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Thread: a few questions

  1. #1

    Default a few questions

    First, why would three of my reviews never be posted? Is this my technical error?

    Second are scents ever OBJECTIVELY good or bad? I mean, if I were using my imagination (and I would have to because I know nothing) I would say a good fragrance would have to be stable (not changing in the bottle, people write of this though I have never experienced it), and should have longevity. But isn't everything else taste?

  2. #2

    Default Re: a few questions

    Reviews are not personal opinions.
    They are , in raw format, essentially descriptions by breaking down notes and then recompiling them of a perfume.

    This in itself is not an easy task.
    It requires skill and experience.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: a few questions

    First question- it's actually difficult to step out of one's own head and think about what they're doing. A review is an evaluation, and that in and of itself can mean many different things. Most importantly, I think what a review requires is relevance. For instance, I once wrote a review about GIT and I included info about batch numbers. My review was not posted. Why? Because it was irrelevant. My info about batch numbers did not address the purpose of trying to provide an analysis of the fragrance. But yeah, it takes a lot of experience (which I often don't have), and probably a lot of expository writing classes lol.

    Second- I hate to say it, but it's only a matter of opinion. I know, I know, it's a cliche and derivative answer. But to answer your question with another, do companies make perfumes with the intention of making it smell terrible? No, of course not. So yeah, I guess it's all taste.

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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    Reviews are not personal opinions.
    They are , in raw format, essentially descriptions by breaking down notes and then recompiling them of a perfume.

    This in itself is not an easy task.
    It requires skill and experience.
    Agree, but think that there is a little subtle personal opinion injected also.

  5. #5

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    Agree, but think that there is a little subtle personal opinion injected also.

    True.
    That's why I religiously seek out reviews from a dozen reviewers only.
    They elaborate using facts and experience and not opinion.
    Albeit the final 'I like or dislike it' which I disregard.
    I focus on facts and comparisons to similar perfumes.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: a few questions

    The things that make a good perfume are the same as what makes any good art - It has to move the viewer in some way. It has to make the observer stop and think or feel. It's about balance, composition, movement - things that can be qualitatively analyzed.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    True.
    That's why I religiously seek out reviews from a dozen reviewers only.
    They elaborate using facts and experience and not opinion.
    Albeit the final 'I like or dislike it' which I disregard.
    I focus on facts and comparisons to similar perfumes.
    Same here.

  8. #8

    Default Re: a few questions

    First of all, my reviews fell so far short of what you are describing, I can easily see why no one posted them, thanks. But your answers about fragrance quality were empty. Can no one else respond? Is there no objective marker of quality in fragrances? After all, every review comes with either a thumbs up or thumbs down.

  9. #9

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    Reviews are not personal opinions.
    They are , in raw format, essentially descriptions by breaking down notes and then recompiling them of a perfume.

    This in itself is not an easy task.
    It requires skill and experience.
    ...of course is a review a personal opinion; if not one could do with only one list of ingredients and that should be it!
    No, that's why there are so many different reviews of products: everybody finds something else about it.
    Currently wearing: Knize Ten by Knize

  10. #10

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by brescd01 View Post
    First, why would three of my reviews never be posted? Is this my technical error?

    Second are scents ever OBJECTIVELY good or bad? I mean, if I were using my imagination (and I would have to because I know nothing) I would say a good fragrance would have to be stable (not changing in the bottle, people write of this though I have never experienced it), and should have longevity. But isn't everything else taste?
    'Reviews' have to be approved. That might take it's time.

    Yes - I think so. But actually hard to get. An objective review would be very expensive. Fragrance firms invest a lot of money in panel testing. I think this is the most objective way to do this kind of things.

    For sure an analysis of 'notes' is rubbish. Notes are a concept of the first half of the 20th century. It simply doesn't apply any more. We have chemicals in use that each cover a whole spectrum of olfactory sensations from spice to leather, from hay to metal, e/g safraleine, helional. And too chemicals having an effect and less more, hedione, Iso E Super. 'Notes' are weird and volatile compositions in themselves. Within an hour of wearing the smell of an artificial rose could morph into jasmine and then into - fish, principally. My 'review' of Scarb pointed to this new possibilities.

    With 'notes' nothing is said about a fragrance. At best it's a very rough guideline. I don't trust super noses who might detect every tiny facet in a fragrance. I think the most valuable 'review' could be a comparison to other fragrances. For example ELdO - Je Suis Un Homme against Halston - Z14. Or ELdO - Rien against L.T.Piver - Reve d'Or.

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  11. #11
    DuNezDeBuzier's Avatar
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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    Reviews are not personal opinions.
    They are , in raw format, essentially descriptions by breaking down notes and then recompiling them of a perfume.

    This in itself is not an easy task.
    It requires skill and experience.
    Respecfully disagree. With such things subjective, reviews are nothing more than one's own personal impressions. Facts seldom, if ever, are part of the equation.

    Breaking down a scent with one's own olfactory system, then recompiling those impressions into language may not be an easy task. But there is no right or wrong. Depending on the audience, a 2 word review may convey more utility than a full page diatribe or idolization.

    We all have biases and blind spots.
    Simplex Sigillum Veri

  12. #12
    DuNezDeBuzier's Avatar
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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by WildThingy View Post
    ...I don't trust super noses who might detect every tiny facet in a fragrance. I think the most valuable 'review' could be a comparison to other fragrances. For example ELdO - Je Suis Un Homme against Halston - Z14. Or ELdO - Rien against L.T.Piver - Reve d'Or.
    Agree. After having had the time and wherewithal to smell hundreds of scents, I find the 'similar to' comparison impressions to hold most value for me. By example, if you are considering Aramis 900 and read here that 99 out of 100 folks consider it rather like Aromatics Elixir and you know Aromatics Elixir, THAT is rather telling. Much moreso than reading debates about rose impressions.
    Last edited by DuNezDeBuzier; 18th March 2012 at 02:39 PM. Reason: spelin
    Simplex Sigillum Veri

  13. #13

    Default Re: a few questions

    I don't judge fragrances by their ingredients: I couldn't detect most of them! I find them nice or not nice!
    Currently wearing: Knize Ten by Knize

  14. #14

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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by brescd01 View Post
    Second are scents ever OBJECTIVELY good or bad? I mean, if I were using my imagination (and I would have to because I know nothing) I would say a good fragrance would have to be stable (not changing in the bottle, people write of this though I have never experienced it), and should have longevity. But isn't everything else taste?
    The only way to answer that is to set yourself up a definition of "good" or "bad." Otherwise, all you have is opinion (although some opinions more informed than others). I don't really see there being good and bad; I think of it as being like any other art. There's technical skill and there's creativity and there's a certain amount of luck. There are styles and fashions. There are also breakthroughs in terms of ingredients and techniques that come along once in a while.

    The above can be said about movies, music, literature, painting, and perfume. A person who's knowledgeable can see things and appreciate things that a newcomer can't. Luca Turin can teach me something about perfume, just like Pauline Kael can teach me about movies. But they can't make me like something I don't like. Good and bad don't really come into it.

  15. #15
    Dependent LloydLlewellyn's Avatar
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    Default Re: a few questions

    I think that what hedonist means is that reviews that simply state "I'd love to wear this in summer" or "I like it a lot" are not helpful when you haven't sampled the fragrance or need a second opinion to contrast your own. "I'd love to wear this in summer": how hot is summer where you live? Is it humid or dry? Are you a person who loves summer and enjoy it outdoors? Do you have patience for thick fragrances in summer? etc. It is all very relative. "I like it a lot": Well, that obviously is no reference point at all.
    I have to admit that, like he does, I usually go and look for reviews by certain people, who give historical and objective information in them...
    Kurt smells like Teen Spirit

  16. #16

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    Respectfully disagree. With such things subjective, reviews are nothing more than one's own personal impressions....

    ...Depending on the audience, a 2 word review may convey more utility than a full page diatribe or idolization.
    Well said. I much prefer the relatively economical reviews and clearly-stated opinions of a member whose tastes I largely share (eg. Kaern) to those self-aggrandising essays which may leave more questions than answers.
    He boiled for our sins.

  17. #17

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    Respecfully disagree. With such things subjective, reviews are nothing more than one's own personal impressions. Facts seldom, if ever, are part of the equation.

    Breaking down a scent with one's own olfactory system, then recompiling those impressions into language may not be an easy task. But there is no right or wrong. Depending on the audience, a 2 word review may convey more utility than a full page diatribe or idolization.

    We all have biases and blind spots.
    I agree.

  18. #18

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by LloydLlewellyn View Post
    I think that what hedonist means is that reviews that simply state "I'd love to wear this in summer" or "I like it a lot" are not helpful when you haven't sampled the fragrance or need a second opinion to contrast your own. "I'd love to wear this in summer": how hot is summer where you live? Is it humid or dry? Are you a person who loves summer and enjoy it outdoors? Do you have patience for thick fragrances in summer? etc. It is all very relative. "I like it a lot": Well, that obviously is no reference point at all.
    I have to admit that, like he does, I usually go and look for reviews by certain people, who give historical and objective information in them...
    This is exactly what i meant.

    And Dunez, I'll elaborate:

    Perfume X : notes:
    Saffron - iris - cardamom - birch tar - rose - styrax - benzoin - sandalwood - vetiver (wow this sounds nice actually lol)

    Reviewer A is pretty experienced and clearly detects all notes except rose, benzoin , iris and saffron.

    Reviewer B detects all notes except benzoin and sandalwood and is also very experienced

    Reviewer C considered the most experienced detects all notes except benzoin and says iris is not very prominent.

    Based on these reviews i can conclude that this perfume is not heavy on iris and benzoin is not at all perceptible.

    Facts? Yes because they are renown reviewers. Experts in this field. Respected individuals.

    Whether these 3 like the perfume or not is irrelevant to me. I'm only after their perception skills.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    This is exactly what i meant.

    And Dunez, I'll elaborate:

    Perfume X : notes:
    Saffron - iris - cardamom - birch tar - rose - styrax - benzoin - sandalwood - vetiver (wow this sounds nice actually lol)

    Reviewer A is pretty experienced and clearly detects all notes except rose, benzoin , iris and saffron.

    Reviewer B detects all notes except benzoin and sandalwood and is also very experienced

    Reviewer C considered the most experienced detects all notes except benzoin and says iris is not very prominent.

    Based on these reviews i can conclude that this perfume is not heavy on iris and benzoin is not at all perceptible.

    Facts? Yes because they are renown reviewers. Experts in this field. Respected individuals.

    Whether these 3 like the perfume or not is irrelevant to me. I'm only after their perception skills.
    Not sure I agree. I think the best reviews are ones that use comparisons to other smells (M7 first reformulation could be described loosely as smoky, cherry coke for instance) to draw a sketch of the scent in question, and to point out what you might like or dislike about it. There is more to a review than clinical analysis. I rather have 300 reviews that paint a rough portrait of the fragrance, than 3 that simply break down the notes. People who are familiar to the nth degree with many different notes probably don't need a review anyway.

    To draw comparison to another field, a good music critic (is there such a person?) doesn't usually tell you what notes are being played.

  20. #20

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan J View Post
    Not sure I agree. I think the best reviews are ones that use comparisons to other smells (M7 first reformulation could be described loosely as smoky, cherry coke for instance) to draw a sketch of the scent in question, and to point out what you might like or dislike about it. There is more to a review than clinical analysis. I rather have 300 reviews that paint a rough portrait of the fragrance, than 3 that simply break down the notes. People who are familiar to the nth degree with many different notes probably don't need a review anyway.

    To draw comparison to another field, a good music critic (is there such a person?) doesn't usually tell you what notes are being played.
    I forgot to add the compare ane contrast part.
    This is where it gets subjective. Saying something smells like cherry coke is very subjective. I get no cherry coke in m7 for example.
    But it's not subjective when i say, for example, the Oud in Leather Oud by Dior is Oud wood not Oud oil. And when i say that the vetiver in Vetiver by Dior is Haitian vetiver not Indian Ocean. All facts.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: a few questions

    Okay, this is much better. My reviews sucked now that I read peoples' remarks, so ignore my question about their not being posted, no one will miss them! So far as opinion blah blah blah, I am not a connoisseur of fragrance, but I am a connoisseur of certain things, and even things I don't like i can say are objectively good or bad, assuming they are not TOO far afield from my tolerances.

    Wildthingy makes somes extremely interesting remarks that beg certain questions. for example, do certain notes or effects prompt olfactory fatigue or memory more than others? I remember a shoe I had stepped in human feces and I needed hours or days (I can't remember) to be convinced I gotten every trace out.

    Clearly these are some informed responses. But no one has even cited a single criterion of "goodness" like I did, and I am not making too big a deal out of my ideas, I only pose them as discussion points, "stability" and "longevity", feel free to rip these to shreds, but they sound like two good things for a fragrance to have were I to use it.

  22. #22
    Dependent LloydLlewellyn's Avatar
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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by brescd01 View Post
    Okay, this is much better. My reviews sucked now that I read peoples' remarks, so ignore my question about their not being posted, no one will miss them! So far as opinion blah blah blah, I am not a connoisseur of fragrance, but I am a connoisseur of certain things, and even things I don't like i can say are objectively good or bad, assuming they are not TOO far afield from my tolerances.

    Wildthingy makes somes extremely interesting remarks that beg certain questions. for example, do certain notes or effects prompt olfactory fatigue or memory more than others? I remember a shoe I had stepped in human feces and I needed hours or days (I can't remember) to be convinced I gotten every trace out.

    Clearly these are some informed responses. But no one has even cited a single criterion of "goodness" like I did, and I am not making too big a deal out of my ideas, I only pose them as discussion points, "stability" and "longevity", feel free to rip these to shreds, but they sound like two good things for a fragrance to have were I to use it.
    Hey, please don't take this as a veto to your reviews! As long as a review is thorough and comprehensive, it may well be useful for somebody. I just stated which reviews I personally find more useful for myself, but that doesn't mean that somebody else won't find something to attach to in other reviews.

    EDIT: I used a lot of times the word "review", didn't I?
    Kurt smells like Teen Spirit

  23. #23

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    I forgot to add the compare ane contrast part.
    This is where it gets subjective. Saying something smells like cherry coke is very subjective. I get no cherry coke in m7 for example.
    But it's not subjective when i say, for example, the Oud in Leather Oud by Dior is Oud wood not Oud oil. And when i say that the vetiver in Vetiver by Dior is Haitian vetiver not Indian Ocean. All facts.
    Most great writing is subjective, I think. That's why it is good lots of people post reviews rather than just an elite few - opinions differ, perspectives change. Good writing fills your head with ideas, inspires you to try new things, changes your perspective on something. That's part of the fun. I think reviewers (whatever their experience in fragrances) would be doing themselves and others a great disservice in terms of 'fun', to concentrate on the technical aspect entirely, or even mostly. Is perfumery an art or just a craft - something to be coldly analysed? if the latter, then I guess I agree with you. But, like all the things I appreciate in life, I believe there is a healthy dose of art in good perfumery, which is why I want a review to inspire me, not just to inform me. Art is where the fun is, to me.
    Last edited by Dan J; 18th March 2012 at 07:16 PM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: a few questions

    Reviews which vilify a scent should not be posted, in my opinion, especially the colourful one's like - smells like the fur of a wet ferret in heat - which are just figments of imagination.

    Suppose someone put acetone (nail polish remover) in a scent bottle and marketed it as such. Would it be objectively a bad scent?
    I would have said yes it was a bad scent up until five years ago - till when I applied Secretions Magnifique to my hand - and I would happily douse myself with acetone in lieu of applying Secretions Magnifique to myself again. And yet some people claim to really like SM. So now I'm not really sure if acetone is an objectively bad scent.

    As an aside, I remember when Creed Royal Water came up at a really bargain price on the internet. I read the reviews and ordered it. I received it, sprayed it on my wrist, then called my wife over and said - here's a present for you Dear.
    All the reviews except for one had been totally utterly useless. They failed to mention either,
    a. that this was an unambiguously feminine scent, or
    b. that each reviewer suffered from the common handicap around here, of being unable to distinguish feminine from masculine scents, in the way that 95% of the rest of the population easily can do.

    The good thing about reviews is that when you have been here a while, you pick up on who has similar tastes to you in scents, and who doesn't. Then when considering a blind buy, you can increase your probability of success by reading the reviews of people you know share your taste.
    Regards,
    Renato

    Cheers,
    Renato

  25. #25

    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Renato View Post
    Reviews which vilify a scent should not be posted, in my opinion, especially the colourful one's like - smells like the fur of a wet ferret in heat - which are just figments of imagination.
    I agree with this entirely - I want to be inspired, not 'turned off'.

  26. #26

    Default Re: a few questions

    I don't post reviews here in the BN directory any longer due to the wait times and limited amount of edits allowed. That makes no sense, because perceptions can change with each wearing, so I'd have to wait about a year before writing up a review, which I'm not going to do because then I'd forget my initial impressions. Go to fragrantica and write a review that appears immediately, and which you can edit all you want, if that's the main thing for you.

    For me, frags are "good" or "bad," if they are meant to meet traditional standards, but that is relative, and I can still appreciate a somewhat "bad" frag because I like variety. I'm not always sure if that was the intention of the perfumer, however, so there is "guesswork" involved. The other thing involves how one appreciates the frag. I focus on the drydown and try to ignore top notes. Most people seem focused on the top notes and complain that the frag has poor longevity. Therefore, if you read my reviews you would need to know that, and I have pointed it out often. One crucial point here is that as a newbie I could not tell the difference between "good" and "bad" frags, so if you are not willing to put the time in, I suggest forgetting this idea and just wearing what you like.

    "Good" involves balance, ingredient quality, complexity, dynamism, etc., but some frags seem to be purposefully unbalanced, for instance, and many BNers like those kinds of frags. Party frags, for example, are often very strong and sweet, and are meant for a particular social occasion, it seems. Office frags tend to be more balanced, but also boring, at least relatively-speaking. Recent designer frags seem to have been made with social notions in mind, whereas the great vintage ones were not, at least to the degree that today's are. So, I suggest you do a lot of sampling and don't dismiss frags too quickly. In my case, I didn't like frags such as Habit Rouge at first but there was something about them that was compelling, and eventually I was able to appreciate them. On the other hand, many frags I initially enjoyed now strike me as "chemical messes," and I can't wear them any longer.
    Last edited by Bigsly; 18th March 2012 at 10:14 PM.

  27. #27

    Default Re: a few questions

    In my opinion, there are two types of 'good' basenotes review. They adopt fundamentally different approaches.

    The first and older is the sort of review inaugurated by Naed_Nitram, of antique fame. It is not particularly factual at all, but imaginative, subjective and poetical.

    The second is the style of foetidus and many others. These reviews are filled with subtle analysis of the scent itself - its notes, perhaps its context and history, a precise record of what they olfactorily perceive, thoughtful comparison to other scents, and so on.

    Paradoxically, perhaps, the former sort of review harder to do well, but the latter requires more skills. I enjoy the best of both styles very much, but only remember and muse upon the first sort of review. The analytic reviews, however, have the most weight with me when it comes to potential purchases.

  28. #28

    Default Re: a few questions

    So the consensus is that fragrances' worth is entirely subjective, that there are no objective meters by which one could measure a frag?

  29. #29

    Default Re: a few questions

    You didn't say that consensus opinion was what you sought, so why is it crucial now? With wines, there are people like Robert Parker and there are people who drink the cheapest wine and think it's wonderful. So you really need to think about where you fit in, or where you want to fit in. In the food industry, there is the concept of "spikiness," which is similar to the concept of balance in fragrances. Some people like spiky food (or certain spiky foods) while others don't. As I said, I think you should do a lot of sampling and build up a database in your mind, and then answer this question for yourself !

  30. #30
    Basenotes Junkie BurgundyMarsh's Avatar
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    Default Re: a few questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    Reviews are not personal opinions.
    They are , in raw format, essentially descriptions by breaking down notes and then recompiling them of a perfume.

    This in itself is not an easy task.
    It requires skill and experience.
    I love and cherish the Basenotes reviews. They are almost always good reading and are, for me, the best way of judging a scent short of actually wearing it. By balancing good and bad reviews, and being aware of individual reviewers biases, I can get a very clear idea of whether I will like a fragrance or not. I always check the BN reviews before buying and, when I have, I have never bought a fragrance I wouldn't wear with pleasure.

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