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Top 10 tasting article

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Bon et Copieux linked me to Top Ten Niche Fragrances Every Beginner Should Sample in a thread where I asked about figuring out my taste. It seems a useful backbone to make notes on.

1: L’Air du Desert Marocain: dry, resinous amber.

I already know I like amber *and* that I like it to be moist and rich rather than dry. Tom Ford Amber Absolute is a favourite of mine and pops up in the "if you like it richer" section of this. However, I'm coming to understand and appreciate the place of incense in perfumery so I may test this one someday.

2: Musk and animalics

Musc Ravageur, the reference scent here, is on my pile of keeper samples because it reminds me of Estee Lauder's Youth Dew, a childhood memory of mine which is also heavy on the animalics. I've got a sample of Muscs Koublai Khan too, which my notes describe as smelling like "clean sweat" or realistic skin. I think it's safe to say that I don't have this problem Americans seem to have where musk smells like being unwashed to me. It smells warm, cozy and comforting, as much as anything - it's only on retesting MKK on paper that I can even figure out why some people might find it minging.

But yes, on a retest, in fact it reminds me rather of an ex-boyfriend of mine - I'll leave you to imagine what that says about the man in question. I will tell you that he ruined me for most other men in terms of what a star he was in bed...

3: Timbuktu as the watershed in Bertrand Duchafour's career

This one mentions that Duchafour went from producing "bone-dry, smoky, pared-down woods and incense accords" to things like Jubilation XXV - which went onto my keep list when I got the sample, so there's my opinion on that one. It's possible I might appreciate a very, *very* restrained take on dry-smoky wood, but it's fairly unlikely. Ironically the oriental Duchafour frag I tested in the Penhaligons range (Malabah IIRC?) was not a win for me, though that may be an artefact of Penhaligons' somewhat faint house style.

4: Chergui: “a sweet hay oriental built around a tonka-coumarin base”. The article uses it as a tonka reference scent.

I probably like tonka, but Chergui has also got both tobacco and vanilla in it, both of which I don't love. Vanilla just isn't interesting enough as a feature note for me to want to wear a fragrance based around it, and tobacco I dislike quite strongly. It has to be very very subtly or masterfully done for me to tolerate it.

It suggests Chergui as a jumping off point for gourmands too; not sure what I think about those, since a "true" gourmand I won't want to wear (Mugler Womanity springs to mind) but a sweet fragrance cut with something sharper is a complexity I tend to enjoy.

5: Smoke

I already know I don't like incense, especially frankincense, and smoky seems to go with acrid, dry and all the kinds of bitter I don't enjoy.

6: Oud, synthetic or otherwise

I've learnt enough to know oud is a monstrous trend right now. I like rose, which is commonly paired with it, but don't really care either way about oud itself as far as I can tell. Not going to bother working too hard to investigate this lot I don't think.

7: Animalics

What is this "dirty" of which you speak? Musk is fuzzy, comfortable, human and warm. Clearly I am a dreadful European. A few examples in here I'm curious to test to expand my understanding though.

8: Incense

See above - it's worth looking at some resin single notes to examine how I react to balsams that aren't frankincense, but it's not a star category for me.

9: Leather

I know from BPAL days that in-yer-face leather isn't a note I enjoy. I just don't like it on me. BPAL, I suspect, isn't good at refined leathers, so I'm planning to test Chanel Cuir de Russie and some other politer things. I think in the right scent I could like it; I have a strong memory from my teens in the 90s of some sort of very feminine suedey-floral scent which I could have sworn was Coco Chanel (but definitely isn't) which I'd like to be able to find a ringer for. (I really hope it isn't CK Eternity I'm remembering!)

10: what? Where did I miss one? Ah - wait - a page on Onda Voile d'Extrait, or more transparently put, challenging scents.

I forgot this one because essentially, I already know my answer to the question of perfume as fashion: I know where I lie on the spectrum of scent as art versus scent as clothing. I want fragrances I can wear. Finding a scent wardrobe for me is about finding my own olfactory self-expression, which means that unless I trip over a "challenging" scent that articulates something I feel very personally connected to, they'll never be loves for me. That said, quirks always get my attention, especially in a world as staid in its gender norms as perfumery can be. As an example, I did have a good time with Penhaligon's Tralala; I was glad to get hold of a sample when it got discontinued - I don't use fragrance up at a sufficient rate to merit buying some but it will be good to be able to get to know it a little more.

Updated 11th August 2016 at 10:31 PM by philistine




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