I get what you get with a good dose of musk. Apple? WTF?
Thread: Reviews and L'Anarchiste
After posting my scent of the day, which is L'Anarchiste -Caron, I felt a tinge of unease in realizing I was getting nowhere in appreciating the fragrance and its components.
I got some orange peel, I got some clove, something slightly metallic, and later, a delicious amber-dominated accord which I found unique without knowing why.
The Basenotes directory gives its pyramid as:
Orange blossom, mandarin
Cedar leaves, sandal, vetiver, cedarwood
Except for the hesperidic note, I seem hyposensitive to all the riches of the middle notes.
Next I consulted Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez' The Perfume Guide for their take on it.
TS characterized it as "Apple Lavender". In her review she writes:
"I remember it as very different: a rich, spiced baked-apple oriental. Today it seems much more like every other fragrance in the Cool Water mode (apple, violet, lavender, violet leaf)".
My question to you is this:
When a reviewer describes a fragrance is she/he reporting on what they perceive to be the ingredients of the scent -and the accords that are created from them- or are they reporting their sense impressions without reference to the pyramid, as the mood strikes, like: …..'it's hot apple pie cooling by the open window with the breeze bringing with it the smell of the hot tarmac on the driveway……'
With a stretch of the imagination, I can perceive in L'Anarchiste an accord that may be likened to a synthetic "apple-y" smell (esp. if I add that the apple was cut with a rusty iron-bladed knife). Lavender has wide-ranging guises so I won't push that point, but violet and violet leaf?
How empirical are perfume reviews? Similarly, are pyramids more or less guidelines to the ingredients of a scent or simply flight-of-fantasy- impressions of a publicist? Why do different sites have different pyramids for any one perfume?
How does one reconcile T Sanchez' apple, violet, lavender, violet leaf with the pyramid of orange blossom, mandarin, cedar leaves, sandal, vetiver, cedarwood, musk? Or are these different species which do not contradict each other?
Maybe I'm just too literal, but thanks for listening.
I'd really like to hear what reviewers have to say.
I get what you get with a good dose of musk. Apple? WTF?
Count me in as one who smells an apple accord...
You're being a bit literal yes. You can read reviews and analyze the notes pyramids, but ultimately your nose rules.
Two responses here so far: one "gets" apple and one doesn't. If you rely on any one reviewer, you limit the opinions to only one.
I like Turin's guide, but if I spot something he describes that sounds interesting, I weigh out other reviews in here and try myself. Who knows whether he studies the notes profiles or not. He's got a highly developed nose and probably just wings it is my guess.
When I look at the notes profiles of many of my scents, I'm always baffled by the fact that I never would have picked out some of them by my experience of wearing them.
Last edited by StylinLA; 31st January 2010 at 10:15 PM.
I think it's always a mix of both isn't it? Some pyramids and reviews talk about actual ingredients (natural and synthetic) and intended accords while others or even the same lists or critiques have subjective/imaginary accords and scent evocations. And then there's always the ghost accords when certain components combine to create completely new associations.
As for L'Anarchiste--I definitely get the citrus and clove, something minty-mentholated, a metallic twang, and it is certainly autumnal and spicy, but no fruity apple, just the other scents associated with apples and orchards and pies and cider. Then the woodsy/ambery/musky drydown. I'm not a big Creed fan, but this one reminds me of and behaves a lot like a Creed in it's quality blending, softness (after the sharp opening), and projection.
I offer you perfume,
More for its pleasure than for yours;
You perfume perfume.
--Anonymous Ancient Greek Love Lyric
I have a tester with the notes listed on the back.
But on other websites, Here's what I've seen:
Mint, Mandarin, Blood Orange, Pear, Apple, Lavender, Orange Blossom, Spices, Basil, Rosemary, Green Cedar Leaves, Cypress, Vetiver Bourbon, Virginia Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Guaiacwood, 7 Musks
By "Spices" I'm almost certain there's cinnamon and clove. And I definitely get Apple or something equating to mott's cinnamon-applesauce.
I found it to be unpleasant, but that was months ago, so I won't speak to anything specific (I recall a metallic/citrus thing). What I do want to mention here is that TS seems to be hypersensitive to lavender, or else she is imagining it. I dislike lavender if it is more than a supporting note, and I don't remember lavender. She also talked about Paul Smith London for Men being a "nice lavender" (something along those lines). I have that London and enjoy it, but again, I get no lavender. I think there are one or two other instances of this in her reviews. The "problem" might be that when you are looking for a certain note, you will find it if it is there, whereas if you are just sampling to see if you like the overall frag, you don't necessarily pick up every note that is clearly there (which you can do if you keep sampling and looking for it).
Last edited by Bigsly; 1st February 2010 at 02:07 AM.
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Even the pyramids. Given that most perfumes are almost completely synthetic, the pyramid cannot reflect anything more than what the perfumer (or, as you said, the marketing department) wants the scent to reflect.
The only truly empirical way to describe a perfume is to literally list the chemical ingredients, and that wouldn't help many people, except maybe a master perfumer.
Last edited by LiveJazz; 1st February 2010 at 07:23 PM.
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Last edited by mrclmind; 1st February 2010 at 03:39 PM.
I also get apple.. more-so apple pie because of all the spices. Quite a comforting scent but not one I'd be interested in wearing.
I've seen note pyramids that are some of the better works of fiction. The note pyramids are often done by the marketing department but they can be and sometimes are aligned with the notes the the perfumer was aiming for -- which were likely not actual "notes" at all, but rather chemicals that were supposed to smell like the "note" that the perfumer was aiming for... if (s)he actually had a plan in mind. Are the note pyramids reliable or not? Some are (IMO) and some aren't (IMO) and my opinion would probably disagree with many others' opinions.
Added to the lack of surety of the note pyramid notes are the differences in the perception and the vocabulary and the experiences and the actual number and lengths of testing of the reviewers. These are all subjective variables and can make huge differences in opinion.
With L'Anarchiste I don't get apple or apple pie... probably because I DO get violet. I am over sensitive to the chemical that they call "violet" (I am not oversensitive to the smell of REAL violets) and that oversensitivity hides the chemical spices from my perception... if those "spices" are actually there and not a figment of the imagination of an overly zealous would-be poet who is making his/her living working in the marketing department.
Take the reviews and the note pyramid with a grain of salt just as you would take advice from someone who is absolutely right half the time. If you are going to trust reviewers, the trick is to find the reviewer that has similar tastes and similar perceptions as you do, and even then try the fragrance for yourself before making a decision. In other words: trust your own nose. Reviewers can educate you but they can't do your thinking or perceiving.
Last edited by foetidus; 1st February 2010 at 04:47 PM.
My thanks to all nine of you who responded to my overly literal remarks on pyramids and, similarly, reviewers' descriptions of fragrances.
It felt good to vent though.
And I appreciate your level-headed comments.
how can you not try to like a fragrance called l'anarchiste never could manage to though
Reading the reviews here on Basenotes is the reason I had to buy the fragrance blind. Am glad I did as I like it very much and find it extremely versatile and long lasting.