Discussion in 'Health & Body' started by Dmax, Aug 22, 2007.
Roger & Gallet Vanille today.
Well, I've never been through the process myself but from what I understand from my own sampling and wearing experiences - it's similar in idea but I think a bit more complicated in terms of emotional resonance. If a jacket is a little bit off, well - odds are that it's still better than off-the-peg and therefore money well spent. Furthermore, when we evaluate it, we do so partly from an ideal fit, and partly against our other jackets.
When we evaluate a scent, however, there are memories of other scents and the emotions that they trigger - which turns the process into a bit of a rollercoaster. Some versions of 'close' are good enough to the target, and others - like a password with one letter wrong - just don't work. What complicates this just that much more is that we all have scents that just 'work' like magic. Some call these the Holy Grail scents that just smell right on us. Once you've had a Holy Grail or two, you are giving the perfumer a much harder target to hit, given what you're likely to drop on your project - but even that depends on your willingness to experiment into the areas of unwearability. Some people cling desperately to the idea of a 'perfect' scent (particularly if they found it) - while others take each as it comes and never attach. Rach may walk out of the shop with something that's beautiful but completely unwearable in polite society (older Rose Poivree, anyone?)
As if that would ever stop him from wearing it. Japanese bullet trains, here I come!
I'm not sure what you mean by this, Thomas - I guess you are saying that there is a dialogue between you and the perfumer and a reference to a couple of scents that you adore makes his/her job more difficult?
Essentially, you're asking him to backdoor you a version of a fragrance you already own, as opposed to letting the process transpire organically. If you keep trying to target a specific fragrance you once owned its going to be impossible because nothing will smell exactly like that.
Been wearing Kouros for the past few days with no shower in between. It's almost like reveling in my own stink, but now I'm tired and just enjoyed showing it all away and putting on something lighter. Bit of an overdose but I've decided I can wear Kouros, and will pick up a bottle soon.
Decant's in the swap box part 4 box.
Makes sense, brother. Thanks.
Well, kind of - if you let it go that route. But I had a more qualitative example in mind. For instance, when I think of Chypre, I think Pour Monsieur. Nothing I have ever smelled has been quite as satisfying in that vein of scents. I know that if a perfumer comes up with a Chypre, it's 99% likely not going to be as good as CPM - for a number of reasons. It may be qualitatively better (more people may prefer it), but it won't be the same thing my grandfather wore, which plays a part here. I won't prefer it, and when I evaluate time and money spent for a custom scent that's not as good as CPM (to me at least), then I am likely to be disappointed. The problem is, the more scents you try, the more yardsticks you'll measure it against. In my case, I have five or six such scents that I have as mainstays and every time I smell something new, I think...not quite as good as Antaeus or Egoiste (etc.), depending on what genre we're in.
This is true, and it's what can happen if you have something you loved back in the day that is unavailable now. Hopefully a smart perfumer will avoid that kind of job, since oftentimes the actual materials are no longer available - or at least in the quality you might once have had access to. Back to the CPM example, any Chypre you find today will not be a 'true' Chypre since oakmoss extract has been sharply limited.
There are really two ideal cases for a custom scent IMO: one is where you get something that you liked but thought it needed more ooomph, and what comes to mind here is Mouchoir de Monsieur. RIght now you can only get it in the Edt, and it's fairly weak all things considered. Word is that there's an extrait version for select customers which is much more satisfying than the current product - but it's not for the faint of heart. Get that done up custom, and you already know that Guerlain has tweaked the formula, so you aren't bound to an exact match anyway.
Scenario two is where you give favorite notes or bottles or foods and the perfumer takes it into a different genre that you normally don't go for - but it wins you over for being so creatively bent.
here's the new link to Hermès' Jean-Claude Ellena article
Great comments/discussion, T, Horns, and Rambonio. Agree on all points!
I've always been quite ambivalent... even anti-... the bespoke parfum process, not only for the reasons T mentioned, but also simply because in most cases you'll never get a scent as good as a marketed scent. Many times the parfumers took YEARS and HUNDREDS of combinations to get that one. They may also have gone around the world in search of ingredients or consulted with dozens of others to get it just right. At most, as T mentioned, you'll get 3-4 drafts and then perhaps 200mls of a fragrance. It might be magic, or as T said, it might be an expensive, more concentrated version of your favorite mass-market scent.
I knew all of that and never would have done this one except that (as mentioned before) (1) she's very close by geographically and (2) it's relatively affordable. It basically would cost the same as going to lunch with her three times at a decent Japanese restaurant. So, really I'm there for the chat, for the stories, for the "learnin'" and the scent is really quite secondary. Still, though, it will be fun to see what comes up.
Unfortunately, she didn't feel well Saturday and we had to cancel. So, we're going to try again next week. She's not young anymore (probably late 60's and small/somewhat frail) and, given the smallness of her shop, I don't think she has any proteges or students who will follow her. What a waste, if so... knowledge not only of French parfumery but also Japanese traditional scents/spices (hinoki tree, etc.)
Great discussion, though. Glad to see some good chat back in SOTD except for just what we're spritzing. (speaking of, cool day that Kiehl's musk can fix up nicely.)
Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine. Smells exactly like a freshly cut orange. It literally smells like the juice from the freshly cut orange landed on my wrist. I guess it gets points for realism. But it doesn't seem especially interesting or artful, sort of like a painting that looks just like a photograph.
I had a bad experience this weekend when I tried to bespeak a bottle of Financial Times. (Couldn't find a sample anywhere.) Perfumer was extremely rude: she said "you impress me as the kind of man who is stupid and does not know basic things." I walked out immediately and continued my search online.
Seriously though, very informative discussion about the bespoke process. I think Thomas's analogy between the perfect fragrance and a password is exactly right. I would never have thought about it that way.
^^ Well, it sounds like you're going into it for great reasons. I'd probably do it as well, despite the connotations.
When you hear about the bespoke options from, say, Guerlain or Cartier - it's criminal what they ask! The biggest irony came when Cartier hired Mathilde Laurent from Guerlain (pretty much their up-and-coming talent) and put her to bespoke perfumery. Talk about hiding your light under a barrel!
One last point about the big houses - particularly Chanel, Guerlain, and a few nichey-nicheys (Lutens, Malle, Nicolai) - they have access to materials that few others can even touch, much less afford. I was talking with a friend about beeswax absolute - suggesting he use it as a base - and he lamented that it was simply out of the question these days. 80's Antaeus had gobs of it - it practically dripped out of the bottle. (although that may speak to the availability/pricing these days.)
Funny story about Kiehl's Musk. I got my first bottle in a swap for Bel Ami (my SOTD, and I'm down to one bottle now). The lady who swapped it to me told me that she bought her bottle of Kiehl's when she followed a random guy around because he smelled so good. Unfortunately, no one has followed me around when I wore it.
When you read about designers or houses commissioning a scent, they often want a narrative via the scent - like Un Jardin Sur Le Nil resulting in the perfumer to float down the Nile and find inspiration. So I think that would be an interesting or quite logical way of creating a direction for a bespoke perfumer. You can reminisce to the perfumer about salient experiences in your life and make that as a starting point for them to create a scent.
What would make me worry about that process is that there is such a tenuous connection between narratives and the sense of smell. I think there would literally be thousands of ways to translate a narrative or a salient experience from the past into an olfactory experience. I think, for example, of how many different ways Penhaligon's Sartorial could have come out. Of course Hermes and Penhaligon's can afford to go through lots and lots of trials until they get something that seems just right. I don't imagine the individual bespoke customer has either the means or the incentive to go through all of that.
That suggests to me that the better alternative would be to start more concretely, with notes or accords that you like, or maybe with broader categories (aromatic fougere, etc.) But that involves some of the problems Thomas mentioned earlier.
That was one of my first bottle purchases after starting to view this thread and seeing PhatGuido list it on his WAYW, plus Rach recommending it I think. I got a 100ml bottle and am now down to about 25ml, but believe it or not I don't really even care for the scent and have drained the ml's mostly through swaps... and yet? I just bought another 50ml bottle... why you ask? 1. My original had no box, and that just makes me feel uneasy , plus 2. It almost seems like such a wardrobe staple that I could hardly call myself an enthusiast without it!
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