Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Thoughtful Whiff Nugget

While writing a few posts in fragrance forums today I managed to put together this little piece which I want to share.

It's basically a summary of my attitude whenever I see or hear people discussing fragrance in a "good vs. bad" way, and how to qualify those binary opinions based on whom they belong to. This inevitably becomes a negative and unconstructive way to look at fragrance which does nothing but alienate groups of people's opinions or certain types of fragrance based purely on 49% or less people enjoying them in a brief sample.

"Smells are subjective and not easily opened for discussion in this aggressive your taste vs. world's tastes manner. Standing around and smelling samples and forming your whole opinion based on that fleeting moment can be misleading, especially when you're consulting with others. What's completely missing is fragrance context.

The same context problem can be said for any of the five senses. It's a bit like trying to compare colors without a common understanding of what context the colors are being used in. How do you objectively debate good or bad colors with somebody without knowing what the object of color is? Blue might be nice for both of you if you're thinking about a photograph of the ocean, but if the other person is thinking of ripe fruit, blue might not be the color they're going to say is good. Likewise for food, all of those corny competitive reality cooking shows are based on context. Icky ingredients are presented to innovative, talented chefs, and they provide the expertise via context to make those icky ingredients work. If you both don't have an understanding of context, it's a pointless discussion.

Tangible rankings of quality between fragrances tend to lie in the fragrance's context, the innovative aspects rather than the notes themselves. Sensations, applications, unexpected combinations, molecular efficiency, etc. Fragrance is a verb when it comes to judging its quality, not a noun. Just like judging colors in any painting (which is summarily defined by the size, depth, and rigidity of the strokes applied by the artist), it isn't judged on the tubes paint itself."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Scents of the Week: August 27th

First of all,  a bit of explanation. I have seen and participated in "Scent of the Day" notifications on several online communities. Us employees here at The Whiff (just me for now) would like to incorporate a touch of that type of streaming chain of thought, but without the day-by-day breakdown. I mean, hey, it IS just me. Plus, my idea of routine doesn't revolve around a 24 hour system, which is greatly distressing for every other person on the planet who seems to be able to function like a normal human being in these parameters. A Monday-beginning weekly preview will suffice. Working 9-5 M-F as one may find themself doing routinely at at least one point in their life, it seems like Monday morning is truly the 0-hour of the beginning of the week.

This week I'm looking forward to some cooler temperatures brought on by some windier systems. However, these warmer southern winds haven't quite brough the autumn chill that I'm so desperately seeking (I'm definitely a winter person, please don't groan).

In the workplace, I'm already preparing myself for end of year projects, many of them involving a good amount of writing. This week I will stay clear of busier scents, like layered spices and incenses and what-have-you, and instead opt for clarity minus the summertime sparkle.

My weaponry of the week will definitely include:
  • Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana
  • *U.S.A. by John Varvatos
  • and, Diesel Green by Diesel
This combination allows me wear smooth zen fragrances, and when the warmer temperature or more social day calls for it, a summer flagship like Light Blue or post-summer height grassy Diesel Green will get me through without being over-the-top and reverting back to June.

WestSmell: Vacation to Vancouver

Earlier this month was my triumphant return from a week-long excursion to Vancouver, BC. As someone who has experienced just about every major city in the continental northwest I can say without a doubt that this city, which I call my second hometown, is the best place to experience the west coast.

As far as the topic of fragrance is concerned, Vancouver provides a sparkling three-dimensional continuum of shops, stores, and boutiques to suit every need, taste, and price range. For the higher end items, look no further than famous Robson Street in the heart of downtown and its dazzling array of designer boutiques that have rapidly multiplied in the past 10 years. Robson is Canada's second largest fashion shopping hub and one of the most notable on the continent.

Western skyline from downtown Vancouver, BC

Surprisingly enough to me, I came away with my trip with three purchases (and a fourth gift fragrance) that did not match the purchases I originally had in mind. Was it the hot weather going to my head? Who can say... All I know is that in what felt like the brief fleeting moments I had dedicated to shopping in my week, my senses underwent a paradigm shift that left me with exceptional additions to my collection. As for the names on my original list of planned purchases, they will simply have to wait for another time.

First and foremost, while sweatily browsing through Sephora and soaking in its air conditioning during one of the hottest days of the year, none of the fragrances I had eyes on particularly took me. None were awful per se, but there wasn't a standout hit. I spent several minutes in deep contemplation and even took a break to the gargantuan general women's fragrances sections to pick out gifts. When I came back from this interlude I tried Amber by Prada on a whim having heard before that it was a sublimely smooth powder scent. As I've said before there isn't a fragrance I don't necessarily dislike and there are only those that are very infrequently in my conscious thought. Powders being a main group of these passed up concoctions. What I found was truly sublime. Even in the olfactory sensory overload that is Vancouver during the summer I found Prada's Amber to be exquisite and soft, but with just the right amount of woody spice undertone to meld into a man's natural sensibility. I came away with my own bottle and hit the town once again.

Prada Amber

After visiting a few design house shops in the next couple of days I did not have any additional purchases. Once again, possibly due to my heat-induced euphoria, I was unable to concentrate and find a fragrance that would be the ONE. However, I stumbled upon a fair price on a good addition to my collection while being men about town with my BFF. Located in the midst of the chaos that was the downtown Sears closing extravaganza there was a copious supply of 2011's breakout hit, L'Homme Libre by Yves Saint Laurent. It had a classic scent with a clean twist that I fell in love with, and it completely met my expectations after having read many reviews of it online. The cleanliness aspect was so well tailored it in no way had an antognizing, crisp edge that would have sullied the more oriental aspects. It was instead rounded, smooth, and strong. If crisp cleanliness were the color white, this sensation would have been akin to having a smooth clay grey.

L'Homme Libre by Yves Saint Laurent

My aforementioned BFF is a great sport with my fragrance mania, so much so that he gifted me a fragrance of which I would have otherwised not considered. I'm not explicitly opposed to commercial lines, my only beef with them is the exclusivity aspect. It's hard to get store brands when you are neither near a store, nor able to secure them from a different vendor because of licensing. I digress, the gift was A is for Aldo: Red by clothing retailer Aldo. The A is for Aldo line consists of three primary colors in the women's fragrances, and so far only Red and Yellow for the men's fragrances. Red is definitely a captivating experience because of its rich, and much like its color name, fiery expression.

A is for Aldo Red for men
At the end of the week when I finished packing to head to the airport I had a sneaking feeling that even after all of my goodbyes I still had unfinished business. Leave it to the good people at the YVR duty free shops to make sure I had one last hurrah, and I did find something that was unexpectedly "the ONE" of the whole adventure. Recent flanker to the bold Bang by Marc Jacobs, Bang Bang instantly had a hold on me. I cannot stop wearing it either. Trust me, this is great stuff. Definitely a new star of my collection. I'm unable to make a comprehensible assessment of it at the moment so I will simply entice my readers with a bottling image, and let me just say it wears 100 times better than it looks, and it looks AMAZING.

Bang Bang by Marc Jacobs
Despite the total veering off direction of hunting for my collection, my trip was refreshing and gave me some new outlooks on fragrance and possibly life in general. Mad semi-anonymous props to those who put up with me during my trip, you are truly lifelong friends and worthy of some brofists. I am looking forward to some full reviews of some of these fragrances in the future, and I'm preparing my fur hat for the inevitable blast of winter cold and what it will bring.