Here’s another “cheapo” that I decided to buy because I could get it at a “super cheapo” price, and my perception of this scent dovetails with what I said in recent posts about niche being something of a fad (at least among those who are not wealthy). That is, the drydown of Excellence is better than the drydown of many niche scents I’ve sampled, though of course if you want a drydown that smells of turnips and turpentine, then yes, Excellence is not going to be all that impressive (as would be the case for 99% or more of all other scents!). I’d guess that the negative or lukewarm reviews of it are based upon certain expectations. For example, some consider it an inferior version of 1 Million, but suppose it wasn’t meant to be like such loud, “party” type scents? I think that’s the case with Excellence, which is a very pleasant blend that doesn’t go too far in any direction. The listed notes, at Fragrantica, are:
“…luminous grapefruit and mandarin combined with pink pepper. A heart provides floral notes of lily of the valley, iris and orange blossom, to warm you up and to enrich warm and cuddly base notes of vanilla, amber and tonka.”
There are more than a few notes on that list that can overwhelm a composition, and I imagine quite a few guys thought that grapefruit, mandarin, and pepper would be quite strong and “statement-making,” but that’s not the case here. I’ve found that lily of the valley can be more or less ruinous to a composition, for example, but I’m not sure I can even detect a hint of it here! Orange blossom often has that “raspy” textural quality that seems to be a love it or hate it affair, though all I get is a kind of orange tint. And obviously when you see that the only base notes are vanilla, amber, and tonka, there’s a tendency to think you are going to smell like Play Doh flavored candy, but this isn’t even all that sweet!
Once again, I find myself asking, why did they create a scent that seems like something one might get with a niche scent (at least in the drydown)? Perhaps companies that make these “lesser house”/celebuscent/etc. fragrances thought they needed “identity” at one point, though now it seems like the trend is to roughly copy a popular niche or designer exclusive one. Do I need a $150 niche scent that has a similar drydown to Excellence? My guess is that people like Michael Edwards would say yes, though that would be if you could actually get a relevant response! That is, I don’t think they want to address this kind of question at all. Excellent is excellent, but in terms of our existing socio-economic structure, there seems to be a small market for it – those of us who can recognize a very good drydown and want to save more than perhaps $100 because we don’t care about “house reputation” or other such trappings of specialness.
I wore Excellence three times, the first being a dab sample and the last two being “regular wearings.” Reading reviews of niche scents lately, I find myself thinking, “what are these people actually experiencing?” And, “do they know that there are some really inexpensive scents that are very similar?” I’ll be the first person to say that a scent such as Sweet Tobacco Spirits 18.21 is probably not available in “super-cheapo” form, but when I read niche reviews of scents I have little or no interest in, such as on sites like the NST blog, I wonder who is getting so excited by most of the compositions discussed. For example, think of the options you have if you want to buy a new car. Are you going to take dozens of cars for a test drive? I’ve never known anyone who does that – usually it’s narrowed down to a few to test. Yet with scents, so many seem to think that they need to not just sample, but buy bottles at around $100 or even more, despite having a scent (or more) that is similar! Now if you can afford it and it’s your main hobby, that isn’t something to criticize, IMO, but just don’t claim specialness at that point. You like variety, as I do, but I just think of these as interesting smells that last for several hours and don’t seem to be as unhealthy as items like scented candles or burning incense. Don’t “hype” every new niche scent that gets released – yes, it’s unique, in that it’s not exactly like anything else, but to claim that it’s special goes too far. How many of these concoctions are truly special at this point? I’ll buy an excellent “cheapo” and use the rest of my free time to think about something other than every new niche scent that gets released!