The title of this post refers to the thought that crossed my mind when I read the following (a review of L’Envol by Cartier at Basenotes.net):
I sampled this at Nordstrom and was pleasantly surprised. I have been looking for a replacement for Patou Pour Homme, and it looks like I FOUND IT!!! This smells very similar to Patou Pour Homme. Is also smells very similar to Versace’s The Dreamer. The bottle is beautiful also. This is definitely a formal fragrance, suitable for a black tie event or for a CEO/VP/EVP of a Fortune 500 company. I absolutely LOVE IT!!!
What is one to make of this? There’s simply no way any scent made in 2016 is going to smell “very similar” to the original Patou Pour Homme, and he must not mean the re-release of it because that is still available (more about this below). Even if he did, the notes are quite different. For 2013 PPH (from Fragrantica.com and Parfumo.net, respectively):
Top notes provide us with a blend of bergamot, lemon, galbanum and pepper, which give way to lavender, jasmine, rose, tarragon and violet in the heart. Robustness and crudeness come from base notes of patchouli, olibanum and amber.
For L’Envol (from Parfumo.net):
Honey, Gaiac wood, Patchouli, Musk, Iris.
Now if some “dis ding stinks” reviewer had written it, I wouldn’t have bothered to write this post, but it was written by someone who was writing reviews in the early days of BN and has written 165 reviews there alone. It’s also worth noting that the many other reviews of L’Envol are inconsistent with his comparisons. It’s one thing to say that part of a scent smells like this or that other one, but to say any scent is very similar to PPH and The Dreamer is difficult to believe. With a complex scent, such as Claude Montana’s Parfum d’Homme (“red box”), one can say it’s similar to a whole bunch of fragrances, in this or that way (especially when those kinds of complex fougeres were being marketed by just about every major “house” at the time). But to say that 1980 PPH could bear any significant similarity to L’Envol, let alone be very similar, is beyond comprehension – here are the notes for 1980 PPH (from Fragrantica):
Top notes are lavender, clary sage and basil; middle notes are patchouli, geranium, vetiver and fir; base notes are leather, civet, vanilla and tonka bean.
Another reason I thought I should write this post is because I have not sampled either the 2013 PPH or L’Envol – both are beyond my budget as blind buys at this point, but if I thought I’d like either of them I’d try to obtain a sample, especially for the less expensive L’Envol. What I fear in L’Envol is the musk and gaiac wood in particular. The former can have a piercing quality that doesn’t let up for hours (especially as some reviewers call it “white” or “clean” musk – those are the ones I can’t tolerate), and the latter seems to take over a composition and render it irritating after a while. Thus, I would totally disregard his review of it, but what about his other reviews? Obviously, after reading his L’Envol review, I would be very wary of anything else he had to say. I looked through some of his other reviews and found a few other claims I would take issue with, though some other opinions were “on target,” in my experience.
The “moral of the story” may be that even if you find a reviewer whose preferences are similar to yours, you probably should still read all the other reviews (and consider the listed notes, year it was released, reputation of the “house,” perfumer, etc.), then think about the possibilities. Is any 2016 scent going to smell very similar to “vintage” PPH? Come on! Does vintage PPH smell anything like The Dreamer? Perhaps to someone who is having some major olfactory issues, but not the rest of us “experienced noses.” As “newbies,” we tend to smell something similar and think, “these two scents are similar,” but when we gain more experience we realize it may have been an accord or note, but that the scents are not especially similar, let alone very similar. For example, in 2005 this reviewer (who might have been a newbie at the time) wrote this review for Yatagan at BN:
whatIn one word, CHEAP. I sent the bottle back to the company. It was very cheap-smelling and smelled like the inside of particle-board kitchen cupboard in a mobile home. Ugh! Yes, there’s also some kind of “celery” scent in there too, kind of like old celery salt that was kept in that old particle-board kitchen cupboard. There are better fragrances out there than this. If you want a woody type of fragrance, go with Gucci pour Homme or Gucci Rush, both are woody and nice. Perhaps Caron was trying to copy M7 by Yves St. Laurent, as there is a slight similarity between the two smelling like particle-board cupboards.
I can’t understand how 2005 Yatagan could smell cheap (I have a newer formulation and that’s the last thing I would think, even though I’m not much of a fan of it). And what is this “particle-board” thing? Does he think it smells that way, or that it was just a bunch of spice/herb notes thrown together without much thought? And M7 came after Yatagan (2002 versus 1978)! Like another “old time” reviewer at BN, I think this individual sometimes has difficultly keeping his emotions under control while thinking about these concoctions. From what I’ve read, that seems to be a major problem, even for those who are considerably more thoughtful than the “dis ding stinks” reviewers.
Though I may never have read reviews by some of the other reviewers ofL’Envol, they seem to do a much better job of describing it (and their perceptions are consistent with each other and the notes), for example:
…It opens with an earthy blast of patchouli followed by a beautiful honeywood combo with an earthy patchouli vibe on the background. Towards the dry down the Iris shines bringing the typical powderiness to the composition.It literally smells like a piece of hard timber coated with honey with a powdery earthy background…
…this is not the iris that is more “common” nowadays, with the famous lipstick smell. The iris here is also sharp… it reminded me of the signature smell of vintage Must for women…
Honey, but not the usual sweet, spicy and warm. This indeed reminds me of mead, fermented, bubbly, sweet and sour at the same time.
Plus woods, warm round woods, and something vaguely soapy and powdery.
Honeyed iris on a bare untreated wooden table.
..its pleasantly opulent almost velvety not overly sweet its almost dry in a subtle ambery vanilic white woody way with hints of iris and maybe some sort of resin…
On me it starts out somewhat cloying (too sweet), and then the honeyed scent sours somewhat on my skin…
Sweet unisex, woody and honey.
…Towards the dry down the Iris shines bringing the typical powderiness to the composition.It literally smells like a piece of hard timber coated with honey with a powdery earthy background…
On BN there are fewer reviews but these are mostly similar, for example:
I get honey, musk and wood, just as described…
Airy musk, honey, patchouli and iris gives a classy aroma.
L’Envol starts with slightly powdery florals (woody ionones/iris), musk and honey. The musk is clean and modern and the honey devoid of any heavy sweetness or animalic nuances… I was struck by a lightning when the fragrance revealed a fougere vibe, a short of Cool Water/Or Black mix paired with a slug of smoky gaiac and some patchouli. Things here turn soapy but with a strong woods presence.
Putting aside all the talk of honey and powdery patchouli (of which there is a lot, in a subtle, sheer way), what really struck me about L’Envol was the strong violet leaf presence it has…
It sounds like a scent I’d like to sample, but I’d guess there is no better than a 20% chance I’d want a bottle (and would likely wait for prices to come down even then). I don’t like strong wood notes, especially gaiac, and I can’t say that strong honey sounds appealing here, nor do I like what I call “steely iris” notes (when too strong), which seems to be the kind in L’Envol (and the soapy/fougere comment is alarming – I have no interest in another scent with that element!). Note that there are also some comparisons to Fahrenheit, which presumably is strong violet or violet leaf (perhaps a combination), but again, what would this have to do with 1980 PPH? The 2013 PPH might have a similar violet or violet leaf quality, so he could be especially sensitive to this note/aroma chemical, but when one looks at his reviews on BN, he has only reviewed the 1980 one! In that review, he claims that he found a replacement for it in The Dreamer. The best analogy I can think of for his L’Envol review is to consider two people. One might like vanilla ice cream and the other chocolate, or they both might like the vanilla or the chocolate. But one likes vanilla ice cream with mustard as the topping. It gets worse, though, because he also claims the mustard makes it taste sweeter! Who can “make heads or tails” of that?