5/25/15

Alain Delon, "AD Classic" (Art & Fragrance)



Alain Delon's signature scent for men is another in a long list of examples of how people get all screwed up over minor changes in product packaging. Back in the early eighties, when this fragrance was still new, the box and bottle simply read "Alain Delon." Then, twenty-five years and a dozen fragrances later, they added the word "classic" in small print.

What follows is typical. A division of camps occurs, with invisible lines drawn in the sand: the "original" fragrance, WITHOUT the word "classic," is the best, while the newly-packaged version is a pale imitation that doesn't bear further attention from connoisseurs. How does this happen in the connoisseur's mind? Easy. He believes that instead of just adding "classic" to the product to remind older buyers (and inform newcomers) that this was indeed Delon's first foray into the world of perfume, the manufacturers opted to spend thousands of additional dollars in overhauling the formula, so that they could also make their assertion to customers a blatant lie. This is the sort of cynicism that reigns supreme in the world of fragrance enthusiasts, it seems. Very sad.

I'm here to tell you that a good friend of mine has had this perfume for the better part of two decades, and it says "classic" on the bottle. The reviews on Fragrantica date back no further than five years, yet many of them claim the version with "classic" is crap compared to the "non-classic" version. Hop on Ebay, and you'll find that the original packaging isn't available, yet the "classic" version is being billed by merchants as "rare," and worth three figures. (As an aside, I'd say it's only worth twenty bucks an ounce, tops.) What's the truth here? I think the version with "classic" printed on it is the same fragrance as the older stuff, but if it was released in the last few years, it may smell a bit softer than the vintage stuff. Times have changed, after all. Heady wormwood fougères from thirty years ago aren't the rage anymore.

How does it smell? I've always felt that AD is an unnecessary fragrance in the canon of classic masculines. Its problem isn't one of quality or craftsmanship. Its ingredients smell fairly natural, and they comprise a balanced scent. There's a pleasant pop of lavender and carnation in the top accord, followed by artemisia, juniper, cinnamon, and precious woods, with a honeyed amber base. It smells ever manly and outdoorsy, with that "refined gentleman" feel you get with conservative fougères of yesteryear. Yet fragrances like Jazz, Tsar, Francesco Smalto PH, Yatagan, and Furyo are all more interesting examples of the genre. In fact, I'd even say that AD is superfluous, and unless you're a total newcomer to classic fragrances, there's literally no reason at all to bother with it.

There have been rumors that this fragrance is discontinued, and if they're true, I wouldn't be surprised if the dialogue about it became even more inane. In ten years I'll be reading about how great it is, and I'll probably be seeing it on Ebay for a hundred dollars an ounce. What a life.




5/19/15

Tea Rose Jasmin (The Perfumer's Workshop)



I've been receiving compliments lately, but not on any of my expensive YSLs, Creeds, or Chanels. I've been complimented on Tea Rose and its younger sister, Tea Rose Jasmin. I think the cost for both bottles was a grand total of ten dollars. That two terrific fragrances can cost so little is incredible, but what's more impressive is that they smell of natural floral essences and rich green notes, the sort of stuff I'd expect royalty to wear, bargain prices be damned. Fact: Perfumes by The Perfumer's Workshop are beautiful, masterfully made, and as good or better than most of the niche florals I've encountered. Tea Rose Jasmin is no exception.

This little fragrance has been criticized for being more tuberose than jasmine, but I think the jasmine is front and center here. Tuberose lingers as a supporting note, with hints of muguet and rose whispering alongside it while jasmine dominates, unfurling velvety wings to catch summer breezes. This is "suntan lotion jasmine," not the hyper-realistic book pressed flower, yet its directness and delicate complexity keep it smelling fresh and luminous. Think a greener, somewhat improved Vanilla Fields. It doesn't smell cheap. It doesn't smell kitschy. It just smells very rich and clean and real. At fifty cents an ounce, you'd expect it to smell of cleaning solvents, but somehow its anonymous nose took dirt cheap materials and roped their best qualities into a lovely composition.

To receive compliments on it is heartening, as most would consider the Tea Rose line strictly for ladies. One female coworker said, "I don't usually like smelling flowery things, but that's really nice. I like that." I often fantasize that the Twenties, now just five years away, will be a decade of even more decadence and debauchery than its twentieth century precursor, and gender stereotypes in perfume will finally bite the dust. Men will smell of sweet flowers, and women will emit wafts of bitter leather and oakmoss. Maybe flapper girls will make a comeback. Short haircuts, cigarette holders, and jazz will return with a vengeance. Hey, a guy can dream.





5/3/15

The "Vintages Are All Fine" Mentality



When I entered the world of fragrance, several unusual mentalities became apparent to me in regards to how enthusiasts (not "connoisseurs") viewed perfume. An example of this is the strange desire for people to refer to themselves as "connoisseurs" of perfume, instead of "enthusiasts." To label oneself a fragrance "connoisseur" suggests there is a subset of the fragrance collecting population that understands and enjoys a level of quality and exclusivity that the average population generally misses out on, which I believe is false, and a misuse of the label. Its falsehood resides in the fact that the supposed connoisseurship of perfumes is almost always associated with the necessity to own a large quantity of expensive, hard to find fragrances. Many self-proclaimed connoisseurs own hundreds of perfumes. In my opinion, these are the very people who are not perfume connoisseurs. They are enthusiastic about a wide range of scents, yet are deeply knowledgeable about few to none. The sheer scale of their collections renders them impartial to the idea of loving just one.

If you're a man who only owns and wears one bottle of perfume at a time, you are enjoying the fragrance and its functionality even more than the person who has that same perfume in a collection of several hundred others. The man with one perfume that he has worn for years also knows that perfume better, recognizes it faster, and appreciates its structure and movements with more clarity and understanding than the guy who gets around to it once every two or three months in a wide rotation. Thus, connoisseurship of perfume applies realistically to someone's appreciation of one specific fragrance, based on an affinity and somewhat obsessive allegiance to it. It makes little sense to consider connoisseurship of fragrance as an over-arching love for only the "best" fragrances. The overwhelming subjectivity of what constitutes the "best" nullifies the meaning of the word.

I've had people tell me, "Bryan, you can't have it both ways. If perfume is a luxury, as you always say it is, then there are those who can be classified as 'perfume connoisseurs.'" Wrong. Perfume is a luxury, yes, but luxury is defined more broadly than people realize. When one hears the word luxury, visions of expensive Beluga caviar and fine mink coats swirl about. But luxury is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as:
• a condition or situation of great comfort, ease, and wealth
• something that is expensive and not necessary
• something that is helpful or welcome and not usually or always available
That last bullet point applies to perfume. Perfume is not necessarily expensive and extravagant. However, it is not always available, like running water, for example. Travel to certain parts of South America, Africa, and Asia, and you will find that something as seemingly basic as running water is absent from the shortlist of contemporary amenities. You can, however, live without it, as long as some form of water is available and readily accessible. Jump in a river for a wash, and boil a vat of it to drink. If you spend a few weeks or months on the road in rural India, which is currently home for over one billion people, and then return to New York City, running water clearly becomes a luxury. It is something to be enjoyed and valued, but not taken for granted. Yet no one considers themselves connoisseurs of running water.

Likewise, perfume is fairly common in the developed world (even India lays a claim to fame for continuing to produce a Shulton-branded version of Old Spice), yet we do not need it to survive. The poor would sooner install running water in their abodes than bottles of Old Spice. True poverty, a condition in which billions of people live, would place the cheapest perfume at the rock bottom of a list of wants and needs. Those of us who can afford it without a second thought, even if only a few dollars are spent, are enjoying a luxury. The classification of luxury as such does not need adjustment; it is the classification of perfume that requires close inspection.

Another strange idea that swirls about among perfumistas is the notion that perfume never goes bad. For some, perfume is something mysteriously immune to the effects of time. They feel that if you take care of a bottle of fragrance by keeping it out of harsh temperatures and direct sunlight, it can remain fairly pristine for many decades, and possibly centuries. There have been articles about archeologists finding ancient perfume specimens, hundreds of years old, which supposedly smell surprisingly fresh after countless years at the bottom of the sea, or under the Earth. However, you have to take these accounts with a grain of salt, and apply the same attitude to those who claim they have never encountered a "bad" bottle of vintage perfume.

Two weeks ago it was reported that scientists discovered 170 year-old bottles of Champagne on the floor of the Baltic Sea. According to the report, the scientists tasted the Champagne and were "amazed by how well the wine had aged under the sea." They described its flavor as "grilled, spicy, smoky, and leathery, together with fruity and floral notes." They also said that the Champagne had sugar in the amount of twenty ounces per gallon, an astounding quantity by any measure, about seven times the sugar content of a can of Coke. One can infer from this that the wine's flavor was also "sweet."

Predictably, the comments under the article were scathing. One person wrote:
"It sounds to me that this wine tastes like a 70 year old leather boot with foot sweat dragged through a flower field and then grilled. At least thats what came to my mind. And that doesn't sound very pleasant."
And another added:
"Six times the sugar of Coke? That sounds like a diabetic coma."
And yet another said:
"If that condition is 'close to perfect,' wine producers could just easily throw every bottle of wine they produce under the sea and let them age perfectly."
Which is not something any contemporary wineries are seriously attempting to do, with the exception of a few "experimental" vintages, as apparently some houses are fiddling around with the idea of salt water aging.

The Smithsonian reports that a leading scientist in this discovery tasted the stuff, and felt it was "incredible." He claimed he "had never tasted such a wine," and that its flavor - no, its "aroma" for fuck's sakes - lingered on his presumably refined palate for hours afterward. Further descriptions from this quarter include "cheese" and "wet hair," in case your mouth wasn't already watering enough. But based on this scientific report and the archeological aging of the caskets, these wines were touted as "collector's items," and several were auctioned off for up to 100,000 Euros. Others were tucked away for further investigation, to eventually become museum pieces.

One obvious problem with these reports is that they're referring to something that 99.999% of the world's population will never taste. How nice would it be if one of these scientists actually told the truth about what they were tasting? Instead of saying the brine-tainted swill is "incredible," say "this stuff tastes like clam shit," and discourage wealthy morons from wasting six figures on the rusted bottles. Not that I care if wealthy idiots blow their loads on liters of decayed garbage, but I'm frightened at the prospect of reading about the "market" for completely spoiled antique Champagne. I've heard enough about make-believe commercial markets to last me a lifetime, and do not need my attention brought to any new ones.

I have read blog posts that mention similar discoveries of supposedly well-preserved bottles of centuries-old perfume, with scientists making similar claims about their freshness. With perfume, people seemed more willing to believe the reports, despite the fact that hundreds of years ago perfumers used only natural materials, much the same as wine makers. So it is not a stretch to believe that reports of pristine perfumes dating back centuries are at best sensationalized exaggerations. Likewise, it is almost impossible and certainly unacceptable to believe at face value that 170 year-old Champagne with seven times the sugar content of contemporary soft drinks, and several times the salt content of contemporary Champagne, tastes "incredible." Last I checked, notes of "cheese" and "wet hair" were stomach-turners. No one has ever used them to describe a high vintage of Champagne. Ever.

But there's an obvious reason why the scientist in the Smithsonian report used those descriptors. One comment from a reader on Yahoo struck me as particularly prescient:
"Since we'll never taste it for ourselves, they can just lie and say it's the most amazing thing ever, and act all snooty towards us mere civilians who wouldn't be able to appreciate such fineries."
This seems to be the likely train of thought at play here. Acquire an extremely rare vintage of something extremely rare to begin with, shuttle it away to private labs, sip, sip, and render verdict: "Incredible!" Let that one word resound across the ranks of the elite few who can afford to spend almost limitless amounts on bottles of the stuff (imagine an entire market for something with only ten or fifteen dedicated buyers), and feel important for the rest of your life.

This is the mentality of many perfume enthusiasts who tout vintage fragrances as being largely undamaged by time and utterly worth whatever dollar amount you can throw into acquiring them. Find a very rare perfume, buy it, wear it, and write it up as being a truly beautiful fragrance. Then feel the boost to your ego as a sense of superiority courses through your veins. You've found something nobody else will find. You've smelled it, but you don't have any real presence in the community because you've been reviewing relatively popular perfumes, up until now. A glowing review of this super obscure thing will quickly lend your words some much-needed gravity. It will begin to make you seem important to newbies, to people without discernment.

This has happened to me as a reader. I encountered a review of Joint for Men, and considered the likelihood of its stated quality and value against the relevance of everything else its author had written. I suspected Joint was a good fragrance, but nowhere near as good as it was made out to be. Then I cross-referenced the glowing opinion against a few other opinions, which were sober in comparison.

A few years later I found Joint, bought it, and wore it. I suspect its reviewer believed I would never actually find the stuff. I wore it for a while. Unsurprisingly, the fragrance was merely "good." Its concept was excellent - a rowdy fern, full of musks and dusty woods, but its execution was lacking, with an oddly unbalanced drydown that revealed the use of cheap synthetics. Perhaps its civet note was natural, along with one or two other notes, but the rest of the construct was thinly grafted onto a basic white musk of little interest. Now, you could argue that my bottle was "off," but that would be conceding that this perfume is an example of an old fragrance gone bad. You might even argue that it wasn't taken care of, but it was boxed in ideal conditions when I bought it, so this is a difficult case to make, at least if you are trying to convince me. I think its quality was exaggerated, and I also think my bottle is a bit spoiled.

The Emperor's new clothes? Gone.

I've been accused of doing this myself, of course. My review of Nature Boy by Garner James was criticized as being overblown nonsense, because after all, how good can a perfume be? However, my critic, despite having an opportunity to try the scent by contacting the perfumer at Garner James, voluntarily passed up on the chance and basically said he wasn't interested in the scent anyway. Why one would choose to be ignorant of something they criticize is difficult to understand, but this person has never clarified their reasoning.

I'll conclude this lengthy post by saying that there's some of the conceited snob in all of us, and nobody is immune to the sin of exaggeration for the sake of self-aggrandizement. It's this very urge that creates the "perfume connoisseur" in the minds of those who would be such people. The oddballs who swooshed 170 year-old Champagne against their cheeks and called it "incredible" are of the same breed. As someone said in a comment about them:
"It allows them to set themselves apart as special - the cognoscenti. If you have to acquire an artificial taste, for anything, what is the point? The point is that you can say that you, unlike most of us, can drink the most foul of anything, and smile as though you like it."
Well put. Substitute the word "smell" in place of "drink," and this defines the "vintages are all fine" mentality nicely.




4/19/15

Kouros Silver: Should Anyone Bother?

So it looks like we're in for another "summer flanker" this year, surprisingly from YSL and the Kouros line. How might people react to this, given there hasn't been a significant flanker for decades? Joy? Elation? Excitement? The beloved Kouros "Fraicheur" has been extinct for the better part of twenty years now, yet it continues to garner accolades from enthusiasts the world over. Body Kouros was a major hit as well, and is still in production. But after those two came a slew of lesser flankers, things like Kouros Eau d'Ete, Summer Edition, Tatoo, Energizing, Tonique, and the list goes on. The result? People are getting a little tired of Kouros flankers. None of these fragrances won anything close to the praise of Fraicheur.

But the reactions to the upcoming Kouros Silver have me rubbing my chin quite a bit. Most are blind reactions by people who haven't yet smelled the scent, but a few are from samplers, and they all share a common trait: negativity. It's a peculiar kind of negativity too, the sort that uses a shared language to describe something unfavorable, one limited to the same three or four words, with "generic" the most prominent, followed by "cheap" and "synthetic." Nobody has anything nice to say. So, in the words of Del Shannon, I wonder - I why, why, why, why, wonder - why?

Much of the reaction to Silver seems similar to the responses to Bleu de Chanel, all the way back in 2010. I recall many of the same words being bandied about. Bleu was "generic." Bleu was "synthetic" (a ridiculous charge to make of any Chanel), Bleu smelled "cheap." Today Bleu stands as one of the few contemporary Chanels that young men - i.e., men under forty - want to buy. In fact, several threads on fragrance forums have roundly celebrated Bleu's existence in the intervening years, with the word "masterpiece" replacing "generic." And often I see guys challenge that accusation outright, saying, "What exactly does Bleu smell like, anyway?" I've yet to see a reasonable answer to that question, probably because the only thing Bleu smells like is Bleu.

Are we dealing with another BdC situation with Kouros Silver? Would there be anything close to the level of vitriol on the boards if its pyramid were comprised of civet, civet, and more civet? Instead, the structure looks to be fairly mundane, a simple stacking of green apple, sage, wood notes, and amber, without even a musk element present, according to Fragrantica. It certainly sounds like a variation on the tried-and-true Cool Water theme, which is surprising coming from the Kouros division. One would think they'd want to recapture the former glory of their namesake and celebrate the skunky musk bombs of the seventies and early eighties intead of the soapy-fresh ferns of the late eighties and nineties. But so far none of the supposed samplers have had anything nice to say about it. It's just a boring, generic, sweet, synthetic blah. Shame.

I think with Kouros Silver the negativity needs to be taken with a grain of salt, and people need to decide on their own terms (and their own time) whether it's worth owning and wearing. It may very well be a piece of crap. But I'm not so sure. So far none of the Kouros frags have negated their core element of musk, even if it is in microscopic doses relative to the original, so I'm wondering if there's a musk note in Silver that isn't being mentioned. I also wonder if that note is substantive enough to contrast nicely against a woody apple accord and create something skin to Aubusson for Men or Balenciaga Pour Homme, both of which possess very rich, semi-stinky apple notes. Would the samplers even know what to compare this accord to? Is there a point of reference for Silver outside of the overstated Cool Water framework? Or is it really a lost cause?

Let's wait and see. When the frag trickles into mass consumption and larger groups of people begin evaluating it, we'll likely get a better impression of its quality, but even then it may take a year or two for everyone to come around. Meanwhile, I shake my head and sigh. It seems that the fragrance community is a negative place. People bitch about reformulations. People bitch about discontinuations. People bitch about clones. People bitch and whine and moan about flankers. Enough already.



4/15/15

man.aubusson Intense (Aubusson)


Not a man.

I first heard about this scent while reading the now defunct Pour Monsieur blog, which has an interesting review of it. His opinion is similar to my own, in that we both experienced intense disappointment upon blind sampling man.aubusson Intense. Where we diverge is in the long view - he grew to like it, while I still hate it. To me, this scent is the epitome of crap. It is intensely derivative, intensely boring, intensely synthetic, intensely sweet, and all around intense in the most negative sense of the word. I'll save you the trouble of going through what I did here and just say that you ought to avoid wasting six dollars on a large bottle of this stuff. It ain't worth it.

How does it smell, exactly? Very similar to two Joop! fragrances I already own, namely Joop! Jump (at the start) and Joop! Homme Wild (at the finish), with an oddly screechy and nauseatingly sweet apple note hinging them together. It smells more like the latter scent than the former, but there's definitely a sweetened Cool Water thing going on in the first ten minutes, very much like Jump. I can almost abide the fragrance for those first few minutes, but Jump is just a better scent, and hell, Cool Water is better than both of them. Besides, when something is this blatantly derivative, it's tempting to revisit its predecessors, where all the real love is.

And I'll be honest, since purchasing it a year ago, I haven't worn Wild. I really enjoy it when I spritz it on my wrist, but have yet to find a day where I'm inclined to actually give it a full wearing. It's too sweet and boisterous for work, and I can't help but feel a bit too old for it, despite not believing in age limits for fragrance. But at least Wild smells competently made - man Intense smells shoddy, like a chemist mixed a few sweet and vaguely fruity materials in a vial and called it a perfume. No thanks. I'll stick with the beautiful original Aubusson for Men.

If Justin Bieber fits your idea of manliness, this one's for you.




3/28/15

Buicks And Bleu de Chanel EDP


Finally took a picture of my car!

I've been a bit busy this month. The winter of 2015 will forever be on my shit list, because it killed my 2001 Pontiac Sunfire, a car that I really liked and enjoyed driving for the better part of ten years. It had a good transmission and a surprisingly roomy interior, with decent pickup for a four-banger, and a nice automatic sunroof that I'll miss. The unrelentingly frigid temperatures finally had their way with the heater core and head gasket, which forced me to look for a new vehicle. Which I found rather quickly, as you can see above.

I traded up on the GM ladder and went for a car that I've always loved, an eighth generation Buick LeSabre Custom. Whenever I see these things in parking lots I stop and drool, and given that I desperately needed a car on very short notice, and a local garage just happened to have a LeSabre with very low miles (and at a great price), lemons became lemonade. Maybe it's revenge for how the universe robbed me of my beloved 1985 Chrysler Fifth Avenue, or the car gods finally gave me a break after cycling me through two Cavaliers (the Sunfire is just a rebranded Cavalier), but I had to have this car, and now that I do, I love it even more than I thought I would.

It's big. Really, really fucking big. It doesn't look quite that big on the outside, but it's a 16 footer and a six-seater with enough trunk space to fit two adult bodies, with room to spare. These big romantic American cars are like catnip to me. We tend to screw up on most things, but when it comes to cars, America is where it's at. Sorry, Europe and Asia. You can keep your Opals and Peugeots and Toyotas and Suzukis. Don't care for 'em. Maybe having an 18 gallon gas tank and a hood the size of an air hockey table is impractical and more than a little dumb. I don't care. Big cars are hot.

Anyway, on to Bleu de Chanel EDP. What can I say? This fragrance smells amazing. The EDT is rather Chevrolet, but the Parfum is a Buick. Maybe even a Caddy. I'm still not wild about this fragrance, but I do like the EDP quite a bit. It's very, very similar to the EDT, but it's richer, smoother, deeper, and a little more dynamic, with a very shimmery, almost Creed-like ginger/citrus/labdanum top accord that shifts effortlessly into an ambery incense that goes on for hours, and smells incredible.

Why does it smell better than the EDT when it's basically the same composition? Maybe it's the richer labdanum note that clinches it, along with a more lucid ginger, and juicier citrus notes. It's pretty much the original BdC, now in digital surround sound. There's pink pepper in there also, and what smells like a faint hint of rose, sweet and almost boozy, which makes it more unisex, something I might prefer on a woman.

In any case, if I can ever afford another bottle of perfume again, I'll try and make it a bottle of BdC EDP. The EDT is a compliment mill, so I imagine the EDP will really drive 'em wild. Bravo, Chanel. Keep up the good work!




3/21/15

Let's Cut Costs By Spending More Money!



I guess there aren't many design majors on basenotes.

I'm not going to get long-winded here, because I've already made this point a few times before, but it bears mentioning again. Why? Because apparently there's only two or three of us in the fragrance community who base our thinking about reformulations on logic, instead of knee-jerk nonsense.

The point in question is simple: perfume brands do not change perfume packaging every time they significantly reformulate a fragrance. Reformulations happen more frequently than people realize, and they're never something a company wants to advertise. Repackaging a perfume requires considerable design work, paper purchases, press trials, and money. Reformulations are often conducted to cut costs in manufacturing, adjust an older perfume to contemporary trends, or both. If you're the head of a perfume firm, you're not going to cut costs in the formula but pay an unnecessary sum to change packaging just to "signal" to buyers that you've changed the formula. To do so would make absolutely no sense at all.

Yet people on basenotes put reformulations and repackagings in the same corner. Just read this thread to see how weird their logic is. As an aside, you can also see how they pile on a guy who believes many reformulated fragrances are just as good as, if not better than their originals, with an unnecessarily offensive air typical to the forum, unfortunately. But I'm more interested in how the thread participants blindly link reformulations to repackagings. These are often the same people who consider reformulations to be results of companies "cheaping out" on formerly complex and presumably expensive perfumes (actually the perfumes are rarely expensive).

I studied graphic design, photography, and print process. I hold a degree in graphic design. Redesigning a commercial package is a big financial task. Larger brands have in-house design firms. If they don't, then they outsource the work to whichever third-world company can undercut the competition and still produce the goods. Let's say it costs twenty or thirty thousand dollars to use an in-house perfumer for reformulating a scent, a job in which he merely swaps out ingredients at one price-point for ingredients at another, and then rebalances the formula to make the change as unnoticeable as possible. If he's in-house, this is simply salary money. The result is something that will be used for two or three years, and will save the company hundreds of thousands in manufacturing costs. But like any business, the motive for change is based on the here and now, and if that change involves cheapening something, it means current overhead is noticeably hurting profits.

You want to heal profits overnight? Cheapen the formula with an in-house perfumer without robbing the scent of its essential character. Sell it at the same price as before, in the same carefully budgeted packaging as before, and guess what? You'll start to see an improvement in your profit margin. Change one thing, and other things may change for the better.

You want to defeat the purpose? Cheapen a formula and add an additional one or two hundred grand to the bill. Prepare to pay anywhere from fifteen to thirty thousand for a logo redesign (the more known the logo is, the bigger the bill to redesign it), and another ten or fifteen thousand for a box redesign. Add another sixty thousand for millions of sheets of brand new hi-gloss paper, industrial print trials (with CMYK tweaks), and final press work. Expect additional bills from whatever packaging plant you're using, if it's not yours to begin with. And if the bottle is changing, look out for anywhere from ten to twenty-five grand for whoever is inking those lines and shaping the glass. Tangentially (and unavoidably) you'll also be spending millions of dollars to announce the "new look" with print ads, internet ads, and TV spots, if your perfume is relatively popular and still in chain stores. Brut is a prime example of this. By the time you're done, you could be looking at two or three million dollars just to "signal" to buyers that you changed the formula.

Some will argue that this is chump change for larger brands. If you've ever created a business plan, you know that there's no such thing as chump change. Every dollar counts. Every dollar is accounted for. Every dollar spent is a risk. This mindset is what keeps the big boys big.

Why not just change a package when you need to change it?

When these kinds of changes are made, it's due to market test results or a change in the packaging division's management structure. New blood brings a new approach. Such expenditures are made for their own reasons, but sending not-so-subliminal warnings about changed formulas to cynical buyers isn't one of them.