Thread: Chandler Burr Untitled S01E03
So far I don't hear many visceral reactions on E03 while they were certainly there with E02, especially the watered down, weird, empty version.
I love to emote about fragrance, but I'm careful where I do it. Some people find it horribly goofy, and want to cringe and roll their eyes. For some posters, it can even be "ban-bait". My personal feeling is that - for myself - intensely personal reactions to fragrance should be off on a blog (even a BN blog), or somewhere like an MDM thread, where everybody agrees in advance to put half their deck out of reach (if it's actually there, for some of us). Personally, I think it's one of the best parts of fragrance. Some of my favorite memories when I started down this path, were some reviews I read by perfumista women, who spoke of their complex relationships with fragrances in terms of men from their past.
The fact that fragrance can but does not necessarily speak to our souls, was made completely evident to me by E02. I was left hollow and void by the bad juice, but the store-bought good stuff, together with Chandler's imagery which matched it, really scored.
To me, that is one more piece of evidence of the legitimacy of fragrance marketing per se. Not a carte blanche to behave as it wants to - just a reminder that it CAN actually help us react emotionally to a work. And it is also evidence that it is the inaccuracy and redundancy of perfume marketing which contributes so much to our disenchantment with it.
There are a limited number of allowed mainstream fragrance marketing images. James Bond on the beach, James Bond in the evening, Bond girl on the beach, and Bond girl in the evening probably account for 40% of them. Add "sexy young things", celebrities, pretty woman in a dress in a field = romance, and a handful of others, and that's about it. Well - if all of your fragrances are trying to evoke the same things, then things might get a bit tight. Frankly, I wish they had some scents and images like "studious French brunette in a café", "old timer and dog on a country road", and "Scotch whiskey and moon over the stone fence". Well, they do - they're generally called niche. But it would be nicer, I think, to see the money and the marketing getting behind such things, instead of Yet Another Six-Pack Of Abs At The Ocean. Perhaps where the marketing went, the scent would follow. And at least we have some surfers now - that's progress, IMO.
When I've moderated online mental health support groups, it's been notable that posts asking for opinions one way or another on a certain topic ( however innocent those questions or the actual topic may be) it can be viewed as inviting members to take sides. Which invariably ends up creating a sense of unease among the members.
That may be what's behind your feelings that expressions of emotional material should take place in an isolated setting, where members understand ahead of time that such things may take place.
Which is too bad, given that fragrances are inherently emotional things.
And yeah, I can still smell this stuff this afternoon, even after yesterday's evening bath.
Last edited by Birdboy48; 25th August 2012 at 08:12 PM.
Interesting comments about art and emotion. Its a topic I have strong feelings about, LOL. A while back, while participating in a philosophy forum, I spent some time trying to come up with a definition of art that I could live with. What I came up with was "the creation of beauty through intelligence." To break it down, beauty exists in the world, but I don't think it can be called art unless it reflects a human creative influence (i.e. intelligence in my conception). In that forum, there was a lot of discussion of modern/post-modern "art" and whether it really is art. Some of it can be really ugly or mundane, and that sort of comes crashing up against my criteria that art is beauty...but not really, if you include an emotional reaction that is "beautiful." (Note that I'm not a scholar of aesthetics...I just know a lot of artists, and wanted to have a better way to understand art myself. There are probably better or more useful definitions out there, I just haven't seen them.)
I mention this as a preface for the comment I wanted to make about emotional reactions to perfume (assuming it is art and not craft). I imagine the appreciation of "perfume art" splits along highbrow and lowbrow lines like any other art form. Is the fragrance the equivalent of a work by Thomas Kincade, for example, eliciting all sorts of maudlin emotions, or is it a more like Francis Bacon, whose paintings I find disturbing, frightening, and not beautiful. Or is it like Picasso, sometimes "pretty" sometimes not, but always beautiful. I have a feeling most mainstream fragrances, to the extent they aim to be artistic at all, are aiming to be "Painters of Light" like Kincade.
I do find S01E03 beautiful, although I think it appeals more to my intellect than my emotions. So I haven't spent much time thinking about how it makes me feel.
Joe Petrucci uses the Kincade metaphor all the time, and I think it's spot on (I like some of Kincade's work, so I'm not coming to the idea as a Kincade basher, but as a semi-admirer). Pleasing the masses with art isn't illegal. In fact, in my geeky way, I have no problem seeing art diluted or concentrated, but being present to a limited extent in almost everything. Modern ideas of quantization and digitalism don't negate continua, not least because the very things which give rise to them are continuous. Makes it kind of funny to talk about "background art" as if one were talking about background radiation or the famous microwave background, but I would say that art penetrates everything like a field, but it tends to be worth talking about only in the more discernible and extreme cases. The art of rocks before they're arranged in a zen garden is of interest only in a way which borders on (or perhaps is) zero. Who knows - maybe "potential art" has meaning, too.
I've also not spent much time trying to let E03 get a hold of my emotions. Maybe later. I would not want to miss the chance.
And indeed Kincade's work makes me viscerally vomit LOL (sorry Kincade lovers!) That's why I think it's art. Same with commercial perfumes, some are art, some are just cheap reproductions, some are just plain kitsch.
But in the end: I'd rather hate them, than just feel indifferent about them.
Although thanks to being a perfumer in training, I can now respect any fragrance as being innocent and enjoy the parts, the art or the technical dissection.
That's why I like Burr's project so much. It allows me to enjoy and make peace with all the different persona: the art lover, the perfumista, the perfumer, the chemist, the emotional gal, the academicus.
And Red, it would awesome, wouldn't it, to have more perfume mass marketed as
What do y'all think that would be the best marketing image for E03?"studious French brunette in a café", "old timer and dog on a country road", and "Scotch whiskey and moon over the stone fence".
Rogalal's image of the funny crazy creepy fuzzy orange guy will stay with me forever
The follow is taken from Art and the Internet (Volume 8: Fragrance)
Figure 1: Chandler Burr Untitled S01E03
The "playing to empty chairs" quality of the fragrance, often referred to as "smelling niche", is clearly seen. Such subconscious representations of the diagnostic artistic aspects of fragrances are easily found by researchers.
Damn Red, now I need to clean my keyboard
I had SE1E03 on my arm again today...I can't bring myself to do a full wearing.
The orangey (or is it grapefruit and lemon?) top notes are pleasant, and I feel like there is something else there, something fruity and tropical. But then about 5 minutes in, if begins to remind me of Ivory soap (Ivory specifically), and at that point it starts to revolt me a bit.
By the time the fragrance darkens, about 15-20 minutes in, I am really unhappy with the smell of it, and have to force myself to sniff. It's a bit boozy, and is that patchouli, or maybe saffron, that I smell? Possibly some carnation (or lavender) and rose, too? It becomes too sweet (it doesn't have to be very sweet to be too sweet for my taste.)
After an hour or so it's a little powdery and even worse. This stage is utterly joyless for me.
The long thin note at the end, that goes on and on...I don't know what that is, but I rather like it. Could it be cypress? That is the fragrances's best phase, for me. But it's too little, too late.
I've lost the earlier impression that I've smelled this before.
When I type in these notes in various combinations, the Directory gives me -.-. --- .-.. --- --. -. . / -.. ..- / -.... ---..
But I don't think that is it-- I've smelled that, several years back, and SE1E03 doesn't fit my memory of it.
But as to emotion, I think the person wearing this is a bit mixed up and doesn't know if they are happy or miserable-- or both!
I don't think my nose is very good at this! But it was an interesting exercise, and thanks again to Redneck P. for the sample to test!
Just some random thoughts as I catch up with the thread....
For the untitled 2, my sample showed up literally the afternoon before the reveal, so I didn't really get the full effect of living with it for a while, doubting my guesses, and all that, so it's been interesting living with Untitled 3 for a while now.
First off, I think I'm doing just about everything Red did with the last one. Simultaneously, I'm questioning whether or not my initial guess could be correct, while getting comfortable not caring if I know what it is or not.
As I wear it more, I notice other little aspects peeking out. There's a subtle but dark green underside in the beginning under the chemically-enhanced oranges, like fusty basil or just a hint of a chypre base expressing itself quietly in the early stages of the scent before getting lost in the chemical haze. Sometimes, I even think I'm smelling powdery flowers. But the image I have most clearly is doing laundry, that point when you open the washer half way through to add the fabric softener and you get a huge whiff of steam and hot wet fabric and the dirt washed out of the dirty clothes, all presided over by the overwhelming chemical smell of hot detergent, its nose-tickling unpleasantness poorly masked by synthetic smells that we've been programmed to accept as "clean" but are mostly just sweet and vaguely caustic-smelling.
As for expressing emotion about scents, while I'm not against it, I find that very few scents give me a truly emotional experience. Mostly, some smells or notes bring back nostalgia (remembering my grandmothers or a place from my travels). And that's about it. All the rest just strikes me as vaguely anthropomorphic - I don't see that much difference between thinking that lavender smells calm and thinking that a barbeque grill looks happy. Maybe I'm just not in tune with my visceral self. Truth be known, ever since I was a kid, when I encountered something I enjoyed, I've always mostly wanted to take it apart and figure out how it works, not revel in how it makes me feel. And I know that's how I treat perfume.
As an aside, this has inspired me to go back and give more thought to other oranges-over-weirdness perfumes that I've quickly written off over the years. If nothing else, I appreciate this project for opening me back up to a genre I largely ignore.
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Oh, and your morse code guess is one of my favorites - this definitely is NOT that...
Last edited by rogalal; 27th August 2012 at 05:30 AM.
I was also mostly a tear-apart kid, too, though I was also very emotional. I suspect that Toxoplasma and the kind people who mitigated her side-effects, made me an adult who wants to feel things like a child again.
To my own particular nose, that is.
Also, thank goodness it isn't my (really, the Directory's) Morse code "guess", because I recall liking that scent and would have been disappointed to think my memory of it was so far off base.
On another note, wearing Untitled again yesterday, I got all sorts of smells from it I had missed before. That "woody amber" mix of metallic lavender and ammonia/windex was unavoidable this time, and even more baffling, that mystery base that I had described as thin pale wood thickly shellacked with chemicals and remnants of the citrus top was very clearly and obviously a sweet fruity patchouli with some kind of sweet resin providing the illusion of citrus. Honestly, it blew my mind that I could have missed it the first few times I sampled this, because it was so obvious. It's like I was wearing a completely different perfume than I had the first times. I suppose I had gone in expecting an indescribable chemical smell and focused on that.
In a way, having this many people study something so closely and discuss it at such lengths is even more misleading than marketing can ever be. We get a sort of group consensus, each of us giving opinions and adding our own influence, until we have an agreed-upon idea of what we're smelling, but by doing that, we're infusing the project with our prejudices and sometimes leading each other on wild goose chases.
Last edited by Perfume_Addict; 28th August 2012 at 02:02 AM.
The deeper I get into this, the more I appreciate how non-blind this really is. We might not know what it is or who made it, but there's still an awful lot of prejudice implicit in this project.
The biggest one for me is "Chandler Burr says this is good". So I've dived in expecting some sort of stereotypical critic's darling, some sort of avante garde expression of difficult themes and expensive ingredients.
As I've slowly gotten to know Untitled, I'm slowly peeling away those expectations and trying to dissect what's really in front of me, which has been an awful lot more difficult than I would have thought. Once I let go of my idea of what a "critically acclaimed" perfume should smell like, those otherworldly orange topnotes started smelling an awful lot like a Paris Hilton/Escada tutti frutti smell. Once it dries down to that aquatic-chemicals-meets-fruitchouli heart, it strikes me that I feel like I'm in Ralph Rocks or DKNY territory. That being said, it seems well put together, like when a good nose gets hired to do some dumb fruity floral flanker for some low-budget low-tier designer and the diffusion and longevity and concentration are good - it's just a common-smelling scent.
As a cultural experiment, I'd love to see Chandler eventually release something that he thinks is utter crap as an Untitled, but complete with the artsy fartsy hoopla, just to see how we'd all react. How much time and effort would we all put into trying to appreciate some Bod body spray if we didn't know what it was and came into it prejudiced that it was worthy of time and study.
Having a mass-market fragrance as an Untitled would be an interesting experiment only if you could include a pre-2000 launch in its original formulation. While there are plenty of expensive niche fragrances that might qualify as "utter crap," why give those the publicity or cash incumbent in being selected as an "Untitled"?
I'd like to think so - if we're truly being honest about art in fragrance.
But I agree that if he dropped crap on us, it would be interesting. However, I think there are enough of us to do a proper WTF. Case in point - weak E02. Put enough noses on something, and the center of gravity becomes very penetrating in its analysis.
The majority of the time, I feel like there is too much incidental fragrance - I don't want to smell my body wash, lotion, sunscreen, detergent on my clothes, and then a fragrance on top of that. But yummy smelling shampoos I can get behind.
My husband uses American Crew, and I always loved the scent of it. A couple years ago they got smart and actually released a cologne. I so wish Herbal Essence do that!
The question that women casually shopping for perfume ask more than any other is this: "What scent drives men wild?" After years of intense research, we know the definitive answer. It is bacon. Now, on to the far more interesting subject of perfume.
― Tania Sanchez, Perfumes: The Guide
On the other hand I must say I absolutely love to talk about this with you, guys. It gives me a nice comfy feeling of belonging while still being able to be cerebral and geeky about smelling. Especially the group dynamics that @Birdboy48 was writing about: maintaining group cohesion while outing different opinions.
(and ever more especially nice as I didn't even get to do the blindfold thing yet)
It is very special as far as internet talk goes.
Then, last year, I was the host of one and got to live my perfume dream: Secretly forcing a bunch of women to unknowingly walk around in Old Spice!
And that after my own assessment, I should find myself picking out the aspects that make them museum-worthy too.
If somehow I don't feel that they are tuning-fork-like gems, then I should be as eloquent in my objections as Chandler is in his own supportive prose.
So it's been refreshing to discover, with the help of all here, that I have a perfect right not to be bowled over, and not feel inadequate or lacking in good taste if I don't find myself impressed with the fragrance in the same ways as Chandler (who truly is much more of an expert than I am) is. The smell's the thing, and in the end it's not particularly important if I find it to be a masterpiece or not.
But having the gang here for back-up is nice.
I do like the part of this project where he asks for people's emotional reactions though. What the fragrance evokes in us.
That's the area where everyone's reaction can be equally valid, expert or not.
Last edited by Birdboy48; 28th August 2012 at 02:25 PM.
BIG NEWS: I received my decant!!!!
So far I'm baffled as it smells soooo familiar, so easy going and so macrocyclic and yet I have no idea what it is, not the fragrance, nor the familiar musk *hanging head in shame* I think it might be a 'captive' mix, it breathes 'Givaudan' to me.
I do think the top notes are from the less familiar citruses like litsea, lemon myrtle or cedrat. Imo there is no orange there, but might have some orange blossom (natural or synths). A very classical smart cologne with indeed the high buzzing note of a huge musk + indeed Iso E Super cos MAJOR headache upon just sniffing the cap of the atomizer. Probably some kephalis, hedione and isoraldeine too, major diffusive characters that may be responsible for some of the buzzing.
The image that immediately pops into my head is 'Christian Grey', indeed from 'Fifty Shades of Grey':
it's beautiful, cold, enigmatic and possessive with a dark past and a sadistic nature *insert whip smiliey*
To be continued