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  1. #1

    Exclamation About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    We all know that luxurious things come with a price, and a very big one. And because of their exclusivity and inaccessibility we tend to like them more and more.

    What if, someone gave you a sample of a very fine, expensive, luxurious perfume that you don't know about and tell you it costs about 25$, would it be the same ?

    Is the green ingredient ($) a scenthancer ? (Placebo Effect)

    I noticed that if I try to convince myself that I'm sampling a very cheap fragrance, though I smell the finest of niche, they strike me as mediocre. We tend to assume that more expensive things are of higher quality. In other words, you get what you pay for. The same is with all things in our lives, just think about it, it's so hard not to be superficial, we humans are so stupid.

    Proof: I went to school wearing Straight to Heaven by Kilian, a scent that I love, and I asked around my closest friends how does it smell and that I got it for 5$ on internet , and I received the worst impressions ever "hm.. it's not my style" "what do you mean?" "I mean... I can't say I hate it" , or "hmm, it's ok".

    Try this trick: tell yourself 20 times that you are about to smell the most expensive fragrance in the world, the rarest, the most euphoria inducing scent that was ever created, then sniff one of your Designer or whatever fragrance, is it the same ?
    ...or try doing it to a friend and see for yourself.

    In conclusion, most of us are consumers and we are very easily influenced by opinions of others, the house, the name, the price tag, the accessibility of a fragrance.
    Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.

  2. #2

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Yes there is a influence with the price of fragrances but its usually part of the whole marketing package. The true test would be to test a range of frags blind not knowing who made them then check the price. Then you can measure for yourself if quality means you will be paying more or not.

    Its the same kind of thing if you took your girlfriend to a jewellery shop and told her to choose whatever she wanted. She in most cases would go for the most expensive diamond encrusted item. But if you gave her several items of jewellery without the price tag she is gonna go with what she likes rather than the most expensive item.

  3. #3

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    In general, the only thing a high price does is put me off buying something, and fill me with a kind of apathy towards sampling it. I have some high-price fragrances I love as much as some lower-priced fragrances, and only go for the high-priced fragrances if there isn't an as good cheaper version. Sadly, my tastes aren't well represented on the designer market, so if, say, I want a designer Tubereuse Criminelle, there simply isn't one. I'd enjoy it no less if it was sold for a dollar a pint - truly!

  4. #4

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    That is why I like blind sampling. Get a bunch of samples from PC or somewhere, mask all the vials with masking tape, mix the vials up then number the vials. Sample all the frags, taking written notes for each number. Once satisfied with your opinions, unmask them.

    Note this really only works well when you get a batch of frags from the same category (i.e. citrus or oriental). That way you are less likely to guess which frag is which. If you have one fougere, one oriental, one citrus, etc, then it blind sampling won't do any good.

    Alas my last blind sampling of citrus frags ended up with me liking the most expensive one best.
    Last edited by Carlos; 19th February 2010 at 03:35 PM.
    "When he shook hands with me my nostrils were assailed by all the perfumes of Arabia."
    - W. Somerset Maugham

  5. #5

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I would love to see more blind tests as are done with many other products on the market.

  6. #6

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I don't think the price has as much to do with the placebo effect as some other things like reputation, rarity and legendary status.

    I agree with Partagas.
    Last edited by shifts; 19th February 2010 at 04:40 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    If someone pissed in a bottle and sold it for $200 people would love it.

  8. #8

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    This reminds me of a funny review I read ( sorry to author I don't remember who or the exact frag and I'm sure I'm butchering your work) I think it was one of the Amouages. Went something like this ( a conversation between 2 people).

    A. Do you like my fragrance?
    B. Errr... who made it?
    A. Amouage.
    B. It's Fabulous Darling!


  9. #9

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by kxe003 View Post
    If someone pissed in a bottle and sold it for $200 people would love it.
    Now, now, no reason to be harsh about Miel de Bois.

  10. #10

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Handsome Toad View Post

    A. Do you like my fragrance?
    B. Errr... who made it?
    A. Amouage.
    B. It's Fabulous Darling!

    pretty much this^

  11. #11

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    To run away with this thread... why is that such a bad thing? In theory it's not just that I'm paying for something rare, unique, etc... essentially the function, ie smelling, is roughly obtained by all bottles. There's variation in sillage, longevity, complexity, etc, but part of what I think we're "buying" is a warm fuzzy feeling. So when I wear that expensive frag, I FEEL and believe about myself that i'm more special and that feeling is what I'm buying. Now I might be lying to myself if it's actually expensive crap, or a cheap masterpiece, but to some extent I'm just going to feel better about myself and THAT, more then anything, is the "effect" of the fragrance. Often nobody else even smells the scent, they just notice my attitude change.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I guess it just depends. There is alot influencing me when I try a fragrance. The brand, the bottle, the color ( of the packaging). The price ? That is one. If it was a pricey fragrance and I was dissapointed in the overall fragrance, I cannot see me ( or others who feel the same way) giving it the thumbs up just because it is expensive.

    But fragrance preference is a personal thing. It is subjective.....this is all in my opinion of course. Some guys may really enjoy a particular Clive Christian or Montale....and that is cool. If they like it, they do. I cannot assume a person likes something because of the price ( being high), just because I don't care for that fragrance myself.

    That being said, consumers ( on a whole ...and me included) are guilty of judging the price/name = quality.

    And last, I think blind testing is a great idea.
    Seeking: Bottles/decants : of Feeling Man, Gucci pour Homme, Essence of John Galliano, Nicole Miller (vintage), Opium pour Homme, Oxford & Cambridge...etc.

    Seeking decant/sample of Jil Sander Feeling Man, Cacharel Nemo, Bijan for Men EDC, Lanvin for Men, Giorgio VIP, Il Lancetti and other old school frags ....etc. I have samples to swap.

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  13. #13

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I think this phenomena is real.
    As evidenced by Clive Christian.

  14. #14

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I don't think I like fragrances for artificial and irrelevant reasons.

    For my down-with-what's-really-there cred I have lots of lesser expensive fragrances. But I don't need that cred; I like what I like and walk down the street feeling good about it when I'm wearing something I like. If anyone thinks I'm a fake or giving myself airs with dollar value, well, that's the thinking whoever is thinking it is stuck with. I try to make it so that I like the way I smell.
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  15. #15

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by DULLAH View Post
    I think this phenomena is real.
    As evidenced by Clive Christian.
    Or Creed Windsor..?
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  16. #16

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    When I first got some "niche" samples, I was quite unimpressed (and still am, for the most part). Since then, I have found very inexpensive frags that fill crucial spots in my rotation. For example, I see no need for Daim Blond when Histoire d'Eau is available for $15 or less per bottle. I would not want to be without my 100 ml bottle of Messe de Minuit (have 2 of them now, actually) but other than that "niche" frags have not impressed me much at all (other than what some people pay for frags that are so often disappointed).

  17. #17

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Master-Classter View Post
    To run away with this thread... why is that such a bad thing? In theory it's not just that I'm paying for something rare, unique, etc... essentially the function, ie smelling, is roughly obtained by all bottles. There's variation in sillage, longevity, complexity, etc, but part of what I think we're "buying" is a warm fuzzy feeling. So when I wear that expensive frag, I FEEL and believe about myself that i'm more special and that feeling is what I'm buying. Now I might be lying to myself if it's actually expensive crap, or a cheap masterpiece, but to some extent I'm just going to feel better about myself and THAT, more then anything, is the "effect" of the fragrance. Often nobody else even smells the scent, they just notice my attitude change.
    Cost is not everything, but sometimes prestige/luxe will sell. A Harley-Davidson is not a Suzuki, nor a Jaguar like a Toyota Tercel, but all of them will take you to where you want to go.

    I have been sampling tobacco scents, and I enjoy By Killian's Back to Black (a nice fruity tobacco scent), Odori's Tobacco (sweet tobacco less fruit), and also Molinard's Habanita (a nice vanilla tobacco in the drydown). You can pay over $200 for the former scents (they are also EDPs but that hardly warrants the price) and the former for less than $30, as Habanita is an EDT. It depend on what you like and I like all three. (I will have to wait to buy the more luxe juice and someday hope to.)

    People will always buy Harley bikes, Jags and Clive Christian, however. It's a matter of desire and the ability to do so.
    Last edited by Primrose; 19th February 2010 at 06:51 PM.
    "No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.

  18. #18

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Maybe its just me then thats taken in by the hype , but I think you can instantly smell the difference between a niche and a mainstream designer fragrance and Im a relative newcomer to this smelly madness

  19. #19
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    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Economic Theory 101 - The Law of (Marginal) Utility.

    Make it inaccessible (in this case, high price) + it has actual perceived (luxury) value = It becomes highly attractive.

    Google "The paradox of water and diamonds"

    That's life, co-perfumistos......
    ointments and perfume delight the heart....

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  20. #20

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    There is something to be said for the quality of the ingredients in some "niche," but the thing is that if you really dislike the smell, the fact that the ingredients smell more natural does not really compensate. Last night, I wore the super cheapo Cuba Orange and was looking for any sign of "cheapness" in the ingredients, but it really holds together well. If it was made with the best ingredients, I think I could tell, but I don't know that it would make that much of a difference in terms of how I appreciate it. So, I guess that for me, the notes (no matter how "cheap") and the construction are of paramount importance. Others might not appreciate frags in the same way, and hence "niche" frags might be for them.

  21. #21

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carlos View Post
    That is why I like blind sampling. Get a bunch of samples from PC or somewhere, mask all the vials with masking tape, mix the vials up then number the vials. Sample all the frags, taking written notes for each number. Once satisfied with your opinions, unmask them.

    Note this really only works well when you get a batch of frags from the same category (i.e. citrus or oriental). That way you are less likely to guess which frag is which. If you have one fougere, one oriental, one citrus, etc, then it blind sampling won't do any good.

    Alas my last blind sampling of citrus frags ended up with me liking the most expensive one best.
    This is a good idea. I'd like to think that knowledge of price doesn't affect me (beyond financial concerns not related to whether I like a scent). But until you try a blind test, you never really know.
    "It's not what you look like when you're doing what you're doing; it's what you're doing when you're doing what you look like you're doing."

  22. #22

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pour_Monsieur View Post
    Maybe its just me then thats taken in by the hype , but I think you can instantly smell the difference between a niche and a mainstream designer fragrance and Im a relative newcomer to this smelly madness
    Hype (and outright historical falsehoods from perfume companies) have been a part of marketing since the late 19th century. Perfume, as it is not necessary for survival, is a luxury item...and luxury implies a leisure lifestyle with the ready cash to sustain it. (Did I just say that??! LOL!) I personally think you can like something cheap and mainstream, as I have sampled some niche that I would not go beyond the trial sample vial.
    "No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.

  23. #23

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    That's why I never ask the price before I try something. If I like it and it ends up being in my price range I'll get it. If not, I move on. If I'm sampling online, I tend to forget the price by the time it arrives (happens a bit more as I get older). If I like it, I go online and check the price. If it's something I can afford, I buy it, if not I either pass or get a small decant. I don't really care about all of that "expensive" BS. I just buy what I like, and what I can afford.
    Last edited by mrclmind; 19th February 2010 at 07:01 PM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    The more expensive it is the harder I judge it.
    If fragrance has a gender, so does all art.

  25. #25

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I have to agree with the original premise of this.

    I think it has particular relevance when you come on the BN forum to be honest, where people are frequently sampling the rare and exclusive. In my experience over the several years I've been posting here, there is a real leaning towards fragrance snobbery. I've started to buy fragrances without asking other's opinions first or consulting the BN directory.

    My criterion has become this: do I like it and do enjoy the way I feel when I wear it?

    If the answer is yes, then I buy it.

    So as a result, I've bought recently some things which would definitely not be seen as things a respectable perfumisiti would buy. Earlier this week I bought Delicious Red by DKNY, because I tried it and really really like the way it stayed with me maintaining a really nice fruity/boozy accord for a long time over a drier masculine base.

    Thing is, I would have liked that regardless of the price.

    There are several fragrances which I have bought, which, in a blind test would have been rated at a higher price point than the one it actually sold at.

    Don't get me wrong, there are some fragrances which do warrant their high price tag and they just smell expensive. Rose 31 springs to mind, that doesn't smell like anything cheap could ever hope to get close to.

    I've smelled expensive fragrances which don't smell as good as mainstream scents, but I've also smelled fragrances which are so obviously the work of a great perfumer that I don't mind paying a premium to own.
    In a world where people smell bad, it is the personal responsibility of every Basenoter to improve the world one SotD at a time...

  26. #26

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    No Placebo effect. The vast majority of niche is of noticeably higher quality than their designer counterparts. If you give them their fair shake and choose designer or niche for what they have to offer, like many on these boards then that's fine. But there seems to be an ever-growing anti-snob snobbery sentiment flooding these boards as of late.
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  27. #27

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    "anti-snob snobbery"--I love it!

  28. #28

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I had a look at my fridge. Guerlain. Chanel. Dior. Prada. But I also have cheapies like Stetson(!), Joop Jump and Nautica Voyage. Point is: Some of us BNers are purists - we buy for the juice, not brand.

    I disliked Mitsouko at first - even though I've been told it's the queen of the Guerlains - and that of course Guerlain is a high-end-designer frag company. It took a female friend wearing it once for me to appreciate it a year later; once my taste has had a chance to develop.
    Q: How do you make a feminine fragrance masculine?
    A: Add 'Pour Homme' to the bottle
    - Pierre Bourdon

  29. #29

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I think I'll buy some Coty Musk Cologne and put it in a fancy bottle and sell it for 400 euro per ounce. Wealth and power shall be mine!!!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by justaguy View Post
    The more expensive it is the harder I judge it.
    That is interesting- I may also be guilty of that too i.e "gee, this smells pretty terrific, and it's only 17.99- whereas, if the same bottle had been 179.99, I might have said " it's nice but for that price, it should wow me."

    So the blind testing idea is probably a really good idea for someone like me. Good suggestion.

  31. #31

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by knit_at_nite View Post
    That is interesting- I may also be guilty of that too i.e "gee, this smells pretty terrific, and it's only 17.99- whereas, if the same bottle had been 179.99, I might have said " it's nice but for that price, it should wow me."

    So the blind testing idea is probably a really good idea for someone like me. Good suggestion.
    I feel like if the houses are going to try and tell me that 50mL of similar ingredients composed in a different way with maybe some other high quality ingredients is worth $200 more of my money that the smell should be transcendent!!! And sometimes it is, since I myself have bought Amouage products... Personally I agree with what you're saying, it should be a buffer for what is worth buying.
    Last edited by justaguy; 20th February 2010 at 03:39 AM.
    If fragrance has a gender, so does all art.

  32. #32

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    It's not just about the frag. It's about the presentation. And I love quality of presentation.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by justaguy View Post
    The more expensive it is the harder I judge it.
    I think there is something to the theory, and like justaguy, I'm sure I do this too. I've posted this a couple times already in other threads, but I did the Cool Water/GIT side-by-side test recently. GIT was a little nicer than Cool Water, but they were so similar (at least for the first few hours) that IMO GIT is not worth $100+ more. Similarly, Himalaya and Paco XS are very much alike as well, and I actually prefer XS.

  34. #34

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Placebos are always more expensive than actual pleasures, just ask Mercedes Benz.

  35. #35

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I kinda feel the same way about Vintage Tabarome
    although it is a nice fragrance, I really don't think I would look at it the same way if it wasn't disc and so expensive these days
    K10 works just as well
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  36. #36

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    xxxxxxxxx
    Last edited by mrclmind; 20th February 2010 at 02:56 PM.

  37. #37

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    Placebos are always more expensive than actual pleasures, just ask Mercedes Benz.
    I bought my mercedes because I liked the car and found it pleasurable to drive, NOT because of the price.

  38. #38
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    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    This placebo effect does exists but I doubt if it affects everyone the same way. For example, a consumer may rationalize purchases which are deemed 'expensive' or 'indulgent', placing emphasis on quality and prestige over scent artistry/aesthetics, pretty much the same way a woman might talk about a pricey Louis Vuitton handbag she just bought.

    While I accept the merits of a blind test, I have yet to encounter an instance when a $200-a-bottle juice actually loses out to a juice costing $25/bottle in terms of sheer quality, other factors remaining comparable. But to actually convince yourself that the more expensive frag is 8x better than the other is another matter altogether. Example: 1725 by Histoires de Parfums vs Jacomo de Jacomo Rouge. Similar smelling at first impression but the former is more complex, lasts longer and has better a quality drydown. But is 1725 10x better even if the price is 10x as much? Not likely as the relationship between price and quality is never linear.

    To counter possible placebo effect, I find sampling from similar looking vials factor out the effect of impressive packaging or pricing on perceptions.
    Last edited by Diamondflame; 20th February 2010 at 03:55 PM.

  39. #39
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    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    This is an interesting NPR audio download concerning the psychology of pricing:

    http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk...hy-of-pricing/
    'Those who grow too big for their pants will be exposed in the end'--anon

  40. #40

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I think this applies to frags to a degree. But the nature of scent is very different than cars or designer purses, especially for Basenoters. For most people who've been in here for 2-3 months, our relationship with scent changes and our understanding of this industry morphs. Most everyone in here has experienced trying a very pricey frag and deciding they didn't like, or didn't like it enough to buy it. Likewise, most in here have some inexpensive scents they like as much any high priced offering.

    When I first started, I was smitten with Amouage, but in the end, only Dia Man made the cut.
    Last edited by StylinLA; 20th February 2010 at 04:59 PM.

  41. #41

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by sean-dt View Post
    I think I'll buy some Coty Musk Cologne and put it in a fancy bottle and sell it for 400 euro per ounce. Wealth and power shall be mine!!!
    There's actually nothing stopping you from doing this =) or stopping Creed etc. from doing this. In fact, you could make the argument that Creed essentially does do this Green Irish Tweed which is one of their most popular products. The only major change is the astronomical price difference and a few dollars more on the ingredients. That seems like excellent proof that money can be the most seductive perfume ingredient.

    Quote Originally Posted by mtgprox05 View Post
    But there seems to be an ever-growing anti-snob snobbery sentiment flooding these boards as of late.
    ¡El perfumistas unido, jamás será vencido! =D

  42. #42

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    I disagree that all high priced niche fragrances are obviously better than some of the more obvious designer fragrances. There are plenty of designer fragrances which smell as though they are made with quality ingredients - take Ungaro III as an example, which smells more delightfully opulent than many niche fragrances.

    Some niche fragrances warrant the difference in price I grant you, but by no means all of them.
    In a world where people smell bad, it is the personal responsibility of every Basenoter to improve the world one SotD at a time...

  43. #43

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by HDS1963 View Post
    I disagree that all high priced niche fragrances are obviously better than some of the more obvious designer fragrances. There are plenty of designer fragrances which smell as though they are made with quality ingredients - take Ungaro III as an example, which smells more delightfully opulent than many niche fragrances.

    Some niche fragrances warrant the difference in price I grant you, but by no means all of them.
    I would consider Ungaro fragrances more niche than most niche fragrances. You can't find that stuff anywhere in the US. When I consider designer, I'm talking your Ed Hardy, Versace, Armani, etc. stuff.
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  44. #44

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    More $$$ definitely means nothing in terms of quality. One of my favorite scents is the Australian brand of wool wash detergent "Softly" in the pink bottle which I would put against any niche florals any day. And I know at $6.99 a liter of detergent the formula cannot be that expensive and is probably all-synthetic. Still, I want to meet whoever formulated that scent and shake their hands vigorously and ask if they can formulate that in an EDP.
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  45. #45

    Default Re: About very expensive fragrances. Placebo effect.

    Like in all other areas - wine, food, tailoring - the placebo effect regarding perfume diminishes the more you learn about the subject matter by study and experience. Knowledge really IS power.
    You can make a decent perfume from cheap materials, and you can fail to make a good perfume from expensie materials. But a truly great perfume requires the best materials, time, and a talented nose. But even that need not be as expensive as many high end niches are though, and it's generally the small independent perfumers who are proving this these days.
    Last edited by the_good_life; 22nd February 2010 at 08:54 AM.
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