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  1. #1

    Default Sampling strategy

    Hi again!

    I'm at a loss here and I'm hoping some of you will be able to help me make up my mind. I started sampling with L'Artisan Parfumeur because it seemed like an easy and cost-effective way of sampling a wide range of scents and getting a better sense of my tastes. Very soon I will have worked my way through about 95% of their fragrances So far the only ones I have fallen in love with are Premier Figuier and Premier Figuier Extreme. I was thinking about a full bottle purchase and trying to decide which version I loved more, when I remembered the 150 fragrances on my "to test" list and thought maybe I shouldn't be so hasty to buy something so expensive when I've only tried a minute fraction of what's out there. There may even be a (cheaper?) fig fragrance out there that I'll love more.

    So I looked at my test list that I've amassed through all my reading here on Basenotes and I got overwhelmed. There are so many directions I could go in. 1. I could continue sampling house by house (I *think* my next pick would be Diptyque). 2. I could sample all of the big, classic, most talked about fragrances that I've been so curious about (Bandit, Mitsouko, Habanita, L'Heure Bleue, etc). 3. I could sample some of the most controversial fragrances that I've been so intrigued by (Muscs Koublai Khan, Kingdom, etc). 4. I could sample by fragrance notes that I'm interested in (fig fragrances, sandalwood, iris).

    What should I do? Looking through my test list, what is the "path" you would recommend for me? Any and all input will be appreciated!

    ~Rachael

  2. #2

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I've found that (for me) sampling by house has been most fun (Diptyque would be a great house to try next). You can really begin to understand the "philosophy" that's behind their creations. If you really like a particular note, then testing by note is another great way to go.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    Sampling by house and then going back and sampling by dominant note helps me separate which frags I think I want a full bottle of from the frags that I know that I want a full bottle of.
    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

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    As a sampling addict myself, I recommend trying all the "controversials" and the ones that you read dramatic comments about (eg. OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING IVE EVEEERRRR SMELLED IN MY LIFFFEE).

    From there, decide what style of fragrance you liked and what you didn't (eg. you find out that you like sweet gourmand fragrances, hate incense ones and are intrigued by musky ones OR you like light and airy fragrances as opposed to those with heavy, nuclear test zone sillage).

    Now you'll be able to narrow down your list of 150 to something a little smaller, while still trying the fragrances that sound great or the ones that have good feedback .

    It's easy to get overwhelmed when there are 10, 000 + fragrances out there...

    Another tip is to try fragrances by perfumer, and not by house, as fragrances can often be totally different within the same house. Although there are certain houses, like Serge Lutens, that have one main perfumer/nose creating the whole line, which makes things a little easier.

    Happy sampling!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I like a house-centered approach. That helps me understand the portfolio of each line. At the same time, I also like a note-centered approach. I like certain notes (wood, gentle spice, pine, incense) and dislike others (vanilla, amber, gourmand). So even in a house I respect, I may avoid certain scents. Some BN'ers follow certain noses and creators, I've never approached it that way (though I respect that approach too).
    I think it is quite OK to refrain from plunging for a while. Get a feel for what you like and dislike. Get a feel for what suits you, makes you feel good or utterly turns you off. And... be open to surprises! I think it is an organic, impressionistic process which may benefit from a bit of structure but ultimately is open to serendipity.
    odysseusm

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

  6. #6
    Dependent

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    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    i say go with your gut and what makes u most satisfied when you recieve your package, its a long journey so its ok to make your own "path".... have fun, less stress

  7. #7

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I like the way you summed that up.. I'd love to do more niche.. currently just trying "new" commercial ones.. but got a few niche to go.
    unico grande amore.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I personally am going through by house - I started off with Guerlain, since I could smell all of their classics in the parfum at my local department store. I then ordered the Ormonde Jayne sample kit, and have worked my way through that. I'm now trying Diptyque, and currently have ten or so Serge Lutens samples in the mail, as well as twenty or so other random scents I've been dying to try. After that will be the Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums line, which I can't wait for.

    But after that, although there are many more houses I need to explore - L'Artisan, Annick Goutal, Hermes, etc - I think I may change and start doing things by note. I have the notes kit from Perfumer's Apprentice (which set me back several full bottles, but I think was worth it), and probably the best way to compare is by picking a material and exploring from there.

    I think the main paths you've outlined are these two, house or note - the famous and the controversial fragrances you can mix in for variety as you go. At least, that's what I'm doing .

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums sounds like one of the best and unique niche house to me. I've read an article about then, saying they always have a carte blanche.. so, if there's anything near me.. that's my first destination.
    unico grande amore.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    How you sample depends on who you are and how much earlier experience you have. When I started as a real novice in May 2007, I knew nothing, had owned just a couple of bottles in my youth and no fragrance at all in so many years. So I started sampling this and that of fragrances I found in perfume shops in my home town where you only can sample main stream frags. Then I read on tne net about other houses and then I sampled this and that: a couple of Hermès, a couple of Goutals, some Carons, a couple of Guerlains and so on, and random samples I could get when I asked in the shops if they had any samples.

    I bought too may bottles in my first year. But on the other hand I think I had to do that to get me to where I am now. My next step was to sample citrus frags last spring. And now it's houses. I have explored the house of Galimard and now I want to explore the Nicolaï and Lutens fragrances. I also want to sample Chanel nr 5 parfum if it's possible to do that in Stockholm. It might also happen that I sample something in the shops here. There are so many designer frags that i never have tested. But I move very slowly now.

    So my way now is house and notes. For example, if I perhaps wanted to buy Sa Majesté la Rose from Lutens I proparbly would ask in the forums about rose frags and sample a couple of others before I buy.

    I don't know if those thoughts are any help but this is how I do it.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I would say definitely find out what notes you like in a fragrance and try to search that way
    even if you go by house sometimes you will still be disappointed esp if you don't like some smells

    goodluck
    Off-Site Decants =) (updated 05/16/12)
    http://flacon.ambaric.net/viewtopic....7994440fd3c0ab

  12. #12

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I mostly go by notes stated and reviews online (except for the LT/TS guide book, which I read but don't take too seriously).

  13. #13

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    Check out the package deals at TPC - they have some programmed decant sets (beginner, advanced), by type, or by house. They also have great service!
    If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate

    Wanting to try:

    Fougère Bengale, Cafe Noir

    Wanting to buy:

    Yohji Homme EDT

  14. #14

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    I usually sample by note (eg vetiver) or type (eg oriental). I have ended up collecting several samples from each house with this approach anyway. And, I want to enjoy, so I tend to let my whims guide me.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    Like Asha, I sample by note ( e.g. iris ) and genre ( e.g. chypre ). When I was just starting out I often bought themed sample packs at The Perfumed Court and explored that way.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    If your interests are clear to you, follow them, says I. When you fall in love with a note or a genre, smell as many as you can. Unless you live someplace really remote, I would suggest that you not spend too much on samples. Schedule a couple smelling trips a year to cities where you can smell a lot of stuff, take careful notes and vacuum up samples where you can. Enjoy! You've got the rest of your life to meander and your tastes will change as you do, anyway, so in a way there's no point in rushing. Although I certainly understand the desire to dive in and the hunger to try everything.
    But so what are you particularly enjoying right now?

  17. #17

    Default Re: Sampling strategy

    Thanks to everyone for the great advice and suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Strollyourlobster View Post
    If your interests are clear to you, follow them, says I. When you fall in love with a note or a genre, smell as many as you can. Unless you live someplace really remote, I would suggest that you not spend too much on samples. Schedule a couple smelling trips a year to cities where you can smell a lot of stuff, take careful notes and vacuum up samples where you can. Enjoy! You've got the rest of your life to meander and your tastes will change as you do, anyway, so in a way there's no point in rushing. Although I certainly understand the desire to dive in and the hunger to try everything.
    But so what are you particularly enjoying right now?
    Right now I'm really enjoying my Organza Indecence and Bulgari Black, and Tom Ford's Black Orchid for evenings out (I have a sample from Sephora and I'd dearly love to find a bottle at Marshall's as some of you have, but they only have Voile de Fleur). And as I mentioned, L'Artisan's Premier Figuier and PF Extreme. It's so different from what I normally gravitate toward, and it's the only sort of fresh, summery scent that I've been able to fall in love with. I'm starting to feel that I might really want it for this summer, so I think my first step will be to sample several fig fragrances just to see if there's one I like even more. Once I've satisfied my fig craving with a full bottle of PF/E or something else, then I'll move ahead at a more leisurely rate of sampling.

    My only resources here are department stores like Macy's and Younkers (and I think I've sprayed everything even remotely interesting there), and the closest Sephora is 45 minutes away, though I do get there on occasion. I'm hoping for a trip to Chicago or New York within the next year (not just for fragrance reasons!) but for now it seems that ordering samples is the way to go.

    Thanks again for all the input!

    Rachael

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