The Viking that never backs down!

…according to the standard economic framework, consumers’ willingness to pay is one of the two inputs that determine market prices (this is the demand). But as our experiments demonstrate, what consumers are willing to pay can easily be manipulated, and this means that consumers don’t in fact have a good handle on their own preferences and the prices they are willing to pay for different goods and experiences.


In our next test, we changed the brochure, scratching out the original price ($2.50 per pill) and inserting a new discount price of 10 cents. Did this change our participants’ reaction? Indeed. At $2.50 almost all our participants experienced pain relief from the pill [which was a placebo in both cases]. But when the price was dropped to 10 cents, only half of them did.

Pages 54 and 167 (respectively) of the book, “Predictably Irrational,” by Dan Ariely.

The main reason why I thought I should devote another post mainly to this scent, or rather, reactions to it, involve the human mind. As I often tell people, we are not all the same “between the ears.” We have different personalities, we learn things in different ways, we have different emotional responses (Russians, some researchers tell us, experience emotions at much lower intensity levels than most Americans, for example, and of course generally-speaking, which leads some to think that Russians “lack emotions”), etc. And that is in addition to things we already know, such as that religion, ethnic background, socio-economic status, etc. can make big differences in terms of how we perceive the world.

Viking is a scent I’d probably never wear (my review is at the end of this post) after a couple of sampling experiences, because there’s just nothing about it that’s particularly appealing to me.  At, someone accused me of “attacking” those who are claiming that Viking is some sort of “great” scent, which itself is an example of obvious misperception, because I was just trying to explain that you can enjoy a scent but you can’t expect everyone, or even anyone, to share that perception. This was my response:

…Who am I “attacking?” I’m merely saying that not everyone is going to like any particular scent and that there’s nothing about it that sounds like I’d like it. I don’t like lavender notes, I don’t like pepper notes, I don’t like aquatic/marine notes, I tend to dislike “smoky woods,” I don’t like ambroxan, I only like certain kinds of mint notes, etc. And what about the other 1500+ new releases? Why shouldn’t I sample them too? The reality is that even if a scent lists notes that I like and the reviews look good there’s probably at least a 25% chance I’m going to outright dislike it, and I’m talking about scents that cost around $30 or less because I rarely spend more than that on a bottle (most of my niche comes from swaps these days, and I have more than few niche bottles, including Creed’s Vintage Tabarome as a large decant). If you like Viking and it’s worth the price to you, great! If it gets you the “action” you are seeking, great (I guess)! But there’s no magic in that bottle, especially in this age of IFRA guidelines. DULLAH [whose opinion tends to be respected more than many others at, and I’m always interested in hearing what he has to say] over at BN said it was like a light/sport version of L’Anarchiste by Caron, and that might be what some people are seeking (especially those who have never tried vintage L’Anarchiste), but please don’t tell us how great Viking is – it can be great for you but it’s not necessarily great for anyone else in the world, which is true for all the 100,000s of fragrances released over the last 150 years or so (the age of “Modern Perfumery”).

Now let’s contrast this to a comment made on the second major Viking thread at BN (the first one was closed by the moderators due to a perception of “overheated emotions” or something along those lines, apparently):

Can’t remember when my last blind buy was (quelle horreur!), so… I’ve just ordered Viking. The discussions here have intrigued me. Will definitely report back.

I was going to respond with, “what, exactly, have you found intriguing? DULLAH said that it’s more or less a light/sporty version of L’Anarchiste; does that sound really great to you? And if another scent had the exact same commentary but cost $25 and was marketed under the name of a ‘lesser’ designer, would you come to the same conclusion?”  However, I decided to “back off” and see how things played out.

Now it’s certainly possible many would want to blind buy such a scent, simply because $25 “lesser designers” never get this much commentary, but doesn’t this person realize that Viking is getting all the commentary for reasons other than the scent itself? It may be a very nice scent for those who like ones of that type, no question, but how many will think it’s so special that it warrants the current prices? Instead, what seems to be at work is a collective generation of fantastical notions, for example, early in this thread we read:

After wearing my sample for a couple days it has really grown on me. Longevity is great and the fresh rain forest vibe with the spices is enjoyable. I love the salt and sandlewood notes, and I also find myself smelling it throughout the day and discovering new notes…

Then came:

I really like it, it’s becoming my go-to work scent for Autumn. Getting a lot of rotation at the moment. As someone above me said, it’s a complex scent that reveals new facets over time…

And then came:

It’s definitely red – bright fire engine red!

And then came:

Rain forest? Now that sounds interesting.

And then someone responded to the red comment with:

I like this description.

A previous poster was referring to the color of the bottle, but this person seemed to think it referred to a way of classifying the smell of it! All of this preceded the comment I quoted first, and suggests strongly that these kinds of comments are what influenced him. This is exactly why I wrote up the comments that I did, trying to point out that they are responding emotionally when in fact there really can’t be anything magical in that “bright fire engine red” Creed bottle. If there was, we’d have read commentary to that effect, and people like DULLAH would tell us what that was, such as when he commented about the high-quality rose of vintage Acteur by Azzaro. Another “respected voice,” the_good_life_had this to say on the original Viking thread:

Olivier Creed’s French uppercrust contempt for young American men and their consumer culture knows no limits. But like a postmodern jester he’s decided to make a parody of it that will nonetheless earn him s___loads of money. What a clever cynic.

(ridiculous French accents)
Erwin: “Papa, how is zee bottle coming along?”
Olivier: “It is not ugly enough yet, how say zee Americains? Cheesy. We need more cheese! I sink I draw ze Viking ship on an old Atari Computer!”
Erwin: “Have you found a revolting formule?”
Olivier: “Yes, ze cheapest possible without vomiting over my scent organ: melonal, ambrox – I will call that driftwood, haha – dihydromyrcenol, calone. 100 percent synthétique, it will be very ‘ard to engineer batch variations, but we will manage…It was so unbearable to make I had to put a bottle of vintage vol de Nuit next to me to inhale in between!”
Erwin: “You are a brave man, Papa!”
Olivier: “I know, my son. Now go play with your Lear jet!”

BN member Palmolive agreed with this assessment, saying:

Smelled this again the other day and still couldn’t shake those menthol Airwaves chewing gum mixed with Deep Heat balm and some woody vibes doused in cheap deodorant style citrics that this scent has in spades. It steps out like an old timer at the gym getting loosened up for a work out talking bout “Back in my day….”

and calling it the Emperor’s New Creed, but the “wishful thinking” emotions seem to have taken total control in more than a few BN members. And to those who think that Viking smells like rain or like this idea, how many have sampled Ocean Rain? It still amazes me how easily people can be taken in by fantastic promises (does this remind you of any recent elections?) when theoretically they should know it’s simply not possible. How can any company create a “mainstream” type scent that complies with IFRA and is something that is special? If they did something like load up the top with a powerful blueberry note, for instance, that would be a major focus in discussions, but with Viking, it’s vague, or they say there are “hidden facts” and “subtle intricacies” and that you’ll need to “give it time” if you want to experience these, which makes them sound like they belong to some sort of ancient, exclusive cult!

By contrast, over at Fragrantica, Viking, and Creed in general, seems to have become the butt of jokes by quite a few, for example, take a look at the page meant for a SpongeBob scent:

So, at least the Viking release has led to some humor, but what’s also interesting is how the Fragrantica crowd, which at least in the past has tended to be younger and less experienced with fragrances, was able to assess Viking in a way that (IMO) is a lot more realistic than several at BN, which seems to have more members who have a strong devotion to the Creed brand. Why can’t such folks even bring themselves to say something like, “I think it’s great, but it’s the kind of scent for those who enjoy ______________ type fragrances, so I can understand that those who don’t wouldn’t perceive it as being worth more than perhaps a dollar per ml?”\

Here’s my review, as yet unpublished at BN:

This is a “busy” fragrance, reminding me of vintage Zino in that way. Mint and what I call a “chemical wood” element are most obvious at first. There’s a bit of sharpness, which I assume is the pepper, along with vague florals, citrus, and amber. There isn’t much sweetness nor muskiness now. The wood continues in strength but the mint more or less disappears within several minutes. Saltiness makes itself felt, and after that (not sure how long), there’s the resemblance to Pasha (with a bit of muskiness), though with the saltiness added (good call by the person who first suggested this!), but the “chemical wood” remains strong. I had no idea I was sampling Viking when I first did, because someone had sent me the sample and I thought it was a unisex scent, which was likely enhanced by the fact that I had sampled vintage Born Wild Men by Ed Hardy a few days earlier (and that one has a monstrous wood note of a similar charter, though it’s missing the several minutes of mint and the saltiness).

The claims about this being a fougere are likely from the Pasha type quality, but as someone who tends to dislike fougeres, I don’t consider Viking to be one. The next day I smelled the clothing that had come into contact with where I sprayed Viking and it reminded me of VC&A’s In New York (citrus, pepper, spice, “chemical wood”), and I found it to be most pleasant in this way. Aside from telling people you are wearing Creed’s Viking, I don’t understand why someone would pay more than say $70 per 100 ml for this, though I wouldn’t pay that much, mostly because these kinds of scents don’t appeal to me and I wear them very rarely (and already have a few bottles, such as 125 ml of In New York, 100 ml of Born Wild, etc.). I don’t think many people are wearing In New York these days, so if you want to be “unique” that one might function just as well as Viking. I’m not giving it a neutral rating because it’s so expensive but rather because it moves around so much and yet doesn’t do anything novel, along with how strong and “chemical” smelling that wood note is.

NOTE:  If I wanted mostly “chemical wood” type notes and mint, I’d go for Black is Black Sport, which is really inexpensive, though it’s more of a vetiver/wood than sandalwood.





Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The similarity of claims about similarity.


Red Twins.jpg

Back in 2011, I created a thread at which began with this post:

In a recent Roaster thread, someone said that that these two smelled similar, but was dismissed by others (including myself, I think). However, last time I wore Roadster, far into the drydown, I thought to myself that it smelled like something else, and eventually it popped into my mind: L’Instant Pour Homme EdT. I took the cap off my L’Instant bottle and thought about the smell. Basically, Roadster is a trimmed down version of L’Instant. Instead of lavender and anise, the herbal mint in Roadster fills this role. The only major thing missing is the cocoa in L’Instant, which makes it considerably more gourmand for me (it seems that the vetiver in Roadster and the wood in L’Instant play similar, “supporting,” background roles, at least once you get beyond the first couple hours of L’Instant).

So, a few hours into L’Instant and it smells quite a bit like a few hours or more into Roadster. Then L’Instant goes into it’s boring musk stage, whereas Roasdster keeps going. What I find interesting here is that it seems like the one note, cocoa, led some of us to not be able to imagine that these two are at all similar, whereas “objectively” they are quite similar, relative to the other recent frags of this quality/price point. Of course, if you are keying in on the cocoa, or other notes, you may miss the forest for the trees, as I did, but that’s what makes this all so interesting! It’s not always easy to determine if frag X smells like frag Y, it seems, because it’s not only that you have to put preconceptions aside, but you also have to decide how much one of them needs to be similar to certain parts of the other in order to call the two similar.!-Roadster-does-smell-like-L-Instant-Pour-Homme

A week or so ago, there appeared this thread about Creed’s Royal Oud:

My first two posts to this thread, respectively, were:

I sampled it the other day. The drydown reminded me of a weak version of HiM by Hanae Mori. As usual, I’d buy it for $25/100 ml or thereabouts, but I’m certainly content with HiM, which I think I prefer.

There’s a shared accord that becomes more obvious in RO as the top notes fade, but if people want to spend more money on a weaker but similar drydown, that’s entirely their decision. Let’s get someone to do a GC/MS study of the two!

Before writing up this post, I sampled both scents again, and I am still smelling the same thing.  I was quite surprised, actually, because I had a decant of RO sitting in front of my for a few months, and I’d just take the cap off and smell it once in a while, mainly because it was unusual (and didn’t remind me of HiM at all).

Now one reason for this post is because I wanted to suggest a Creed “MO” (though not true of all their scents), which is to create strong or interesting (if not entirely pleasant) top notes with a rather conventional/designer type base that is weak (or weaker than a similar designer).  Royal Oud has some powdery galbanum up front, as is not entirely pleasant to me, especially for the first few minutes, but then it becomes more and more like a weak version of HiM.  My suggestion, if you have at least a sample of both, is to place a tiny dab on each forearm (wear a short sleeve shirt when you do this); use less of HiM because it has a stronger base, from what I can tell.  And as someone on that BN thread about RO said:

Love the scent, but its very weak and lasts 4 hours tops on me… has the note list for these two as (HiM first):

…bergamot, mandarin orange, gray pepper, violet leaves and cardamom seeds. The robust heart encompasses cinnamon bark, Mediterranean fig and tonka bean, while the base closes with teak wood, white cedar, fir balsam, musk and amber.

And for RO:

…lemon, pink berry and bergamot. The middle notes consist of cedar, galbanum and angelic root. Base notes are Regal Indian oud, sandalwood and Tonkin musk.

It’s true there are obvious differences for the first hour or two, with HiM having a tea-like violet and RO having the galbanum and angelica.  Interestingly, for me RO has a nasty note clash at first that has made me feel queasy!  I’d guess that if you want the RO drydown, spray HiM in front of you and walk through the mist and you’ll get something really close (not sure if the EdT of HiM is closer than the EdP as they both smell quite similar to each other to me).

And this brings me back to my original “mistake” about Roadster and L’Instant Homme, which is certainly something that can occur again because sometimes one doesn’t pay attention to a middle stage of development, for example.  With RO and HiM, though, there’s basically just an “opening” and a base, so I’m surprised that I appear to be the first who noticed the similarities in the bases (the scents are at least fairly popular among the online aficionados/fanboys and the accord is rather unique, with a “pumpkin pie spice” type quality).  Of course it’s possible that the angelica and galbanum notes hang around a lot longer for some people, but the claim about oud here is laughable, IMO (not that I don’t think it’s brilliant marketing on the part of the good people at Creed).

Now I’m not suggesting a person is “wrong” to spend the extra money on RO if they like those top notes. and perhaps they really don’t detect the similarities I perceive as obvious, but isn’t it worth comparing the two before spending those “big bucks” on RO?  No, for some there is a sense of specialness/exclusivity or whatever, and even if they aren’t entirely conscious of it, it does provide them with powerful positive emotions, which is what I think they are actually paying for.  And if I could buy powerful positive emotions that lasted indefinitely, I too might buy a bottle of it at current prices, but with consumer items (from what I’ve seen and read) the positivity doesn’t last all that long and then it’s on to another purchase (which is why I try to keep the purchase amounts as low as possible!).

UPDATE:  A few days after posting the above, a new review of RO appeared at Fragrantica:

If you dislike wearing oud, you will love this one, because it doesn’t smell like any oud I’ve ever smelled. In fact, it doesn’t smell like oud, period…

I don’t know whether this scent should be called “Royal,” but it definitely shouldn’t be called “Oud.” Maybe Royal Citrus or Royal Powder, or even Royal Musk or Royal Green. But not Royal Oud.

 I think this person is on to something, in that it might have been more appropriately called Green Angelica or something like that, but calling it an oud scent is beyond questionable, IMO.  Now I do like the fact that Creed does some things I consider really “oddball,” such as is the case with RO, but they are usually not pleasant or I prefer another scent that is similar, unfortunately.  And though some don’t seem to understand this, it shouldn’t have anything to do with whether other people enjoy RO or any other scent.  What I have seen (I think), though, is a situation where some people study an “okay” scent and try to find ways in which it is a “masterpiece” because it was released by Creed.  Of course, there’s probably no reasoning with such people so I what else can be said?


Leave a comment

Filed under Criticizing the critics., The basics.

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

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!





Leave a comment

Filed under Criticizing the critics., Fragrance Reviews.

Can you “just say no” to IFRA ?

Rogue Perfumery Warning Label.jpg

Not long ago I was contacted (through the 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:

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.





Filed under Fragrance Reviews.

A short post about a couple of issues that seem to resurface every so often.

It seems that sometimes a notion has to sort of burn itself out over time, as more and more people realize that what they believed was incorrect or misunderstood. One issue is the use of aroma chemicals to market scents. One fragrance blogger seems to think that if any amount of an aroma chemical is used, then it is “common” and not noteworthy. The point I have made over and over again throughout the years is that sometimes a scent is “overloaded” with this or that common aroma chemical. This doesn’t seem to be “controversial” within the industry; for instance Cool Water for Men included a large amount of dihydromyrcenol. If such a scent becomes popular, after a while the chemical overload goes from smelling “new” and “exciting” to “common” and “generic,” as has occurred with this scent (whether all the “clones” greatly aided in this process or not is an interesting question). 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, but I have little doubt this is the reality in recent years!

Another issue is the one I’ve been speaking about recently, that is, the mental contortions some people go through so that they feel “justified” in spending a huge amount of money on one of these olfactory concoctions. In the thread concerning Creed’s Viking I’ve been referencing in the last few posts, there are these two new statements:

…It projects and lasts quite well thruout the day for me. Everyone has a different experience with Viking so far. Is it overpriced ? Absolutely , but most creeds work on my skin and if I enjoy it , I’ll wear it. Not to mentioned the positive reactions I’ve received already wearing this.


I think this fact makes Viking a very well made, artistic niche and what’s even better is that it’s still highly nose-pleasing to all of these differing opinions. Fantastic development. I bet Creed tested this exhaustively to achieve broad appeal while still trying to remain a niche scent. Remember this was 7 years in development. It’s pretty remarkable.

Now what I find even more amusing is that when I commented on this thread that it seemed as though to some people Viking smelled like the latest formulation of Halston’s Z-14, one person said:

Those people are wrong. It smells nothing like Z-14 in even the remotest way. I own 2 bottles of Z-14.

I think it’s highly questionable to claim that Viking is “artistic niche” and at the same time “highly nose-pleasing to all,” but you certainly can’t claim that “everyone has a different experience with Viking,” and then claim that a person who perceives it as being similar to Z-14 is “wrong.” I know these are not the same people, but they are making the same kinds of arguments about Viking on this thread.  Just in these early days alone, many have said there’s a strong cinnamon quality to Viking, and there is clearly a lavender note in both (apparently not strong in either), which is listed for Viking.  Why can’t some people believe that those notes may be “spiking out” for some people, even if that is not the case for themselves? Such claims suggest that a person is trying “right fight” perceptions of these concoctions, rather than simply stating their own opinions about it. The same is true for scents that are “overloaded” with this or that aroma chemical. I have a friend who thinks that scents seem to have huge amounts of dihydromyrcenol smell the “freshest,” for example, and he has no perception of any chemical element; to him it smells totally natural. To me, these are a strident, simplistic compositions that apparently were made for those who share his perception. If you read the reviews for the recent Stash release, that same kind of perception appears to be operating, but about different aroma chemicals (s). I certainly wish I didn’t smell “chemical overload” in Stash, but we clearly do not all perceive these concoctions in the same ways.

NOTE:  Right before publishing the above, I saw this post in the major Viking thread at Basenotes:

In sampling Viking, I found that I was one of several reporting that the more you wear it and become familiar with the way the notes evolve, the more you’ll tend to really like it. The cinnamon and clove combo, to me, is really appealing. The way they use the slow dry down of the clove is really nice and rather creative. Now…if only I could smell it noticeably after a few hours, all would be grand and I’d buy a bottle of it. But this just doesn’t appear to be the case.

What such people don’t seem to realize is that if one were to somehow put perhaps half (or even more) of the recent “masculine” releases by designer names into a Creed bottle they would say the same thing.  That is, if you keep studying a “decent” scent (and most are at least that, by the standards of the last decade or so), you are going to find those “subtle facets,” “nuanced complexity,” etc.  How many of these people study the scent of any other company the way they do a Creed?

UPDATE:  Several hours after I published the above, this was posted to that BN Creed thread:

…I have to say that it’s complex and it kept changing from the opening to drydown. It really is bold, edgy, confident and masculine . Even though I was reminded of the 90s at first , it doesn’t mean that it’s a designer like scent or anything. It’s high quality.

No, even though it seems to be like a 90s “masculine,” there’s no way that’s more or less what it is, right?  Then that would mean hundreds of dollars were wasted!  Of course, no 90s designer scent changed at all from top notes to base, and there weren’t any “bold, edgy, confident, and masculine” scents back then, or were there plenty of them?  Ah, the mental contortions we engage in to justify our behavior or perceptions!

Another person said that the small samples don’t contain enough liquid but that if he sprays himself several times to the chest the scent is much better.  Again, does he do this with every scent he samples?  Most likely he’s seeking the “hidden Creed magic” and doing everything he can think of to find it, regardless of whether there is anything especially unique about Viking.


Leave a comment

Filed under Criticizing the critics.

It’s not just Creed, but are women smarter in this context?

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 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 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:

Top Notes

Calabrian Bergamot,Sicilian Lemon, La Reunion Baie Rose

Middle Notes

Peppercorn, Bulgarian Rose, Peppermint

Base Notes

Indian Sandalwood, Haitian Vetiver, Indian Patchouli,

Lavandin Absolute

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!


Filed under The basics.

More about Creed’s new Viking release.

There’s one major Viking thread in the Men’s Forum at, and one post to it (responding to someone else’s comment) that may get to the crux of the matter, in terms of Creed’s appeal to some people.  First, the original comment:

it’s interesting how people rush to tag any new release to an existing fragrance. this happens most often/fervently with Creed. reading over the initial Aventus thread from 2010, many commented that it was a “Zara clone”.
I looked with this “initial Aventus thread”‘ but did not find it.  However, the person is confusing two different issues!  It’s one thing to compare a scent to one that has already been released, because so many of the same aroma chemicals are used, and probably quite a few of the essentials as well (vanilla/vanillin, patchouli, etc.), but it’s another to claim that a scent that might be an attempt to “clone” a popular one is in fact the original (that’s just aggressive ignorance, if it occurred).  Here’s the key question for me, “why would someone criticize someone else’s perception, especially when a site devoted to these olfactory concoctions is by its very nature mostly going to focus on individual perceptions?”  On a practical level, some of us also have to consider Creed’s price, but along the same lines, for someone like myself (who has a few hundred bottles of many different kinds of fragrances), why shouldn’t I try to save quite a bit of money by wearing what I already own (even if that is achieved by layering)?  Now let me move on to the comment by the person who created the post:

Viking is to Pasha was Aventus was to Zara.Surely that’s a pretty ‘human’ thing to do though isn’t it? Let’s face it – how many times have we smelled a new fragrance and it’s reminded us of another? Creed is an odd one as some of the line is strongly reminiscent of other fragrances – Green Irish Tweed = Cool Water, Bois du Portugal = Pierre Cardin Pour Homme, Original Santal = Joop Pour Homme etc yet many of their fragrances are original and ground-breaking ie: Aventus, Silver Mountain Water, Virgin Island Water etc. I find the comparisons very helpful in terms of forming an idea of what I’m going to smell. The magic of Creed is that they manage to create the best smelling ‘version’ pretty consistently. Cool Water is a fine scent but Green Irish Tweed is something much more special. I’m betting Viking will remind me of other fragrances but I’m also betting I’ll be working out how to justify buying a bottle too…!

It’s hard to believe that Creed would always create the “best” version of a certain type of scent, considering how we are talking about perceptions only.  They may have a good idea of what a certain demographic will perceive as “high class,” “rich and smooth,” or whatever, but the men I’ve asked to try a Creed have not liked it.  These were people who enjoyed cheap aftershaves and would never spend much on one (I didn’t tell them how much it cost until after they provided their opinions).  To me, Creed has never created the best version of a type of scent (and Pierre Cardin was released more than a decade before Bois du Portugal, so they don’t even get credit for being original there!), which is why the only Creed I possess more than a few ml of is Vintage Tabarome (and I would swap the decant if the right deal came along, but I do like it and likely will keep it).

So, the obvious question here seems to be, “do people allow themselves to be mesmerized by the Creed name?  If you haven’t seen it already, the researchers of a  recent study about wines have concluded that this is the case in that context:

A new study found that a high price tag on a bottle of wine tricks our brains into thinking it tastes better than a lower-priced bottle, even when the wines are identical…


“The reward and motivation system is activated more significantly with higher prices, and apparently increases the taste experience in this way,” said researcher Bernd Weber, acting director of the University of Bonn’s Center for Economics and Neuroscience in Germany…

This is known as the “marketing placebo effect,” explained the researchers, referring to health benefits people often feel when they’re given a “placebo,” or dummy, medication.

The measurements of brain activity in the MRI scanner confirmed this effect.

So, should we call it the “Creed placebo effect?”  I do think there is one more element that may be involved in some of these kinds of situations, which might be best called the “expensive-smelling molecule effect.”  A great example is how large amounts of calone or dihydromyrcenol in a scent probably leads to a lot of people thinking it’s “cheap.”  On the other hand, load up a scent with iso e super or cashmeran while slapping a niche label on it, and you’ve got something that “smells expensive” to a certain demographic.  Of course, over time this can change, as more people smell such scents and as much cheaper “clones” are marketed.  It sounds like with Viking, the perfumer decided to try and combine at least two different genres in order to create a scent that many would deem unique (while others might call it a mish-mash).

But do I “need” a unique scent, or at least one that will be unique until the “clone” companies market their versions of it?  Some apparently feel that they do, but I have a very large rotation, so even my favorite scents only get a few wearings a year.  Thus, while I can understand how someone might want a unique “signature scent,” this is likely a minority of even those who post to sites like Basenotes and Fragrantica, judging by how much praise scents like Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel have received (in spite of quite a bit of initial criticism).  Indeed, how often has someone written that those who want truly unique scents (such as “vintage” Leather Oud by Dior) are only worn by a few “snobs” or weirdos?  Again, it seems as though Creed is exempt, for some people, from the “usual logic.”  This reminds me of claims in sports that certain players are given more leeway by officials than the vast majority of the rest of the players in that league.  And how many of those who said they “kept trying” a Creed they initial didn’t find especially compelling gave “lesser” scents the same opportunity?  I’d guess that around 25-30% of the scents I eventually decided I wanted to own a bottle of I initially didn’t like (or like enough to buy a bottle of at that point), but I was judging on merit, not name.

A recent example is Sensation Midnight for Men by Nu Parfums.  It cost me less than $4 for 100 ml and is by a company that would likely be regarded poorly by those who visit sites like Basenotes.  Moreover, the first time I tried it I did not like it at all, and thought it was too “chemical.”  However, the second time I tried it I thought it was somewhat interesting, sort of an “amped up” Midnight in Paris, though definitely not exactly the same (other than being stronger, of course).  And the third time I wore it my thought was that it was important to let it waft up to the nose rather than smelling it up close or using my hand to waft it up to the nose.  What would most Basenotes’ members think if it was marketed as niche and there was a label saying it had been “expertly formulated” so that it would only smell right if one allowed it to waft up to the nose from a distance of more than a foot?  Some tried to “defend” their decisions to buy Viking by comparing it to other consumer items, such as bicycles, but the obvious problem is that others can see the “specialness” of the bicycle, whereas people don’t carry their Creed bottles around showing them off to others (and would anyone care but a “Creed fanboy” or person who buys niche?).  I’d guess that most people could create their own “unique” scents with very little study (all of it free from online sources) and very little cash, or one could just try some different layering combinations (if you already have a whole bunch of different types of fragrances).

One comment I made on that Basenotes’ thread was:

For me, considering the price and what at lot of BNers already own (I’ve got plenty of “warm/spicy” and a few salty scents, and I don’t want an aquatic note in any scent), why not try a layering combination to figure out something that will be quite close to Viking? If you know your notes, do you really even have to sample Viking? LOL.

The last statement was meant to be a joke (hence the “LOL,” but someone took it seriously!  To clarify that here, I’d say that if a whole bunch of people are saying it’s like a salty Pasha, and you’ve already got a salty scent and vintage Pasha (that you can layer), and the notes don’t look like anything you’d regard as special, do you really want to even bother considering a very expensive scent (assuming you aren’t afflicted with the “Creed placebo effect?”  Even if I really liked it, after a few wearings it would just be another scent in my rotation, right next to Sensation Midnight and a bunch of other “super cheapos.”  We only have limited time and limited budgets (assuming you aren’t super wealthy), but unfortunately it may be true that a majority of people have very limited self-awareness (and so don’t realize that they are susceptible to these kinds of “placebo effects,” nor foresee how certain kinds of scents may become boring, or just one among many, in short order).

Note that the Basenotes post I addressed above can be found here:

And here’s an “added bonus!”  I came upon the following comment on this same thread, and thought I’d do a “running commentary” on it (my comments are in brackets).  The person starts out by saying, “it is pretty good,” and then we get:

I feel like a lot of people look at the price tag of this fragrance and then immediately write it off because of that or smell it and go “This isn’t the best smelling fragrance ever so therefor it’s trash at this price”. But I feel that’s a completely wrong way to review a fragrance. How can anyone else give a value based judgement for another person? What is a reasonable price for me might not be for another or vice versa. What I tried to do was ignore completely the price and just review the fragrance for what it is. Each person has to make the value assessment themselves on what they are willing to spend on a fragrance.

[That’s a reasonable sentiment, but then you have to subject all scents you sample to the same reveiw protocol (and not only sample the “big names”); what I’ve seen with Creeds is that some peope will keep going back to it, even after an initially negative impression, until they find the “Creed magic.” They are definitely not going to do this with a Playboy or Remy Latour level scent, and may not do this with a Gucci, Calvin Klein, etc.]

If you strip everything else away from Viking and just focus on the smell the large large majority of people would find it good. It’s a people pleaser fragrance and is really really different from basically anything I’ve ever smelled. It also does changes that make it hard to pin down and evolves a decent amount over it’s life.

[Hold on now! It’s a great all around/people pleasing scent and yet it’s “really really different” from everything else you’ve ever smelled? Well, either you have very little experience with these concoctions or it sounds like absolute nonsense one would expect from a “fanboy.”]

For example, today I sprayed it on and I got less mint in the opening and a good bit more of the spice but also a bit of freshness that wasn’t there in the opening yesterday. It has a bit of an original santal vibe but also not. There’s woods and lavender and vetiver in it and still mint. That’s one reason I said this fragrance could be someone’s signature scent. If I was blindfolded and someone sprayed this and any other fragrance I’ve ever smelled, I think I would be able to pick this every time. Does that make it better? That’s up to the individual person to decide. But it does make it unique in my book.

[The notes for it are not very unique, nor are any of the comments I’ve read so far. Some say it’s like Pasha, or Pasha with a salty note, or like Shelter Island, etc. Yes, if you study a scent in great detail, you likely will be able to distinguish it from others, but again, that’s probably true of just about any release.]

Another note on performance. When I woke up this morning I could *still* smell it on my skin. I honestly feel like people finding this fragrance lacking in the performance department are going nose blind to it. Is it a powerhouse 12+ hours later? No. I think most people in a warm climate will feel it projects well for 5ish hours and then it stays as a skin scent for 8 or more. But let me say this, as someone who owns multiple bottles of Aventus from ’15 and ’16, some considered the best batches of the moderns – Aventus doesn’t perform any better on my skin and I routinely go nose blind to it. I’ve never personally gotten the beast mode Aventus claims that others have. Not on skin at least.

[If it’s just an “okay” scent selling for $500 a bottle, one can just reapply a weaker, but very similar scent.]

I wish more people would just judge the fragrance itself and leave their own personal value assessment out of it. Objectively speaking, Viking is a great release, especially for people who always scream that they want something different than the usual stuff. Viking takes common notes but matches them in an interesting different way. Is it my favorite fragrance ever? No, but I would rock it out without a second thought and expect to get good responses to it.

[Yes, I too want the scent to be judged on its own merits, but you only want this intense study done on Creeds, or if you would like to see it done on other scents, you don’t seem to want to participate or encourage others to do so. And if another company “takes common notes but matches them” in a different way, it often gets heavily criticized (such as occurred with Bleu de Chanel soon after it was released). Creed gets credit for this but when another company does it, people don’t like the “mish mash”/generic offering. Now let’s say I sample Viking and think it’s quite good – I’m still not paying those prices, and the reason is that I don’t feel deprived (as apparently people like this do) if I can’t have this particular scent. If I want something similar I have little doubt I can figure out a layering combination with fragrances I already own plenty of. So, thanks Creed (and other companies), for giving me new layering ideas, but no, I don’t need a “round up the usual suspects” and do something a little different (at best) scent for those kinds of prices!]

Here is the thread in which the comment was posted:



Filed under Criticizing the critics.