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  1. #1

    Default My fragrance education plan

    So, I have learned enough that I have found a few scents that work for me personally, although I'm of course always on the lookout for another. However, I have become interested in fragrance generally, and am looking to educate myself. I have a few books on the subject I'll be reading, but I'd like to personally experience some of the classics, which can be hard to do at Sephora, Macy's etc.

    I'm thinking of spending around $50 and getting a bunch of tiny samples from of a number of important fragrances. Although I am a man, most of them will be women's perfumes, and with a few exceptions, not things I'm considering for personal use. I want to hit the major Chanels - 5, 19, 22, Cuir De Russie, etc., the major Guerlains - Jicky, Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue, and some of the major Diors - Miss Dior, Diorella, Eau Sauvage, and so forth. I won't really be wearing them, other than on my wrists at home in the evening.

    Does this sound like a decent strategy to get myself a baseline to work from? Thanks for any input, this website is a fantastic resource.

  2. #2

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    I'm torn. Those are all classics that you want to smell. No argument there. On the other hand, they're somewhat _demanding_ classics, containing a fair number of "acquired taste" notes.

    To put it in other terms: If you were just learning to drink wine, you might start with a fruity sweet German Riesling, rather than an aged port. If you were learning to drink coffee, you might start with a milky sweet mocha, instead of a dark espresso.

    So you might want to add some perfumes that are more likely to be immediately pleasing, without having to acquire a taste for them. "Niche crowd-pleasers" is the way I'm naming the category in my own head. But I don't know what you like to smell in real life, so I'm not sure what to suggest.

    But, hey, that never stopped me, so in case you want to try some of those crowd-pleasers, some could be:

    Sticky yummy edible: L'Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two, Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere, Parfumerie Generale Aomassai, Bond No. 9 New Haarlem.

    Glorious florals: Serge Lutens A La Nuit, Serge Lutens Un Lys, Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture, Lancome Mille et Une Roses. (And everybody but me loves Serge Lutens Sa Majeste La Rose.)

    Semi-edible: Serge Lutens Chergui, Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale.

    Cuddly leather: Serge Lutens Daim Blond, and possibly your already-chosen Chanel Cuir de Russie. I falling-down-adore Cuir de Russie, but I tried after already trying a couple of hundred perfumes, so I can't speak to whether it's immediately pleasing or full of acquired taste notes.

    Pleasing green without sharp claws: Balmain Ivoire, Chanel Cristalle EDT. (Not the EDP. Well, the EDP is interesting, but it's just not Cristalle.) And No. 19, while it has claws, is glorious. Try the parfum, even if it does cost alarmingly more. And you can probably get a sniff of both Issey Miyake A Scent and Estee Lauder Jasmine White Moss in the department store. They're both fairly sweet greens, and more data points for your green palate.

    Friendly wood: Art of Shaving Sandalwood, Diptyque Tam Dao, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc. (I seem to suggest only sandalwood, I see. Hmm. L'Artisan Parfumeur Navegar is a good cedar.)


    Edited to clarify: I'm not suggesting that you abandon all of your classics, just that you might want to add or substitute a small number of the crowd-pleasers.

    Edited to add: And samples of some of those crowd-pleasers can be bought from LuckyScent or Aedes, in tiny vials, for a lower price than the Perfumed Court.
    Last edited by ChickenFreak; 24th July 2010 at 06:25 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    That's not what I would do, because as you said, you are not going to be wearing them outside the house. What you want to do at this point, IMO, is to learn about bases. For example, the chypre. You can get Bandit, but you might find it too bitter and harsh, as I did. Or you can get Mitsouko, but I found that to be too peachy and "feminine." Instead, I found that Pheromone for Men by Miglin was "just right" for me (when I want a chypre). The point is that even if you don't like one chypre, you might like another. That's what makes this "hobby" so difficult at times. Also, as you "grow" your tastes can change significantly. So, my suggestion is to get some "masculine" classics like The Knize Ten, Habit Rouge, and Chanel's original Pour Monsieur, for example. Or you can get more "modern" ones like Egoiste (not Platinum Egoiste), JHL, Havana, etc. You can also get full size bottles of some great ones at very low prices, such as Montana Parfum d'Homme (in the red box), rather than samples. Another way to go is to grab some great vintage ones that are discontinued and will likely go way up in price soon. An example of that is Acteur by Azzaro, which is one of my favorite fragrances right now (but I think many "newbies" won't like it).
    Last edited by Bigsly; 24th July 2010 at 06:31 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    Thanks for the helpful recommendations, especially about understanding the families and checking out some more accessible fragrances. Part of my interest is historical, hence the emphasis on the big house women's classics, but I definitely want to broaden my experience. Thanks again!

  5. #5

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    All right, I've been through Cuir De Russie, Jicky, and Mitsouko. I'm currently checking out Égoïste and Kouros. On deck, over the next few days: Antaeus, Habit Rouge, Pour Monsieur, Eau Sauvage, and Vetiver (Guerlain). Égoïste is not doing a lot for me, although there's nothing wrong with it as such. A little fruity, then vanilla. I am intrigued by Kouros, although I'm not sure it's for me. I totally get the "dirty" angle, although that subsides into the background after a little while, leaving what I'm perceiving as a generally pleasant incense/vetiver character with a slightly scary subtext. It's pretty nasty and intense at the beginning - a bottle of No. 5 dumped into a urinal trough.

    Of course, they'll probably all get a second evening's evaluation, and perhaps a public wearing if I think they work and I'm confident I can get away with it.

  6. #6

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    Keep one thing in mind: when you sample the "classics," you often have to deal with "rough edges." Frags that come later are often "copy cats" to a degree, but the rough edges are smoothed out. This is why my chypre of preference is Pheromone for Men rather than Bandit, for example. What makes a frag unique, groundbreaking, or special is what makes it unwearable for a lot of people. My focus now is on "naturalness," wearability, dynamism, and complexity, for the most part. I'm not very interested in something different or avant garde, or a frag that makes a "strong statement."

  7. #7

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    ahem, this might give you some ideas of where to start...

    you might also find that many of these are available right within your city. I spent weeks and weeks just exploring my city and the various stores, working my way through reading and smelling probably 75% of the frags that ever get talked about. After that I did a swap box, some sample swapping/purchasing online, and finally (not yet) plan to buy a bunch of samples that I just can't seem to find anywhere else. So what I'm saying is, you may just be able to find many of these around if you look. If you have the money, and not the energy or time, then sure just order the pack.

    I do sort of agree with some of the above posts. Many of the iconic frags became that way for breaking the mold, ie they're a little weird and take some getting used to. I'd suggest instead working your way through certain families or major notes and buying collections around those so you understand the building blocks.
    Tom Ford Splits:Noir de Noir, Neroli Portofino, Lavender Palm, Plum Japonais, Champacca Absolute, Tobacco Vanille ONE LEFT: Italian Cypress, Patchouli Absolu, Amber Absolute, Tuscan Leather, Oud Wood

    Most of the time I am very proud of the Basenotes community. Time after time I have witnessed the thoughtfulness, empathy & genuine friendship that members of this community extend to others - oldtimers & newcomers alike. There are other times, however, when egos get the upper hand and civility goes out the window. My philosophy is that I won't say anything here that I would not say if you were standing in front of me. Welcome to Basenotes, each and every one of us. ~ TwoRoads

  8. #8

    Default Re: My fragrance education plan

    Thanks for the excellent guidance, everyone. I have been doing a lot of sampling at the local Sephora, Macy's, Nordstrom, etc., but a few, like Chanel Cuir De Russie or any Guerlain I'm interested in other than Vetiver, have been hard to find, so I did indeed send away.

    Also, the point made about the rough edges with the iconic perfumes and colognes is well taken. I'm halfway between looking for another wearable fragrance or two and just getting direct experience with various classics for my own curiosity about the art form.

    And on that note, Antaeus (which is both historically interesting and a potential personal scent) is peculiar, but I am liking it. There's enough left of the sample for at least another private evaluation and a public wearing or two, so we'll see.

    Thanks again!

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