Has the fragrance as collectible market finally taken off ?


First, I’ll mention a recent observation, that prices for a scent that doesn’t seem to be all that special, Oud Black Vanilla Absolute by Perry Ellis, have gotten “crazy” (I saw one at $300 on ebay, for example, with no “reasonable” prices to be found anywhere). I tried to grab one on beautyspin but they had just sold out! I think it was less than $40 at the time for 100 ml. Am I disappointed? Well, I certainly would have liked to make some “easy money” there, but I doubt the scent would have been something I’d be impressed with, at least around or beyond the $40 level. It’s supposed to be similar to the very expensive Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain, so upon what do I base my notion? I tried SDV and didn’t think it was anything special, at least for me. Second, some have said it’s a bit heavier than Cologne of the Missions by Le Couvent des Minimes, but otherwise similar. One Fragrantica.com reviewer perceives it the way I think I would:

OBVA is a refined vanilla scent that gets to the very heart of what makes vanilla great–the bean without the caked-over, artificially-heavy vibe. It might be ever so slightly boozier than SDV, so it leans toward Tauerville Vanilla Flash in that respect. OBVA still is not as refined and strong (in terms of projection and longevity) as SDV, but it’s decently close in both respects. Certainly a reasonably-priced substitute if it becomes available again at under 20% of the cost of SDV.

However, I doubt I would buy it if it came back down to $40 because I already have so many gourmands that I enjoy, and also the rum with vanilla idea doesn’t sound all that great to me (I make my own “rum cake” and think of it more as something to eat than breathe in all day long). About a week ago I obtained a 100 ml bottle of In Black by Jesus Del Pozo and found the drydown to be exactly what I was seeking, and it cost a lot less than $40, and I’ll also mention that I don’t like scents where the vanilla really dominates. A few weeks back I bought 100 ml of Black Oud by Remy Latour (again, for a lot less than $40), which is more vanilla-centered but has just enough contrast with other elements to render it enjoyable. And currently I own A*Men, a few of the flankers, and a bunch of other vanilla-dominant scents, such as Bvlgari Black, for quite some time.

So, other than for the price rise, I doubt OBVA would do much for me, but now I want to turn my attention to what this rise likely represents. I’ve seen this before in other collectible markets, and it’s not at all unusual. However, the price rise only stays high for the most prized items, but that is after a peak has been reached. It’s not clear if that is the case yet with these olfactory concoctions – that is what is difficult to determine. And what’s really strange here is that you can sometimes get a great deal, for example, the other day I obtained a 1 ounce bottle of Keith Urban’s Phoenix for well under $10, and I find it to be the challenging yet pleasant scent that I though most niche would be like when I was a newbie. And one former favorite, at least at Basenotes.net, L’Instant Homme Extreme, can be purchased new for less than $40 now (75 ml). Why wouldn’t Perry Ellis (actually, the company that owns the license) simply make more of a scent that seems simple and cheap to make, especially now that they already have their formula established)? This is clearly not the kind of scent that likely to be changed significantly any time soon, from what I understand.

But such markets don’t listen to reason, at least not until more than a bit of “craziness” has had it’s day. The “Dutch Tulip Craze” is one example often cited, and with OBVA, one has to ask if we are witnessing a similar kind of thing with vanilla-scented liquid. Clearly, many people have become caught up in notions of either obtaining a “masterpiece” or making “big profits.” Once enough people with these kinds of ideas have an object to fixate on, such as particular scents, it’s “off to the races” with the prices. Those who rail against the “hype machine” don’t seem to realize it is part of the process, and it’s best to just try to keep one’s common sense intact. It’s a bit irritating, of course, but it’s best to try and figure out how it works than to experience strong negative emotions. On a practical level, if you “missed out,” why not buy some samples and use them over a period of a few months. By the time you use it up, you might find yourself asking why there is hype, and thinking that you can get more or less the same kind of enjoyment from a bottle you already own.

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