Category Archives: Fragrance Reviews.

Was there an Eau de Parfum formulation of Pino Silvestre?

One reason I decided to publish this post today is because it somewhat complements the latest post on the FromPyrgos blog.  A few months back, I obtained the EdP bottle of PS pictured below.  I also took pictures of the other two bottles I own, one I obtained about five years ago, from a discounter, which of course means  it might be quite a bit older (the largest bottle, 125 ml).  The one in the middle is a “vintage” formulation, though I can’t say how old it is for sure (it’s got a more natural lavender note and is smoother).  The EdP is also clearly different to me, with less lavender and the kind of base you find in many “intense,” “absolute,” “extreme,” etc. flankers (that is, it may have benzoin, amber, vanilla, etc., blended together to create that smooth but not too sweet quality).  It’s my favorite of the three by a wide margin, and something that niche companies might learn a thing or two from!  If anyone knows something about the EdP please leave a comment – I contacted Mavive through their web site for any information they could give me on the EdP but they didn’t respond:

Pino Silvestre 3 bottles.jpg

If you can’t read it, the EdP says Special Edition next to the number 50, and that number has the degree symbol next to it.

Pino Silvestre bottle bottoms.jpg

On the bottom of the EdP bottle, embossed in the glass, it says Weruska & Joel Torino.  It also has a transparent plastic label which says this, along with Eau de Parfum, Made in Italy, 75 ml, etc.  Then the batch code (I’d guess) of 6039 appears to be stamped over that plastic label.  The cap seems to be a wood veneer and there’s a mid green colored plastic liner that slides onto the sprayer (which is a gold metal).

In his blog post about Green Generation (by Mavive), Brian mentions Weruska & Joel, so perhaps he has some ideas about it, at least roughly when it was released:

https://frompyrgos.blogspot.com/2014/10/green-generation-him-parfums-mavive.html

One possibility is that not only was it a limited edition but it was also only released in certain nations (the person I bought it from was located within the USA).  And note that I didn’t try to contact Weruska & Joel because at the time I thought it was the company that made the bottle.  I’ll do that if I don’t get any information on it within the next few days.

UPDATE:  See the comments for the answer!

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The designer scent that’s a failed attempt at niche.

Vetiver Essence Ferrari for men

You may have heard the phrase, “a designer attempt at niche” before, but I often find it not to be applicable or to be at least somewhat misplaced, though I think this is the perfect way to regard Ferrari’s Essence Vetiver (though not successful, IMO).  Fragrantica.com lists the notes as:

…Calabrian bergamot, red and Sichuan pepper and cardamom. The heart includes aroma of coffee, orris root and essence of vetiver. Patchouli, tonka and hazel wood form the base of the perfume.

The first time I wore it, a dab sampling, I didn’t smell much at all, so the second time I decided to go with four sprays to the chest.  There’s an orange-ish quality that’s a touch sour and sort of bounces around at low volume, which is more odd than irritating or pleasant.  My review included the following:

… I can’t say I smell an obvious vetiver note but it does smell like an odd murky composition. Yes, it seems that spice, patchouli, etc. and even coffee is present, but it’s sort of like taking bright oil paints and blending them together until you get a medium brown color with just hints of the original pigments. So I do find it interesting but not all that enjoyable. It’s not sweet, nor animalic, at least not yet. I’ll update if anything changes. The dull color of the bottle certainly seems appropriate!

And it didn’t last all that long either, which was another disappointment.  If this was a typical Lutens with the same notes I would be really interested in sampling it, and I would be surprised if I didn’t like it.  Most likely it would have a heavy amber, patchouli, and/or tonka base, but this one just peters out over time, never really smell more than somewhat interesting.  Here’s another Fragrantica review that is similar:

Down right disappointing 😦
Nothing in this fragrance smells genuine!
Not the vetiver (what I bought it for.. no wonder people say “not for vetiver lover”), not the cardamon (silly me, hoping for something like Voyage d`Hermes), not the bergamot (I just smell something sour and fresh-ish green), and definitely not the potentially gourmand hazelnut and coffee (one can only hope)…
However, it does deliver the sharp peppers [opening] and the patchouli [drydown], which doesn’t help -_-
Interesting maybe, but overall a pretty messy cheap smelling commercial type

I wish I had perceived strong patchouli with the drydown, and I didn’t get the sharp pepper he did, but it does give me an idea!  Next time I should apply a strong patchouli scent underneath where I spray Vetiver Essesnce.  If and when I do that, I’ll update this post.  Otherwise, my experience is that these “niche-like designer” scents are really “hit or miss.”  Franck Olivier’s Oud Touch is really great for the $15 I paid for 100 ml, by contrast.  There were some very positive reviews, though, such as:

I really enjoy this fragrance, everything works well together and it’s almost like nothing I have smelled before, least in my neck of the woods. Drydown is amazing. Like what you like and wear it, I do…

And there was also the idea that it’s a good “starter vetiver” scent, but I got so little vetiver that I can’t agree with that notion.  However, I did pay less than $18 for 100 l new, and so if you like the note list and can sample it, I’d certainly say try it, but as a blind buy I can’t recommend it.  Even if you like the scent you might be disappointed with the longevity and/or projection.

 

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The “nothing fragrance.”

Jil Sander Man Jil Sander for men

First let me make clear that what might be a “nothing fragrance” for me, might be a “masterpiece” for you, or vice versa.  As you might have guessed, this 2007 release, Jil Sander Man, is one such scent for me.  But what’s interesting is the glowing reviews for it.  Before I get to those, let me me disclose the notes (from Fragrantica.com):

Top notes are lavender, violet and bergamot; middle notes are sage and vetiver; base notes are cedar, myrrh and russian leather.

Just as Fragrantica alone, we can read reviews that include the following:

…a remarkable fragrance.

…Rubbery? Yes. Smoky? Yes. Unique? absolutely.

…It opens with an aromatic flowery phase (bergamot, lavender & violet – one of my preferred flowery notes) then switch on a bitter rooty-spicy one (sage & vetiver). In the drydown, when the sweet woody-incensy combo arises (myrrth & cedar) it feels very smooth, elegant and also a bit leathery.

…I use this only at special occasions when I want to feel this wonderful smoke and leather.

…This is one of the most delicious scent I have ever felt!

…basically a woody-leathery violet scent with vetiver and cedar (“pencil”) notes and a slight smoky fog.

…It is too heavy sweet and without interesting individuality. Seems even unisex because of that sugar sweetness.

…Love this! What a nice smoke, vetiver, wood combo!

…This is such a overwelaming scent ! Truly a Masterpice.

…Very much like Cacharel NEMO, about the same sillage. Also, there are a few aspects of this fragrance that remind me of Vintage YSL M7. The biggest is the AWESOME powdery drydown, not a talc, but a wonderful leathery powder. It is just awesome!

…The drydown is good and surprising. Do not let the opening fool you.

…Truly a hidden GEM ! Dark…sexy…masculine…mysterious.

My review is:

For a while I was thinking, a smoother Rochas Man, but without a coffee note (or one that is very mild). However, there is also a “fresh” element (“old school” style, not a bunch of powerful/nasty aroma chemicals). I’d say the sweetness is moderate, and it’s not a strong scent overall, perhaps an “office friendly” version of Rochas Man. I’m not getting a smoky quality, as others have, and I certainly wouldn’t call it a remarkable scent, though I can understand how some might really enjoy it (“dark,” “sexy, or “masculine:” I’d say a “big no” to those descriptions). Don’t expect to clearly smell some or even most of the listed notes – this is more of a “classy” designer blend scent. This is not the kind of scent I’d wear often, if ever really, because when I want at least some of those notes I want them to be more obvious or stronger.

To be fair, there were a few reviews that included comments that I agree with, but overall I was thinking, “how could such a ‘meh’ scent be described in these ways?”  In some ways, I’d say this is a good example of a scent that was blended “into oblivion.”  But I can’t say anything else “bad” about it, other than it may have been a scent of its time (or perhaps the time had passed it by before it was released).  The youngsters would likely say it’s too “old” or “mature,” and it’s not what I would call an aficionado or “niche crowd” scent.  It certainly could be a good “office scent,” but only in the sense that it’s weak and nondescript, at least at this point in time.  Since it was released the same year I first started reading about fragrances (and in my case it was at the very end of 2007), I can’t say it was perceived as an “office scent” with a bit of an edge at that time.  However, I purchased a bottle as part of a lot, so I’m not too disappointed.  I’ll likely move it out by swap or sale soon, but I’m almost regretful that I “wasted” a day wearing it when I could have worn something I’d have enjoyed!

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Fabricating an argument about the use of the word fabricated?

Black is Black Sport by Nu Parfums

On another fragrance blog I was criticized for stating, in the comment section (replying to someone’s initial comment):

…I think that was a largely fabricated market, for those who want to feel “special…”

This was in reply to the initial comment in which the author argued that it was a case of demand being met by supply:

Ya’think maybe it’s because people like those sorts of scents?

No, I made my opinion quite clear in the previous post:

My perception is that some companies are using iso e super overload or cashmeran overload to market a scent as “niche.” If others disagree, that’s fine, but you can’t say someone is wrong about a perception that involves “industry secrets,” unless you are an “industry insider.” We simply don’t know if the people who make decisions about what scents to release and how to market them are doing this intentionally or not…

Of course, once a new kind of composition demonstrates it can be successful, we’ll see at least some “clone” type scent marketed to “cash in,” but the whole notion of a “niche” fragrance is clearly a fabrication. These are just smells; there is no such thing as a “high class” or a “low class” smell, outside a cultural context. There do seem to be smells that people tend to think of as pleasant or unpleasant (“natural programming?”), and some niche companies have marketed scents that are unpleasant-smelling to most people (at least at “first sniff”) usually in order to garner publicity, apparently.

But there’s a problem: most people don’t want to smell like rotting cabbage and burning plastic, so how do you cash in on people who don’t want to “smell like everyone else” but also want to smell “good?” It seems that for the most part, a “less is more” approach was the one found to be most worth pursuing, which is possible with aroma chemicals like iso e super and cashmeran. Now I own more than a few niche bottles, and they tend to be “heavy” scents: gourmands, orientals, leathers, and tobacco-oriented ones, but I don’t care about “smelling good” for others; I want to experience smells that I personally enjoy (and last for several hours). So, niche seems to be mainly focused on these two kinds of consumers.

But as I made clear, these are my perceptions. We are not likely to see top executives or owners from niche companies as well as Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Tom Ford, etc. hold a press conference and disclose their marketing strategies to us. Instead, we see a scent by Tom Ford with a two word name, the first being an obscenity and the second being Fabulous. Is that an attempt to “fabricate” a demand? One can disagree with someone’s perception, but when the person is clearly speculating about a reasonable possibility, why should that be criticized?  If you have information to the contrary, then go ahead and disclose it, but otherwise just just state what seems most likely to you!

Now it may be that the person is a total newbie and should take some time to learn about how things work, but that’s not the case here. On the other hand, one could argue that any non-necessity market is “fabricated,” though in some cases there can be debate about what constitutes necessity (and then there’s the issue of the amount of stress one might have to endure without access to something, such as trying to take the local buses rather than owning a car in suburban or rural areas where one would have to walk a mile or so just to get to the bus stop). There seems to be a trend in American society today in which people spend a lot of time arguing about what used to be a tempest in a teapot (or arguing about arguing!).  This may allow people to vent strong negative emotions they are feeling, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be doing much good for society!

With that said, I thought I’d mention Black is Black Sport.  The listed notes for that one are (from Parfumo.net):

Top Notes Top Notes Wild mint, Peppermint, Spearmint
Heart Notes Heart Notes Mandarin, Lemon
Base Notes Base Notes Ginger, Vetiver, Amber

Though not as strong as some niche scents that prominently feature a dry, woody/vetiver, and at least somewhat “chemical” base, the composition here strikes me as more unique.  The minty quality is obvious, and there’s a touch of citrus and spice, but for me it’s mainly mint and that dry/woody/chemical quality.  If this kind of composition was released by a niche company with a “cool” name and over-the-top description, it might be the talk of Basenotes, Fragrantica, and some of the blogs!  It might need to be made a bit stronger, but it’s along the same lines as so many with a similar base.  Though I sprayed five times, it was actually interesting and enjoyable at times, unlike scents such as SJP’s Stash is (to me), probably because the chemical quality was more like a minor note (and it was weak) that contrasts with the mintiness.  And it costs about $6 per 100 ml at the moment at a major online fragrance retailer!

 

 

 

 

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Can you “just say no” to IFRA ?

Rogue Perfumery Warning Label.jpg

Not long ago I was contacted (through the Basenotes.net site) by a new perfumer who is launching a new line.  He wanted to know if I was interested in sampling his initial fragrances, and I agreed.  So, as for “full disclosure,” I was sent four samples that appear to be 1 ml or less each.  The perfumer is striving to recreate vintage compositions (and doesn’t adhere to IFRA guidelines), especially of that late 70s to early 90s period, it seems, so I was quite curious to sample them.  After doing so, he decided to launch one of them at first (Tabac Vert).  For those interested, here is where you can order samples or 30 ml bottles:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RoguePerfumery

I’ll begin my reviews with Chypre de Siam, which I hope he releases soon.  The notes for this one are:

Benzoin, Kaffir Lime, Jasmine Sambac, Salacca Fruit, Oakmoss, Incense Wood.

The ingredients listed on the etsy page are:

Coumarin, Iso Alpha Methyl Ionone, Hydroxycitronellal, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Limonene, Oakmoss, Citronellol, Geraniol, Citral, Eugenol, Isoeugenol.

I dabbed it on and I try to avoid top notes (though in this case I just blew on the area that was dabbed, rather than holding my breath or leaving the room), so keep that in mind.  It certainly feels “old school,” and those who don’t like dry “old school” scents that are sweet may find not enjoy it, but I could also see some of these people being won over to it, because it isn’t “musty” (I’ve read many who complained of this quality).  On the other hand, it’s possible that some would perceive it as musty.  I think what most mean by this is a dry yet musky quality, perhaps with a clear animalic element.  If you have tried Equipage, imagine it without the strong rosewood (and muskiness) and I think you’ll have a good idea what this is like (again, at the drydown stage).

What I was expecting was either a somewhat sweet base or a dry/woody one, but this is no more than a touch sweet and just a bit woody.  I think it would satisfy those who have said they wished they could find in vintage scents, which is a more straightforward (possibly simpler) and less “in your face” composition.  You don’t have to worry about any obvious aroma chemicals here, and I could imagine this being good for layering as well (lately, I have often layered a vintage scent with a recent release).  A criticism may be that it’s not daring enough, but unless someone claims that his/her scents were meant to be “groundbreaking” I can’t accept this as a valid complaint.

I was going to sample the others, but then before I did he told me that he decided to change the formulations/compositions, and only release Tabac Vert for the time being, until he gets the others exactly as he wants them.  The listed notes for TV are:

Cedar, pepper, bergamot, amber and sandalwood.

Fortunately (for me, at least), this is a “big” tobacco type scent, reminiscent of Creed’s Vintage Tabarome and Worth Pour Homme Haute Concentration (but without the lavender), so I’d classify it a bit closer to the former.  I like this one better than any non-sweet tobacco scent I’ve tried so far (I wouldn’t reach for this one when I wanted something like Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, and vice versa).  And the tobacco quality  lasts for a very long time!  There’s no longer any reason to lament “high” vintage prices (such as for ones like Patou Pour Homme, Vintage Tabarome, and Egoiste Cologne Concentree).  Nor can one say (as I’ve heard on more than a few occasions) that vintage should be avoided because it may not be easily replaced.  It’s available now and you can buy as much as you like!  The base is reminiscent of Boucheron Pour Homme EdP (vintage formulation) but with tobacco rather than lingering citrus.

As to the oakmoss content in Tabac Vert specifically, the perfumer says it is just a hair under 1%, whereas IFRA only allows .2%.  I asked him about how Tabac Vert  compares to vintage scents that contained more tiny amounts and this was his response;

I recall seeing a Louis Appell demo formula for Chypre de Coty with 1% oakmoss. And I’ve also seen a (so-called authentic) formula for Mitsouko with a whopping 7%.

Without an actual gcms of these original juices we’ll never really know because perfumers are super secretive. We can only really gauge from these demo formulas and what works in our own lab.

But, for the record: I very adamantly DO NOT consider myself a perfumer but rather a perfume hobbyist. I’ve spent the last 8 years learning and familiarizing myself with the materials. I experimented with demo formulas and did A LOT of trial & error (mostly error), but I think to consider myself a perfumer marginalizes the real perfumers in their industry and their hard work, experience and education.

Overall, I was pleased to learn that there’s no reason why vintage type scents can no longer be produced.  Why so many niche companies want to market “iso e super overload” or “cashmeran overload” scents is an interesting question.  As I’ve said before, it may be that enough of the niche crowd now perceive a scent with a lot of iso e super or cashmeran as “special,” “expensive,” “high quality,” etc., and so it’s more likely to be a success (can you imagine what a “dihydromyrcenol overload” scent would be perceived by this demographic?).   Personally, and on the other side of the niche scene (that is, the “talented amateurs”), I liked these scents more than any of the Andy Tauer scents I’ve tried.  Why are some of AT’s scents so popular?  If it’s because of the “in your face” quality, then you might find the Rogue Perfumery ones to be “up your alley,” but to me TV is a composition that works perfectly, whereas the AT scents I’ve tried seem flawed in one way or another.  After I told him how much I enjoyed TV, he generously sent me 30 ml, so that should keep my non-sweet tobacco scent cravings in line for a quite a while, as it’s very strong (I think one full spray per wearing is all I need)!

NOTE:  TV is really “old school,” so some will likely perceive it as musty or even “old lady,” but they’d say the same thing about Vintage Tabarome, Patou Pour Homme, Egoiste Cologne Concentree, etc., I’d guess.

 

 

 

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Dior’s Sauvage or Leather Oud?

I’ve seen people mention these two scents in the same paragraph.  The point is usually one of two possibilities, along the lines of, “if you don’t like Sauvage, go ahead and wear Leather Oud and watch people run away from you,” or, “how could a house that released Leather Oud release Sauvage not long thereafter?”  The obvious thought here is that Sauvage was targeted at the masses, especially younger guys who think a scent will help them in their romantic quests, whereas LO is only for those who want something unique and don’t care what others think of the scent they are wearing.  One point I have made is that if Dior (or whatever corporate entity makes the decisions) is willing to release a scent like LO but has to also release a scent like Sauvage, why shouldn’t we all embrace this?  Sure, you might work in an office where one guys bathes in Sauvage, but that would likely be some other scent you don’t like (if Sauvage was never released)!

As of this writing, the last two reviews of Sauvage on Fragrantica.com do a good job of summing up the “two sides:”

in this non-innovative competitive market, being a market leader is a pretty difficult job and for this reason I admire this creation from Dior and the contemporary absolute genius perfumer Monsieur Demachy. Agree or Disagree this creation is a super crowd pleasing perfume around the world, making lots of money for Dior and changed the market rules and trends, brought up Ambroxan as a key ingredient to the industry as well. Dior Sauvage is not an easy forgettable perfume. It is a revolutionary product that won’t leave the scene for years.

And:

How could the man who penned Leather Oud and the house behind a modern classic like Dior Homme and a portfolio of legends commit such a crime against humanity?

Sauvage is the scourge of this age, tailored to fit the shallow and self-absorbed trend of the time. Grace, manners, style, respect, balance, wisdom, and art? Out with all that, now all that matters is who is the loudest for the longest time. And Sauvage is loud. I long thought, that Paco Rabanne’s Evil Million was the ultimate olfactory WMD, but somehow Demachy and Dior trumped it by several lengths!

The ambrox overload puts everyone on the vicinity of the “wearer” in a death grip, that would make even Darth Julius Vader himself give a respectful tip of the helmet. Usually ambrox is a great material to work with, as it enhances everything with an organic, soft and exalting glow, but its beauty and purpose has been corrupted, transforming it into a piercing weapon from which there is no escape.

No escape…..

The reviewer in the first passage quoted is outright wrong.  Adventurer II by Eddie Bauer also has an intolerable (to my nose) dose of ambroxan, and I would be surprised if there wasn’t another scent that also has such a dose, but was released before Adventurer II.  No matter; if you like it, you like it – that’s fine with me.  What I do find strange is how so many who seem to think of themselves as aficionados (or at least very knowledgeable about scents) are so quick to think Sauvage is unique or special.  Instead, they should say something like, “I only really sample the major releases, and compared to the others this is quite different, at least in terms of the use of ambroxan.”  Even when people like myself point out that this is not a new idea, they keep saying the same thing, as if that will make it true (perhaps this is appropriate in this new age of “fake facts,” where a recent poll found that a clear majority of Republicans, for example, thought that the nation’s colleges/universities are doing more harm than good)!

But I don’t want to pursue this further; instead I want to talk about why I enjoy LO so much (note that I am referring to a 2011 formulation).  Fragrantica has the following notes for it:

…leather and civet with noble agar and other woody nuances (patchouli, sandalwood, birch, cedar and vetiver). There are also ingredients of cardamom, cloves, amyris, beeswax, amber and labdanum, which complement this warm composition.

So there’s a lot that can “go wrong” here, such as the usual ‘chemical oud” note, but what I get here is what I want in a designer scent, which is excellent balance among the notes, along with naturalness (the opposite of Sauvage, to my nose).  Over time, it gets better, and my “mind’s nose” is able to appreciate the nuances that such a scent possesses.  Just as I think one note might be a bit too strong, another note comes forward, which is what I think of as great dynamism.  Like Sauvage, a little goes a long way.  I have sampled so many oud, leather, etc. scents, but there simply is no comparison.  LO packs all kinds of “heavy” notes (no tobacco, though) together and makes it work exactly the way I want it to.

Of course, LO is more expensive than Sauvage, but there is a similar scent, One Man Show Oud Edition, by Jacques Bogart, that is selling for very low prices at the moment.  It’s goes on similarly, but after a while the chemicals become obvious to me (iso e super in particular).  However, it might work just as well for you!  For me this is an excellent example of why an aficionado (who isn’t poor, obviously) would pay more for a scent that is similar to a cheap one (I obtained some LO in a swap).  By contrast, I have so often thought to myself that a “cheapo” was just as good as an expensive niche scent.  And this is not a new phenomenon, for instance I enjoy Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur more than Bois du Portugal (at least the Aladdin or older formulations of PCPM).  There’s another example of niche being much better (to me) than designer or below, and that is Cheat Day, by Haught Perfumes, which possesses powerful notes of waffle cone, chocolate, and coffee.  Rebelle by Rihanna has similar notes (no waffle cone but both have strawberry and the other two notes), but I have to strain to detect the notes I enjoy most in Rebelle.

What I get from Sauvage is a scent like Wings for Men by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, that is a “chemical nightmare” (though one that many think of as pleasant, fresh, etc.) that is very strong – it’s what I think of as a “drug store scent” (that, or an older scent that used to be quite good but has been reformulated and/or weakened significantly, is what I tend to think of as “drug store”).  As some have argued, the brains of many “youngsters” today seem to have been “wired” to appreciate chemicals like ambroxan and “laundry musks” in large amounts, so it’s really not fair to tell them they have bad taste (as some have), and olfactory fatigue can also play a major role (for those who nearly bathe in such scents).  Just like popular music today is often said to be awful by the older crowd, young adults need time to sort things out.  Many will say things like, “I can’t believe I ever enjoyed wearing that scent” (or listening to that music) when they get older, but others will persist with their preferences (as many wear Cool Water still, which seems to be loaded with dihyromyrcenol, at least in my “vintage” bottle).  Arguments can be made about why a scent is tasteful while another is not, but if you are going to say this to someone who can’t even comprehend your case, I would say you are wasting your time.  Just enjoy what you enjoy!

 

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Fake Niche versus Real Niche.

As I said in the last post, I’m not all that interested in debating the concept of niche with others.  I have my notions about what it should mean, and then there are several common concepts about it that others hold.  Here, I want to provide my sense of what niche, or at least niche-like, should mean.  It’s very simple (in my mind), because we all know there are quite a few scents that are widely available, starting (at the low end) with “drug store” scents (some of which are bad reformulations of great vintage ones), and going up to the “top” designers.  In order to compete with better-known niche companies, some designer brands decided to create “exclusive” lines, which to me should be considered niche, in terms of the marketing if not the smell itself.  By contrast, there are some “amateur outfits” like Andy Tauer or Smell Bent (as I call them), which tend to do a better job of being niche than the many of the more “professional” niche companies, in my opinion, of course.

If you read my last post you have a sense of what I think “fake niche” is.  Basically, it’s throwing a lot of iso e super, cashmeran, “white” musk” and or some other obvious aroma chemicals together with something that sounds like it should be in a niche scent, such as leather, oud, tobacco, or pistachio.  The problem, at least for me, is that the aroma chemicals overwhelm whatever “good” there is in it.  What I want from niche is a scent that is novel and enjoyable, and of course one that is not like any designer (or even “drug store”) that came before it.  I don’t want a niche version of Old Spice (I have the previous incarnation of it, Early American Old Spice) or English Leather (I have a pre-Dana version of that one), though some “authorities” speak glowingly about some niche scents that were apparently meant to be just this sort of thing (I devoted a post to that development, which I found rather strange)!

By contrast, I don’t mind if a scent does something different than vintage and is a little “synthetic” in some way.  And that brings me to another “celebuscent,” Unbreakable, which possesses notes of (from Parfumo.net):

Top Notes Top Notes Bergamot, Clementine, Green apple, Saffron
Heart Notes Heart Notes Geranium, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, Red fruits
Base Notes Base Notes Dark chocolate, Tonka bean, Vanilla, Cedarwood

 

My bottle cost $11 or $12 total (100 ml with cap), and was a blind buy.  I don’t think of it as “niche quality,” but I do consider it “niche-like.”  The reason is that I do detect a slight “laundry musk” element, but because it is mild I find that it adds some complexity to the composition, whereas so much niche that I think of as “fake” contains irritating amounts of iso e super, etc.  And after a long time (I’d guess at least 10 hours), I do detect a “cheap” wood note in Unbreakable, though I’m quite surprised at how long the composition holds together (unlike some recent CK scents I’ve tried, where after half an hour or so a bare aroma chemical quality dominates everything).  On the other hand, there is a nice orange/apple element, along with some mild but detectable chocolate note.  Otherwise, I find it to be rather “tight,” which is not unexpected and fine here, since the notes that I wanted to smell are not a figment of the perfumer’s imagination.

The key point, for me if no one else, is to ask yourself what you are seeking.  You may never find a “niche version” of Unbreakable, for example (as newbies often ask about with quite a few designer scents), so are you willing to “settle” for one that is not quite “niche quality” (meaning something you’d expect from a Lutens)?  And if a niche scent with a load of iso e super is acceptable to you, why is a little laundry musk in Unbreakable a “dealbreaker?”  If the reason involves social perceptions, that’s fine with me, but then why bother to wear niche?  Most people either won’t recognize it as such or will dislike it?  The “crowd pleasing” niche scents are often mistaken for much cheaper designer ones, and ones that I’ll grant are unique (hypothetically, for the sake of the argument) are soon “cloned,” the most obvious case being Aventus.  Iso e super is not a “better” aroma chemical than dihydromyrcenol (which is found in large amounts in many “masculines,” including Cool Water) or various “laundry musks;” should people who think along these lines be called “niche snobs?”

Another example of a “cheapo” with a chocolate/cocoa note is 125 Years by Victorinox.  This one does not have any aroma chemical that could come across as “cheap,” AFAICT, and it’s composition is surely “niche-like:”

Top Notes Top Notes Grapefruit, Cardamom
Heart Notes Heart Notes Cocoa, Larch wood
Base Notes Base Notes Hay, Tonka bean

 

It’s not as strong as many niche scents of this type but at this price level (my 100 ml bottle cost less than $15 total), one can just spray more to make up for it (I don’t get much tonka, for those who dislike this note).  In some cases that may be an issue (bringing out a “chemical” quality), but that’s not the case here or in most if not all of my favorite “super cheapos.”  Yet how many who think Stash SJP is niche-like (if not outright niche) would say that about 125 Years?  Obviously, at least in the USA Stash has gotten much more publicity than 125 Years, so that might be a major reason.  However, I think another reason for some if not most who try it (and say it’s niche-like) is that the aroma chemicals in it (used in certain amounts) are now perceived as “niche” by enough people to make it something companies now know they can market as niche-like.

It almost seems as if these kinds of niche/niche-like scents were made with the notion that the vintage greats should be recreated using certain aroma chemicals rather than the typical naturals used in vintage.  That’s a huge problem, at least for me, because the reason why I have an interest in niche in the first place is because I want something simpler and without the melange of notes found in vintage (and often I often would like the lavender removed from vintage).  I don’t know how many times I’ve thought that a vintage scent would be outstanding if only the lavender was removed.  With the lavender present, it smells too much like dozens of other vintage ones!  A good example is the first Ungaro “masculine,” which I wore recently.  It’s got a whole lot of notes, but as usual, there’s that lavender note acting like it owns everything.  Replacing strong lavender with strong iso e super, for example, is a terrible idea, though of course I can’t speak for others.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t find “fake niche” to be an issue with all releases that seem to aspire to being part of the niche world (to me Lutens’ scents are “real niche,” though that doesn’t mean all that I’ve sampled are for me), but other niche companies seem to have gone in the opposite direction.  Clearly, some people agree with me, for example:

Pegasus was a scrubber for me. I agree that the almond note is nice (see also HdP 1725), but the base screams of chemicals. Pegasus smells very niche to me when first prayed, but the base smells like something I’d get at Ross or TJ Maxx, and no amount of scrubbing could get it off my skin. I was stuck with that nastiness for hours. I love the top, but the base is pure yuck. The base of Reflection is magic.

PdM tends to be heavy handed with synthetics in their bases, and that’s a shame. They seem to be only interested in top notes and performance, which leads to scents that smell amazing for a while but end up leaving you with chemical funk for hours. Well, maybe not you. But those with a ” with a superior olfactive sensibility” know what I’m talking about (sarcasm). I get that everybody uses chemicals, but I don’t ever want to smell like chemicals. Once the top notes of Pegasus wear off… Pegasus was just chemicals. Bummer. Scrubber.

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/435681-Amouage-Reflection-Man

NOTE:  I do not think it is right to cut down trees to “celebrate” anything (even putting the ecological consequences aside), but I think the picture does work for the content of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

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