What’s all the fuss about Creed ?

By fuss, I mean a number of things.  First, I have no idea if whoever is in charge of marketing at Creed believes that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  What does seem clear is that someone in a high position there wants as many people to believe that many famous historical figures and celebrities have worn or currently wear at least one of their fragrances.  Unfortunately, they don’t seem as interested in presenting strong (if any) evidence to support their claims.  This being the case, I would rather turn my attention to what those who don’t appear to be employed by Creed think.  For example, this is something you will find on the internet these days:  “Creed’s Green Irish Tweed is the fragrance favored by Cary Grant…” 

http://leisureguy.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/creeds-green-irish-tweed-3

From what I understand about perfumery, this is simply impossible (some of the chemicals having not been invented yet).  And having now sampled quite a few  fragrances from at least the 1950s to the present, I laugh at the idea that Green Irish Tweed was available back then (presumably, many people believe Grant wore it when he was still “in his prime”).  One question that comes to mind is, who cares, beyond those who want to “right the historical record?”  Does being rich, famous, or of royal blood magically endow you with “good taste?”  Or do people who wear these fragrances enjoy telling everyone who will listen that so-and-so wore the fragrance they are wearing?  My guess is that this is just a small percentage of “Creed defenders.”

Who are the Creed defenders?”  You can read what they have to say over at basenotes.net (just use the search feature).  Some of them want to defend the historical claims, apparently not realizing how academic history is conducted.  Those making claims must put forth strong evidence, and subject themselves to the scrutiny of the historical experts in the field in question.  To my knowledge, Creed has shown little interest in doing anything more than making several highly unlikely claims.  However, I don’t understand why this is an issue, because the entire industry is laden with all kinds of nonsensical claims.

Personally, I find Creed’s historical claims to be a kind of inside joke, almost as if they are saying to other fragrance companies, “see if you can top this heaping load of BS!”  My guess is that when some people spend a couple of hundred dollars on one “regular” size bottle of a fragrance, they feel that any criticism of the company who made it is a criticism of their intelligence.  I don’t know what I can say to such people, mainly because I am not an expert in helping people with low self-esteem, which is what I think may be involved here.

On the other hand, the Creed detractors seem to feel that they were “ripped off.”  If the majestic claims were not present, would they still feel that way?  This may be the most interesting question.  Perhaps it’s like proverbial salt rubbed into wounds.  Some of these people may have not done much “due diligence” before buying Creed bottles, whereas for me there needs to be a reason to buy a fragrance for $200 when I can get the same size bottle of another fragrance at the dollar store.

I’m the kind of person who needs to understand something before I spend a lot of money on it.  Over the years, I acquired many Creed samples and four bottles.  Of course, my understanding of fragrances has developed over this period, and so I have to assume my memory is reasonably good.  Overall, I find Creed’s fragrances to be a bit simpler than I prefer.  They don’t compare well against the great vintage designer fragrances, for example.  Ingredient quality seems high in many of their fragrances, but this is also true for many niche fragrances that I was fortunate to acquire at low prices (and it’s true for the great designer ones).

Luca Turin has said that Creed is good at traditional scents, presumably meaning fragrances like colognes and “masculine” woody orientals.  What does Creed really offer the fragrance aficionado?  To me, they are a “one stop shop” for those who want niche quality without having to do much thinking about fragrances, something that I can understand.  The only “problem” for me here is that this is not like buying a car.  When you are interesting in doing that, there are many resources available which allow you to consider how one car “performs” relative to your other choices.

Unfortunately, in my opinion Luca Turin made this situation worse by appearing to have a bias against Creed when he wrote his book (with Tania Sanchez), “Perfumes: The Guide.”  There was no book like it up to that point (in English), and Turin had an opportunity to explain to readers that if they wanted to put the time into doing some research they could find themselves fragrances that were at least as “good,” but cost less.  Before doing that, perhaps he could have done a better job of explaining why he liked certain fragrances and disliked others.

For example, I’ve found that clearly “derivative” fragrances may be great (Joint for Men is an example, in my opinion), and even considerably better than the “original.”  Should I wear the “original,” even though I really dislike it, because of some sense of obligation to “originality?”  If he had explained these kinds of things (or done it more effectively), readers would realize that at least some Creeds may be very good (or great for some people) but that there are many other options available to them, often at very low prices.  Instead, he wrote up excellent reviews for some “drug store quality” fragrances (like Aspen), which leads the moderately well-informed reader to scratch his or her head, I’d guess.

Buying one Creed fragrances costs a lot less than the price of a new “economy” car, but it seems that quite a few people have purchased many Creed fragrances, in some cases buying a bunch of “backup bottles” of the same fragrance.  This is when the non-biased person must question whether there is an “addictive” quality involved, one that leads many to think that only Creed can supply a certain kind of olfactory experience.  My thought is that this is true for many facets of life in “modern” society, and if one wants to try and make some headway against it, that’s noble, but it’s not likely to change significantly any time soon.  Clearly, if you don’t want to be a victim of hype, you can ask someone to help you set up a blind sampling of similar-smelling fragrances.  No need to put as much thought into this subject as I have here, wasting quite a bit of time !

Postscript: The “Cool Water vs. Green Irish Tweed debate.” There are many such threaeds on basenotes.net arguing about this. To me, it can be summed up concisely: is GIT worth the much higher price tag or is CW “good enough?” I found CW to be too busy, almost confused, with irritating clashes of notes. GIT is fairly good overall, and so for me it’s the difference between an unwearable fragrance versus a wearable one. However, I haven’t found CW to be a “synthetic mess” either (I can’t speak to reformulations of either fragrance, because I haven’t done enough research to even speculate about this possibility).

One thing that is rarely mentioned, though, is that there are a huge number of similar fragrances (a popular one is Nightfilght by Joop!). Why should anyone care about CW or GIT if there is a fragrance that is better than both of them? To me this is an obvious question, but it doesn’t seem to dawn on many others. My favorite of this type is Molto Smalto, and the reasons are that is doesn’t have the clashing notes of CW, but it does possess a nicely-rendered sandalwood note in the base. It’s also natural-smelling and well-balanced, with reasonable dynamism. By contrast, I don’t find GIT’s base to be particularly interesting. But as I said above, have a friend set up a blind sampling and decide for yourself, if you want to at least try and be objective.

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3 Comments

Filed under Criticizing the critics.

3 responses to “What’s all the fuss about Creed ?

  1. Ordinarily I don’t understand document on blogs and forums, nonetheless would wish to declare that the following write-up quite obligated my family to take a look from along with do it! Your own way of writing has been amazed myself. Thanks a lot, extremely terrific write-up.

  2. Jenny logan

    Creeds claims are so obviously bogus, it is not worth mention, but the reason for them is obvious. The public at large loves to buy into the celebrity myth, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly etc. I am surprised they did not mention Groucho Marx or Laurel and Hardy !

    • It may be that some or most of the claims were made before the internet became what it is today, and so there wasn’t any major avenue for criticism. It’s also possible that the idea was based upon the “no publicity is bad publicity” notion, and if so, that seems to have been successful. When I wrote this post, it may be that I should have emphasized the fact that not everyone devotes nearly as much time as I do researching fragrances, and so Creed offers “one stop shopping” at prices that aren’t that much higher than what one would pay for an Armani, Gucci, etc. scent at the local department store, but that at least seem to be “of higher quality.” This may be quite appealing to a lot of people even though it isn’t too me (and I don’t pay retail for the Armani, Gucci, etc. offerings either). Thanks for the input !

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