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  1. #1

    Default The nature of 'natural'

    I have a particularly sensitive nose and am uncannily affected by fragrances. Until about 2 years ago, I had always employed the use of rather mundane (and, admittedly 'old stock') colognes and have never been satisfied with the result. But I have always had a healthy obsession with the 'real mccoy' and have begun to acquire a collection of perfumes that is now on the higher end of unimpressive. To me, the progeny of the House of Creed has magnetic properties, and Aventus, Royal Oud, and GIT are members of my rather exclusive club.

    You members of Basenotes often criticize Creed for being "transparent" and "fresh/clean." These terms, obviously, in a community that endorses rugged individualism, are meant to be pejorative. To this, I would argue that "fresh" is a property of synthetic materials, and that 'naturals' are inherently dirty.

    Our use of the word 'dirt' as a catch-all phrase to mean anything besides a lather of sulfates is in line with an American view of hygiene that borders on sterility. Even the most linear, simplistic notes of Creed fragrances remind me of dirt. It's the kind of smell that, if it were not bottled and rendered clear, would stick to your arms like pollen and mud. And, by contrast, anything that I smell that is cheap and rather synthetic (even complex orientals) necessarily reminds me of a harsh lather and a Brillo pad.

    Can synthetic perfumes ever be 'dirty'? And, by contrast, can you ever have a 'fresh' scent that is made with dirt?


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Washington, DC

    Default Re: The nature of 'natural'

    You are making good points, that is, the current taste goes for unpleasant clean disinfectants that smell all but natural (Light blue and family) and are so sharp that they can cover any body odors. I cannot think of any natural material that gets anywhere close; bigarade and orange blossoms can occasionally hint to that, but only so far. The problem with these disinfectant notes, though, is not that they are synthetic. It's that they are sharp and unplesant. There are many fresh and clean things that smell pleasant, whether natural or synthetic. The 200+ years old recipe for eau de cologne is fully natural, extremely fresh, and extremely pleasant.

    While I am a Creed hater, I agree with you that the house has seldom gone this far in the desire for sterility But that's not the reason why I dislike it. Mark Buxton and JC Ellena make clean and transparent perfumes too. But enough Creed critiques.

    As for synthetics, they can do everything, clean or dirty (Secretions Magnifiques a case in point - it screams synthetic and is as putrid as it can be).


  3. #3

    Default Re: The nature of 'natural'

    Not sure I understand but I like the title of this thread. In most cases (in terms of what is most often used in fragrances), there are synthetics that can capture everything but the fullness of the natural. In order to make up for this, the perfumer could use a huge number of synthetics, but this is not easy to do, and there is no point to it other than "artistic" (since there are some decent quality, yet inexpensive naturals that can be used along with synthetics). "Dirty" molecules include indoles and skatoles, and I think they can be made in a laboratory.

    I don't think your impression of the "Creed bashers" at BN is entirely accurate, but they can speak for themselves. I don't remember anyone criticizing their frags for being transparent, for example (I have heard that claim against some of Elena's frags, as in it's getting boring). I do tend to think that the cheap laundry musks often used in recent "men's" frags are obnoxious unless used very discreetly, but that's just how I perceive those notes. And I seem to find calone (used mostly in aquatic frags) to be horribly "chemical."

    In other cases, I perceive a frag as somewhat "synthetic," but interesting and wearable, such as Polo Modern Reserve. On the other hand, some niche frags that flaunt their "naturalness" come across as obnoxious to me as well. But I may be atypical here, because I try to avoid top notes and I seek balance, complexity, and dynamism in the base (which I want to last 7 hours or more). "Naturalness" is important to me, generally-speaking, but it's my perception of naturalness and it may not correspond to the actual percentage of naturals in the frag in question.

    I think the usual reason why highly synthetic frags are "clean" or "fresh" is that they tend to be marketed to people who aren't going to pay that much, especially relative to the niche crowd. They could throw a slug of synthetic civet in there, but sales would be pathetic. Otherwise, I'm not sure what you are asking, so if this doesn't answer your questions, please provide more details.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 8th October 2011 at 05:28 AM.

  4. #4
    hednic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    McLean, NYC, & Búzios

    Default Re: The nature of 'natural'

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    As for synthetics, they can do everything, clean or dirty
    And they have time and time again.

  5. #5
    Sugandaraja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Vancouver, BC

    Default Re: The nature of 'natural'

    I generally like dirty fragrances, both in the sense of being animalic ( i.e. musky, civet-y, castoreum-laden ) or in the sense of smelling like earth itself ( there are more than a few that hint at it, and overt examples like Neil Morris Dark Earth ).

    I'm generally not a Creed fan. They've done a few things I've enjoyed ( Cypres-Musc was the only full-bottle worthy one, though it's long gone now ), but in general, their light, airy style doesn't appeal. I have a hard time with is finding a link between Creed and naturals. I can't think of a single Creed that reminds me of a genuinely all-natural fragrance, for both good and bad ( most Creeds last longer than an all-natural would and project more, too, but they're also prone to jarring synthetic notes like Love In Black's berry-candy note )

  6. #6

    Default Re: The nature of 'natural'

    Natural scents can smell very clean, both from Creed and from other houses

  7. #7
    Sugandaraja's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Vancouver, BC

    Default Re: The nature of 'natural'

    Has Creed ever made an explicitly natural fragrance? I know some perfumers, like Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Olivia Giacobetti, dabble in both regular ''mixed'' perfumery ( i.e. naturals and synthetics ) as well as all-naturals, but as far as I knew Creed was a house that uses synthetics, like most mainstream niche perfumeries.

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