Concoctions and Concocting.


Like my frequent use of the phrase “the opening” in the fragrance context, I also believe I was the first to call these modern olfactory marvels “concoctions” on a frequent basis. And like “the opening,” I see that “concoctions” has caught on, though it seems to a bit of a lesser degree. And as I said with “the opening,” who cares? Well, some of us find language usage (or “misusage”) to be interesting (at least at times), and occasionally amusing. Sometimes it seems that a new word or phrase fills a void that exists, even if it’s still not quite optimal. I pointed this out in the last post, because I don’t like how some people are using “the opening” in this context. Of course, one doesn’t know if a phrase/term is going to “catch on,” and if it does, how it might be used in novel ways.

Concocting is something perfumers and sociopaths do. The former need to create something that is at least a touch novel, the latter seem to live in a world where there is nothing but manipulation and trying to take what belongs to others (in an illegal or at least unethical manner). I’ve enjoyed concocting new recipes, according to criteria such as low cost and available ingredients. Writing blogs posts or fragrance reviews is a kind of concocting as well, as is layering scents. The finished products, if one gets that far, are concoctions. Yet another concoction is a reputation, which is sometimes deserved and other times not. A “good” reputation seems to have led many aficionados to rush out and buy Dior’s Sauvage “blind,” for example.

With Sauvage, it appears that more than a few people have concocted reasons for “liking” it, whereas others think it a generic, lame, simplistic/crowd-pleasing concoction. By contrast, lately I have been only buying “cheapos.” Doing so allows me to simply put the ones I don’t like on my swap list. If they don’t get swapped off, I can revisit some of them in the future, if I think there’s a possibility I might like them. Sometimes I’ll spray just above the ankle, so that I can sample a scent without it ruining my enjoyment of another scent, which gets sprayed on the chest. One recent swap was Zirh’s Ikon for CK’s Shock for Him. I sampled Shock once when it was first released, and remember liking it, but I sampled so many that day I didn’t have a sense of how it would perform during a “normal” wearing.

I wouldn’t have minded keeping Ikon, but there was nothing I found special about it after a few wearings. I “liked” it, but I hardly ever wore it, and since acquiring it I’ve been able to appreciate stronger and more complex scents with incense and/or amber. Some have complained that it’s not strong enough, and this is true of many “cheapos,” though some, especially the Bogart ones, tend to be very strong. I don’t understand why they can’t add another 50 cents worth of aroma chemicals (if it cost that much) to avoid this perception. After all, these are not dollar store scents! This is especially puzzling in the case of the “masculine” Playboy scents I’ve tried. Hollywood and London are quite strong, whereas VIP and Ibiza were strong enough, but I recently acquired New York, and found it to be very weak.

What’s worse is that this may be my favorite, in terms of how it smells, and I really like London. Moreover, there’s nothing “synthetic” about New York, other than the intended and mild vinyl note that works well in this composition (much milder than the tar note in A*Men and the rubber note in Black). It doesn’t even have that “laundry musk” quality that I sometimes dislike. It seems like the perfumer had scents like A*Men and Bvlgari Black in mind (though this is not similar to either of those other than pe4rhaps the “general idea”). I would certainly say that it has a niche-like quality, and while it’s weak, it’s not as disappointing to me as Eau de Charlotte by Annick Goutal, which might be one of my favorite scents if it possessed longevity! The first time I tried New York, I kept spraying, until I was up to ten sprays to the chest after perhaps five hours. I’ll have to try it again and just go ahead with up to ten sprays initially.

Shock, by contrast, is certainly strong enough. It’s got an odd “energy drink accord,” though I find it generates interesting contrast and dynamism. After a while it can smell a little “synthetic” (meaning “bad synthetic”), and I’m thinking it might be good for layering, when I want a mild tobacco note added to a scent. The first couple of times I wore Shock, though, it didn’t bother me at all. It may even be interesting to layer it with Avant Garde by Lanvin, to concoct a different kind of tobacco scent. Perhaps the most interesting concoction is self-deception. How many threads have been created over the years at the major fragrance sites that involve notions of “needing” a scent?

Now it’s likely true that for most aficionados, after a while the brain becomes “wired” to expect a certain kind of olfactory experience each day. But there also seems to be a sense among at least some of these folks that they require something special. They have concocted a notion (for at least themselves) that they must experience a “special” olfactory concoction each day (usually involving niche, vintage, or designer exclusives). Some have called this snobbery, and of course this may be the case for some if not most. Whether this is the case or not, what I’ve found is that my preferences seem to be dictated by my sensitivities to some degree. Because of this, I think, I find many “cheapos” to be appealing. But beyond that, ever since I was young I can remember thinking that it’s better not to get too attached to material objects, whereas many others seem to think that it’s crucial to feel a strong sense of attachment to all kinds of things. And that difference may have been concocted by “nature,” perhaps even before we were born!

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