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."

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