It goes without saying that basenotes are fundamental. They are not an ‘optional’ afterthought. A perfume, unless the lightest of colognes, is not a perfume without them.


While we might be tempted to fall, like people, for first impressions, it is the lingering aftertaste, the core of a fragrance that counts.


And yet these days there seems to often be a vague betrayal at the end of our perfumes, even when, like ‘Rose Nacree Du Desert’, they begin rather ravishingly, all powdery benzoin- licked roses feasting on patchouli and light trimmings of oudh and you think ah!





But what is left on the skin, a scent strip, a few days, hours- or weeks even, later?



The cheapest of insistent, even squalid, ‘white musks’




To me, such endings feel like a deception.


Filed under Flowers


  1. When have you also been deceived by a cheap,crap ending?

  2. Tara C

    White musks and woody ambers seem to be the bane of modern perfumery. SL De Profundis has been polluted with laundry musks… disastrous reformulation as it did not smell like that when it was first released. So many perfumes now smell relatively good for the first 20-30 minutes, then collapse into a blur of indistinct or unpleasant dreck. Néroli Outrenoir, also from Guérlain, was the most recent disappointment.

  3. Grayspoole/Maria

    “When have you also been deceived by a cheap, crap ending?”

    Pretty often, these days. I’m trying to be philosophical about it. The extrapotent aromachemicals that are supposed to replace nitromusks, oakmoss, sandalwood and other classic basenote materials do not behave in the same ways, so I find the balance of many new perfumes feels off to me. Instead of the orchestrated, intelligible, captivating stages of development that I find in vintage perfumes, so many new perfumes offer a very brief period of (sometimes) more interesting topnotes followed by a protracted, linear slog through a boring, linear woody/musky base.

    Given that so many people seem to adore these effects, I guess I can understand why they are used. (But my non-philosophical self whines–but why can’t they be used well? and with restraint?) I think Ostara is my best example of contemporary basenotes done well, but it was almost immediately discontinued…? Maria Candida Gentile has done something quite masterful with the long and evolving drydown of Burlesque. Liz Moores of Papillon is also evidently making a point to avoid the obvious aromachemicals, and I think her perfumes are very beautiful. But they last 1/2 as long as my vintages on my skin (or even less) so it’s hard for me to buy bottles, although I applaud her efforts

    Here’s a recent disappointment for your contemplation: Zoologist Perfumes Civet. The reviews are positively rapturous, I admire the perfumer’s work, it’s described as a vintage animalic revival–how could I possibly dislike it? The opening is quite lovely, spicy and rich. For a few moments I think…could Civet be my readily renewable stand-in for vintage Scandal or Balalaika or Zibeline? Erm, that would be a “nope.” Fifteen minutes later, it’s the same damn woody aromachemical note for hours, which does not even remotely smell like vintage oakmoss, civet, or musk

    As you can see, the philosophical approach is working VERY well for me…

  4. I’ve stopped being disappointed by hip and cool niche houses’ releases with drydowns that crap out. Just par for the course. Insult to injury are the insane prices they charge for these things with abbreviated (or ugly) finishes when for a few dozen bucks I can get any number of vintage scents, not even particularly exalted ones, with drydowns that are the highlight of the experience.

    I’ve found that the new Chanel Exclusif EdPs have drydowns that inspire a yawn. Short, linear, chemical, dull.

    Funnily enough, while I’m with you on Wasser’s inadequacies overall, I do love the finish of Rose Nacrée du Desert. Not a white musk (which I loathe) in sight. I wonder if bottlings are different? My full-sized bottle came from Dubai nearly the moment it was released, 2012 or whenever it was. Hmm.

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