Are the reformulation skeptics living in “la la land” ?

While some indeed may reside in Los Angeles, I don’t think that is the case for the author of FromPyrgos blog (http://frompyrgos.blogspot.com). In his latest post, he discusses a thread on Basenotes.net about the possible significant reformulation of Epic Man by Amouage. I have yet to sample this scent and did not post to this thread, but I think it’s important to point out that this author is mischaracterizing the thread. Before you proceed further, I suggest you read it for yourself:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/344504-anyone-notice-that-Amouage-Epic-Man-has-been-reformulated?highlight=chanel+19

Overall, the tone seems to be one of anger, disappointment, and most importantly, agreement with the person who started the thread and thinks the scent is “off” and considerably weaker (with a few people being quite dismissive, despite undeniable evidence to the contrary, which is cited below). One person who commented to the contrary, “Surfacing,” has consistently disagreed with my posts about what I consider to be the most obvious and worst reformulations I’ve encountered, so what should I make of this thread? Clearly, exactly the opposite conclusion that the author of FromPyrgos has! Furthermore, he states:

Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. Trust your own nose only. And if you feel there’s hyperbole or exaggeration in regards to other people’s sentiments, demand real tests, blind comparisons, and the opinions of impartial people.

Does this mean I shouldn’t pay any attention to a person whose reviews I’ve found to be in accord with my own assessments? If I had an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, that would be fine, but in the “real world” it certainly makes more sense to buy vintage and be “safe,” unless of course the price is much higher. And this notion of demanding supposed objectivity is just laughable, suggesting that anonymous people on the internet would never lie about such things! Perhaps most importantly in this context, I could argue that I don’t even trust myself, so how can I trust anyone else? That is, my sensitivity is not constant, and because of that certain notes or accords will come across stronger or weaker sometimes. Usually, once I’m fully awake, I have a feeling that I can handle a strong scent or that I should go for something more subtle, but I’m not always right about this, that’s for sure !

And here again this author contradicts himself, cheering on those who don’t think Epic Man was reformulated while at the same time telling us not to take anyone’s opinion seriously unless they tell us they did rigorous, “blind” testing. On another thread about Zino’s possible reformulation, I asked a skeptical Basenotes member if he thought he was good at detecting sandalwood notes, but he did not reply. That is the kind of information that may be useful if you decide to give weight to a person’s opinion. And as I’ve pointed out there before, even if it appears that changes in bottle designs are indicative of significant changes in formulations, isn’t it possible that some of the old fragrance was put in new bottles or vice versa (to save some money, presumably)? The point is that this is all “guesswork,” but it has been very helpful to me overall (I’d say that my guesses as well as those who seem to “know what they’re talking about” have been over 90% accurate).

Fortunately, certainly for my wallet but perhaps also for my sanity, I’m not actively seeking any particular scent, and in fact often find myself more interested in “back up bottles” than something new, but what I’ve seen with some of the latest reformulations (for example, 1-12 Halston) are fuzzy, nondescript scents with obvious “laundry musk” and a bubble bath type soapiness. Such formulations would have been “laughed out of the building in the “old days.” In the case of 1-12, I have a box made for EA Fragrances that lists oakmoss and tree most, but the newest formulation lists neither! In response to Surfacing’s skepticism about reformulations, another person cited a Basenotes thread created by perfumer Chris Bartlett, which you can read at:

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/292501-IFRA-Standards-a-summary

Mr. Bartlett listed what the latest IFRA ingredient restrictions were, and then someone asked about the use of oakmoss, to which he responded:

I can’t say how much [oakmoss] was in Channel Pour Monsieur but I can say that when I’m making a masculine fragrance to a commission and don’t need to worry about the standards I will typically want to use in the region of 1%. So ten times as much as is now permitted…

This suggests to me that any scent with appreciable oakmoss has indeed been “ruined” if reformulated within the new guidelines. I suspected this would be the case and went on a “vintage hunt” for such scents (mostly “feminines”) beginning about a year ago. From what I understand, 1-12 was never an especially expensive scent, ingredient-wise, so this seems to be an excellent example of one that many will regard as “ruined” due to the newest IFRA regulations. For me, calling the latest formulation 0-12 would make the most sense! Seriously, from everything I’ve read the only reasonable conclusion seems to be that from now on most releases will either be pale reformulations, generic/redundant scents, or “chemical nightmares” (I seem to be particularly sensitive to Iso E Super, for example).

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3 Comments

Filed under Criticizing the critics.

3 responses to “Are the reformulation skeptics living in “la la land” ?

  1. heperd

    You have to consider your source. You may know what you are talking about (and smelling), but you have to admit that the OP of the thread rarely has anything intelligent to say.

    • I can’t say I remember this member’s other posts but as I said I haven’t sampled this scent so I had “no horse in the race.” For me the most interesting and significant part of this thread was the link to Mr. Bartlett’s list showing the most recent IFRA guidelines. So, I have a question for you: do you think that these new guidelines will mean that the new Patou Pour Homme will be acceptable to you, because I can’t imagine it being superior to the vintage versions of scents like 1-12, Bijan for Men, or Missoni Uomo? I already have those three, so if the new PPH is a considerably diluted version of its former self (as Bartlett’s list suggests), why would I want to waste money on it? It’s not like I’m going to reach for it rather than the others I have, which possess similar but presumably richer, stronger (and perhaps more natural-smelling) drydowns?

      • i will honestly have to wait until i smell it to see if i like it. It may be quite different but I dont think the original was anything special so even if it is the same i wont be buying it even at retail. I could replace it with 10 other similar frags from the 80s that smell just as good to me.

        To me, the most noticeable thing about most reformulations is the “richness” that is missing that seems to be because of the lack of oakmoss. Sometimes it is approximated but usually they smell thin and flat. Not sure if everyone get this but to me oakmoss give frags a certain fullness to me.
        It also seems that the frags that were sold off to be made very cheaply have suffered the most, Red, Giorgio, the Halstons…. Other, larger companies like Chanel or YSL are somehow able to compensate and give the same feeling with the restricted amount of moss. Maybe thats one of the reasons why they cost about 3 times more.
        So, basically, I take every frag individually. I have found that if i dont like a current formula then it is very unlikely that I will like the vintage no matter what additional ingredients it has.

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