I’m sure your hopes for this scent were as high as mine, with listed notes of neroli, saffron, bergamot, tobacco leaf, gorse, rose, oakmoss, labdanum, cinnamon, iris, and leather, but I’m sorry to have to report that it’s just a typical citrus/woody “sport” kind of scent that you’ve probably smelled a million times before. Don’t expect to smell more than the slightest hint of anything else here! I wouldn’t even suggest paying $2 for a sample, as it is that banal. Now for some reality to return here; there is no such scent, but I decided to use the title of this particular film for a reason, which will become clear below.
On a recent thread at Basenotes.net there. a member wanted to know if a particular formulation of Van Cleef and Arpels Pour Homme was “all about roses.” This is a difficult question because if a person is sensitive to rose (or particular molecules, at least) at that particular time it may really “spike out” but for others it may just come across as part of a mild floral quality. The thread eventually developed into responses that involved an overall assessment of the scent. I pointed out that I had sampled it a while back and found it to likely be an inadequate reformulation (I haven’t sampled the original from 1979), with strong lavender and modern musks, but a lack of richness, complexity, depth, and naturalness, similar but even worse than the reformulated Oscar Pour Lui, IMO.
Someone (perhaps a “fan boy”) told me I should “bow out” of the thread because I was too sensitive to the musks. In response, I pointed out that others might be sensitive to those musks too, and so my point might really help them, especially if they have read many of my reviews and have a sense of my preferences. Moreover, as I also pointed out, I enjoyed vintage formulations at that time that others have compared to vintage VC&A PH (Leonard Pour Homme and Oscar Pour Lui). I concluded by saying that I thought anyone who enjoys the vintage formulations may be disappointed by this formulation of it (it comes in a black box with brown leaf patterns). And of course t here is no way I can know for sure if I was actually more sensitive; it’s possible that if I tried this formulation today I would find it even worse than I did back then (perhaps two years ago, if not longer).
And this leads me to the allusion to film. Just as with scents, one person cannot tell another person that he should or should not have enjoyed watching a particular movie. I think nearly everyone would agree with that point. However, some people seem to think that it is reasonable to tell others how they should perceive a particular scent. What’s worse, if he or she disagrees, the person feels it is fine to tell others that they should not share their opinions unless it agrees with his or hers! There’s another issue with films that can help illustrate some odd things I have encountered among those who write about scents online, which is that some people think they can create standards (perhaps never disclosing them!) and then call another person wrong when he or she writes a comment that is inconsistent with those standards. Let me be clear here: that is outright absurd. You cannot criticize others because their opinions are based upon different standards (though of course you can state that you don’t understand or appreciate their standards).
For example, if you want to believe that everything Luca Turin has said about scent is 100% accurate, and you disclose that to your readers, that is fine. You may have few readers (unless you are LT himself), but this is not unacceptable. However, if you tell everyone else that they should only wear scents that LT has bestowed lavish praise upon, that is ridiculous. I’ve talked about this before, in the context of whether one needs to experience top notes fully, but here I want to cast the net more broadly, so to speak. If you read movie reviews, you’ll likely notice that reviewers can have different standards (though I’ve never read a critic disclose his or her criteria explicitly). Some favor movies with creative audio/visual patterns, for example, while others favor a less cinematic, but more humanistic approach.
“A Clockwork Orange” seems to attempt both, and is held in high regard by most critics, it appears. By contrast, I find it strained and unrealistic, particularly in the rendering of a possible future society. Now we can argue for the rest of our lives about how realistic that imaginary society is, but that will likely lead nowhere. We can also argue about how compelling the audio/visual elements are, or any number of things. However, if a person does find that society unrealistic and also feels that the audio/visual patters come across as forced and flamboyant, you should expect that person to render a negative review of that movie. You can’t tell the person that the audio/visual patterns and social elements are not important, because you believe that a movie should be judged by how good the acting is, for example.
And it may be that at a point in your life, you find audio/visual patterns to be by far the most compelling thing about “serious” film, but a decade or two later you are much more interested in the humanistic elements. Your review of a film may then change considerably, but at least you’ll know why. This is not the case with scents, because you can’t know for sure you are experiencing it exactly the same way you did a few years earlier, even if you still have at least a sample of it. Some may think that their perceptions of scents never changes, and if so that is a “dealbreaker” situation, and you then may want to refrain from reading this blog! The reason is that I’ve found my experiences with scents to be quite polymorphous, to the point that I have no idea if particular notes or accords will “spike out” on any particular wearing. All I can do here is to disclose my criteria and describe my experiences. If someone thinks he or she can do considerably more, I look forward to reading exactly what you are doing and experiencing.