Thoughts about Cool Water and “vision quests.”

After thinking about Cool Water much more than any human probably should, it dawned on me that such an overly complex, muddled composition should never have become so popular, or is that the formula for success? There are major note clashes here, along with several “old” notes that one wouldn’t expect to be popular among the young (rosemary, geranium, lavender, jasmine, neroli, and tobacco). And it’s not like these are just a perfumer’s imagination; these notes are clearly present, though of what quality I’ll let others decide.

My answer, beyond it smelling different from the typical “men’s” fragrances of that time, is that few can smell the notes, but instead just get some sort of general impression from the fragrances they wear. There is one reviewer at basenotes.net who often says that a fragrance smells “fresh and warm.” If a fragrance did smell this way, it would smell terrible, but when most people read that, I’m sure they immediately think pleasant thoughts. To be clear, there are fragrances that smell fresh, then warm, but fresh and warm at the same time is a recipe for nausea, which is likely why there are so few, if any fragrances that possess this quality (I can’t think of any).

Instead, it seems like anything that smells different, in some significant way, has a chance to become “the next big thing” in perfumery. I think this is why “transparency” became popular, along with the use of iso e super. These days, several fragrances seem to start out with powerful synthetic musks. I find this horrendous, but many seem to think it smells wonderful (as many do about iso e super). What can I say to that? I certainly don’t want to insult anyone, and these fragrances often have appeal among the general public. However, I am willing to risk being called a “fragrance snob” because I am interested in speaking to those who want to experience what I do with fragrances (or at least some fragrances).

It all started one day, perhaps two or two and half years ago, when I began to smell great richness and depth in certain fragrances. It’s like there was a kind of olfactory three-dimensional burst of diverse elements that somehow worked together and smelled like nothing else in the world. Mostly, as you might have guessed, I perceived this in vintage fragrances (especially of the 1980s). I don’t know if this is something that can happen for everyone or if you have to do what I did, which was to wear a different fragrance each day. Some were decades old while others were recent. This doesn’t mean I won’t wear any recent releases, but that I get limited richness or depth from them. I like variety so I usually wear these kinds of fragrances when I know I won’t have a lot of time that day to pay much attention to them.

If you aren’t aware of the concept of a vision quest, please look it up at wikipedia. That is what fragrances have been for me (not literally, of course). It’s not the first one in my life, and I hope it won’t be the last, but I think that if you understand this concept, you will be able to maximize your enjoyment of fragrances. At first, back in late 2007, I realized how little I knew and understood about fragrances, but something was calling out to me. I read through a great deal of fragrance information online and I knew that I must have been missing an olfactory wonderland. I decided to take my time and let things develop, without trying to “force it” in any way. On basenotes.net and other sites, I read things that make me think some are trying to do just that, jumping into expensive niche fragrances that to me are a kind of “step backward.”

The reason is that these fragrances often emphasize certain notes or accords, creating an unbalanced effect, and they also tend to be simple. It seems like many buy such fragrances, expect the fragrance to “do the work” for them, and then become discouraged because they get bored of it after a few months (or less). How many threads at basenotes echo this sentiment in one way or another (if not directly)? Fragrances are not like audio equipment; you can’t just go to a store and buy “the best.” In a recent thread there in which a person said he was bored with the dozen or so designer fragrances he possessed (a fairly diverse group, actually). He apparently got angry with my response, and called me a “troll.” I then suggested doing a lot or sampling. However, as I’ve learned, there can be a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Later, he posted that he just tried Dior Homme and found what he was seeking. He seemed to be totally unaware of the possibility that he was just “repeating history.” Couldn’t he ask himself how he felt about the other dozen fragrances he already had (which came to bore him)? I’ll bet it was exactly the same way he currently feels about Dior Homme, though not everyone can be honest with themselves, it seems. For me, Dior Homme is quite interesting for a couple of hours, but the base has a simplistic, creamy quality. However, it’s certainly true that I had to wear it a few times to “get a handle on it.” So, what kind of fragrance person are you, or do you want to be? I think what you can attain is related to your ability or willingness to allow your mind to “wire itself up” for fragrances, which is something that I’m guessing takes months, at the very least. Not everyone is going to put in the time and effort, but I can tell you that I definitely think it is worth it, and it’s a “fun ride” while you are getting there !

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