Is Greek yogurt really all that healthy for you?

No, this isn’t about actual Greek yogurt, but I couldn’t resist creating that title for this post! It in fact refers to a member at Basenotes.net with the username “greekyogurt.” In a recent thread there about Cool Water (“men’s” version), he had this to say in response to another member’s comment that the newest formulation is likeable, but that he (the other person) prefers the vintage formulation “by miles:”

Your last sentence – here’s where I think you’re wrong. You can’t know that unless you spend considerable time with the new Cool Water and seriously (repeatedly) compare it to the old stuff, wrist-to-wrist tests. I think it’s one of the few fragrances that Coty improved upon. But it’s not an obvious improvement. The structure is the same as in the older formula. The problem is that the top notes are apparently not as pleasing to people as they were in the Lancaster version (and beyond). We’re talking the first five minutes. Once that time period passes, there are some sharp note movements, subtle complexities that open up, and a vast improvement in the development arch of the drydown. Again, not something you can get the first two or three times wearing it. It takes time to make sense. At first it seems like a pretty “blah” sweetness.

I don’t know. I thought the new formula sucked, too, at one time. But I kept wearing it because something about it bothered me. I am familiar with the original formula and GIT. I used to think GIT was better. Now I’m not so sure. Taking GIT out of the equation, I think the current stuff is great. But it took a while to get there.

If we’re to consider ourselves fragrance connoisseurs, we can’t trash formulas we don’t like and not wear them. We have to generate good reasons for not wearing them, and the only way to do that is to suspend our feelings for a while and . . . wear them. Our opinions as sophisticated fragrance lovers are subject to change with experience and time. Not always, but I should think more often than not.

On the one hand, I certainly don’t disagree that you should spend time with a scent if you want to “know it” as well as one can hope. And I’ve found that it has taken me time to “warm up” to certain notes or accords. However, I don’t know anyone who is going to wear one scent over and over again in order to think that he or she can call himself a connoisseur, expert, aficionado, or “perfumista.” It’s simply not possible (and sounds like a recipe for Obsessive-compulsive disorder). For example, there is this list of the number of new releases over the last several years, provided by scent blogger “Sherapop” in a comment at the FromPyrgos blog:

in 2009, 1181 perfumes were launched;

in 2010, 1446 perfumes were launched;

in 2011, 1583 perfumes;

in 2012, there were 2315 new perfumes;

and so far in 2013 (half-way through the year), 1352 perfumes have been launched.
(These figures are all from the Parfumo database.)

Clearly, it’s absurd to ask a person who wants to blog about scents to sample all of these, over and over again, to accomplish such a task. Who would be an expert if that were the case? There wouldn’t be any! So, the next point involves particular scents, meaning that if you want to be a “Cool Water expert,” you should sample it over and over again, no matter how ill it makes you feel, apparently. Of course, people are entitled to advocate strange ideas, but I think it’s crucial for us to be explicit about our position and techniques. If anyone objects or disagrees, that’s fine, but as “greekyogurt” himself states, it’s essential to “generate good reasons for not wearing” certain scents. The point of contention, it seems, is that he disagrees with what passes for a “good reason” among those who dislike Cool Water.

I have stated before that I find a discordant use of notes in vintage Cool Water, along with too much dihydromyrcenol, and a candy-like sweetness that doesn’t work for me in this kind of composition. I found the Coty formulation to be a somewhat pleasant, yet “fuzzy” muddle, and not something I can imagine myself wanting to wear, considering how many others I enjoy more. What else do I have to say before it becomes a “good reason?” Another point he argues that I disagree with is the notion that both formulations of Cool Water have the same structure. For me, these two couldn’t be much more different, and while he wants others to supply “good reasons” for claims, he doesn’t explain how he reached this conclusion !

Interestingly, someone who is (rightly or wrongly) regarded by many if not most scent fans as an “expert” is Luca Turin. He has made it clear that for some scents that he samples, a short time with a smelling strip is enough for him to conclude that he doesn’t like what was sprayed on it. For me this is the opposite end of the “what you need to do to be considered an expert” spectrum. I find both of these notions to be impractical or unreasonable. And in the case of the smelling strip, I won’t even bother using these if I think I might like a scent. In those instances, I try the scent on skin, even if I have to spray on the ankle because I already sprayed one to the chest earlier that day. One simply has to decide for oneself where on the spectrum the expert must be, or you can adopt my approach, which is to read what people have to say (if they explain their notions), and at least keep it in the back of one’s mind for “future reference.”

In general, I don’t really think in terms of “experts” but rather “aficionados,” the reason being that an aficionado can have clear preferences, whereas an expert is supposed to have knowledge that “fans” cannot easily acquire. With scents, in some ways things are reversed relative to other, similar interests (such as “fine wine”), in that many of us (who I call aficionados) sample and study more scents that perfumers do. Perfumers certainly know more about the chemistry involved and what specific extracts or aroma chemicals smell like than most of us do, but we may know more about what particular scents are like when they are worn for hours and on at least several occasions. And we are probably better at comparing scents to each other as well. Lastly, if a perfumer has created a bunch of scents I find awful, then that person is no “expert” to me, just as in fine art, where one might reject a particular “movement,” and simply avoid going to exhibitions of such works.

NOTE: I am “putting the finishing touches” on a blog post about Cool Water specifically, which I hope to “publish” in less than a week from now.

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Filed under Criticizing the critics.

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