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  1. #31
    zztopp's Avatar
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    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.
    -

  2. #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.

  3. #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..

  4. #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.

  5. #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.

  6. #36

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    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.

  7. #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. . . .

  8. #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

  9. #39

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

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

  10. #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.

  11. #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"

  12. #42
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    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.
    Currently wearing: Augusto by Mazzolari

  13. #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]

  14. #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.

  15. #45
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    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.
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  16. #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

  17. #47

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    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.

    .

  18. #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.
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  19. #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.

  20. #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.

  21. #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

  22. #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,

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  23. #53
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    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 ..
    -

  24. #54
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    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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  25. #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.

  26. #56
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    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

  27. #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.

  28. #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.

  29. #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.

  30. #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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