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  1. #1
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Wink No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Having been here awhile, I've read hundreds of stories about really fancy frags, but I had never jumped on the bandwagon. Though I'm always interested, I can't get my hands on any high-end stuff in my hometown in central NY, and at those prices I am unlikely to buy blind. Besides, even though I can afford them, I try to be frugal, with the intention of saving up for things like flamenco guitars, which I do indulge in on occasion.

    Taking a trip to a real city is always great, and this time it was Boston. I was armed with really good Boston ideas, particularly from Joel Cairo. I approached Barney's somewhat nervously, wondering if my first time would be awful (as it is for many), and wondering if I would get my heart broken. Would I like this, and would she? Would she still respect me in the morning, or would she go and tell her friends how lame I was?

    I was drawn inexorably to the fragrance counter, and the stunning beauty there greeted me pleasantly. While my pulse rate went up, my nervousness subsided a little, as things were beginning to go better than expected. After being stunned by the selection of Serge Lutens and Frederic Malle, I finally asked to try some. After agonizing over which of these amazing creations to choose, I finally decided on Ambre Sultan. Mmmmm, pure oriental exoticism. After everything had gone better than anticipated, I reflected that the aphorism is true - the first time is better if you're initiated by an experienced, beautiful woman.

    I also tried the CDG Odeurs, 53 and 71. Like many, I didn't really get these. I think it was 53 that brought to mind freshly deceased fish (admittedly better than the long-standing kind). The SA sniffed again, and seemed to agree. I liked CDG Man, too, but I've heard from you that it's very close to Gucci PH (my wallet thanks you, folks!). CDG Guerilla 2 was very nice.

    It was great to finally find out what all the fuss was really about for Creeds. I went to Neiman's, snorted a bunch, and even ended up with a couple samples. GIT was very nice. SMW was remarkably similar to the copy that I have. But $200? Despite nice qualities, none were that good to me.

    Possibly the biggest surprise was how great Terre D'Hermes was... just intoxicating - you aficionados were right. The earthy bottom blended with the fresh bright top is beautiful. It almost caused me to jump me. Other finds included Enver (sp? Belgian, she said, I think) and Follia di Aquarama, both very pleasing. The new Varvatos Vintage may be of interest to some - adds a sweet element to the leather and so on; I liked it better than regular John Varvatos.

    Yes, yes, I know, Ambre Sultan has a very strong personality, so it shouldn't be bought blind.

    My pal Thrax's enthusiasm for his niche frags contributed to my finally giving in. Joel and Thrax, it's all your fault! I'm headed down the road of niche debauchery!!!!!!!

    (i put more details about my Boston shopping in the City Guide forum)
    Last edited by Cognoscento; 5th January 2007 at 06:26 PM.

  2. #2
    zztopp's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    I hope you took it slow
    -

  3. #3

    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Next time, you have to try some Frederic Malles! Especially VE, CF and MR.

  4. #4
    DustB's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Great post, Cogno. It's really fun when the scent adventure suddenly opens another door, and you get to think of all the fresh world you have yet to walk in.
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    About the only thing I like about the big cities are the big stores and the chance to smell all that wonderful goodness at the frag counters. Of course, I won't be buying--too expensive--but to smell, ah! ... Such is the stuff of which a good life is made!
    De gustibus non est disputandum

  6. #6
    Lightninrod's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    I havn't shopped for frags in a 'real' store in about 25 years . Use to go to Atlanta once in a while and at a store or two in the much smaller Macon but I'd much rather buy/swap blind thru BN .

    Dan
    [SIZE=3][SIZE=2]"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." Ayn Rand...[/SIZE][/SIZE]

    "The essence of fascism is to make laws forbidding everything and then enforce them selectively against your enemies."
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  7. #7
    Renato's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Good to hear you had a very pleasant experience. But be warned - the big problem with niche scents in general is lasting power. I doubt you'd want to spend big bucks on scents that are only really good for three or four hours, so you would really have to go into a shop spray them on and go somewhere for two or three hours to get an idea of how they are lasting.

    That said, the four Serge Lutens ones I tested each had excellent lasting power - comparable to that of good designer scents. But I've been very unimpressed with the lasting power of many other favourites cited around here.
    Renato

  8. #8

    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    F-22s, Beautiful deserts, flashing lights, great food, cheap drinks, dancing ladies, balmy weather....

    None of those meant anything to me when I went to Las Vegas until I got a chance to do some fragrance shopping!

    Big cities are over-rated excepting the good perfume selection

    -ben
    Nihil Obstat Ben


    [url=http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/1883]My Wardrobe[/url]

  9. #9
    foetidus's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Great story, Cognoscento. Coming of age stories are always compelling, especially those that end up with the winning of the Ambre Sultan.

  10. #10

    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    great story , cognoscento. enjoyed it very much.
    ambre sultan is a gorgeous fragrance. congrats.
    I just got a decant myself, and love it.
    "Like a lobster with a pearl in its claw, the beet held the jasmine firmly without crushing or obscuring it. Beet lifted jasmine, the way a bullnecked partner lifts a ballerina, and the pair came on stage on citron's fluty cue. As if jasmine were a collection of beautiful paintings, beet hung it in the galleries of the nose, insured it against fire or theft, threw a party to celebrate it. Citron mailed the invitations." Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins p. 189

    What I am loving right now: Shalimar vintage extrait, Chanel Bois des Iles, Chanel no. 22, Le Labo Iris 39, Guerlain Iris Ganache

  11. #11
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by ajmc
    Next time, you have to try some Frederic Malles! Especially VE, CF and MR.
    Right! I had mentioned in my city shopping post that I got a good-sized sample of VE, yet another reason I like Barneys! VE is great quality stuff, but I've come to find that I'm a mild fan of vetiver, but not necessarily a highly enthusiastic one.

    But Malle must have something that I'll like. I went fairly mental sampling the Serge Lutens frags, so FM got short shrift somewhat. Olfactory fatigue, you know. I think I'll start with a sample from somebody here!

  12. #12
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by Renato
    Good to hear you had a very pleasant experience. But be warned - the big problem with niche scents in general is lasting power. I doubt you'd want to spend big bucks on scents that are only really good for three or four hours, so you would really have to go into a shop spray them on and go somewhere for two or three hours to get an idea of how they are lasting.
    That's a valid point. For instance, around here complaints about Creed longevity are almost as plentiful as laudatory comments. I actually strolled with about 3 finalist scents on before buying AS, and its strong adherence was a point in its favor.

  13. #13
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by rtamara41
    great story , cognoscento. enjoyed it very much.
    ambre sultan is a gorgeous fragrance. congrats.
    I just got a decant myself, and love it.
    Very good Tamara, and thanks!
    I wonder what would happen if you and I both walked into a party with this on. I think it would be great fun... we'd blow 'em away!

    Thanks for the nice comments, all! Yeah, it's funny about places I wouldn't go if it weren't for fragrance. I was wandering around Louis Boston down the street, but after seeing the $1500 shoes and the like, I freaked out and left before finding the snazzy frags that are purportedly on the 4th floor. The excessively opulent vibe in there just gave me the creeps, a sort of feeling that I was trespassing, though I was fine in Barneys and a couple other high-end places.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Nice story. You seem to have chosen a number of good fragrances to sample. Fragrances and flamenco guitars...makes for some interesting hobbies you have. Are the guitars just for collecting or do you play as well? As for the shoes, I am sure there are a few of us whose entire fragrance collection did not cost that much.

  15. #15
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by globetrekker
    Nice story. You seem to have chosen a number of good fragrances to sample. Fragrances and flamenco guitars...makes for some interesting hobbies you have. Are the guitars just for collecting or do you play as well? As for the shoes, I am sure there are a few of us whose entire fragrance collection did not cost that much.
    Thanks!
    I'm a professional player, nowadays mostly solo classical and/or flamenco guitar. My interests are wildly diverse, so I end up playing other styles, too, but these days it's mostly music with a latin flavor. I'm still much better at discerning notes, chords, and rhythms than fragrance notes, but I'm working on it.

    I suppose those of us that worry about scent expenditure can find some comfort in the staggering expense of designer clothes. And it's cheaper than collecting cars.

  16. #16

    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    I live near boston and I travel there frequently, so I know exactly what you are talking about. The first niche fragrance that I ever bought was CdG 2 (not man). I bought it there, and I love it dearly

    Barney's is like a high-end frag brothel, and it happens to be where both got cherries popped. I can't wait to get back there and try all the things you said. Who was it that helped you at Barney's? A middle-aged lady usually helps me, but the name escapes me-I might have to switch associates.

    The last time I was at louis, I never made it past the morgenthal-frederics stand. I indvertently came up with one of my best pickup lines ever: "I need new glasses for a blind date." It took me a moment to figure out why she was laughing. I coulda closed if I didn't actually have a blind date.

    I can't wait to go back and smell 53, 71, and the SL line. I also need to go back to that POS NM (compared to Atlanta anyway) and sample all the best Creeds. Uhh, I need to make a list, don't I?

    (I didn't really like VE that much either. It's like where Homer went to hell and they kept feeding him donuts, except instead of donuts, it's vetiver.)
    Last edited by Manos, The Hands of Fate; 7th January 2007 at 07:07 AM. Reason: More crap
    Current frags (in order of preference):

    1) GIT
    2) GV
    3) MR

  17. #17

    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by Cognoscento
    Very good Tamara, and thanks!
    I wonder what would happen if you and I both walked into a party with this on. I think it would be great fun... we'd blow 'em away!

    Thanks for the nice comments, all! Yeah, it's funny about places I wouldn't go if it weren't for fragrance. I was wandering around Louis Boston down the street, but after seeing the $1500 shoes and the like, I freaked out and left before finding the snazzy frags that are purportedly on the 4th floor. The excessively opulent vibe in there just gave me the creeps, a sort of feeling that I was trespassing, though I was fine in Barneys and a couple other high-end places.
    You should be thankful that you're not into the Styleforum/Ask Andy habit, where someone recently said that Alden (which retails from 350-550 for dress) was a Low to Mid level shoe.

    You'd be looking at those (presumably Kiton) dress shoes and thinking, "Man, these, or that Conde Hermanos A model?"

    I recently paid 400 for a cashmere blazer because it was 'a good deal' (80% off but still)

    I have to keep telling myself, "just because you spent a lot of money doesn't mean you're wasting it.
    Current frags (in order of preference):

    1) GIT
    2) GV
    3) MR

  18. #18
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by Manos, The Hands of Fate
    The last time I was at louis, I never made it past the morgenthal-frederics stand. I indvertently came up with one of my best pickup lines ever: "I need new glasses for a blind date." It took me a moment to figure out why she was laughing. I coulda closed if I didn't actually have a blind date.

    I can't wait to go back and smell 53, 71, and the SL line. I also need to go back to that POS NM (compared to Atlanta anyway) and sample all the best Creeds. Uhh, I need to make a list, don't I?

    (I didn't really like VE that much either. It's like where Homer went to hell and they kept feeding him donuts, except instead of donuts, it's vetiver.)
    Manos, my friend,
    Homer in hell with donuts! Excellent image!
    Great story about Louis. You're right, it would be hard to invent a weirder pick-up statement than that. In a more traditional vein, I like the Spanish one that translates, "So many curves, and me with no brakes".

    As for the SA, it was the delightful Zoe, a blond absolute stunner dressed to the nines in diaphanous black. I'm standing there trying to pick another Serge Lutens to try, really fighting the urge to stare at her while she's standing directly in front of me.
    (and me being a virgin and all.. )
    Even so, she's not arrogant or haughty, but disarming and charming. If she's there when you are, I think I can safely say that you will not object to being waited on by her. [sorry, ladies] On her card, she actually replaced someone's name with hers, and maybe you met the crossed-out person. Tell her Dave from Syracuse sent you. Incidentally, she appeared not to be aware of BN.

    I'll be interested in your opinion of 53 and 71, I know people like them. I consider myself eccentric, but fragrance-wise, I'm only a little bit weird. And you can weigh in on all the Malles!

    Cheers, "Torgo"

  19. #19

    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Stay Away, before you become like me.
    Niche is my poison of choise
    You start with one, and you become one of a kind,
    mainly due to the steep price tags, and peers going "what the hell is that Heavenly scent that you wear?" in sheer admiration, sometimes in disgust , the latter which I seem to like more ( they seem the types that I would never choose with fashion choises).
    before you know it, you start a strange desire of daily "shock and awe".
    I live for Niche


    P.s. the quality can't be beat.

  20. #20
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by musclegod007
    Stay Away, before you become like me.
    Niche is my poison of choise
    You start with one, and you become one of a kind,
    mainly due to the steep price tags, and peers going "what the hell is that Heavenly scent that you wear?" in sheer admiration, sometimes in disgust , the latter which I seem to like more ( they seem the types that I would never choose with fashion choises).
    before you know it, you start a strange desire of daily "shock and awe".
    I live for Niche
    MG,
    Your point is well taken! I'm back on a "fragrance diet", and convinced myself that it isn't a diet by realizing that I can go for a month without repeating anything! (longer if I consider the samples and copies that I have). My plan is to only do one niche thing if I'm in a world-class city, and that doesn't happen too often for me. We'll see how long I can stick to that.

    You bring up an interesting point - the idea of thriving on rejection of your scents. An interesting independent, contrarian stance. For me, when a certain type of person thinks my frag is bad, I know I've made a good choice! And of course there are the times I deliberately tried to gas a really annoying work colleague with way too much juice. That was fun!

    In any case, your warning is heeded, and I'll go back to one of my other addictions, exercise. As a musclegod, I'm sure you can relate to that!

  21. #21

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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Well I live in Boston and the SA's at Barney's are evil, evil ,evil. First they are gorgeous, they dress beautifully , have high wattage smiles and are the less pushy , most delightful SA's i have ever have the pleasure of dealing with.
    But they are evil, they lure you first and then carefully, softly, amusingly and with the ever present smile drag you down to the bottomless pit of niche spending, all of the sudden your wallet is wide open and depleted and yoou don't even remember how it happened ,all you know is that you are grinning like an idiot and you smell really , really good.
    I told the story to a friend at work and he laughed at me for being an easy mark, I took him there and all they had to do was tickle his nose a little bit and he was gone.
    In contrast I wanted to try some Creed at Neiman Marcus next door and they just could not compare with Barney's I was so irate at their attitude I left without even trying the Creeds.

  22. #22
    Cognoscento's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by Al7017
    Well I live in Boston and the SA's at Barney's are evil, evil ,evil. First they are gorgeous, they dress beautifully , have high wattage smiles and are the less pushy , most delightful SA's i have ever have the pleasure of dealing with.
    But they are evil, they lure you first and then carefully, softly, amusingly and with the ever present smile drag you down to the bottomless pit of niche spending, all of the sudden your wallet is wide open and depleted and yoou don't even remember how it happened ,all you know is that you are grinning like an idiot and you smell really , really good.
    I told the story to a friend at work and he laughed at me for being an easy mark, I took him there and all they had to do was tickle his nose a little bit and he was gone.
    In contrast I wanted to try some Creed at Neiman Marcus next door and they just could not compare with Barney's I was so irate at their attitude I left without even trying the Creeds.
    Oh, Man,
    Is that what happened? It was all like a hazy dream, and I was wondering why I seemed to lose my shirt and pants somewhere in the store, and now I'm suddenly scheduled for bankruptcy court, and hey, there's the repo man, knocking on my door! I'm not worried... I've got my 35 SL's hidden in a secret compartment.

    Thanks for setting me straight. I feel your pain, brother!

  23. #23
    Renato's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by Al7017
    Well I live in Boston and the SA's at Barney's are evil, evil ,evil. First they are gorgeous, they dress beautifully , have high wattage smiles and are the less pushy , most delightful SA's i have ever have the pleasure of dealing with.
    But they are evil, they lure you first and then carefully, softly, amusingly and with the ever present smile drag you down to the bottomless pit of niche spending, all of the sudden your wallet is wide open and depleted and yoou don't even remember how it happened ,all you know is that you are grinning like an idiot and you smell really , really good.
    I told the story to a friend at work and he laughed at me for being an easy mark, I took him there and all they had to do was tickle his nose a little bit and he was gone.
    In contrast I wanted to try some Creed at Neiman Marcus next door and they just could not compare with Barney's I was so irate at their attitude I left without even trying the Creeds.
    Use their power against them - if they are so good at being so nice and helpful - you should be able to turn the subject to that of them giving you free samples so that you can go home and properly test out the wonderous creations before you come back to buy. If they suddenly stop being so helpful - the facade will be revealed, and your wallet saved.
    Renato

    P.S. If you get samples, put some on your wrist and separately ask your mother, girlfriend and sister-in-law what they think of them. I did just that and the response I got to quite a few was laughter and - "That's a woman's scent."

  24. #24
    DustB's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Longer a Niche Virgin

    Quote Originally Posted by Renato
    ...the response I got to quite a few was laughter and - "That's a woman's scent."
    Translation: "Renato, honey, buy that fantastic scent as a present for ME! I don't want to have to go around YOU to smell it!"
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

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