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  1. #1

    Default fragrances for a novice

    Hi. This is my 2nd question and I hope you lot will be nice and answer this one. New to this and previous frarances were Kouros, Allure, Obsession and whatever else appeared in my xmas stocking! The trouble is that at the moment when I read your reviews I'm left thinking these guys are mad. You see I'm not sure what I can smell apart from varying degrees of alchohol! I recently bought Narciso Rodriguez for him because it smelled different in the store. At first it gave me blinding headaches and reminded me of cement! Now I like it but couldn't tell you why.

    I'm 40, independent, lived an adventurous life where sweat, fear and sex have dominated scents. Now I'm chilling out and learning to refine a few things, but where do I start training the old nose to seperate and identify what is going on? Recent buys to figure out what the ladies fuss about are issy miyake, aqua de gio and pi. For men its terre d'hermes and cool water, but I still don't know what my nose is telling me.

  2. #2
    bluesoul's Avatar
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    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Terre d'Hermes can be pretty tough for even experienced noses to precisely pin down. You may be trying to smell immediately after spraying, in which case, yes, all you're going to smell is the alcohol used as a fixative.

    If you're just looking to be able to discriminate a bit better about what's in colognes you're shopping for, start simple. Is it sweet? Spicy? Does it remind you of anything you encounter in your daily life? Does it conjure up any visual images or trigger memories?

    I will tell you basically how I started was I made extensive use of the Basenotes Directory, and made a spreadsheet in Excel. I wrote down the "notes" of the fragrances and when I saw the same note across two or more fragrances I noted it. Pretty soon I had a neat little web of not only what made scents similar, but more importantly what makes them different. Take, for an example, Diesel Fuel For Life. When I'd started this hobby if someone told me to identify one note in the composition I probably wouldn't have been able to, but when I look at my reference and notice it's the only thing I've tried that lists raspberry as a note, I find it much easier to pick up on. Kouros, for example, has a very nice Jasmine note. Baldessarini by Hugo Boss has a fir note (like the tree), and if I hadn't first read it I probably wouldn't have been able to pick up on what exactly I was smelling. It's at the point now where I can smell a fragrance and tell what is different about it compared to other fragrances; a lot of them are going to have repetitive elements, such as bergamot (a citrus fruit used in 1/3 of all mens frags and about 1/2 of womens) in the top notes, patchouli, vetiver (a type of grass), amber (resin/sap from trees), and musk in the base of the fragrance.

    If you're slightly more serious about trying to peg individual notes there are several "perfumer's toolboxes" that have essential oils of commonly used ingredients.
    Twitter - @DanielTharp
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    Always be content with what you have, never be content with what you are.

  3. #3

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Thanks. Some good advice there. Will have a think about trying something similar. I get the whole layering of notes, its like tasting food but without the calories. I've tried looking at fragrance families but haven't seen a guide for colognes, mainly perfumes. BTW had a gander at your blog and I also know what you mean about your interests, indeed I don't know how long my fragrance fetish will last, but while it does I want to nail it!

  4. #4
    bluesoul's Avatar
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    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    There are actually several sets of families for men's fragrance. Here's one but I honestly don't pay a ton of attention to categorizations. It's not like I'm choosing a political party or something absolute, it's more than acceptable (and rather encouraged) to take the occasional trip out of your comfort zone and try something completely different.
    Twitter - @DanielTharp
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    Always be content with what you have, never be content with what you are.

  5. #5

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    A novice should buy these perfumes, to learn how to distinguish the different notes:

    1) Vetiver de Guerlain (fresh grass with class and distinction. Earthy smell.)
    2) Eau Sauvage by Dior (the miracle of balance: citrus)
    3) Rive Gauche by YSL (aromatic fougere)
    4) Givenchy Gentleman (to taste something extreme with lots of testosterone)
    5) Pour un Homme de Caron (something old fashioned and clean:lavender-vanilla )
    6) Antaeus (for woods and leather)
    7) Ambre Sultan OR L'Air du Desert Marocain (an oriental)

    .
    Last edited by LuciusVorenus; 19th August 2008 at 03:26 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Quote Originally Posted by mavmanc View Post
    indeed I don't know how long my fragrance fetish will last, but while it does I want to nail it!
    That's the spirit! Welcome to Basenotes!

    Quote Originally Posted by LuciusVorenus View Post
    A novice should buy these perfumes, to learn how to distinguish the different notes:

    1) Vetiver de Guerlain (fresh grass with class and distinction. Earthy smell.)
    2) Eau Sauvage by Dior (the miracle of balance: citrus)
    3) Rive Gauche by YSL (aromatic fougere)
    4) Givenchy Gentleman (to taste something extreme with lots of testosterone)
    5) Pour un Homme de Caron (something old fashioned and clean:lavender-vanilla )
    6) Antaeus (for woods and leather)
    7) Ambre Sultan OR L'Air du Desert Marocain (an oriental)
    Hmmm try to make a habit of testing before you buy. I agree these are good fragrances to try first.

  7. #7

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Yeah. Have figured samples are way forward on this education trip. Although not too easy being in the UK, for instance been trying to find sample of Sisley Eau de Campagne but no luck yet. A list of fragrances to start with is useful too, so thanks for that. I'm just hoping my small brain clicks into gear with this soon or to my mind I'm gonna smell like an expensive alcoholic.

  8. #8

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    How about a lady novice? I'm 26yo, and having in mind everything a 26yo has experienced, the hopes and aspirations, the freshness yet not. What is the best cologne/body spray/perfume?

    Is this becoming to much of laborious task? LOL

  9. #9

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Quote Originally Posted by calista View Post
    How about a lady novice? I'm 26yo, and having in mind everything a 26yo has experienced, the hopes and aspirations, the freshness yet not. What is the best cologne/body spray/perfume?

    Is this becoming to much of laborious task? LOL
    There isn't a single fragrance that's "best". I would try fragrances that are sweet (Rochas Man, Bogart PH) or possibly an inoffensive smell such as Lacoste's Essential or Boss in Motion.

  10. #10

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    For a really simple, but also very nice smelling, scent try Bois 1920's Vetiver Ambrato. Being so simple it is perfect for a beginner.
    Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them. - Immanuel Kant

  11. #11

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Find an online store that carries samples and buy a bunch of them. If you have time, research them a little so that you have some idea what you are supposed to be smelling. Also, you have to sample them correctly. Don't apply too much at one time, and you can also blow on the area that you sprayed so that the top notes don't cause problems with your appreciation of the drydown. Some fragrances take time, so give them 10 minutes or so. Don't assume it's "super weak" and apply more until you give it at least 20 minutes. Don't fixate on smelling right after you apply, just forget about it for a while and let the smell come to you. And never put your nose right up against the area you sprayed, because that is not how it was designed to be experienced, and also may give you a headache. Lastly, don't be surprised if your tastes change over time, so don't buy a dozen big bottles of something you think you will want to wear every day, for the rest of your life.

  12. #12

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    Really big help. Thank you so much!

  13. #13

    Default Re: fragrances for a novice

    you may find lot of familiar notes in scents of Gourmand nature...for eg.

    Rochas Man(chocolate, vanilla, coffee, lavender and citrus elements)
    Thierry Mugler A*Men / Angel Men: citrus, lavender, cofee, patchouli, chocolate, caramel, mint..
    Montale Black Aoud: Rose, Leather, Patchouli, Oudh

    the three scents mentioned above has some or the other notes which are common to each other...this way it is easier to identify what patchouli smells like...

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