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  1. #1

    Default Very confused about classic frags

    This is very much a 'just starting out' post so please any answers will be helpful as I really don't yet understand what's going on.

    So in my quest to find a new fragrance I have sampled a number of classics (eg a few Chanels, some Guerlians, Joy, a couple of YSLs).

    Thing is I have noticed that for most of these, I get completely overwhelmed by a startling stinging and a powder smell but I can't smell anything else at all. Except for sometimes I get a pungent smoky smell. For example Shalimar - I smelt Russian Caravan tea and baby powder but none of the florals. No. 19, No.5 and Cristalle were similar in their powder but I couldn't smell the flowers.

    On paper I can certainly smell more, but I don't understand what's happening on my skin. It's like it's eating the flowers and spitting out this powder in return. If it helps or makes a difference, it's summer down here and I do have allergy issues but I don't sweat very much at all.

    I really want to get to know these classics but I need to know if this is normal. Is the powder there because I'm not used to it or does my skin really eat flowers??

    Help?! and thanks!
    Last edited by Ms_Laine; 29th December 2008 at 12:51 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    I think it is because you are not used to it or because maybe you do not like it. The more you wear/smell a scent the better you become at dissecting all the differences and individual characteristics of the same scent.
    On the other hand, you may not like the powdery (florals and oak moss notes) notes of classic perfumes. I cannot stand Nutmeg on my skin. When someone else wears it, it smells OK, but when it touches my skin it just grows and grows and gross. Ew.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    This is an interesting question, I look forward to more responses.
    I often find that I detect the basenote elements very early on, sometimes immediately. Particularly if they are elements I DON'T like (e.g., amber, powder, vanilla) I can catch a whiff of them very quickly. They then disappear but reappear later as the scent develops.
    Sometimes the floral elements in a scent are lovely and apparent, in other scents I really have trouble finding them.
    Some people don't look at the fragrance elements prior to sampling, but I do. I find that helps me understand what is (or should be) there.

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  4. #4

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    I got my wife Mitsouko for Christmas.

    The first twenty minutes or so are a very aggressive powdery peach. Almost sickly. Not necessarily bad, but...weird...

    After that 20 minutes, it's perfection.

    The topnotes on those old classics can be funny. There's a reason they're classic though - and it usually takes about a half hour to see why.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    Thanks so much for your suggestions, I'm beginning to feel as if a) I need to get used to these and b) I really dislike or disagree with some element which may possibly be vetiver or oakmoss - although they're in so many frags I need to test that theory properly.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    I did a little research, the "powdery" aspect interests me -- although it is a type of scent which I don't like.
    You'll be glad to see that others share your assessment of Chanel and powder:
    I'm still trying to clarify in my mind what causes what I call a "powdery" scent. Yes, it recalls baby powder, but also amber/vanilla/iris/patchouli in combination. Each person might have a slightly different take on this term.

    I'm not sure what is causing the "sharp stinging" or "pungent smoky" note you detect. In Shalimar, it might be opopanax, which is a dusky green-scented resin, like myrrh. In Cristalle it might be the vetiver, which many find has a green/bitter/smoky/grassy tang. Moss is a dusky green sort of scent. Both moss and vetiver can be done in many styles and concentrations! Moss and vetiver are really common base notes, along with patchouli (brown tangy) and amber (buttery-sweet and rich).

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  7. #7

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    From my own experience, when you are just starting out on frags, you tend to try and solve the riddle of a new scent too fast, like sniffing yourself every couple of minutes trying to find those elusive notes... and basically, some of your olfactory receptors may simply become overloaded. My solution - don't try too hard; just sit back and enjoy. And, by all means, give the ones that you are not sure about another chance - when you are in a different state of mind, or perhaps in a more relaxed mood, you may discover new aspects of a scent that you simply cannot appreciate when you are rushed to make a choice. I don't know if this makes sense to you, but hope it helps.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    You probably need some time to acquire a taste for it. a break from the usual candy floral sweet scents or the summer fresh ones are good. i personally like a mixture, nothing to worry too much about. hang around longer and you'll probably learn to appreciate beyond the simpler appealing scents

  9. #9
    Heartwood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    Some of the classics definitely feel more powdery and overwhelming in the heat, and are heavier than what has been popular for the past 15 years or so. Often, I find the florals difficult to pick out individually, even in cooler weather. Usually, I just get an overall floral impression, especially in aldehydic fragrances like most of the classic Chanels. Many, many people find Chanels tricky and unwearable. Mitsouko to me is all about spice and powder. I kinda get the peach, and again there's the feeling of vague florals in there somewhere, but I can't pick any out. So I'd say yes-- the powder takes getting used to and that's normal. It's also possible to appreciate these scents, say on a paper strip, but still find them completely unwearable. No. 5 is exactly this way for me.

    Finally, I notice you say, "I couldn't smell the flowers." I'd suggest that when aldehydes are at play (often the case in these classics), they sort of pump up and bludgeon the florals in a way that leaves them not smelling at all 'flowery' but rather 'perfumey'. I'm hopeful someone else can comment on this and perhaps explain it better.
    Eddie: Sweetie, what are you drinking?
    Patsy: Oh, this? Chanel No. 5.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    Thestinging part may be your perception of aldehydes, which are highly dose in many floral classics like Chanel No.5. They can be sinus searing and I find them to be a complete turn-off, which is why I dislike many classic perfumes I ought to adore. They should fade in due time though
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    Thankyou so much for all this advice, it sounds very much as if it's the aldehydes that are causing me the trouble and my not being used to the powder.

    At the very least I'm almost obsessed about getting to know these classics.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    I'm pretty much a beginner, and I can't really smell specific notes in the classics either, even the ones that I've learned to like. I should note, though, that I'm learning to like some of the Chanels from the pure perfume, which seems somehow to work a lot better for me. Maybe you could get some tiny pure perfume vials from the Perfumed Court?

    My tentative theory on the whole thing is that totally unfamiliar notes make it difficult to recognize even familiar notes in the same mixture. For example, if you'd never smelled thyme or rosemary in your life, and you sniffed a blended mixture of thyme, rosemary, sage, and onion, you might be able to pick out the onion, but I bet it'd be hard to find the sage, even though it's a familiar scent to you.

    I figure that once I've smelled each of these new notes a bunch of times in different perfumes, then I'll be able to recognize them, recognize what _isn't_ part of them, and then, finally, recognize the other notes. Maybe.

    For example, I'm loving Chanel No. 19 right now, but it smells "green" to me and I can only extrapolate flowers from the fact that there's some tangy sweetness in there. I can't say that the tangy sweetness _can't_ possibly be, for example, rose, but I also can't say that I smell any rose. I like Mitsouko, but I detect absolutely no peach. And so on.

    Also, aren't at least the Chanels to some extent designed to cause this confusion? There's the often-quoted Coco Chanel line that "a woman shouldn't smell like a flower, she should smell like a woman". I don't know how accurate either the quote or the context is, admittedly; I'm going from memory.


  13. #13

    Default Re: Very confused about classic frags

    Responding to myself: I noticed last night that after putting on a good deal more Chanel No. 19 than usual, about five hours later I got a quite clear rose scent from it.


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