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  1. #1
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    Default Sampling new scents

    Hi all,

    I am completely new to the world of fragrances. So much so that that i'm struggling to not call every scent that a man can wear an aftershave (is this just a Northern England thing - i'm sure I can't be the only one? If you spray it on yourself and it's not a deodorant then it must be an aftershave!). Actually, if anyone wants to help me out here i'd appreciate it - can I just call everything a fragrance or is it more complex than that? If it is more complex than that then please excuse the number of times i've incorrectly used it in the post below.

    Anyway, i've always worn fragrances and i've always known there were different smells and different prices but I certainly didn't think there was such thing as different qualities. In fact, if i'd have heard someone use more than a few words to describe a fragrance I would have thought that they were being pretentious.

    This all changed a few months ago when I was out with a friend and he was wearing Creed Aventus. It was the best thing i'd ever smelt and for the first time I felt an emotion for a fragrance. Before then i'd only ever thought fragrances were either 'nice' or 'not nice'. I went online the next day and took the gamble of buying it. The gamble paid off and I loved it. I couldn't believe the complexity of the fragrance compared to the cheaper ones and the fact that the smell matured throughout the day. Obviously this experience changed my view on whether there was differing fragrance qualities. I don't think i'd had a revelation like this since the time i'd realised the difference in quality between cheap and expensive balsamic vinegars.

    As you can imagine then, i'm now only interested in buying high quality fragrances for all of the obvious reasons. I actually feel a bit annoyed that it took me until now to find out that there's fragrances that can bring happiness. So, after my enlightenment I looked online to find other high quality and interesting fragrances. This site and Fragrantica gave me a great idea of what i'm interested in but it goes without saying that no site in the world can tell me what i'll actually like the smell of.

    This leads me onto my questions. How can I find out what I like? The obvious answer is that I should go to Selfridges or a similar store and smell them there. Unfortunately this isn't an option because I don't think there's anywhere within 200 miles of where I live that sells the quality fragrances. My next thoughts were that i'd buy samples online. This also isn't as easy as I thought. There were three fragrances I was interested in following my online research; C for men by Clive Christian, Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford and Amouage memoir (this one just because it sounds so different to anything I think i've smelt). The only place I can seem to get samples of this in the UK is ebay and I have reservations about trusting it. One of my concerns is around paying relatively large sums for something I might hate. I love paying for things I love. I despise paying for thing I don't like. So, I guess my question is . . . is this unavoidable? Do I have to take the risk of buying a fake 3ml of Clive Christian for £30 just to find out if i'm interested? Any advice hear would be appreciated.

    I have one more (shorter) question. You know how you can get wine tasting sessions. Has anyone yet started selling fragrance smelling sessions? I think they'd be really good fun. Smelling all of the world's best fragrances and then finding out the peculiar words to describe those smells and sensations that are usually so so difficult to articulate (for me anyway).

    Any help appreciated.

    Thanks
    Matt

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Welcome to Basenotes Matt! Since you have become enamored with the more expensive and unique fragrances, and since they are not readily available for you to try prior to purchasing, buying samples online might be the best way for you to go without having to spend a large amount of money for a bottle of something that you might ultimately not like and regret purchasing. Good luck!
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals don't warrant or deserve other individuals' acknowledgement or respect.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Hi Matt!
    For me, you just have to be patient - finding what you like takes time. Be patient and try as much as you can! Also my suggestion is not to "waste" money in expensive samples, at least for the moment. Mostly because once you'll make some friends "in this world", chances are you can obtain them for free, or trade them. And however there is hundreds of great scents which cost less - quite an endless list. And there is also several websites where you can buy samples (Decantshop [highly recommended], Perfumeshoppe, and many others - and from many brands too: Czech & Speake, Heeley, Kurkdjian, Histoires de Parfums, Penhaligon's... they all sell cheap "starter kits" which can be much useful for you to grow your knowledge and better understand what type of scents you like) - or you can trade them too, also here on Basenotes, obviously once you'll have something to offer. The most important thing is - as usual: don't believe the hype!
    My current top five:

    Etro - Vetiver
    Boucheron - Jaipur Homme
    Serge Lutens - Fumerie Turque
    Hermès - Equipage (vtg)
    YSL - M7 (vtg)

    ______________________________

    My fragrance reviews | http://yeoldecivetcat.blogspot.it/

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Thanks Hednic. I thought this may be the case. I guess I should just go with the bay sellers that have the best feedback.

    Perhaps I need to research more of the standard priced fragrances to find one I think i'll like but save the gamble of buying an expensive fragrance until I'm next in London.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Thanks Colin. They sound like wise words. I'll be certain to check out those websites.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    I agree with Colin. At the beginning, it really pays to be patient and wait. There are so many perfumes that it doesn't make sense to go ahead with the first one. Perhaps you'll smell stuff later on that you like even more, and with those prices it doesn't make sense to settle for the second best.

    Sooner or later you will happen to be in london, so that will be an occasion. Besides, there are probably places nearer to you that sell some niche, perhaps only a few brands, but that'll be a starting point. Remember also that while Amouage, Creed, and Clive C are at the high end of the price range, it doesn't mean they're the best in the niche world. The price of ingredient is only a part of the price of a perfume, and these brands use more or less the same ingredients as other niche brands, it's more an issue of where the brand wants to position itself and marketing. there are other niche brands that are just as good and cost far less - eg Diptyque, Artisan parfumeur, CDG, or my own favorite Etat Libre d'Orange. as usual, it's a matter of taste.

    cacio

  7. #7

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    I am strongly of the opinion that the beginner's best friend is the online sample/decant shops, like decantshop, surrendertochance, theperfumedcourt, etc. It will allow you to buy as little as 1ml of a fragrance, for as little as $2.50, which means that you can try 10 fragrances at a time for $30-$40, and trying so many different fragrances will help you get a handle on what you like and what you don't really quickly. Not to mention that you can give each fragrance a proper wearing, through the entire drydown, to get a handle on each fragrance's longevity etc., and also put fragrances head-to-head (say, one on each wrist) to get a good comparison. Contrast this with trying in the store, where you quickly get olfactory fatigue, you run out of body parts to put the perfume so you can't test the drydown, etc.

    In short, for what it would cost to be 3 full bottles, through samples you could have easily tried 40 different fragrances, through the entire drydown, etc. You could be surprised that you like some types of fragrances, and end up taking a little side trip you weren't expecting. You can find that some fragrances you love during the opening, but become annoying or even give you a headache as you wear it. Testing fragrances at a shop has its place, but until you develop a basic foundation of knowledge, samples are by far a better way to go.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Thanks Cacio. Following Colin's recommendations i'm putting together a small shopping list of scents I want to try on Decantshop. I have been looking for another an hour and so far have only added the Tuscan Leather and Green Irish Tweed. I'm going to read up on the fragrances you've mentioned and try and work out whether it's something my nose might be interested in.

    Cheers

  9. #9

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    As a fellow Northerner I can offer this advice.

    Sample buying can soon get pretty expensive. As an example, I purchased an Etat Libre D'Orange sample kit and didn't find a single sample that would turn into a full bottle purchase. The question is did I waste money on buying the samples or save money by not mistakenly blind buying a full bottle?

    From my point of view, I went through a spell of blind buying anything that took my fancy but I have managed to start buying samples which still costs but in my opinion is saving me money in the long run.

    Knowing the total lack of decent places up North, you are stuck with buying on line. There is a thread in the UK section that mentions Scentsamples which is a UK based sample site that I have personally had very good experience with (not posting the URL here as not certain on forum rules???)

    And for the record, instead of using the term After Shave, I prefer the term Smellwell

  10. #10

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    P.S. bear in mind also that buying samples can be useful as an "investment" - you can trade them or sell them. Don't worry about not finding anything you like in a "batch" of samples - just sell them away or swap them.
    My current top five:

    Etro - Vetiver
    Boucheron - Jaipur Homme
    Serge Lutens - Fumerie Turque
    Hermès - Equipage (vtg)
    YSL - M7 (vtg)

    ______________________________

    My fragrance reviews | http://yeoldecivetcat.blogspot.it/

  11. #11

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Quote Originally Posted by yarn View Post
    As a fellow Northerner I can offer this advice.

    Sample buying can soon get pretty expensive. As an example, I purchased an Etat Libre D'Orange sample kit and didn't find a single sample that would turn into a full bottle purchase. The question is did I waste money on buying the samples or save money by not mistakenly blind buying a full bottle?
    It may be worth noting that quite a few brands have relatively inexpensive sample sets. The Serge Lutens wax samples are free if you write to them (at least I think this is still true). Histoires de Parfums, Parfum d'Empire, Juliette Has A Gun, Oriza L Legrand, and a couple of others have sample selections available for like 10 or 20 euro. You can also order samples from Les Senteurs, Ausliebezumduft.de, or Essenza Nobile for relatively little (the American sample services like STC are extortionate from the UK).

    Some forward planning may also pay off: train tickets to London can be ridiculously cheap if you book well in advance. You could come check out all the good shops and even get a couple of free samples from Les Senteurs (and Selfridges and Harrods if the SAs are in a good mood).

  12. #12

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Sadly the wax samples by Lutens are now about 8 EUR shipped if I recall correctly - but they are a nice way to get a rough idea of the scents.

    Also Maria Candida Gentile sells samples on her website and they're not expensive - especially for such a great quality!
    My current top five:

    Etro - Vetiver
    Boucheron - Jaipur Homme
    Serge Lutens - Fumerie Turque
    Hermès - Equipage (vtg)
    YSL - M7 (vtg)

    ______________________________

    My fragrance reviews | http://yeoldecivetcat.blogspot.it/

  13. #13

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagey View Post
    Oriza L Legrand
    Great Kagey, did not know about that, I just ordered the sample kit - thanks for that tip!
    My current top five:

    Etro - Vetiver
    Boucheron - Jaipur Homme
    Serge Lutens - Fumerie Turque
    Hermès - Equipage (vtg)
    YSL - M7 (vtg)

    ______________________________

    My fragrance reviews | http://yeoldecivetcat.blogspot.it/

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Find a cheap train deal and pop down to either leeds or manchester. In MAN you have both the trafford center (Selfridges, John Lewis, a couple smaller perfme shops) and in downtown you have Selfriges and Harvey nichols close together and Debenhams nearby.

    Leeds has Harvery Nichols and a few others (Jo Malone, L'Occitane, etc). You should be able to find a ticket for a tenner which will be cheaper than a sample order. A ticket to London shouldn't be too much either in which case you can try about anything.

    If you want to go samples, First is Fragrance (auslibezumduft) is good for samples. They use 1-2ml sprayers that you can get a few uses out of. Les Scenteurs also do samples.

    rick

  15. #15

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Manchester has the most super scent section in Harvey Nicks. The manager there is a complete sweetie and his section is pretty comprehensive with some newer niche too. He said he was improving the stock all the time. I had a lovely sniffathon in there.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    We didn't make harvey nichols in time on sunday. We ran around the trafford center until nearly 5, not thinking they would be closed (it felt like a saturday since it was a 3-day weekend). So we had to pop back to leeds on monday, where HN has a very good select as well, though annoyingly not many paper test strips out.

    Rick

  17. #17

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Casts_by_fly View Post
    We didn't make harvey nichols in time on sunday. We ran around the trafford center until nearly 5, not thinking they would be closed (it felt like a saturday since it was a 3-day weekend). So we had to pop back to leeds on monday, where HN has a very good select as well, though annoyingly not many paper test strips out.

    Rick
    Rick, have you been to Burgins of York? It's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. They have a few niche brands like Etat Libre d'Orange, as well as some oldies that you don't find everywhere.

  18. #18
    Basenotes Junkie Trilby Lark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    The smell of Aventus can be a life altering experience!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Thank you to everyone who has offered great advice. I'll certainly be taking the advice regarding sampling and i'll also be looking forward to my next trip to Manchester, Leeds or London.

    Once i've got my first few samples through i'll start a new post to discuss my first sampling experience.

    Thanks again

  20. #20

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    I hope your wallet feels enthusiastic too. This is an addictive hobby. Have fun.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Quote Originally Posted by Kagey View Post
    Rick, have you been to Burgins of York? It's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. They have a few niche brands like Etat Libre d'Orange, as well as some oldies that you don't find everywhere.
    Never heard of it. I've looked it up on google and I have walked past it dozens of times so I'll put it on my list for next time I'm there. The only fragrance store I knew of in town was The Perfume Shop around the corner from Burgins which has all of the main designer brands. Of course there is the Jo Malone store down the street too.

    thanks
    rick

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Thanks to all that gave advice. Just so you know, I've purchased 5 samples using the 'sample program' at the perfumeshoppe. It seems too good to be true that you can chose any 5 from their website for $20 so i'm half expecting you all to message back and say i've made a big mistake. haha. If so, too late. I'm now going to look at buying a select few samples from decantshop. Can't wait for them to arrive and for me to hopefully find the next fragrance that i'll take great pleasure in purchasing.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Sampling new scents

    Quote Originally Posted by MattAllan View Post
    Thanks to all that gave advice. Just so you know, I've purchased 5 samples using the 'sample program' at the perfumeshoppe. It seems too good to be true that you can chose any 5 from their website for $20 so i'm half expecting you all to message back and say i've made a big mistake. haha. If so, too late. I'm now going to look at buying a select few samples from decantshop. Can't wait for them to arrive and for me to hopefully find the next fragrance that i'll take great pleasure in purchasing.
    Bravo! I used that "program" three of four times, it's good and shipping is quick, don't worry. It's nice especially to sample some more expensive frags. Plus they have a decently vaste choice! The samples are quite tiny (0,7 ml approx.) but they are enough for a couple of tries!

    (although yes, sometimes it was too good to be true, ahah! I tried to get a couple of Puredistance samples that way but obviously they picked a replacement )
    Last edited by Colin Maillard; 7th May 2014 at 09:43 PM.
    My current top five:

    Etro - Vetiver
    Boucheron - Jaipur Homme
    Serge Lutens - Fumerie Turque
    Hermès - Equipage (vtg)
    YSL - M7 (vtg)

    ______________________________

    My fragrance reviews | http://yeoldecivetcat.blogspot.it/

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