Where does “hype” originate?

Recently, on Basenotes.net, there was a thread about there no longer being “hype” for Musc Ravageur:

QUOTE:  …if 50% of the people who try musc ravageur hate it it doesnt mean that the other 50% who love it are being deceptive or “hyping” out of some other motive. They like it or even love it and want to share that experience with like minded individuals. And that I think is the key. Like minded individuals. I used to base my purchasing habits on whatever was being talked about the most. But people who love musc ravageur are not the same people who are wanting a bottle of 1 million. But I dont think the people who were pushing musc ravageur were trying to deceive anyone or lie and didnt really like it. I think the people who liked it were vocal about it. But so were the people who didnt. But its the individuals choice on which opinion if any they are going to allow to influence their spending. All i know is if I buy something based on the opinions of others and I dont like it, the hype if any exists, I created myself.  UNQUOTE.

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/424688-Musc-Ravageur-is-the-hype-finally-over

First, I agree that one wants to think in terms of the comments of like-minded individuals, but that’s not always easy to determine.  It takes quite a bit of research, if one hasn’t read quite a bit of the recent posts, and even then the people may be more flexible in their tastes.  For example, I prefer gourmands, orientals, and complex vintage scents, but there are some “fresh” or warm weather scents I enjoy once in a while, such as Blenheim Bouquet.  Most of the “fresh” fans, however, are seeking more “modern” scents of that type.   Moreover, some sites may be much more oriented towards certain kinds of scents, and even then, that might change over time.  Basenote.net seems to have been more niche-oriented when I signed up as a member, back in early 2008, but now it’s considerably more diverse, and the “fresh” scent fans seem to be a lot more numerous.  Even so, there was a time when Terre d’Herme was “all the rage,” I guess because it was viewed as a fresh scent for those who wanted something “‘unique.”  Perhaps it would be best to regard it as a sort of “fresh niche” at a time when there was a lot less from which to choose in the “fresh” category.

Next, I think the statement about those who like MR not being the same people who like One Million is interesting, because while that may be true for most, I’d guess there is a sizeable percentage of aficionados  who would wear either, including myself.  There’s also the issue of whether someone is more of a top notes or drydown person, but perhaps just as important is how much experience the person has with certain kinds of scents, if any!  For example, to me MR’s drydown was too in line with other “niche amber” scents, and I already owned a bottle of one that I rarely wore (Etro’s Ambra).  And this is where the “hype” might be most problematic.  It goes like this: hype begins to build for a scent like MR, in the “old days” because the “niche samplers” were talking about how great it was.  That then led to the much less experienced (if not newbies) to buy a sample or bottle, and then the hype really got going, even though it may have been the case that the vast majority had never smelled a scent with a similar drydown!  Fortunately, I already owned Ambra and so swapped of my MR bottle for something I preferred, while not feeling at all “deprived.”

And this is where I disagree with the person quoted, because only certain kinds of scents seem to get the hype treatment; “cheapos” hardly ever get it, and when it does happen it’s usually because the scent is similar to an expensive one, often niche (as in all the “Aventus clones”).   I think this is because the cheap ones are said to be generic, derivative, unexciting, etc.  How many times has someone said that Animale Animale for Men was derivative of A*Men (which I don’t agree with) or that Individuel is derivative of Creed’s Original Santal, despite being chronologically false?  And then when a scent is rather unique, such as Phoenix by Keith Urban or KISS Him, there may be a few good reviews, but hype never seems to develop.  What if either of these scents was released by a company like ELdO?  The scent in question seems to require the mark of specialness, which always seems to  involve a non-cheap price tag, despite most of the hypsters probably knowing the liquid itself rarely costs more than a couple of dollars, even in the case of niche scents.

These days, my attitude is, “what could the scent possibly be like that I would feel the absolute need to own a bottle?”  I’m more interested in layering than new releases, because that way I can control the notes and composition (I still seek out “cheapos” with apparently interesting notes or compositions to “blind buy”).  Of course, to do this requires owning quite a few scents, or else your options are limited.  And I think this leads to a major difference among aficionados, hobbyists, or whatever you want to call such people, including myself.  That is, some treat it as a “luxury item” proposition, whereas there is clearly no need to do so,  because these are just smells and you can get 75 ml bottles of ones that are fairly good at the dollar store.  For some reason, a few people seem to become irrationally irritated by how others “pursue this hobby,” for example, criticizing the points I’ve made about very cheap alternatives to very expensive scents.

Obviously, if it “works for me” that doesn’t necessarily mean it will for you – everyone already knows that!  And if I prefer a “super-cheapo” which appears to contain a fair amount of ambroxan (Berlin by Playboy), and enjoy it, why shouldn’t I mention that I prefer it to an expensive scent that seems similar but costs a lot more (Sauvage)?  Readers can figure out for themselves if this advice is likely to help them or not.  They don’t need others to tell them how they should enjoy these concoctions (or how much they should spend, or how many bottles they should acquire, etc.)!  When I read something that suggests hype (whatever the motivation may be) I am curious to see if the person actually speaks to the smell itself, and if so, how important the top notes appear to be.  If someone says, as is common, “it smells great but has terrible longevity,” that usually means the person has difficulty with drydowns (unless the scent is likely to be short-lived, but I tend to dislike those scents anyway).  Thus, one doesn’t have to dismiss out of hand a “hypster,” because there might be something useful stated.

 

 

 

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A case of anti-“cheapo”snobbery?

 

Recently on Basenotes.net, someone created a thread to ask for “blind buy” advice:

“Royal Oud and Reflection Man are two very different scents, but each has a cedar/sandalwood base that is almost creamy and lightly sweet. And I LOVE IT!!! I’m looking for other scents that have a sort of creamy sandalwood base that’s sweet but not cloyingly sweet. Mont Blanc Individuel and Original Santal, for example, are too sweet for me.

It must be modern. Egoiste is excellent, but it’s way to classic or vintage for my style (sure is awesome stuff though!).

Bonus points if it can be worn in summer, but that’s not a requirement at all.”

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/424219-Sandalwood-modern-rich-creamy-like-the-bases-of-RO-amp-RM-What-should-I-try

And let me begin by saying that I understand niche on a psychological level, though I don’t experience it myself, that is, buying and/or wearing a niche bottle seems to make some people feel that they are “special,” rising above the “madding crowd,” perhaps. I noticed this in the “fine art” world as well, and I’m sure it’s common in many other hobbies, interests, fields,  etc.  Being interested in these olfactory concoctions mostly  for personal enjoyment, though, I tend to sell or swap off my niche bottles, if possible, unless I really like the scent, of course.  To me, there simply isn’t enough difference in perceived quality, or anything else, between niche and the best “cheapos,” to justify current pricing (that is, typical online pricing) and this is yet another instance, which I’ll get to in a moment.

Many of the recommendations were for niche scents, as you might have guessed.  One person suggested Carven Homme with great vim and vigor, for some reason that makes no sense to me (I get some cedar but no sandalwood note in that one, and it’s very “old school,” eventually convincing the person to buy it:

“Isn’t Carven Homme sort of classic smelling though? I’m so terrible about making blind buys – I avoid ’em like the plague, even for cheapies… but I’m temped.”

And guess what?  He bought it and was disappointed, considering it too “old:”

“Carven Homme arrived. On first try, I’m 95% sure it’s a miss for me. It smells more classic than what I’d want to wear. I know it’s from 1999, but it smells more like it’s from the days of Egoiste, Bois Du Portugal or Tiffany for men – all of which are FANTASTIC, but they’re not my style…”

So, this person clearly is not an all-out niche snob, but while responding to my suggestion of Swiss Army Unlimited (because to me it seemed he wasn’t really looking for a strong sandalwood scent) and he mentioned Individuel but said that one was too sweet (IMO, Unlimited solves this problem in a similar composition).  He addressed this suggestions, saying:

“Now I think we’re headed in the exact opposite direction. I haven’t smelled it, so I’m just guessing… but I doubt there’s a similarity between the base of Swiss Army Unlimited and the base of Royal Oud or Reflection Man…”

But why would he think there was a similarity between the base of Carven Homme and Royal Oud or Reflection Man?  The key point here is that he didn’t even mention my recommendation of Eau de Iceberg Sandalwood for Men, which I noted is (or was) selling for less than $9 total at ScentedMonkey (100 ml).  According to Fragrantica.com the notes are:

“Fresh bergamot from Sicily and black pepper are combined with Georgywood molecule that smells like amber wood. The heart is made of warm milk, creamy cedar and vetiver from Java, while the base notes include Australian sandalwood, the vanilla scent of tonka bean and Maxalone musk. ”

One of the reviews there does a good job of summing up this scent (though misspelling one word):

“I gotta say that this is a warm, milky, woody and a bit sweet. I will say that is not a typical male scent, more unisex.. I found it very plesant and love the sandalwood and vanilla. A scent that is nice for male and female.”

Even if you haven’t tried it, doesn’t it sound like something this BN member might be seeking?  And I’d say it’s more of a warm weather scent than a cool weather one!  But it seems that because it is a “cheapo,” it gets no thought, whereas the venerable “vintage” Carven Homme is purchased “blind,” despite costing about four times as much per ml!  How many recent designer scents, even “lesser” ones, are  called “Sandalwood?”  That’s not very common these days, for whatever reason, yet a person seeking a “sandalwood scent” (at least in his mind) didn’t appear to be even slightly curious about it!  If this is not a case of anti-“cheapo” snobbery (and think of how few things you can buy for $9 these days), I’d really like to know why this recommendation didn’t even seem to reach the brief mention stage of consideration.

For those who are curious, Sandalwood for Men really does have the milky quality suggested by the notes, and my guess is that it’s exactly what this person is seeking, but for some reason, apparently, he can’t imagine it “being any good.”  Mostly, what I’ve sought with “super-cheapos” is variety, so long as I didn’t find the scent to be irritating in the drydown, but I’ve found that there are quite a few that far surpass such a modest accomplishment.  After years of recommending such scents (I know I suggested Everlast Original 1910 several times since around 2008, for example), usually with little if any response from those asking for advice, I have come to conclude that there is a great deal of bias against scents that sell for very little, even if they were originally marketed as non-cheapos (I think EO 1910 sold at Sephora at one point).  I have encountered a bias against dollar store items as well (not just scents), despite there being some excellent bargains there.

A similar scent (most might consider “higher quality,” at least in “vintage” formulation) is Minotaure by Paloma Picasso.  The notes for that one are:

“Top notes are aldehydes, coriander, tarragon, fruity notes, galbanum and bergamot; middle notes are jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, rose and geranium; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, vanilla and cedar.”

Because he said he didn’t want “old,” and because of what I’ve read about a bad reformulation (I was careful to buy “vintage”) of this scent, I didn’t mention it in that thread.  However, it is certainly worth mentioning here, in case someone finds Iceberg’s Sandalwood to be too simple or not as “natural-smelling” as he/she would like (which I’d find surprising).  I’ll close this post by pointing out that it seems as though the “cheapo” companies have really caught up with not just today’s designers, but also much of niche, especially the more popular releases.  These may not be close enough for those who want to feel “special,” but they may work for those who don’t want their wallets to feel too light!

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Filed under Fragrance Reviews., The basics.

The “semi-facts” that dominate the fragrance industry.

In one of my other posts, I introduced the concept of the “semi-fact,” which I’d say is the opposite of Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” That is, instead of sounding true but not being true, the semi-fact is something that the “contrarian” (or “stick in the mud”) might argue against, but is otherwise clearly functional to the rest of us (though many may not have investigated the matter).  The example I used was the argument against my point that there are thousands of much less expensive scents than Sauvage one can find at the discounters and on ebay.  A critic said that Sauvage will be discounted at some point, which may be true, but even then we don’t know if it will be as drastically discounted as so many others have been.  Whatever may happen, it has nothing to do with my point, as I was talking about people who had already written reviews and stated that they had purchased a bottle (or made it sound like they had).  Some may have used an online coupon and gotten a small discount, for instance, but when one considers the prices at the time I was writing, there was no comparison between Sauvage prices and those of some I mentioned, such as Playboy’s Berlin or Eau de Iceberg Amber for Men.

If you aren’t the type to do much research before purchasing and just buy the “top names,” then you probably aren’t one to read blogs such as this one, nor check the prices on a few sites where the great deals often appear.  Such people may find it irritating to read that a Playboy scent was selling for around $5/100 ml but is now considerably more, for example, but it still may be a “better buy” for that person than Sauvage was a few months back (or today as well, in terms of price alone).  If I really like a scent that is $20/100 ml, and to me, it’s clearly better than one at $70/100 ml, I’m going to buy the former and think that I got a great bargain (this was the case recently, for Black Oud by Remy Latour at $15 versus Perry Ellis Oud: Black Vanilla Absolute at around $50).  Not everyone seems to think this way, for some reason.  The critic mentioned above, in fact, suggests this in his review of Sauvage at Fragrantica.com, which includes the following:

“…If you’re going to the mall to buy a good designer masculine scent, and you’ve narrowed the choices down to Sauvage or Bleu, buy the Chanel and call it a day.”

Why would anyone go to the mall – and pay “mall prices?”  Indeed, there must be far more than a few such people who indeed pay more than they probably should have (this is the majority of men who buy such scents, isn’t it?).  Such people may not even know that Playboy has their name on any fragrance nor that there is such a fragrance brand as Iceberg!  A small percentage of these people go to Fragrantica and write up glowing reviews of this “great new fresh scent.”  Use your browser’s find feature and see how many times the word fresh is used in a Fragrantica review of Sauvage!  So, we have another semi-fact here, because it’s beyond obvious that there are some significantly different ways that people perceive the value of these  concoctions (including the very existence of many of the brands).  Moreover, a common  complaint is that a scent like Kouros is too strong, for example, yet the same people seem to be quick to dismiss claims that a Playboy scent may be like a weak version of a scent from Dior, Chanel, etc., which suggests a fair amount of bias in line with the mentality of the guy who is “going to the mall to buy a good designer masculine scent.”

In a sense, the semi-fact is designed to deal with those who think that the exception is the rule rather than it proving the rule.  It also used to be said that “for all intents and purposes” this or that was the case, but again, the semi-fact is more economical and more importantly it will prompt many people to think about those with “contrarian” type personalities wasting their time with ridiculous arguments.  Now I’d like to turn to other semi-facts in the fragrance industry that are significant in the context of reviews.  Perhaps the most “debated” is the concept of natural.  At least a few people don’t seem to realize that “modern perfumery” is based upon the heavy use of synthetic substances.  In some instances, though, it doesn’t matter much (except in terms of cost); for example, from what I understand vanillin is an exact or near exact substitute for vanilla extract, in terms of the smell if not everything else.

However, in other cases something might smell clearly “un-natural” to many of us, even if the scent is just as synthetic as another scent that smells “totally natural” to most of us.  Thus, the natural claim is one of perception only.  Another interesting example involves sandalwood notes.  Some are all natural, others are entirely synthetic, and some are a combination.  Moreover, there are substances that are called sandalwood oil (derived from similar kinds of trees), but smell a bit different, to the point that some people would pay quite a bit for one type but have no interest in another.  When one claims that a scent has a natural-smelling sandalwood note, it may smell natural to him/her but nobody else.  Unless someone is willing to go into quite a bit of detail (and/or has “insider knowledge”), therefore, the natural claim should always be thought of as perceptual.  However, there are a small number of “all natural” scents (or so they claim!) and ones that include considerably less synthetics, so saying that all scents (marketed as we have come to expect) are largely synthetic (let’s say for the last 20 years) seems like another excellent example of a semi-fact.

One semi-fact is that crops up now and then is these concoctions don’t “spoil,” because there undoubtedly must be a few examples of this in modern perfumery (I have yet to encounter one “spoiled” drydown in all my “vintage hunting”).  And of course citrus top notes are subject to degradation over a relatively short period of time, though even this varies tremendously, it would seem.  A major problem here is that the people who usually make the claim, at least online, are the same kinds of people (that is, non-perfumer amateurs) who found the 100+ year old shipwreck fragrances (which were truly all natural) to be fine, whereas perfumers perceived obvious spoilage!  And as I’ve said before, whenever I asked those who made the claim to send me the bottles (stating that I was willing to pay a non-insignificant amount for them) I have received no replies or scents that seemed fine, with a bit of strangeness for the first few minutes in a couple of cases.  Thus, it appears that one is more likely to be struck by lightning on a sunny day than experience a “spoiled” drydown in a scent released over the last few decades, if not more!

There are lesser semi-facts, such as that testers are the same as the retail boxed scents (rarely, one might buy a reformulated scent after testing a “vintage” one), but my point in this post is to provoke thought about what is worth thinking about and what is not, because while one is more likely to be killed in a car accident than sitting on one’s living room sofa (though I’m sure there must be an exception or two), for instance, one doesn’t use one’s car only for necessary driving due to such statistics.  So, let’s say someone tells you that a new scent (one produced within a year’s time) smells different after he’s worn it for a month or two.  You can say, “its a semi-fact that one becomes familiar with scents after they have been exposed to the various components for at least a short while, with some seeming to be stronger or weaker, so you likely have what one might call olfactory familiarity.”

Another idea of this type is “thick description,” which I learned about while in graduate school in the 1980s:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thick_description

This notion had its critics, to be sure, and I remember at least one Professor saying something like, “that’s what many of us have been doing for years before Geertz introduced the concept!”  But sometimes a new term is very useful – for those who have not been adhering to it in particular.  As to the semi-fact, I think it’s especially useful when dealing with people who just want to argue – they tend to go off on any tangent they can dredge up, no matter how ridiculous it is in the context of the main point.  Thus, with the semi-fact, one can say to them, “you can compose a detailed argument if you like, and I’ll take a look at it when I get a chance, but as things stand I’m going to stick with the semi-facts here.  If someone wants to believe otherwise, I think it will be to his or her detriment.”

It may be that most people are quite concerned about what others think, but I think that because I entered graduate school at such a young age and the overriding notion there was to construct a strong argument, rather than to concern oneself with what “non-experts” thought, I can’t imagine “social pressure” in this context.  In our society, we largely “vote with our feet,” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t powerful interests trying to herd us in certain directions!  Reconsidering how language is used can be an important step towards trying to prevent the powerful from trying to lead us to act against our own self interest.  This is especially true when it comes to elections, with candidates trying to gets people to believe things that are ridiculous or at least disproportionate.  They will say such things because they know those who have yet to decide (or “lean” strongly towards one candidate) are usually the least knowledgeable voters, and are also least likely to do research on the issues raised (and least likely to know how to research without bias).  That’s a “semi-fact,” or is it?  Perhaps you should investigate this claim and see where your research leads you!

NOTE:  After writing the above I came across this report:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/06/21/482922838/even-a-small-meal-for-a-doctor-can-tip-the-balance-for-a-brand-name-drug

Here is one relevant excerpt:

“A ProPublica story published in March found that doctors who took payments from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries prescribed a higher proportion of brand-name medications than those who didn’t. It also found that the more money a doctor received, the higher the percentage of brand-name drugs he or she prescribed, on average.”

If this is the case for doctors, supposed “objective scientists” (or at least that’s what many seem to believe), it suggests that the more money a person spends on a scent (and perhaps how much “good publicity” he/she hears about it) the more likely it is that the person will “defend” it, ignoring facts and semi-facts that seem to diminish his or her opinion of that scent in some way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Criticizing the critics., The basics.

A rather odd review of Sauvage at Fragrantica.

I’ll first quote the entire review, because I think it is important to do so:

“First off, I would like to say that I can understand why there is so much negativity regarding this fragrance. This is one of those fragrances that took me a good amount of testing to fully understand what this fragrance has to offer.

“There is a sharpness to the scent blended nicely with some soothing notes on top. This fragrance dries down quite nicely but looses it’s sweet smoothness very quickly. Smelled at a close distance I find it almost repulsive due to it’s strong and synthetic nature- I think this is where the fragrance gets most of it’s hate. This fragrance really shines in it’s sillage. Spraying this on my brother and smelling him from a distance smelled great!

“Cons: This fragrance is very strong and will stain my clothes of an unpleasant alcohol smell. The smell is not very linear, which is fine, but the drydown tends to smell too much like a piercing synthetic alcohol musk-ish odor but what can you expect with a $90 designer fragrance.

“I would easily have paid more than twice the price had this fragrance been produced with niche quality.

“Overall 8.5/10 – Great bang for your buck here. It would be silly to expect more from a designer fragrance.”

And I’ll begin by saying that on some level it may be a very good one!  By that I mean the reviewer offers a reasonable explanation as to why some really like this scent and some really detest it (I think it’s interesting but I could never wear it, though it might be useful to me as a room spray).  The reviewer seems to think it is good for garnering compliments, but that it is repulsive if smelled close  up on the skin, though this is true of a large number of scents, so the question is, why spend $90 or thereabouts on it when there are other options?  For example, a three ounce bottle of Cuba Prestige (which is similar to A*Men but without much if any of the tar note) cost me less than $10 total., and it has excellent performance!  Wouldn’t such a scent garner compliments too?

There seems to be an interesting psycho-social element to the “Sauvage debate,” and so that’s why I’ve spent more time on a scent that I have no interest in wearing than on many others (that probably deserve more attention).  It seems to function like this; someone tries Sauvage after reading a bunch of bad reviews, then says to himself, “it’s not that bad, and I did get a compliment, so there must be a group of irrational haters out there!”  Then he goes on a site like Fragrantica and makes such points in the review section, totally ignoring some of the points made, such as what I’ve said about there being thousands of other scents to choose from at lower prices!  How is that “hate?”  Obviously, there is no other scent exactly like Sauvage, but that can be said of nearly every scent on the market too!  Even the “positive” reviews of Sauvage don’t suggest it is especially pleasant smelling, if taken as a whole (the compliment-getter argument seems to be the most common in positive reviews, and again, such people tend to totally ignore the fact that a large percentage of the online fragrance community is clearly not interested in this facet of these concoctions).

By contrast, I have no idea what people who “belong” to certain demographics are seeking when they smell a fragrance emanating from certain other people, and I’ve pointed that out on multiple occasions.  My guess is that there is a desire for “the new,” even when the new in such instances is simply the excessive use of an aroma chemical that is ubiquitous!  When I smell a fragrance on someone I don’t know or only know in a professional capacity, my thought is often, “that smells nice,” but then less than a minute later I’m thinking that it’s at least somewhat cloying.  One recommendation I’ve made to those who wear such scents is to spray it on your back and let it dry for several minutes (so that it doesn’t scent your shirt too much).  At least using this technique you will likely experience it in a way similar to those walking by you.  In any case, I actually find Sauvage to be an interesting composition, and it may smell nice if pumped into the air in a store at the local mall, for example.  I would try diluting it as well as using it as a room spray if I had enough to create different concentrations, to see if there was any way I could wear it without being irritated by it at some point.

Getting back to the review, I don’t understand why someone would think that $90 for 100 ml of such a scent is “the going rate.”  How could someone not know about ebay, discounters, and the fact that a large number of new scents are put on the market each year?  And if you do know, then you have an ethical obligation to your readers (IMO) to explain why those $10 to $20 scents at the discounters or on ebay are apparently unwearable (not to mention some of the dollar store scents, which aren’t all bad).  He ends it by saying it’s “great bang for the buck.”  Really?  Didn’t you make it sound like a terrible “bang for the buck” in your description of it?  I can understand someone not wanting to buy ambroxan and then just adding it to an existing scent he thinks is too weak to create his own version of Sauvage (or not knowing that a scent with quite a bit of ambroxan exists and is really cheap, that is Playboy’s Berlin, which I prefer) – but how can you not know that you can find scents at the discounters that are less expensive and considerably better than a “piercing synthetic alcohol musk-ish odor?”  I’d certainly prefer to wear a scent (or two, or three) that I can find at the dollar store rather than a “piercing synthetic alcohol musk-ish odor,” that’s for sure!

Then we are told that he would pay perhaps three times as much for a niche version of Sauvage, but what would that be?  Ambroxan is meant to add the complex qualities of ambergris, but to get that amount of ambergris in a scent (to replicate the strength of Sauvage) it might cost ten times as much if not more!  And if not ambergris, what do you want a hypothetical niche company to use in place of the ambroxan in Sauvage?  If you want a “niche version” of Sauvage I suggest trying Horizon, though that is more like the vintage designer version of Sauvage, considering its complexity.  But what is this person smelling in Sauvage that he would want replicated in a more “natural smelling” scent?  Notice that he did not specify one natural smell in the description!  This is yet another thing I find quite odd in this review.  Seeking a “niche version” of a nondescript smell that dries down to a “piercing synthetic alcohol musk-ish odor” doesn’t make sense to me, but perhaps it demonstrates that some people have unrealistic notions about what niche companies can accomplish.  And what about all the other designer scents selling for similar prices – why even consider buying Sauvage when you must know there are a large number of other scents available to you and released by the “major” companies?  Why settle for a “piercing synthetic alcohol musk-ish odor?”

Odd.

NOTE:  A very different kind of odd review was this Fragrantica one for Jaguar:

“Worth Buying.
7/10
Disclaimer:
I am a well versed and frequent buyer of perfumes.
Please read my comments on other perfumes before any critisism.”

What are we to make of this?  A 7/10 doesn’t sound that special, nor does the “worth buying.”  Is it worth buying for someone who is looking for something nondescript, but inexpensive?  Or is it worth buying to those who like these kinds of scents?  Or something else?  And are we supposed to read his other reviews in order to understand what his Jaguar review means?

Odder?

NOTE #2:  Some people seem to think they can call people “trolls” because they state an opinion the person doesn’t like.  This often appears to be a substitute for “hater,” perhaps because the person realizes how silly the hater claim is when it involves someone stating an opinion about an olfactory concoction (and the supposed hater isn’t even saying anything hateful!).  In fact, to know for sure if someone is trolling one would have to be a mind reader, and I’d guess that if Socrates were alive today many would call him a troll for saying the same kinds of things he said in ancient Greece!  No, you are not trolling simply because someone gets upset when he/she doesn’t agree with your opinion.  That person is the one with “the problem.”

NOTE #3:  At least one person has questioned the prices at which I obtain fragrances, yet all one needs to do is to go to sites like ScentedMonkey once in a while or take a quick look on ebay a few times a day!  My advice: wait for the deals to come to you, so to speak.  Unfortunately, too many seem to buy in an impulsive way, but that’s not my fault!  I think many simply don’t have a good understanding of the psychological components involved with these kinds of purchases.  A good example is Eau de Iceberg Amber for Men, which I have written about here, on Basenotes.net, and at Fragrantica.  It is like a light version of Ambre Sultan but with a rum note and a bit of ambroxan added (the Sandalwood one is the same price, still available, and quite good as well).  More than a month after I began writing about it, it’s still less than $9 for 100 ml at ScentedMonkey!  I think for such people one should simply reference the old saying about the “gift horse’s” mouth.

UPDATE:  One blogger seems to disagree with everything I’ve had to say above, which is fine.  That’s a major reason for blogs to exist, that is, to state one’s opinion.  I am confident in my opinions, though I’m certainly not always correct, but what’s interesting to me is that some people seem to want to argue what one might call “semi-facts.”  I’ll address this one passage in particular:

“This suggests that Dior Sauvage enthusiasts are possibly unaware of the existence of eBay, discount grey market sites, and the ever-rising tide of new perfumes that flood our shores each season, which is not a very realistic comment, in my opinion. But he continues to be hung up on price, price, price. He thinks it’s absurd that anyone would accept Dior’s asking price for Sauvage, at what he contends is $90 (I’ve seen it for $85 here in Connecticut, and can’t comment on the rate elsewhere). ”

First note that I say things like “$90 or so,” which is based upon what I’ve seen (I haven’t been to a dept. store or a Sephora in years, for example).  That is a “semi-fact” at this point in time – you are not going to pay much less for the 100 ml Sauvage EdT bottle, unless your friend gives you a bottle, you get it as a gift, or perhaps you are “lucky” to obtain one on ebay for a “good” price.  I just checked ebay and a 100 ml bottle described as 70% full sold for $59.97 on June 20, 2016, for example.  Since my past comments have been mostly about Sauvage reviews in the early days of its release, why would anyone question the pricing (and it’s still “more or less” true today!)?  On more than one occasion, I’ve pointed to Playboy’s Berlin as a scent that one might compare to Sauvage on certain levels, the price for that one being less than $10 for 100 (in multiple places at different times, though I haven’t checked in a while because I already have a bottle; the difference in price here is huge, so it wouldn’t matter if Sauvage was selling for $70, as it would still be seven times “or so” more than Berlin!).

The many online reviews and posts that include statements like, “I just picked up a bottle of this great scent” must mean that these people paid full retail price or close to it.  That may not be a fact the way the spherical shape of the earth is, but I think most would agree it isn’t too far from it!  And what about all the other scents at the dept. stores?  Some of us, myself included, prefer the Mugler A*Men type of scent to the “fresh” and IMO “chemical” scents like Sauvage.  Why do so many write reviews of Savuage that make it seem like the choice is between Sauvage and a $300 “or so” niche scent?  They never seem to explain why they do this!  But I’m just pointing this out in the hopes that some of them will change their ways and be more specific.  Moreover,  I’m not the one “hung up on price,” but instead I was responding to reviewers who were saying things like, “you can’t expect more than this from a designer fragrance these days.”

A point that I made quite a while ago (and have kept making) is that these are just smells.  One might prefer a dollar store scent to the most expensive niche!  I wrote these things to try and inform people that there are plenty of great deals out there (even if you don’t go to yard sales!), if you just do some research and then go to the major sites every once in a while (my best deals in recent years have come from ebay, ScentedMonkey, and Amazon, in that order).  But of course they don’t have to listen to me – how many of them have read anything I’ve written on the subject?  I’m simply pointing some things out, which are either undeniably facts or probably should be regarded as such (“semi-facts”).  In a sense, it’s good when someone comes along and makes a terrible argument, because that can be used as “training wheels” for those who are beginning to think more and more critically about assumptions many hold (such as going to a dept. store to buy a “quality” fragrance).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clarification on my last post.

After publishing the last post, I created a new thread at Basenotes.net on the subject:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/423326-Was-quot-niche-quot-a-passing-fad?p=3857414#post3857414

I was surprised that some didn’t seem to understand my point, even though I used an obvious example, which I want to mention here.  I don’t think claims about niche being “dead” make sense – perhaps the best way of phrasing it is that a “bifurcation” has occurred, with the well-to-do continuing to buy at high prices while many of us who are concerned with our budget scour ebay for great deals (such as when 75 ml bottles of scents by Cereus were selling for $10-15 not long ago), or try to swap in order to acquire niche bottles we think we might like.  And then there are the “niche samplers,” who may hardly ever buy a bottle, so it doesn’t really matter to them (since samples are not expensive or free in many cases).

As one reviewer of Perry Ellis Oud: Black Vanilla Absolute said on the Basenotes site:

“I won’t lie though…I’m almost embarrassed to tell people I’m wearing Perry Ellis…lol…and when I do, I wonder if they feel embarrassed that they wanted to know about a Perry Ellis scent. lmao…First Dunhill Icon and Now Perry Ellis…I wonder when Liz Claiborne will be dropping a Gem. lol…I hope these amazing releases from once overlooked brands pushes the creativity of more respectable houses that have gone the generic route.”

It seems that what’s mostly happening is that the”respectable houses” save their supposedly more niche/artistic formulations for their exclusive lines, while continuing to release uninspired/generic/”chemical” scents in their “mainstream” lines.  This has opened up an opportunity for the “lesser houses” to release “clones” of the most popular niche/exclusive scents.  Of course, well before this, plenty of “lesser houses” released “clones” of the most popular scents, though rarely were these priced very high, at least by the time most of the public saw them available for sale.  But if we think of the popularity of PEO:BVA (despite so many claims that it’s weak), the question I asked in the last post seems crucial:  in this case we could phrase it as, how many vanilla and alcoholic beverage type scents does one person want?  Now at $5 per 50 or 100 ml, most of us can become at least temporary hoarders, at some point deciding to give some away, sell them in lots on ebay or Craigslist, etc., but at $100-200 per bottle  bottle, most of us might back off and reassess what we are doing!

When there was a huge amount of hype for a small number of niche scents at sites like Basenotes, most of us were not concerned about cost (which in some cases was considerably less several years ago), and some bought “splits,” but now, after many of us have acquired bottles of these scents, one wonders how there can be so many niche and exclusive bottles released, year after year, without a significant change to the process.  Perhaps those hundreds of Cereus bottles on ebay at “drug store dreck” prices are all we needed to know.  And one key point of mine here is that people like Michael Edwards are probably never going to bring up such facts, as these would contradict the notion of specialness; how can someone who speaks glowingly about how great it would be for a niche house to release a “modernized” Old Spice then talk about how if you wait you might be able to get a bottle that now sells for $150 or so for around $15?

Such people speak as if the prices are irrelevant (did he even mention prices in that lecture I cited in the last post?).  But if I already have a dozen leather scents, of various types, why wouldn’t I wait to see if I can get it for 10% of its current retail prices?  Why should I be impetuous (don’t the English tend to really dislike that quality)?  And if he is only speaking to those who are wealthy, why not bring up this point?  Why not say, I realize how expensive these olfactory concoctions have become, so for those of you who want to save a bit for retirement rather than hoarding these bottles, I suggest buying samples and obtaining as many free samples as is reasonably possible?  Is it because that will then shine a light on the prices?  Has niche become like the restaurant that doesn’t list prices on the menus?  I certainly haven’t seen evidence that the most expensive scents are worth anywhere near the retail prices, relative to what else is available (vintage and “niche clones” like PEO:BVA in particular), but again I don’t ever expect people like Mr. Edwards to address this!

Below I have copied and pasted some points I made on that Basenotes thread I created on this topic:

“This post is not meant to be a complaint, because I have been able to obtain more than a few niche bottles through swapping. Rather, I am arguing that this is in some ways similar to ‘fine art.’ Most people don’t own any and don’t even go to see it at museums. It’s been called ‘welfare for the wealthy,’ and just like with fragrances if you are interested and not rich you can still “get in on the game” on a lower level than your super-rich fellow humans. But when we hear people like Edwards speak, I think we should keep in mind the realities that exist for most of us, and how he never seems to address those points.”

“I think the ‘talking past each other’ issue comes up because people become entrenched in a position during a ‘debate’ (formal or informal) and don’t clarity/refine what they are trying to communicate. In this case, let me say that I wouldn’t be surprised if more niche and exclusive bottles are produced in 2016 than had been in 2015, and then more in 2017 than in 2016. That’s not my point. I wouldn’t be surprised if wealthy individuals continue or start to essentially warehouse niche bottles (as our hednic apparently does!), but what about the rest of what one might call informed fragrance buyers? Perhaps 20 years ago, golf had become very popular. I was introduced to the game perhaps 10 years before that, and was surprised at how those who had no experience with the game would go out and buy the most expensive clubs they could find, and I’m sure some of them are still playing today. But most seem to have come and gone rather quickly, and there was at least one local course that was built during that time and then later bulldozed in favor of a condominium community.

“The ‘niche samplers’ may have been the ‘canaries in the coal mine’ in this context. They came, they sniffed, they experienced disappointment, then most left, it seems. Yes, as I already said above, most of us can buy a bunch of samples and then choose perhaps one or two bottles to buy each year, if not more, but that is not what the experts are saying. They are acting like dozens if not hundreds are worthy of purchase as full bottles, and that is not realistic, other than for the wealthy. And then add to that the number of niche/exclusive bottles being put up on retail shelves each year versus how many were back in the golden age of the niche samplers! Sure, this situation may continue for quite some time, but my guess is we will be seeing more niche bottles selling for what those Cereus ones recently sold for on ebay, and that is not something I think these experts are ever going to mention. Why? Isn’t it likely that they don’t want to scare off their wealthy ‘followers’/fans? Nobody wants to be the victim of an Emperor’s New Clothes situation, and isn’t that how many will feel if they start to see a bottle they paid $150 for selling for less than $15 total on ebay?”

On that BN thread, someone commented:

“What we thought of as niche is being drowned by a lot of ‘me too’ scents trying to cash in on the lux market, but I think there are still great and novel scents in among the dross. With the sheer volume of scents, both designer and niche, it can’t be helped that most are crap, but there’s still good stuff going on in there.”

And my point would be that you won’t find many “experts” saying this sort of thing (Luca Turin may be an exception in this context)!  Moreover, as to the claim that I am suggesting that niche is going to “die” soon, I said this:

“It’s certainly not ‘dead,’ especially with the wealthy! And more people might be brought in for a while, at least, but I think what I perceived to be the ‘niche sampler’ disappointment phenomenon is also going to grow. But given the human sense of smell, the ‘quality’ of some very cheap scents, the number of niche/exclusive bottles on the market, the excess sometimes being sold for a pittance on ebay, and the hype and glowing reviews for so many new niche releases, I’m questioning the fad qualities. I’m guessing one can still buy a ‘pet rock’ these days, but how many people do?”

Over at the NST blog there was a recent post about the growth of niche, with one person chiming in with a similar sentiment:

“Although i think that the problem is not exactly the staggering number of launches. It’s a system of distribution and consumer experience that doesn’t fit it anymore. You have difficulty filtering from those volume of fragrances which ones suits you better. And this creates a stressful situation in my opinion…”

My comment there included the following:

“…I’m more critical of ‘experts’ who talk as if us non-wealthy can afford to buy a bunch of niche bottles at retail prices. And they never seem to talk about or review the ‘cheapos’ that are similar to popular niche or exclusive scents! Anyone want to guess why that is? Not long ago you could get 75 ml new bottles of several Cereus scents for $10-15 on ebay (I bought a few), total! That may be a mere sliver of what we will soon see, but I guess we should be glad (those of us with a little patience, and some time to head over to ebay once in a while). To me, and it seems to many others, the notion of niche as special (and warranting high prices) is eroding, the ‘cheapo clones’ only being one reason, IMO.”

 

 

 

 

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Was niche a passing fad ?

First, what is niche?  One way to think of the current situation is that “mainstream” scents have been “product tested” to appeal to a certain demographic, often young adults, with the idea to maximize sales, obviously.  Niche scents are supposed to do the opposite, that is, to appeal to a smaller demographic that is seeking novelty (relative to the mainstream fashion of the time), for whatever reason.  It used to be that a major difference involved complex blending (designer) versus simpler composition that focus on a note or accord (niche), with “lesser” brands and “drug store” scents mostly being cheap copies of designer scents.  Now things are a lot less clear, with so many designer scents being “chemical mess” irritants and quite a bit of niche being rather uninspiring (too many ham-fisted compositions, for instance), at least to me.  However, an obvious question is, should we blame anyone?  Isn’t it possible that these developments are largely due to the human sense of smell.

For example, if a niche company created a scent that featured strong notes of ketchup and vanilla ice cream, would you want to wear it?  Would it make you feel like vomiting?  On the other hand, many people enjoy “tobacco scents,” and these come in quite a bit varieties (fresh, leafy, cherry pipe tobacco, wet/earthy, etc.).  If you are a person who even knows about niche (and tobacco scents) you may already have a few.  At that point you may want to sample some tobacco scents that some anonymous internet people claim is the “Holy Grail tobacco scent.”  However, there may come a time when you say to yourself, “that’s it, I’m not interested in any more tobacco scents!”  And it may be that for many people this has occurred within the last few years, due to how the internet has led to a huge number of people wanting to know an awful lot about these kinds of olfactory concoctions (at least relative to the per-internet and early internet days), so that we are now approaching or at a point where these companies (niche or mainstream) think there is much more demand than there actually is, or soon will be, and so they ramp up production.  Read about the Great Depression and see how that combination turned out!

One interesting thing I’ve noticed in my swapping adventures, which began in early 2008, is that niche is often under-valued by those willing to “blind swap,” while vintage tends to be over-valued.  And with vintage, you can often get an excellent deal on ebay if you have patience, which is rarely the case with a niche scent you happen to be seeking (sometimes the scent doesn’t appear on ebay at all, even after a few years!).  However, if the niche scent received quite a bit of “hype,” it should be a lot easier to re-swap or even sell at a fairly high price (I’ve found this to be true for most Creeds I’ve owned, for example).  This has led me to be very careful about swapping for lesser-known niche scents, which may be difficult to re-swap or sell at any kind of reasonable price.  My sense is that this phenomenon is related to the development of a fan base.  With designer, that often occurs because there is so much more visibility (ads, department store counter testers, word of mouth from friends, etc.), so that niche requires something more than a few good reviews on Fragrantica or Basenotes in order to make it intriguing enough to want to buy it or even swap for it.

Now, on to the title’s question!  At least some of the recent interest in questioning niche stems from Michael Edwards’ Esxence lecture, which you can find here:

Edwards is certainly not without his critics, for example:

“His suggestions that perfume be mated to products, that flankers are good, and that Giorgio was the first true niche phenomenon gave me pause in considering Edwards a credible authority on the subject…

…when it comes to following advice, if you’re in the business of starting a niche perfumery, I suggest you ignore the wisdom of Mr. Edwards. His suggestions are in no way advantageous to heed.”

Source:  https://frompyrgos.blogspot.com/2016/05/niche-is-broken-concept-how-to-fix-it.html

And in an indirect way, there was this criticism from a long-time and well-respected member of Basenotes.net had this to say about Esxence 2016:

“My perfumedealing friend recently described to me vividly how it was nearly impossible to find any interesting fragrances at the last Exsense Milano. Instead one was tortured by clouds of ambroxan and cashmeran dominating a market geared at throwing trash in expensive looking bottles at rich Arabs an oligarchs who buy Amouage etc. in hundresd of bottles per shopping spree.

I picked up bottles of PUIG-owned L’Artisan today at the TJMaxx leftovers bin for € 18 – which is more than their downformulated discounter-drugstore content is worth, chemical waste that sadly and insultingly still bears the signagure of Giacobetti and Duchaufour although its the work of accountants. Mechant Loup and Passage d’Enfer, to hellrides indeed in this perverted from. $2 shamnpoo smells classier.

Niche is now a marketing ploy by big corporations, aesthetic hope lies only with a scatttering of independent houses and one-person artisan joints.”

Source:  http://www.basenotes.net/threads/422808-Niche-is-dead

I consider this a criticism of Edwards because he has the opposite belief, and in the lecture cited above he talks about how great it would be if Tom Ford “reworked” scents like Old Spice, for example.  But doesn’t Old Spice still exist?  And aren’t there already a whole bunch of scents that one could argue are “modernized” versions of Old Spice (some released by niche companies!)?  I had no problem buying Early American Old Spice at a low price, which is clearly “vintage” in terms of “quality,” and I see there are still some on ebay at low prices.  Why would I want a simpler and much more expensive version of this?  Does that make any sense?

Yes, it probably does, if you have so much money you can’t spend it quickly enough and you want to be fashionable.  How many of those who attended Esxence and bought at least one niche or designer exclusive bottle would you guess this description applies to?  The “dirty little secret ” people like Edwards likely will never bring up in a lecture of the kind cited above is that most people who are fragrance aficionados/hobbyists cannot warehouse niche bottles the way Imelda Marcos did with her shoes!  The other obvious point is that not all of us want more than a thousand bottles of these concoctions in our home (when non-wealthy people do this, others tend to call us “hoarders”).  Even if these thousand are all 50 ml each, how many lifetimes does one need to use up say 90% of each one?  So, are we non-wealthy supposed to buy bottles at let’s say $150 each and then sell them on ebay for $40 on average a year later?  Seriously, what are the practical implications of these kinds of statements made by people like Edwards?  Should I throw out my “old” Early American Old Spice and replace it with something that is Old Spice “reworked” for $150 or so?  Is he going to pay for it?  And what happens if I like EAOS better?  It seems like he is assuming we are going to sample over a thousand scents each year, but if we do, we won’t have time for the ones we already own!  If he is only talking to perhaps ten thousand people in the entire world, practically-speaking, shouldn’t he make this clear?

And this leads me to my main point, which is that I doubt niche can go much further for people like myself.  Yes, the “industry” (meaning the designer exclusive lines and niche proper) might generate a few more olfactory Imelda Marcos types but there is still something called supply and demand in this context, isn’t there?  More than a few years ago there was a lot more excitement at Basenotes for niche, to the point that I called several members “niche samplers.”  They never seemed to buy niche bottles but they really seemed to enjoy sampling niche and writing up reviews or posts about them.  To me, that is the best niche can hope for, other than something like what a company such as  Creed has done, which is to successfully target those who want “signature scents” or a small rotation (they definitely don’t want a scent that smells like leathery tobacco-infused turnips, let alone something like Secretions Magnifiques) of pleasant but at least somewhat unique scents.  Where did those niche samplers go?  My sense was that they were looking for something that can’t exist, at least until humans develop or perhaps genetically-engineer a different sense of smell.  If you’ve sampled a dozen or more “leather scents” and are still sampling new ones, isn’t there a point where you are highly likely to be disappointed nearly all the time?

In the short term, there may be money to be made, for sure, and if I owned a niche company and could find a buyer for it, so that I could “cash out” that’s what I would do now (some have already been sold to major “mainstream” companies), since a whole lot of consolidation might be coming soon!  Now it may be that there is so much profit margin for many niche companies that the “show” will go on for quite some time, but the idea that aficionados want a “reworked” (and very expensive) Old Spice, Brut, Shalimar, etc., especially at niche price points and with the current adherence to IFRA restrictions, is laughable to me.  I wouldn’t be surprised if most wealthy people want to be told what is “in” before making a fragrance purchase (and they may think that we aficionados are “weirdos,” and that normal rich people should simply follow the advice of people like Edwards), and probably don’t want to “vintage hunt;” they may even believe that vintage scents contain harmful ingredients that will cause serious damage to their skin (or have all “spoiled,” perhaps largely due to what “experts” with conflicts of interest tell them)!  So, when people like Edwards talk, remember that they may not be talking to people like you, so to speak.  He isn’t speaking for me, that’s for sure.

NOTE:  These are the notes to Old Spice, taken from Fragrantica:

“Top notes are nutmeg, lemon, orange, star anise and aldehydes; middle notes are carnation, jasmine, geranium, cinnamon, heliotrope and pimento; base notes are ambergris, benzoin, cedar, vanilla, tonka bean and musk.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Perry Ellis Oud: Black Vanilla Absolute is (was) back!

And why would anyone think it was gone forever?  That may not be the key question, because unlike other collectibles markets, these olfactory concoction bottles represent something else as well, that is, a kind of “upscale” personal care product (one that gets used up over time).  So, while it may have strong similarities to most other collectibles markets, it also exhibits some unique qualities.   For example, some scents produced not long ago may be cheaper today to produce, but there are the IFRA regulations that may make that impossible now (at least for the major companies).  One can argue that the biggest companies may have worked “behind the scenes” to accomplish this, because they want to produce cheaper scents, but I don’t think that is clearly the case at this point (if so, please disclose your evidence!).

For me, the key question is, why is this scent considered something special?  Now to be clear here, I rarely think a scent is special in the context of what I already own, which is why I was very pleasantly surprised by Dolcelisir by L`Erbolario, a great gourmand that possesses enough balance not to become cloying.  And I had fairly high expectations when I decided to “blind swap” for it, which is rarely the case.  Other than already possessing quite a few gourmands, I read complaints about the longevity of PEO:BVA, so I did not buy it when I had the opportunity the other day.  However, I do think I might acquire it in a swap, especially if and when enough bottles are produced to meet demand (at a price of say $50 or less at the major discounters).  Another fragrance blogger has some very different ideas.  One statement he made recently is:

“…most people have never heard of this fragrance…”

I don’t see this as an issue because nobody I know has heard of many fragrances, including nearly all by Chanel that don’t include numbers!  What appears to have happened here is that a fan base built up quickly for this one, and then there are those who want to grab a bottle at around $50 or less, even if they just want to resell it quickly.  The people who released this scent couldn’t have predicted that this one would be the “blockbuster,” but then again we have no idea how many bottles were produced.  It is certainly possible that the fan base isn’t that large – and the company may now want to release it in small numbers to keep the prices high, though it’s also possible that they have a protocol and they follow it no matter what the sales are.  This blogger then says something I find rather strange, especially in light of the recent success of Sauvage:

“The problem with OBVA is that it’s a Perry Ellis fragrance. Quality-wise, this brand might, when standing on its tippy-toes, brush the Chanel Allure line, and just barely at that.”

First, I consider the initial “masculine” PE scent to be outstanding, but of course times have changed.  On the other hand, this was PE’s attempt at an “exclusive line,” so if they just threw a lot of vanillin and “the usual” masculine “suspects” together, it might have come across something one would find in a Cuba scent.  Then again, Cuba Prestige is an excellent A*Men-like scent!  Things get awfully complicated quickly when trying to get answers to such questions, especially when you add plenty of speculation into the mix (or write as if something must be the case that you cannot verify!).  But after the “ambroxan-overload” Sauvage , why shouldn’t we expect similar things from “lesser” companies?  They might skimp a bit on the aroma chemicals to save a few pennies, but my sense lately is that the main differences involve how much time is spent on “tweaking” the formulation, assuming the perfumers are of roughly equal competency (which may not be the case, for all I know).

The nature of “hype” in this context is also worthy of mention here, as I did my best to describe Amber for Men by Iceberg, pointing out similarities to Ambre Sultan (though Amber also has a rum note!), but I still see it on Scentedmonkey, for example, at $8.73 for 100 mls.  And I’ve been told by people, now and then, that they’ve made some purchases based upon my recommendations and were very pleased.  But again, we simply have very limited information.  For all we know, for example, there may have been 100 times the number of Amber bottles produced relative to PEO:BVA!  The rum and vanilla combination seems like it would get cloying to me, and I have yet to read a review of PEO:BVA that suggests there is enough contrast for my tastes (unlike in Amber, where there is contrast with an herbal note and a hint of the marine-like quality of ambroxan).  Now as to :

“Who Pays Over $50 For This? (Hint: Nobody.)”

Two people did recently, about $100 total per bottle (see ebay item number 381628715126).  Presumably, this was prior to the temporary restocking, but it’s out of stock again, and people spend money on all kinds of “frivolous” things every moment of the day – to me $50 per 100 ml is rather questionable.  I only do it once in a long while when I think the bottle will not lose value and may be something special.  For me, PEO:BVA doesn’t seem like something I should pursue because I can imagine getting a bottle on ebay for $25 a year or two from now, and also because I doubt I’d find it better (or unique enough) than the gourmands I already possess.  I find HM by Hanae Mori to be a unique gourmand, for example, but I don’t wear it because I simply don’t like the composition!  With PEO:BVA I don’t think the composition will be unique enough and also pleasant.  If it were around $10, like Amber, then I would be too tempted to see what it’s like, but otherwise, I don’t feel at all deprived, and that is where I want to end this blog post: perhaps what is mostly driving the sales is that most buyers don’t want to feel that they let something “great” pass them by, so to speak.

NOTE:  My referencing of ebay item number 381628715126 has been called into question so I’ll include a screen shot below.  From what I understand this means that at least one bottle was purchased for $99.95 on May twelfth of this year.  When I clicked on the link to the auction page, it showed that two were purchased, so I assumed this meant both were purchased at this price.  Now considering what the listed prices on ebay have been over the last few months for PEO:BVA, as well as how ebay’s sold items search only goes back a short period of time, I have little doubt that both sold at that price, but if anyone can explain why this is unlikely please leave a comment here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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