“Niche quality ingredients,” Part 2.

I didn’t think there would be a “part 2” on this topic, but one point I thought I should have made in my last post, which I realized hours after writing it, is that some people might say “niche quality ingredients” when they really mean something like “stronger and better quality ingredients than one usually finds in designer scents.” The reason why I think this is important to mention is that some “naturals” are not that expensive, and so it seems designer scents sometimes do contain “high quality ingredients” even though they are used lightly relative to many similar niche scents. To be sure, there may be higher quality vetiver and patchouli one can buy, for instance, but even lesser quality naturals are usually better than going with synthetics if the composition is good, at least in most cases (in my experience).

Coincidentally, after I wrote up the previous post, I decided to test out two formulations of Obsession Night for Men that I now own (for reasons entirely unrelated to this subject). One is made by Calvin Klein Cosmetics while the other is by Coty. I first acquired the CKC bottle and liked it, but then I acquired the Coty one and thought that my sensibilities had changed and that it was too “synthetic” for me. After reading a review about it over at Fragrantica.com I thought I should check to see if my two bottles were made by the same company. If not, a “side by side” test was in order, considering the differences I’ve detected in Coty reformulations in recent months (Voyage by Nautica and Cool Water in particular).

I tried the CKC one first, and was surprised at how much I was enjoying it. The notes are (from Fragrantica):

“Top notes are artemisia, grapefruit, pear and cardamom; middle notes are nutmeg and musk; base notes are patchouli, vanilla and vetiver.”

After sampling this one, I wrote up this review of it at Fragrantica:

“I just noticed that my two bottles are not made by the same company. I just did an ankle sampling from the Calvin Klein Cosmetics bottle. The other is by Coty and I’ll have to update this review when I sample that one. Other than this being named inappropriately (it should be called Obsession Day for Men, IMO), it’s quite good overall, somewhere between a light oriental and a light gourmand, but with a vetiver note that keeps things balanced and non-cloying. I’ve seen this done before, for example in Dior Homme, Roadster, and Jacomo for Men (not Jacomo de Jacomo), probably because it works so well in practice, even though it may sound strange to ‘hardcore vetiver fans.’ The ingredient quality seems fairly good and note separation is reasonable as well (and it’s definitely not too sweet). Due to good note contrast the dynamism is quite good, and it is versatile. If you are looking for some heavy, in your face scent, this isn’t it (in particular the patchouli is mild). However, for me it’s a nice change of pace type of scent. I have a feeling I wasn’t pleased with the last wearing because I remember using the Coty bottle (they are different sizes), so I am now very curious about a possible inferior reformulation.”

The Coty version did not seem to have that nice vetiver note in the CKC one. Instead, it soon dried down to a fuzzy/muddled powdery vanillic thing of no interest (at least to me), whereas the CKC kept the note separate for hours, allowing the excellent dynamism to persist for a long time. At first I could see how many would think there is little or no difference, but after a while it was like two different scents, the only major similarity being the vanilla note and some muskiness. Anyway, back to the main point here: the CKC version of Obsession Night for Men has good quality ingredients, it seems, but they are lighter than one would expect to find in a similar niche scent. If I were to compare this one to a scent like TF’s Tobacco Vanille, I’d say the ingredient quality is no worse that TV, but that the notes are much stronger in it, for example. In that case, TV most likely costs a bit more but not so much more that a designer company couldn’t produce it for a profit if those in charge thought there was a large market for it, from what I understand.

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