Part 3 of scent “similarity” and the “niche fan boy” factor.

I’m not one to get too worried about these kinds of things, but over on the FromPyrgos blog, an interview with Roja Dove was mentioned, in particular this link:

http://lagardenianellocchiello.blogspot.it/2011/10/lunching-with-professor-interview-with.html?m=1

Mr. Dove was asked:

…Which is the main false myth people have about perfumery that you like to break down in your courses?

And his response was:

That a fragrance has nothing to do with advertising, that’s not directly related with exclusivity or the price. One thing I do during my courses is to let people smell blind Gucci Envy and Estee Lauder Pleasures. The two fragrances are almost identical and smelling them people cannot recognize them. Then I show them the commercial advertising: Pleasures features a romantic dreamy woman in a field of flowers, Envy features a woman topped by her partner, with the naked bodies explicitly talking about sex. Each time they get astonished…

Now let’s take a look at the notes for each scent, starting with Envy (the original “women’s” scent), taken from Fragrantica.com:

The composition starts with green notes with a cool metal note that freezes the senses. Gradually the scent warms up due to woody notes and musk. This metal accord surrounded by a floral bouquet became very popular during the 90’s. The notes are Hyacinthus, lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, green notes, magnolia, iris, woods and musk.

And here is the “blurb” for Pleasures:

Pleasures is a rich bouquet of fresh flowers after the rain, which is designed to suit “every woman in every season and at every moment”. It is a delightful sheer floral created from delicate lilies and peonies, elegant jasmine and exotic Karo-Karounde blossoms, all tingling with the rare essence of exotic Baie Rose.

Note that as of this writing, nobody on that site who wrote a review for either compared the two, nor did anyone use the “The perfume reminds me of…” feature there for this purpose. Both have been compared to five other scents, though, using that feature, and there are many reviews as well, so it’s not like hardly anyone has given thought to this subject. I don’t remember sampling either one, so I am totally non-biased here. However, Mr. Dove also had this to say:

The same game you can play it with Creed Green Irish Tweed and Davidoff Cool Water that are for sure alluring for a different target. Just imagine the reaction of people who buy the Creed for the prestige it exudes when they discover it is practically identical to a commercial scent…

Now these two I have studied in some detail and can’t imagine that if Mr. Dove had done so to the same degree he would come to this conclusion (considering how many notes these two don’t have in common), but perhaps something else is at work here. As I said in the first post about “niche fan boys,”‘ it’s one thing to call two scents similar but another to say they are identical (or nearly so), and yet another to say there is “0%” similarity, especially when the two possess quite a few notes in common. One possibility is that a person doesn’t have much experience with certain kinds of scents and so they come across as a kind of olfactory blur, at least compared to those who do have the experience. Another is that a particular note or accord really dominates the scent for that person, obscuring other ones that differ between the two. And indeed it may be that a note or accord is especially strong; however, that does not mean everyone will perceive the notes that are not shared as weak, if they are detected at all.

Whatever the case may be, I am surprised that someone with Mr. Dove’s “pedigree” would say such things without any “qualifying” statement included, and I would really like to know how he would regard Brit for Men relative to Memoir Man! Would those who say that Brit and MM are “0%” similar think differently if Mr. Dove himself had made this claim? Not to beat a dead horse here, but I’ll use this opportunity to ask that we all accept that not everyone perceives or appreciates scents the same way. Use what limited time you have on this planet to do something more useful than telling others that they aren’t smelling what they think they are. So often I am amazed at how differently I perceive a scent from one wearing to another, the most recent being Devin (newest formulation) which came across as incredibly floral during the latest wearing, but never had before! So I say to the “niche fan boy:” I’m not suggesting your expensive scent is as “good” as a “cheapo,” but rather that it may be fine (or even superior) to a person with a large rotation who isn’t a huge fan of that kind of scent.

Sure, you will come across a newbie review saying that a scent smells like vanilla pudding or something along those lines. I said similar things as a newbie, apparently because the notes just blend together when you don’t most or all of them. In the recent case of Brit for Men and Memoir Man, it seemed like some people focused on the top notes whereas I am more interested in the drydown. One way to get a sense of the stronger notes in a scent is to take the cap off and smell both the sprayer and the inside of the cap at the same time. I couldn’t do this with MM because I had a spray sample without a cap and hardly anything left in the tiny bottle, but I’m certainly not claiming these two are nearly identical. In fact, I think the best thing I could say, in terms of helping others, is that I like the more powdery and spicy approach in Brit rather than the more bitter-oriented MM; moreover, I dislike the clear oakmoss note in MM, which comes across as a distraction from the central focus. Lastly, it’s fine to be a “fan boy,” but please remember that others can be fans of other teams instead, so to speak.

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Filed under Criticizing the critics.

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