jeudi 13 mars 2014

I hate fougères (there, I've said it)

To be clear: I’m not talking about Jicky, the hermaphroditic ancestor of the genre.

Actually, it isn’t even fougères I hate, but the inavoidable rubber that’s always slapped on top of it, di-hydro myrcénol, an aggressively clean, citrusy-metallic molecule that’s well-nigh ubiquitous in masculine fragrances. Perfumers like it because it’s fresh. I loathe it because it is the very smell of polo-shirt-clad gymrats with bulging biceps and their yuppie twins, the middle-management suits. Because it is the default setting for men, a hormonal substitution therapy for virility. And because it is usually shadowed by the olfactory equivalent of a sock stuffed in the Y-front: loutish spiky woods. Some people are hyperosmic to these dry, ambery-woody molecules. I’m one of them, and they feel like a cactus up my nose.

Why do I hate di-hydro-ferns so much? Because, at best, they smell unimaginative (perfumers are obviously not at fault here; they do what the market asks them to do). At worst, they smell of fear. The fear of smelling feral. But mostly, of not being taken for a man. And that fear, driven by rejection of our animal nature as much as by gender anxiety, this male conformism that shaves off sillage and crushes any hint of sensuousness, is not the most attractive trait a man can exhibit.Gentlemen, you don't know what you're missing.

21 commentaires:

  1. JulienFromDijon14 mars 2014 à 13:19

    Bravo!
    (They had it coming, don't they?)
    I'm curious by nature -and a boy-, but I recoil from the masculine shelves in perfume shops.
    It takes me extra courage to face them. Because the moment I'll face another faceless brainless know-off of Cool Water, I'll fell helpless and abused.
    It's depressing. My process is to try successively a good classic that I know, then a new thing, then a classic. Like a climber would secure its way with good grips.
    These days, novelties and even reformulation of classic veer toward the apologetic, and when only dihydromyrcenol woody-amber or galaxolide picks out of the blend, I'm irritated, in so many ways...

    What about the guys buying them? The same as you.
    To add a layer, I'm reminded of the writing of a sociologist. She said that in the society of say our grandparents, there were strict molds for what a boy and a girl should be, and the homosexual and the prostitute served as bogeyman. Because they were at the margin of society, rejected, their caricature were used as cautionary tales.
    Girls were reminded not to be a slut by wearing clothes too short or too tight or too bright or having too bright lipstick or this or that -feel with any derogatory reflexion your parent could say because you're too independant-.
    And the boy would be reminded not to cry, not to complain, not bing a whimp, and live under the threat of being categorize as to foppish. Here again any rebellious posture or individuality that won't comply with a figure of authority.
    We live now in a "freed" society, but masculine habit are stuck back in time when it comes to buy perfume. Guys are so square in their taste when it comes to buy perfumes for themselves. And it's not just about the lack of perfume initiation. A guy will buy a perfume advertised with the classic mold of a muscular guy under steroid, for a scent that clearly has no balls.
    Fear struck of being unconventional and rejected, the taking of risk is stifled. Why not stand for yourself and pick the perfumes that smell great on you!
    The logic of man perfumes is stuck at the level "if he's got the car he'll get the girl", sure it's unimaginative and won't work, buyers are too clueless and gullible.

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    1. Well, until we've got a source of information, I guess we've all got huge potential to be clueless, as Zazie points out below in other terms. And there is huge pressure to conform, which I guess men are more used to sartorially ever since they got squeezed into dark suits in the 19th century...

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  2. I quite dislike fougères too, their sameness and thier shrilly shrieking voices conjure anything but virility in my mind.
    That said, I excuse the gents.
    Many men don't know that in perfume shopping there is more than what meets the nose in the average Douglas. If a man decides to buy a fragrance (instead of going the easy route to use the fragrance they were given last Xmas) he will find himself in a dept store, he will smell a few perfumes, they will all smell the same, he will make a choice (based on packaging, ad, price, whatever) and he will end up smelling like every other male in the boardroom.
    I feel that - with due differences - this is what happens to lots of women too, including the younger me from a decade ago... Sometimes you just don't know that there are options out there! And smelling these *options* also helps educating the nose in the difficult art of smelling "out of the box"!
    Love the pics!!!

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    1. You're absolutely right, Zazie, the fougère wearers have got excuses. Still, it's quite a paradox to hear people say they wear fragrances "to be myself", then smell them picking out a cookie-cutter frag.

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    2. Everyone one to be him/herself provided that they still don't stand out from the crowd i guess

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  3. I'm with you all above. I've always wondered what that, as Zazie describes so perfectly, "screechy note" in so many men's colognes that takes me to men in a weight room with iron dumb bells (bar bells?) who get all sweaty and try to "freshen up" after with some Abercrombie & Fitch. It must be the di-hydro myrcenol. I'm glad to finally know what it is I'm smelling there. It lends something of a sameness to a lot of men's cologne, which is a shame, because there are plenty of wonderful men's scents out there. But Zazie has another good point, in that many mass-marketed perfumes simply smell the same, be it the screechy clean of many men's scents or the fruity-floral for women.

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    1. Oh la la, don't get me started on the Abercrombie and Fitch, the retail industry's bid for chemical warfare (if anyone wanted to give better ammo to the anti-perfume lobby, I don't know what it would be)...

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  4. Lolololol, I have heard that it is the cause of the most perfume-related deaths in the U.S. Perhaps they are actually working for the government developing chemical weapons and their colognes are the rejects!

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    1. Well, the A&F owner is certainly offensive enough from what I've read...

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  5. amen, sistah! you are preaching to the choir!

    these, along with the ubiquitous dryer-sheet, citrus-on-white-musk men's scents should be banned.

    i want a man to smell interesting. especially if he IS interesting.

    cheers,
    minette

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    1. True! How many times have I thought "this man really deserves something better"...

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  6. This post made me laugh! I'm a hobbyist perfumer and I was working with a friend on a bespoke cologne for his wedding. He wanted something with a Cool Water vibe. I told him I don't roll that way...fortunately, I got him hooked on several varieties of frankincense and we went in the direction of "cold incense"-- But he wasn't happy with the formula until it had a tiny tad of Ultrazur. It actually worked, but it was funny how that "fresh" note had to be there for him, even if it was just a micro-hint. The cologne was a success, so I'm glad I kept at it, as it really stretched me-- but that's the fun of collaboration!

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    1. Hey Marla! Long time! Cold incense seems like a good option. It's great that you managed to steer him towards incense. And even better that he enjoyed it on such a special day. Brava!

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  7. You are not alone on your hate. I also hate this kind of metallic smell, that for me gets mixed with the smell of some violet leaf materials and creates me the impression of cheap plastic burned metallic leafy aroma. I hate it, and i wonder myself why someone bother to wear something like this. But it's like you said, is the fear itself, of daring to go against the masculine cheap prototype. Also, i suspect that for many men, fragrance is merely a second-line kind of accessory. So, they don't care too much

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  8. But i guess that di-hydro myrcénol has a contender now, that woody amber material which achieved his total fame on One Million and now is almost on every male fragrance. From what i know, even Guerlain will present a male creation to this trend. To me is another example of esterile and dumb male prototype. And man simply love it. How i wish to be more able to mask my disguise when people know that i like fragrances and ask me what i think about 212 man (i HATE it) or One Million (that i don't care anymore).

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    1. That woody ambery material you mention is precisely what I can spiky woods, and it is indeed almost ubiquitous. Apparently brands feel reassured when they're included because that way they're sure the fragrance will have volume.

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  9. I just got back from the perfume counter. The SA asked me what my favourite perfume was. I said Pour Monsieur by Chanel. "Oh... a chypré! Well then, you'll love L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme by Issey Miyake!" NOT!!! Five minutes later another SA sprayed me with Bulgari for Men Soir. They all smell the same to me. The Société française des parfumeurs should open up a new category... "Chimique - Frais".

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    1. Yup, that or "métallique frais"... It seems that the SA would have reacted the same way no matter which fragrance you named. It might be worth sending a male friend blithely naming, say, First by VC&A, just to test...

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    2. Good point! I suspect that there was an SA quota blitz on Issey Miyake products. Whatever I said, I would have gotten the same response.. as you say. Great post!

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    3. Gotta feel sorry for them sometimes... and thanks!

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