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    Default Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    How do we objectively judge the quality of a fragrance as good or bad independent of our personal biases? In other words, how do we step aside from simply saying, "I don't like this therefore it's bad." Are there generally recognized, objective standards that can applied to fragrances?
    For example, I recently posted a review of Omnia Onice. I didn't care for the fragrance for myself. But I couldn't ignore that it was a fragrance of high quality and unique creativity. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to state objectively what those qualities were. As a musician I'm accustomed to recognizing and being able communicate, on an intellectual level, why a piece of music is "great" even though it may not speak to me personally. Most of the time, if I don't care for a piece of music, it boils down to my emotional response rather than an intellectually quantifiable objection.
    Is it possible to discuss fragrances seperate from our subjective, personal response?
    Last edited by Symphonies; 18th March 2012 at 04:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Symphonies View Post
    How do we objectively judge the quality of a fragrance as good or bad independent of our personal biases? In other words, how do we step aside from simply saying, "I don't like this therefore it's bad." Are there generally recognized, objective standards that can applied to fragrances?
    For example, I recently posted a review of Omnia Onice. I didn't care for the fragrance for myself. But I couldn't ignore that it was a fragrance of high quality and unique creativity. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to state objectively what those qualities were. As a musician I'm accustomed to recognizing and being able communicate, on an intellectual level, why a piece of music is "great" even though it may not speak to me personally. Most of the time, if I don't care for a piece of music, it boils down to my emotional response rather than an intellectually quantifiable objection.
    Is it possible to discuss fragrances seperate from our subjective, personal response?
    First of all, welcome to Basenotes, Symphonies!

    People here can discuss this question for hours - and they have! While some people here might encourage you to search for old threads discussing the topic, I think you will enjoy it more by looking for current threads where people are discussing fragrances. You will see that many of us share a certain respect for certain aspects of fragrances, and I believe that the exact nature of that respect leads to the answer to your question. Indeed, while I respect all fragrances as being able to capture *somebody's* love, there are fragrances which capture the love of many people (somewhat like pop music), and others which capture the love and respect of the connoisseurs and aesthetes (perhaps more like critically acclaimed music). There are fragrances which cater to those who love the avant garde (perhaps like very abstract composers and cutting-edge musical artists), there are older fragrances which appeal to those that are known as "vintage lovers" (classical music), and there are modern fragrances in older styles, that cater to people we have amusingly called "retroscentuals" (neoclassical, perhaps?).

    The fact that fragrance finds analogy in music extends well beyond terminology (notes, accords, compositions), and is surely evidenced by the number of musicians we have here. There are threads in "Off Topic" where our musicians have discussed this. You simply must meet another friendly new member, Lionheart, who is actually a professor of vocal music. I hope he finds this thread.

    I know that your question deals more with the objective standards of critics and aesthetes, but you will find that there is even some disagreement there. But I must *highly* recommend that you start with the guidebook by Turin and Sanchez, formerly known as "Perfumes: The Guide", and now called "Perfumes: The A-Z Guide". There is a book which condenses most of the greats out of that one, with minor updates, called "The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics". Turin's standards of criticism are apparent after reading him, and are actively discussed here. The relative objectivity or subjectivity of them is something you will have to decide, because we love to disagree even about that.

    I could try to give you an answer about objective standards, but I'm a bit of a fragrance relativist, and thus I would say that there are common and shared standards, that many people perceive in common and agree upon to varying extents. Words like complexity, balance, linearity or dynamism, and others are used for many agreed-upon abstractions, and the fact that these are valid is simply evidenced by how useful they are to communicate and be understood. On the other hand, many other words are used - generally with more personal meaning for the individual - and they translate to greater or lesser degrees. Often we find that we need to understand how an individual has commented about other fragrances, to understand precisely what they are saying about the one in question. But the very fact that this works, demonstrates that communication about abstractions of fragrance is both possible and useful.

    I hope that you will join the discussion. Perhaps you can help us to extend the analogy of music to fragrance by your own thoughts on this!

    Again - welcome to Basenotes!
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Standards are difficult when one is dealing with something that is designed to evaporate into nothingness. Novelty is key, so the possibilities are endless.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    As for any art, I'd say there is no absolute criteria and that things can be a little fuzzy, but still, some things are masterpieces, for various reasons, and some are crap. Personal response of course varies and determines what one loves or not. Certain pieces are important masterpieces but we need not be interested in listening to them over and over. Similarly, certain perfumes are important milestones, but we need not want to wear them. In addition, personal response is not an innate phenomenon - it's usually mediated through years of study and learning.

    Redneck perfumisto has highlighted some possible criteria (and I also agree that Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are great critics, though sometimes divisive). Luca Turin suggested once that perhaps the two most common criteria are a striking, novel but after that instantly recognizable structure, and some relation to pleasant and living things.

    cacio

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    As for any art, I'd say there is no absolute criteria and that things can be a little fuzzy, but still, some things are masterpieces, for various reasons, and some are crap. Personal response of course varies and determines what one loves or not. Certain pieces are important masterpieces but we need not be interested in listening to them over and over. Similarly, certain perfumes are important milestones, but we need not want to wear them. In addition, personal response is not an innate phenomenon - it's usually mediated through years of study and learning.

    Redneck perfumisto has highlighted some possible criteria (and I also agree that Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are great critics, though sometimes divisive). Luca Turin suggested once that perhaps the two most common criteria are a striking, novel but after that instantly recognizable structure, and some relation to pleasant and living things.

    cacio

    Thanks! That's just was I was trying to figure out how to say.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    First of all, welcome to Basenotes, Symphonies!

    I could try to give you an answer about objective standards, but I'm a bit of a fragrance relativist, and thus I would say that there are common and shared standards, that many people perceive in common and agree upon to varying extents. Words like complexity, balance, linearity or dynamism, and others are used for many agreed-upon abstractions, and the fact that these are valid is simply evidenced by how useful they are to communicate and be understood. On the other hand, many other words are used - generally with more personal meaning for the individual - and they translate to greater or lesser degrees. Often we find that we need to understand how an individual has commented about other fragrances, to understand precisely what they are saying about the one in question. But the very fact that this works, demonstrates that communication about abstractions of fragrance is both possible and useful.

    I hope that you will join the discussion. Perhaps you can help us to extend the analogy of music to fragrance by your own thoughts on this!

    Again - welcome to Basenotes!
    Thank you for your kind words of welcome as well as the extensive reply. And thanks for the beer, too!

    I think musicians are drawn to the world of fragrance because we are used to dealing with an art that lacks specificity in everyday language. Since humans are so visually oriented we possess a vast common language that includes geometry, science and mathematics which allows us to speak in terms of specific shapes, units of measure, etc. But there isn't a common language of specifics for sound and smell. How loud is a trumpet playing forte or how "loud" is a 70's powerhouse fragrance? Even musicians don't speak of volume in terms of decibels no more than reviewers on BN speak of "loudness" in parts per million concentrations. Musicians say things like "ear splittingly loud" while perfumistos say things like, "acrid and headache inducing."

    After I read your response it occured to me that judging a perfume may be analogous to critiquing a live musical performance. As BN'er Kevin Guyer responded to this thread, "one is dealing with something that is designed to evaporate into nothingness." He's right, we're assessing the ephemeral performance of a perfume and not (as much as we'd like to believe!) critiquing objective qualities of a perfume's formulation. Similarly, when critiquing music we are also judging an ephemeral performance. The notes only last a second or two and they're gone. Rarely do music critics judge the underlying formulation or musical score which contains more objective information.

    The big difference between music and perfume is that musicians do have access to the formulation of a piece of music in the form of the original score. No such luck studying the "original score" for Shalimar. While musicians might disagree about how to apply what the score says, one can still discover the technical reasons why a piece of music works on an emotional level.

    Just a bit about myself: I earn my living as a musician with an orchestra here in the US. But nothing snooty about that, though.. the best music in any genre, classical to pop, compares to great music in any other genre.

    Sorry to drone on... as musicians often say about verbose conductors: "Music is like sex. if you have to talk about it that much it can't be all that great."

    I'm just glad it's so rewarding talking about fragrance.
    Last edited by Symphonies; 19th March 2012 at 04:29 AM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Just as with movie reviews (or any other kind) every one has their own criteria, though few disclose those criteria, apparently because they don't want to be held to their own standards! Some like unbalanced fragrances while others like balances ones, and so there is no "good" or "bad," so long as the reviewer tells you what he or she prefers (if judgmental language is used). What I've found now is that I can appreciate frags even if I'm not a huge fan of the predominant notes. I think that once you get to that level you are in a position to "objectively" judge, after disclosing your criteria, of course.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Unlike music notes where a 'G' is a 'G', fragrance notes are less specific. Different noses often 'perceive notes' differently. And on different skin, under different ambient conditions, fragrances perform differently. How then can one be objective when reviewing fragrances? I say it's next to impossible, even within a set of well-defined criteria. But I rather enjoy reading 'subjective' reviews especially if the reviewer reveals some of his/her prejudices or expectations up front.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    As much as I try to be objective I'm coming to the conlcusion that perfumes work just like sexual attraction. There's something in an individual that chemically attracts you. Something you can't always explain. Sometimes you're perfectly aware of what it is, sometimes it's just a "je-ne-sais-quoi" that turns you on! Not everybody is attracted by conventional beauty. Same is for music. There're people who prefer dissonant accords to armonic melodies...


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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    One of the most interesting threads I've seen on here lately. Been thinking about this myself quite a lot...

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by alfarom View Post
    As much as I try to be objective I'm coming to the conlcusion that perfumes work just like sexual attraction. There's something in an individual that chemically attracts you. Something you can't always explain. Sometimes you're perfectly aware of what it is, sometimes it's just a "je-ne-sais-quoi" that turns you on! Not everybody is attracted by conventional beauty. Same is for music. There're people who prefer dissonant accords to armonic melodies...
    I agree with this 100%, but I'd hasten to add that a lack of chemistry or attraction doesn't mean the person or fragrance in question is of poor quality, or is cheap. Also, there are of course masterpieces about which almost everyone seems to agree, but in my opinion, they should be a bit polarizing and controversial, more provocative than pleasant. But it's all very subjective - one man's masterpiece is another man's cliché. I don't think one can really be objective about it because perfume is completely about personal perceptions and tastes, that je ne sais quoi that alfarom mentions, and it's far more impressionable and elusive, so somewhat less measurable than music or a painting.

    That said, you'll see critiques all the time in which people are claiming a certain perfume is simply cheap, and I sort of think that's a cheap and easy way of slamming a fragrance without really knowing how to explain why you don't like it (unless it happens to be an inexpensive perfume, then it's simply the easiest way to let everyone know you think money = quality.) It doesn't say anything about what the perfumes smells like - what makes it smell poorly made, or cheap? Just like other very broad generalizations you see, like "old lady." I'm not suggesting that it's never true, but without explaining further it's just not very helpful. Bigsly and Diamondflame expressed this idea better - just let us know what your specific criteria/prejudices are upfront if you're not even going to attempt authentic objectivity.

    My grandmother used to say to me, in all sorts of situations, "If you like it, it's good!" That's how I feel about perfumes. I guess I don't worry too much about the supposed "quality", or lack there-of, of the ingredients because it's only the final result that matters...does it move you? And I've seen incredible and breathtaking art made of concrete and chalk.
    Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. ..Carl Sagan

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Evangeline View Post
    I guess I don't worry too much about the supposed "quality", or lack there-of, of the ingredients because it's only the final result that matters...does it move you? And I've seen incredible and breathtaking art made of concrete and chalk.
    Quality concrete and chalk I guess?

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    ^^ There are undoubtedly those that would make that argument.
    Science is not only compatible with spirituality, it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. ..Carl Sagan

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Lots of good stuff here, and I'd only add that perfume is only now coming to be seen by more and more people as a legitimate art form, right along with literature, film, painting, music, etc. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez probably did a lot to help that along by writing a book that's so accessible to even non-perfumistas. The internet has undoubtedly contributed too.

    So I guess informed and educated criticism is coming along and improving as well. There are some great sites out there, including Bois de Jasmin and the folks at Perfume Shrine.

    There will always be debate, but I'm really interested in the idea that a perfume, just like a movie, could be judged not only by whether I liked it, but by the context in which it was created, the skill of the perfumer, the techniques involved, the use of particular ingredients, etc. I could watch and enjoy Citizen Kane knowing nothing about movies, but my appreciation is improved when I know just what makes it so groundbreaking. We could say the same about Angel as a perfume.

    It makes me wonder about companies like Etat Libre d'Orange, which seem to be creating smells for a purpose other than popular appeal. It seems to me there's a sense of humor there, an interest in sparking conversation. But it would be great to read more debate about it from knowledgeable people.
    Currently wearing: Mitsouko by Guerlain

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Evangeline View Post
    That said, you'll see critiques all the time in which people are claiming a certain perfume is simply cheap, and I sort of think that's a cheap and easy way of slamming a fragrance without really knowing how to explain why you don't like it (unless it happens to be an inexpensive perfume, then it's simply the easiest way to let everyone know you think money = quality.) It doesn't say anything about what the perfumes smells like - what makes it smell poorly made, or cheap? Just like other very broad generalizations you see, like "old lady." I'm not suggesting that it's never true, but without explaining further it's just not very helpful. Bigsly and Diamondflame expressed this idea better - just let us know what your specific criteria/prejudices are upfront if you're not even going to attempt authentic objectivity.
    Evangeline, this is at the heart of my original question. Many reviews resort to cliches and stereotypes that are simply a dead end of likes and dislikes. I was hoping to find some sort of common vocabulary to help me understand why a fragrance is considered "good" even though I might not care for that scent. I don't like being opinionated and dismissive on the basis of what may be my limited experience. As I've learned from your responses, writing about a perfume is like writing about a musical performance which is different than judging the music itself. The best music criticism balances both sides of the question.

    Ultimately, I want to expand my palette of scent so I can appreciate a wider variety of olfactory experiences, just as I've grown to "develop a taste" for new foods and music. Even in my short time on this forum I grown to trust the knowledge and views of many you. Thank you for being so open and sharing!

    One last interjection on this thread then I'll give it a rest... well, maybe. Someone mentioned reviews of other art forms such as movies and how it's all matter of personal taste. I would never criticize another person for adoring a movie or a novel purely on an intuitive, emotional level. Live and let live! But when giving your view in a public forum you want to have some substance for your opinions. For instance, if people generally dislike a movie or a book you'll usually find it lacking in fairly objective standards such as being clearly written or creating a storyline that has a clear architecture from beginning to end.

    Now, I don't mean imply that all art should follow a conventional form or framework or that something is of poor quality because it doesn't follow convention. But most fragrances fall into certain genres. As difficult as that may be to convey in language, I'm always surprised at the unanimity of opinion in BN reviews when a fragrance doesn't work in respect to its genre. Even art we think of as being avant garde relates to some kind of form and space. Whether it's a Dada urinal in an art gallery or how others relate to us and our surroundings when we wear a particular fragrance.

    Thanks again for this wonderful discussion!

    PS: Kagey, wonderfully put! Thanks!
    Last edited by Symphonies; 19th March 2012 at 03:38 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    I was hoping to find some sort of common vocabulary to help me understand why a fragrance is considered "good" even though I might not care for that scent.
    I would imagine that a common vocabulary may not quite be possible in the language sense, due to each individual having many ways to describe even only one perfume....

    However a 'good' perfume composition follows some common rules, whether pleasant or not.
    It should enter the nose without a rankling argument.
    Be a fulfilled and fulfilling creature from beginning to end.
    Be telling it's story all the way through from start to finish, succinctly, without pauses, gaps or jarring notes.
    Must flow seamlessly through it's perfumed tale and leave the wearer feeling that the journey has been worthwhile even if it may be one not to be taken again.
    To be able to see what the perfumer was intending and has succeeded at.

    Like a superb piece of music really. There is a great deal of difference in a good tune, well executed but not to ones taste, a fairly bad tune, but well executed and a good tune badly executed. It's all a matter of opinion of course.
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

  17. #17

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Can I suggest reading Tania Sanchez's brilliant essay, How to Connect Your Nose to Your Brain; it's the introductory chapter to The Guide.
    Last edited by Kevin Guyer; 20th March 2012 at 03:21 AM.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by alfarom View Post
    As much as I try to be objective I'm coming to the conlcusion that perfumes work just like sexual attraction. There's something in an individual that chemically attracts you. Something you can't always explain. Sometimes you're perfectly aware of what it is, sometimes it's just a "je-ne-sais-quoi" that turns you on! Not everybody is attracted by conventional beauty. Same is for music. There're people who prefer dissonant accords to armonic melodies...
    Well said. I totally agree. It also helps others to know if there are certain notes the reviewer just doesn't care for. It would be unfair for me to call a scent with lavender in it crap simply because I don't like lavender. Otherwise it's a biased review.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    There always going to be a biased judgement imo

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    The very fact that there are many different reviews here on the same perfumes is probably the nearest you can get to consensual opinion on a scent because of it smelling very different on one skin to the next. The collective opinion gathers the judgement in a non biased way by accommodating all biases.
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post
    The collective opinion gathers the judgement in a non biased way by accommodating all biases.
    So true.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    As RP and others have already mentioned, the introduction to the Turin/Sanchez book has some excellent things to say on this subject. The mere fact that you're coming at it from the perspective of analyzing music as art means you already innately understand. The frustrating part for those of us first starting out is that really understanding criticism (and eventually, I suppose, producing meaningful criticism) requires that you know what you're talking about. It definitely does not mean you can't enjoy it (just like with music), but to really understand deeply the common set of values that people use to judge fragrance requires considerable education.

    This being an Internet forum, of course, you will find that many people are happy to respond to any call for critical opinion with "Aventus by CREED" and consider that a perfectly valid contribution.
    Last edited by Beranium Chotato; 20th March 2012 at 02:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    You are all talking about adults judging scents. In this group here gathered at Basenotes, there are perfumistas, people educated in perfume appreciation.
    What about children, young children ? Their noses are very fine. Their opinions will be fresh and straightforward, like "out of the mouth of babes".
    Does a child's opinion count as unprejudiced ? I mean not influenced by advertisements surrounding the scent that create an image ?
    I was wearing Al Haramain Attar Al Kaaba (roses/oud) and my son's comment was: "Lemon meringue pie". I suppose, good.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Ursula View Post
    You are all talking about adults judging scents. In this group here gathered at Basenotes, there are perfumistas, people educated in perfume appreciation.
    What about children, young children ? Their noses are very fine. Their opinions will be fresh and straightforward, like "out of the mouth of babes".
    Does a child's opinion count as unprejudiced ? I mean not influenced by advertisements surrounding the scent that create an image ?
    I was wearing Al Haramain Attar Al Kaaba (roses/oud) and my son's comment was: "Lemon meringue pie". I suppose, good.
    Most of us were just trying to explain how it's possible to formulate something approaching an objective judgement. Certainly there is an incredibly wide, amusing, wonderful array of responses.

    You could take children to galleries in Chelsea and probably gain a very fresh perspective on some of the art you find. But they're not going to be of much help separating what is atrocious from what is good. Their responses might be inspirational, but they do not have the education and language to talk about it in depth.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Let me state it in another way: Are you sure to be able to form an objective opinion, totally free from being influenced with what the advertisements clothe the scent with an image of a fantasy ? Or, the reputation of a perfumer ? Or, the reputation of a house ?
    Are you saying that you are beyond all that ? Able to really judge a scent like scientists ?

  26. #26

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Ursula View Post
    Let me state it in another way: Are you sure to be able to form an objective opinion, totally free from being influenced with what the advertisements clothe the scent with an image of a fantasy ? Or, the reputation of a perfumer ? Or, the reputation of a house ?
    Are you saying that you are beyond all that ? Able to really judge a scent like scientists ?
    I am not beyond any of that. I am not really beyond the level of having mere responses myself. I definitely do not have the background to be an opinionmaker in the area of fragrance. But I enjoy reading posts from people who do have that background. And I hope if I stick around long enough that some of it might rub off!

    I would like to think if you gave people like Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez unlabelled samples of scents ("blind tasting" as we call it in the wine world) that they would still be able to talk in great detail about characteristics that make them interesting works of art (or not).

    Returning to wine for a moment: I have been enjoying wine for the last 20 years. I have been paying very close attention to its structure and characteristics for the last 10. Only in the last 2 years did I feel I comprehended it well enough (i.e. advanced amateur with some practical knowledge) to begin my collection and have some confidence that--based on how I taste and understand something today--that it will blow my socks off in another 20 years.

    I expect that fragrance has a very similar type of learning curve. But that doesn't mean I haven't gotten immense pleasure from all I've drunk in the last 20 years or that I'm not having a really fun time with fragrance now.

    It just means I'm not an authority on the subject. I'm just grateful that other people are.
    Last edited by Beranium Chotato; 20th March 2012 at 03:27 AM.

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    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Chambers View Post
    As RP and others have already mentioned, the introduction to the Turin/Sanchez book has some excellent things to say on this subject. The mere fact that you're coming at it from the perspective of analyzing music as art means you already innately understand. The frustrating part for those of us first starting out is that really understanding criticism (and eventually, I suppose, producing meaningful criticism) requires that you know what you're talking about. It definitely does not mean you can't enjoy it (just like with music), but to really understand deeply the common set of values that people use to judge fragrance requires considerable education.

    This being an Internet forum, of course, you will find that many people are happy to respond to any call for critical opinion with "Aventus by CREED" and consider that a perfectly valid contribution.
    You've made some excellent points. I agree that knowing what we are talking about is important, and must remain our goal to really communicate effectively, but I likewise hope that nobody feels like they can't contribute right away, because I get some of the best criticism from the n00biest of n00bs *when they are being open and honest*.

    One of the best things that has happened around here in the last couple of years has been the willingness of people to speak honestly about loving various categories of fragrances that often got chilly responses in the past - super-mainstream men's, cheapies, overly artsy fragrances, non-classic feminines, etc., etc. Likewise, when people feel that they can go against the hype on fragrances here, without having to defend themselves, discussion really rises to a meaningful level. I think this level of honesty is essential for valid criticism to emerge. In fact, I feel that (when we're not just asking what fragrance will get me laid ) we have some much better criticism lately, because people DO feel like they can speak honestly about fragrance. (Creed still being a bit iffy, I am forced to admit. However, we should be thankful that the days of the Pro-Creed Inquisition and the Anti-Creed Pogroms are quite behind us. Those were not the greatest of times.)

    If I had to reduce all I have learned so far to one rule, it would be to report honestly what one experiences, and that includes a deep description of *why* something is appealing. Even if one doesn't really understand the "expert lingo" for a standard, a personal and honest expression is sometimes even more powerful - filled with feeling and nuance. This is why Diamondflame and I love those highly subjective reviews that go off the deep end in a whimsical or romantic way - they really provide multiple channels into the person's experience. Three cheers for Naed Nitram! But even somebody with no experience reviewing fragrance can say what a more experienced person would, and sometimes in a more valuable way. True, the n00b might take a paragraph, where the more experienced person would do it in a brilliant and memorable phrase - but there is a level of authenticity and honesty in the n00b's version that is compelling and useful. Some of my most valuable insight here was basically the work of some teenager describing something that then "clicked" for me. And when a newer poster has a way with words, then - damn it - to hell with experience! Dazzle me with honest metaphor, and screw the technical standards!

    I really want to encourage the "n00bs" to not hold back! Learn, yes, but please don't be afraid to contribute your honest thoughts right now, when you feel them with all your heart. One may have to honestly admit "I think that lipstick-like note was iris", and after 10 posts of arguing, somebody with the facts will chime in that it's the synthetic iris note that perfumer Blah leBlah is known for, but that's OK. Admitting what we don't know is good. I have actually started to become much less specific in talking about citrus notes in fragrance, simply because the citrus components are almost always mixtures, and are not even completely natural. If I smell lemon, lime, bergamot, cedrat, or whatever, I'll say it, but if it's just "citrus", it's just "citrus".

    Your honest thoughts are never wrong, and I for one want to hear them. I took pleasure in your honest thoughts about Aventus, and encourage you to keep it up.
    * * * *

  28. #28

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    One of the best things that has happened around here in the last couple of years has been the willingness of people to speak honestly about loving various categories of fragrances that often got chilly responses in the past - super-mainstream men's, cheapies, overly artsy fragrances, non-classic feminines, etc., etc. Likewise, when people feel that they can go against the hype on fragrances here, without having to defend themselves, discussion really rises to a meaningful level. I think this level of honesty is essential for valid criticism to emerge.
    You set an excellent example here, and I do not necessarily. Trying to learn this lesson, esp. wrt putting people in a defensive position.

    I'm going to read a little into this and suppose that the "niche backlash" (is that incorrect?) you're having comes from the "chilly responses" (i.e. snobbery) that people might have on here. As someone who has become a big nichehead in a short period of time, may I also point out that 1) I got burned by several designer/cheapy buys when I first started out; 2) walking into Bergdorf Goodman or Aedes de Venustas and making a successful purchase is much easier than doing so at, say, Sephora when you're a noob like me; 3) making successful mainstream buys is a skillset that some of us simply don't have yet.

    Might I suggest that you host a workshop in Vegas called "Designer for Incorrigible Nicheheads" or something along those lines?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    In fact, I feel that (when we're not just asking what fragrance will get me laid )
    But isn't that a terrific metric? At least in its measurability and objectiveness? When somebody says they love Aventus because it gets them laid more often, it's hard to argue with.

    (Imagining much more challenging Vegas workshop...BUT TOTALLY METRICS-BASED, of course!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    If I had to reduce all I have learned so far to one rule, it would be to report honestly what one experiences, and that includes a deep description of *why* something is appealing. Even if one doesn't really understand the "expert lingo" for a standard, a personal and honest expression is sometimes even more powerful - filled with feeling and nuance.
    I will try to keep this in mind, even knowing that Francis Kurkdjian is watching and thinks I'm a horrible perfumista for blathering an inexpert opinion in silly ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    هذا العطر يحتوي على دهن العود الأصيلة، على الرغم من الكتابة على التسمية في اللغات الغربية
    كنت على خطأ. هذا العطر يحتوي على العود الاصطناعية
    Last edited by Beranium Chotato; 20th March 2012 at 05:15 PM.

  29. #29
    Guest05
    Guest

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    ...
    Last edited by Guest05; 20th March 2012 at 07:56 AM.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Objectively judging the quality of a fragrance as good or bad

    كنت على خطأ. هذا العطر يحتوي على العود الاصطناعية
    Well we were talking about instruments I suppose!
    Currently wearing: Beautiful by Estée Lauder

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