I guess I feel the innate truth that scent posted but was afraid to mention it lol
I see a trend on here with placing the word Niche in quotations. Being a fan of language (I'm an aspiring writer. Hell, I've won an award...), I can only surmise this is due to people's varying definition of the term itself, to the point where its actual meaning is lost.
Reading through these posts, the one fundamental thing I see is the inability for people to determine what niche really is. Is it exclusive? Or is there a price barrier that defines its limitations? Is it based on availability?
When in doubt, I always go to http://www.m-w.com. The folks at Merriam Webster are always helpful in setting the record straight. In this context, Niche is simply a specialized market. No more, no less.
Taking this into consideration, one could argue that Niche fragrances exist because people are willing to pay the designated prices for them. It has nothing to do with supposed quality, longevity, notes, or perfumers.
If one were to make a similar analogy with automobiles, the Bugatti Veyron fits a very specialized market, that being one of the world's fastest cars. There are people who will choose this specific automobile simply because of the fact it has over 1000 HP. They, however, are giving up creature comforts, much in the way many Lotus automobiles do.
Some people may say, yeah, that's a hell of a ride--fast, handles great... But for a daily driver, it sucks, and it's not worth the price. No way, Jose. They'll stick with their Toyota Camry for that. The very same people probably don't even have the financial means to pay for a lap around a track in a Bugatti Veyron, let alone purchase one... But that's beside the point. Why?
Because niche simply means specialized market, and the market wouldn't exist if there weren't people, for whatever their rational, ready to pay for it.
I guess I feel the innate truth that scent posted but was afraid to mention it lol
Off-Site Decants =) (updated 05/16/12)
I have a question about the historical semantics of the term niche in perfumery: did it originally refer to a niche segment among consumers (looking for high-end, extravagant, exclusive products signifying high cultural capital and thus serving as social status enforcers) or to niche in the economy of the beauty industry: small size producers with limited output and distribution and low capitalization moving among corporate giants and a handful of mid-sized family-owned operations like Guerlain used to be one? Or both?
II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.
Whether one agrees with the OPs views or not is not as important as digesting the points which were so well made in this case. My collection includes niche and designer. I admitedly went through a "if it's designer it must be less than niche" phase. Today I find that a very limiting attitude.
If I understand the term correctly, "niche" means simply specialized and doesn't necessarily imply superior or expensive, though it can, and often does cost more due to market dynamics. A 3' fluorescent tube costs more than the more common 4' ones, and occupies a niche
A Ukranian-language newspaper published in New York, for instance, serves a niche market. Organic raspberries are a niche product. Sometimes niche products become mainstream or close to it... Ben & Jerry's ice cream comes to mind, though I think Tom's of Main toothpaste is likely to remain in the niche segment for the foreseeable future.
Niche perfumers, like many niche entrepeneurs, have more freedom to experiment, to produce rarified, quirky, and sometimes exceptionally beautiful fragrances. They can afford to fail in a way that a large house with a venerable reputation cannot - at least not often. The appeal of exclusivity is, of course, a valuable niche feature. Do niche perfumers harbor ambitions to enter the mainstream? Maybe. Maybe not. I suspect the average niche perfume designer might not turn down a phone call from Chanel.
The irony of the niche perfume world is that there may be as many, if not more, of them now than there are mainstream design houses.
I've reread your post again and quite frankly - why don't you send an email to Grant containing the post plus any further thoughts you've had, and submit it as an article on the main board?
I'd imagine that there would be many readers who only mainly visit the main site and don't go to the Discussion Boards. I think they'd benefit from your perspective.
I think someone's allusion to the field of music is valid here. Music is rife with snobbery. I should know, I was a music journalist for many years. There would be the "anoraks" as we call them in the UK, who seek out every obscure artist out there and cite their work with a kind of smugness I found repulsive. At 45 I now recognise there are only really two types of music - good and bad, and even that is entirely a matter of perspective. Thus, I will quite happily go from listening to Metallica to Garth Brooks to Girls Aloud to The Beatles and not even bat an eyelid. What does it really matter in the end?
So is it with fragrances. I have a fairly large selection of niche fragrances in my collection of 100 bottles plus. I have countless samples from other niche houses. But in the end something I think smells good will be my scent of the day (depending on my mood and taste that day) will be what I will wear.
Take one of my recent purchases, bought out of curiosity more than anything: Zegna Extreme. It's not glamourous, it's not niche, but it smells fantastic. A very versatile fragrance which can just as comfortably be worn with a t-shirt and jeans as it can with a sharp suit. It can be worn as a daytime office frag or in the evening. It's a designer house. So what?
It works. It just works. I can wear it anywhere, more so than I can Yatagan which I also love.
L'Artisan fragrances were mentioned earlier. I struggle with this line, I really do. I was out with a serious buying head on last week and thought - right, I'm going to resample the L'Artisans and buy one. In the end though, I didn't because not one of them grabbed me in the same way as say, the Penhaligon's line does. Penhaligon's fragrances are by and large, just beautiful, classy, beautifully composed and long lasting (with the possible exception of Endymion). There is a house style there that just ticks all the boxes for me. I also struggle with the Serge Lutens line. Whilst I like Daim Blonde and Ambre Sultan, I just can't see me wearing them.
Creed. Now there's a house I just don't get. Figuratively or literally as I own none. It's not that I have taken a stance that I will never buy any, it's just that I think they're over-rated and don't last long enough - on my skin at least. Erolfa is glorious in its opening and then... it vanishes. Do I want to spend over £100 for that brief few minutes of elation? No, not really.
Ultimately when I open the cupboard containing my fragrances I choose whichever fragrance niche or designer that I feel I want to wear that day; that suits my mood or what I am going to wear,or even where I am going. It doesn't matter if it's designer or niche. It either smells appropriate or it doesn't.
The last two niche fragances that blew me away were Rose 31 and Italian Cypress. They didn't blow me away because they were niche, they blew me away because they smelled divine. But on the same day I sampled them, I also really liked Canali for men.
In the end, as with music, does it really matter? If I wear a fragrance that my girlfriend likes, she likes it whatever the label on the bottle!
Let's just enjoy this endlessly fascinating interest. The good, the bad, the ugly, the drugstore, designer and the niche...
In a world where people smell bad, it is the personal responsibility of every Basenoter to improve the world one SotD at a time...
Possibly the best post ever written here on basenotes, bravo scentimental! It's even more impressive, since niche vs. designer conversation usually boils down to the obvious; wear whatever you like, it doesn't matter if it's niche or designer. Really guys, no need to state this over and over again! While this is true, it also seems to kill all the sophisticated conversation we could have about differences between niche and designer.Your perspective is interesting and your knowledge of the actual process of creating a fragrance is very deep. Naturals vs. synthetics analysis was also very eye opening; Philosykos' fig accord is all synthetic, wow.
Another point; personally I think that there are far, far more great niche fragrances created during last twenty years or so than there are great designer fragrances. This is absolutely contingent, there is no implied idea that niche scents are better apriori. I'm saying this to make a distinction between two reasons of prefering niche scents, which is kind of evident, but sometimes seems to be forgotten. There doesn't have to be any misguided presuppositions if you happen to like mostly niche scents and only a handful of designer scents. While my attitude towards designer and niche scents as such abstract and big groups is neutral, I have no problem admitting, that I do not give for example new Hugo Boss or Emporio Armani scents much of a chance. This also could be thought to be an expression of being biased towards niche, when it really is not. It is common sense.
It would be more appropriate in many cases to do a distinction between fragrances that are made to please large crowds instantly and thus sell alot, and fragrances that are created with a goal of making as aesthetically or artistically (there is a difference) accomplished fragrance as one possibly could, without considering what potential buyers would think. Obviously this is even more a case of line drawn in the water than the distinction between designer and niche is. Advantage of this way of talking is, that it is trying to grasp something more relevant than the label in a bottle, price, or number of places where a given fragrance is available - it's trying to grasp the intention of a perfumer.
Honestly. whatever smells good to me, is something appealing whether its niche or not. that may sound amature, but i find it to be true. I've tested designer and niche, and have found dissapointments and treasures in each.
I've found the unorthodox approach of many niche houses far more alluring than the "safer" designer stuff. That's not to say all niche is unique, nor to say all designer stuff is safe/mainstream/uninspired, but based on my own experience, the number of niche fragrances I like compared to the number of mainstreams I like is so unbalanced it's laughable. I pretty much stick entirely to niche houses now. Just my 2c
Sadly I have to agree, Flouris...at least regarding new releasess....YSL's last two releases are, to me, not at all worth writing home about.
But some of the long-established designer brands still have very unique, inspired and inspiring frags--from 20 to 40 years ago........
In many ways, the boundaries between designer and niche are becoming, at least in the context of designer houses and designer brands launching various limited edition, premium, exclusive lines, are becoming increasingly blurred.
The original post just goes to show what an artifical dichotomy the niche-designer meme is. The only context where it actually means anything is when you're talking about market exposure. Ask a hundred members of the public to name their premier brand in perfume and ninety-nine will respond, 'Chanel', not Malle, CDG or Creed. Niche means luxury for the afficionado, designer is the afficionado's term for luxury for the great unwashed. Basically it's a form of consumer elitism.
Last edited by Hide & Reason; 19th December 2009 at 10:25 AM.
I think scentimental's original essay could be used as a study piece by college writing classes. And rhetoric classes, if there are any.
A high price for low quality angers consumers. I see exactly this objection to some niche fragrances and to some designer fragrances.
I think of niche fragrances as a modern phenomenon. Is there an official "first" niche house?
I have no idea what might be an "average" of all the designer fragrances. Chanel No. 5 is among the most popular, year after year. Are there as many better than 5 as there are worse? And it's even more difficult to estimate what might be an "average" niche scent. I might hear GIT mentioned the most often. How many here would reduce designer vs. niche to Chanel No. 5 vs. Green Irish Tweed?
There are so many designer and niche fragrances that I will never be able to sample enough of either to generalize. My interest is individual scents. I want to know what they smell like, how widely they project, how long they last and what they cost.
Shalimar & Mitsouko edts smell great but don't burn craters in your wallet. I just wish more design houses do likewise. The problem here is the so-called 'business realities' - not many outsiders know that fragrances are the cash cows for many of the design houses. The margins are insane! Consumers should really do better than fork it over for top-loaded 'mediocrities'. But if quality & wearability are top-notch, I'd gladly hand it over, be it 'niche' or 'designer'.
Last edited by Diamondflame; 19th December 2009 at 03:03 PM.
Excellent post scentemantal, definitely some food for throught. I was already a bit about the "natural" ingredients spiel of the niche designers being a chemical engineer and all, but this was a good amount of information on top of that. You make some thoughtful points and I agree with your entire post (an oddity.. for me ) .
Last edited by albumleaf; 19th December 2009 at 09:31 PM.
I sure miss Scentemental's thoughtful and insightful posts. Had to give this a bump to show you all what I so dearly miss from the forums these days. Scentemental please share some of your fragrance wisdom with us again.
This is an interesting topic that pops up frequently on this board. I do not want to claim that my opinion has more merit that that of others, but I do feel there are many points people who post these threads keep missing:
What is wrong with generalizing?
Stereotypes and generalizing are hardly criticized in todays society, and that is due to a lack of understanding, or rather ignorance of how the human brain works. This not only applies to fragrances, but any topic you can think of from politics, religion, racism (or rather what is racist), hobbies, or pretty much anything.
The human brain likes to categories information, that is why we generalize. Nothing is ever absolute and if you do think so, you are ignorant, however you're just as ignorant if you're going to argue against generalizing by saying it should not be used because it is not always correct. Generalization reflects how we categorical judge information. In this case, niche being considered generally better than designers, and that is true as I will explain later. Sure, maybe some people here think 95% of niche is better than designer, but I'm sure most people realize it's more like 70% vs 30% or so.
So why is niche better?
Let me define what I think Niche is; it simply means (to me) that the fragrance are more exclusive than designer and this is determined by these 3 main factors:
1. Niche has limited distribution/supply; sadly not many examples of that that I can think of today, except for frederic malle perhaps.
2. Niche is more unique and more risky, thus less people show interest in them. Only certain noses can appreciate them or are willing to take a risk in wearing them. Again, today this is more of a 50-50 thing, you've got creeds and bonds which are quite safe. And Serge Lutens/Amouage which do take some confidence and knowledge to appreciate.
3. Niche is more expensive. Really the only criteria some niche brands have to meet to achieve exclusivity, or the illusion of it.
So what are the expectations of Niche? they're more unique, more personal or risky, done better, well blended and of higher quality among other things. Do all Niche brands meet these criteria? of course not. And they don't really have to meet all of them either. Tom Ford is an example of a Niche brand I would consider not to be of high quality or complexity, but they make up for that by being very personal (due to simplicity) and very well blended. On the other hand, if you look at Amouage Gold and Chanel no5, you'll see the smell almost identical so no uniqueness there. Amouage makes up for that by the superb, very noticeable quality.
What are the expectations, or the objectives of a designer brand on the other hand;
1. Low price: Achieved by lower quality ingredients, perfume concentration and so on. Moreover, fragrance are more often reformulated than they are in niche, and without a good excuse since they use more synthetic materials than hard to find natural ingredients. And by no means I'm saying natural always smells better, or designer lacks natural/niche is always natural. Just speaking generally
2. Maximize profit: Making safe fragrance that are done many times before. Adding very little new and not bumping up quality to make up for that. There are exceptions as well, Chanel No.5 is high quality for example, YSL is a house that takes risk, and so on. Also, making countless flankers of best sellers that are completely forgettable. Sorry but flankers do on your resume and you know they're not expected to be that good or else they would not be limited. Of course there are important exceptions like pure malt, NR Musc EdP and so on.
Niche is generally better than designer for reasons stated above. I don't know what the distinction between designer and niche came into existence. As a term, niche is just a word that means exclusivity and practically has little to do with how the fragrance smells. It's just there are expectations with that word that are usually met, at least are more met by considered niche fragrances than they are by designer fragrance. While Niche are becoming less exclusive and less risky lately, designers are still at a much worse state. Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle and Amouage continue to release master pieces, while Bond no.9 and creed hold niche stats for price alone. But compare that to the great designer houses: Chanel just released a completely boring, safe, done so many times before, but all around pleasant fragrance. YSL is not taking many risks with their new L' Homme line. And Guerlain, as much as it's brought over and over and over again in these discussions, have not released a classic for decades, get over the past please.
Also, while I do not understand your Ropion analogy. He created a few good/great designer fragrances, many forgettable ones, and a Niche masterpiece? how does that give any credit to designer fragrances? The nose behind them could be a master, but his skills are not shown due to the criteria he has to meet.
Anyway, I'll wrap this up by saying, yes people can be biased towards one opinion or another, one brand or another. Sometimes just for the price of the feeling of exclusivity the brand gives them in the case of Niche, people do not like being in the majority, they like to be anti-conformists. And every now and then, some anti-anti-conformists, who feel anti conformists are now the majority, will pop up and say look at guerlains master pieces, look at all the lies and synthetic boring crap creeds releases. Niche brands use bullcrap marketing just like designers do, with all the exclusivity, uniqueness, high quality claims that they do not necessarily meet. That still does not disprove the solid generalization that niche is better than designer fragrance in most cases. I'm of course saying this of 1. The present 2. in totality - Bleu de Chanel is not a bad fragrance, I'd give it a solid B- on it's own, but it has been done dozens of times before in the designer world, and thus it's certainly worse than say Ambre Sultan, which is a niche fragrance I'd give a B-
Evoke, you don't think Guerlain Spiriteuese Double Vanille is a classic? What about L'Instant? Haven't tried this one yet, but a lot of folx seem to think it's great.
I might not agree with all your points but I thank you for making the effort to put them forward in that detailed manner.
I'd argue that there's a psychological trap with niche i.e. I'm paying more so it's better. Further, with fragrance it's not easy for the connoiseur to establish reasonable grounds for what constitutes quality when comparing niche with designer releases.
IMHO: Having no preconceptions is the "least limiting" attitude.
* Disclaimer: my wardrobe is mostly niche.
I have not tried Spiriteuese Double Vanille, and I completely forgot about it. I apologize for that, I might change my mind if it's as good as people claim it to be. But hey, even if it's a masterpiece, Guerlain still has a lot of catching up to do, one great fragrance in a long long time isn't enough to compete with the other contemporary master pieces offered by many niche houses. Plus, isn't it really a niche fragrance from the exclusive line considering it's an expensive boutique exclusive?
Last edited by Ekove; 29th October 2010 at 06:27 AM.
Language constructs reality. Everybody views those discussion with their own definition of the words niche and designer and their associated attributes. All I'm saying is, some are reasonable (e.g. niche is usually higher quality) and some are biased or simply against what the majority thinks (e.g. designers are better/as good because most people are deluded by the niche price which does not necessarily reflect quality)
Niche has never meant better, or more natural. L'Artisan fragrances were built on an extremely high level of synthetics, and still are. Creed perfumes make abundant use of synthetic materials, and are only slightly above average in the use of naturals. Most niche houses don't even have access to some of the best ingredients. The term "niche" simply means that the fragrance is produced in limited quantity and sells in few shops. There are thousands of variables that lead to a great fragrance being made, whether designer or niche. Perfumers these days spend half their time designing fragrances in front a computer, and a lot of it depends on who the perfumer is, whether or not he has the materials he needs, and whether or not he has enough time. It can take years to make a great fragrance, but most designer and niche stuff is made in less than six months.
Whatever. I own a lot of niche, but wear mostly designer.
Last edited by pluran; 29th October 2010 at 11:08 PM.
I'm not sure Spiritueuse Double Vanille really can be considered as a designer fragrance. Intrisically it might be, but Guerlain is really one of these 50-50 designer / niche house, especially when considering the expensive ones. That's another debate but when a designer fragrance is as expensive as a niche fragrance, I find it weird to call it a designer fragrance and to put a fragrance like SDV on the same level as a CK fragrance, which is after all nothing else than a designer fragrance.
The initial post is amazing. I've read it many times, did it again tonight, and still find it inspiring, thoughtful and profund. However, (there is always a "but" I guess), you give ropion example, and a very exhaustive list of what he created. For me, having tried almost all of them, Carnal Flower is, hands down, my favorite of all of his creations (and probably my fav ever considering designers and niche in general) . Because niche also give a nose the opportunity to use superior ingredients and above all in a bigger quantity. I don't have the numbers right here but I know the amount of pure tuberose used in a single C.F. bottle is simply huge, which also means very expensive. In my opinion, a fragrance like Carnal Flower could probably never have been created if it was to be sold for/by a designer brand.
That being said, I still agree that designers fragrances should never be dismissed simply because they are what they are, and conversely that niche do not automatically mean quality. But I still find it worth mentionning that, (is that a coincidence?) the most beautiful of Ropion's creations if for me one of the few niche fragrance he has created.
Current top 10 in no particular order : Malle - Carnal Flower (pre 2008) ; Montale - Black Aoud ; Bond #9 - Silver Factory ; Tauer - L'air du désert marocain ; C&Z - No 88 ; Francis K. - APOM ; Creed - Aventus ; Amouage - Epic ; Profumum - Dulcis In Fundo ; Amouage - Opus V
Niche became Niche as we know it today because the designers took over
the perfume market. just like big super markets took the whole market and there for
there are smaller companies selling healthier and organic food .
i think in the past and as i know ti in the middle east
there were / are perfumers who make perfumes... just like an artist who makes a painting.
then a huge company wants to produce the same product not only because of the love for it
but also thinking what it delivers money / busyness wise. in this process something essential and real goes lost and dies .
i cant imagine calling my self a niche artist just because some huge company produces PRINTS and things that look like paint on canvas for the bigger mass .
same in perfume ,
designers took over the market and there for most people only know perfumes because of what they can buy in stores
under the name of designers. and no one invests time to search and research for the real thing whether it is food or perfumes.
so .. can u call an artist who paints with paint on canvas, some one who studied for it and who creates and take risks to what he loves and make art..... niche ?
Last edited by moreda; 29th October 2010 at 01:04 PM.
It's no secret I am unhappy with the state of current designers, but I continue to hold out hope. Like pluran, I own many of each, yet find myself wearing mostly designers that I have a proclivity for.
Regardless of niche or designer, current or classic, I spray...I smell.....I decide.....and my decision isn't based on genre. The totality of the fragrance will dictate my decision to admire or to dismiss.
And in the same sense, niche have to advertise by having higher quality and more unique products, just like the organic food store advertises by saying they have better healthier food and a more personal service. 100 years ago there was no distinction but now being "small" is a marketing strategy. Essential, the big and small store are the same, and they could offer good or bad products. Just the big store has a lower price, while the smaller store is more likely (and expected (to)) to deliver something of higher quality and better customer service.
Yeah I know I'm just repeating Moreda's point, but it's a really fantastic example and sums it up.
First, I had never seen this thread in the 2 1/2 year or so I've been here. LOVE scentemental's opinion. It fits right with my own philosophy.
Funny, when I first got here I not only had a limited knowledge of scents but it was limited as to the history of designers and I knew nothing of niche. The last 2 years has been an incredible journey and alot of fun but it also has confused me because as much as I've learned there are days where I feel I'm at square 1. Part of this was an "assualt" on the niche world I performed over the last 2 years, especially in Year 1. It was "shock and awe" testing of samples. Many of those orders and reviews I posted on here. I also spent weeks at a time taking lunch breaks to travel around to stores to try new things. As much fun as that was and for all the excitement of trying exotic and different smells, I basically didn't like niche any better than many designers. In fact sometimes the adventure soured me on niche because the scents were so "different" and out there that I didn't see the redeeming value of them.
My analogy...That is great if you want to have a mohawk shaved into your head and paint it lime green, just don't show up to work at the office like that and expect it to go over well.
It's funny, mostly becaue of location, but I go around smelling more designers now than ever before because I feel like I might have missed out on a Lauren or Armani or YSl or Dior that I didn't give a chance to before. Now, with what I've tested, I have a more educated stance on what I might be smelling. It doesn't make me like niche better than designer or vice versa. I'm wearing GIT right now and there is still a part of me that can't get over the great smell that reminds me of when I wore CW for 4 years in the early 90s. It just does and it is my nose and opinion. Whether I'm at Macy's or Nieman's each scent is just a bottle with juice in it that I like, am soso on or dislike. I don't care if it is called Creed, Halston, Hermes or whatever.
"As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."
thank u evoke,
your English is much better then mine... there for u have explained my point very well.
niche was not niche , niche was the norm... same in food market.
we now know the small producers as niche because of the huge companies who put their name on any thing en SELL it because every one knows the name.
CHANEL is not a perfumer or sunglasses designers , they pay people who deliver them the perfume concept and the design
for a sunglasses. Of course this does not mean that they can not deliver good quality. they do deliver good and bad quality.
Same with niche.... niche is copying designers to make more money and this way some essential part of the art dies.
this is what is happening to amouage IMHO. It started from artistic point of view and for the love of perfumery and oriental traditions. the bigger and more famouse tey became the more the company started to adapt to the public taste.
They changed the old bottle because after 9/11 people in the west did not wanted to buy bottle that looked like a mosque.
so they changed and the old beautiful bottles are dead now.... all for the money and the general taste of the consumer.
IMHO... niche , in the meaning of artist who make an art work.. food or anything with love
loses the essence when they start to think more commercial then feeling real love for what they do and what they make. and same happened to many designers perfumes that are totally damaged now just to reach bigger part of the consuming customers .
Love is the only way to keep art alive.
money being involved... is the end of the true art.
Last edited by moreda; 29th October 2010 at 07:51 PM.
Its all just objectives and opinions.
I own a good amount of both. I just judge on smell. Period.
I’ve gotten over the “nice must be better” mentality. There’s plenty of niche scents I just simply despise, like MKK.
There is no better. Just take each individual fragrance on its own.
From your post, you just seem to have no interest in this discussion to begin with, if you're going to go straight up to the conclusion and say judge each fragrance individually. This thread is about patterns and categorizing.
There’s few of each, designer & niche, that I fall head over heals in love with. They both have a 10/90 % shot at pleasing or displeasing to me. 10% yes, 90% no.
Most designers smell to bland and ‘nice’. While most niche go too far and make themselves unwearable. Out of the hundres I've sampled, I select few I actually buy and wear. Thats goes for both sides of the coin.
And whats so wrong with me going right to the conclusion, right to the heart of the matter by stating the obvious? That there is no ‘better’.
I’m only allowed to make philosophical thoughts and not come to a conclusion? You did. You stated “niche is better”. You came to your conclusion. So did I. Mine is - there is no ‘better’.
Out of the two of us, guess who’s right and who's wrong?
Alright, I admit I might be rushing to conclude you're just trying to be politically correct, and skip making an argument, which is absolutely alright, and you have a right to your opinion, but I don't see what's the purpose of you joining this discussion in that case. Also, I have a big doubt one could truly find niche and designers to have a 50%/50% chance of being better than the other. But hey, whatever, maybe that's truly the conclusion you've reached after a lot of sampling. For me, I'd say the numbers are more like 70%/30% when it comes to which being better, niche of course having the advantage.
And I don't think either of us right or wrong, I just don't understand what you're trying to "add" to this discussion with your absolutely neutral opinion.
The Human brain does not "like to generalise" but human learning can be linked with an ability to catagorise. The effort we put into making detailed catagories in our understanding (i.e. noting differences rather than generalities) is a measure of the depth of our understanding. It is easy to see connections between things from a distance but these often end up being mistaken when a closer scale of anaysis is used.
Niche is definitely not better than designer. There are many designer fragrances made from better materials and better composed than niche ones.
However, I do agree that for new releases now it is much more likely that good ones will be in the niche area than the designer area as the regulations and economics of the industry make it almost impossible to use really good ingredients in designer frags (other than the cheap ones, like vetiver..). Conversely, niche frags are often not composed by noses with as much skill and experience as designer ones...
As always, I do my best to judge each scent on its own merits regardless of which "camp" the fragrance company falls into. Most of my favorites are designer scents, but there are quite a few niche beauties out there too... two of my favorite houses are niche: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier and Parfums de Nicolai; my overall wardrobe however tends toward the designer houses. Even Creed has a couple I like, but none of my absolute favorite fragrances tend to come from that house. But what do I know? After all, I'm the guy who likes Guerlain Homme and Chanel Bleu.
Last edited by mrclmind; 30th October 2010 at 12:14 AM.
I am also in the camp that niche doesn't mean better. I have both and enjoy both in my wardrobe. The only difference to me is that in the designer world there is a lot more dreck to sift through just because of the sheer volume of designer releases every year. So if I find 1 of every 100 niche scents to be bottle worthy, in the designer world it would be something like 10 out of every 1000. The percentages are the same, just that there is a lot more digging to do...
I would also argue that rare, vintage designers are the real niche anyway...
While I do agree with the long post in the beginning of this thread, i strongly disagree with the author in some points.
At first, I agree that niche doesn't mean more natural fragrances, or always fragrances that will be better than designer ones. Niche for me means, or should mean, especific ideas of notes that weren't executed by the designer market because of the risk that they may not become huge sellers. I have an impression that lots of classics, like Poison, Angel, Fahrenheit, Mitsouko, Jicky, Opium, would have been launched today as niche fragrances, because they were unique creations, that added something different, something new to the market, something that you would feel like you identified with the fragrance. They cannot be considered great, or even be considered outdated or inadequate by some people, but they were strong and different ideas that remain unique until today. Niche should offer compositions that would fit some wishes of specific groups, being an extension of what is offered no the markets. Because when you go for something niche, you're looking for something that you cannot find made the way you want in a more affordable price, so you're paying more for a different thing. From this perspective, niche may be or may not be better than a massmarket fragrance, it'll depend of what you use in the comparison. They can both coexist, you don't have to crucify one in the place of other.
Hoewever, i do feel that it's harder today to find launches that can be compared with great older designer fragrances and actual niche fragrances. It seems that the industry is saturated and stuck on the motto "Copy your past fragrances, copy your concurrence, and give to your consumer a marketing idea, a bottle, but a mediocre fragrance". I don't know how you can create something new using the same materials combined the same way and on similar proportions. Chanel Bleue is a great example of this, a fragrance that is a juxtaposition of several masculine cliches that takes advantage of a strong commercial and the Chanel logo to influence unconsciously the consume of the quality and interersting level of the composition.
But with the popularization of niche, part of it's unique side that served as a complement to the massmarket got lost. When you can have access to obscure niche fragrances on the net and with affordable shipping charges, what all you need is money to buy them. And because this market grew considerably, you start to notice fragrances that have a clear commercial aura, charged like exclusive and artistic fragrances. You have respectful houses, like Amouage, launching boring compositions like Reflection Man or Opus II, or houses like Le Labo, selling chemical bases in strict number of bottles and huge prices. Or even houses like byredo, where almost all inspirations seem taken from massmarket compositions. They seem like products made only to generate profits, which is a shame in this kind of segment.
What i strongly disagree with the author is the notion that a fragrance to be technically good it have to last long and to have a considerable volume. In this analysis Lapidus Pour Homme would be a masterpiece, which is not. The author seems also very
tendentious on Giacobetti creations, and he may not have tried her exotic ones like Idole de Lubin, Tea For Two, Costes, Dzing!, where she shows how inventive her work is and that she has quality at her compositions. I praise her for being able to not compromise her artistical view with unnecessary creations, like some that monsieur Ropion has in his catalog. And to tell that she doesn't have techinal skills you would have to know the courses that she took and her knowledge, which may be transformed in her artistical view in fragrances that you may not like, but that aren't less interesting. To me, techinical knowledge applied in low budget is waist of materials and talent.
And you may also need to try and understand the work of artists like Lynn Harris and James Heeley and Histories de Parfums for example, to see that you don't need necessary to have a race card on massmarket industry to produce something interesting.
Anyway I do agree with the rest of your post.
How many times have we seen posts like "wow <insert designer fragrance> is really good. It is niche quality." I think the concept is erroneous. Niche fragrances often obviously work off of concepts that don't riff on "hit notes" like so many designer fragrances do so they can therefore be unique; but uniqueness and quality aren't necessarily synonymous.
Still, if I would consider perfumery an art, being novel is actually an important part of my appreciation of it. But again, it's not the only criterion of it.
Now, even for modern designer fragrances that are considered good, one could possibly find better similar fragrances in niche houses. For example, I got to try Bang! when I was in Harrods, and I thought it was a nice peppery vetiver fragrance. But then I passed by the Ormonde Jayne counter and I got to try Zizan, which is another peppery spicy fragrance and it runs circles around Bang.
Rickbr: "You have respectful houses, like Amouage, launching boring compositions like Reflection Man or Opus II, or houses like Le Labo, selling chemical bases in strict number of bottles and huge prices."
I'm sorry, but BOOOOOOOOOO on your comment. It's funny how people worship the really average niche fragrances, like GIT, but the really good ones like Reflection Man get comments like yours or no mentions at all. I have sampled many niche fragrances, and Reflection is by far amongst the top 3 that I have tried. And I tell you what: there is nothing boring about it! And talk about longevity! I applied it about 12 hours ago, and can still smell it , and it's not that faint either. Great composition, great smell, and great fragrance!
Just a reminder: Tastes are subjective
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I think this excellent post by Scentemental deserved to be revived.