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest, though I do have the sense that no new release is going to motivate me to buy even a decant, as there are only so many things I want to smell in various combinations and I’m not going to spend money on something that’s both pleasant and slightly novel.

I’ve also had an issue with sensitivity.  Back in 2008, I had very high sensitivity, which led to an intolerance to more than a few scents.  Now, I can use a couple of spray of vintage Kouros to the chest and in less than an hour I need to wave my hand to waft the smell up because I can barely smell anything thereafter!  Needless to say, this has led to less interest than usual, so at least two factors are involved in my recent lower interest level.  Moreover, there don’t seem to be many noteworthy issues to discuss.  What passes for that these days seems to be rather uninteresting comments about the Office One scent, released by a Youtube “influencer” whose preferences in fragrance seem to be more or less the opposite of mine.

All that said, I’ll provide an example, the 2016 release, Moonlight Patchouli by Van Cleef & Arpels.  Fragrantica lists the notes as:

Top notes are cacao, patchouli leaf and woodsy notes; middle notes are iris flower and bulgarian rose; base notes are fruity notes, leather and suede.

My December, 2018 review of it is:

I got more fruitiness from this than most others apparently did, and nothing I’d call leather, other than the listed suede (and that’s light). Also, while there is a hint of something chocolate-ish, I would have liked that note to be stronger. The patchouli is there but weak. I guess they were going for more of a blended effect, and it does smell nice. However, it’s not edgy or a statement-maker, unless perhaps you use several sprays. I think Phoneix by Keith Urban executes this general idea better, though the prices on that one are now in the stratosphere, so it’s no longer the “cheapo” option it once was. I look forward to wearing it again, in the hopes that more nuances will be revealed.

What I am getting now is a candy-ish scent that doesn’t go so far as to smell just like candy.  Besides that, I get some sort of aroma chemical interference, so to speak, that functions to keep the candy-ish quality at bay.  I wouldn’t say I’m finding it unpleasant now, but it’s almost a distraction.  I’d rather smell it on a piece of paper so that I didn’t have to deal with it for hours.  Perhaps if sensitivity is low, and one is not able to detect complexity (after enjoying this quality for years), a disappointing olfactory experience is to be expected.  I don’t have any issues with my sense of smell, so that doesn’t seem to be a factor here.

Unlike others, I see no need to discard a hobby that becomes less interesting, but rather I tend to think this is a common development, and perhaps my sensitivity will return soon.  I do still look forward to spraying on a different fragrance each day, though, hoping to enjoy the experience the way I did not that long ago.  Many others seem to need to feel a sense of finality for some reason, and some even state on sites like Basenotes or Fragrantica that they are “done” with the hobby, but I’ve found that my interest in things tend to come and go, so self-awareness may play a major role in thinking that a hobby needs to be abandoned, rather than simply “putting it on the back burner” for a while.

UPDATE:  Since posting the above, I’ve done two things, the first being to use a lot more sprays on scents I found to be weak, and that seems to help, but it’s still “early days” on that idea.  The other is to wear strong scents that I haven’t worn in a while.  For example, I used two sprays of vintage Furyo a couple days ago.  The initial blast was quite animalic, and I also detected citrus, but after a few minutes I mostly got a pleasant blend but didn’t detect much specificity.  Still, I’ll take what I can get!

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“What is the meaning of this?”

Gentleman Eau de Parfum Givenchy for men

I remember people using the phrase, “what is the meaning of this?” when I watched some comedies as a child.  The idea was that a comical character was doing something outrageous.  The person saying the phrase was calling attention to the “unacceptable” behavior.  But lately, I often find myself asking this question, as people make claims that aren’t even internally consistent!  On a Basenotes.net earlier this year, a thread was started with this post:

…I’m quite surprised that my bottle of LADDM has a pretty weak performance considering all the reviews that speak of 12-24 hours longevity. I get the spicey opening and after not even 4 hours it is GONE! Does anyone else have similar issues with this fragrance?

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/461418-Tauer-L-air-du-desert-marocain-weak-performance

No, it’s not “gone,” unless this person bought a fake.  However, others started to make claims that are not related to this statement, such as to quote a reddit post, which is:

I contacted Andy Tauer directly and he replied:

‘It has not been reformulated. Nor has its concentration changed. People compare old batches stored for a long time, matured, with newer batches.’

So there you have it from the man!

https://www.reddit.co m/r/fragrance/comments/adibny/andy_tauer_lair_du_desert_marocain_batch_variation/

First, this could be fake, something the person just made up for whatever reason, but let’s assume that this is what Andy Tauer believes, hypothetically.  A batch variation is not going to affect longevity is a significant way, though a reformulation certainly could.  Speak of reformulations, someone posted this in that BN thread:

…I do wonder if all this talk of reformulation is our noses simply adjusting to newer interpretations of scents that we already know such as LADDM and ACDD.

Well, wonder no more!

Reformulations of classic fragrances happen all the time, and because of industry secrecy, consumers simply discover on their own that the new bottle of their favorite perfume smells different. Sometimes the reformulations are by necessity. For example, birch tar was banned by IFRA (The International Fragrance Association), so Guerlain had to eliminate it from their formula for Shalimar. Perfumes are often reformulated to cut costs, using less expensive ingredients than in the original. In other cases, some perfumes are tweaked to conform to prevailing styles.

Whatever the case, Givaudan perfumer Jean Guichard recently made a confession that the perfume industry has never owned up to before: Perfumes do in fact get reformulated. He confirmed what every perfume lover who has ever picked up a new bottle of an old favorite and failed to recognize it already knows. “Consumers know their perfume better than any expert,” Guichard said. “We say nothing to consumers, but they notice when their fragrance has been changed.”

From the book, “Scent & Subversion” by Barbara Herman.

So, what is the meaning of talking about batch variations in this context?  Clearly, there is a desire to argue a position for a different issue.  And another person who posted to that BN thread made this clear:

So, the whole “let it sit and it will get stronger,” argument must have some truth to it after all. And this is not only coming from a perfumer, but from a trained chemist.

Well, if you are a perfumer and a “trained” chemist, you should be able to explain to us exactly how one of these concoctions can get a lot stronger yet smell the same!  That would mean that more of the same molecules would have been created, a kind of chemical version of “spontaneous generation.”  And one would think that a professional chemist could have a GC/MS study conducted to show a “before and after,” in terms of the dominant (or some of the dominant) aroma chemicals.  I am willing to pay for such a study, but only if I am wrong.  If I am correct, then I expect someone (like the people who made the posts above) to pay.  I have no expectations that these people would take me up on my offer and “put their money where their mouths are,” but some might even say, “well I don’t care what the study says, I know what I am smelling.”  No, you know what you are perceiving, but you do not know what aroma chemicals are involved.  You are mistaking perception for physical reality and don’t seem to care about the “laws of nature!”

I would like Tauer to address this issue on his web site, and why not include a statement on the fragrances or boxes?  Tell us when the “best if used by” time is!  What does he mean by “maturation?”  On the Frederic Malle site, as I’ve quoted before, it is stated that maceration, for example, is only applicable for large batches and is hardly ever employed any longer (mostly gone by the 1980s), so it is crucial for Tauer to tell us if maturation means maceration, or something else.  Generally, a fragrance does not “mature” but gets worse, in terms of being less and less as the perfumer intended.  Some of us may not mind (such as myself, since it’s more an issue for certain top notes and I’m not that concerned with these kinds of fleeting notes).  My guess is that whomever answered the email, if it was real, didn’t want to say anything too committal but also did not want to tell the person that his or her notion was totally wrong.

And I’ll mention another example here, which involves Gentleman Givenchy Parfum.  This 2018 release is a simple scent, with official notes of “black pepper, lavender, orris, patchouli and black vanilla.”  Clearly, it is Givenchy’s take on Dior Homme/Dior Homme Intense type scents (and a whole bunch of Fragrantica reviewers point this out), but some reviews say things like:

Balsamic lavender
Performance is good
There is absolutely no similarity with DHI

What is the meaning of that?  If it’s not close to DHI then what is it?  Close to Cool Water?  Totally unique?  My point here is that most reviewers see that there is quite a bit of similarity but it’s not a “clone.”  To say there is “absolutely no similarity” is simply ridiculous, with clear notes of iris, lavender, and something sweet/vanillic/ambery.  Moreover, they both have a “high end designer” type composition.  If you say there’s nothing in common, you are actually misleading people, so I wonder why.  Is it that you think DHI is so far “superior,”‘ for some reason, that you need to “defend” it.  Or do you possess a “broken nose,” as many like to say these days?  Yes, the Givenchy is more casual and a bit different (I happen to prefer it), but when you make a claim like he did, what are you trying to say?  That Chanel No. 5 is as close to DHI as this Givenchy is?  Let me know if  you have any idea what he was trying to say by leaving a comment.

 

 

 

 

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A “super-cheapo” gem that has gotten no attention.

Eau De Royal Secret Five Star Fragrance EDT Spray Women 3.4 oz

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):

https://perfumaniaholdings.com/fragrance-brands/parlux-five-star-fragrance

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!

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Is the “niche sampler” back?

Heat Wild Orchid Beyonce for women

No, the picture is not of a niche bottle but of a “celebuscent,” but I’ll get back to it below.  To begin this post, I want to mention that I don’t read reviews at Basenotes.net nearly as much as I used to, usually because there are more at Fragrantica.com and I find those to be more “down to earth.”  Also, I can usually tell what kind of hobbyist/aficionado the person is, whereas the Basenotes crowd tends to be more difficult to decipher.  For example, one reviewer there writes long and thoughtful reviews, yet his preferences are very different than mine, and he seems to be much more tolerant of certain aroma chemicals than I am.  So, it’s easy to be misled by such reviews, whereas the “dis ding stinks” type of review is easier to dismiss or understand (such as if the scent is animalic).

What I’ve noticed on the few occasions in recent months that I clicked on the Reviews tab at Basenotes is that so many are of obscure niche fragrances.  In the “old days” of a decade or so ago, they were often reviewing the same fragrances, and there weren’t too many that were discussed all that much.  One was L’Air du Desert Marocain, of course, but nowadays not only have never heard of the fragrance, but I also have never heard of the company!  It’s very easy not to be interested in a fragrance that is very expensive when there are so many others that fit the same bill, so to speak.  Of course, I’ve sampled a whole lot of fragrances in the last ten years (I got serious in late 2007, which I started reading Basenotes and fragrance blogs), but back then there weren’t that many that seemed special and it was a lot easier to obtain samples, often for free or in a swap (and shipping costs were lower back then too – the USPS 2 pounds for $2.90 deal was great!).

I find myself thinking, “nah, I already have something that sounds close enough,” or “that’s probably a chemical mess,” or “that sounds like a ham-fisted attempt to reinvent the vintage wheel,” on the rare occasion that I read about one of the new, expensive niche fragrances that I am not likely to own (another factor being how swapping has dried up in recent years).  So, I have largely confined myself to buying lots at very good prices or taking advantage of an occasional deal from the major online discounters.  One example of the latter is Beyonce’s Heat Wild Orchid, which I actually sampled at a Walmart and though was okay, but hardly worth pursuing.  The notes for this 2010 release (from Fragrantica) are:

…opens with a fruity trio of pomegranate, coconut water and boysenberry. A bold floral bouquet of butterfly orchid, blooming magnolia and honeysuckle is the heart. Blonde woods, skin musk and amber contribute to the overall impression of a sensual perfume.

When I saw a super deal on a 100 ml bottle, I was hesitant, but figured I could give it as a gift if I didn’t think it was worth keeping.  It doesn’t smell much like the notes to me, which in this case was a great surprise!  The first time I sprayed it on, at Walmart, it had an almost chocolate/vanilla quality, but then the next time I recognized quite a bit of tonka, and not much in the way of florals.  Over time, a smoky type quality emerged, which usually irritates me, but here it was mild enough, and works great, providing me something that usually doesn’t work in much more expensive scents.  There’s also a hint of an almost minty quality that keeps things interesting.  I mention this because it seems like the “fragrance community” is going in two entirely different different directions, and it reminds me of how more than a few people I know will only do food shopping at the “better” stores or what we used to call “health food stores” 25-30 years ago (an example is Whole Foods Market).  They spend a whole lot more on food than I do (I get most of my food from Walmart and local dollar stores).

Speaking of which, when I was last in a dollar store, I bought an EAD fragrance called Divulge, which is “inspired by” CK’s Reveal for Him.  I had opportunities to acquire Reveal at a reasonable price, but I found at least a few CK scents to be too “chemical” for my tastes and decided against.  Dollar store versions, though, tend go go lighter on some aroma chemicals, and indeed that was the case here.  I really enjoyed Divulge and certainly would have paid a bit more for the 75 ml bottle.  What I smell seems consistent with the reviews I’ve read of Reveal, and it’s certainly unique in terms of my experience.  However, an effect it had on me was to plant the notion in my mind, “you just can’t spend much money on these concoctions any more – it’s just ridiculous!  The dollar store companies are too good.”  Of course, I already have plenty to keep me occupied the rest of my life, but that was the case years ago too, when I still found myself tempted to blind buy something that turned out to be a bad decision, but curiosity got the best of me.

Those days seem to be gone for me.  Sure, if the deal is ridiculously good I’ll throw a few dollars at a bottle, but overall I think of myself as going in the opposite direction of the “niche samplers.”  What are they seeking?  Yes, unique compositions will continue to be released, but then the question becomes, “are you ever going to enjoy what you have or are you going to continue to chase after pots of gold at the ends of rainbows?”  I can imagine some people buying a huge amount of samples and hardly ever buying a bottle – they are likely those who claim to be seeking “art” in fragrances, but of course this is a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction.  One issue seems to be a lack of patience, meaning that when one of these people hears about a “special” new release, there is a desire to try it within a month or less.  But what I find myself a lot more interested in lately is wearing fragrances that I have neglected for a while, to see what my perceptions of it are like after such a hiatus.  Often, it seems like a very different fragrance!  This supplies me with the novelty factor that I’d guess is a driving force for the niche samplers, and it allowed me to appreciate “super cheapos” like Heat Wild Orchid.

 

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Is a newbie “spontaneous fragrance modification” myth very common these days?

Image result for molecules

First, I’ll mention what led to my thought about a possible myth, which began with a review I posted on the Yatagan/Caron page on Fragrantica.com

I obtained a recent formulation (batch 402114), and it definitely is different from my 2010 bottle. The base is weaker and overall it seems simpler. However, that does make it more wearable for “modern sensibilities,” as they say. In this way it reminds me of my recent formulation of Kouros (as compared to vintage Kouros). It’s certainly still Yatagan (of perhaps 10 years ago), with that celery quality (which is not present in “deep vintage”), but it’s clearly less “macho.” The major “problem” for me is that I prefer deep vintage and so there’s no good reason for me to wear this.

Another reviewer, in 2012, said this about it:

…And by the way the reformulation is still quite strong and just as good, and this scent could easily become somebodies signature scent.

I respect this point of view, and my 2010 Yatagan bottle might be perceived as “better”‘ by a vast majority of people who compare it to “deep vintage,” which is fine with me.  There is nothing “bad” about the 2010 formulation, and I’m glad Caron didn’t try to “modernize” it.  The March, 2014 formulation (batch code 402114), however, does strike me as an attempt to save some money, though without tinkering too much with the composition (such as occurred with the huge cinnamon note in “modern” Z-14).  For me, deep vintage is great, whereas 2010 is unbalanced and therefore unwearable, with a bit of tweaking to the formula too.  In any case, not long after I posted that review, this one appeared:

@Bigsly: the difference of smell between a current bottle and an old one is not due to formulation differences, but to the fact that the old bottle has oxidized slightly, allowing the fragrance to develop and “open”.
If you smell your current bottle compared to one open since 10 or 20 years, it’s no surprise that the smell is slightly different, but nothing related to hypothetical reformulations. (a different batch doesn’t mean they changed anything in the formula, although here it may be possible in regard to oakmoss, because of the new 2014 IFRA regulations- but it’s not automatic).

After reading this, I added the following to my review:

Note that I disagree with Andy the Frenchy’s statement above this review and in fact consulted a fragrance chemist, who has this to say:

“This question brings up Perfumery 101 lessons about the nature of chemical composition and how smell works. At it’s very core, perfumery is about volatility, or the rate in which things evaporate. When sealed in an airtight container with compounds that extend shelf life (and inert gases are always used to make sure it it stays fresh) you’re going to get almost zero change in chemicals involved.”

Oxidation makes such concoctions smell worse not better, and can lead to skin rashes, as this abstract makes clear:

“Terpenes are widely used fragrance compounds in fine fragrances, but also in domestic and occupational products. Terpenes oxidize easily due to autoxidation on air exposure. Previous studies have shown that limonene, linalool and caryophyllene are not allergenic themselves but readily form allergenic products on air-exposure…”

The source is Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Jun;52(6):320-8.

Limonene and linalool are among the most common ingredients, so anyone who wants their fragrance oxidized has no idea what they are talking about, IMO, but perceptions can be rather odd. For example, there was a shipwreck found a few years back – it was over 100 years old! There were two perfume splash bottles in it. Non-perfumers questioned thought it smelled fine but the perfumers said it was clearly “spoiled.” Not many years ago, when I said that I had never encountered a vintage bottle that had a “spoiled” drydown, at least one blogger and a perfumer (who had an obvious conflict of interest) disagreed. If the scent has volatile top notes, especially citrus, those might be “lost” over the years, but the problem for those who claim that their fragrances got considerably stronger or the smell got better don’t seem to realize that it would mean more of the same molecules were created in that sealed bottle or new molecules were created that smelled better, which is something fragrance chemists and perfumers would already know and incorporate into their compositions! Now if you think you “reinvented the wheel” then go ahead and try to demonstrate it scientifically so that you can be the next Einstein. Today’s fragrances are nearly all or entirely synthetic, so for anything that isn’t special (and really expensive), the only change will be for the worse. Of course, to save money sometimes the formula is cheapened, as people like Luca Turin have pointed out a long time ago. In any case, you can do your own research and decide for yourself.

Then a few days later, this review appeared:

This is not a forum about perfume composition, it’s a series of reviews about Yatagan, but I’d like to address a couple of points.
– Old bottles of fragrance will undergo a process of oxidization once they are used, so Andy the Frenchy’s comment as posted is likely to be accurate in the majority of situations (assuming the majority of vintage bottles on the market have been used at least once.)
– Oxidization and its effect on odour is hardly limited to whether some terpenes become catalyzed! And…. Just because oxidization results in a perfume material become a potential irritant hardly means that it does not smell good (or even better) for it. Plenty of wonderful materials are potential irritants, as anyone can find out by googling most of the ingredients on the back of any box of perfume (IFRA regulated or not). Time to reread Paracelsus on that one.

Anyway, I post too much about things I like but now I feel guilty for not respecting the purpose of this space so I will say (about Yatagan) –

Certain fragrances seem to ‘open up’ once opened, oxidized and aged a little. Speaking anecdotally (I’m no chemist), I’d say that with some bottles I have owned, aging and intermittent usage over several months helps to produce the ‘fuller’, ’rounder’ and ‘more natural’ experience many people look for from a composition like Yatagan… If your bottle feels a bit thin, try shelving it for a little while (:

Putting aside this person’s lack of understanding of the term “composition” in this context, it seems to me that something quite odd has taken hold in the “online fragrance community,” perhaps especially among “newbies, and perhaps mostly due to claims made by the major Youtube reviewers.  That is, many seem to think that there is no such thing as a reformulation, but rather that molecules in a sealed spray bottle interact significantly with air even after just a few sprays and the composition is magically transformed into something much better or much stronger.  Fortunately there is a test to determine this, though unfortunately, it’s expensive (for us non-1% people).  However, if you want to make this kind of incredible claim, perhaps you should be willing to “put your money where your mouth is.”

In this situation, that would mean the claimant is willing to pay for a GC/MS study done by a competent technician, if that person cannot detect any significant change in either the number of molecules or the “spikes” that denote the strongest aroma chemicals on the resulting graph.  I certainly would pay if I bought a new fragrance (100 ml) from a major company (in a sealed spray bottle), had the GC/MS study done, then stored it properly for a couple months and used a quarter ounce of it, then had another GC/MS study done and the technician found that the concoction had become much stronger or had changed and smelled much different (yet had not “spoiled”).  If you are not an expert, you should either do some research and/or try to consult one, before making claims that suggest something that would violate the “laws of nature!”

Interestingly, one doesn’t hear much about all the skin rashes one would expect if these extraordinary claims were true.  One of the mysteries of chemistry is that two molecules might be very similar yet have different scents, no scent, or other properties that are quite distinct.  Or two molecules can be structured very differently yet smell quite similar.  However, this is a major area studied by people who become professional perfumers!  If what is being claimed by these apparent newbies were true, fragrance chemists and professional perfumers would know this and they would incorporate these properties into the final product.  They would certainly let the person or company employing them know that there was a simple and inexpensive procedure (that only took a few weeks or so) that could make the finished product much stronger or smell much better.  But of course this is something that would likely have become well known long ago, perhaps in the nineteenth century!

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