Unlike the experience of many others, including some who are viewed or position themselves as experts, I have found “celebuscents” to be great deals. They are often similar to popular scents that I like but are eventually they get sold at much lower prices, with very few exceptions. An excellent example of an expert who has some harsh things to say about these releases occurs in the “Perfumes: The Guide 2018” book. In it, Tania Sanchez states:
Celebrity perfume is effectively over. While it gave us genuine grief to write the obituary for a lost world of fragrances in 2008, it gives us great pleasure to toll the bell for these cynical fame-monetization strategies.
First of all, aren’t the authors also quick to point out how the non-famous are trying to cash in on the niche craze? And how are these fragrances so much worse that most of the designers that were released since 2008? With celebuscents, at least you can eventually get great deals, which is much less likely the case for the “top designers.” And there are so many “lesser designers,”‘ even if we leave aside the fake names, that one wonders why they aren’t criticized too, because most of them are just cheap clone type scents. I’d guess there is more uniqueness to be found in celebuscents than in the lesser designers (some examples I’ve tried include Phoenix by Keith Urban, Adam Levine Perfume/EdP, KISS Him, IsaBella by Isabella Rossellini, Truth or Dare Naked by Madonna, both Queen Latifah scents, Kinski, Fancy Nights, the original Alain Delon, at least the vintage version of Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion for Men, and yes, Elvis Cologne!).
But things get even weirder in this book, as Sanchez then points out that celebuscents were very popular when the 2008 book was published, yet since 2011 there has been a steady decline in sales (in the US), with a 22% decline in 2016 alone (what about other markets?). It may just be that sales had gotten ridiculous, and then there was a “natural correction.” Notice that she doesn’t tell us how many bottles of celebuscents are sold relative to top designers, designers in general, and niche, and what the different world markets are like. Now I’m certainly no fan of brainless celebrities who might have little or no talent, but does it really matter which CEOs or celebrities make money when I reach into the proverbial bargain bin to buy a bottle? It seems to me that Ms. Sanchez is reading too much into these olfactory concoctions, and I have a feeling that she possesses a notion about “artistic” value, believing that this is not possible (or highly unlikely) among celebuscent offerings. However, isn’t it likely that whether the scent is a lesser designer or a celebuscent, it is created by perfumers at the major fragrance companies? And how many “top designers” and niche were created that way too?
Do celebuscents almost always cost less (meaning the liquid only) to make, and therefore can’t possibly smell as good as designers? That certainly has not been my experience, but if so, the burden is on her to provide evidence that this is the case. Some people seem to get irritated by the many clone type scents, but I’ve found that I like some of those better than the originals, and again, they often cost much less. It’s the reality of our society, just like you can’t patent an idea. You can copyright a slogan or simple logo, though – does that seem fair? If you want me to buy my fragrances based upon your notion of fairness, then at the very least you need to articulate that notion! I think much of the dislike is related to their statement (in at least the 2018 book) that “we are looking for beauty.” This is an abstract concept, whereas these are not abstract creations. Yes, some smell more literal while others smell very strange or abstract, and hard to “pin down,” but clearly most people don’t care. Some want to “smell like everybody else,” while others want a “fresh, out of the shower smell, etc. A tiny minority spray on a scent and think, “wow, this is a work of art,” or “this scent is the essence of beauty.”
To me the obvious question is, what do you want? I want at least some of the listed notes to be detectable (I can usually tell if that’s the case if there are more than a few good reviews), and I want it to smell at least reasonably natural. Then I can decide if I might like it. One of the great benefits of many celebuscents is that a whole bunch of these have dozens of reviews just on Fragrantica alone! And of course they often come down tremendously in value over time and are found at nearly every kind of sales outlet. Of course, some are made in limited quantities and might soon be listed on ebay for prices that seem absurdly high, but usually there’s a time during which they are a great deal, so it’s really about taking the time/effort to do research and find those “diamonds in the rough.” This is what I don’t think the “experts” will do, because it can be time-consuming. And again, if you get free samples or even bottles, you’re probably going to be more interested in the “fancy” and expensive niche or designer exclusive offerings. Moreover, if you are seeking “art,” then I don’t know what to tell you, because I just don’t think along those lines with these kinds of olfactory concoctions.
However, if you are looking for a really cheap bottle that gives you what you want, then celebuscents are worth keeping an eye on! Another thing about them is because many are so cheap, they can allow you to try out fragrances you never thought you’d like, but for a few dollars you’ll give them a chance (not just spray once on paper and take a “quick sniff”). In the new, 2018 “Guide” book, LT states that he usually wears Caron Pour un Homme and Mitsouko (why not tell us the formulation and/or “vintage,” if not the batch code?) when he isn’t sampling, and TS lists a dozen. I would quickly get bored with just a dozen or so fragrances, but I question the mentality of people who apparently own a huge number of bottles (of a lot more than a dozen of the same), but wear so few on a regular basis. If there is so much olfactory beauty in the world, why limit yourself to experiencing a tiny fraction? Why do they do so much sampling if they would rather wear a small number of fragrances the overwhelming majority of the time? Because they want to bestow their wisdom on us, such as that women should try wearing Kouros, etc? Now I do think they have quite a bit to offer the “community,” but the definitive claims, such as the “death of celebuscents,” is not their strong suit, IMO. I don’t value their reviews more than some anonymous person on Fragrantica, for example, because there is no reason for me to do so (their preferences seem different and their reviews are often vague, silly, too brief, or not even “on point.”
Coincidentally, I read a review of the new “Christopher Robin” movie that included the following:
McGregor is a perfectly likable actor, which helps soften the character’s shortcomings, but Christopher isn’t very interesting, and the film’s familiar lesson — conveyed via one of Pooh’s more ridiculous mantras, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something” — feels more than a little bit unfair. The movie basically ingratiates itself with kids by scolding adults for losing track of what’s important, and yet, both in the 1940s and today, a responsible father doesn’t really have the option of quitting his job.
And my thought was this is a similar situation, in that millionaires with personal assistants or “perfume experts” who get free samples or even bottles are similar to the message that a parent should quit his/her job to go talk to fantasy animals of his/her youth. Yes, send me free samples and pay me a nice “advance” for a perfume guide book, and I’ll be happy to spray or dab one on a card each day, then write down my thoughts (sometimes quite brief or not even mentioning what the scent actually smells like). Otherwise, I’ve got more bottles than I “need” for the rest of my life, though I’m sure I’ll continue to swap, buy incredible deals when they present themselves, and acquire free samples here and there. No, I’m not spending $200 or more on the typical bottle, but if I win a “mega jackpot” lottery I might (though the only way I play the lottery is if someone buys me a ticket as a kind of gag gift). And if you asked me to give star ratings to fragrances, I wouldn’t subtract one for a lack of originality, as TS and LT apparently do; instead, I’d grab that super-cheapo “knockoff” and be quite happy, even if it didn’t smell quite as “natural” (they might take another star off for that). Yes, the difference between $200 a bottle and $10 is significant to me, especially when I might only wear that scent once or twice a year.
NOTE: I haven’t tried that many “celebuscents,” and I have tended to avoid ones I don’t think I’d like. In addition to ones mentioned above, I’ve got bottles of a few different McGraw, Beckham, and Mariah Carey bottles, which aren’t bad but I don’t consider special in any way. I sampled Adrenaline by Iglesias and that wasn’t bad, but again, not special enough (or close enough to an expensive scent I’d like to own) to pay the low price for a bottle. I also own the two Lady Gaga scents, again not bad but not special, and Purr by Kay Perry, which is certainly good for a change of pace, along with Heat Rush by Beyonce, which I certainly would consider wearing if I was going to spend a lot of time outside on a warm day (I rarely do that these days).