Should you try to save money with “clones,” such as Dark Flower ?

“Designer imposter” scents go back a long time (from what I remember, to at least the 1980s), but these days there seem to be a flood on the market. Now if all of you lived near a store that sold just about every one them, and had testers available, I wouldn’t have written up this post. With the internet, we can not only learn about the availability of these, but in some cases read reviews at sites like, which for some reason thinks that some companies are legitimate enough to list in their database while others are ignored. Or perhaps they just list whatever they come across, though I’d suggested listing such scents as Stardust for Men (2001) but it is yet to be listed, months later !

Dollar store scents can be a great buy, but in most cases the more discerning person isn’t going to wear these, if he or she even bothers to try any. On the other hand are rather expensive scents that are supposed to be “as good” as really expensive ones. Using Fragrantica’s “This perfume reminds me of” feature, we can see that Cedrat Boise by Mancera, for example, is thought to be most similar to Aventus by Creed (53 votes). The “problem” is that it seems to be selling for more than $120 for 120 ml bottles these days, which is not a “cheapo” situation. In fact, if I enjoyed Aventus but couldn’t afford it, I doubt I could afford Cedrat Boise, and I’d also be incredibly disappointed if it did not smell close enough to Aventus. It certainly doesn’t seem like one could call this a “safe blind buy,” that’s for sure! On the other hand, spending $20-25 (or less) on Lomani’s AB Spirit Silver seems as safe as one an get, so long as you don’t believe it will smell exactly like Aventus.

Another company which seems to be doing this sort of thing, and which I just learned about, is Armaf. There doesn’t seem to be much of a secret about what their scents are meant to be in many if not most cases (if you do some research on Fragrantica, ebay, amazon, etc.). In fact, one ebay seller is opening claiming that Armaf’s Derby Club House Blanche is a “Creed silver mountain water copy.” The price is $30, at least if you live in the USA, and for me that’s till too high to label it a “safe blind buy,” but I can see how some might find that price (for 100 ml) and the reviews to be too tempting to pass up, especially considering how some of these “copy cats” seem to become unavailable at any price, though of course one might get lucky on ebay, or the company might decide to create a new batch (though you wouldn’t know if it smelled the same as the older batches until you obtained a bottle).

For me, the “sweet spot” is the Dorall Collection. I came upon one of their bottles at a yard sale back around 2009, purchasing what seemed to be a Polo “copy” (it’s called Mustang and is in a similar type bottle that is green). It’s a competent, wearable scent, and different enough from my vintage Polo to be worth owning for a couple of dollars. So, when I noticed a scent produced by Dorall Collection and called Dark Flower selling for about $10 for 100 ml, I did some research. seems to have most of the Dorall Collection listed, usually with notes as well. In this case it seems clear that this is supposed to smell at least a bit like Black Orchid. Parfumo provides these notes for it:

Bergamot, Citric notes, Mandarin, Black gardenia, Jasmine, Ylang-ylang, Lotus wood, Orchid, Spicy notes, Floral accord, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Vanilla.

I haven’t tried Black Orchid in years but it does seem to bear some resemblance to what I can recall (in the drydown). DF has obvious an obvious but not very strong sandalwood note, along with florals that aren’t too “feminine” to me and gourmand elements. The balance is nice and I’d rather wear this than more than a few recent designer releases, that’s for sure. It’s a bit dry, isn’t too sweet or syrupy, and doesn’t have animalic quality (I’d say this is unisex, for those used to niche). And this brings me to a point that seems to be crucial, which is that some people seem to be seeking the strong niche scent experience whereas others, such as myself, are seeking a pleasant, dynamic, balanced, and smooth drydown. This is why I thought it would be worthwhile spending the money on DF, though another factor was the retail price of Black Orchid. If BO sold for a lot less, I’d just try have patience and get a good deal on ebay or in a swap.

So, while I have limited experience with “copy cat” scents, I certainly would mention Dorall Collection ones to those seeking a very inexpensive alternative to very expensive scents – assuming you don’t mind going to ebay once in a while to see what’s available, as well as doing some research on There are also a couple of sites which may tell you exactly what the scent in question is supposed to smell like:!catalogs/c5s0

Note that there are others, such as the Diamond Collection. If you search ebay’s fragrances for Diamond Collection you’ll see even more audacious bottle designs and names (IMO), and I wonder about the legality of those, but my main interest is in how these smell, of course. I’m not really “in the market” for a reasonably good smell-alike of anything now, so I don’t intend to pursue this much further, other than to grab one at a really low price if I happen to see it (probably on ebay) and think I might like it. Of course, if you are familiar with vintage scents, you’ll know about at least a few that seem to have been “inspired” by others, usually best sellers, such as Chanel No. 5. The difference today is that it seems like there are “copy cats” at prices points that range from about $10 per bottle (leaving aside the dollar store offerings) up to more than $100, and I doubt there are any local stores which sell more than a small fraction of what one can buy online, unlike by the late 80s, where a trip to a medium-size mall might allow you to do a whole lot of sampling, relative to what was being produced.

NOTE: I have no affiliations with any fragrance company and don’t have a strong opinion about only wearing the “original” or trying to save as much money as possible. I find it at least somewhat entertaining and don’t mind wearing a “copy cat,” but because I don’t feel compelled to buy any new scents (already possessing more than I could use in a few lifetimes) I’m mostly swapping or looking for “too good to pass up” deals.

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How many more of these incidents will occur ?

I thought about writing such a post before, but kept saying to myself that there are plenty of other outlets for opinions on this subject to be discussed. With this latest incident in South Carolina, I decided that I should go ahead and speak my mind here. And it actually does have a connection to fragrance appreciation, because with some medical issues that I had to deal with lately, I found, once again, that stress really distracts from that ability. Moreover, my sensitivity is raised significantly, so that I can wear just about any scent, though certain notes or aroma chemicals still “spike out” to me. That all pales in comparison to the grief this man’s family is experiencing now, of course, and what the officer subjected his family and friends to is also difficult to comprehend.

And I’ll preface this by pointing out that I have relatives who were police officers, and when I was young there were plenty of them around the house at times, often telling their colorful and sometimes frightening stories. There was a bit of an “us versus them” attitude, to be sure, but it was also impersonal, and there wasn’t any hint that particular kinds of people were being targeted, or as they say these days, “profiled.” Could that be what has changed over the last twenty years or so? I know some people, who, up to the release of this recent video of the death of Walter Scott, defended the police in every incident, including the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island. Do they realize how difficult a “bad cop” makes life for those who don’t do such things, I’ve wondered?

Another point I make to such people is that an officer is not supposed to be arresting officer, DA, judge, jury, and executioner, and all within the space of perhaps a couple minutes (if not less). One thing I find quite interesting is that the defenders of what one might call “police disorder” have tried to deflect criticism by saying things like, “it’s not a black versus white thing” (I’m “white,” for full disclosure). If that’s not the case, then why isn’t an outlet such as FoxNews telling us about all the incidents where the situation is reversed? Since there are a lot more “white” people than “black” (“African-Americans”) in the USA, shouldn’t there be at least as many incidents with “white” guys being shot by police in similar situations (and that’s allowing for the officer to be of any “race!”)?

Some comments I’ve read online also seem to be attempts at deflection, such as “well, here in ___________town where I live, the cops do that to everyone.” My first response would be, then document them and create a blog where you can get this information out to everyone. Otherwise, you are just making a claim that is nearly impossible to verify. For those who don’t know, there is no national database for such incidents! Moreover, whether there is a “racial” component or not, there is something that is occurring in the minds of too many officers these days (obviously not a majority), and there is no government agency that is attempting to determine what this is. Even if there were, that agency would have to be given the power to change things significantly!

One question that keeps emerging in my mind is, why can’t a journalist find some footage of police training videos that address these kinds of situations? In this latest incident, I found myself saying, “is this officer simply too lazy to chase down this fifty year old man, who didn’t look like he could outrun his own mother?” Or even worse, “did he think that he didn’t get enough target practice in recent days, and so thought the man running away from him represented an excellent opportunity to get some?” And keep in mind that I’m assuming that Scott may have said something nasty and perhaps even kept trying to get away from the officer after being tased.

Of all the “cop stories” I remember hearing when I was young (mostly in the 70s), there weren’t any that involved something that even remotely suggested “profiling” (and they were proud to have never shot at anyone!). And the stories could be quite explicit, one involving a woman’s head that was discovered on a roadside. When the officer asked the Sargent what to do, the Sargent asked about the specific location, and then replied, “that’s right next to the border with the ____ precinct, so just kick it over on to their side and let them deal with it.” That’s the kind of disturbing police humor I was exposed to, but what we are seeing now is quite different, and certainly appears to have a strong “racial” component (though I wouldn’t be surprised if in some areas many officers were abusive “across the board,” especially towards the poor).

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the video is how nonchalant the officer seemed to be about resorting to deadly violence and then putting forth an explanation that clearly did not justify the use of deadly force. I would not be surprised if he had rehearsed just such a scenario, and perhaps an older officer had instructed him on “how to do it right.” There’s no doubt he knew about the Ferguson incident, and probably some if not all of the other recent, similar ones. And he also knew that many people are essentially carrying video cameras on them at all times. There must have been a sense in his mind that he was invulnerable and could get away with such actions without having to worry about anything more than perhaps a suspension for a few days, or some “desk duty.” How many others are there like him? That is undeniably a key question, and what’s incredibly frightening is that nobody seems to have any idea what the answer is (other than those with clear conflicts of interest) !

NOTE: After writing the above, while watching a news TV station, I heard the claim that the police reports for this incident were quite atypical, and one obvious question here is (assuming other officers went along with an attempted cover up), how do we classify such officers? If most officers would participate in such a cover up, can we continue to say that most are “good cops?” Perhaps this is the crux of the problem! And it seems to be a variation on Edmund Burke’s notion: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” though one has to question at what point such people could continue to be called “good!” What can be done about this phenomenon? Up to this point, our society’s “institutions” have failed, and it may be that the mandated use of “body cameras” by police is the best short-term response, as mundane that might sound considering the unnecessary loss of lives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: I wore it a second time and then wrote up this review on

First time I wore it there was a strong “chemical” quality, though not a “chemical soup.” Instead, it smelled like some natural-smelling notes were swimming in a sea of aroma chemicals. The second wearing was better, as I was able to tone down that chemical quality, probably just “olfactory familiarity,” as one person called this apparent phenomenon. In any case, PRB smells more “expensive”/niche-like that I thought it would, but you have to like the floral note here, which I do. Now I can’t say this is going to displace some of the rose-oriented vintage scents in my rotation, but at least this is one I won’t dismiss. It’s worth wearing at least a couple more times, to see how much I enjoy it, but I can see how some would say that the vintage rose/masculines have nothing to fear from something like PRB. On the other hand it has more “transparency” than the vintage greats of this type, so that may be a strong argument in its favor, depending upon what you’re seeking.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

So I did…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any of your fragrances do this for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Niche “rabbit hole” versus Vintage Fever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: The BN post I quoted can be found in its entirely here:!/page2

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