On a recent Basenotes.net thread about Memoir Man by Amouage, I pointed out that:
It’s so close to Brit for Men that I see no reason to spend that kind of money. Though a bit “synthetic,” I actually prefer Brit.
Within about half an hour someone responded with:
I own both and I can safely say that to my nose, Brit for Men is 0% like Memoir Man. Brit is powdery and ginger heavy, where Memoir is incense/wormwood/pepper heavy.
Let’s take a look at the notes for these two (from Fragrantica.com, with Brit being listed first):
Citrusy freshness of mandarin and bergamot and cool, spicy notes of ginger and cardamom preceed a masculine heart of cedar and nutmeg with a touch of refined wild rose. The base is sensual due to precious egzotic woods, gray amber, Tonka bean and patchouli.
Top notes are basil, mint and wormwood; middle notes are lavender, incense and rose; base notes are sandalwood, guaiac wood, oak moss, amber, vanille, tobacco and leather.
And let me mention that the top notes may indeed be a bit different, since I try to avoid breathing in too much of them. I do get the oakmoss in MM, which I don’t get at all in Brit, and Brit is a bit spicy (which is one reason why I prefer it), but the rosy/powdery and woody/patchouli (with some amber to soften it up) come through the loudest, so to speak, with these two. Is it possible that a person who wears MM often begins to detect some subtleties that those of us who have worn it perhaps twice (as I have) have not? Sure, but that only serves to reinforce the point that there is a strong element that is common to both !
I’m not a huge fan of this kind of scent, but I do like it once in a while. Aside from Brit, I have Rose d’Homme, which has an orange tint to it along with leather rather than wood, as well as Royal Secret for Men, which features strong citrus, sandalwood, amber, and rose, so it’s not like I haven’t sampled several of these. In fact, I’d say out of the four, MM and Brit are considerably more alike than to the other two. Now it’s possible that someone is very sensitive to oakmoss and when he or she wears MM (it is at least somewhat “unisex”) that note really unbalances things and makes it seem quite different. I’ve never known oakmoss to do that, nor do I remember anyone making such a claim, though it’s certainly not unimaginable.
Here, however, we have someone claiming there is “0%” similarity, which is to my mind outright laughable, and suggests that he is outraged that anyone would compare a relatively inexpensive scent with a very expensive one. He doesn’t seem to understand that when a person has a large rotation a less expensive scent may indeed “get the job done” for that person. I usually point this out in these situations, but most of these people seem to lack the imagination to conceive of that possibility. Even in cases where I think there is very little similarity, such as with Cool Water and Green Irish Tweed, I can understand how some, especially “newbies,” would view the two are being very similar. Apparently, there is an overall “feel” to the two which may be largely due to how dihydromyrcenol comes across to them. In the case of MM and Brit, I can clearly detect the rose, patchouli, wood, and powdery elements (probably from the rose and amber), and these are very strong, unlike the wormwood or tobacco, for example. In fact, if I wanted an anise/wormwood type of scent that was sufficiently different from Brit, I’d choose Lolita Lempicka au Masculin, which is in my rotation.
Another kind of scent, the Envy for Men one, has been copied to a large degree in several scents, the most obvious being Carven Homme and ST Dupont’s Signature Pour Homme. And with Envy there are claims that the reformulation may not have been especially good. I remember getting a sample in 2008 and liking it, but then when I swapped for a bottle I found it harsh and just thought my sensitivity had changed – that was before I realized how badly some scents have been reformulated! In any case, I have used Fragrantica’s “This perfume reminds me of” feature to tell others that Envy is similar to a few other ones, only to see them deleted soon thereafter. I’ve gone back and used this feature over and over again to see what would happen, and sure enough, even when others join me in using this feature to make this suggestion, within a few days they are all deleted again. Note that this only seems to happen with “fan boy” scents (Chanel’s Allure Pour Homme seems to be another) or ones like Envy, which now sells for much more than it did a couple years ago, due to discontinuation.
But then we have the opposite phenomenon, which is that once an idea about similarity becoms popular, there is tremendous support for it. Look up Cool Water at Fragrantica and you’ll see (at the time of this writing) that 197 people, apparently, think it is similar to GIT. And 108 think Individuel is similar to Original Santal. And 89 make the same claim for Mugler Cologne and Original Vetiver. Yet for Allure Pour Homme there are none, despite several reviewers pointing out scents that they believe to be similar. I have tried several that are similar, including “super cheapo,” Adidas Victory League. Again, nobody is claiming that any two are actually identical and that’s not what the Fragrantica feature states either, but it seems undeniable that some people are trying to prevent possibly useful information from getting to the general public, and the only reasonable explanation is that they are irritated by the thought that their “exclusive,” expensive scent could possibly be even remotely similar to anything else.
In response to that person’s “0%” claim, I said this:
Sounds like a total “fan boy” who can’t deal with the possibility that a “cheapo” could smell similar.
Such a claim may be a bit more credible if you said something like, “the rose, wood, amber, and patchouli” that the two have in common don’t really come through with much force for me.” For me, the wormwood and tobacco don’t come through in Memoir Man, and both are “powdery” (neither is especially sweet); this is likely due to the rose and amber notes. The oakmoss does but overall it doesn’t change the smell much but rather the “texture.” I doubt if more than 1 in 100 “newbies” could detect any difference, for example if you sprayed one on him on Monday and then sprayed the other on him that Friday.
Perhaps the best way of thinking about all this is that if these two scents were the standard for dissimilarity, I wouldn’t be able to think of any two scents I could consider similar !
NOTE: I used the phrase “niche fan boy” even though, as I mentioned, this seems to be the case with some discontinued scents as well as some of the more expensive “designer” ones, mainly because it suggest that a sense of exclusivity may be at the root of the denial. And if anyone has the box for a bottle of Brit, see if it says linalool on it, because Brit has a bit of a lavender-like element just as MM does, despite it not being listed as an “official” note. Also, the thread in question on Basenotes has gotten a lot of “action,” so I’ll be writing up another post with more thoughts on this topic, though it will be in the context of another subject, one addressing the value of blogs such as this one. Stay tuned !