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.