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  1. #1

    Default Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    This is a response to comments made in the "GIT: A Reevaluation and a Thanks" thread.

    I decided to post it in a separate thread because it became a rather long essay instead of a response, and I didn't want my response to hijack the thread because it was after all a thread about GIT and my response isn't about GIT.

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    If you take a bottom-up approach (i.e., lesser scents -> niche) when venturing into the world of fragrances, you incrementally begin to appreciate the steps up in quality of the composition . . .


    Probably the most oft-repeated misconception and misunderstanding on Basenotes and a dichotomy many just can’t seem to get away from in the obsessive compulsion to build up niche fragrances at the expense of designer fragrances. It’s as if niche fragrances can’t be left alone to fend for themselves without attacking their less prestigious brethren.

    Having tried a couple of thousand designer and niche fragrances over the years, and having spent a life-time smelling fragrances, thinking about and reading about fragrances, talking to people in the industry etc., I will state categorically that this statement quoted immediately above as a general statement is not only fundamentally wrong; it is fundamentally misinformed. You won't hear anyone who knows anything about the fragrance industry and its development in the last 150 years using this false dichotomy and that includes every author of every book I’ve ever read on fragrances. Of course, the niche people can say what they want and usually do, but the majority of people who write about the development of modern perfumery and those in the fragrance industry, including the great noses, understand clearly that the skills set developed by noses creating for the non-niche industry is where the true originality and quality of composition lies.

    When Frederic Malle commissioned noses to do his Editions de Parfums line, the majority of those noses, with the exception of Olivia Giacobetti, were people who had firmly established their credentials and creations in the world of designer fragrances. Dominique Ropion, the creator of Vétiver Extraordinaire, is touted as “one of the world’s greatest technicians”. Maurice Roucel is touted as having begun his career as a “chemist”; these are hardly your artisans who use rare, all-natural ingredients and move in the rarified world of royalty and yet they are the ones who produced two of the finest fragrances released in the last twenty years because of their non-aritisanal skills acquired in the world of designer aromachemistry, and, I might add, they created two of the most successful Malle fragrances. The Malle fragrances of Olivia Giacobetti, while beautiful in their rarefied and minimalist use of simple constituents just don’t do it for most people as fragrances one can wear especially if one is paying over $150.00 a bottle for them, and isn’t that the case with many niche fragrance; they’re beautiful, they’re made of quality ingredients, but they’re just a little too simple and don’t have the longevity and temporal development many of us want when we pay hundreds of dollars for a bottle. You can get away with two sprays when wearing Musc Ravageur or Vétiver Extraordinaire because these two noses know their aromachemistry and know how to produce fragrances with complex effects that evolve and last, which according to the doyen nose Bernard Chant, was and is the mandate of modern perfumery.

    Incidentally, from his highly technical skills, Ropion, “one of the world’s greatest technicians” produced a very distinctive, full-bodied and highly synthesized vetiver of extraordinary quality, complexity, and character and made it far more distinctive by the addition of a number synthetic aromachemicals such as Floralozone, Cashmeran, Muske-tone, Tonalide with which he is obviously familiar as he inhabits the world of complex, cutting edge aromachemical technology found in world of designer fragrances and because he currently works for IFF as its lead nose. IFF (International Flavors and Fragrances) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flavor and fragrance ingredients that actually markets a number of the aromachemicals used in Vétiver Extraordinaire or their equivalents. If you take zztopp’s favorite nose, Olivier Creed, by Creed’s own admission of the modus operandi of his fragrance creation and his preference for natural ingredients, his fragrance creation is outside the larger movements and discoveries of twentieth and twenty first century aromachemistry and this is why if he continues on like he has, he will continue to produce limited combinations and rather simple (granted in some cases beautiful) effects that have appalling longevity unless they are loaded up with yet another variation of ambergris, vanilla and musk in the base. I have dealt with this limitation in another post, so there’s really no need to revisit it. Here’s the post should anyone care to revisit it:

    http://community.basenotes.net/showt...ory+equivalent

    Let me illustrate my point another way. If you look a Dominique Ropion’s impressive list of creations, you will see that when Frederic Malle and even when Serge Lutens (Ropion created Iris Silver Mist for Lutens) chose him to create fragrances for them, he had basically only created fragrances for designers. Why wasn’t the world’s self-professed greatest nose, Olivier Creed, chosen for the job. Because those in the know know that the real skill set is in the world of fragrance creation occurs in the technologically advance world of aromachemical creation found in designer fragrances.

    Here is Ropion’s list so that you can see what I mean:

    Alexander McQueen MyQueen (2005, with Anne Flipo)
    Burberry Burberry London for women (2006)
    Cacharel Amor Amor (2003, with Laurent Bruyere)
    Cacharel Amor Amor Elixir Passion (2006, with Laurent Bruyere)
    Calvin Klein Euphoria (2005, with Loc Dong & Carlos Benaim)
    Caron Aimez Moi (1996)
    Christian Dior Pure Poison (2004, with Carlos Benaïm & Olivier Polge)
    Escada Casual Friday (1999)
    Escada Sentiment Pour Homme (2002, with Laurent Bruyere)
    Escada Sexy Graffiti (2002, with Laurent Bruyere)
    Frederic Malle Carnal Flowers (2005)
    Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie
    Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire (2002)
    Giorgio Armani Armani Code for women (2006, with Carlos Benaim & Olivier Polge)
    Givenchy Amarige (1991)
    Givenchy Very Irresistible for women (with Sophie Labbe & Carlos Benaim)
    Givenchy Very Irresistible Sensual (2005)
    Givenchy Ysatis (1984)
    Givenchy Ysatis Iris
    Jennifer Lopez Live (2005)
    Kenzo Jungle L'Elephant (1996)
    Kenzo Jungle Tigre
    Krizia Krazy (1991)
    Lalique Le Parfum (2005)
    Lancome Miracle Forever (2006, with Olivier Polge)
    Lancome Tresor Eau de Printemps Sheer (2006)
    Maxims de Paris (1984)
    Nam Long Miss Saigon
    Ralph Lauren Safari (1990, with others)
    Thierry Mugler Alien (2005, with Laurent Bruyere)
    Vivienne Westwood Anglomania (2005)
    Yardley Lace (1984)
    Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme Yves Saint Laurent (2006, with Anne Flipo & Pierre Wargnye)
    Yves Saint Laurent Paris Premieres Roses (2003, with Sophia Grojsman & Laurent Bruyere)

    [List courtesy of Now Smell This: A Blog about Perfume]

    In a recent thread, when someone commented that Ropion’s resumé looked rather thin before he made Vétiver Extraordinaire, I reminded that person that if Ropion had only made Ysatis, which he did for Givenchy, then that would have been enough.

    I’ll just quote what I said about that:

    Ysatis is considered by lead perfumers and those in the industry to be a thoroughly original modern interpretation of the traditional chypre accord that opened many possibilities for the further development of other fragrances [along novel lines]. In this sense, it's a benchmark fragrance in the history of fragrances of the twentieth century. It is this fragrance on which Ropion's reputation is primarily based. The trouble when you get into slanging matches about which house is better than which or which perfumer is better than another perfumer is that the focus is taken away from the fragrances. You have confined one of the most respected fragrances of the last 30 years to mediocrity on the bases of what? On the basis of a cursory look at a list of fragrances.


    There are many, many designer fragrances whose quality of composition far exceeds that of many niche designer composition, which given the propensity to use more natural ingredients tends to produce more simple compositions and effects in the niche fragrances. I am very careful here, as others are not in many cases, to make a distinction between the complexity of composition and the effects achieved by such complexity and the aesthetic value of the fragrances, which is after all a far more subjective/personal reality. I am also trying hard not to conflate my argument about the quality and complexity of composition over whether nature-derived smells are superior to synthetic aromachemically created smells not found in nature. Clearly, nature specific smells have certain advantages and certain disadvantages and aromachemistry has already closed the gap in large part in terms of advantages and certain has closed the gap entirely in terms of disadvantages.

    Creeds are a classic example of the point I am making. With Creeds there is many times a confusion of the quality of ingredients with quality of composition. Any one Creed fragrance might trump Nino Cerruti Pour Homme on the quality of its ingredients, but there is no Creed, in my considering opinion, that comes close to the quality, complexity, and artistry of Nino Cerruti Pour Homme's composition. There is a real and important difference in such a distinction. I also don’t buy the quality argument in and of itself. It’s a false and misleading argument as I show later when I discuss the false valorization of natural over synthetic.

    Furthermore, I would also argue, could argue in detail if need be, that there isn't a L'Artisan fragrance, in my considered opinion, that can hold a candle to the original 1976 Signoricci 2 formulation in terms of the quality of composition and the level of complexity and the sheer artistry of composition. I also happen to think that the 1976 formulation of Signoricci 2 is one of the most beautiful fragrance creations ever, but that’s a personal opinion I could only support by saying that’s what I feel, but I could definitely argue why and how in terms of the sheer genius and skill of its composition it exceeds anything L’Artisan has made hitherto. If L'Artisan were to put out such a fragrance today, and Signoricci 2 is very L’Artisan in its feel, everyone on the board would be agog over it. I can come up with many such instances and, in each instance, I'd be happy to explain why and how the designer fragrance in terms of the sheer quality of the artistry involved is a superior fragrance in that regard. Of course, this not always the case with all designer fragrances, clearly there are many poorly made designer fragrances, but to build an abstract hierarchy on the basis of "lesser" fragrances versus "niche" fragrances is patently misleading. “Lesser scents and niche”; worse than its unselfconscious, and maybe even unintentional, elitism is its reductionism.

    Now the astute observer, would have noticed and could say to me, hey, isn’t that what you are doing; aren’t you working within a dichotomy between designer and niche. I have two answers to that question:

    The first would go something like this, yes I am, and I wouldn’t argue that such a dichotomy doesn’t exist nor that it’s not a valuable taxonomic distinction, but I am also showing why designer fragrances are not by nature lesser fragrances in as non-reductionist a manner as I can. I am trying to make differentiations and distinctions and give reasons why I believe designer fragrances can and often are more complex in their quality of composition and in the complexity of their effects, not to mention the degree of their artistry, and I hope no one would accuse me of being reductive in doing so.

    I might cite my recent post on aldehydes as an example of the claim above:

    http://community.basenotes.net/showthread.php?t=187374

    By niche companies’ own definitions, they don’t use aldehydes, which could be construed as limitation on the quality and the complexity of effects they can achieve. I can’t see how designer fragrance are intrinsically “lesser” fragrances when compared to niche when they have some much more to offer if, of course, they manage to offer it successfully, which they don’t always do, but, by the same token many times do manage to do.

    The second response to the charge above would go something like this: I have always tried to show in all my posts that niche fragrances are not always what they claim to be and that, in fact, there is more overlap between them and the aromachemistry of designer fragrances than many allow or even admit to. I’ll let my posts speak for themselves on this point, but I will illustrate this claim with two examples. Shiseido’s creation by Christopher Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon (creator of Kouros, Live Jazz, Iris Poudre among others) of Féminité du Bois under the direction of Serge Lutens, is cited by many Lutens fans as an precursor of Lutens fragrances in its niche like originality and purity of ingredients. It’s a foreshadowing of things to come: the partnership of Lutens and Sheldrake, the use of high quality ingredients, the originality of composition. Sorry, but with regards to the use of high quality natural ingredients alone, always a favorite among niche heads, 43% of Féminité du Bois's perfume oil volume is made up of one of the most commonly used and synthetically created, non-nature specific aromachemicals, Iso E Super®. So much for niche continuity; actually, score one for designer niche overlap. It wouldn’t surprised me at all if many of Serge Lutens’s fragrance contained similar synthetically derived or synthetically produced aromachemicals components; I haven’t found any claims to the contrary. Nor would it surprise me if Creeds do. In fact, I have argued in other posts that they do and they surely must, particularly with regards to ambergris.

    My second example is Diptyque’s most successful and most beautiful creation, and arguably Olivia Giacobetti’s best to date, and, furthermore, her most synthetic. It’s the fragrance Philosykos, which revolves around a fig note which cannot be isolated from nature but which has to be recreated synthetically by the marvels of aromachemistry. I explain this paradox in my review in the Basenotes directory in the following manner:

    Finally, don’t look for the white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) listed in Diptyque’s official description of this scent to make an appearance in the basenotes. White cedar is nothing like the Texas Cedar or Atlas Cedar notes that are used frequently in men’s fragrances as standard basenotes. White cedar, or cedar leaf oil as it is commonly known, can be pungent and balsamic, bitter, sharp and fresh, and even camphoraceous. It is a principle ingredient in Vicks Vap-O-Rub©. The white cedar is more than likely used to give complexity and amplitude to fig note effects in *Philosykos*, which achieves such effects so artlessly. Such an achievement is even more laudable when one remembers that there is no such thing as fig essential oil or even fig leaf oil. Fig leaves are abrasive and sticky and have a sappy, milky liquid in them that is an irritant, and they don't smell figgy at all. In fact, figs themselves don’t smell figgy. The tend to have a bland, barely detectable vegetal smell to them. It’s only in the preserving of figs in jams that the aroma we identify as a fig is brought out and intensified, and so it’s important to note that the complex fig note one smells in *Philosykos* is a marvel of aromachemical invention and Olivia Giacobetti’s art, and *Philosykos* is the paragon of such invention and art.

    While science and art are definitely behind the genesis of this paragon, the experience of *Philosykos* is the experience of Nature, of airy, fleeting summer fruit and vegetal greenness softened, mellowed, transfigured, purified, and made white by late afternoon Mediterranean wind and sun. It is the fig tree, its fruit, and its leaves magically transformed into breath.
    Olivia Giacobetti, I would argue is
    one of the greatest perfumers alive precisely because she is at ease in the world of natural and synthetic aromachemicals and can use them to great effect through her artistry, but then again so are all the great noses who create for niche houses. The quality lies not necessarily and only in the ingredients but in how they’re used, and for the highest manifestation of how those ingredients both natural and synthetic are used complexly, qualitatively, and in terms of artistry, we will always look to noses and not to artisans. The concept of the artisan is a quaint and for many a compelling one, but the great noses of the modern era are not artisans, they are a combination of technician, chemist, and artists. It’s what and how they create not for whom they create that matters.

    An interesting final point I hope: has anyone ever noticed that the posters who consistently post interesting, informative, differentiated, thoughtful, and informed posts are those who hold to no clear cut hierarchy between niche and designer? In fact most of these kind of posters, would, if hard pressed, refuse to say which they preferred and would mostly say that for them it was the individual fragrances and not the category that matters. What I have also noticed about such posters is that they are rarely dismissive of niche fragrances, even the ones they don’t like, and they are always the most interesting posters on the niche fragrances they do like. I have made this point countless times when arguing with Creed heads, who can’t manage to say anything about Creed that doesn’t sound like anything more than a publicity blurb for Creed and a clichéd one at that and who confirm my main point, time and time again, that if one really wants to know about and understand fragrances, I mean really wants to know and understand, one needs to keep an open mind and lose the clichéd dichotomies and the false hierarchies. They don’t even begin to address the marvel which is fragrance creation. My harshest criticism of this falsely dichotomous view is that it produces very little sense of wonder. Everything is too clear cut for that. You can’t have wonder in such a world.

    scentemental
    Last edited by scentemental; 1st October 2006 at 04:10 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Nice post, but you only partly quote me to make your point; my original post also contained this golden nugget:

    "(ofcourse not all drugstore scents are crap - i am just speaking generally here). "

    It wasn't a blanket statement. Many designer scents are top tier and can be as good as or better than many Creeds, L'Artisans etc.
    -

  3. #3

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    Nice post, but you only partly quote me to make your point; my original post also contained this golden nugget:

    "(ofcourse not all drugstore scents are crap - i am just speaking generally here). "

    It wasn't a blanket statement. Many designer scents are top tier and can be as good as or better than many Creeds, L'Artisans etc.
    I stand corrected on the omission zztopp, but your qualification mentions drugstore scents, not designer, which, your qualification notwithstanding, get subsumed into "lesser scents". After all your suggestion is to start from the bottom up in order to appreciate niche scents. It's not a bad suggestion per se, to start from the bottom up, and I not really interested in singleing you out as might seems the case. What I really interested in is in complicating the dichotomy, the whole idea of starting at the bottom and working your way up. Is there another way in which we can look at this dichotomy. That's what I am interested in. Your comments gave me the pretext to do that. It not really personal, and I appreciate the fact that you have a more nuanced view than I might otherwise have suggested above for the purposes of argument. In order to show you that I mean it when I say I am not interested in ad hominem attacks I have removed all personal references. Thanks for the spirit in which you posted your reply to my post.

    I am glad to hear that you don't hold too hard and fast to the dichotomy.

    Regards,

    scentmental
    Last edited by scentemental; 1st October 2006 at 06:21 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Sorry, my bad - I should have been more specific. As you can see, I own a fair amount of designers fragrances as well.
    -

  5. #5

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Indeed you have.

    I'd be interested to know which, if any of these designer fragrances, you hold in same regard you do your niche fragrances.



  6. #6

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by scentemental
    Indeed you have.

    I'd be interested to know which, if any of these designer fragrances, you hold in same regard you do your niche fragrances.



    From my collection:

    Live Jazz
    Kouros
    All the Carons (I just found new appreciation for Pour Un Homme)

    I do admit that when re-starting my fragrance obsession last year, I was of the belief that niche automatically implied superior in most of the cases.

    However, over time I learned that it only implies a superior quality of ingredients - not necessarily the composition or the overall fragrance quality of the end result (a point made in your title post). This could probably be due to the fact that many of the industry noses create fragrances for both designer and niche houses (another point you make in your title post - but something which I had already realized by my own experiences a couple of months ago); after this realization, I tried to start a thread on a referendum on the industry noses, but didnt get many responses:

    http://community.basenotes.net/showt...highlight=nose
    Last edited by zztopp; 1st October 2006 at 06:45 AM.
    -

  7. #7

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    As a bit of a snob - or at least someone who enjoys exclusivity and obscurity - my discovery of the idea of "niche" fragrances led me very much to want to find a signature frag from amongst the niches or at least a niche house to adopt. I spent a fair bit by my own measure, sampling dozens of frags both "niche" and "designer." Not thousands by any means. Alas, I found the Creeds were not for me, neither the L'Artisans which were very much in vogue. Serge Lutens' were often beautiful, but they were like romance novels or daydreams - opulent, ostentatious, and unwearable. And so on. Likewise as my nose matured I found and continue to find common department store frags to be unbearable. I find now that day to day, I wear Guerlain, sometimes Dior. The triumph of nice or pretty?

    I used to write editorials on wristwatches and the "niche" vs "designer" stratification reminds me of the "mechanical" vs. "quartz" arguments in the world of watch collecting.
    Last edited by Carlos; 1st October 2006 at 07:00 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Great post and a great read. I don't know enough to offer my opinion, but that post got me thinking!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    To simplify my stand greatly I´d say:

    Older designer and niche stuff, say pre 1990 actually differ very little. Devin and JHL are on par with GIT and Acier Aluminium IMO, really no big difference.

    After the Acqua di Gio-tsunami designer stuff has become less interesting for me personally. I´d automatically choose the latest L'Artisan over the latest Armani without having smellt either.

    However very recently new "niche" houses seem to pop up every day. These, which have no historical context and play the "natural" card so heavily I remain sceptical about. They have a lot to prove IMO, especially if you start out with the outrageous price tags that many of them do.


    ps. The fragrance I personally feel was the standout and most important of the 90's was delivered by a designer. Few niches have anything on A*Men by Mugler!

    MMM

  10. #10

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Excellent post Scentemental. I can't add anything to this thread that hasn't already been mentioned. From a personal standpoint, I can see why someone would appreciate many of Creed's older/vintage scents, as stated previously. But with all of the Creed hype that's been circulating the boards, it has somehow had a reverse psychological effect on me and I'm a bit predisposed to disliking the Creed house. However, I still try to keep an open mind and admit to enjoying Vintage Tabarome very much. It's a really good scent IMO regardless of whether it's by Creed or not. As for the loyal Creed cult/followers, I find many of them quite ironic...

    After reading dozens of the Creed reviews in the directory, I've found myself rather confused. Some claim that GIT is the best thing they've ever smelled in their life. Yet these same people gave bad ratings to fragrances such as Eternity, Chrome, and Terre d'Hermes (all of which I prefer to GIT). As for the dichotomy, I certainly agree that many Basenoters are very biased when it comes to the designer/niche subject. If you were to put Calvin Klein's name on the bottles of GIT, Millesime Imperial, and Himalaya (among others), I'm almost 100% sure that these very same fragrances would be described as being less complex, more linear, boring, synthetic, harsh, sharp, etc. But I guess that's the effect of marketing.

    Oh, and by the way, I completely agree that the 1976 formulation of Signorrici 2 is a masterpiece. The same applies to Cartier's original formulation of Santos. Thanks again for the samples, my friend.
    Last edited by teflondog; 1st October 2006 at 08:23 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Great post scentemental!

    Coming from a previous hobby of wine, I am familiar with this dichotomy. ?Screaming Eagle is better than Opus One, Le Pin better than Latour and Greenock Creek better than Grange, just because they are rare and niche, and the others are made by big houses. Of course not - as in wine, perfume comes down to the juice in the glass - sniff it, and judge it on its merits.

    I have tried, and tried, to convince myself that niche fragrances are better. Whilst I haven't smelt thousands, I would consider that I have smelt most of the significant offerings from Creed, L'Artisan, Lutens, Malle and Villoresi. I have found maybe 10 or so that I would buy. For the record, I own GIT, BdP, VE, my wife has Carnal Flower and Iris Poudre and we share Daim Blond and Chergui. IMO these are all great fragrances.

    But I love Dunhill 1934 and Edition, Chanel Egoiste, PMC and Antaeus, Guerlain Vetiver and Derby and Habit Rouge, Eau Sauvage, Santos... And not just "old" designer frags, recently I think Rive Gauche and Terre d'Hermes are great, and I'll buy Burberry London when it arrives in Australia. For females, Chanel and Guerlain have a library of faultless creations of beauty. I judge these all on their merits, and love them as much as the few niches I own.

    and again, chemical or natural, does it matter - judge on the juice. Admittedly many new designer frags have a chemical smell to them, but many niches are just plain weird, Throw them both out, and your still left with a huge pool of talent.

    Ged
    Top 10 (not in order): Dunhill 1934, Dunhill Edition, Terre d'Hermes, Rive Gauche, Habit Rouge, Guerlain Vetiver, Knize Ten, Bois du Portugal, Vintage Tabarome, Green Irish Tweed

    Summer Rotation: GIT, Aventus, Erolfa, Vetiver 1948, Guerlain Vetiver, Malle VE, Terre d'Hermes, Bvlgari PH, Bvlgari Acqua, Habit Rouge EDC and Sport, ADP Colonia Assoluta, Chanel PMC, Dunhill Edition, Eau Sauvage, TF Azure Lime

  12. #12

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I remember when I started this hobby I was totally mystified by Creed. After reading so many worshipping posts here, I assumed that Creed was the the paradigm of quality and the pinnacle of class. Then I aquired samples of MI, GIT, and OV. And I was like, "blah". They aren't bad, they just weren't the leaps and bounds better that I had expected.

    Yes, they do smell natural. Very natural. And well blended. I will concede that. But honestly, sometimes it is blatant synthetics that make a fragrace interesting (ie Nemo, most CdGs, Bulgari Black, DZING!, etc.). If I want something that is guaranteed not to offend, I'll reach for a Creed, but I'd rather be wearing something more thought provoking.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  13. #13

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Brilliant post.

    As a relative newbie in the scent world, I still do hold a distinction between designer and niche scents, though it's not as if I hold one to any higher esteem than the other.

    I see a house like Creed as an artist who only draws in pencil and chalk, and I see some designers as artists who have, say, a 120-color pack of Prismacolor colored pencils at their disposal. On any given day, either can create a masterpiece. Sometimes, even with a limited pallete, true masterpieces can be created, and this is why I hold Creed in such high regard- they do so much with seemingly so little. Likewise, the artist with the full gamut can draw beautifully colored sunsets or convey images not possible with just a pencil and chalk.

    Either way, beautiful things can come about. The original post takes a strong critisism towards Creed for using similar basenote compositions across their range, however, I implore that each composition be looked at individually. I wouldn't criticize an artist for using the same shade of, say, red or blue amonst their paintings, but I would agree that their are times where those colors make much more sense or just "work" better than in other paintings.

    Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm just too new in this hobby and haven't sampled enough scents, but when I'm frequently impressed by the Creeds I smell and much more infrequently impressed by the mass-market scents (excluding YSL's line...), then that says something. To me, it all boils down to how each individual scent affects me, and so far, "niche" scents seem to move me more than "designer" scents.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by teflondog
    But with all of the Creed hype that's been circulating the boards, it has somehow had a reverse psychological effect on me and I'm a bit predisposed to disliking the Creed house.
    Its great that threads like this discourage people from wearing Creed - I would rather that not many people wear Creed (which I think not many people do since, as I have stated before, Basenotes is the only fragrance site where Creed is discussed in detail...elsewhere, its mostly lutens, chanel, or L'Artisan)
    -

  15. #15

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    Its great that threads like this discourage people from wearing Creed - I would rather that not many people wear Creed (which I think not many people do since, as I have stated before, Basenotes is the only fragrance site where Creed is discussed in detail...elsewhere, its mostly lutens, chanel, or L'Artisan)
    To many people the discussion isn't about quality--it's about rarity. Niches get so much play here not because they ARE better, but because they are rarer, cost more, and therefore are PERCEIVED to be better. This desire for rarity becomes a dilemma of contradictions: the niche enthusiasts need people to know that they have taste, so they must sing the praises of their own niche choices and possibly dis the designer fragrances in subtle ways. But the primary reason for choosing niche is exclusivity, and therefore, they don't want others to WEAR their own niche choices because that would reduce the exclusivity. ...a sort of case of don't do as I say OR do, just recognize how great my taste is...

    As for me, I am attracted to a much higher percentage of designer fragrances than niche fragrances, but that is only as it should be. Niches--whether Creed or Lutens (or Hummer or Ferraris) are by their very purpose meant to appeal to fewer types of consumers than the mass market products. The designer fragrances are highly successful--they do what they were meant to do--appeal to a large number of people, and often I am one of that "people." With niches I find that I have little or no attraction for most of them (two out of how many creeds?), but the few I DO like, I come close to worshiping. Those are the ones that, in a very real sense, were made for me because I am one of a very few that that fragrance was specifically created for. Those niches are also the ones I find I have the least to say about because they are so personal to me.

    Great post, Scentemental.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Great post Scentemental ! A joy to read.
    The ever on going niche-designer threads, oh yes.... they will never dissapear, and , although they slightly bore me to death, being a regular BN visitor, maybe they shouldn't. It's a natural reaction of people to think that , the more expensive fragrances are, the better they are. I wish it was that simple.
    If that was the case, I'd only buy niche fragrances.
    I do believe that the original idea of " niche" ,creating an artistic fragrance, at all costs, as perfect as can be, remains an interesting idea, especially for the perfumer, who is an artist after all. In the end, however, I think the perfumer doesn't care if he's working for a niche company or a designer company , as long as they're paying his check, lol!
    There are really beautifull creations in the niche departement, but nowadays," niche" is the new marketing term, guy's.
    Nothing wrong with that, as long as the fragrances live up to the high amount of money people are paying for it. And that's ,unfortunately, not always the case.
    And while I enjoy both niche and designer fragrances , I realise that there are just good and bad fragrances. That's all.
    Last edited by eric; 1st October 2006 at 11:25 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Hell of a post, Scentemental.
    Last edited by pluran; 29th October 2010 at 05:17 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by scentemental
    Furthermore, I would also argue, could argue in detail if need be, that there isn't a L'Artisan Fragrance, in my considered opinion, that can hold a candle to the original 1976 Signoricci 2 formulation in terms of the quality of composition and the level of complexity and the sheer artistry of composition.
    Yes please, I would love to read that! I would also like to read (again) the differences between the old and new Signoricci. I think you have written such a piece earlier.

    Excellent post there scentemental, a great read.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    It was well in my 46th year when I first had the chance of smelling a niche frag. And -as I previously mentioned- was not impressed. Up to that spent a lot of time and money with designers, sometimes happily, sometimes disappointed.
    Then arrived lots of L'Artisan, Villoresis, and Aqua Mutu samples - not my world. The first one I like from this world -if there is such- is GIT. Very clean, very comforting. Not winner in longevity, sillage, but very good for what I use scents: makes peace between me and the world.
    Now I'm not eager to try Serge Lutens, CdG, others. Simply because I don't pursue dreams. Apart from my strongly limited cash, I try to be content with what I have. And have learnt that niche means nothing spectacular.
    So I'm glad I'm not among of the blamed, though I would see someone claiming that his actually is

  20. #20

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I agree with MMM on many points.

    Personally, I only own 4 or 5 "niche" fragrances out of 80 or so. I don't so much consider fragrances niche because of the ingredients or price as much as the level of distribution, ease of accessability, and street presence.


    These would probably be:

    C&S #88
    Epicea
    Avignon
    Messe de Minuit
    Geir
    Piper Nigrum


    Now, I COULD, given my own qualifications for niche, add the host of discontinued designer fragrances in my wardrobe.


    For me, niche is more about exclusiveness. Its a "niche" market and I definitely feel Ungaro 1 and Iquitos belong in it.

    Its kind of a hijack of the thread, but I feel that you bring up interesting points about the ambiguity of "niche" scentemental. I mean, really, what is "niche" and why are we really obsessed with it, apart from really just wanting something on the far extreme from AdG?

  21. #21

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Another great post scentemental. :wave:

    These are the type of reflexions that get me hooked on this hobby.

    « L'odeur de rose, faible, grâce au vent léger d'été qui passe, se mêle aux parfums qu'elle a mis.»
    [ Paul Verlaine ]
    Wardrobe

  22. #22

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Outstand Scentemental...
    ...good to see you back in action - always the gentleman.
    This is one of the reasons I came on board years ago.
    I'm curious if the Serpent will weight in on this one.
    These types of post were welcome reading when I first
    joined however, I do not see them as much anymore
    nor the people who posted them.
    I wish their were a section, maybe for supporters as an
    incentive - of course, for these more informative discussions.
    CG

  23. #23

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Excellent post scentemental!

    The whole designer vs niche ideal is merely a class struggle - all based on exclusivity, rarity, costs, etc. Personally, the only reason I hold a distinction between designer/niche fragrances is to make financial decisions : P "Hmm, I can get 2 designers for the price of one niche..." You know what I mean. I'll have to admit, there's a certain allure that's attached to niche fragrances that I just can't shake loose. That doesn't mean they're ultimately better than designers, it's just like the idea of "old and traditional techniques" - even if it's all marketing. Usually, the niche houses that really attract my attention are those that have a style that would hardly, if ever, be found in a designer fragrance. For example, I like how Serge Lutens has a very middle eastern, spicy, smooth feel to their fragrances. And Montale's extensive use of oud/aoud/agarwood in their oud-line of fragrances. The funniest thing, however, is that for some niche houses, their status has actually fallen almost below that of designer houses. For example, I love L'Artisan but I really question if they're worth paying for because many of their fragrances have a serious problem with longevity and sillage. So in this example, I would, without a doubt, place Yves Saint Laurent above L'Artisan. Of course, this all boils down to personal taste..

    To be honest, 90%+ of the time when I reach for a fragrance, it's a designer. There are just SO MANY more designer fragrances to choose from than there are niche fragrances so it's usually a designer frag that would satisfy my 'scent hunger.'

  24. #24

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by myaccolades
    To be honest, 90%+ of the time when I reach for a fragrance, it's a designer. There are just SO MANY more designer fragrances to choose from than there are niche fragrances so it's usually a designer frag that would satisfy my 'scent hunger.'
    Check out the list of niche perfume houses at these two sites:

    http://www.aedes.com/brand.php?cat_id=1

    http://www.lusciouscargo.com/

    I wouldnt be surprised if the total number of niche houses is now equal to or more than the number of designer houses.
    -

  25. #25

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    Check out the list of niche perfume houses at these two sites:

    http://www.aedes.com/brand.php?cat_id=1

    http://www.lusciouscargo.com/

    I wouldnt be surprised if the total number of niche houses is now equal to or more than the number of designer houses.

    Aedes and lusciouscargo are both vendors that specialize in carrying many niche houses though so they're a poor example of what's out there since they offer only one "end of the scale". It's analogous to me saying "Go look at the offerings at Walmart! WOW! So little niche.. etc. etc."

    The best example is just to look at the Basenotes Directory, imo.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Well, I guess I have to unlearn everything I thought I learned after unlearning everything I might have learned before the last time I relearned everything, Great thread, from the OP and all of the participants, but now I have questions I never would have thought of an hour ago.

    I think I'm just going to go around smelling people and if I like the way they smell, I'll just ask them what they're wearing....hell of a lot easier than trying to figure you people out

  27. #27

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    well, I've always thought and keep thinking the designer fragrances are generally better than the niche ones.
    Kouros, Polo, Gentleman, Bogart, Azzaro, Guerlain Vetiver are there to prove it.
    I'm sorry, niche fans, but 85% of all niche I've tested are poor lasting or weird.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by RCavs
    I'm sorry, niche fans, but 85% of all niche I've tested are poor lasting or weird.
    I agree. But not to the extent of 85%. You have to realize that many niche houses don't market to the general public but rather create fragrances that are unique - some houses pride themselves in making peculiar (yet good) fragrances like.... L'Artisan; they have a few unusual ones.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by MonkeyManMatt
    To simplify my stand greatly I´d say:

    Older designer and niche stuff, say pre 1990 actually differ very little. Devin and JHL are on par with GIT and Acier Aluminium IMO, really no big difference.

    After the Acqua di Gio-tsunami designer stuff has become less interesting for me personally. I´d automatically choose the latest L'Artisan over the latest Armani without having smellt either.

    However very recently new "niche" houses seem to pop up every day. These, which have no historical context and play the "natural" card so heavily I remain sceptical about. They have a lot to prove IMO, especially if you start out with the outrageous price tags that many of them do.


    ps. The fragrance I personally feel was the standout and most important of the 90's was delivered by a designer. Few niches have anything on A*Men by Mugler!

    MMM
    I 100% agree. I think that the consolidation of many designer houses, their brands being bought up by huge multinational corporations (the same disturbing trend that is occurring in all industries) has caused a focus-group-ification of fragrance. Big companies are inherently risk-averse, afraid of losing money on something that to many would be too unusual to wear. So they test and research, and then test some more, ultimately ending up with the Ford Taurus of fragrance - functional but not likely to quicken one's pulse. To my nose, nearly all the newer designer scents I have smelled seem to me to be bland, boring, straightforward - lavender, citrus, vanilla, tonka, cocoa, white musk, etc. Here we only have to think of nearly everything by Boss, Versace, Escada, and so on. Granted, there are some houses that still take some risks, but these are usually very high-end houses, with avant garde leanings.

    That brings me to my second point, which is that overall I agree with scentemental's post (who could really disagree with such a reasoned argument!?!). Take for example CdG. Are they designer or niche? They are a design house, yet their scents are, in many cases, pretty odd, a characteristic that many consider to be a hallmark of a niche fragrance. The oddness fits their image, so it works. By contrast, Allure proves that this would not work for all houses. It would be hard to see Chanel releasing something with "dust on a lightbulb" as a note, but this fits just fine with CdG.

    I guess my distinction between niche and designer (one, BTW, I never had before arriving at Basenotes) has faded and has been replaced by a distinction based on raw creativity. These days, in this post-consolidation era, I think niche companies have more room for raw creativity. This type of creativity is not for all (hence the common comment that niche scents are often "too weird" [see the above post]). I see no real differences in "quality," just degrees of freedom, and even there, only in a majority of cases, not all. Creed for example, tends to make scents that creatively, to my mind, fit better with designer scents than most other niche scents. Some desginer companies can have this freedom, others do not have that luxury.

    I personally prefer the ones with greater creative license, 1) because that's what I have found I like, and 2) because I think it's good for society in general to have as much wild creativity as possible. Certainly not everyone has to agree with this. I don't even agree with it every day. Some days I want something simple and straightforward, non-controversial. Plenty of people like to listen to Britney and Paris Hilton's music. I prefer Zappa and Wayne Krantz. I like it because it's more interesting to me, off the beaten path, cuts new ground, and also because it's not something everyone everywhere will be listening to. Same for frags. Like MMM and scentemental said, the older desginer frags were creative, on a par with today's niche, and in many cases exceeding them. I argue that's because the business of fragrance wasn't as dominated by huge multinationals, so they took more chances and made frags that more often challenged conventions.

    Finally, the whole natural components issue to me is a crock. First, synthetic doesn't always mean never found in nature. It can also mean derived synthetically rather than naturally, but in the end it is the exact same chemical, just derived in two different ways. Very ofen the synthetically derived version is not only cheaper and more efficiently derived, but safer and less damaging to the environment as well. Second, just because something is synthetic - and even if it is never found in nature - that doesn't mean it smells bad, and it certainly doesn't mean it's necessarily harmful or bad for people or the environment. (In fact, I think the musk deer, civet cats, and catoreum beavers would be quite happy to know we use synthetics.)

  30. #30

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by robyogi
    Take for example CdG. Are they designer or niche? They are a design house, yet their scents are, in many cases, pretty odd, a characteristic that many consider to be a hallmark of a niche fragrance. The oddness fits their image, so it works. By contrast, Allure proves that this would not work for all houses. It would be hard to see Chanel releasing something with "dust on a lightbulb" as a note, but this fits just fine with CdG.
    Yeah, compare CdG Man 2 to Gucci PH. To my nose, the there's not much difference. Gucci PH can be readily purchased for $25 for 50 ml whereas CdG Man 2 can't be found for under $60. Are the subtleties worth the added price? Not for me. Same thing with GIT vs Cool Water. To me, niche houses are all about subtlety where designers are about smoothing over those subtleties with commercial appeal.
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

    http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/2976

  31. #31

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by myaccolades
    Aedes and lusciouscargo are both vendors that specialize in carrying many niche houses though so they're a poor example of what's out there since they offer only one "end of the scale". It's analogous to me saying "Go look at the offerings at Walmart! WOW! So little niche.. etc. etc."

    The best example is just to look at the Basenotes Directory, imo.
    The point that I was trying to make was that there has been a marked increase in the number of niche fragrance houses over the years as well, with a big increase in the total number of offerings.
    -

  32. #32

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by manicboy
    Yeah, compare CdG Man 2 to Gucci PH. To my nose, the there's not much difference. Gucci PH can be readily purchased for $25 for 50 ml whereas CdG Man 2 can't be found for under $60. Are the subtleties worth the added price? Not for me. Same thing with GIT vs Cool Water. To me, niche houses are all about subtlety where designers are about smoothing over those subtleties with commercial appeal.
    Good example. I'd say that for CdG, Man 2 is a very understated, mainstream sort of frag. And Gucci PH was a very unusual offering for the era, making it a much more creative effort in my eyes than most designer frags are these days. I don't think anyone would successfully argue one was much better in terms of "quality." I think under scrutiny, the designer-niche distinction falls apart and one is left with the character of the house, or the nose, which is an overall impression given by the entire line of frags they offer, or maybe more importantly, the few great ones that made a name for them. For me houses tend to fall loosely into the two broad categories I mentioned, and then within those there are obviously many degrees. What we call niche houses, I think have more freedom, which means they will typically, but not always, fall to the creative end. While that's not exactly an ingenious classification system, I think it works better than the strictly niche-designer designations.

  33. #33

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp
    The point that I was trying to make was that there has been a marked increase in the number of niche fragrance houses over the years as well, with a big increase in the total number of offerings.
    I definitely agree with you on this one, then. It seems like 'everyone and their little sister' is jumping on the 'let's make an all-natural niche fragrance' band wagon. Well, not everyone... I'm just exaggerating here..

  34. #34

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    While the original post was an excellent piece of critically analytical defense, I have to wonder why someone else's opinion needed to be quoted as historical origin of it. It gave the impression that the truthful opinion (one person's truth, that is) that gave rise to the post was invalid and intellectually inferior. I don't think (might be wrong) that the origins of this post began in a formal debate between the writer of this post and the writer of the post that inspired it. Because of this, the post seems uncomfortably close to singling someone out, and I wonder if it might discourage other posters from sharing their impressions lest their statements be grounds for a rebuttal that proves how invalid their line of thinking is.

    Perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye; perhaps the quoted poster agreed to a thread that highlighted his opinion as an illogical and ridiculous theory. If that is the case, play on, play on.

    If it were not, I would have been more impressed with this post had the quote not been given as raison d'etre for the analysis that followed. When I read it, I felt that the quoted person was being called an idiot for having some apparently ill-advised opinion he was entitled to have as his own perception dictated.

  35. #35

    Post Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    You guys are so right; there are way too many so called niche houses nowadays. It's such a huge let down to order samples of all these new houses, just to notice how poor they are, most of the time.

    Despite of this sad fact, I'm quite annoyed by the trend at this thread. It seems to be so cool to announce that 'I like designer more', and if one happens to prefer niche in general, he is either a snob, or a poor soul affected by marketing tricks. I don't have the knowledge some of you have when it comes to fragrances overall, but I'm not ashamed to say, that most of my favourite fragrances are niche. No designer fragrance has ever been as captivating to me as Piper Nigrum, No. 88, Musc Ravageur, Vetiver Extraordinnaire, Carnal Flower, L'Homme Sage or Secret Melange. I don't think it's the status of a fragrance that affects me, but the pure and surprising feeling I get, when I don't even remember wearing a fragrance, and get a beautiful whiff. Too analytical approach never works for me. I really would be happy to enjoy some designer fragrances as much as I enjoy the above mentioned fragrances. If there is some kind of fixation in my head, that makes me treat fragrances in different ways, depending on their status, I honestly want to get rid of it. I'm afraid this might be the case to some extent; it really is difficult to treat scent as just an aesthetical experience, to be unaffected by everything else around it. That's exactly what I'm trying to do, but often feel unable to climb above my own presuppositions.
    Last edited by Johnny_Ludlow; 2nd October 2006 at 09:01 AM.

  36. #36

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Great post Scentemental, and I humbly agree with the facts and with a good portion of your conclusions. However, it seems to me that most of your reasoning posits as an assumption the following equation:
    more creative = better.
    Well, I think it depends on what is it that we seek in perfumes. That equation is true for those who seek originality, intellectual brilliance or artistic expression in perfumes, for those who have gone beyond the simple pursuit of perfumes and have become interested in understanding the perfumers behind them, the Beethovens or Van Goghs of this art, their personalities, how they influence each other and evolve over time,...
    There is, however, another approach to perfumes, one of simply sitting back and enjoying something that "smells good", and mostly something that reminds us of some natural, or otherwise real-life experience, like Prousts' Madeleines; some odours which we've known forever, and which we will forever like: pine-needles, wood, flowers,...: they may not be creative, but some of us don't care.
    Where am I heading to, and what has this got to do with designers vs. niche ?
    While I agree with you that there shouldn't be any taboo about synthetic ingredients in particular (as somebody pointed out in a previous thread, "we're all made of chemicals"), or about designer scents in general, what I do find is that designers rarely issue scents that mainly relate to something real, to something as mundane as an "ingredient".
    Take (just to name a controversial house...) Creed's Cypres Musc: maybe their cypress or their moss is as synthetic as designers' ingredients, maybe Mr Creed is super-arrogant, maybe this isn't a brilliantly intellectual composition and indeed it's been there for 60 years, but hey, it smells good and these two things go well together, and if I close my eyes I do see a mountain forest.
    Few designer scents are called simply "Sandalwood" or "Pine" or "Seringa". More importantly (it's not the name that counts) most designer scents want to deliver to you some "style" message in coherence with their brand (which was most of the times originally a clothing brand) rather than simply remind you of a real-life smell (or of an idealized version of real life). There are a few exceptions like Etro; Guerlain is no exception, as it used to be a niche house.
    Niche houses, by contrast, (with many exceptions though), are a bit more likely to come up with something that just tries to smell like a slightly exotic but still real root (vetiver), or even like a Vespa scooter's gasoline smoke. That, in a nutshell, is the (small) advantage some people (myself included) see in (certain) niche houses.

  37. #37

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    [Post deleted by moderator, as it was a flame provocation. Rule #8: "Flaming or personal attacks are not allowed or tolerated. Be respectful of others."

    This thread needs to stay on topic or it'll be locked.

    Questions or problems with this are off-topic and not for the thread either--send them to me by PM.]
    --Chris
    Last edited by DustB; 3rd October 2006 at 03:27 AM.
    Scents are fleeting . . . memories are not. . . .

  38. #38

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    [QUOTE=scentemental]This is a response to comments made in the "GIT: A Reevaluation and a Thanks" thread.
    If you take zztopp’s favorite nose, Olivier Creed, by Creed’s own admission of the modus operandi of his fragrance creation and his preference for natural ingredients, his fragrance creation is outside the larger movements and discoveries of twentieth and twenty first century aromachemistry and this is why if he continues on like he has, he will continue to produce limited combinations and rather simple (granted in some cases beautiful) effects that have appalling longevity unless they are loaded up with yet another variation of ambergris, vanilla and musk in the base.


    tell me you DID NOT just say that Creed put ambergris in their fragrance bases! LOL

  39. #39

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I wonder why we don't get threads like this one anymore?

  40. #40

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I've recently come to think that niche frags are about interesting smells, whereas the best designer stuff is fragrance art (or just a "perfume," though in the USA this is thought of as only for women). This is a general way of looking at things, of course.

  41. #41

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by scentemental View Post
    Why wasn’t the world’s self-professed greatest nose, Olivier Creed, chosen for the job. Because those in the know know that the real skill set is in the world of fragrance creation occurs in the technologically advance world of aromachemical creation found in designer fragrances.


    How does one know OC wasnt approached by Malles? speculation cant be use as a channel to malign anyone, i mean "anyone"

  42. #42

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by afraafra View Post
    I wonder why we don't get threads like this one anymore?
    The biggest reason is that It takes time and thought to produce the initial "volley". That coupled with thought out interaction.

  43. #43

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Great post, and got me thinking.

    In general, the "new releases" by the designer houses these days all smell the same...taking a top note from Egoiste Platinum, say, and varying the proportions of tried-and-true "woody" basenotes like sandlewood, vetiver, oak/treemoss. Since M7, the only new release I find really interesting is Terre, and I find it less interesting than I used to.

    Whereas niche fragrances may be more simple, and have less lasting power...the ones I've smelled are more novel and interesting, actually. Keeping in mind I don't have much experience w/ niche, I've sampled the better-known Creeds (GIT, BdP), some Diptyque (sorry if it's spelled wrong)...and Piper Negrum is really quite unique. Nothing smells close to C&S no.88, either.

    I wish the designers wouldstop trying to reproduce fresh watery accords, and get back to scents that are easily distinguishable.......
    url=http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/972]Wardrobe[/url]

  44. #44

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)



    makes you understand why scentemental left.

    makes you miss him.
    Last edited by irish; 11th September 2008 at 08:25 PM.

  45. #45

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsly View Post
    I've recently come to think that niche frags are about interesting smells, whereas the best designer stuff is fragrance art (or just a "perfume," though in the USA this is thought of as only for women). This is a general way of looking at things, of course.
    I would argue the opposite. IMO good niche is about making innovative but sometimes less than wearable smells. Etat Libre d'Orange is a good example of this imo, especially Secretions Magnifiques. Not a lot of people wear it but it IS original and thought provoking. Good art is not always pretty or nice to look at but it usually is thought provoking. Wearable fragrances (e.g. including but not limited to designer) could be viewed as television: easier to watch and digest but less thought-provoking and by no means art. IMO designer fragrances as a whole do not push the envelope, niche as a whole does. I don't care whether that's with naturals or synthetics, as long as it smells nice. I also don't care for the argument that all great historic fragrances were designer because 1) back then there was no niche like we know it now, perfume in and of itself was "niche" 2) even if there were niche frags in those days, times can easily change. Design houses nowadays don't gross in innovative fragrances.
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
    Indult Tihota & Rêve en Cuir
    Chant d'Aromes extrait
    Vetiver pour Elle (5ml decant)


    Selling/swapping:
    Versace The Dreamer 50ml (1.7oz) BNIB
    ---

    "The Sunshine bores the daylights outta me!"
    http://polderposh.blogspot.com/

  46. #46

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by afraafra View Post
    I wonder why we don't get threads like this one anymore?
    There is an ebb and flow to everything.

    Currently active on Basenotes are several great noses and students "of all things fragrant" as scentemental used to say. I do not count myself among that group but it includes some very knowledgeable newer members.

    I think the future is bright for some phenomenally educational threads.
    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, ...... I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost

  47. #47

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I miss Scentemental, specially because of his reviews, which are my favorites. He was very sharp in his analyses. The way I would like to be someday.

    .

  48. #48

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Let me say that I do not prefer niche over designer or vice versa, if I like a fragrance I like that fragrance regardless of where it comes from. Having said that there are a few points in this post that I feel the need to address.

    "Originally Posted by zztopp
    If you take a bottom-up approach (i.e., lesser scents -> niche) when venturing into the world of fragrances, you incrementally begin to appreciate the steps up in quality of the composition . . ."

    I will state categorically that this statement quoted immediately above as a general statement is not only fundamentally wrong; it is fundamentally misinformed. You won't hear anyone who knows anything about the fragrance industry and its development in the last 150 years using this false dichotomy. . .

    First of all, zztopps statement does not present a false dichotomy (which by definition is a situation where only two alternative points of views are presented , whereas other options may also be available).

    but the majority of people who write about the development of modern perfumery and those in the fragrance industry, including the great noses, understand clearly that the skills set developed by noses creating for the non-niche industry is where the true originality and quality of composition lies.

    If the truth be known the skill set developed by many of the noses behind many of the perfumes niche and designer, were probably honed during years of producing scents for household items like dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, cosmetics, foods and drinks etc.

    By niche companies’ own definitions, they don’t use aldehydes

    This seems to be a gross over generalization, and one that is not correct. You are implying that NO niche house uses aldehydes. If one was to look at bottles and packaging of niche fragrance there will be many instances where aldehydes are listed as ingredients.

    Fig leaves are abrasive and sticky and have a sappy, milky liquid in them that is an irritant, and they don't smell figgy at all. In fact, figs themselves don’t smell figgy. The tend to have a bland, barely detectable vegetal smell to them. It’s only in the preserving of figs in jams that the aroma we identify as a fig

    Only someone who had never actually experienced a fig tree up close and personal would make such a comment. The leaves and fruit have a distinctive odor to them.
    Last edited by surreality; 12th September 2008 at 04:05 AM.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

  49. #49

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Well, I prefer Rembrandt to someone like Frank Stella, so perhaps that's why I think the way I do about fragrances! LOL. Seriously, Merlino's point is crucial. Wearability is perhaps the most important thing I look for in a frag, so if someone else has the opposite view, then we'll likely have opposing views about how to assess the "artistry" of the frag, as is the case here. I like to be "challenged" a bit, but once it becomes unpleasant, I'm out of there !
    Last edited by Bigsly; 12th September 2008 at 03:41 AM.

  50. #50

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I think the whole idea of Niche crossover is quite exciting. It is possible that smaller houses who aren't beholden to large numbers of shareholders can take the opportunity to present contemporary scents to a smaller audience. The need to produce the next hit note is not as important to these smaller houses as giving their customer base something fresh and unprecedented. The idea of niche houses crossing over from the world of "natural" fragrance materials exclusively (which is more legend than reality anyway) and into the 21st century of perfumistic composition is something akin to small record labels who are able to release quality music without being beholden to their industry shareholders to create a new superstar.

    What has been slowly happening in all artistic disciplines over the past few decades is that the goal of hitting pay-dirt supersedes the need to create cutting edge and high quality expressions of the human condition. The mainstream fragrance industry has unfortunately fallen into this trap as well. So much of modern designer fragrance has gone the way of modern pop music. So much smells the same. This is not to say that there has not been any quality at all, but there is certainly a dearth of ingenuity; this is why so many people have become fascinated with niche houses. They are filling a need. They are producing scents that don't smell like everything else.

    I think that what Malle is doing is brilliant. He is bringing the training, expertise and artistic skill of some of the best designer noses into the niche world where they can not only create ingenious new compositions; they can do it with an expertise that in my opinion has been sorely lacking among many of the popular niche noses.

  51. #51

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I'm happy to see this post. My own opinion is that a great perfumer can make a masterpiece without relying on overdoses of natural ingredients, while a hack can turn the highest quality naturals into sludge seeking its way back to the swamp. I've experienced both. The quality of the materials isn't the primary issue in determining the quality of the juice, although too low a budget for a fragrance will no doubt doom it to mediocrity.

    The other question is whether the designer brief versus niche unfettered creativity creates an environment in which creativity blossoms and produces genius. How many have been to see an "insider" hollywood movie where you thought to yourself, somebody should have warned them they were navel-gazing and making a bad movie? I think certain niche brands are like that. They needed a dose of external reality in the development process because they have somehow convinced themselves of their own brilliance and infallibility. While the designer "brief" process might impose too many limitations in some cases, a truely creative mind will find ways around the limitations to come up with a unique and unexpected "solution". I know in my own job that I often do my best and most creative work when I'm under the most pressure.

    As they say, however, every rule has its exception. So there are some niche brands that seem to hit consistent home runs (Parfums de Nicolai, for one), and some designers who can't seem to catch a break (I'll let each of you fill in the blank here).
    Last edited by Perfume_Addict; 12th September 2008 at 04:39 AM. Reason: sp

  52. #52
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    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    A fascinating thread, I agree, and, of course, Bravo, scentemental!

    What fascinates me about the designer/niche business is the response of designer houses in putting out niche-like lines. I'm referring to things like Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Tom Ford Private Blends — even Armani (the Acqua di Giò house) has the Privé line — all trying to capitalize on the niche market. In the process, I think that designer scents (in these lines at least) have been tending to be a little deeper, richer, more like they were before the great 1990s shift to fainter, more ozonic/aquatic scents. Of course, the price points on these specialty designer lines are the thing that most resembles niche houses!

    Just a thought, though I'm no expert on this issue... You can see from my wardrobe that I have tons of all different kinds of scents, so I'm a great advocate of catholic tastes, and not a real partisan of either niche or designer offerings as a whole.
    Yr good bud,

    JaimeB

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  53. #53

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I have now realised that the only difference between designer and niche is the number of suits breathing down a noses' neck ..
    -

  54. #54

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    I always thought it was whether their breath smelled synthetic or not?
    Looking to swap/buy/receive for free () the following samples/decants:
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    ---

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  55. #55

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by zztopp View Post
    I have now realised that the only difference between designer and niche is the number of suits breathing down a noses' neck ..

    In other words how much the House interferes, rushes, and changes their ideas of how the fragrance should turn out.

  56. #56

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by afraafra View Post
    I wonder why we don't get threads like this one anymore?
    Maybe because it's against the Guidelines, which are posted at the top of the page, to resurrect old threads after six months have elapsed?

    I think the threads are good the way they are.

    And I think your's have been getting more entertaining lately as well - OOOPs - I shouldn't have said that, I recollect that Scentemental was against that sort of thing.
    Cheers,
    Renato

  57. #57

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Quote Originally Posted by foetidus View Post

    With niches I find that I have little or no attraction for most of them (two out of how many creeds?), but the few I DO like, I come close to worshiping.
    I find this to be true for me, but I can't think of a convincing argument WHY this should be true. Is it just coincidence, or is it simply a fact that niche does especially well at the top of the curve--that is, niche is over-represented among the very best scents, or one's "holy grails."

    The scentmental post should be on sticky somewhere; I'm happy I found it.

  58. #58

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    The mainstream, for my money, is where the real action is, the talent, excitement, and finally the stakes. The Frick has a few gems but, well, it's not MoMA.

  59. #59
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    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Looks like some of the noobs are bumping threads I haven't seen yet. Cool.

    I think I am about evenly split between niche and designer currently. My favorite house (Profumum) is certainly a niche house. I haven't found anything in the designer world that matches either Thundra or Acqua di Sale. But there are some really good designer fragrances. Also, I find that the vast majority of niche fragrances offer nothing to me over and above much less expensive designer fragrances. At the end of the day, I just ignore the labels of "niche" and "designer," and decide whether I think the juice is worth the cash.

  60. #60

    Default Re: Designer or Niche: A Reevaluation (very long post)

    Most of the 'Niche' stuff I've tried has left me cold so far. The Bond's I tried all smellalike to designer scents - one of them smelled exactly like CK Truth too! I didn't feel the need to write the names on the strips, I simply threw them in the bin. No Creed has "grabbed" me so far, either. The only By Kilian I've tried (Liasons Dangereuses) reminds me of Ghost Deep Night, but smells higher quality and isn't quite as loud.
    I'm happier with my mainstream loves for now.
    edit: I like my CdG's a lot though.
    Last edited by Gblue; 28th February 2009 at 04:32 PM.

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