IMO it all narrows down to individual taste.
Thread: 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.
IMO it all narrows down to individual taste.
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_____Black Tourmaline_____Gucci Pour Homme II_____Memoir Man_____Tuscan Leather______Montale Aoud and Pine_____Sel Marin_____Invasion Barbare_____Tonka Imperial____Dior Homme Intense_____L'Humaniste____Santal 33_____Bois d'Argent_____Nio_____MFK Oud_____Lumiere Noire_____Bois d'Encens_____Cuir Ottoman
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.
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).
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.
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...)
All very subjective. Just enjoy wearing what you like.
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.
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.
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.
Last edited by Dernier_Cri; 6th March 2013 at 04:57 AM.
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.