I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that as major perfume companies are more and more limited by IFRA, the claims made about their scents become more extravagant, though in the case of Creed, most of the claims (aside from the historical ones) are made by their fans. Here are a couple new ones on that Basenotes.net thread devoted to Creed’s Viking:
…this scent is clearly an artistic ‘niche’ scent that smells different to so many people and you’ve got quite an achievement. Universal acceptance + artistic complexity giving divergent experiences = a very rare type of fragrance. Creed has done it again folks. So many people were thinking this one was going to bomb at the box office, but it’s a big hit.
I’ve [had] it for a couple weeks and what I come to realize is that the very late dry down is where it’s at. I was in NYC on business this week, and so at nights I was walking around the city much more than I normally would in my hometown. This stuff, 12 hours later would literally re-ignite on my skin once I got my temperature up, and it smelled ridiculously good. It was obvious, in a good way. 12 hours later. There is just something about it that I can best describe as piquant. It’s not loud, it’s piquant, and that’s where the fire comes in. I know this is not gonna sound great, but it smells almost vinegarish during the late [dry] down, but in the best way possible way.
Apparently, all the comments I’ve quoted in my last two posts, as well as the two above, were written by men. In stark contrast, at the NST blog, a review of two new Jo Malone scents and the first two comments were written by women. Here is part of what the reviewer had to say:
English Oak & Redcurrant is described as “[t]he forest at dawn. The juicy bite of redcurrant. The zest of green mandarin. The freshness of rose softened with white musk. Enveloped in roasted oak.” Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to that sensory evocation for me.
English Oak & Hazelnut, stepping deeper into the forest, is “[a]n enchanted walk. The crunch of green hazelnut. The spice of elemi. The earthy woodiness of vetiver cooled by emerald moss carpets. On a warming base of roasted oak.” It’s less gourmand than it sounds, and it does last much longer on skin than English Oak & Redcurrant. On the other hand, it seems to skip too quickly into a base of dry vetiver and wood — yes, definitely oak rather than sandalwood or cedar, and it’s sharp and a touch smoky in an way that interests me, but it feels a bit blunt.
And here are the first two comments:
Thanks for the review – this is one of the few times that I’ve been able to comment on something new! I tried both of these last weekend. I agree that that the Redcurrant is very fleeting – I sprayed it on as I went into the store, and by the time I’d looked at the shoe department, it was gone. I liked the Hazelnut, but it’s a bit similar to things I already have.
Cool review, Jessica. I have tried them both and was a bit disappointed. I guess I was expecting the perfume equivalent of kicking through leaves and the woody-nuttiness of acorns, and maybe even a touch of sweet creaminess of hazlenuts ( a bit foody). I was surprised by the sharpness of the perfumes and also the paleness. I didn’t try layering them but it sounds like I should have. I have been reading The Hidden Life of Trees recently and oaks are incredible . It’s worth reading.
My point here is that in the case of Creeds, it seems that there are quite a few men who think they are smelling specialness in scents that are reasonably good but not at all special. And as I said in a comment to the last post, for every Creed scent I’ve tried, I’ve found one I liked better that was much cheaper, except for Vintage Tabarome, which I’m happy to own a large decant of (obtained in a swap, because the price is prohibitive to me). I’ve liked all the Creed scents I’ve tried (perhaps 20), with the exception of Himalaya, but they just aren’t special, just variations on similar themes. There are plenty of threads about which designer scent smells like a particular Creed, so this is certainly not my impression, and how many threads have there been comparing Green Irish Tweed to Cool Water for Men?
Women who are fragrance hobbyists seem to be much more discerning and skeptical, for whatever reason. They may be a fan of a particular “house,” but when the house promises a special scent, it seems they are more likely to be disappointed if it is not, whereas for at least the “Creed fanboys,” all kinds of intellectual contortions will be utilized in order to maintain the fiction that Creed scents are special or head and shoulders above all others. I guess it’s wonderful to live in such a mental universe, and perhaps the processes occurring in the brain are similar to a child watching a fantasy film that he or she is really enjoying. But what if they were to learn that there are some great “super cheapos,” whether “clones” or not? To me, that is truly special! It means I get to have some olfactory enjoyment for next to nothing (for example, think of how many days one gets from one or two sprays from a 100 ml bottle as to seeing one movie at a theater, and in many cases one ticket to the movie costs more than the 100 ml bottle!). But I guess a sense of specialness has a kind of narcotic effect that my way of thinking does not!
One last point that I have yet to address involves the claim that Viking is quite spicy at first, with claims of powerful cinnamon or pepper. Guess what? Halston’s Z-14 was reformulated within the last several years so that it would have a very strong cinnamon note at first! However, that one was widely criticized for that quality. At Fragrantica.com the notes for Z-14 are listed as:
Top notes are cypress, gardenia, green notes, basil, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are coriander, patchouli, cinnamon, jasmine, vetiver, cedar and geranium; base notes are leather, tonka bean, amber, musk, benzoin and oakmoss.
It’s possible the notes are the same but where modified, in terms of intensity, for the cinnamon-dominant formulation. Viking has this note list:
Calabrian Bergamot,Sicilian Lemon, La Reunion Baie Rose
Peppercorn, Bulgarian Rose, Peppermint
Indian Sandalwood, Haitian Vetiver, Indian Patchouli,
Why is it so difficult to some people to understand that to many others Z-14 (I bought an 8 ounce EdT bottle of the cinnamon-dominant formulation for about $12 a few years ago) might be preferred? Even if Viking used “higher quality ingredients,” not everyone has the same sensitivity to this or that molecule, so it may not make any difference to a whole lot of people (especially if they blind tested both!). I don’t get anything “synthetic” in any Z-14 formulation I’ve tried, and I’ve already got scents with strong peppermint, sandalwood, patchouli, and rose notes (the others in Viking I generally do not care for, unless perhaps they are weak background ones). Moreover, quite a few reviews mention an aquatic or metallic element, and I dislike both of those qualities! In fact, when I tried Z-14 the first time, my thought was that it was very niche-like, but of course (at least to me) the important thing is that I enjoyed it (I’m not looking to impress others with these concoctions). To each his own, of course, but let’s try to refrain from making what are essential magical claims!
NOTE: I noticed that on another fragrance blog, a person commented:
Creed uses real ambergris, it is one of their signature notes you’ll recognize throughout nearly all their fragrances.
How does this person (apparently a woman!) know this? But let’s assume it is accurate. I could buy a tiny amount of ambergris and market a scent as containing real ambergris, simply by using enough so that there are a few molecules of it in each bottle. Nobody would be able to smell it (and if there was enough for them to smell it they might not like it!), but it might help stimulate magical thoughts about a particular company producing scents that are perceived as much “greater” than those released by other companies!