Leaving aside the confusion about what the “thumbs down” originally meant, which was for a gladiator to put his weapon away and spare the life of the person he vanquished, I want to address the review format on Fragrantica.com. First, for some context. I wrote up the following review for Valentino Uomo there:
First dab sampling: outrageously sweet with very little to counteract it! To me, this is like a new candy or food flavoring amplified to the extreme (so that you don’t even register any food item with which you are familiar). This is one scent marketed to men that I would find too “feminine” to wear in public by a wide margin (even on the coldest day of the year), and there are clearly strong aroma chemicals used, though they are dominated by the sweet “blob” element. If this is the new trend, count me out (and I enjoy A*Men, Play Intense, Rochas Man, Pi, etc. on occasion). In fact, I think Cadillac is somewhat similar but preferable – I certainly wouldn’t call it a Dior Homme clone. Be sure to have your annual dental checkup before spraying this one on you!
The notes for this scent are:
…bergamot and myrtle, succeeded in the heart by roasted coffee combined with gianduja cream, on a rich base created of cedar and precious leather.
Now there is no question that just about everyone will perceive this as a negative review, but I doubt anyone of sound mind would suggest that every review written on Fragrantica should be positive. Soon after it appeared, I received a balloon of approval, but then several hours later that was gone, meaning that someone went out of his or her way to take that balloon away. Why? Was it due to the joke in the last sentence? IF that had been omitted, would the review still have its balloon? It’s interesting to compare this review to some one encounters in the “Perfumes: The Guide” book, especially those written by Luca Turin. Specifically, in some cases there is one sentence of a similar nature, and no mention of how the scent actually smells. For example, there is this review of Polo Double Black:
I like the idea that Black can be doubled, as in Double Stout. This said, the fragrance is what the local street kids in my trash neighborhood are wearing, and I don’t feel any particular kinship to their tribe.
The main point I want to make here is that I was specific in my review and also provided examples of other, popular scents, as well as giving my opinion on the social context. What did I do wrong? Sure, you might detect some of the notes clearly, whereas I was hit with a sickening sweetness and nasty aroma chemicals (at least in terms of the amounts used), but don’t you want to know what others think, if only to know that their opinions are not to be valued highly in the context of potential “blind buys?” To the person who removed the balloon, I ask, tell me what you would have liked me to have written? Take my balloon, if must, be please consider the effect it might have on others when you do !
Now that said, those with more than a little experience with these concoctions would know that you might not like the way it smells but it could still be great for a social occasion. In the case of Valentino Uomo, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made parties and clubs frequented by 20-somethings smell considerably better than would otherwise be the case. That certainly seems to be the idea behind it. On the other hand, I’ve found that if I wear too many really sweet scents within a short period of time my preferences begin to shift a bit, and it can go in one of two directions. I can become sick of anything that has more than a small amount of sweetness or I can begin to dislike the old, dry scents that had little if any sweetness. And in the case of VU specifically, if I felt that I needed more variety, I would go ahead and dilute it and possible add some essential oils to it, the idea being to use it’s potency to “amp up” a scent I find natural-smelling but really weak.
NOTE: For those who don’t know, if there are a certain number of thumbs down hits, the review is removed.