A review of reviews: Les Heures de Cartier: L’Heure Perdue XI Cartier (2015).

Les Heures de Cartier: L'Heure Perdue XI Cartier for women and men

This fragrance was one of two in the free preview of the 2018 edition of “Perfumes: The Guide” to receive a 5 star rating (from Luca Turin), and since I probably enjoy fragrances with a noticeable vanilla note as much as anyone, I thought this is one I needed to write about, though buying a bottle is a different matter (Cartier web site price is $275; on ebay I saw one for $179, both 75 ml).  And with this one, you don’t get a list of notes, but instead (on the Cartier site and elsewhere):

…powdered with HELIOTROPIN elegance, from someone else’s desire? Voluptuous and intimate MUSCENONE like the scent of knowledge. Perhaps because everything is ruled by science, so clever in posing as natural when in fact it is a feat of alchemy, exploring the artificial through a precipitate of large synthetic molecules, particularly VANILLIN. This aldehyde with sensual aromas and a silky aura floating over the 11th hour, the lost and progressive hour, demystifying the conventional idea that beauty is only worthwhile if it is NATURAL.

First I want to address Luca Turin’s review.  As you might expect, it was composed by a perfumer he has high regard for (Mathilde Laurent), and was recommended to sample by a reader of LT’s blog.  This person used evocative language when describing it, including “most evocative” and, “like a memory you can’t quite place, but are certain to have lived.”  How could such a scent not be magnificent (sarcasm alert!)?  LT tells us that it’s “heaven-scent and disquieting in equal parts,” and this reminds me of his review of Bvlgari Black (I liked the idea of BB, but found it just a bit too simplistic).  We are told it has an oriental drydown featuring vanilla, labdanum, and praline.  He says the praline is fresh, but I’ve never encountered such a thing; perhaps he means that some of the top notes persist, such as what he claims is grapefruit.

Now this is a fragrance I wouldn’t mind sampling; I might think it’s worth buying (if the price ever comes way down) or I might dislike it (heliotrope notes are not my favorite unless they are subordinate).  However, let’s take a look at the Fragrantica reviews, beginning with a negative one:

L’Heure Perdue opens both acidic and vanillic and a bit cardboardy musty. The scent alters between sour and cardboardy vanilla…  Not my thing, had to scrub it off due to the acidic notes underneath.

The review of another could be positive, if you like the smell of Dove soap:

This smells a bit like Dove soap. If you’ve been dying for the perfume version of this classic, give it a sniff.

One that is positive actually doesn’t begin with a description that sounds all that laudatory:

Generally, I can’t stand anything that smells too heavily of vanilla. But while L’Heure Perdue does smell sweet and vanillic, it also smells really weird. Like glue or rubber. But powdery. The parts are familiar, but they’ve been reconfigured in totally new ways…

Now to be fair the idea behind it seems to have been to use synthetics to create an “abstract” but not “synthetic” or “chemical” fragrance.  The problem there is that some are very sensitive to certain aroma chemicals, and so I would like the company to disclose if particular ones were used in large amounts (I’m not going to hold my breath on that happening, as you might guess).  But LT compares it to Jicky and Habit Rouge!  It sounds to me like it could be similar, in terms of the general idea, to Reveal by CK (the “feminine”), where there’s something familiar (vanilla and sandalwood) with something odd added (a marine type note, clearly an aroma chemical or chemials).  Spending more time/effort and money on such a composition might indeed result in something quite interesting, though I think for me if there are some strong aroma chemical elements to it (which seems to be the case) it might be an unpleasant experience.

This is also an example of the “disconnect” between people like LT and myself. From what he has written, it doesn’t seem like he will wear this scent at least a few times a year, if he ever wears it again, but he probably got at least a free sample of it.  If this scent was priced lower, I would likely try to swap for a bottle, and if that didn’t work out, I’d wait for it to get to that point where it was at its lowest and buy one.  But given the pricing, I might never be able to acquire a bottle reasonably, and so I would not be interested in sampling, because I already have so many vanillic fragrances I can’t imagine thinking that I “need” another, even if it is different.  The reviews do not sound good to me.  I’m not a fan of “oddball” fragrances, and I’ve already got a few of those, such as Perry Ellis for Men (2008), which lists notes of, “grapefruit, woody accords, resins, iris root, leather and musk.”  The drydown, however, features an ambery/vanillic element along with some sort of marine type chemical (reviewers have called it blood-like or copper-ish, as in an old penny).  It cost me about $8 for a nearly full 100 ml bottle.

Is L’Heure Perdue XI better than this Perry Ellis scent?  That’s where I have major problems with fragrance reviews.  Does anyone doubt that LT would say yes?  But to me what matters is whether I find the drydown to be pleasant (assuming they all have at least decent strength).  If I like both, and they aren’t similar to something I’ve already got, then I’ll try to obtain a bottle in what I consider a reasonable way.  If I could only buy the PE scent for around $12 or more I would not own it now.  I simply have too many at this point to place much emotional (or other) investment in any one.  If offered enough money (within reason, though) I don’t think I’d have a problem selling any or a bunch of my bottles.  By contrast, some people (apparently LT), sample a fragrance, find it to be “artistic” and then talk about how great it is, but do they wear it on any kind of regular basis?  I think we are back to my old post about the “niche sampler” phenomenon, which I believe I observed on Basenotes.  That involved people doing a lot of sampling of less common, more expensive scents, talking about how great they were, but over time a bitter tone to their reviews emerged, along with claims about the “death” of the “art of perfumery.”  My question to them would be, since you’ve claimed to enjoy so many fragrances in past reviews, why don’t you just wear them and stop sampling/complaining?  Clearly, they were not thinking about or using these olfactory concoctions the way I do, nor in a way I suspect most people do!







Filed under Criticizing the critics.

What do the “experts” have against “celebuscents?”

Image result for elvis cologne

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.

Film Review: ‘Christopher Robin’

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).


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Is this a fake Gucci Envy for Men EdT tester, and other “mysteries?”

On a recent Basenotes.net thread, someone asked if this was a fake:

Gucci Envy Fake Tester.jpg

This is the thread in question:


Of course the biggest problem here is that Scannon was spelled incorrectly!  On ebay one can sometimes see a tester of this scent, and it always looks like this (in my experience):

Gucci Envy Men real tester.jpg

Of course I can’t say that it can’t be real, but if you believe it is, I’d guess you are quite a gullible individual in general.  The person who posted the top picture on BN said that it, “almost looks like an internal tester that never should have seen the public,” but how does he know what kinds of test product bottles they use?   Also, a tester isn’t a “refill.”  I’ve purchased refill bottles and the ones I’ve seen have always been at least 200 ml (and none were spray bottles).  None have had the word tester on the bottles or boxes.  And what is it going to refill?  Legitimate Envy for Men EdT testers are sealed spray bottles!  I’ll also mention that the color is likely incorrect too, though it could be due to the lighting.  There are two color variations in real bottles, one being paler than what you see in the bottle that has the correct design, but it doesn’t look that pale, nor does it have that slight brownish tinge (I have tried both colored liquids and can’t tell the difference between them, scent-wise).

I happen to have a tiny bit of insight into the possibility (however remote) that it is an “internal tester” because several years ago I purchased a Lagerfeld test bottle (from a former employee of the company), so I thought it would make sense to post a picture of it here in case anyone comes across something like this; they will have at least some more information at their disposal:

KL Lagerfeld Aftershave bottle.jpg

And though it’s an aftershave, I’d say it’s more like and EdC or even stronger (and smells right; I have a vintage sealed EdT spray bottle to compare it to).  But I’ve never tried the aftershave of this scent that was marketed to the public, so that’s the most I can say about the smell of it.  Also, at the time KL Lagerfeld for Men was selling for very little – the cost of this bottle probably wasn’t much less than what I paid for it (total).  At the time I didn’t know if it was valuable as a unique item, and since it was a buy it now ebay listing I decided to take the chance.

Not long ago I saw an ebay listing for an odd-looking 125 ml EdT Mark Birley bottle.  It wasn’t listed as a tester, but it had no box or cap.  There have been testers of this fragrance on ebay, but they had round stickers on the back that said Tester.  The most troubling thing is that these bottles (I saw two of them from different sellers) had black sprayers that appeared to screwed off, and they were aesthetically quite ugly.  And when I compared the tubing to a real bottle I noticed that these all black sprayer bottles were not all transparent; towards the top they were white.  I think someone might have taken off the original sprayers and used a plastic one that wasn’t so different as to look utterly ridiculous (perhaps using some kind of “crazy glue” to hold it on), as you can see:

Mark Birley possible fake bottle.jpg

One of these sold for less than $30 total and while the other sold for just over $40 total (both around 90% full), at a time when real ones were selling for a whole lot more.  One of the sellers seems to mostly sell “name brand” makeup while the other sold mostly used fragrances that are not known to be faked.  And both had over 500 feedback each with only one negative (a fragrance bottle broke during shipping but the buyer just left the negative feedback without trying to resolve things first, apparently) and no neutrals.  Here’s a real bottle – notice how much smaller the sprayer apparatus is and there’s not white part to the tube, and you can also see the tester sticker, which is on the back:

Mark Birley real bottle.jpg

So perhaps a reader will be able to clear up one of these two “mysteries” up for us!

UPDATE:  After I wrote the above I noticed someone selling the odd-looking Envy for Men refill/testers for $298, but on these Scannon was spelled correctly.  To me this is even more suspect, and the seller had nine of them!  So, just when prices for this scent appear to be hitting all time highs, a “hoard” of tester/refills (which I’ve never seen before) that look really weird and are inconsistent with known tester bottle designs appear on the market?  And if you wanted to create one, all you would need to do is to print out this kind of label, find some old bottles, and get some of the “dupe oil” for this scent (perhaps you’d also have to buy some dyes to get the color close).  As they say, it would be like printing yourself money!  Needless to say, it appears that only those with little patience and even less aversion to risk would buy such bottles.

NOTE:  If you would like to see more posts like this one and the previous one, let me know by commenting to that effect.

UPDATE:  I was contacted by someone who said that postal codes for Paris are 5 digits, beginning with 75, so the testers in the weird bottle with Scannon spelled correctly are almost certainly fake, because they still have the code as 7001.  Apparently, the person selling these read about the online discussion and changed the label to correct Scannon, but since nobody pointed out the postal code issue, that was kept the same.



Filed under The basics.

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:


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!


Filed under Fragrance Reviews.

Is it time to “call it quits?”

Perfumes The Guide 2018 by [Turin, Luca, Sanchez, Tania]

I came upon a thread in the General forum at Basenotes.net, which was about the new Perfume Guide book by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez.  You can find it here:


I then went to Amazon to see if there was a preview for it, and sure enough, it was quite good, even including many of the “A” fragrance reviews!  I read what was there, thinking that I’d likely buy the book (the Kindle version, which might be the only one, is $9.99), but as I read something coalesced in my mind.  Turin seems to think (at least this is what I’d guess, and agree with) that what has happened over the last roughly ten years is that enough people got tired of mainstream offerings, which became minor variations on a small number of themes, and so turned to niche, which then itself largely did the same thing.  A couple of things I’d say about this are that vintage fragrances often were similar to older, popular ones, and that while reformulations are often bad (as he stated), it’s still easy to get most of them at reasonable prices if you possess just a bit of patience!  Furthermore, there’s a lot more information now about how to identify a vintage bottle.

He more or less dismissed the great vintage masculines (especially those of the late 1970s to early 1990s) in their 2008 book, but didn’t explain why (at least to my satisfaction).  And in this 2018 book, he seems to be suggesting that now it’s highly likely you’ll get a bad reformulation if you go that route.  Obviously, if you started collecting them after you read the first book, you’d have quite a few that you obtained at very good prices, just like I did!  Turin then says that despite the lamentable state of things, there are still some perfumers providing us with fragrances that should be regarded as special.  Unfortunately, I have yet to encounter any of these, and I think the issue may be one of “artistry.”  Turin clearly believes in it, but to me, while I may really enjoy a scent for a short while (even one from the dollar store), it’s just going to register as “wear it once in a while” at some point in the near future, if it doesn’t rate even lower.  I’d rather just smell a new scent on a piece of paper, so that I’m not “stuck” with it for hours, and instead I’m usually content with a fragrance that has an obvious vanilla or amber note in the base, with just enough of something else to keep it from being too boring.  Moreover, I don’t seem to share his taste a good portion of the time in any case.

I guess it’s almost like a distraction to me these days, and what’s more, my sensitivity has been low for quite a while now, so I often don’t get much more than the top notes.  Even a powerful Jacques Bogart scent seems of just moderate strength.  Then, as I was reading through the reviews, I was thinking that there aren’t any fragrances that interest me!  If you told me you’d send me a sample of half of them, I wouldn’t want to waste the time reading about them!  The reason is that I just don’t care if a fragrance is a slightly different take on oud, oud/rose, leather, iris, gourmand, sandalwood, etc.  I’ve got so many bottles that I can’t even remember everything I’ve got, let alone try to figure out what I should wear on a given day!  Usually, something just pops into my mind and I decide to reach for this or that bottle.  I decided to write up a response to the BN post, which was:

I got involved in this hobby just before the first “Guide” was published, and a lot has changed for me, one of which is my thoughts about these olfactory concoctions. Back then, I got a copy of the book a couple of months after it was published (still have it), and read it within a few days. There was still so much to learn. Not long thereafter I developed chemical sensitivity and couldn’t go near anything with lavender in it. That lasted a few months before normality returned, and I was able to detect more and more notes. Since then, I’ve gotten involved in other pursuits and my sensitivity is rather low. I can appreciate Fahrenheit as well as traditional cologne type compositions now (unlike back then), but in general I don’t find the same enjoyment I did for those first several years, at least on most days.

And I’m just as happy wearing a cheap knockoff (that’s well done) as the “real thing.” When I read the free preview (at Amazon) of the new book by LT and TS, it was not a trip down memory lane. Most of the fragrances I had never heard of, and I didn’t have any interest in trying any of them. What’s worse, I really didn’t care what was said. What hasn’t been done? Or what has been done (and not yet sampled), but I don’t think I’d enjoy? When I decide what to wear (and once in a while I don’t use any!), there’s plenty to choose from. Sometimes I can’t even find the bottle! I still do some blind buying and swapping if the deal is too good to pass up, but I can’t say there’s any scent I’d really like to acquire. In fact, if someone offered me enough, I’d sell my entire collection tomorrow (I’d keep some “cheapos”). I’m glad to see that the magic is still there for a lot of people, but on some level I’m glad I don’t spend as much time thinking about this stuff any more!

In an introductory chapter, Sanchez tells us that celebrity fragrances are “effectively over,” but what does that even mean?  She tells us that sales are slipping, but people who read their book probably don’t care.  They either don’t wear fragrances marketed this way or, like me, they buy what they think they will like (or were able to sample, and liked).  And there is no discussion of layering, from what I understand (I think it might have been mentioned in the 2008 book), which is a way to deal with low sensitivity (for me).  If there’s a new scent with a unique combination of notes, guess what?  I can usually figure out a layering combination that is close enough for me (such as Born Wild Men or vintage Pasah layered with Red Sea by Micallef instead of Viking by Creed, which I prefer to the Creed, actually).

So, while I agree with some of what they say, I do think that they don’t distinguish between the different kinds of people who do much thinking about these olfactory concoctions.  I don’t remember reading anything about the effect Youtube reviewers have had, for example  At least they could mention that they don’t watch any and have no idea, if that’s the case.  It is mentioned that they have sampled thousands of fragrances since the first book was published, and as at that time, it seems to me that if you do that and do it competently, you wouldn’t have any time to enjoy your favorite ones!  Could it be that they find so much blandness because they don’t give many or even most of the fragrances they sample enough time to show what they can do over the course of hours?  It’s easy to dismiss a scent as “crude” if you just smell some rather strong and obvious top notes, but perhaps a few hours later things have really come together and it smells considerably better.  “Cheapos” often have this quality.

I’m not sure what this all means to this blog.  I think I’ll have enough motivation to  write up a post or two per month, but I’m not sure about the content.  I feel that I’ve explored as much as I want to, or perhaps 95% or more.  Will that other 5% or so be enough to sustain this blog?  If I don’t sell most of my collection in the near future, I should be able to write posts on just my reassessments for a long time to come, and I still have more than a few samples that I have yet to try!  So, I think the blog will keep going, but I wonder how much enthusiasm will exist, and whether it will be obvious to readers that there’s not much remaining, if that continues to be the case.  At least I often perceive the scent in at least a slightly different way than the prior wearing, but it’s also common for me to like it less than I did before.  One good thing is that I’m not spending much, even though I had mostly been buying $25 or cheaper bottles, and most of them were probably sub-$15!

Over at the NST blog, there’s a recent example of what I’m referring to, in Anela’s review of Musc Encensé by Aedes de Venustas:

Musc Encensé might be a non-musk musk. Me, I smelled a comfortable, warm musk like Coty Vanilla Musk, but much less sticky and thick…

How about incense? Any incense in Musc Encensé is subtle and not sharp or dank…

All in all, Musc Encensé is the ideal fragrance for someone who wants a warm, delicious, non-intrusive background scent to toss on. It doesn’t make a statement. It doesn’t demand attention — or detract from it. True, Musc Encensé might not break new ground.


The best part?  It’s “only” $245 for 100 ml!  Seriously, the industry has gone off the rails on the crazy train.  Why would anyone have any interest in such a fragrance who has at least a bit of experience with niche?  It seems like Angela is trying to make it sound better than I probably would, especially after all the excellent incense and musk fragrance releases in the last decade or so (most of which cost a lot less, such as the Molinard Musc that cost me $12/100 ml a couple years ago).  But what impression is she trying to give the reader?  Why not say something like, “this is a good scent for someone who wants to try niche out for the first time but probably won’t enjoy anything too edgy, and who is rich?”  She says it’s for someone “who wants a warm, delicious, non-intrusive background scent to toss on,” but how many such people exist?  Yes, I agree there are quite a few who will buy a scent like this, but not at $245 for 100 ml, or even $100.  Is Angela rich?  Perhaps she should tell us that she can go around buying these kinds of fragrances the way I buy dollar store scents, if that’s the case, and then it would make a lot more sense, IMO.

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Should a guy get insensate if sprayed with a “feminine” scent ?

Image result for charlie chaplin modern times

I’ve found it interesting how some “veteran” members of Basenotes seem to think there is a sharp “gender line” with these olfactory concoctions and that the friendly people in control of multinational corporation X, Y, or Z know exactly where that line is drawn! Some others, such as Luca Turin, argue that these gender distinctions mostly involve top notes. And of course, most aficionados know that if you toss in a lavender note that is quite noticeable, you can turn a “feminine” into a “masculine,” especially these days, with so many super-sweet “masculine” scents on the market. I have come to conclude that while such generalizations are interesting to ponder on an abstract level, these aren’t all that useful in practice.

Instead, I prefer to think about actual scents, and one that immediately comes to mind is the 1993 release, Insense, by Givenchy (I’ve only worn the original formulation, I believe on three occasions separated by more than a month) . Turin and others seem to think this was too “daring” for its time, but is it less daring today? And is it daring in terms of the actual smell or the marketing? After all, plenty of aficionados will buy a “feminine” scent with a strong leather note, such as Cabochard, for instance. Another notion is that a “masculine floral” is highly problematic, though plenty of aficionados seem quite positive about Amouage’s Lyric Man. Is it the case that if a scent is clothed in the garment of “niche” it’s acceptable to be “floral?”

I could not understand the appeal of Insense. The florals are strong and sharp, as is a fruity/citrusy quality, which I don’t enjoy either. After that it slowly dissipates over time, with a resinous quality becoming more and more obvious, though it never distinguishes itself. Fragrantica.com lists thse notes for it:

Top notes are aldehydes, black currant, lavender, mandarin orange, bergamot, lemon and basil; middle notes are magnolia, lily-of-the-valley and iris; base note is fir.

The reviews for it on Fragrantica are quite interesting. Few mention the “feminine” element, at least one person calls it “delicous” (this is the opposite of delicious to me!), and most talk in abstract terms. This one is interesting:

Top notes are horrible. Acrid. But after 10 minutes, it transform into a floral for men. Strong sillage, longevity is also good (around 5 hours). I was actually imagined I was taking a nap under a shady tree beyond the yellow meadow field…

What is a “floral for men?” Is it that there is a fir/resinous quality that is a bit stronger than it might be in a similar, yet “feminine” scent? If so, that is strong evidence for the claim that these notions are entirely due to “cultural conditioning” (including marketing efforts). In any case, fifteen years later David Yurman’s first scent is released, with these notes:

…mandarin, and fresh green notes of black currant leaf and petals, followed by floral notes of peony, water lily, rose otto, patchouli, exotic woods and musk.

To me, though the compositions are not the same, the underlying idea is. That is, you get the fruity quality that is not especially “feminine” and the sharp florals, though these are not as sharp in Yurman (which is an improvement, IMO)., to begin the proceedings. Then over time a base that is at least “unisex” comes forward. In Yurman, this is a woody/oudy and somewhat chemical-smelling accord. Yurman has more of a watery than fruity texture at first, but what I dislike in both is the strength of the lily-of-the-valley type notes. Also, if I want that fir/resinous quality, I can opt for vintage Ferre for Men or Nino Cerruti’s 1979 “masculine” offering without having to deal with strong florals (I generally like florals as supporting notes or to counterbalance another strong note or accord).

In Yurman, the florals eventually are balanced by the woody/oudy element, but I can’t say I enjoy this combination all that much. It’s interesting, but not all that enjoyable to me. However, I do look forward to wearing the Yurman scent again, when I think I am really in the mood for it. I don’t intend to wear Insense again (I have a small decant right now), but since my preferences have changed multiple times, I’ll keep an open mind. There are quite a few reviews of Yurman at Fragrantica, but other than mine, I’m not sure if any others were written by men! And this is just one “feminine” scent that I happen to come across at a big discout – I have no idea how many others might be similar, at least in some significant way, to Insense! In other cases, I have found some scents one might consider clearly “feminine,” such as the 2010 Mariah Carey release, Lollipop Splash Vision of Love, to be more “masculine” than Insense. Here are the notes for that one:

Top Notes: juicy mandarin, coconut and star neroli. Heart: French macaroon, purple jasmine and white peach. Base: sandalwood, vanilla infusion and creme de musk.

I’m not sure if I’d wear any of these in public, but that’s simply because I have so many to choose from there’s really no reason to do so, as I’m not a “statement-making” kind of person, at least when it comes to things like clothing, hairstyle, and fragrance. I’ll conclude here by saying that it’s likely the case that those who have convinced themselves that the good folks at multinational corporation X, Y, or Z know what they should smell like, at least in terms of “gender” (has there been a scent released that was marketed to the “trans” community yet?), are not going to sample a scent like Yurman or the Carey, but that won’t stop me from trying to “open some minds” with this blog !

NOTE: For those who don’t know, the general idea behind Insense may be said to date back at least to a number of mid/late 1970s scents: Halston’s 1-12, Devin by Aramis, and Nino Cerruti’s 1979’s “masculine.” All feature some sort of strong “green” element (galbanum and/or fr/pine), along with citrus up front and obvious florals (usually jasmine and carnation), with the usual lavender as well. And in 1992 Salvador by Salvador Dali was released, again with a similar idea. Yes, Insense goes further than those, but it’s certain not a composition one should associate with a perfumer who lost his mind! For me the problem is “wearability,” not taking “gender issues” into account, as Insense is harsh at first but really doesn’t do anything better than the others mentioned (and it’s not especially complex, which doesn’t help).

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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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Filed under Fragrance Reviews.