A pathetic death by chocolate ?


I don’t think I’ve sampled any of O’Driu’s scents before, but I have read that Pathetique is quite different from their others. I obtained a free sample of this one, and didn’t do any research about the scent before trying it (or if I had, I forgot about it by the time the sample arrived). Generally, I avoid doing reviews of specific scents on this blog unless there is some “larger” point to make, and that’s the case here as well, but first I’ll provide a basic review.

I dabbed some on the chest, and waited to see what would result. Doing this, it seems, top notes are minimized significantly, especially in certain kinds of compositions. That was the case here, as I smelled very little at first. Over time, I was getting quite a bit of what seemed like cocoa powder with a little vanilla and something ambery. Florals are obvious, but blended considerably. Iris seems like it might be present, as there is that kind of floral/powdery quality. Fragrantica.com has the following notes for it:

…tuber, bergamot, incense, juniper berry, black pepper, woody notes, oakmoss, mimosa, vetiver and amyris.

I don’t know what “tuber” would refer to, so that may be a “lost in translation” issue. Whatever wood there is does not assert itself, as is the case for the pepper, oakmoss, vetiver, and juniper berry. Amyris is supposedly quite fragrant and resinous, but there’s nothing like that in Pathetique. I do get the idea that incense is present, though very mild, and it supplies a bit of “structure” to the scent. Overall, there is a kind of suede-like effect, but again it’s very mild. It’s also rather musky, though not in an animalic way. In short, this list of notes seems to be largely at odds with the actual smell of it. I think most would describe this scent as creamy, and some might find it too sweet. I perceive it more as a thick syrup, though it does have a powdery facet at well. As you might expect, it smells entirely natural but it’s also quite rich, almost food-like.

My problem with it, if we put price aside, is that I don’t imagine myself thinking that I’d rather wear this than so many others I already own in “full bottle” form, from Yacht Man Chocolate to Rochas Man to Play Intense to Kokorico, not that any of these are especially similar. By contrast, A*Men offers much more dynamism, though the others offer more as well. Pathetique is very nice, and if it was priced anywhere near where most of the bottles I own were I’d surely grab a bottle, but this brings up that general point I mentioned in the first paragraph. That is, many if not most niche scents have eliminated any obvious use of aroma chemicals, especially very common ones such as dihydromyrcenol (Cool Water for men seems to possess quite a bit of this molecule). However, is this a “good thing?”

When an aroma chemical is used in large amounts, it becomes unbearable, at least to me. Iso e super is one that seems to have been so “amped up” in many recent offerings that there has been at least a minor online uprising against it! And the worst part of this is that by using aroma chemicals in this way, some people (certainly me) become super-sensitized to the chemical (s) and then we can’t wear scents that include even relatively small amounts of it. What I’ve come to conclude recently, though, is that at least some aroma chemicals may be useful for the purpose of generating dynamism. If too much is used, however, the opposite effect is achieved, that is, the scent seems overwhelming, cloying, synthetic, or the like.

A recent example of a “cheapo” scent that seems to use aroma chemicals to optimal effect is Spark for Men by Liz Claiborne. This is also a rich scent, with the following notes:

Top notes are pepper, rum and cardamom; middle notes are honey, fig leaf and cognac; base notes are sandalwood and amber.

Unlike Pathetique, it does smell clearly “synthetic” at first, with “fresh” aroma chemicals included (probably some dihydromyrcenol). This doesn’t last long, and then it is no more than a mild element. The notes are much more obvious than in Pathetique, and though the composition is quite different (Spark is closer to Michael for Men by Kors), it too registers as gourmand or gourmand-ish. I can’t tell you that you should buy one over the other, or both, or neither. What I can say for sure is that I’m very glad that this diversity is available, and at much lower prices than other “luxury items” (even if we include most niche scents). For all I know, at some point I might decide that Pathetique has something that is unique and that I really want to own. However, at this point I’d rather wear a scent that is a bit more defined, for example Debonair by Smell Bent (for a treatment of vanilla that I enjoy), and also save quite a bit of money.

NOTE: I used the picture and title for this post because I thought these would be consistent with the marketing campaign for Pathetique. Another title I contemplated was, “Too much of a good thing?”

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