Will the real “hysterical” person please stand up ?

There was yet another new thread on Basenotes.net about reformulations:


What has surprised me most is how much time people who claim to have no interest in purchasing vintage bottles invest in such threads, often starting these! There are those who seem to be what I call “niche samplers.” They wrote up a whole lot of reviews of the most expensive scents, and it sounded like they were buying samples for the most part. Then, all of a sudden, one never heard from them again. Their reviews became more bitter over time, and some railed against “the industry” for creating “boring” scents, so their sudden exit from the scene was not all that surprising. The key point is that while I found interesting, I didn’t create a bunch of threads with titles like, “Why do people keep sampling niche, thinking that they will find some unique and incredible every time?” And I can’t remember anyone else creating such a thread, though the sudden disappearances were noticed, sometimes with threads bearing such titles as “Whatever happened to Member X?”  Who ever called these people hysterical, or something similar?

I don’t understand why people are willing to spend a lot of money (say $80-90 for 100 ml bottle) on a new designer scent, especially “blind” (why not wait for some bottles to arrive at the discounters, ebay, etc?), but I’ve said this a few times, and never called anyone something like hysterical. Perhaps those who create threads about how buying vintage doesn’t make sense (even though I’ve yet to hear one explanation that would relate to me) simply don’t understand what vintage aficionados are seeking and experiencing. And I’m not suggesting that if one doesn’t wear vintage every day then he/she should not be considered an aficionado, nor do I wear these concoctions every day. In any case, what I’ll do in this post is to copy and paste my responses on that thread, which should give you an idea of my point of view here, and then add a little extra at the end:

The short/easy answer is that if scents are more or less an olfactory blur to you, then it probably doesn’t matter. If, however, you smell a scent and say things like, “wow, that’s a nice yet subtle sandalwood note,” many if not most of the reformulations (of let’s say pre-1995 vintage) will likely disappoint you.

It’s important not to bring in another issue which serves to obfuscate the discussion in favor of the “pro reformulation” side of things. That is, I’d be the first to mention that I used to wear vintage more often, and that some vintage I don’t like as much as I used to, whereas others I like more. This, however, has nothing to do with my perception of the “quality” of the scent. Now sometimes I don’t feel the need to wear a quality scent, and I often reach for a “super cheapo,” but if I’m in the mood for vintage Zino, for example, that’s what I want. I have no interest in wearing what I believe to be reformulated Zino, ever. Others can’t detect any difference, or claim it is negligible. That’s fine, but it has absolutely nothing to do with what I want to buy or wear. And that’s why my first response referenced how you perceive and appreciate these concoctions – that is what matters, and nobody can read your mind, so the best you can do is read the relevant information online and try to make the right decision (but it will only be the right decision for you, not necessarily for anyone else).

And I have found that vintage holds up incredibly well over the decades. If your experience is different and that has led you to avoid vintage, I applaud your strong decision-making qualities, but again, that has nothing to do with my decisions in this context. If you don’t like it when others talk about how much they like their vintage scents, then just ignore them – why post something that suggests you think they are deluded, lying, or wasting their time? It’s a hobby, and the internet provides places like BN to share opinions and information, so of course there are going to be threads on the subject! I remember when I investigated the world of fine art works on paper, some people thought pop art was “garbage” and laughed at the prices, yet that would have been a much better investment than something like op art or minimalism, that’s for sure (generally-speaking). And with scents, most are not trying to “cash in,” but just seeking out what they consider to be the best scents ever made. Some people might eat any pizza that put in front of them, whereas others only want “quality” pizza, and even if the restaurant is out of anchovies, and they’d really prefer it that way, they are not going to eat the “garbage” pizza because that restaurant didn’t run out of anchovies. LOL. So, it may be true that top notes are sometimes “messed up” (which is irrelevant to me) or that base notes have shifted slightly, because they are still head and shoulders above everything else! Again, if you think that’s not the case, then go ahead and be happy with your decision, but that has nothing to do with me.

And as to money being no object if you want to buy vintage, exactly where are you looking for them? I’ve got so many great vintage deals, just on ebay alone, that I wouldn’t want to think about putting a list of those together! Even if you pay “high” prices,” how do they compare to the prices being asked at the local dept. store for the usual generic/synthetic dreck? There are only a small number that sell for “big bucks” in vintage: PPH, Derby, Egoiste Cologne Concentree. Others with prices that high are usually an ebay seller’s wishful thinking, as I have waited for great deals on many of those and was rewarded. It’s more an issue of patience with probably at least 90% vintage, if you want to pay at current dept. store prices or lower, in my experience.

That could be true for others but I came upon this the other way around. I bought the reformulations first, heard the reformulation “hysteria” (which never seems hysterical to me), and dismissed it. But then I began to understand “quality” and came upon some vintage formulations, and eventually couldn’t stand most of the reformulations (as a newbie I basically didn’t have a perception of “synthetic”). I had just about no memory of “vintage greats” before 2008, nor any real understanding of what made them special. And there’s no need for a lot of time to be spent – just go to the BN sales forum or the Crystal Flacon site. There are plenty of people who will put a bunch of decants or samples together at a reasonable price, no more than you’ll spend on the latest designer scent at the mall (at least that’s where my pricing is at for most vintage I can decant).

I can’t say I understand all of the above, but I’ll mention, again, that I came to vintage after being a skeptic and never having paid much attention to them “back in the day.” I smelled mostly the reformulations first, and then in a few cases accidentally tried the vintage versions, such as from a sample, and noticed what seemed (and still seems) like a huge difference in many cases. As a newbie I doubt I would have been able to detect much if any difference, but after several months of intense study it became clear.

As to those who make up excuses, it does get irritating after a while to hear them, over and over again, so I’ll try this one more time:

1. Vintage can be cheaper than dept store prices for generic designer stuff.
2. Sure, avoid sampling Patou Pour Homme if you don’t want to feel you must have it, but the drydown to vintage Bijan Men isn’t too far off and I’ve seen that selling cheaply on ebay, again, if you have patience.
3. If you don’t have patience there are BNers and Crystal Flacon sellers who can help you out. I have a small group of people who buy from me on a regular basis, mostly vintage (samples, decants, and bottles), for example.

There is no reason to avoid vintage, IMO, unless you are going to claim that you only want something like PPH in its “pristine” 1980 form. In that case, yes, you are too particular for vintage, but for others that high-priced stuff is probably well under 1% of the vintage scents out there, probably well over 95% selling at or below current designer prices, if you want to buy on ebay (and possibly cheaper from BN and CF sellers).

If you don’t care about vintage at all then these threads are irrelevant to you, so I’m not sure why you waste your time on them! I’m certainly not one to tell people that if they don’t like vintage they are somehow a lesser person.

Perhaps there are some people who have poor control of their emotions, but I fail to see how one can assume that there are a bunch of people who are “hysterical” or “going crazy” because they do research on scents. Does anyone say this about wine connoisseurs, people who must have a comic book with a certain number on it, those who wouldn’t buy a coin unless it is in BU whatever condition, baseball card collectors who insist on a certain rating from the major rating companies, etc? No, this is the rule, not the exception in these kinds of endeavors. You can call it a waste of time, but I don’t see many people devoting most of their free time to charity, if any. Is it worse than playing a video game or watching a mindless TV show? Let’s get real here, please! LOL.

I’ll just mention that the “mind reading” continues with HankHarvey’s comment. As a newbie, as I’ve said, I couldn’t tell the difference. It certainly was an olfactory blur, and when I read reviews I get the sense that this is true for many others. Of course, it’s a generalization, based upon my perceptions. Again, I like “super cheapos,” and wear them often. There is no disgrace in enjoying whatever you enjoy, again, as a generalization (if you smear your body in feces and enjoy the smell, then yes, some might say that is disgraceful). But we don’t need people claiming that there is “hysteria” because vintage aficionados are seeking information from fellow aficionados. Those who can’t smell the difference appear to get irritated that such threads exist, which makes no sense to me. I often do not read threads that do not appeal to me or that I feel are ridiculous or irrelevant. I do not start new threads on those subjects, calling those people hysterical, silly, or whatever.

Explanations I can understand:

1. I’ve already spent enough money on this hobby, so I don’t want to be tempted by vintage.

2. I’ve smelled some vintage, though I’m not sure of the formulation, but I find these kinds of scents really unpleasant.

3. I’m a stickler for top notes so I will only buy if there is a great return policy, and that’s rarely the case with vintage.

4. I’ve tried a bunch of vintage in original and new formulations and I prefer the new, because the top notes seem stronger (or it’s less animalic, or it’s got less patchouli, etc.).

NOTE:  I think that some people can’t accept that they are unable to detect what others can, and take it as a personal attack, whereas calling someone who is stating a reasonable opinion online “hysterical” is clearly a personal attack.  As I say in my reviews, sometimes a note/aroma chemical seems to be very strong, but during other wearings it does not.  There is no shame in the fact that one’s olfactory perceptions may change over time or that one is unable to detect something like “laundry musk” when a bunch of other people don’t seem to have any difficulties.  Why some of them think this way is the truly interesting question!



Filed under Criticizing the critics.

2 responses to “Will the real “hysterical” person please stand up ?

  1. Tmoran

    I would say your long emotional drawn out responses to harmless discussion that was never directed to you in a thread that never was even remotely close to what you thought it was only fortifies the idea of you being in hysterics.

    • You are doing just what I said someone else did, that is, claiming implicitly to be able to read my mind and saying that because of this power of yours you know I am “hysterical.” Thank you for “proving my point!”

      UPDATE: I should also mention that more than one person has mentioned the length of a post as being indicative of a person being “hysterical” or at least too emotional, but they don’t seem to apply this notion to those who write up long posts on the “other side” of the argument, which is of course lacking in intellectually integrity. We all make mistakes at times, but it’s important to acknowledge these. In my case, I wrote up posts on that thread which led some to think that I meant only the person I quoted, but I was speaking generally. So, I’ll make it clear here that I acknowledge that none of the people I responded to in that thread may have created a thread in the past that seemed to be “trolling” for comments from vintage aficionados. For me, however, calling people you don’t know, who are writing up reasonable posts (without the use of obscenities nor personally attacking someone’s character) hysterical suggests only that the person making the claim may have poor emotional control.

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