There was a recent thread on Basenotes.net addressing this type of question, and the responses led me to write this post, one reason being that the answer should be obvious. For example, if a person perceives a particular scent as special and it provides a great deal of pleasure, why wouldn’t that person pay the $200 or so? Of course, if you can only afford to buy a $10 bottle every few months, then again the answer is obvious. Are you going to stop eating so that you can buy a fragrance bottle? Only a person with a mental illness (probably a serious one) would likely do such thing! Ask a Southeby’s auctioneer what most “entry level” oil paintings sell for at their auction house and you’ll see the difference between that number and $200. And with art, you can buy a reproduction for very little at a poster store – the framing of it will likely cost considerably more than the poster did !
To be fair here, the person who created this thread seemed to be asking if Escada Pour Homme was worth the money relative to other scents that sell for about that price level, but after well over a day and a dozen responses, he did not clarify, though he said:
Thanks….seemed too high…so I will pass on this one
after a short period of time, but again we don’t know if he was looking for a specific kind of scent that sold in a specific price range. One person who responded did at least touch upon this:
Great fragrance with an enjoyable cognac-leather-tobacco notes, but would most likely not pay $300 for it, simply because quite a few niche and/or designer exclusive houses do have fragrances with similar notes (though admittedly not always similar skin development/final impression) permanently in stock, priced anywhere between marginally to significantly cheaper
Unfortunately, nobody then responded to this, saying that another scent that currently sells for a lot less will more or less “do the same thing.” The person who started the thread did not disclose why he was even considering this scent in the first place, so I think criticism largely should fall on his shoulders, but this is not the first time someone created such a thread, so here are some of my thoughts:
1. If you are going to ask this kind of question, do you really want to base your decision upon what some anonymous “internet people” say? Sometimes a person sends me a message and asks for my advice because he or she apparently thinks we share preferences – that would seem to make more sense.
2. Almost everyone can afford one expensive scent, even if the charge card has to be used, so isn’t the question really about how special a particular scent is? For example, I would much rather wear what I call vintage Escada Pour Homme (not the one with Scannon on the label) than Patou Pour Homme, and that one sells for a lot more than EPH. But what does that mean? Should I pay $500 for EPH if someone steals my bottle? Or can I just buy a “cheapo” that is close enough for me? The point here is that these prices are highly relative, so you need to ask the question with information that will help others give you reasonable advice!
3. Several of those who responded said they got their bottles at very low prices and couldn’t imagine paying more, which suggests obvious bias. They should disclose whether they would pay those kinds of prices for any scent. I know I doubt that I would, the reason being that there are so many scents I would not want to be without that it simply would be too costly to buy them all at such levels if I lost all my bottles and had to decide which ones to replace.
4. My response was, Yes, if it’s exactly what you want and you have the money. No, if you are not sure about it or if a couple hundred is going to cause financial hardship. Considering how much other “luxury” items cost and how much use you can get out of a 125 ml bottle, assuming you spray twice per day and use it no more than once a week, a couple hundred is not that much.
My guess is that the person is a “newbie,” and happened to read about EPH for one reason or another, then checked prices and was shocked (and then wanted to get some opinions by those with more experience). So, if you are a newbie and are thinking of writing up such a post, why not be more specific? And why not say something like, “I’m a newbie and I don’t understand why some vintage scents are selling for up to a few hundred dollars whereas others you can still buy for about what the designers are selling for at my local department store, and in some cases, quite a bit less. Could someone please explain that to me? He should certainly disclose if he really wants a scent with certain notes, and ask if those notes are strong in the scent (as well as what kind of note it is, such as the different kinds of “leather” one finds in some of these concoctions).
Interestingly, one person responded simply with a link, to a blog page that was a review of EPH. In that review was this passage:
I finally managed to pick up a full boxed bottle of Eau de Toilette from eBay for 125 dollars. It seems quite hard to find this now. This is something that I will touch on again later because it feeds into the notion that some older vintages have attained a status beyond their worth. If enough people believe something to be truly great, then over time, it becomes that – irrespective of its true qualities.
Now on the one hand, I sort of agree with this for Patou Pour Homme, because while it’s an excellent scent, it’s not a “wow factor” one for me. Something like Phoenix by Keith Urban is, though again, I doubt I’d spend a couple hundred dollars on a bottle of it (my guess is that Pure Tonka would be similar enough to me). In fact, a person who responded to that BN thread summed up my notion, at least partially:
“It’s very good but I don’t reach for it often enough to justify paying current ebay prices.”
The thing is I don’t reach for any scent all that often – I certainly wouldn’t pay that much for a “signature scent” that I intend to wear five days a week. So why would someone pay more for a scent that is going to be used up relatively quickly? Out of all the scents that one can buy, surely one could find a reasonably priced scent that is “signature worthy!” By contrast, if I thought EPH was so “good” that I had to wear it at least once a week, I would want at least a couple bottles of it, though I always seem to be able to find a scent that is similar enough for my purposes. Isn’t it amusing how such an apparently simple question requires such explication! But the older I get the more I think this is true of just about every question – what’s odd is that so many people think such questions can be answered with little more than a yes or no!
NOTE: While it by no means smells very close to EPH, you can still get Starring for Men by Avon at very reasonable prices. Its 1997 release date suggest it may have been Avon’s “answer” to EPH. The notes for it are:
“Bay rum, Bergamot, Green apple, Cardamom, Mandarin, Musk, Nutmeg, Sage, Tonka bean, Vanilla.”
To me it seems to have a mild woody quality as well. It’s a little sweet, moderately powdery and fruity, spicy, and with a clear rum type of note.