Yesterday I bought myself a bottle of Baudelaire, an expensive niche fragrance by Byredo. I bought it over the counter at a store, so luckily I was able to sample it before buying it. It smelled great - unique, dark, rich, aromatic and masculine - and I felt it was good enough for me to justify coughing up the $150 to buy it. I brought it home and couldn't wait to wear it the next day, which is today.
You know what I'm wearing today? 360 Perry Ellis Blue, an old $20 TJ Maxx cheapie that I love. It smells a lot like Drakkar Noir, and I'm wearing it because I love it and I'm in the mood to wear it. The Baudelaire is still sitting in its box in the shopping bag on my dining room table, unused. Obviously I'm going to wear it, but I'm not going to until I'm in the mood to, like I do with every fragrance I own, and I don't know when that time will come. I wouldn't be surprised if I don't crack this thing open until sometime in September.
There is a point to this story. I have a huge collection of fragrances - over 300 bottles - and about 30 or 40 of them are from niche brands. It's the same thing with almost every one: I hardly ever wear them. No matter how good they are, no matter how positive a review I give them, most of my niche scents collect dust. I don't consider Creed to be a niche brand, but a lot of people do and Creeds are very expensive, so I'll use them as an example. I've owned nine different Creeds, and I ended up swapping six of them because I never wore them. The three I held onto - Bois du Portugal, Original Vetiver and Green Irish Tweed - all smell great, but I don't think I've worn any of them in at least two years. I have a full bottle of Mazzolari Patchouli, a very expensive niche perfume, that I've owned for a couple of years, and I think I've worn it four or five times. I'm glad I have it because it hits the spot perfectly when I'm in the mood to wear it.
This brings me to the main point of this post: I much prefer designer and drugstore fragrances because they make me feel good and I'm always in the mood to wear them. When I wake up every morning, I rarely think, "You know, I think I'll wear Muscs Koublai Khan today". I reach for stuff like Quorum, my favorite fragrance, Drakkar Noir, Brut, Eau Sauvage, etc., 99% of the time. And it's not because niche frags are expensive or that I'm afraid of using them up too quickly either. It has nothing to do with that.
The reason I wear non-niche fragrances on a daily basis is simply because I like them better than niche ones. Cost may be a factor in my decisions on buying niche scents, but it has nothing to do with my decisions on when to wear them. If I truly were in the mood to wear Muscs Koublai Khan every day, I would, but I don't.
Of course, there are a couple of exceptions for me. Both Santa Maria Novella's Patchouli and Patchouli Indonesiano by Farmacia SS. Annunziata are the only niche scents I wear on a regular basis, and I do so because patchouli is my favorite smell, and those are the two best patchouli perfumes in the world. Having made those two exceptions, the truth is that I get more excited spraying on Quorum or Kouros on a regular basis than I do putting on Santal Noble, for example, once every couple of months. I'd spend $1000 on a bottle of Quorum if I had to, but I wouldn't even think of spending that kind of dough on Mazzolari Lui. Luckily I can get a big bottle of Quorum for only fifteen bucks.
My wife, who is also a perfume maniac, feels exactly the same way, and I think it's worth mentioning her here. She'd wanted a bottle of Guerlain's Double Vanille Spiriteuese for a while now. This stuff costs a whopping $250 a bottle, more than the price of most niche perfumes. Yesterday was our fifteenth wedding anniversary, and I was going to buy her a bottle of the Guerlain yesterday as my gift to her. We went out last night to the store to buy it. When we got there, she changed her mind. You know what she chose as her gift instead? A bottle of Miss Dior, a perfume that she's been wearing religiously for the past 25 years, and which costs about a third of the price of a bottle of Double Vanille! What inspired her was the fact that it was a bottle of Miss Dior "Originale", which supposedly reverts back to the same scent she remembers wearing all these years. She's used up probably six or seven large bottles of Miss Dior over the years, yet this was a no-brainer for her. She was thrilled. To prove my point, I think it's worth noting that today, unlike me, my wife is wearing the perfume she got last night.
This brings me back to the main topic of this article: niche versus what I call "everyday" fragrances. Niche perfumes fill a niche, so to speak, for me: they satisfy that craving I get every once in a while to wear something truly unique and totally unlike anything else in my collection, and certainly unlike anything I'll be smelling out in public. I've had a bottle of Iris Bleu Gris for over a year now, and I think I've worn it twice. However, if I'm in the mood to wear Iris Bleu Gris, nothing else will satisfy me. And that is why I own a very carefully selected collection of niche perfumes.
I love every one of my niche frags, but the truth is, I could live without them. By contrast, I feel like I couldn't live without Quorum, Kouros, Brut, Azzaro Pour Homme, and all the other significantly less glamorous and pricey fragrances I wear on a regular basis. These things are stone cold classics, and they are for a reason. If Eau Sauvage or Quorum or Drakkar Noir were to suddenly be discontinued forever, I'd feel like a part of me was gone forever. These scents have become a part of who I am, something I doubt I'll ever be able to say about some $180 bottle of niche perfume I may own. To put it all in a nutshell, niche scents satisfy me every once in a blue moon like no other fragrance can. Designer and drugstore fragrances, on the other hand, light my fire every day.
And this, readers, is why I'll take the inexpensive, old reliable wardogs over niche fragrances any time.