Code of Conduct
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 37
o
  1. #1
    Basenotes Junkie slpfrsly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    712

    Default The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    I originally wrote this for fragrantica but I believe it might get more traction on here, which seems more receptive to longer form pieces. I never intended it to be so long, but as I started writing I feel like these ideas that I alredy half understood kind of crystalised and became more fully formed. I'd love to hear peoples' thoughts on this and totally understand that a. it's quite a long read and b. it's almost inimical to the very idea of collecting and seeing the 'artistry' in perfumery, but perhaps there will be some men - perhaps younger, I'm not sure, but that would make more sense - who might agree. Either way, would love to hear any sort of feedback on this. Cheers, and if nothing else, I hope you enjoy the read!


    ********************************************


    The old adage - that "everyone's different" - is regularly applied to judging fragrance and perfumery.

    We all know why this is: tastes are subjective. The various notes and accords and blends that may chime with one person can merely bore or even repel another - the reasons for this lie in our cultural backgrounds, our exposure and experience to perfume, and even something less quantifiable. That elusive component that completes 'taste'.

    Yet there's something undeniable: that some 'male' fragrances smell very good to nearly all people.

    And that's an important thing. Not to everyone, of course. Certainly not to users of sites like basenotes, some of whom might now be rolling their eyes at the very concept of 'male' fragrances, and the idea that there is anything approaching consensus on what smells good (did you..? wink ). But to big businesses? Chanel? Dior? It's clearly an absolute necessity to hang their worth on the flagship scent that attempts to be all things to all (wo)/men, and, for the most part, comes pretty close to achieving that.

    And why specifically men? Why is men's perfumery different to unisex and or women's? Well, quite simply, it's both marketed - and almost certainly partly/significantly true - that a man's scent really does matter when it comes to attracting women (or men). Not in the facile, meat-and-potatoes way some would suggest or believe (poor souls - I know a German man who will happily exploit your insecurities, though, if it will help) - but it both does, and is most certainly suggested it does through the way men's aftershave/cologne was branded in the past and continues to be advertised today.

    This is a different approach to perfumery than in just about any other point in history. The perfume created for religious and political leaders from ancient history until the late Enlightenment were individual, designed to evoke uniqueness; to be the very 'best' of a perfumer's creation; to fit perfectly with the wearer or user according to the ingredients available to them. As the very end of the 19th Century ushered in both the rise of commercial perfumery and a new understanding of 'modernity', even then, perfume was still heavily influenced by artistic ideals. It would only really be the creation of aquatic perfumery and to a lesser extent its contemporary - the 'sweet' male scent (Joope Homme e.g.) - that began to reimagine the idea of 'a male smell' being ubiquitous (Cool Water), inoffensive, fresh (Acqua di Gio), appealing, mass-marketable (CK One), and sexy (Le Male) all at once. Over 5000 years of perfumery, with only about 50 years (Caron's PUHdC) of male-specific fragrances preceding the 80s/90s wave, all boiled down to this concept: how to modernise perfumery for men and make them smell attractive to women, while still smelling 'like men'. I.e. how to move away from the green, leathery, smoky powerhouses (that existed and then died in the time when smoking was commonplace, to a time when it became socially and medically shunned) to something women absolutely preferred (fresh and clean; or sweet and sexy), while still being able to differentiate these scents from unisex and/or womens' perfumery.

    This is clearly very, very different to the 'art' of perfumery that existed before it. It's a break and a dividing line in fragrance. There is a new category created, a new motivation for creating in that way, where the artist - the perfumer - is less important than they once were; certainly, they are no longer a patron of a single man or woman, but instead they appear to have to cater to all men and all women. And is it really any surprise that it is Chanel who are the world leaders at this? To me, absolutely not. Creating fragrance in this way is not perfume made for the elite. It's not for the religious leaders nor the contemporary ruling classes. This is something quite different - it's a much more egalitarian idea, yet it's also catering to those who 'know' the least about perfume. It's catering to the so-called philistines (or, at least, the aspirational in the case of Chanel; perhaps philistines might apply more to Dior's fragrance in this case, and I say that in total seriousness) for the sake of their purchasing power, and it fundamentally changed and helped shape big fashion houses survive and then flourish as a result. Fragrance is big business with huge profits. It made sense to sell more to more people - adapt, or die. This market change can be seen happening again, in different ways, with the rise of houses like Roja Dove, and his almost anachronistic of the newly mobile and wealthy Arabic market...but that's a separate point and perhaps for another thread!

    Aided by the rise in laboratory-concoted compounds and aromas, the two obvious examples of this method of creation in the present day - Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel - are no doubt the product of intense and dissecting detail and research, honing in on what *precisely* it is that works to make people, particularly women, enjoy a male aromatic product.

    Yet you'll be hard pressed to find too much love for these on sites like this; at least, not without realising the hostility and ire they create among some users. No doubt the reasons for that are several - but the main one I want to focus on is the idea that these are not perfumes/fragrances made to enjoy in any romantic, artistic sense.

    This is fragrance made to wear and be smelled on a man. In every single sense of the phrase. Not just to morph and settle on the skin but, quite literally, it is fragrance designed to be perceived as part of the whole, to offend (almost) no-one, to cross geographical, cultural, and generational boundaries, and allure women (or men) to the wearer based on the smell, independent of almost all the traditional ideas of what perfume is and should be.

    These are, in essence, the pinnacles of 'compliment getters'. Or at least the standard bearers around which many others have followed suit. These two blue scents represent the last 20-30 years' worth of honing in on 'what men want', with a big helping from women.

    That isn't to say there aren't different ways of achieving this same sense of universal attractiveness in scent. It's not limited to these 'blue' scents; you cannot simply boil it down to a note, or an accord, or even certain aromachemicals. It's all of these things, and more, all interacting around a general idea that's about as hard to pin down as it is when trying to decipher what creates subjective taste - and that idea is, ultimately, how to make 'sexy' fragrances for the masses. How to genuinely make a scent that nearly everyone will consider a nice addition to looks, demeanour, and status, while simultaneously - and here's the really important part - still being able to sort-of appeal to the more high-minded wearers and buyers of fragrance.


    *************************

    As much as it will hurt some men on here, the reason aquatics, mainstream designers, and what are now seen as 'clubbing' scents are popular is because they have something that other male scents do not - a greater aromatic appeal than what preceded them. Not in every single way, of course, but the idea that fougeres could be considered 'sexy' independent from the culture they exist within (when 'men were men', or the memories and ideas attached to them), instead of smelling like old school aftershaves, is...well...it's an idea that may find some support on here, and may well be defended a little too hard by those who wish they hadn't effectively been replaced as the standard and pinnacle of masculine aromas, but is likely to be dismissed by the 'philistine' masses for whom, quite clearly, the perfume business puts most stock. We can debate that until the proverbial cows come home - or, indeed, the 'sexiness' of fecal ouds, linear citruses, or leathery powerhouses - yet the proof is in the market. If these notes/accords and fragrances were superior or equal to these algorithmically designed bestsellers in the 'sexiness' stakes...they would be top of the sales charts instead.

    No, instead, the rise of niche - and with it a reworking of vintage ideas - has, for the most part, been about chasing something undeniably more artistic and intriguing, but it hasn't given much stock to the idea of the aforementioned 'illusion' of male virility and seductiveness (as has been paramount to fragrance branding for men for over 50 years now). If anything, it has kicked back against the idea of male fragrance as being primarily or even solely about 'sexiness'; as something to splash on solely when hoping to 'get lucky'; as fragrances designed to appeal to men for the precise reason that buying it will in fact make women 'like' them more. In fact, most niche perfumery seems to be kicking against the idea that there are even aromatic differences between men and women at all, again another nod in the direction of the past, while also firmly embracing the wider gender, sex, and political beliefs of the present.

    Instead, among the explosion of all sorts of fragrances at all sorts of levels in the market, we've seen an attempt to hit what I'm now calling 'the sweet spot'. What is it? Well, it is specifically going for this idea of producing highly complimented and/or attractive 'sexy' scents, while avoiding some of the more overtly gaudy or lowest-common-denominator elements that have seen people (and in particular fragrance enthusiasts) kick back against the very concept of mens' perfumery being 'sexy'. Sometimes, personally, I feel this kickback (from people on fragrantica, no less) oversteps the mark - the disdain given to Sauvage seems partly an almost willful desire to castigate it for daring to be appealing and alluring (which it truly is, even if it probably doesn't meet the artistic and/or fragrant requirements for the sweet spot, as it's so synthetically odd. Sauvage operates within a different world to 99.9% of fragrances on this site, it's foolish to judge it by the same metric.). There's an attempt, by some, to reposition and categorise scents that are aiming for the 'sweet spot' as merely a continuation of the 'miswearing' of 'sexy' fragrances that probably began with the powerhouses and then certainly carried on when clubbing scents were worn by men outside their intended use. We all know a 'cologne guy' story - we all know someone who oversprayed or treated fragrance like a genuine aphrodisiac, with 'the more the better' approach to application, context be damned. THAT was a very real phenomenon from the 90s onwards - in a different manner to the way (according to stories) powerhouses were over applied in the 80s. The legacy of this miswearing - and the resentment it produced towards 'sexy' scents, stemming from experiencing them in unwanted environments, on unwanted men, in unwanted ways, no doubt has produced this culture of mockery and cynicism towards anything deigning to reinvent and update 'sexiness' in male perfumery. Personally, I think such cynicism is misguided. But, like taste - to each their own.

    For me, the need to find a 'sweet spot' is precisely why I believe brands have made fragrances like Sauvage and BdC and of course many other "dark blue" scents, as well as some non dark blue scents that also fit the bill. Personally, I believe that - in spite of everyone being different and having their own, unique set of tastes - there are enough similarities and traits among us to ensure that, by and large, what is deemed attractive by the designers (particularly those with the most money and power) will be ratified and rewarded by customers.

    So, what are these scents, other than the two listed?

    - To my mind (and nose) the most cynical and probably successful attempt at something like this is Layton, a fragrance derived from about 20 designer bestsellers from the last 30 years while rounding out the rougher, cheaper edges, and charging a premium to do so.

    - Less cynically - though absolutely still inspired by a scent that pre dates it - would be Aventus. This isn't as sexy as some would like to believe (for obvious reasons, the internal hype is crazy) yet it is undeniably enjoyed by women and men of all ages, and fits the brief of both artistically and/or aromatically decent fragrance that will be enjoyed by enthusiasts and even experts, while still garnering mass appeal. I honestly feel that Sauvage is based on Aventus, hugely so, just in a very 'brave new world' sort of way - and we can see that in the way Montblanc Explorer effectively blurred the lines between the two, as well.

    - There's one more I can think of off the top of my head that fits the bill here - Narciso Rodriguez's Bleu Noir - and it's about as cynical a 'dark blue' as you can get, that both pares back and builds on its EDT sibling, which I don't believe has any real 'sexiness'. It's just on the cusp of mass market, while very much using the branding idea of 'dark blue' but also has a sexiness to it that, personally, I believe settles it firmly within this 'sweet spot'.

    - And there's also one that I'd like to mention from the female market - Tom Ford Metallique. I 100% believe this scent is designed in the exact same way as something like BdC is; it is the antithesis of an artistic fragrance, but it is really very, very good when you smell it on skin and in the air which, again, to the masses, is the sole and total point of perfumery. In classic Tom Ford fashion, however, it seems designed to blur the lines of attraction, with regard to both gender and sexuality.


    So, after all that, I would be intrigued to see if, firstly, anyone got through all of it (haha) but, more importantly, what people think about this idea? About the fact that we are in an era where companies are really looking to hone in on the absolute best elements of 'sexy' masculine perfumery - as separate from unisex niche releases. And for the reasons I can think of - namely, that sex appeal will still be the ultimate marketing tactic for men when it comes to selling fragrance, as it has been for the last 50 odd years, and that the attempt is to make a truly ubiquitous scent that can be worn to impress and attract women, but won't piss off your colleagues, friends, and neighours (too badly...) if you also decide to wear it all day, everyday. Because, ultimately, this is fragrance designed to be bought and worn by the largest market share possible while still retaining the sense of aspiration and profit that comes from selling perfume.

    And, on top of that - the idea of 'the sweet spot' - what scents do you (honestly...) think meet the grade? What examples can you think of? What do you think is truly both an 'attractive' scent to a lot of people, irrespective of their 'nose' and experience, while not being the absolute lowest common denominator in aiming for sexiness?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some extra thoughts since writing the original post:

    Firstly, I think I was getting round to this idea when I made this thread here - about dark blue scents - but the 'idea' of dark blue seemed to be a sticking point to lots of people. Perhaps this more general term, starting with two very specific examples and filtering down (while leaving room for people to bring their own ideas of recent, 'sexy' designer scents), will receive a bit more understanding - I hope so, anyway!

    It feels like the missing, almost ghostly presence among all this talk about 'attractive' and 'sexy' fragrance is in fact, of course, women. Absent, yet, in many ways, dominating the conversation.

    I cannot help but think this move is not merely a technological or indeed a creative one. It's also a socio-cultural one. 80s machismo sliding away in to 90s ambivalence and the undermining of the conceit the previous decade relied upon. That's mirrored in perfumery, but it seems no co-incidence that the 90s also marked a huge changing of the guard in many ways - most fundamentally in the economy and workplace. Despite the wage gap being skewed by the very highest earning men, under the age of 40, it in fact shows an equilibrium of earnings among the sexes. While we can factor in several reasons for why that drops off after that age - for one person's sexism, see another person's maternity leave - 40 years would also be the first generation to grow up in the 90s, a decade where, in the West at least, the gender binary really began its slow unravelling across more mundane and fundamental aspects of life. Education, work, and play. Womens' liberation and then enfranchisement sees them as equally able to do all the things that men as

    It's reported that women (in the US, I think) control or make 85% of all personal financial decisions. From buying a house, or a car, to a holiday destination, or something more simple, like clothes, and food, women are simultaneously the homemakers and breadwinners, with access to both their own paycheck and the financial purse strings of a marriage and/or household.

    So, women are enfranchised. They're not bit part players anymore. They have a seat at just about every table - and they're also still 'used' as a tool to lead men in just about anything and everything. Particularly as a form of desire. And that's where we circle back round to fragrance. Men's fragrances have gone from sharp, bitter, leathery, an pungent as par for the course, to fresh and clean, or sweet and comforting. Now, of course, fragrances are much more affordable - with a much broader market - than they were in the 70s. Yet you'll struggle to find too much in the designer realm, particularly the big hitting, mass selling, flagships of the beauty section, that don't abide by these two ideals: clean or sweet. Fresh or warming. And both of them, undeniably, vie for aromatic 'sexiness'.

    Not every woman is going to be seduced by the fuckboi of fragrances - which could easily be handed out to Sauvage, but perhaps more fittingly deserves to go to something like 1 Million instead. But fuckboi fragrances - like their eponymous human wearers - have an undeniable appeal, irrespective of how poorly deployed said choices and behaviours may be in the grand scheme of things. 'Sexy' fragrances work - they'd have to work; the big companies ensure they work before they even allow them to get outside the focus groups. And women are driving it.

    By and large, the non-fragrance enthusiast women don't want men to smell 'loud' or 'strong'. They like fresh, and they like sweet. And that is where the market is going - where it's gone. Amber wood delivers a now-signature 'masculine' kind of sweetness, where ambroxan provides a freshness. They told us the future would be female, and, at the moment, it seems mens' perfumery is absolutely driven by the idea of what women want. You only need to look at the explosion of overly-sweet vanillic fragrances in the designer world, or the line of Dior Homme's lipstick/makeup-inspired scents, which are about as far from a traditional C20th 'masculine' smell as you could get, focusing on florals of iris and/or violet. It may pain the readers of basenotes who are perhaps still hoping for validation outside the fragcomm, but retro fougeres or pungent orientals or anything artistic will almost always pale in comparison to the men's market which is being led by female tastes. The sneering at the idea of mass pleasing - that seems all too common among the fragrance community - seems insecure at its heart. I think fragrance exists for many reasons, and the market operates and aims for a whole host of different wearers. I think understanding and accepting this would do the onlne fragcomm a world of good as, on fragrantica moreso than on here, there seems to be a discordance between those who perhaps are too rigid in their concept of the 'hierarchy' of perfume, and newer users/wearers who really want to isolate and wear the very best designer creations of 'what women want'. The truth, as ever, lies in the middle, but more importantly, I think an acceptance that there are all sorts of reasons and wearers of fragrance is a useful reminder, and perhaps a refresher to some of the more jaded wearers. Niche has its place, as do cheapies, as do classic vintages - and, in the case of the topic of this article, so do the modern, every-evolving 'sexy' designer scents that aim for the 'sweet spot'.
    "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously."

  2. #2
    a quarter million, tops
    notspendingamillion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Middleof, Nowhere
    Posts
    1,732

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    I got about half done, then started skimming. I will react someday soon when im at a computer and can read this more easily. Thank you for writing something with obvious care.
    Itís tragic to think that heroic manís great destiny is to become economic man, that men will be reduced to craven creatures who crawl across the globe competing for money, who spend their nights dreaming up new ways to swindle each other.
    Currently wearing: Viking by Creed

  3. #3

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    You might consider writing an entire novel?
    Currently wearing: Bracken Man by Amouage

  4. #4
    Basenotes Junkie slpfrsly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    712

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Trauerkraut View Post
    You might consider writing an entire novel?
    Considered, and achieved. 'Thanks', I suppose, for your comment...

    Quote Originally Posted by notspendingamillion View Post
    I got about half done, then started skimming. I will react someday soon when im at a computer and can read this more easily. Thank you for writing something with obvious care.
    Thank you. I appreciate it is a long one (did try to make that as obvious as possible) but if anyone has time to kill, hopefully a decent enough missive for a few readers to get their teeth in to!
    "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously."

  5. #5

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by slpfrsly View Post
    You only need to look at the explosion of overly-sweet vanillic fragrances in the designer world, or the line of Dior Homme's lipstick/makeup-inspired scents, which are about as far from a traditional C20th 'masculine' smell as you could get, focusing on florals of iris and/or violet.
    I'm not entirely sure how the process was in the creation of Dior Homme by Hedi Slimane, but I would like to imagine it wasn't something that was designed primarily to attract women and their tastes. I want to think there was more vision behind it than algorithm. For those who don't know, Hedi Slimane is also behind Dior's Bois d'Argent, Eau Noire, Cologne Blanche, Fahrenheit 32, and the original Dior Homme. He also recently launched the exclusive line for Celine.

    I liken fragrances to music. There are different genres with different cultures behind them. Some who are into classical music might sneer at EDM music. There are some who want their fragrances to be an intimate experiences, while there are others who like to broadcast their scent. Some like to wear things that is polarizing despite offender others, while there are others who want their scent to be alluring or attracting. The only thing I have an issue with is that people are often blinding by this arbitrarily created hierarchy where one genre is the more enlightened than another. Cheapies < Designers < Masstige < Niche.

    I wear different fragrances for different occasions, so I don't really need a jack-of-all-trades fragrance like one that hits the "sweet spot". I can imagine this being more important to someone that just wants to wear 1 fragrance. I currently have 2 broad categories in my collection: sexy fragrances, and fashion accessories. To me "compliment getters" is a bit of a misnomer since fragrances in both of my categories gets compliments; however, the sexy fragrances really elicit a stronger reaction. I'm happy to call it a day with Sauvage EdT, Bleu de Chanel EdT, and La Nuit de l'Homme. I treat them as a utilitarian tool, and I respect what they do for me. When I'm done the bottles, I'll investigate whether to replace them for others in the same genre. I empathize with those who dislike this genre, and the culture behind it, but OP is right in that this is a very real thing that is happening.

  6. #6
    Basenotes Junkie ClockworkAlice's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Hic sunt dracones
    Posts
    737

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Thank you for an interesting read.

    Somehow it seems to me that in general more women are wearing scents to please themselves while more men are wearing scents to please others around them or as some status thing.
    Maybe I'm wrong and that's just an impression.

  7. #7
    Basenotes Plus
    Diamondflame's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    15,247

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Hey thanks for taking the time to write this. Ignore the jibes from anyone with the attention span of 5 year olds, lol.

    I think the blokes are probably overthinking this. Sure, women like it if their man smells pleasantly groomed and not too strong /cologney. But I doubt if it ranks that highly on their ‘checklist’. I reckon that ‘sweet spot’ is a lot larger than a mere ‘spot’. It’s more like a big ‘green zone’ that may be amplified by the man’s own personal magnetism. But who’s definition of ‘sweet spot’ are we talking about? The compliment targets? The perfumers’? To the big brands the only fragrance ‘sweet spot’ that truly matters is the one that rings up the cash registers.
    ď...too many among us die at thirty and are buried at eighty.Ē - Robin Sharma

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    I enjoyed reading that! Material like this and the passionate fragrance pontifications from people like Buysblind, L'homme Blanc, Colin, Darvant (to name just a few) is what keeps me visiting here.

    With that said, it seems to me your basic thesis---"mens' perfumery is absolutely driven by the idea of what women want"---is simple and easy to defend. (In this instance, obviously referencing mainstream men's perfumery.)

    Jeremy Fragrance has built an extremely popular online presence very explicitly premised on revealing what men's scents are the most effective compliment-getters.

    Basenotes has a sticky thread titled, Which scent gets you the most female compliments? And, it's been viewed over 3 million times.

    Thank you slpfrsly for your provocative piece here.
    "I'm sure there are things that you like that someone else here dislikes."
    papillo

  9. #9
    Basenotes Plus
    Diddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Bayou Country
    Posts
    5,878

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Krycek View Post
    I enjoyed reading that! Material like this and the passionate fragrance pontifications from people like Buysblind, L'homme Blanc, Colin, Darvant (to name just a few) is what keeps me visiting here.

    With that said, it seems to me your basic thesis---"mens' perfumery is absolutely driven by the idea of what women want"---is simple and easy to defend. (In this instance, obviously referencing mainstream men's perfumery.)

    Jeremy Fragrance has built an extremely popular online presence very explicitly premised on revealing what men's scents are the most effective compliment-getters.

    Basenotes has a sticky thread titled, Which scent gets you the most female compliments? And, it's been viewed over 3 million times.

    Thank you slpfrsly for your provocative piece here.
    I didnít read every word but I started with that intent and ended up skimming as well.

    Although I didnít find the parts that I did read Ďprovocativeí , I do agree with my dear friend Alex. From a very old business point of view, especially when selling a luxury item, you need to tap into an emotion or idea linked to an emotion to get people to purchase your goods. Look at your targeted market, find out what type of person equals the majority, then advertise to them. The idea that product ĎXí will enhance your performance (be it financially, greater among a certain group of peers, or yes even more attractive to a prospective mate) in some capacity, is a well proven way to makes sales. You want examples of a sweet spot? Look at any Ďbest sellerí list.

    OP, it feels more like your real question is one of morality... is it right that things are this way? Thatís an even easier question to answer, from my point of view.
    Sent from the bayou, using homing gators.

  10. #10
    ToughCool's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Southlake, Tx
    Posts
    4,747

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Thanks for writing this. I read every word of War and Creed and enjoyed your thoughts

    My thoughts arenít too deep and I semi agree that houses are trying to find the sweet spot but honestly I think they always have. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and you have to look at what was considered sexy in a man then...Burt Reynolds, Marlboro Man, Tom Selleck...hairy chests, mustaches, rugged guys...look at my avatar at those two. So designers made scents that reflected that and wanted those heavy, hard hitters like Brut, Old Spice, Polo etc to make women swoon. Honestly every decade since men have taken on a more metrosexual look and feel and I think designers have followed that trend to make scents with a mass appeal or to be metrosexual...clean lines. Iím not sure the concept of making a man sexier ever changed though. I feel like scents changed with the men and the whole idea was to attract people...Iím talking in a pure designer world and with some niche. ust some quick thoughts
    "As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round."
    --Ben Hogan
    Currently wearing: Vintage by John Varvatos

  11. #11

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    @Diddy, I use the term sort of liberally simply to mean something that holds my interest and stimulates my mind to think about something for a bit. I could have also used the term interesting.

    Did you find the post interesting?

    Additionally, I am genuinely curious to hear your thoughts concerning the moral dimension which you briefly reference and suggest might be slpfrsly's real question.

    Thanks
    "I'm sure there are things that you like that someone else here dislikes."
    papillo

  12. #12
    Wearing Perfume Right Now
    Bavard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Middlesex
    Posts
    521

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    I read the whole thing.

    I like Bleu de Chanel edt more on someone else than on myself.

    I've never had a moment of smelling Sauvage on someone else, at all, that I know of, and never a moment when I thought it smelled good.

    I wore it the month it came out - there was no praise or backlash or anything. I might have read Oviatt's review while I was writing mine. I've sampled it since then, and it has gotten worse for me.

    I agree Chanel and Dior mostly do a good job.

    If I wanted to be complimented by a random person, I'd wear Dior Homme Intense or Chanel Platinum Egoiste - these get noticed with any kind of heavy spraying, even six sprays.

  13. #13
    hednic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Reside in McLean, Va., Manhattan NYC, Manuel Antonio Costa Rica & Bķzios Brasil
    Posts
    298,125

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post

    Somehow it seems to me that in general more women are wearing scents to please themselves while more men are wearing scents to please others around them or as some status thing.
    I can see how It might well seem that way to many, but I find that's definitely not the case for me. Thanks for an interesting read OP.
    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 on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

  14. #14
    Basenotes Plus

    Cook.bot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    East of Eden
    Posts
    5,707

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockworkAlice View Post
    Somehow it seems to me that in general more women are wearing scents to please themselves while more men are wearing scents to please others around them or as some status thing.
    Maybe I'm wrong and that's just an impression.
    I don't think you're wrong. It does seem like there's this weird competitive status thing engulfing young men and fragrances. Women don't seem to do that.

    On the other hand, there is a whole hangbag-competition thing among a certain circle of women....

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Thanks for taking the time to write this OP. I read the entire thing.

    The idea of what is sexy will be different for everyone but I think what you have tried to convey is that the well known giants of perfumery ie Chanel and Dior, are using the lowest common denominator of what is considered sexy today to sell their fragrances and most will probably agree. But I think there is a general feeling of what is sexy and a special feeling of what is sexy. Perhaps think of it as the common unconscious of the population vs person/s you are actually sat in a room with.
    If you encountered the smell of BdC on a well groomed man in the street you wouldn't necessarily think he is sexy consciously but your unconscious mind might. If I meet a friend for dinner and he/she is wearing fragrance I will be more focussed and will pay more attention to what they are wearing consciously as well.

    I didn't agree with your opinion on reducing male perfumery down to Bdc and Sauvage as though that is all men or women want to smell. As with music, the art of perfumery was more present in functional designer perfumery of the last 50 years. Today some designers are completely budget driven devoid of the necessary artistic attention perfumes deserve. They are churning out manufactured 'flavour of the moment' type juice which is almost completely style over substance that only slightly resemble anything of the quality that came before. There are exceptions of course.

    The problem is companies don't want to do without their lowest common denominator money so they keep churning out the Sauvage type.
    Not to sound too cynical here but 100s of millions are spent each year by companies to change peoples behaviour toward what suits them. That includes a certain dumbing down of the population via a restriction on our ability to express ourselves whether that be language, music, smells, visual censorship or otherwise. Mankind/humankind/personkind is less of a species experientially today than it was 50 years ago. When our surroundings are deliberately limited what we are able to think also becomes limited. It becomes in a sense moving in ever smaller circles. Beatles to Bieber or Shalimar to Sauvage. International diversity to global homogeny.

    This is all to say that we were in a position 20 or 30 years ago to accept/tolerate our sensorial environment much more than we can today. Today people might try to clear the air of a fragrance like Antaeus rather than accepting that part of their days ride if they didn't like it, or, as happened in another thread try to get fragrances banned in the workplace. Part of this is a difference generationally speaking.

    Bottom line is Basenotes is a 'niche' community and isn't really representative of an average cross-section of society. Most people outside of the fragcomm just want to smell nice and wear fragrance as a functional item. That said if you wore a fragrance in the eighties you were getting something more of an artistic expression alongside your nice smelling cologne / perfume. If you want functional artistry in designer perfumery today you have to spend a lot of time sifting through a lot of mediocre flat 2D juice. You might have a better hit rate with niche fragrances but it will also cost more.

    The 'sweet spot' might be independents. These one man/woman bands are clearing up by offering the creative artistry of niche with the functionality of designer and a price point somewhere in between. If it was left solely to designers we would all be wearing one of a handful of scents which were the lowest common denominator as provided by a poll or an algorithm that plots data with metrics like offensiveness vs budget fragrances in another 20 years.

    Lastly, compliments have as much to do with the person wearing the fragrance as the fragrance itself. I can pull off and wear different types and styles of fragrance CH Men Prive, Pasha, Aventus, Eucris, Ombre Leather, Mousse Illuminee, Fahrenheit, Incident Diplomatique and umpteen other fragrances and get compliments but other people that I know wouldn't. That said I wear fragrances I never get complimented on and Chanels mostly fall into this category (except BdC EdP) but I know others that do get compliments on these. If I don't enjoy wearing a fragrance I just don't wear it, compliments or not.

    - - - -

    A quick afterthought - it rarely happens that the fragrances I get compliments on by ladies are the same ones I get compliments on from guys. In my experience ladies tend to compliment scents with some sweetness.
    A few favourites

    Bois du Portugal by Creed
    Aventus by Creed
    Jubilation Man by Amouage
    Mousse Illuminee by Rogue Perfumery
    Incident Diplomatique by Jovoy
    Patchouli Nobile by Nobile 1942
    Pour Monsieur EdT by Chanel
    Eau Sauvage (vtg) by Christian Dior
    Eucris EdP by GF Trumper
    Polo (Cosmair) by Ralph Lauren
    Currently wearing: Polo by Ralph Lauren

  16. #16
    Basenotes Plus
    Diddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Bayou Country
    Posts
    5,878

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Krycek View Post
    @Diddy, I use the term sort of liberally simply to mean something that holds my interest and stimulates my mind to think about something for a bit. I could have also used the term interesting.

    Did you find the post interesting?

    Additionally, I am genuinely curious to hear your thoughts concerning the moral dimension which you briefly reference and suggest might be slpfrsly's real question.

    Thanks
    I see. I find the premise interesting but the read was too much for my brain on a Sunday morning (post Saturday night football parties). Thatís why I bailed out about half way in, skimmed, read comments, and then skimmed again. I do understand that thereís a danger in missing context when skimming tho.

    From a moral standpoint, I find many things in the world immoral. Cue choir humming. Yes lawd. Fire and brimstone. Thankfully for me, I lose no sleep over such things. And I can coexist with most folks. As example, I watched the LSU vs Alabama college football game yesterday with a dear friend thatís an Alabama fan (Iím LSU). We are still friends this morning. Iím no authority on morality. However, selling lawnmowers to Eskimos seems silly. I suppose I feel that advertising, well thought out, when for something very subjective (like fragrances), will not sit well with everyoneís moral compass. So it has to choose and plow forward regardless of Diddy thinking we couldíve chose a better name than F-ing Fabulous. Have a product thatís gonna make an older guy look younger and more handsome? Then put a mostly naked guy with a perfect physique and flawless skin in the ad. Show those old guys what they could look like.

    Regardless of us wearing fragrances for ourselves, many many MANY Ďregularí guys wear them to be more attractive to whomever. Or to feel better about themselves. Whenever youíre trying to grab large sums of money, you have to go scooping from the largest pile. If I donít agree with an image a company portrays, then I just ignore the image or donít do business. I donít think I have any right to legislate a particular code of morality for anyone but instead leave it up to the individual. If someone asks for my thoughts on something more specific, like brand X, I donít mind sharing a specific opinion.
    Sent from the bayou, using homing gators.

  17. #17

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Thank you for sharing this very extensive, nuanced and informative post.

    While designer bestsellers aiming more or less directly for this particular goal, attractiveness is on the other hand a highly subjective factor and numerous male classics (be they designer, niche or any other market segment) might reach the same or a similar, comparable effect not so much deliberately but simply as the effect of randomness, subjectivity and/or trial&error.
    Currently wearing: Habit Rouge by Guerlain

  18. #18
    The Devil in the Details
    Zealot Crusader's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Seattle/Bellevue
    Posts
    8,099
    Blog Entries
    9

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    You make a lot of good points
    oh look, I have a signature

  19. #19
    Basenotes Junkie slpfrsly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    712

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Thanks everyone. Hope it killed some time, if nothing else.
    "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously."

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Thanks for the response. Your point of view---as seen below---seems reasonable to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddy View Post
    Regardless of us wearing fragrances for ourselves, many many MANY ‘regular’ guys wear them to be more attractive to whomever. Or to feel better about themselves. Whenever you’re trying to grab large sums of money, you have to go scooping from the largest pile. If I don’t agree with an image a company portrays, then I just ignore the image or don’t do business. I don’t think I have any right to legislate a particular code of morality for anyone but instead leave it up to the individual. If someone asks for my thoughts on something more specific, like brand X, I don’t mind sharing a specific opinion.
    "I'm sure there are things that you like that someone else here dislikes."
    papillo

  21. #21

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    There's a saying that goes, "Everything is about sex except sex. Sex is about power."

    We're overstimulated in every other way and our olfactory centers are no different. We're partaking of other people... swapping sillage with complete strangers.

    As I read the original post, this movie clip came to mind.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FlFPl5uT6U


  22. #22
    Dependent Man Of The World's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Essex - But born & bred in good old East London
    Posts
    2,008

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by slpfrsly View Post
    I originally wrote this for fragrantica but I believe it might get more traction on here, which seems more receptive to longer form pieces. I never intended it to be so long, but as I started writing I feel like these ideas that I alredy half understood kind of crystalised and became more fully formed. I'd love to hear peoples' thoughts on this and totally understand that a. it's quite a long read and b. it's almost inimical to the very idea of collecting and seeing the 'artistry' in perfumery, but perhaps there will be some men - perhaps younger, I'm not sure, but that would make more sense - who might agree. Either way, would love to hear any sort of feedback on this. Cheers, and if nothing else, I hope you enjoy the read!


    ********************************************


    The old adage - that "everyone's different" - is regularly applied to judging fragrance and perfumery.

    We all know why this is: tastes are subjective. The various notes and accords and blends that may chime with one person can merely bore or even repel another - the reasons for this lie in our cultural backgrounds, our exposure and experience to perfume, and even something less quantifiable. That elusive component that completes 'taste'.

    Yet there's something undeniable: that some 'male' fragrances smell very good to nearly all people.

    And that's an important thing. Not to everyone, of course. Certainly not to users of sites like basenotes, some of whom might now be rolling their eyes at the very concept of 'male' fragrances, and the idea that there is anything approaching consensus on what smells good (did you..? wink ). But to big businesses? Chanel? Dior? It's clearly an absolute necessity to hang their worth on the flagship scent that attempts to be all things to all (wo)/men, and, for the most part, comes pretty close to achieving that.

    And why specifically men? Why is men's perfumery different to unisex and or women's? Well, quite simply, it's both marketed - and almost certainly partly/significantly true - that a man's scent really does matter when it comes to attracting women (or men). Not in the facile, meat-and-potatoes way some would suggest or believe (poor souls - I know a German man who will happily exploit your insecurities, though, if it will help) - but it both does, and is most certainly suggested it does through the way men's aftershave/cologne was branded in the past and continues to be advertised today.

    This is a different approach to perfumery than in just about any other point in history. The perfume created for religious and political leaders from ancient history until the late Enlightenment were individual, designed to evoke uniqueness; to be the very 'best' of a perfumer's creation; to fit perfectly with the wearer or user according to the ingredients available to them. As the very end of the 19th Century ushered in both the rise of commercial perfumery and a new understanding of 'modernity', even then, perfume was still heavily influenced by artistic ideals. It would only really be the creation of aquatic perfumery and to a lesser extent its contemporary - the 'sweet' male scent (Joope Homme e.g.) - that began to reimagine the idea of 'a male smell' being ubiquitous (Cool Water), inoffensive, fresh (Acqua di Gio), appealing, mass-marketable (CK One), and sexy (Le Male) all at once. Over 5000 years of perfumery, with only about 50 years (Caron's PUHdC) of male-specific fragrances preceding the 80s/90s wave, all boiled down to this concept: how to modernise perfumery for men and make them smell attractive to women, while still smelling 'like men'. I.e. how to move away from the green, leathery, smoky powerhouses (that existed and then died in the time when smoking was commonplace, to a time when it became socially and medically shunned) to something women absolutely preferred (fresh and clean; or sweet and sexy), while still being able to differentiate these scents from unisex and/or womens' perfumery.

    This is clearly very, very different to the 'art' of perfumery that existed before it. It's a break and a dividing line in fragrance. There is a new category created, a new motivation for creating in that way, where the artist - the perfumer - is less important than they once were; certainly, they are no longer a patron of a single man or woman, but instead they appear to have to cater to all men and all women. And is it really any surprise that it is Chanel who are the world leaders at this? To me, absolutely not. Creating fragrance in this way is not perfume made for the elite. It's not for the religious leaders nor the contemporary ruling classes. This is something quite different - it's a much more egalitarian idea, yet it's also catering to those who 'know' the least about perfume. It's catering to the so-called philistines (or, at least, the aspirational in the case of Chanel; perhaps philistines might apply more to Dior's fragrance in this case, and I say that in total seriousness) for the sake of their purchasing power, and it fundamentally changed and helped shape big fashion houses survive and then flourish as a result. Fragrance is big business with huge profits. It made sense to sell more to more people - adapt, or die. This market change can be seen happening again, in different ways, with the rise of houses like Roja Dove, and his almost anachronistic of the newly mobile and wealthy Arabic market...but that's a separate point and perhaps for another thread!

    Aided by the rise in laboratory-concoted compounds and aromas, the two obvious examples of this method of creation in the present day - Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel - are no doubt the product of intense and dissecting detail and research, honing in on what *precisely* it is that works to make people, particularly women, enjoy a male aromatic product.

    Yet you'll be hard pressed to find too much love for these on sites like this; at least, not without realising the hostility and ire they create among some users. No doubt the reasons for that are several - but the main one I want to focus on is the idea that these are not perfumes/fragrances made to enjoy in any romantic, artistic sense.

    This is fragrance made to wear and be smelled on a man. In every single sense of the phrase. Not just to morph and settle on the skin but, quite literally, it is fragrance designed to be perceived as part of the whole, to offend (almost) no-one, to cross geographical, cultural, and generational boundaries, and allure women (or men) to the wearer based on the smell, independent of almost all the traditional ideas of what perfume is and should be.

    These are, in essence, the pinnacles of 'compliment getters'. Or at least the standard bearers around which many others have followed suit. These two blue scents represent the last 20-30 years' worth of honing in on 'what men want', with a big helping from women.

    That isn't to say there aren't different ways of achieving this same sense of universal attractiveness in scent. It's not limited to these 'blue' scents; you cannot simply boil it down to a note, or an accord, or even certain aromachemicals. It's all of these things, and more, all interacting around a general idea that's about as hard to pin down as it is when trying to decipher what creates subjective taste - and that idea is, ultimately, how to make 'sexy' fragrances for the masses. How to genuinely make a scent that nearly everyone will consider a nice addition to looks, demeanour, and status, while simultaneously - and here's the really important part - still being able to sort-of appeal to the more high-minded wearers and buyers of fragrance.


    *************************

    As much as it will hurt some men on here, the reason aquatics, mainstream designers, and what are now seen as 'clubbing' scents are popular is because they have something that other male scents do not - a greater aromatic appeal than what preceded them. Not in every single way, of course, but the idea that fougeres could be considered 'sexy' independent from the culture they exist within (when 'men were men', or the memories and ideas attached to them), instead of smelling like old school aftershaves, is...well...it's an idea that may find some support on here, and may well be defended a little too hard by those who wish they hadn't effectively been replaced as the standard and pinnacle of masculine aromas, but is likely to be dismissed by the 'philistine' masses for whom, quite clearly, the perfume business puts most stock. We can debate that until the proverbial cows come home - or, indeed, the 'sexiness' of fecal ouds, linear citruses, or leathery powerhouses - yet the proof is in the market. If these notes/accords and fragrances were superior or equal to these algorithmically designed bestsellers in the 'sexiness' stakes...they would be top of the sales charts instead.

    No, instead, the rise of niche - and with it a reworking of vintage ideas - has, for the most part, been about chasing something undeniably more artistic and intriguing, but it hasn't given much stock to the idea of the aforementioned 'illusion' of male virility and seductiveness (as has been paramount to fragrance branding for men for over 50 years now). If anything, it has kicked back against the idea of male fragrance as being primarily or even solely about 'sexiness'; as something to splash on solely when hoping to 'get lucky'; as fragrances designed to appeal to men for the precise reason that buying it will in fact make women 'like' them more. In fact, most niche perfumery seems to be kicking against the idea that there are even aromatic differences between men and women at all, again another nod in the direction of the past, while also firmly embracing the wider gender, sex, and political beliefs of the present.

    Instead, among the explosion of all sorts of fragrances at all sorts of levels in the market, we've seen an attempt to hit what I'm now calling 'the sweet spot'. What is it? Well, it is specifically going for this idea of producing highly complimented and/or attractive 'sexy' scents, while avoiding some of the more overtly gaudy or lowest-common-denominator elements that have seen people (and in particular fragrance enthusiasts) kick back against the very concept of mens' perfumery being 'sexy'. Sometimes, personally, I feel this kickback (from people on fragrantica, no less) oversteps the mark - the disdain given to Sauvage seems partly an almost willful desire to castigate it for daring to be appealing and alluring (which it truly is, even if it probably doesn't meet the artistic and/or fragrant requirements for the sweet spot, as it's so synthetically odd. Sauvage operates within a different world to 99.9% of fragrances on this site, it's foolish to judge it by the same metric.). There's an attempt, by some, to reposition and categorise scents that are aiming for the 'sweet spot' as merely a continuation of the 'miswearing' of 'sexy' fragrances that probably began with the powerhouses and then certainly carried on when clubbing scents were worn by men outside their intended use. We all know a 'cologne guy' story - we all know someone who oversprayed or treated fragrance like a genuine aphrodisiac, with 'the more the better' approach to application, context be damned. THAT was a very real phenomenon from the 90s onwards - in a different manner to the way (according to stories) powerhouses were over applied in the 80s. The legacy of this miswearing - and the resentment it produced towards 'sexy' scents, stemming from experiencing them in unwanted environments, on unwanted men, in unwanted ways, no doubt has produced this culture of mockery and cynicism towards anything deigning to reinvent and update 'sexiness' in male perfumery. Personally, I think such cynicism is misguided. But, like taste - to each their own.

    For me, the need to find a 'sweet spot' is precisely why I believe brands have made fragrances like Sauvage and BdC and of course many other "dark blue" scents, as well as some non dark blue scents that also fit the bill. Personally, I believe that - in spite of everyone being different and having their own, unique set of tastes - there are enough similarities and traits among us to ensure that, by and large, what is deemed attractive by the designers (particularly those with the most money and power) will be ratified and rewarded by customers.

    So, what are these scents, other than the two listed?

    - To my mind (and nose) the most cynical and probably successful attempt at something like this is Layton, a fragrance derived from about 20 designer bestsellers from the last 30 years while rounding out the rougher, cheaper edges, and charging a premium to do so.

    - Less cynically - though absolutely still inspired by a scent that pre dates it - would be Aventus. This isn't as sexy as some would like to believe (for obvious reasons, the internal hype is crazy) yet it is undeniably enjoyed by women and men of all ages, and fits the brief of both artistically and/or aromatically decent fragrance that will be enjoyed by enthusiasts and even experts, while still garnering mass appeal. I honestly feel that Sauvage is based on Aventus, hugely so, just in a very 'brave new world' sort of way - and we can see that in the way Montblanc Explorer effectively blurred the lines between the two, as well.

    - There's one more I can think of off the top of my head that fits the bill here - Narciso Rodriguez's Bleu Noir - and it's about as cynical a 'dark blue' as you can get, that both pares back and builds on its EDT sibling, which I don't believe has any real 'sexiness'. It's just on the cusp of mass market, while very much using the branding idea of 'dark blue' but also has a sexiness to it that, personally, I believe settles it firmly within this 'sweet spot'.

    - And there's also one that I'd like to mention from the female market - Tom Ford Metallique. I 100% believe this scent is designed in the exact same way as something like BdC is; it is the antithesis of an artistic fragrance, but it is really very, very good when you smell it on skin and in the air which, again, to the masses, is the sole and total point of perfumery. In classic Tom Ford fashion, however, it seems designed to blur the lines of attraction, with regard to both gender and sexuality.


    So, after all that, I would be intrigued to see if, firstly, anyone got through all of it (haha) but, more importantly, what people think about this idea? About the fact that we are in an era where companies are really looking to hone in on the absolute best elements of 'sexy' masculine perfumery - as separate from unisex niche releases. And for the reasons I can think of - namely, that sex appeal will still be the ultimate marketing tactic for men when it comes to selling fragrance, as it has been for the last 50 odd years, and that the attempt is to make a truly ubiquitous scent that can be worn to impress and attract women, but won't piss off your colleagues, friends, and neighours (too badly...) if you also decide to wear it all day, everyday. Because, ultimately, this is fragrance designed to be bought and worn by the largest market share possible while still retaining the sense of aspiration and profit that comes from selling perfume.

    And, on top of that - the idea of 'the sweet spot' - what scents do you (honestly...) think meet the grade? What examples can you think of? What do you think is truly both an 'attractive' scent to a lot of people, irrespective of their 'nose' and experience, while not being the absolute lowest common denominator in aiming for sexiness?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some extra thoughts since writing the original post:

    Firstly, I think I was getting round to this idea when I made this thread here - about dark blue scents - but the 'idea' of dark blue seemed to be a sticking point to lots of people. Perhaps this more general term, starting with two very specific examples and filtering down (while leaving room for people to bring their own ideas of recent, 'sexy' designer scents), will receive a bit more understanding - I hope so, anyway!

    It feels like the missing, almost ghostly presence among all this talk about 'attractive' and 'sexy' fragrance is in fact, of course, women. Absent, yet, in many ways, dominating the conversation.

    I cannot help but think this move is not merely a technological or indeed a creative one. It's also a socio-cultural one. 80s machismo sliding away in to 90s ambivalence and the undermining of the conceit the previous decade relied upon. That's mirrored in perfumery, but it seems no co-incidence that the 90s also marked a huge changing of the guard in many ways - most fundamentally in the economy and workplace. Despite the wage gap being skewed by the very highest earning men, under the age of 40, it in fact shows an equilibrium of earnings among the sexes. While we can factor in several reasons for why that drops off after that age - for one person's sexism, see another person's maternity leave - 40 years would also be the first generation to grow up in the 90s, a decade where, in the West at least, the gender binary really began its slow unravelling across more mundane and fundamental aspects of life. Education, work, and play. Womens' liberation and then enfranchisement sees them as equally able to do all the things that men as

    It's reported that women (in the US, I think) control or make 85% of all personal financial decisions. From buying a house, or a car, to a holiday destination, or something more simple, like clothes, and food, women are simultaneously the homemakers and breadwinners, with access to both their own paycheck and the financial purse strings of a marriage and/or household.

    So, women are enfranchised. They're not bit part players anymore. They have a seat at just about every table - and they're also still 'used' as a tool to lead men in just about anything and everything. Particularly as a form of desire. And that's where we circle back round to fragrance. Men's fragrances have gone from sharp, bitter, leathery, an pungent as par for the course, to fresh and clean, or sweet and comforting. Now, of course, fragrances are much more affordable - with a much broader market - than they were in the 70s. Yet you'll struggle to find too much in the designer realm, particularly the big hitting, mass selling, flagships of the beauty section, that don't abide by these two ideals: clean or sweet. Fresh or warming. And both of them, undeniably, vie for aromatic 'sexiness'.

    Not every woman is going to be seduced by the fuckboi of fragrances - which could easily be handed out to Sauvage, but perhaps more fittingly deserves to go to something like 1 Million instead. But fuckboi fragrances - like their eponymous human wearers - have an undeniable appeal, irrespective of how poorly deployed said choices and behaviours may be in the grand scheme of things. 'Sexy' fragrances work - they'd have to work; the big companies ensure they work before they even allow them to get outside the focus groups. And women are driving it.

    By and large, the non-fragrance enthusiast women don't want men to smell 'loud' or 'strong'. They like fresh, and they like sweet. And that is where the market is going - where it's gone. Amber wood delivers a now-signature 'masculine' kind of sweetness, where ambroxan provides a freshness. They told us the future would be female, and, at the moment, it seems mens' perfumery is absolutely driven by the idea of what women want. You only need to look at the explosion of overly-sweet vanillic fragrances in the designer world, or the line of Dior Homme's lipstick/makeup-inspired scents, which are about as far from a traditional C20th 'masculine' smell as you could get, focusing on florals of iris and/or violet. It may pain the readers of basenotes who are perhaps still hoping for validation outside the fragcomm, but retro fougeres or pungent orientals or anything artistic will almost always pale in comparison to the men's market which is being led by female tastes. The sneering at the idea of mass pleasing - that seems all too common among the fragrance community - seems insecure at its heart. I think fragrance exists for many reasons, and the market operates and aims for a whole host of different wearers. I think understanding and accepting this would do the onlne fragcomm a world of good as, on fragrantica moreso than on here, there seems to be a discordance between those who perhaps are too rigid in their concept of the 'hierarchy' of perfume, and newer users/wearers who really want to isolate and wear the very best designer creations of 'what women want'. The truth, as ever, lies in the middle, but more importantly, I think an acceptance that there are all sorts of reasons and wearers of fragrance is a useful reminder, and perhaps a refresher to some of the more jaded wearers. Niche has its place, as do cheapies, as do classic vintages - and, in the case of the topic of this article, so do the modern, every-evolving 'sexy' designer scents that aim for the 'sweet spot'.
    Thanks for the article. For what It's worth....I actually agree with a lot of what you have said.
    All Time Favorites
    Fahrenheit, Fahrenheit Parfum & Dior Homme - Dior
    Terre d'Hermes - Hermes
    Aventus/Bois du Portugal - Creed
    Jubilation XXV - Amouage
    L'Air Du Desert Marocain - Tauer
    Danger Pour Homme EDP - Roja Dove
    Baccarat Rouge 540 EDP - MFK
    17/17 Richwood - Xerjoff
    Coromandel EDP - Chanel
    Patchouli Nobile - Nobile 1942
    Musc Ravageur - FM
    Baraonda/Pardon - Nasomatto
    Incident Diplomatique/Psychedelique - Jovoy
    Layton/Pegasus- PDM
    Pure Tonka - TM
    Currently wearing: 17/17 Richwood by Xerjoff

  23. #23

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Agree with a lot of what you said.
    I did start to compose a lengthy answer lol but the main points were probably yeah
    1. Comodification of well everything = someone's gotta make mulan
    2. Marketing, create the want , sell the 'need'
    3. Yep all change in the last 100 yrs or so. Some may say progress, others shameless exploitation
    4. Yep , like most things now, cater to our basest emotions /vanity/ego so theres got to be a degradation of art.
    That's the short of it. Lol a bit depressing but the signature of a fellow basenoter nails it "heroic man to scheming man..."

  24. #24

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ifti View Post
    Agree with a lot of what you said.
    I did start to compose a lengthy answer lol but the main points were probably yeah
    1. Comodification of well everything = someone's gotta make mulan
    2. Marketing, create the want , sell the 'need'
    3. Yep all change in the last 100 yrs or so. Some may say progress, others shameless exploitation
    4. Yep , like most things now, cater to our basest emotions /vanity/ego so theres got to be a degradation of art.
    That's the short of it. Lol a bit depressing but the signature of a fellow basenoter nails it "heroic man to scheming man..."
    Yes, very good summary of how things work in a macro sort of way. I agree that it's a bit depressing.
    "I'm sure there are things that you like that someone else here dislikes."
    papillo

  25. #25

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ifti View Post
    Agree with a lot of what you said.
    I did start to compose a lengthy answer lol but the main points were probably yeah
    1. Comodification of well everything = someone's gotta make mulan
    2. Marketing, create the want , sell the 'need'
    3. Yep all change in the last 100 yrs or so. Some may say progress, others shameless exploitation
    4. Yep , like most things now, cater to our basest emotions /vanity/ego so theres got to be a degradation of art.
    That's the short of it. Lol a bit depressing but the signature of a fellow basenoter nails it "heroic man to scheming man..."
    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Krycek View Post
    Yes, very good summary of how things work in a macro sort of way. I agree that it's a bit depressing.
    Ifti and Alex, I agree it can be depressing. Do you think it can be changed and if so how?
    A few favourites

    Bois du Portugal by Creed
    Aventus by Creed
    Jubilation Man by Amouage
    Mousse Illuminee by Rogue Perfumery
    Incident Diplomatique by Jovoy
    Patchouli Nobile by Nobile 1942
    Pour Monsieur EdT by Chanel
    Eau Sauvage (vtg) by Christian Dior
    Eucris EdP by GF Trumper
    Polo (Cosmair) by Ralph Lauren
    Currently wearing: Polo by Ralph Lauren

  26. #26

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheik Yerbouti View Post
    Ifti and Alex, I agree it can be depressing. Do you think it can be changed and if so how?
    That's a very tough question. If the basic premise concerns how a particular capitalist nation's sort of market and culture/people/society interact... a lot of very different views have been expressed about this for many years. That opens a huge conversation.

    Personally, since high school I've found Marx's theory that discusses the various types of alienation that are created by this type of society to be very interesting and somewhat persuasive. But, something that, for me, probably raises more questions than it answers. And, maybe I've found it less persuasive as I've gotten older.

    Something I often wonder about is the causation of commodities/culture and human wants. Is the society giving mainstream consumers what they want? Or are the people simply choosing their favorite option from what's available?

    There are so many questions like that when approaching this immense sort of inquiry.

    Ultimately, I don't have any answers except perhaps more kindness/compassion is needed in a very general sense and that might go a long way to fixing all manner of things.
    "I'm sure there are things that you like that someone else here dislikes."
    papillo

  27. #27
    Basenotes Junkie
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Stockholm
    Posts
    719

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Sex sells everything. Men are walking testosterone factories.
    Connect the dots...
    I don't understand your rants. Selling fragrances is a business just like anything else and it's goal is to make as much money as possible. Thus sex; feeding on insecurities of some men, giving them bullshit promises.
    I don't see any problem with safe, clean, mass appealing fragrances. I like Bleu de Chanel EdP and I like some skanky ouds. The fact is there many more scents on the market right now than ever before and they are a lot more accessible, so today is actually a golden age of perfumery and tomorrow will only be better.

  28. #28

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Krycek View Post
    That's a very tough question. If the basic premise concerns how a particular capitalist nation's sort of market and culture/people/society interact... a lot of very different views have been expressed about this for many years. That opens a huge conversation.

    Personally, since high school I've found Marx's theory that discusses the various types of alienation that are created by this type of society to be very interesting and somewhat persuasive. But, something that, for me, probably raises more questions than it answers. And, maybe I've found it less persuasive as I've gotten older.

    Something I often wonder about is the causation of commodities/culture and human wants. Is the society giving mainstream consumers what they want? Or are the people simply choosing their favorite option from what's available?

    There are so many questions like that when approaching this immense sort of inquiry.

    Ultimately, I don't have any answers except perhaps more kindness/compassion is needed in a very general sense and that might go a long way to fixing all manner of things.
    The larger question certainly leads to a huge conversation.

    Giving us what we want vs choosing from what is available is a spectrum I think. Some companies are genuinely doing their best to ask us what we want and to try to give it to us. Others take a more 'we'll tell them what they want' and they'll buy the proverbial gold plated cowpat approach.

    What would perfection be to us? Different for everyone.
    How could we truly test what people like vs what they don't? Not allow screen or print marketing whatsoever? That might work. Let sales tell the tale. Gradually there would be a readjustment over a number of years as close to a non-biased baseline of what people actually want. How likely is that to happen? We all know the answer.

    The antithesis for this idea is a fragrance like Sauvage which is force-fed into our minds and nostrils at enormous cost, alongside a gradual disfavour for a certain actor caused by the frequent inevitable ubiquitous whiffs. I'm not trying to single out Sauvage here - this is a widespread problem. At the end of the day our data is being funnelled into algorithm after algorithm by marketing departments (and worse) and we do so at our own peril. Perfumery (as a percentage of fragrances released) was probably better before the technology existed to manipulate our buying, oakmoss or not.

    ...but wouldn't it be joyous to have a fragrance that was sold on scent alone?
    A few favourites

    Bois du Portugal by Creed
    Aventus by Creed
    Jubilation Man by Amouage
    Mousse Illuminee by Rogue Perfumery
    Incident Diplomatique by Jovoy
    Patchouli Nobile by Nobile 1942
    Pour Monsieur EdT by Chanel
    Eau Sauvage (vtg) by Christian Dior
    Eucris EdP by GF Trumper
    Polo (Cosmair) by Ralph Lauren
    Currently wearing: Polo by Ralph Lauren

  29. #29

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Great essay. Engaging, provocative, and well-written. I don't agree with all of it and that makes it all the more interesting. The appeal of niche to many seems very much rooted in a need to be perceived as affluent in a dizzying consumer-based culture (the FB groups suggest this anyway with all the posing of bottles in front of steering wheels). Now more than ever, the market seems to define our values and what we value. The Frankfurt School remains beyond prescient in this regard and I say that as someone who finds Socialism grossly limiting and often reductive.

    That said, mass-appealing scents are often the khakis of the frag world. They're pleasant enough but are just so generic. Wearing more challenging scents require a more adroit approach to style, especially if one is trying to appeal to others. It's no different than, say, wearing a forming fitting shirt. If you're in shape, it can look great. If you're not, it simply exposes a poor choice in style (unless irony is your thing).
    Currently wearing: Royal Oud by Creed

  30. #30
    Sillage Monster
    Trilby Lark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Orange County, CA
    Posts
    4,609

    Default Re: The Problems with 'Sexy' Fragrances, Seeking Compliments, & the 'Sweet Spot' (LONG READ)

    Note: I did read the entire post but I am not sure I comprehended every element of it. Thank you for the thoughtful post.

    Trendy and popular masculine fragrances are developed through analytics, societal trends (fresh, inoffensive), and test marketing. The resulting products are packaged and sold as gender specific image enhancers. This corporate approach differs from, say the vintage House of Guerlain, whose innovations emerged from a defined French culture and regional and/or colonial sourced natural materials. Formerly, there was greater authenticity involved in perfumery because of its cultural connection.

    Fragrance is a growth industry due to perfume now being a widely accepted part of one’s daily grooming routine and not just a special occasion flourish as it once was. Scent in general is a ubiquitous feature in cleaning products, body care, aromatherapy candles, etc. Even greater industry growth is fueled by rising middle class purchasing power globally.

    Fragrances that define masculinity and femininity are one way to segment the market and appeal to people’s self identity. Will unisex fragrances emerge more prominently as gender roles and identity become increasingly fluid and egalitarian? Quite possibly.

    Niche perfumery, often not gender specific, appeals to the individualists in society who desire a more personal form of expression. The nose is still the chief creative force and taste arbiter. It brings to mind the Slow Food movement that celebrates traditional foodways, handmade preparation, and communal dining as opposed to industrial fast food invented by food scientists in labs.

    That said, I occasionally enjoy mass marketed perfume and McDonalds. But it’s not as soul satisfying as something artisanal.
    Note to self: Choose being kind over being right, and youíll be right every time.




Similar Threads

  1. Recommendations Please: Long to Very Long Lasting - Sweet/Spicey
    By MELVCMS01 in forum Male Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 26th October 2015, 06:02 PM
  2. Seeking Recommendation: Alternative to VS Very Sexy
    By BBQMaster in forum Female Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 4th February 2014, 05:32 AM
  3. Animal Attraction - Seeking Sexy Civet!
    By moondeva in forum Female Fragrance Discussion
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 25th February 2007, 08:10 PM
  4. Calvin Klein doen't have a Romantic Spot ! (read this)
    By scentimus in forum Yahoo Groups Messages
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18th March 2001, 02:05 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  



Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000