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  1. #1
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    Default Is it art or smell

    So i started collecting around year and half ago. Since then i managed to grow my collection to around 33 and sampled another 30 in the process. While my collection has some gems that were based on basenotes recommendatoins (Jubilation, EPIC, black oud, TBF, etc...) I am still struggling with understanding why some fragrances get so much love in BN. Don't get me wrong, this is not a hate post rather an attempt to understand what am i missing.

    Things I do not understand
    1. Bulgari Black. What is so special about it and since when does rubber smell good. Is it because someone encapsulated the smell of rubber in the can.
    2. Oud 27 and leather oud. They mainly smell like Civet. What should I look for in order to appreciate this.
    3. Immortale based fragrances. Chergui and other perfumes get a lot of love but for me the smell of immortale is just not good. I know that taste is personal, but do people actually like this smell!
    4. Vetiver just doesn't smell good to me
    5. Most leather perfumes don't smell great. For example I wore Amou

    Thing I understand
    The below gets a lot of love and i do get why
    1. Thierry mugler get a lot of love and his perfumes (at least A*men and havane) smell really good
    2. Dior Homme and intense have a very interesting sweet smell
    3. Some oud composition (Creed Royal Oud, Epic, black oud, Montale Musc Oud) has a very interesting oud smell
    4. TF smells unique and smells good
    5. Hermes Terre smells great and so does Guerlain Lhomme extreme.

    So to sum it.
    Most of my friends that are wine connoisseurs say that it takes time to develop your palette and that you need to learn how to taste. So my question to the more seasoned BNs:
    1. Is it the art of executing this perfume that you are appreciating
    2. or should I train my nose to appreciate and be able to smell something i don't yet?
    3. or Am i smelling them the wrong way. For example, i was sampling TF Tuscan leather and didn't like it however after entering the room again the room aroma and it smelled good.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    IMO it all narrows down to individual taste.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    I think it's a combination of subjectivity/individual taste, and then the "note knowledge" you get as you wear more fragrances, which then informs and influences your subjective taste.

    For example I never knew what vetiver smelled like. So I tested Encre Noire, Sycomore and Vetiver Tonka and BOOM that note is now easy to pick out. I didn't know what Amber smelled like. I smelled 5-6 amber fragrances and now I can pick that out. After awhile you smell a fragrance that has a combination of notes put together, that you would not have previously identified, and now maybe you have a deeper appreciation for the fragrance than you would have otherwise. There are some fragrances I wear now that I would have never considered wearing when I bought my first cologne, so I think that says something.
    Current favorites_____Roja Dove Amber Aoud_____Montale Aoud Musk_____Gucci Pour Homme II_____Avignon_____Armani Prive Oud Royale_____Lumiere Noire_____Memoir Man_____Tuscan Leather______Sel Marin_____Invasion Barbare_____Tonka Imperial____Dior Homme Intense_____L'Humaniste____Santal 33_____Bois d'Argent_____Nio

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    I can pick up a bunch of notes today, amber, sandelwood, oud, vetyiver, violets, etc. I understand that amber smells nice but some others do not smell good. For example, what is good about the smell of rubber in bulgari black?
    k.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jridgen View Post
    I think it's a combination of subjectivity/individual taste, and then the "note knowledge" you get as you wear more fragrances, which then informs and influences your subjective taste.

    For example I never knew what vetiver smelled like. So I tested Encre Noire, Sycomore and Vetiver Tonka and BOOM that note is now easy to pick out. I didn't know what Amber smelled like. I smelled 5-6 amber fragrances and now I can pick that out. After awhile you smell a fragrance that has a combination of notes put together, that you would not have previously identified, and now maybe you have a deeper appreciation for the fragrance than you would have otherwise. There are some fragrances I wear now that I would have never considered wearing when I bought my first cologne, so I think that says something.

  5. #5
    Ken_Russell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    I can only second that it's matter of personal taste in the end. Plus, if one likes the notes in the first place, it is much easier to become familiar with them, train oneself, delve into it and specialize oneself with them.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    Things I do not understand
    1. Bulgari Black. What is so special about it and since when does rubber smell good. Is it because someone encapsulated the smell of rubber in the can.
    How funny! I made a sample of Bvlgari Black for a female friend of mine recently because she smelled it on me and loved it. I have a feeling it'll smell pretty amazing on her as well.

    It's not loved because it smells like rubber. In fact, some swear they don't even smell rubber though I sure smell it. It's loved because it has a smell those people love (I'm one of them).


    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    2. Oud 27 and leather oud. They mainly smell like Civet. What should I look for in order to appreciate this.
    Yes, you should look for a few civet smells to sample, but be prepared to be challenged, and that's putting it mildly, which is ironic since there's nothing mild about civet. I struggle with civet. It's fascinating to smell. It intrigues me, and yet I am wanting to be repulsed by it. Depending on the strength of the note, sometimes I AM repulsed by it... but I had a date recently who wore Chanel #5 and though I could instantly detect the civet, the whole scent smelled elegant on her.


    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    3. Immortale based fragrances. Chergui and other perfumes get a lot of love but for me the smell of immortale is just not good. I know that taste is personal, but do people actually like this smell!
    But that's you. Do you like Lady Gaga? How about Nirvana? Led Zeppelin? Stevie Wonder? Perfume is art and different people enjoy different things. Surely you understand how some people are really into Lady Gaga, right? Me? No. Motopony plays as I type this (seriously great album!). Different people, different tastes.


    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    4. Vetiver just doesn't smell good to me
    I hate black olives. My best friend hates mushrooms. When we buy a pizza we only seem to agree on Canadian bacon and pineapple. Different people like different things. Why would smells be any different? Different people like different things.


    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    5. Most leather perfumes don't smell great.
    ...TO YOU.


    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    Most of my friends that are wine connoisseurs say that it takes time to develop your palette and that you need to learn how to taste. So my question to the more seasoned BNs:
    1. Is it the art of executing this perfume that you are appreciating
    2. or should I train my nose to appreciate and be able to smell something i don't yet?
    3. or Am i smelling them the wrong way. For example, i was sampling TF Tuscan leather and didn't like it however after entering the room again the room aroma and it smelled good.
    What you should do is remember that perfume is about smell. If you like a smell, then like it. If you don't, don't. Too many people feel the need to let others tastes dictate what they're supposed to like. How often do we see threads where people want advice on buying perfume they've never even smelled only because of the hype online. Your tastes will evolve over time just as your taste in music has, and just as your taste in food has, just to use two examples. Enjoy what you like and don't feel silly pressure to like things just because others enjoy them. Be your own person.

    Trust your nose.

    I like Bvlgari Black. If you don't it means you're juvenile and have no taste, right? OF COURSE NOT! It just means Bvlgari Black doesn't appeal to you, and that is A-OK. Imagine how boring the world would be if we all liked or disliked the same things.

    Your tastes and preferences are unique. Quite frankly, that's a good thing.
    "Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    As for wine and food, tastes can expand a bit, what might have been too much or too strange at first becomes familiar and interesting later. Also, as you point out in 3, one has to smell a frag at various stages of development. The top can sometimes be strong and harsh when smelled close, but then, as it settles on skin and smelled not too closely, the frag can be much smoother. Indeed, that's what often distinguishes bad frags from good ones - bad ones are constructed to please only in the first 10 seconds when sprayed in the store, then fall apart.

    That said, we all have our own preferences. In addition, we all have our hypersensitivies or anosmias, so certain materials may smell ok to some people, but very strong to a minority of people, or viceversa. Perhaps you are more sentitive to immortelle, say (indeed, many people find immortelle too sweet).

    Some of the frags you mention are constructed to push the envelope a little bit, that is, to incorporate strange or not entirely pleasant note into something that smells wonderful. That's the case of Bulgari. The smell of rubber per se is not particularly good, but there it is incorporate into a plush, rich perfume, and it ends up smelling both interesting and perfectly wearable. But then again, if you are hypersensitive to rubber, then it may be too much for you. Oud 27 clearly overdoses on dirty musks, but then it cleans up as it goes, so again, this is the fun of the ride, you start like you'd been doing something socially objectionable, then become elegant. (and, by the way, to make the point, while to most people Oud 27 smells dirty, to a very small number of people anosmic to its towering musk it smells clean and soapy...)

    cacio

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    I can pick up a bunch of notes today, amber, sandelwood, oud, vetyiver, violets, etc. I understand that amber smells nice but some others do not smell good. For example, [B]what is good about the smell of rubber in bulgari black?
    What's good about the taste of coffee? I don't know, but I love it.
    "Follow your nose. It always knows." -- Toucan Sam

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    All very subjective. Just enjoy wearing what you like.

  10. #10
    Dependent tonghpafu's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    Quote Originally Posted by hednic View Post
    All very subjective. Just enjoy wearing what you like.
    Agreed

  11. #11
    treeman5823
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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    As Luca Turin once said, progress in fragrance is largely due to getting used to one novel dissonance after another. Regarding Bulgari Black, I appreciate it because it achieves an early French ideal--plushness--through novel means. It is simultaneously comfortable and interesting, and always smells good.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    I wouldn't worry about Black, I think it's quite a bit overrated, perhaps for historic reasons? It's just a nice vanilla scent with some tea/rubber. Perhaps go straight to CDG Tea for a more challenging tea/rubber scent.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    You've read others opinions on a number of fragrances, been intrigued and tried them. You have gone back and tried them again. You have formed an opinion. You will find, as L'Hommes response shows, that this opinion will be valued and cherished and respected by others on BN, even by those that have a different opinion.

    The few times we have people take the attitude of "How can you like/hate that, you must be mental", the moderators will gently remind said person of acceptable behaviour.

    On the subject of "Art or Smell", perfume as an artform is not "pure art". To explain what I mean, think of sculpture and architecture. Both are art made of a 3D form. Sculpture is "purely" art, its sole use or purpose is to be art. Architecture takes sculpture and uses it, to a greater or lesser extent, in a form that has a further purpose (unless you are Le Courbusier, in which case you jettison the artistic component entirely...). Perfume is much more like architecture than sculpture.

    When "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was attacked as immoral, Oscar Wilde defended it by saying "All art is quite useless". Many didn't understand what he meant. In explaining, he said "Art is useless because its aim is simply to create a mood... A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse."

    The point is, perfume is not useless, it has a purpose so it is not "purely" art. In fact, the use came before the art. The use, or purpose, is to make a person, or something about their person, smell better (gloves makers created perfumes to cover up the smell of the tanning chemicals in the gloves). Its purpose is to be sprayed on the body, to be worn, to make you smell good.

    Sometimes the artistic side is in opposition to its purpose, to "smelling good". Bulgari Black is on the borderline of this. Chandler Burr highly rates Comme des Garcons Odeur 53 for its artistry, but calls it "unwearable". Luca Turin raves about Secretions Magnifiques, but once said in an interview that "no one can wear it".

    Other times, the art takes a back seat, and only the craft and technical prowess of creating a fragrance is on show. The purpose of smelling good takes over. Bleu de Chanel is all about smelling good to the biggest number of people, but there is nothing artful about it. While it is a runaway bestseller, its not universally liked here on BN exactly because it is artless.

    And then there are times when the art and the purpose are working together, so you get something that smells good and is a showcase for perfume as art. Penhaligons Sartorial is the first example of this I can think of.

    For me, personally, smelling good comes first. But the artistic side, is it interesting, is it thought or mood provoking, is still important.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    Quote Originally Posted by kimo View Post
    So to sum it.
    Most of my friends that are wine connoisseurs say that it takes time to develop your palette and that you need to learn how to taste. So my question to the more seasoned BNs:
    1. Is it the art of executing this perfume that you are appreciating
    2. or should I train my nose to appreciate and be able to smell something i don't yet?
    3. or Am i smelling them the wrong way. For example, i was sampling TF Tuscan leather and didn't like it however after entering the room again the room aroma and it smelled good.
    I laughed when I saw you use the heading,"Things I do not understand". I used to keep a sheet of, "Things I don't get". I'd write down the names of perfumes that I felt I had tested thoroughly and which had made no great impression on me. These were often times fragrances that had received a great amount of love here on Basenotes but left me cold. Some of the fragrances on my "I Don't Get It" list are things you're mentioned, the Black Ouds and Bulgari Blacks and Cherguis of the perfume world. I never think of them as overrated. They're just not my style and probably never will be. I do test with samples repeatedly and in different situations ( at home, at work) to form a more consistent opinion. I also find it helps to test a new sample head to head against something that I really like that is somewhat similar. This seems to always tell a lot. Sometimes testing UNsimilars seems to help. If I'm ambivalent about a fragrance sometimes it seems to help to put it aside for a while and test it later. Sometimes this method reveals surprizingly different results. Eventually I feel I almost always (but not ALWAYS) come to a consistent opinion on a fragrance. At that point I feel very confident in what a fragrance smells like and of what impression it makes.......to ME and on ME. I feel that MY nose is never wrong...........for me. I think we all find that there are certain notes and styles that we are never going to like.....but never say never, it is all in the execution. Certain general aspects of my personal tastes have changed over time. I find I appreciate lighter, more "cologny" stuff lately. In the end quite frankly there are very few fragrances that I find truly daunting, but when you do find those it is quite a rewarding discovery. On the other hand I'm sure that like you and everyone else I read so many threads where Basenoters one after the other gush praise for some fragrance I can only roll my eyes at. From the way your post was written you seem like a serious fragrance lover and I doubt that you are going about things the wrong way. Just trust your own nose and no one elses.
    Last edited by Dernier_Cri; 6th March 2013 at 04:57 AM.

  15. #15

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    Default Re: Is it art or smell

    Hey kimo, your message box is full. I can't send you a reply message about the swap. Hopefully this receives you.
    Sorry other folks for putting this in this forum but I didn't know how else to reach him.

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