On a recent Basenotes.net thread, one member wrote up a description of the progression of his experience with this hobby (which is dissimilar to mine). There were eight stages, with the eighth being simply “Enlightenment.” I want to focus on his fifth and seventh (niche rabbit hole and vintage, respectively). He describes the fifth as:
You start sampling and sniffing all the niche stuff you’ve heard about. The scents are so far out and weird in comparison to what you’ve smelled before you become completely entrenched, wondering what’s around the next corner. You find some great stuff here, and some stuff you hate. Your previous concept of what you like and what defines your taste is shattered. You buy some stuff thinking you like it, only to realize for some reason you can never really wear it. Then you realize maybe you really don’t like it, or it’s just not for you. You smell some things and wonder how anybody in their right mind could like it, or pay hundreds of dollars for it. And you smell other stuff that’s so damn good and such high quality you think designer’s not even worth your time any more. You spend a shitload of money. If you’re married, you might be hiding certain fragrances around the house. If you’re not married, you spend a good amount of time questioning whether or not to discuss your new obsession on your next date.
In the past, I have called such people “chronic samplers” (mostly of niche or designer exclusives, it seems). His seventh is described as:
I can’t expound upon this as I’m in stage 6 [a reassessment of designer]. I know stage 7 lies ahead, and I’ve seen what it does to people. I’m hoping I can hang around 6 for a while. I think stage 7 is brutal. Everything’s discontinued and sold on eBay at inflated prices. The juice may have turned if it’s been stored poorly. Or maybe they replaced your Patou Pour Homme with apple juice. Why’s this seller have two negative feedbacks? What’s his return policy? Should I invest in a sniping app? Will this make me smell like an old man? It looks rough from the outside. Treacherous. I think FSU92Grad is in stage 7 right now. It’s taken a toll on him. Badarun seems to be trouncing through it like a champ.
It seems to me that the stage five people don’t have much “middle ground.” That is, their reviews tend to be overwhelming positive or negative. I don’t dislike niche, in that there are some I enjoy and I’d buy decants of some if I really wanted some immediately but didn’t want to pay retail for a full bottle, but I’m thankfull I have never felt that desire. I recently swapped for a decant of Portrait of a Lady, which I like, but I’m not sure I would have paid what the major sample/decant sites would charge me. Overall, I’m more than satisifed with what I have, and in fact there are plenty I’d like to sell or swap, including a few “masterpieces” (such as vintage Yohji Homme). I don’t feel the need to wear vinrage every day, and in a sense my main thought is elimination, meaning that I reach for a bottle or decant with the thought that I”m going to make a final decision on whether to keep it or not.
Not long ago I purchased a bottle of Habit Rouge Eau de Parfum because it was a fairly good price. I liked what I read about it and thought it would be popular enough to quickly sell or swap off if I didn’t like it. What’s interesting is that it may allow me to be content with keeping, while simultaneously selling/swapping my bottles of M7, Habit Rouge EdT, and Third Man (all vintage formulations). The reason is that HR EdP covers all these bases for me (though of course it may not have this effect for others). It’s got the sweet floral yet “masculine” quality of Third Man. an accord that seems similar to M7″s (in the drydown), and enough of the vintage HR scent for me. I thought to myself, “you don’t think any of those other three are great and don’t wear them often, so why not just keep this one and move out the rest?” Keeping the HR EdP would still allow me to make up a few samples for swap as well, since I doubt I would wear it often.
My main point here is that there is a limited amount of time one can spend with any one scent, though if you only wear one that’s a lot more time than someone like myself, who prefers a large and diverse rotation, possesses. However, there’s no reason to suppress your current preferences. If you are in a “rabbit hole,” see where it leads! The key is to not get disappointed when you start to feel that things are becoming boring. Just move on to something else – there is so much variety, so long as you aren’t a “niche snob,” for instance. Lately I’ve been sampling “cheapos” and inexpensive “feminines/unisex,” for example, I found that “super-cheapo” Yacht Man Red is more pleasant yet very similar to Dunhill’s Desire for a Man (it doesn’t have the metallic quality and is softer). These are just olfactory concoctions, and do not represent anything “objectively” special, “high class,” etc. unless they are performing that kind of function for you on a given day!
NOTE: The BN post I quoted can be found in its entirely here: