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  1. #1

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    Default Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Hello all! This is actually my first post here (I made this thread in the starting out section, but i figured it belonged here more), but I have been lurking amongst you for some time. I love what you guys have here at BN, and have found it indispensable when it comes to everything about fragrance.

    A little about myself (maybe it can influence your suggestions in some way?) - I am 20 years old, studying economics at the University of California, Irvine, here in sunny southern orange county, california. I dont know if looks really factor into fragrance, but if I had to describe my appearance, I've been told that I am "classic handsome". I have a rather prominent, square jaw, facial hair that works pretty nicely for my image (I never grow a beard, just some scruffiness) and broad shoulders/slim waist (I swam for many years). Other than those hobbies of an erudite nature (I read a lot, have an interest in almost every subject, and find economics, the sciences, and literature especially interesting), my activities include a healthy exercise regimen, guitar (I'd love to learn the piano. It's such an elegant instrument. It just has portability issues), and everything else a regular college-age southern californian would typically engage in, which brings me to my question:

    I've always loved fragrance in general (I have my mother, and her extensive [and tasteful!] collection of perfume to thank for this) and I've always prided myself on setting myself apart somehow, and I consider good taste in cologne to be a must for any man. I'm getting really sick of spending 30-40 dollars here and there on various designer frags that catch my attention, because I'll never use them all up and I'd rather save the money for one or several niche/luxury scent(s) that I absolutely love and can call my signature.

    To give you guys a little more information with which to make your recommendation, I'll break down my preferences into what I love, what I like, what I hate, and what I'm not sure about/willing to learn more about/give another try at.

    What I love:

    Bulgari Aqua - out of my experience thus far, this scent epitomizes fresh/marine without smelling cheap, ubiquitous, or unoriginal. I've gotten several compliments on it and I love its mature edge, that comes on appealingly, but without being so easy to like that it seems like its begging

    Kenneth Cole Black - perhaps my fondness for this fragrance comes more from nostalgia than its actual merit of composition, but I find it, out of many of the mainstream frags out there, to be sufficiently distinct to where it won't be confused, easy to wear, and it always makes me smile when I smell it. Again, I love its freshness

    Z by Zegna - a wonderful sport scent (to me, anyway). It comes on firm, sticks around and sings its fresh-y song, then departs to leave you room for your evening scent.

    Banana Republic Cordovan - I dont actually own this, but I bought a miniature with the intention of expanding my tastes in fragrances, and I was thoroughly impressed. It was spicy, woody, more mature, and a bit thicker/intense, without the annoying sweetness/old-man-smell that I tend to associate with mature fragrances

    What I like:

    Truth by Calvin Klein - this is the first cologne I ever really used for a significant amount of time, so it holds a special place in my heart. Its a bit grassy, which I always appreciate in a fragrance

    Versace Man Eau Fraiche - its probably not ground-breaking, but I like its slightly sweeter edge on the mainstream "idea"

    Versace Pour Homme - classy marine

    Clubman by Truefitt & Hill - this smells pretty different, and has a bit of class to it. I admit that I dont wear this one that often.

    L'Homme by YSL - sweeter, more mature, but still retaining a youthful zest that I adore

    Vera Wang for men - like L'homme, but even more so, with some woody/spiciness thrown in

    Versace Man - normally I'd consider this very much against my grain, but it has a sophisticated maturity and masculinity (my mother attributed it to the tobacco note) that I find interesting, without resorting too overly sweet and incense-like, which I consider un-masculine

    Canali Men - safe, fresh, possibly generic? A bit classy

    Canali Black diamond - mature, yet fresh. Dries down to a bland sweetness, though. There's probably better fragrances out there in this vein.

    Brooks Brothers new york for men - tartly citrusy, powdery. It smells like brooks brothers all the way through. Might make a better aftershave than an actual fragrance, though.

    Creed - I am impressed with MI, GIT, SMW, and Himalaya. I have sample vials of all, and will be trying them out one by one to see how I feel. I assumed these would be some of the first recommendations you guys would give

    Abercrombie Fierce - I wore this for a while, before everything it stands for and its sheer ubiquity/immaturity put me off. I found the bottle extremely tasteless as well

    What I hate:

    Le male: I really dont get the hype. Aside from the tacky (on par with abercrombie fierce) supremely homoerotic bottle, I find the fragrance to be powdery and androgynous. Not masculine in any way

    Angel Men: I suppose gourmands in general are a love it or hate it type of thing, but I never associated sweet/candy/chocolate/etc as masculine in any way

    Narcisso Rodriguez for men: whenever I smell something I dont like, I usually just put it down. I recoiled from this stuff.

    What I'm not sure about:

    Prada Infusion pour Homme: It really just smells like soap. One of my friends commented that it reminded her of the expensive hotels her family stays in when they vacation in europe. I cant tell if it's feminine or masculine or neither. Im on the fence with this one.

    *If you guys can recommend a gourmand that doesnt smell so obviously of pastries and sweets and whatever it is, ill give that a try too*

    As you can tell, I tend to lean towards fresh/aquatic/slightly herbal fragrances (some might accuse me of following the mainstream. But, like hit songs, mainstream is successful for a reason). I dont see a reason that fresh/aquatic/herbal cant be as unique and classy as some of the more traditional style scents. I consider vera wang, l'homme, and versace man all to be departures from the strict formula of "fresh success", so that leads me to believe my possibilities are wider than I initially thought. I have been told that I should try wall street by bond no. 9, as it tends to be similar to creed's MI (which i find endearing, but it apparently has longevity issues?), and I should give the rest of their line a try as well. When it comes down to it, I'll smell anything and give anything a test spray. Do not hesitate to recommend something that might be a bit unusual, if you think there's a chance I would like it. If possible, please provide a retailer where I can order a bottle/sample of the fragrance. Thanks so much for your time, guys! I look forward to becoming a regular here.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    welcome to basenotes and thanks for that elaborate description! you have exceptionally good taste i must say...and i msure guys here would be able ot recommend you some great stuff...

    here are some of my recommendations...

    Bond No.9 Riverside Drive
    Bond No.9 Chez Bond (i actually want to recommend Creed GIT, but it's too controversial and somehow people always complain about their purchase in the end)
    Dior Bois d'Argent (available at neiman marcus)
    Lorenso Villoresi Uomo
    Penhaligons LP No.9

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Welcome to BN!

    If you've been lurking for a while, you probably know what I'm going to say... go to theperfumedcourt.com and get yourself some samples. They group sample backs by notes, and I'm pretty sure they have a packs for aquatics - as well as other types of notes you might like. I'd also suggest you pick a couple houses that interest you, you mentioned Bond 9 (I started with Chanel and Tom Ford), and get a sample pack of those houses.

    Other retailers that offer sample programs are Aedes.com (7 samples for $15), Beautyhabit.com (6 for $15), Luckyscent.com (individually priced), and Lusicouscargo.com (I think it's 8 for $21). Go through the descriptions and pick out a few that have notes you like, and maybe pick a few that would be totally novel for you so you can be exposed to new things as that's the only way to learn. The niche house L'Artisan allows you to get 5 free samples for the cost of shipping, and I've probably bought about 30 samples that way from them over the last few months. L'Artisan is a good house to start exploring niche because they have a wide variety of styles and their fragrances aren't inaccessible like those of some other houses.

    You've probably seen the most popular fragrances on this site - look at the SoTW and SoTD threads... Terre d'Hermes, Rive Gauche, Dior Homme, Guerlain Vetiver are all well respected. Some of the niche houses that get the most attention (for good reason) are Serge Lutens, Montale, Creed, and L'Artisan.

    Some people have a tough time transitioning to niche.... you say that mainstream is popular for a reason. Well, that's true. However, just like pop music, the reason most of the country likes it isn't because it's good music but because the public doesn't know any better and they don't know that good music is out there. It takes a little effort to find unique, high quality music that's appealing to you, and likewise with fragrances. Many designer - but not all - fragrances try to appeal to everyone. Niche fragrances may have different, more bold accords. Especially if you're used to aquatics, it may take time to get used to really experiencing fragrances with some kick.

    Also, you'll find that lots of niche houses release fragrances as unisex (Montale, Serge Lutens, Parfumerie Generale). Don't get hung up in what smells masculine or what smells feminine, just enjoy for the fragrance itself. Lots of guys here wear feminine-marked fragrances - either because the fragrances are really unisex or because it doesn't matter that they are feminine. If you like it, wear it. Don't get hung up on the who makes what, either because there are designer houses that release fragrances as good as niche houses, and some designers have their own niche lines like Chanel, Hermes, and Guerlain.

    All that said, Bond 9 and L'Artisan are good houses to start exploring. I love Parfumerie Generale and you'll find many good gourmands that aren't too sweet. You could try samples from Guerlain, Creed, and Tom Ford (private blends). Comme des Garcon has many different lines that offer different styles, from traditional to avant garde. Parfums di Nicolai and i Profumo di Firenze also offer easy fragrances for getting into niche. The Chanel Exclusifs line and the Hermes Hermesscence line offer great quality as well. Samples of everything are at theperfumedcourt and scattered around other sites.

    Hope this helps. Have fun.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    First of all, welcome to basenotes!
    Here are some niche suggestions based on your tastes:
    Reminessence REM
    I Profumi del Forte Tirrenico
    Montale Fougères Marines
    Montale Sandflowers
    L'Artisan Parfumeur Navegar
    Geir Ness Geir
    Eau d'Italie Magnolia Romana
    Frederic Malle Dans tes bras
    Frederic Malle Angeliques sous la pluie
    Frederic Malle Bois d'orage/French lover

    Anyway what I suggest you is to be curious and explore a lot: tastes change and widen and the more you explore the better.
    Last edited by Magnifiscent; 27th January 2009 at 08:07 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Musc Ravageur is a fragrance one should always try when getting into the world of niche. I doubt you'll like it though, looking at your taste. Because you like aquatics, and don't like vanilla. It's a skanky musk vanilla+cinnamon. Still I highly recommend trying it.

    I also very highly recommend Ambre Narguille from Hermesessence.

    But looking at what you said, a gourmand with no pastries an sweets, the perfect fragrance you should try is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834. It's a dark chocolate with no sweetness. Very interesting in my opinion. You could compare it to tasting a piece of sugar free pure cacao/dark chocolate. You can order samples from The Perfumed Court, I always order from them. They are based in the USA and have great service.
    Last edited by brianroy; 27th January 2009 at 12:42 PM.
    For sale: Nemo Cacharel 1,7OZ (30ML) 99% full

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by brianroy
    But looking at what you said, a gourmand with no pastries an sweets, the perfect fragrance you should try is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834. It's a dark chocolate with no sweetness
    I love Borneo dearly - it's one of my absolute favorites, but I doubt someone who doesn't like A*Men, as this person said they don't (another great fragrance, IMO), is going to like Borneo, either. Of course perhaps on sampling he'll change his mind on both.

    If you like aquatics and want to go high-end, Acqua de Sale by Profumum is pretty good. Samples at Luckyscent.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    ove Borneo dearly - it's one of my absolute favorites, but I doubt someone who doesn't like A*Men, as this person said they don't (another great fragrance, IMO), is going to like Borneo, either. Of course perhaps on sampling he'll change his mind on both.

    If you like aquatics and want to go high-end, Acqua de Sale by Profumum is pretty good. Samples at Luckyscent
    I don't know he asked for a fragrance that doesn't smell like pastries. He seems to dislike sweet gourmands/vanilla (A*men, Le Male)

    That's why I immediately thought of Borneo 1834. It's a gourmand, it isn't sweet, and it doesn't really smell like pastries.
    For sale: Nemo Cacharel 1,7OZ (30ML) 99% full

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DerangedGoose
    I suppose gourmands in general are a love it or hate it type of thing, but I never associated sweet/candy/chocolate/etc as masculine in any way
    I don't agree with this statement, but that's what he said. Moving on....

  9. #9

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by DerangedGoose View Post
    As you can tell, I tend to lean towards fresh/aquatic/slightly herbal fragrances (some might accuse me of following the mainstream. But, like hit songs, mainstream is successful for a reason). I dont see a reason that fresh/aquatic/herbal cant be as unique and classy as some of the more traditional style scents. I consider vera wang, l'homme, and versace man all to be departures from the strict formula of "fresh success", so that leads me to believe my possibilities are wider than I initially thought. I have been told that I should try wall street by bond no. 9, as it tends to be similar to creed's MI (which i find endearing, but it apparently has longevity issues?), and I should give the rest of their line a try as well. When it comes down to it, I'll smell anything and give anything a test spray. Do not hesitate to recommend something that might be a bit unusual, if you think there's a chance I would like it. If possible, please provide a retailer where I can order a bottle/sample of the fragrance. Thanks so much for your time, guys! I look forward to becoming a regular here.
    You should try Sel de Vetiver by The Different Company (the best sea scent IMHO; aqautic which actually is not aquatic) and Bond No.9's Riverside Drive.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    I don't agree with this statement, but that's what he said. Moving on....
    He said this too

    *If you guys can recommend a gourmand that doesnt smell so obviously of pastries and sweets and whatever it is, ill give that a try too*
    For sale: Nemo Cacharel 1,7OZ (30ML) 99% full

  11. #11

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    I hate to say this but...
    Creed Silver Mountain Water

    You'll love it. (I don't)

    And by the way, A*Men does not represent gourmands in general. Try Parfumerie Generale's "Cedre Sandaraque" and "Aomassai" for something different. CS is aromatic/herbal with some green while Aomassai is woody. Both things you wouldn't expect from your typical gourmand.

    And as always, don't rush it! Part of the real fun is the sampling part where you discover things, dismiss some you don't quite understand, and then rediscover it again months later to realize what a great gem it is!

    Other scents you may want to try are:
    Parfumerie Generale - Harmatan Noir (Airy aromatic black tea)
    Lubin - Idole (Sexy: classic handsome and exotic)
    Serge Lutens - Gris Clair (Sophisticated ashy lavender: fits in perfectly when you're well-dressed)

  12. #12

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    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by brianroy View Post
    Musc Ravageur is a fragrance one should always try when getting into the world of niche. I doubt you'll like it though, looking at your taste. Because you like aquatics, and don't like vanilla. It's a skanky musk vanilla+cinnamon. Still I highly recommend trying it.

    I also very highly recommend Ambre Narguille from Hermesessence.

    But looking at what you said, a gourmand with no pastries an sweets, the perfect fragrance you should try is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834. It's a dark chocolate with no sweetness. Very interesting in my opinion. You could compare it to tasting a piece of sugar free pure cacao/dark chocolate. You can order samples from The Perfumed Court, I always order from them. They are based in the USA and have great service.

    I've actually been reading about musc ravageur and have seen it frequently compared to kublai khan, which has been stated to be a less "candied musk". I'm very curious to try both. What is your opinion on koublai khan?

    Thank you for your recommendation of borneo! I have nothing against the scents of chocolate or vanilla or cinnamon themselves, but people forget that these are not naturally sweet or candy smells, but rather full and rich, and I thoroughly believe that I could find a fragrance that uses them to their fullest.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    I just tried Borneo 1834 again, i hadn't tried it for like 2 months. it is really a wonderful and very well made and interesting fragrance. In my opinion it tends to the masculine site.

    Kublai Khan I have not tried it. But from what i understand it's a rather stinky fragrance, not necessarily in a bad way, but very animalistic
    For sale: Nemo Cacharel 1,7OZ (30ML) 99% full

  14. #14

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magnifiscent View Post
    First of all, welcome to basenotes!
    Here are some niche suggestions based on your tastes:
    Reminessence REM
    I Profumi del Forte Tirrenico
    Interesting, I have never heard of either of these! Would you mind providing some info on them and possibly where they can be purchased/sampled?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by adrianis View Post
    You should try Sel de Vetiver by The Different Company (the best sea scent IMHO; aqautic which actually is not aquatic) and Bond No.9's Riverside Drive.
    These are really good suggestions. I went on a recent quest for aquatics, and tried many that niche had to offer. What I found was that in the niche world you don't really find the type of "aquatics" that are generally offered in the mainstream world. The mainstream offerings tend to be ozonic-aquatics, while niche tend to be photo-realistic, "marine" like. I decided I didn't want to smell LIKE the beach but moreso wanted to smell fresh and reminiscent of the beach. Most of these niche scents were just too realistic to be wearable.

    This all leads back to Sel De Vetiver. It was one of the last frags I tried on this quest, and it was probably the best that I found. For someone jumping into niche from mainstream aquatics I think that SdV will be far more accessible than the likes of Aqua di Sale, Hyle, and Aria di Mare. Now, the thing about SdV which is VERY unique, and what eventually signalled its demise for me, was its saltiness. Oh boy is it ever salty. In that sense it manages to capture the scent of ocean air perfectly, while still remaining highly wearable.

    I would definetely recommend the OP try Erolfa, probably my favorite ever aquatic.

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    If you're sampling Bond 9 - also try Eau de New York, Wall Street, New Haarlem (coffee), HOT Always (patchouli and cinnamon), and Nuits de Noho.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    I think Amour de Cacao is best for the non-"hardcore" frag person. The others have some really "rough" edges that might gross out a lot of "casual" frag people (as A*men's tar did to me, eventually).

  18. #18

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Tossing in another rec for Bond No.9 Riverside Drive. Fresh, yet has a great hint of sweetness and a masculine drydown. I need more adjectives here, look at the review page!

  19. #19

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    You might like to sample almost any of the male/unisex scents by the niche houses Creed, Penhaligon's, Serge Lutens or CdG (and the list is NOT limited to them), since these fragrance houses, well, most, if not all of them, often managed to achieve a baklance between the formal, conservative (yet not dated) and the experimental, youthful, cutting edge (yet not generic or bland) side of the niche segment.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Try the Heeley line, I particulary like Sel Marin and Cuir Pleine Fleur...

  21. #21

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    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    Quote Originally Posted by albumleaf View Post
    Tossing in another rec for Bond No.9 Riverside Drive. Fresh, yet has a great hint of sweetness and a masculine drydown. I need more adjectives here, look at the review page!
    I'm LOVING riverside drive. Lucky enough to have scored a 3.4 really cheap. if anyone has anything to recommend similar to this, please do!

  22. #22

    Default Re: Based on my designer prefs, what niche to try out?

    If you like Truefitt's offerings, trying Grafton. For someone who is "classically handsome," and maybe if you want to get into some of the classics like I did, take a look at Lords/Douro by Penhaligons, Mouchoir de Monsieur by Guerlain (love that stuff!), and Castile by Penhaligons. I personally think you'll like Lords/Douro. It is a bright mix of woods and citrus.
    "If a perfume stinks, it's a disaster when she turns off the light." - Jean-Paul Guerlain

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