Flankers and Phttt!

While I drum my fingers waiting for my Boxooooooses and the new Amouage Memoir, I pawed through my sample drawer to look at new releases and flankers that seemed interesting or should be interesting that I’ve ignored the last few months.

Estee Lauder Sensuous  Noir – flanker. Estee Lauder is like the High Priestess of flankers. They flank their flankers.  At some point, it’s like a olfactory nesting game. Flankers tend to make me yawn, with the exception a few, like J’Adore Absolu from Dior, which I think is just gorgeous and perfect for a mainstream scent. It makes J’Adore better without too much departure from the original.  So while not a fan of flankers, they do seem more honest than just making a similar perfume and slapping a new name on it, which happens still, but happened a lot more frequently before flanking started.

Estee Lauder’s Sensuous was a scent that I liked quite well, which led me to believe that I may like this noir’ish flanker, composed of notes of purple rose, jasmine, black pepper, melted woods nature print, creme noir accord, patchouli prisma, spiced lily, benzoin, vanilla, honey and amber.  They should have called it Sensuous Dessert instead of Noir.  Noir for me implies a darkness, less peppiness, some darker tonality.  Instead Sensuous Noir gives us a more sweet and gourmand version of Sensuous.  Huge disappointment for me – a darker Sensuous could have been great. Nothing really wrong with Sensuous Noir, but as a flanker, it doesn’t feel like an  improvement on the original, nor does it feel like it embraces the added word onto its name.  Poor little flanker. Having said that, I think it will sell really well for EL because the name and the sweetness will appeal to a demographic that the original didn’t.  Maybe they’re just smarter than I am?  Well, of course!

Chanel’s advance marketing hype for its new men’s scent, Bleu de Chanel was  nonexistent. I saw it featured on their website like a week before it was released – though it seems that there’s a big marketing blitz coming with Martin Scorcese now, so maybe there are just two marketing avenues at work:  the big buildup for the niche fragrances that get plenty of advance copy (the stuff we drool over) and the marketing avenue that is straight for the masses when the scent is released, centered much more around media hype and star personalities (the stuff we tend to not drool over, but sniff dismissively about).  Octavian notes that there was another cologne of this name in the ’30s.  I’ve never smelled the original, but I can’t imagine they bear any resemblance to each other beyond they are fragrance.  This one is all modern sporty fresh perfumery.  I do realize in saying that, most of you will read that as the pejorative that I think of it as.  There’s, again, nothing really wrong with this, it is constructed well for what it is, it’s got all the Chanel quality. It’s just more of the same of a whole lot of other stuff that’s been out there for a while. Maybe Chanel hadn’t mined this particular men’s throbbing vein (reference to March’s post from yesterday)?  I thought they had plenty of the sport scents, but maybe not. If not, then I guess it was necessary to put it in the lineup to get that customer.

But shouldn’t there be a rule – one for them and one for us?  They can release some mainstream thing they need to make to try and cover the market they are aiming for, but they have to give us something cool and unique around the same time, like Chanel doing a parfum version of 31 Rue Cambon or Beige.

That was a bust.

Have I mentioned Vero Kern’s EDP versions of her scents?  Wonderful!  I haven’t talked about them because I don’t think you can get them here yet, and I don’t know what the price point is, but I’m pretty excited about them because I love her fragrances, but the price tag on the extraits really takes them out of most people’s budget.  Of course, just in time for this post to come out, Luckyscent’s Fall Scents e-mail comes out with an announcement that her EDPs are there now!  $190 for 50 mls.

Can we talk about my new Droid X instead?  I need a Droid app for my perfumes, so I can catalog the perfumes I like and whether it’s mainstream (I define this by price point more than anything else, though availability is another big factor) or niche or just overpriced dreck in either category.  Because I’m sitting here thinking about a lot of mainstream stuff I do love, like the J’Adore Absolute and Coco Mademoiselle parfum and Sensuous and the Burberrys.  I mean, I never wear the Burberrys, but my niece does, and I always think she smells so great as she drifts by – perfection for young women.  I’d just like to dial up my little app and run through my list of mainstream things I love to give me some hope that there will be more coming, and I will find more to love there, it’s just having to sort through a lot of rocks in my Trick or Treat Bag.

Mainstream of the last 10 years, generally, what’s your favorites?  Do we get more depressed about it because there’s just more mainstream (this seems to have slowed down a bit) and a lot that smells the same, and it’s farther and farther between loves, or has mainstream really gotten that much worse and generic? I keep thinking it’s that much worse and generic, but I’d like to be convinced otherwise if anyone is inclined or up to that task.

  • Diana Ross says:

    There *should* be an app for that!! I often use fragrantica on my Droid 4 to quickly look at notes while I’m out sniffing.

  • london says:

    I agree that Prada, Kenzo, Hermes and Bvlgari do as good a job with their mainstream lines (ie not the Hermessences, Prada Exclusives etc but the normal stuff you can buy anywhere) as any niche lines do. They are not all winners but then you can’t say that about any niche lines either. I own and wear fragrances from the last 10 years from all of those houses just as happily as I do the Chanel/Guerlain/Dior/Caron classics or the latest niche. I’m also voting MAC’s Naked Honey as a fantastic mainstream perfume – albeit a limited edition.

  • eliza says:

    I hesitate to admit in this forum that I actually really like Youth Dew Amber Nude–it’s very simple and warm and comforting, and lingers nicely. But perhaps that is an interpretation versus a flanker? Most often flankers just make me want the original–and it is pretty telling that not many flankers seem to become “classics” or have any sort of longevity. Hmmm…trendy, anyone?

  • Hilary says:

    I think the Hermes scents do beautifully for the mainstream. I really like Eau and Elixir des Merveilles, Jardin sur le Nil, and Voyage.

  • nozknoz says:

    OK, just for fun, I’m going to say Guerlain Vetiver. Sure, this is supposed to have been around for a long time, but the current iteration is very different from previous vintages – it’s like its own flanker! ;-)

    I also enjoy J’Adore L’Absolu very much, but I’m still cranky about Dior. I LOVED the original 1999 J’Adore, and producing L’Absolu does NOT make up for messing with the original.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Flankers don’t generally merit my attention. *Yawn* My favorite mainstream scents are Prada Infusion d’Iris, L’Eau d’Ambrée and Chanel Eau Première. Does Voyage d’Hermès fall into the mainstream category? I love that, too.

  • mariekel says:

    Love (now discontinued) Burberry Brit Red in all its eccentricity. And Miyake A Scent is fab for warm weather — it is my alternative to the terribly expensive and hard-to-find vintage Cristalle EDT.

  • Elisa says:

    I like lots of mainstream scents. Flower by Kenzo is just about ten years old now; I think it’s a contemporary classic. I don’t own/wear it but I feel like Coco Mademoiselle is kind of a new classic too. Love and wear L de Lolita Lempicka. I like Sensuous and even the new flanker (I like that it embraces trashiness). Every now and then NR for Her feels right (my boyfriend loves that one). I’m sure I could list a whole bunch of others that I like if not love (Clarins Par Amour, the original Juicy Couture, etc). Basically, I’m really glad there are niche and indie perfumers, but if there weren’t, I don’t think I’d have to kill myself.

    It’s hard for me to get enraged about anything that only costs $50, but I admit I’m annoyed by a lot of the new mainstream releases, which are all waaaay too sweet (and I like sweet scents).

  • AnnieA says:

    J’Adore Absolu and and EL’s Private Collection Jasmine White Moss are pretty nice.

  • Karen G says:

    Oh, sure there’s still good stuff out there in the mainstream. There’s a lot more dreck too, so it just takes longer to pin down the good stuff.

    My mainstreamm faves of the last 10 years: SJP Lovely (doesn’t get more mainstream than that), Hermes Eau des Merveilles. And I’ll 3rd or 4th Dior Homme.

  • Wendi says:

    The Kenzos get my mainstream vote. I’ve always had a soft spot for them… I bought my first bottle in the Carribean on my honeymoon… so my opinion may be biased. No. 5 Eau Premire is pretty great too. The Lolita Lempikas come in third.

  • Pimpinett says:

    After three minutes of furious thinking, I can actually come up with five pretty great mainstream releases of the last ten years; the aforementioned Dior Homme, Mugler Cologne and Prada Amber, Infusion d’Iris and L’Eau Ambrée. Prada is a great mainstream line, I think. I will probably have to get at the very least minis of all of those sooner or later.

  • Musette says:

    No reason to whip this horse any harder (Cheryl, Karin et al have made excellent points). I am guilty of a bit of mainstream snobbery, meself. Not for snobbery’s sake, mind you, but because I’ve been burned so many times, plus I get so 8-| of SAs waving those terrifying testers around, shrieking ‘IT’S NEW!!!’ I may have missed some gems in the process, though. Can you believe I’ve never smelled J’Adore?

    Today’s teen girls’ focus on chocolate-covered fruitals is the equivalent of my teenhood’s fascination with musk and powder – between Heaven Sent, Love’s Baby Soft and (it just slipped my mind) overapplied to mind-blowing saturation…I’m surprised our mothesr didn’t fling those bottles – and us- out of the house! I wouldn’t be surprised if my highschool hallways still held the aroma..

    xo >-)

    • Wendi says:

      On teenagers: I completely sympathize. My mother would complain constantly about my perfume as a teenager, and she had every right to. The mainstream stuff was bad then, but it’s so much worse now. I have 2 daughters, and I’m not even giving them a chance to get hooked on the stuff. My 8-year-old’s favorite is a Nicolai, and the 4-year-old likes Amaranthine the best. I’m going to have to watch that one when she gets older.

  • Cheryl says:

    I’m guessing in the past there was a lot less dreck, AND a lot less good stuff….because there was just FEWER releases and product. Before every single anybody with any kind of label needed to sell a line of perfume, sunglasses and bedsheets AS WELL. Or any kind of entertainment figure needed an ancillary lineup of product. But I’ve been pondering the evolution as well and I believe that with the release of newer synthetics (cheaper!)there is a corresponding creativity(or something) burst with new scents that get showered on the market. And the further away companies go from the more expensive raw materials of the previous eras. We’re swirling into “the cheap” (at any price point), down the toilet bowl. And people DO notice and that’s why there are so many perfume-haters out there. They hate the aromachemical dreck! Except for the teen girl market, which I think will always be partial to gourmandy recognizably fruity/chocolatey things. ??? It’s early in the morning here, so excuse the harumpphing tone and grammatical liberties.

  • kjanicki says:

    Would Bvlgari fall under “mainstream”? I think so, if I can pick it up at my drug store. I like Bvlgari Black (older than 10 years?) and Omnia.

  • Suzy Q says:

    No. 5 Eau Premiere is pretty terrific. I don’t know if it falls outside your 10 year release date. Interesting post.

    • March says:

      Seconding, it’s a great scent, I’ve gifted it once or twice. Bleu, on the other hand, was a monumental (if acceptable smelling) snooze.

      • Musette says:

        Thirding (if you can do that?) – I was surprised at how nice it was – actually contemplated buying a bottle!! Then I got gobsmacked by the Dreaded Musk – of course I am such a Musk ~:> I don’t think it is detrimental to this scent – I just don’t like Musk. Other than that, it’s a great flanker (if it’s got the original name in the new name, it’s a flanker, right? Even if it’s flanking something older than God?)

        xo >-)

  • karin says:

    I keep wondering if the current “dreck” as we call it, will be called the “classics” of the current generation. What about the 20-somthings? Are they loving the dreck? Are we like Lily suggests – old and cranky? What were the seasoned perfumistas in the 80’s saying about Poison? Were they bashing it like we’re bashing Very Hollywood? Or were they loving it? Is it all relative? Or do we really have a point? With technological advancement, aren’t scents supposed to be getting BETTER instead of WORSE? Or have prices of the good stuff become so prohibitive in this down market that companies can’t help but use cheap materials, shine it up with some kitschy marketing, and hope we’re fooled?

    I don’t get it. I’m wondering if we like what we like because it’s what we were introduced to at the first – and when something doesn’t live up to that reputation, we’re turned off. Does that mean we’re closed minded? Or are we truly connoisseurs who know what the h*ll we’re talking about?

    Ah well. Good thing there’s enough juice out there to still wow us, even if it’s coming from niche and not from the mainstream. Still – would love to see the mainstream get the hint.

    • Ann N. says:

      Hi Karin, thanks for that very insightful post. I have to agree with a lot of what you said. I, for one, probably fit into the “old and cranky” category, but it’s only because I get tired of smelling pretty much the same-old, same-old, just spiffed up and re-packaged and served to us like it’s God’s gift to perfume.

  • waftbycarol says:

    Chanel Bleu – I am saving my nose for something else . but I remember when Beige came out there was speculation that a trio would eventually emerge from the runway show Coco did in the ’30s featuring Beige , Blue and Rouge . So maybe the one for us will be a most excellent scent titled ” Rouge ?”
    A couple months ago I was having problems with my iphone and so hoping it was dead for good so I could get a Droid….my iphone has been revived ( bummer ) but I am really wanting a Droid too !
    Best mainstream scent in the last 10 years – I’d have to jump on the Dior Homme bandwagon .

  • Olfacta says:

    I did like EL’s Tuberose Gardenia, enough to actually walk into a retail store and pay full price for it. But that was their Private line or something, right? Other than that I can’t think of much.

  • Melauriga says:

    I liked EL Sensuous, but as you say, flankers are usually a bore so I generally don’t bother with them. But what the heck is “melted woods nature print”, I’d like to know? A flanker to the “molten woods” note of Sensuous #1? Notes have their own flankers now? Sorry, had insomnia last night and got up crabby…

  • Lily says:

    Oops – forgot to say I totally agree with the second part of your post – flankers and fragrance in general is definitely getting more generic and, well, just… Meh.

    However there is also a small possibility I am just getting old and cranky :)

  • Masha says:

    It’s really that much worse, and generic. The nightmare is reality. And even niche has not lit my fire for a long time. I’ve moved over to Indie, even micro-Indie, and to countries far from the West, and I’m starting to have fun again.

  • Darryl says:

    Purists scoff (and perhaps rightfully so) at Dior’s reformulations of their classics, but I really think many of their recent creations are smarter, classier, and simply better made than most designer/mainstream scents. I consider Dior Homme one of the best releases of the last 10 years, masculine or feminine, and even Dior’s flankers – the Poison spawn, Fahrenheit 32, and J’Adore Absolu, like you mentioned – are well-built, thoughtful, and enjoyable. Generally, yes, I agree that there are simply too many substandard releases today and that it’s bringing our perception of “mainstream scents” down as a whole, but fragrances like Dior Homme give me hope that distinctive, unique creations from mainstream houses ARE a possibility in the scent-by-committee 2000s and beyond.

    • Masha says:

      I think you’re correct about the quality, but they all got a big YAWN from me. Of course, when it comes to perfume these days, I’m so jaded I make Keith Richards look like a little girl….

  • carter says:

    I really wish you hadn’t dragged Estee Lauder’s flanks into this.