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Word To The Wise

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by , 16th November 2012 at 12:09 AM (4480 Views)
It's about 15 months since I started collecting fragrances. I started in August of last year with Cool Water (a fragrance I had a very small bottle of years ago. It was the only fragrance I knew, aside from my dad's Polo Blue, which I liked as well. I started collecting cheapies such as Nautica Blue, BOD Man's, Adidas colognes, Tag and Axe sprays, putting an emphasis on quantity rather than quality.

One day I decided, I was going to discard (what I could not sell on ebay) all of those cheap bottles which I was growing tired of and get myself a "real cologne". I went to Lord and Taylor, at a table of literally 50 colognes, and I stood there and tried them all.

First mistake, I wasn't aware of the fact that fragrances can be completely different from top notes to basenotes, so I shallowly judged them. My top two favorites of all of them were Drakkar Noir and Fahrenheit. I decided on Drakkar Noir since it was cheaper and paid $65 retail for it. Back then, I wasn't aware that I could probably have gotten a legitmate Drakkar for $40 online, and I should have just spent $20 more on the Fahrenheit

I used to think Drakkar Noir was the king of all colognes until I examined many fragrances further and saw that Drakkar (to me) was decent, but nothing special. Around that time I joined basenotes and saw I how much I really had to learn. Then in December came Eternity and Fahrenheit, the latter I only recently found out to be a fake from ebay. Early 2012, I started buying best sellers like Acqua Di Gio and Le Male, simply because I heard they were compliment getters and best sellers.

I still have those colognes and I still like them a lot, though I've expanded my tastes. For a while after that I started falling into basenote hype and buying fragrances simply because of the positive reviews on the forums. And I would justify even fragrances that I wasn't crazy about, for the fact that I paid for it and the more prominent members of the community liked it.

Then I decided to be more careful with what I buy. I would only buy what I truly liked. I would order dozens of samples online (since I could try them at my own convenience rather than going to the mall daily). When I am out, I would sample fragrances on my skin rather than just on the card.

But I should get to the point.

It's been under a year and I already learned more about fragrances than many people in the hobby learn in 2 or 3. But is that an accomplishment? Not really. That sense of wonder and discovery I had when I first went to that department store and tried those colognes had been long gone. I can't say right now that I feel hollow and empty. I'm actually very optimistic. I'm happy that I can enjoy this hobby with more clarity for the rest of my life.

In pursuit of this hobby, I sacrificed a lot of hobbies that I used to enjoy to focus it all on this one.

I basically planned to learn everything I could about fragrances in one-years time. That's the obsessive impatient side of me I guess, and I'm sure there are others in this community who are or were in a rush to get out of that state of being a newcomer who knew nothing of fragrances. But that is not the most efficient way to do it!

My advice for many of you basenoters: Take things slowly!

To me, I had weeks where fragrances were the only thing I cared about, and it was the only thing that was going well in my life. So I put all my eggs in that basket and ignored the others. Recently, in this fall season, i have made my fragrance hobby as something I enjoy doing on the side rather than a daily hobby that takes up most of my free time. Never let your hobby be a priority over your family and friends. I haven't had any time to visit my younger sisters and some of my friends, yet I had all the time in the world to read up on the next big fragrance release. I do wish I had spread all of this out in a few years. I wouldn't say I'm completely burnt out, but a little jaded. And it seems like the right time to put fragrance collecting on the backburner. But I'll still always keep it as a hobby. Just not intensive - but rather laid back.

I'll be on this Earth for plenty of years. I'll have all the time I need for this hobby, over time. Never set a due date on something that doesn't have to be finished soon.

I'm as pumped up as ever to try new fragrances and build up my collection. I'm equally as enthusiastic. Just more prudent about it. And in better perspective of where it stands, in my life as a whole.

It's really hard to develop a meaningful opinion on a fragrance (or anything in a short unit of time). I used to think that if I can examine a fragrance for hours on one day, that I could have that permanent judgment my whole life. Even if you tested a fragrance 15 times in one week, you still can't be sure about what you'll think of it in a year from now. You will save a lot of money by not making frivolous purchases of fragrances you haven't given enough time to judge. You will have more to look forward to.

And this applies to niche. I see niche as an entirely new journey. Just a macrocosm of what the designer journey was. I tried a lot of Bond, a few Creeds, but that's really it. In October, I planned a giant niche tour where I would be in NYC sampling niche weekly with many different people. But now I see niche as an entirely new clean start. One that I can explore without making any of the blemishes and mistakes I did in my designer journey. With niche being less available to test and four times as expensive, mistakes are costly. So what I probably will do is stick to designers.

Better to savor through it, than race through it.

I will let time stabilize and solidify my judgments and opinions.

Just a word to the wise.


Noir Drakkar


  1. sjg3839's Avatar
    Good words bro!
  2. bigsteve's Avatar
    Wow. Very thoughtful and well-written!
  3. jcw122's Avatar
    Great advice that is applicable to many other hobbies too! Thanks!
  4. Duke Smellington's Avatar
    I think I'm going to save this on my desktop and read it whenever I feel my "cologne compulsive disorder" rear it's ugly head. As a first year collector, thank goodness I learned early on to buy decants rather then full bottles. Still, I do need to slow down. Perhaps a fragrance buying "fast" is in order. There is a difference between enjoying something and being obsessed by it.
  5. Tucansam's Avatar
    Great write up and well said.

Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000