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  1. #1

    Default 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    This is an absurdly long and occasionally ponderous post and I wouldn't inflict it on the basenotes server if I just wanted some directions to point my nose. I'm more interested in learning how people approach fragrance, because when I take the time to examine my wants, I think they are strongly influenced snobbery, vanity and insecurity (among others).

    Not that it really matters, but I'm 33 and quasi employed in a quasi-learned profession. I am ambivalent about registering because I'm not sure this is an interest I want to cultivate. Nevertheless, unlike many a poster, I've taken the time to change my country of residence from the default Abu Dabi (it takes 3 seconds people, come on). Anyway, after spending an absurd amount of time lurking, I figured I've learned as much as I can without either asking questions or actually smelling something on my own.

    I had never bought a bottle of cologne until a few months ago (GFT Spanish Leather [easy to overapply] & Musgo Real #2 [impossible to overapply]). In part I wear a fragrance to enjoy smelling it, but it is also a communicative act. Maybe I'm trying to say "Hey Ladies!" or maybe I'm saying "I won't run to Mexico with all your money.", but if the spicy fougre I'm wearing is Drakkar Noir then people in 2008 will not get the message I'm trying to send (even if they would have in 1988).

    No one has an innocent nose and very few people have sufficient sophistication to separate the fragrance from their thoughts on that type of fragrance. My first thought on smelling Guerlain Vetiver was old man. Original Vetiver, funeral. Black Aoud, old woman. 3me Homme, American Psycho. Loewe pH, 70's airport. So now my options are dictated by my own preferences within the choices permitted by fashion trends, the image pumped out by marketing departments, and the baggage of my own preconceptions (which I'll hold on to until something better comes along).

    This leads me to want current and/or uncommon scents that are free from all of these encumbrances. I thought Anvers was OK. Yatagan striking but maybe a little too 70's. L'aire...Moroccan smelled a cedar swingset with something sweet underneath the sand. PdN pH was OK but more opaque than interesting. PdN NY smells like Church to me, as does DC 1913- both good for "I won't take your money this winter". Knieze 10, however smells like a spare bicycle tire (suggesting that even if I took the money, I wouldn't get very far). I wasn't wowed by the TdH smell strip. When I asked to smell TdH I was given a sample of Ferre for Him, which I find a little too feminine or sweet.

    So right now I have 100ml bottles of 3me, GV, GFT-Spanish Leather and Musgo Real #2 (SL being the only non-blind buy). Also I have been given mini bottles of Eternity (people like it) and Polo Crest which good, but a little preppy. I'm not sure if my nose or my Ralph Lauren brand associations are setting off the prep-o-meter. So at last I'll explain my discomfort with fragrance: I am using a commercial product to express myself. My only brand allegiance is to Levi's, and that only out of a combination of a perverse anti-fashion impulse and appreciation for their once socially responsible business. Beyond that: slacks are slacks, cars are cars and if I find a soda I like more than Mountain Dew, by god I'll drink it.

    The thing I'm most weary of is the aspirational approach people take to the various products. I am as guilty as anyone. I don't know what is good and I don't know what is bad so I want what is considered 'best.' I read about people who get fake Creeds and happily wear them until they smell the real thing; then they buy the real thing rather than continue with what they'd presumably liked enough for heavy rotation just days before. I've found myself hoping that my Guerlain Vetiver is fake because I don't find it to be mindblowingly awesome (however, I'm not sure I want to smell like the things I think smell mindblowingly awesome). I want to love the best. I want to hate patchouli, Axe and anything worn by climbers and arrivestes and who don't know good from bad and just want whatever is considered 'the best.'

    So, basenoters, are you comfortable with your conspicuous consumption? Sure you like Old Spice and Canoe, but do you wear them? Do you think you should? Is your egalitarian impulse neutered when you smell a day laborer in line ahead of you wearing some high-end fragrance he found at TJ Maxx? Do you contemplate imposters when the prices get to high? If TdH replaced AdG as the teenagers' choice would it smell as sublime?

    Finally, and most importantly, what mass produced laboratory concoction, sold at a 1,000% markup or less, can best help me express myself as a unique individual?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Quote Originally Posted by iamnotcleveratthishour View Post
    This is an absurdly long and occasionally ponderous post and I wouldn't inflict it on the basenotes server if I just wanted some directions to point my nose. I'm more interested in learning how people approach fragrance, because when I take the time to examine my wants, I think they are strongly influenced snobbery, vanity and insecurity (among others).

    Not that it really matters, but I'm 33 and quasi employed in a quasi-learned profession. I am ambivalent about registering because I'm not sure this is an interest I want to cultivate. Nevertheless, unlike many a poster, I've taken the time to change my country of residence from the default Abu Dabi (it takes 3 seconds people, come on). Anyway, after spending an absurd amount of time lurking, I figured I've learned as much as I can without either asking questions or actually smelling something on my own.
    Welcome to basenotes. A ponderous post is far preferable IMO to quick-shooters such as "what will get me laid," "which Creed will impress my stepmother?" etc.

    I had never bought a bottle of cologne until a few months ago (GFT Spanish Leather [easy to overapply] & Musgo Real #2 [impossible to overapply]). In part I wear a fragrance to enjoy smelling it, but it is also a communicative act. Maybe I'm trying to say "Hey Ladies!" or maybe I'm saying "I won't run to Mexico with all your money.", but if the spicy fougre I'm wearing is Drakkar Noir then people in 2008 will not get the message I'm trying to send (even if they would have in 1988).

    No one has an innocent nose and very few people have sufficient sophistication to separate the fragrance from their thoughts on that type of fragrance. My first thought on smelling Guerlain Vetiver was old man. Original Vetiver, funeral. Black Aoud, old woman. 3me Homme, American Psycho. Loewe pH, 70's airport. So now my options are dictated by my own preferences within the choices permitted by fashion trends, the image pumped out by marketing departments, and the baggage of my own preconceptions (which I'll hold on to until something better comes along).

    This leads me to want current and/or uncommon scents that are free from all of these encumbrances. I thought Anvers was OK. Yatagan striking but maybe a little too 70's. L'aire...Moroccan smelled a cedar swingset with something sweet underneath the sand. PdN pH was OK but more opaque than interesting. PdN NY smells like Church to me, as does DC 1913- both good for "I won't take your money this winter". Knieze 10, however smells like a spare bicycle tire (suggesting that even if I took the money, I wouldn't get very far). I wasn't wowed by the TdH smell strip. When I asked to smell TdH I was given a sample of Ferre for Him, which I find a little too feminine or sweet.

    So right now I have 100ml bottles of 3me, GV, GFT-Spanish Leather and Musgo Real #2 (SL being the only non-blind buy). Also I have been given mini bottles of Eternity (people like it) and Polo Crest which good, but a little preppy. I'm not sure if my nose or my Ralph Lauren brand associations are setting off the prep-o-meter. So at last I'll explain my discomfort with fragrance: I am using a commercial product to express myself. My only brand allegiance is to Levi's, and that only out of a combination of a perverse anti-fashion impulse and appreciation for their once socially responsible business. Beyond that: slacks are slacks, cars are cars and if I find a soda I like more than Mountain Dew, by god I'll drink it.

    The thing I'm most weary of is the aspirational approach people take to the various products. I am as guilty as anyone. I don't know what is good and I don't know what is bad so I want what is considered 'best.' I read about people who get fake Creeds and happily wear them until they smell the real thing; then they buy the real thing rather than continue with what they'd presumably liked enough for heavy rotation just days before. I've found myself hoping that my Guerlain Vetiver is fake because I don't find it to be mindblowingly awesome (however, I'm not sure I want to smell like the things I think smell mindblowingly awesome). I want to love the best. I want to hate patchouli, Axe and anything worn by climbers and arrivestes and who don't know good from bad and just want whatever is considered 'the best.'

    So, basenoters, are you comfortable with your conspicuous consumption? Sure you like Old Spice and Canoe, but do you wear them? Do you think you should? Is your egalitarian impulse neutered when you smell a day laborer in line ahead of you wearing some high-end fragrance he found at TJ Maxx? Do you contemplate imposters when the prices get to high? If TdH replaced AdG as the teenagers' choice would it smell as sublime?

    Finally, and most importantly, what mass produced laboratory concoction, sold at a 1,000% markup or less, can best help me express myself as a unique individual?

    Thanks in advance.
    We live in a capitalist/consumer society, with all the attendant drawbacks as well as advantages. You're probably aware that postmodernism is one attempt at coming to grips with the problem you've formulated, the high-modernist as well as Marxist unease about the impossibility of authenticity and individuality under this socio-economic regime. Give up on it, enjoy the free play of the signifiers, experiment with identities, abandon strenuous efforts at coherence. Of course that becomes a bit vaccuous sooner or later, but there are a few lessons to learn from it. In wanting "to hate patchouli, Axe and anything worn by climbers and arrivestes and who don't know good from bad and just want whatever is considered 'the best' " you become a mirror and a caricature of what you reject, like radical Afrocentrists are a caricature of actual real white power structures. I think Guerilla-approaches, collage, pastiche are more constructive here (Comme des Garcons!), but of course they are also a functon of the market. Some old-fashioned irony can come in handy, and not taking the whole bit too seriously, while seriously enjoying it. I will not have LVMH ruin by enjoyment of Guerlain Imperiale or Acqua di Parma. It is possible to find joy in the thing itself, it is possible to like Bois du Portugal without all the schtick attached to the Creed brand. That's were love of fragrance begins, when you begin shedding your preconceptions as you delve into the interolfactory world of smells, where referencing the Patchouli in Villoresi to the one in Borneo 1834 is disconnected from the marketing image of those brands. You will find many afficionados here who love and wear Old spice if they feel like doing so no less than Patou pour homme. Perhaps the worst you could accuse us of, is that fragrance hobbyism as such is part of middle class habitus which by its nature excludes poor people and thus indirectly asserts one's own status (though I must say it's impoverishing me ). Then again, under US conditions it's a far more affordable hobby than in Germany and not in the same league as, say, watch-collecting. But if you're not a Bourdieuean sociologist, why worry anyway?

    As to your final question - you have to find it, and the path is at least a major part of the goal (even then, it will only be a mosaic stone which together with your clothes, your car, your job, your accent, your moral character, sexual orientation, ethnicity and a billion other facets create the unique intersection that is you.) BN is a wonderful community for not having to wander the path alone, and a great find in itself, as I discovered. Enjoy!
    Last edited by the_good_life; 9th June 2008 at 11:06 AM.
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    I feel like the only dumb person on this forum after reading these two posts.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Quote Originally Posted by iamnotcleveratthishour View Post

    Finally, and most importantly, what mass produced laboratory concoction, sold at a 1,000% markup or less, can best help me express myself as a unique individual?
    None. Zero. Just buy quite a few of the cheapie good ones being thrown out at sales. Wear them heavily.

    It's irrelevant that Guerlain Vetiver says "old man" to you, because what is relevant is that several women have expressed the opinion that it says "come to bed" to them. They won't all think that of course, but the whole thing is a hit and miss affair, but you won't be hitting and missing if you don't have the ammunition in the first place.

    Most people on the street wouldn't have a clue what you're wearing, but can detect classiness above the level of Addidas and Old Spice.

    In this way you express yourself as a unique individual who likes wearing lots of different good scents a lot. You've already got more scents than the average male has, just keep up the good work.
    Cheers,
    Renato

  5. #5

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    I think you should always wear what you think smells good to you and it will fit your personality. I should a L´Artisan scent that got the best reviews but it just wasn´t me, even if I agree with their philosophy, packaging, brand image, logo etc I did not like that fragrance.

    I do think that some ´houses´( adidas, puma scents etc) smell cheaper and unimaginitive than others but you might have strong memories attached to it, or something else that simply makes you want the scent anyway regardless of image, status and whatnot.

    Wear whatever you like, I think perfume is another way of expressing yourself but more in the line of it´s an addition to the rest of you. It can either mirror you ( a bit), show a darker side, show a light happy side of yourself, a bubblegum go lucky side of me for instance or just comfort you with something agreeable to you at that time, at that place.

    Maybe nice perfume is kinda like other tastes, you might recognize the brilliant and complexity of a piece of art, but you are not willing to hang up a Monet but you´d go for Caravaggio or you´d just take a simple motivational poster because it makes you smile when you see it.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Creed is what you need.

  7. #7
    Hoos's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    I share some traits with the OP, so I'll just offer my views:

    Are you comfortable with your conspicuous consumption? Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no. The money could be better spent (or donated), but I do enjoy the mood altering effects of fragrances.

    Sure you like Old Spice and Canoe, but do you wear them? No, I don't like them on me; and no, I don't wear them. The same answer could be used for most Creeds or other high-end fragrance. My pleasure dictates my choice.

    Do you think you should? Yes. Several times a day, in fact. If possible.

    Is your egalitarian impulse neutered when you smell a day laborer in line ahead of you wearing some high-end fragrance he found at TJ Maxx? I find the question quite egalitarian. Why day laborer? (The term "day laborer" does carry a certain connotation that may not have been intended.) I do not fault anyone, in any group, for having good taste.

    Do you contemplate imposters when the prices get to high? No.

    If TdH replaced AdG as the teenagers' choice would it smell as sublime? Yes. If the scent is sublime, that is. I haven't decided. It really comes across more as an eight-car pileup. The cars are all German imports, though.

    What can best express you? Well, it sounds like you may be hiding an egalitarian soul under a bushel of the currently-popular social responsibility.

    Toss it all to the wind. Try more samples. Try more Creeds. Try Jo Malone. Try something that's $800/ml. Try something you find at TJMaxx, the drugstore, or the local bait-and-tackle shop.

    Then decide which scent pleases you and achieves whatever it is that you think fragrances need to achieve for you. If you want to wear Clive Christian No. 1 with a pair of ratty Levi's, go for it. Nothing stopping you. Or find a nice mid-range or cheap scent that you like and works for you and wear it with everything from your Levi's to your tux.

    Take pride in yourself and your choices. The rest be damned.

    (Just don't wear too much of it at once. People will start calling you Stinky behind your back.)
    Brent

    Catherine Deneuve: "You should put scent where you like to be kissed."


  8. #8

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    I simply do this as a way of exploring something new, yet human. This is a lot easier and safer than climbing mountains, for example. I don't care what others think about it (except to not wear something overwhelming under certain circumstances). I had no idea what my tastes would be when I began, though I did know that I did not like the typical "manly" frags. Once I learned that there were other possibilities, I wanted to not only find something I liked, but to see what else would emerge, such as how taste in frags can change over time and if my sense of smell became a lot more sensitive and perceptive. Also, finding out that there are many excellent frags selling for next to nothing led me to try many more than I would have if they all would have cost me the going dept. store prices.

  9. #9

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I'm glad no one has taken it as an attack on their hobby, rather than the mere discomfort of an unrepentant philistine.

    I don't have a huge problem in buying a mass produced good to express myself, my problem is that from the outset my approach has been motivated by crass and snobbish impulses because I don't trust my aesthetic judgment to make the statements I want to make. At this point I don't know Caravaggio from Nagel.

    Developing the sophistication to ignore these impulses requires that I understand the statements being made. But these statements are in part designed to appeal buying to people's crass and snobbish impulses. So I have to decide whether I should try to speak the language or whether I should rely on basnoters (and others) to translate and then pick from the available choices.

    I have worn Guerlain Vetiver quite a bit and it is mostly the topnotes that make me think 'old man.' After that I enjoy it when I catch the odd whiff, although I have some trouble smelling it. I may be very susceptible to nose fatigue or maybe I have the only fake bottle of GV ever produced. As yet, no women have accosted me, but hope springs eternal. I also like the MR#2 because it smells blandly clean, sort of like Gendarme, but with even less happening. 3me and Spanish leather I may have to limit to cool weather.

    I am currently traveling without any of these so I'm looking for a nice versatile summer scent (I wasn't being facetious). I want to like L'Anarchiste because it is an unusual scent from a house approved by the cognoscenti, but I've never smelled it and it sounds more like a cool weather scent and maybe too odd to be versatile. I've seen good size bottles for <$30 on line so I'm tempted. Someone, please talk me out of it!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    I'm looking for a nice versatile summer scent
    See, you should have just said that. Or maybe you did and it got overlooked in the verbiage.

    Versatile summer scents are a dime a dozen. In fact, a search of the Male Fragrance Forum for "summer scent" would have inundated or optical system to the point of overload. So, I'll start out with my stock recommendations:

    i Profumi di Firenze Agrumi di Sicilia (limes, citrus floral with staying power and a nice life)
    i Profumi di Firenze Fresca di Vetiver (a nice, crisp and clean vetiver)
    Acqua di Parma Colonia (nice citrus start with a rose middle, but I find it a little heavy for very warm weather)
    Parfums de Nicolai Cologne Nature (a nice citrus and floral that's light, works well in very warm weather, and has decent longevity)

    The Cologne Nature is the cheapest of the bunch, I believe, at $69 for 50ml. The iPdiF fragrances are around $89/50ml, and I forget the price on the AdP Colonia.

    The floral in the above (except for the AdP Colonia) is more of a "citrus floral" and not a flowery or sweet floral.
    Brent

    Catherine Deneuve: "You should put scent where you like to be kissed."


  11. #11

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    These will not fail you:
    Acqua di Parma Colonia (timeless classic, as described above)
    Creed Séléction Verte (refined citrus-mint)
    de Nicolai Balle de Match (refined grapefruit)
    Signoricci (gentlemanly citrus)
    Crown spiced Limes (old fashioned, discontinued & brilliant)
    Creed Bois de Cedrat (amazing lemon, not too long-lived)
    Creed Green Irish Tweed (Cool Water for sophisticates)
    d'Orsay Etiquette Bleue (light citrus-néroli, classy)
    Eau de Rochas pour homme ("pour" = the vintage version)
    My Wardrobe
    II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.

  12. #12

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Hoos & Goodlife thanks for the suggestions, I've hardly heard of any of them so the snob in me is satisfied. You both mention Acqua di Parma. I had heard that Loewe para Hombre was similar and bought a sample online. I like it after the lemon Pledge (brand of wood polish) fades, but it had an accord that struck me as very 70's (patchouli & oakmoss?). Is this absent from AdP?

    I'm not about to buy anything blind, but I'm trying to narrow my leads. Luckyscent is just a couple miles from me, so I may see which of these I can get samples of.

  13. #13

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    @iamnotcleveratthishour :

    Hmmm.... I see you keep saying, "this smells like who" and "that smells like what". I think it would be difficult to find a scent that uniquely identifies "you". Now come to think of it, how exactly is Levi's "you" when it's one of the oldest, most popular jeans company out there who makes some jeans with the same design for decades? Chances are you're wearing a white t-shirt with them most of the time too, no?

    Personally, I think it's not WHAT you wear, it's HOW you wear it, and how you carry it.

    I have a few different run-of-the-mill designer fragrances (Cool Water, Eternity, Acqua di Gio etc. All the usual suspects), and in the process of acquring less common ones. But I don't think about how common a scent is or whatever. I just put on what suits my mood that day, and what goes with my outfit. To me, a scent is just an accessory, like a hat or a necklace. Whether it's a rarity or a commodity, I put it on because it feels right at the moment and brightens up my day.

    Would I wear drug store mass market fragrance? I never have but it's mostly because I never find what I like. They're all too chemical or alcoholic to me. Though I used to wear some Body Shop stuff.... a notch above what you get at Target but hardly classy. Yet sometimes I just crave that singular sweetness of Body Shop stuff.

    Finally, if you must have a scent unique to you, try mix-and-match. Sounds like you already have a decent selection to get started with.

    I suggest you think less about WHAT you wear and think more in terms of "i like how it smells on me". But if you to choose to collect niche fragrances, by all means go ahead. I'm sure it's fun and rewarding in itself.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Last edited by goofrider; 10th June 2008 at 07:30 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Thanks goodrider. Until I become more sophisticated I am bound by my preconceptions. Almost everything smells like something. I like Loewe 70's accord, but I don't want to smell like it.

    It is true that fragrance is just an accessory, but it exists on its own. A belt keeps your pants up and shoes protect your feet. Fragrance is a purely aesthetic accessory that I hadn't given 5 minutes of thought to until earlier this year so now I'm being very deliberate.

    You bring up a good point with the Levi's, and on reflection I think I like the fact that they are generic without being a copy. My T-Shirt is gray at the moment BTW.

  15. #15

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    I wrestle with similar issues. My advice - do not get too deep in looking for perfection. There are hundreds or thousands of excellent perfumes. They smell nice. They won't make much other difference to you life. Pick three and stick with them - then they identify you. Endless variety can be emptier than nothing. You can relativise everything but what counts is the positive action you take (what you build)- so choose your fragrances lift your head up, look around and put your attention on something else.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

    reviews

  16. #16

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    First, are you saying Mexicans are stinking parasites of the American society?
    Even if you were saying that, I just don't fall for that kind of selfpity so I'll move on.

    Asking for the "good""bad" or "best" is a bit naive when it comes to fragrance... it is like saying "ok tell me what I should like". It does not work that way (for the sensitive and intelligent of course). Perfume is very personal and evokes completely different reactions depending on the paradigms (fashion, background, pretentiousness, familiarity, etc) people have. We can recommend you EDTs but we will list what we consider the best or perhaps some of us will talk about an EDT, not because it is our favorite, but because it is important to add diversity to the mix.

    Once you have more experience with scents (if you decide to continue sampling them) you can retain your paradigms or just let them go... Soon you may stop smelling old men, tires, the 70s, feminine, cheap or high end... YOu will start to smell composition, notes, drydown stages, etc... you can get all intellectual about it or wear "stuff for the heck of it" (antiperfumes). Someday you could find yourself in a drugstore smelling a cheap feminine perfume and think "DAMN this is quite good", or you can cling to the notion that woods are for boys and flowers are for girls.

    I am all for an egalitarian usage perfume. I do not consider it a luxury good, although I see why it should be marketed as one. If I find something I like, I do not mind shopping at TJMaxx (though I never find something really good or high end there) and other grey market retailers. I would not buy a Creed at full retail, but for a bottle of Rive Gauche, I would pay 5 times more than what it costed me. I like the smell of Molecules 01 but I find offensive they price they ask for it (as in "bendover and let us F$$$ you. At least that is my perception). I do not wear Aqua di gio, because I find it overpriced. My SOTD is Unbound, a cheaper and improved clone. I do not mind wearing montales just before I go to sleep. I have received the comments "you smell like an old grandmother" to the "your perfume is making me..." sexually aroused (I should finish) and everything in between. However, all those are secondary incidents that are welcomed or forgoten.

    Finally I do not think a perfume intrinsically suits a personality. Everything is just an association that can be changed for good or for bad.
    Last edited by irish; 11th June 2008 at 02:33 AM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Quote Originally Posted by charlielu View Post
    I feel like the only dumb person on this forum after reading these two posts.
    Same here... hope it's not just an Aussie thing, haha.

  18. #18

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Are you happier when you wear fragrances than when you don't? If so, wear them. (If not, don't.)

    Would you really be spending that money on charity if you weren't spending it on fragrances? If so, spend it on charity. If not, spend it on fragrances, if that's what you really want. Or spend it on whatever it is you want more.

    It's impossible to know what anybody else really thinks about your fragrance, so don't care. Wear it for yourself. Unless the person you love tells you that something smells wonderful--then wear it as an act of love. Habit Rouge makes some people barf, and to other people it represents one of the pinnacles of perfumery. Who's right? Who cares!

    Yes, GV smells like old people. All the classic Guerlains smell like old people, because the Guerlinade base is so distinctive and was worn by many people, over many decades, who are now old, or were old when you were a child and forming such associations. As works of art, they're magnificent (although a bit less so now that they've been reformulated). But as fragrances to wear, they're problematic, for the reason above.

    Never rush to buy a bottle. Collect as many samples as you can. Wear a fragrance as many times as you can before deciding whether to buy it or not. It may smell wonderful the first ten times and then bam! It suddenly disgusts you. Believe me, I've had it happen to me. Many times. After I had bought the bottle. For a lot of money! Most fragrances are frankly just not very good and very easy to tire of. Even the good ones are easy to tire of. Look at all the people on this board who are trying to sell or swap bottles. Perfumes are so full of synthetics that all but the very best are likely to cloy sooner or later. Our noses simply didn't evolve to spend a lot of time inhaling those weird molecules.

    You seem like a thoughtful, intelligent person. I would humbly urge you to apply your thought and intelligence to problems that actually have solutions, instead of chasing your tail and asking us to stop it from moving so that you can finally catch it. Which fragrances to buy, and whether to buy them at all, are simply questions of taste. Only you can answer them for yourself.
    Last edited by FloatingPoint; 11th June 2008 at 04:51 AM. Reason: Fixed typo.

  19. #19

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    A brief aside because there have been two comments about the 'day laborer. ' It is indeed a loaded term that I should have given more thought. They are unglamorous outsiders. No one wants to trade places with them, thus thwarting the aspirational. . . aspirations of the hypothetical buyer. (By aspirational I mean that for $50 you can pluck, for your personal consumption, a facet of the good life as you see it depicted on "the O.C." or whatever.)

    Maybe my purposes would have been better served if I had used the less put upon demographic of "15 year-old mulleted rednecks with acne." Please feel free to imagine that substitution.

  20. #20

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Quote Originally Posted by iamnotcleveratthishour View Post
    Thanks goodrider. Until I become more sophisticated I am bound by my preconceptions. Almost everything smells like something. I like Loewe 70's accord, but I don't want to smell like it.

    It is true that fragrance is just an accessory, but it exists on its own. A belt keeps your pants up and shoes protect your feet. Fragrance is a purely aesthetic accessory that I hadn't given 5 minutes of thought to until earlier this year so now I'm being very deliberate.

    You bring up a good point with the Levi's, and on reflection I think I like the fact that they are generic without being a copy. My T-Shirt is gray at the moment BTW.
    I think here lies the problem: you think a scent exists on its own. Sure everything smells like something else, but can that "something else" involve YOU? I think maybe you can't find something that suits you because the way you think of them keeps you from connecting with them.

    Say, if a scent smells like motor oil, that's sounds undesirable. Now if you say, "it smells I just worked at the garage all day". Now you're connected with it somehow. How is a scent like that ever be appropriate? Well, maybe a leather & denim look? See, there, you got a look with a scent to go with it, something more than what the scent is "on its own".

    Most importantly, you need to allow the scents to evoke an emotional response in you (maybe it's a guy thing). Even if you could smell the individual notes, what good does it do to you if you can smell that you're wearing a combination of lavender, jasmine, pineapple and lime? It stills means nothing, just more specific. It's what the combination makes you FEEL that matters (eg. "it feels like I just got out of the shower", "it feels like i'm on the beaches of Bahamas", etc.)

    In other words, I think it's "you" and "feeling" you should be associating a scent to, rather than some inanimate objects. And don't be blind-sighted by preconceptions, how it smells out of the bottle and how it smells on you aren't necessarily the same thing. Just as how a pair of Levi's on a hanger looks completely different from how it looks on you.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Quote Originally Posted by iamnotcleveratthishour View Post
    A brief aside because there have been two comments about the 'day laborer. ' It is indeed a loaded term that I should have given more thought. They are unglamorous outsiders. No one wants to trade places with them, thus thwarting the aspirational. . . aspirations of the hypothetical buyer. (By aspirational I mean that for $50 you can pluck, for your personal consumption, a facet of the good life as you see it depicted on "the O.C." or whatever.)

    Maybe my purposes would have been better served if I had used the less put upon demographic of "15 year-old mulleted rednecks with acne." Please feel free to imagine that substitution.
    I think you're wanting a straight answer to a question that evokes only gray areas.

    First off, and this may hurt the ego a little bit, but you are unique, just like everyone else. While Levi jeans and a plain white T-shirt may seem almost counter-culture in an urban setting, it's the norm in rural areas. If we were looking at the opposite end of the spectrum, the goth scene, you have adolescents and young adults buying mass-produced statements of individuality.

    If you want a statement of being truly unique, go take a DNA test. And hope you don't have an identical twin.

    The same logic applies to perfumery. Is it logical to take a fragrance, an olfactory reaction to certain chemicals, a pattern of synapses and receptors firing in the brain, and say "this is me"? Of course, you are not an olfactory reaction to certain chemicals, and if you were, that bottle of cologne you just bought is one out of anywhere from several dozen to several million. And for the sake of the argument, if you have $10,000 to spare many independent perfume houses will gladly make a one-of-a-kind perfume for you. Except they're all made out of the same building blocks.

    It's true, fragrance is an accessory, and perhaps the ultimate accessory; at this point in time it's art for the sake of art (and profit). The amount of happiness (utility for economics buffs) that fragrance gives a person is as varied as the number of people multiplied by the number of fragrances. Havana, for instance, makes me happy. I like it enough to track it down and pay well more than what I should have to for a discontinued fragrance. Quorum also makes me happy, and I paid $10 for a bottle of it. Molecule 01 is $135 a pop (if you're lucky), but it does not make me happy.

    There are snobs in perfumery just as there are art snobs, music snobs, food snobs, clothing snobs, etc., etc. For the most part I ignore them. I had a friend at work wearing some cologne that I really liked, it reminded me of Platinum Egoiste but I didn't think that he was into that sort of thing. I asked him what it was and he pulled out a little bottle of Preferred Stock. As in, the stuff you can buy at your local Wal-Mart for $8.88.

    Many users on here see the beauty in lower-priced fragrances. Hell, Cool Water discussions are a dime a dozen. Take all your preconceptions about marketing, demographics, capitalism, and leave them at the door because they will only be a stumbling block here. If Terre d'Hermes was produced and named "Lil' Wayne: Crunk" I know for a fact it wouldn't have the following it does right now. And it has nothing to do with the merit of the fragrance. So don't ask what the fragrance is called before you try it, if you can, try it blind, have a salesperson spray a card or the air and not tell you what it is. Good ideas come from the most unlikely sources; Gucci has an enormous amount of respect in the fragrance community, and don't even get me started on the discussions we've had about Unforgivable.

    Sometimes the best way to be a snob is to wear what you like only because you like it.
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    DanielTharp.com has additional reviews and commentary.
    Always be content with what you have, never be content with what you are.

  22. #22

    Default Re: 3 S's: Scent, Society and Psychology

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    I wrestle with similar issues. My advice - do not get too deep in looking for perfection. There are hundreds or thousands of excellent perfumes. They smell nice. They won't make much other difference to you life. Pick three and stick with them - then they identify you. Endless variety can be emptier than nothing. You can relativise everything but what counts is the positive action you take (what you build)- so choose your fragrances lift your head up, look around and put your attention on something else.
    Brilliant response...and great advice for all of us!

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