shopping bags - Disappointing Fragrance Purchases

Continuing with my Holiday Special Series of various topics that shaped 2021 for me, today, I’m tackling the topic of my most disappointing fragrance purchases of the year.

In my previous article about my biggest fragrance discoveries of 2021 where I talked about how this year was the best for me fragrance-related, and now, it is time to talk about the other side of the fragrance-buying coin.

It is a well-known fact that when you buy so many new fragrances within a single year, there is no doubt some of them are gonna turn out as disappointments.

What I tried to do differently here that is usually seen in other similarly themed articles or videos was to actually include great or somewhat overhyped fragrances that for various reasons just didn’t work with me at this moment, and ended up being sold.

This way, you’ll get a chance to get a broader picture of each fragrance before making a purchase decision and get to know why sometimes is better to test perfumes multiple times and trust your own nose.

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How I Picked My Most Disappointing Fragrance Purchases

Funnily enough, most perfumes found on this list have been featured in other fragrance lists on Scent Grail before which just shows you that ever the great stuff can end up as a disappointment, and maybe, how picky I’ve become.

Give or take, I had purchased around 20 – 25 bottles of perfume this year, which can be shocking to some, and nothing special to others.

No matter on which side you belong to, that is a lot of bottles to purchase in 365 days. With the current number of around 30 fragrance bottles sitting on the shelf, I plan to trim the number to less than 20 by the end of the next year to give myself a chance to properly wear each scent.

To not get overly negative with this topic which should be looked like a fun and easy fragrance read, my collection has been enriched with scents from Tom Ford, Amouage, Serge Lutens, and Maison Francis Kurkdjian which I’m proud of.

As with each end of the year, Fragrantica is doing a reader’s choice award which I encourage you to vote to see which fragrances were the best in 2021 from the reader’s perspective.

This is something I plan to include hopefully by the end of the next year as well.

1. Mancera Instant Crush

A note from the brand: The irresistible trio rose – jasmine – amber strikes again, in a rich mix of sensuality and romance. Instant Crush is a wave of elegance that mixes citrus fruits and sandalwood with irresistible vanilla and surprising ginger. A real “crush”!

Why is Instant Crush one of my disappointing fragrance purchases: Like every other fragrance you’ll see on this list, each one has that “something” that made me think twice about blind buying perfume in general.

The fragrance is close to Baccarat Rouge 540 with an overdose of vanilla and amber that literally lasts for days on the skin, and projects like the beast.

Unfortunately, the overpowering performance of Instant Crush is the main reason I sold it in the end, and also a resemblance to other powerful scents – Swiss Arabian Shaghaf Oud.

If you are looking for something in the vein of the popular Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540, but wish it was stronger and sweeter, Instant Crush is a fragrance for you.

  • Perfumer: Pierre Montale
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Parfum
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Oriental
  • Release Date: 2019
  • Most dominant notes: Saffron, Vanilla, and Woods
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Age Group: 18+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Clubbing
  • Longevity and Sillage: 24+ hours with great longevity
  • Compliments: High
  • Likeability: High
  • Uniqueness: 4/5
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Accords: Spicy, Amber, Floral

2. Maison Margiela Replica By the Fireplace

A note from the brand: Maison Margiela’s By the Fireplace evokes cozy winter evenings indoors next to a enveloping fire. The snow gently falls on the frosty white landscape as you are lulled by the gracious dancing flames.

Remember the reassurance of chestnuts grilling in the chimney and a crackling wood fire with Replica By the Fireplace perfume. This warm and cozy Eau de Toilette fuses the smoky scent of burning wood with notes of gaiac wood, cashmeran and clove oil. The scent of roasted chestnuts is recreated by a blend of chestnuts notes nd red berries oil. The sweet notes of vanilla reinforce the warm and cozy sensation brought by this perfume.

Close your eyes, smell this woody fragrance and remember the enveloping sensation of a fireplace in the midst of Winter.

Why is By the Fireplace one of my disappointing fragrance purchases: By the Fireplace by Maison Martin Margiela is one of many fragrances that have fallen under the “hype train” category.

This spicy, smoky, and vanillic composition works best when it’s cold outside, and when the temperatures are around 0 Celsius.

But, man, this does not smell anything like roasting chestnuts, and this is coming from someone who regularly eats chestnuts in fall and winter.

What I do get, is a niche interpretation of smoky vanilla that smells way better than any other designer release that tries to do the same thing, and it lasts a decent time.

The reason why By the Fireplace isn’t in my perfume collection anymore is that it doesn’t fulfill the only reason I bought it, and that is the smell of chestnuts. For that kind of scent, I would rather recommend Etat Libre D’Orange Fat Electrician.

  • Perfumer: Marie Salamagne
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Woody Oriental
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Most dominant notes: Smoke, Vanilla, Guaiac wood
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Fall and Winter
  • Occasions: Romantic and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Compliments: High
  • Likeability: High
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Accords: Woody, Amber, Spicy

3. Montale Wood & Spices

A note from the brand: Ebony, Sandalwood, Vetiver, this precious wood trio combined with Incense Notes, Cardamom and Spices brings us to the Indian borders.

Why is Wood & Spices one of my disappointing fragrance purchases: Wood&Spices was a blind buy for me.

Maybe I wanted to relive my memories with Nikos Sculpture, but in a niche way, or maybe I wanted to get something that’s close enough to the discontinued Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fleur du Mâle, I don’t know anymore.

Firstly, forget about the listed notes, that’s not what you are going to get. What you are going to smell is a combination of Sculpture, Dreamer, and a touch of Fleur du Mâle which, unfortunately, smells very weak and to my surprise, more synthetic than any of the beforementioned fragrances.

With everything said and done, I recommend Wood&Spices to those who still haven’t tried any of mentioned scents but are thinking to buy them in the near future, since when it dries down, Montale is the better scent overall.

  • Perfumer: Pierre Montale
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Woody
  • Release Date: 2005
  • Most dominant notes: Neroli, Amber, and Woods
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Age Group: 20+
  • Seasons: Spring and Fall
  • Occasions: Any occasion
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Compliments: High
  • Likeability: High
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Accords: Floral, Amber, Woods

4. Acqua di Parma Colonia Leather

A note from the brand: Intensely charismatic, Leather is an ode to the traditions of leather-making. The unforgettable deep and aromatic composition combines the elegant and original leather accord with notes of Brazilian orange, Sicilian lime, rose and petitgrain.

Why is Colonia Leather one of my disappointing fragrance purchases: Colonia Leather is one great fragrance that takes Tuscan Leather DNA and changes it enough to call it its own thing.

Acqua di Parma’s signature citruses are present in the opening along with herbs as well that stay present until the dry down.

I like how Demachy didn’t fall into the Tuscan Leather trap of only changing just a note here and here, and added a fantastic rose in the heart of this perfume.

Unfortunately for me, it was maybe a month later after owning Colonia Leather when I purchased Tom Ford Ombre Leather, and one had to go.

As you may already know, Tuscan Leather is one of my all-time favorite fragrances, so in the end, there was no competition.

But, don’t just dismiss Colonia Leather as a clone of Tuscan/Ombre Leather. I do encourage you to try it, and see what you think about it. Who knows, it just may become one of your favorite leather fragrances of all time.

  • Perfumer: Francois Demachy
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Cologne Concentree
  • Fragrance Type: Floral Leather
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Most dominant notes: Orange, Rose, and Leather
  • Target Audience: Unisex
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Spring and Fall
  • Occasions: Business and Leisure
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Compliments: Low
  • Likeability: Medium
  • Uniqueness: 5/5
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Accords: Citrus, Leather, Floral

5. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Masculin Pluriel

A note from the brand: Beautifully crafted with multiple facets, masculin Pluriel is a soft and sensual fragrance for men that moves beyond fashion. Pluriel Maison Francis Kurkdjian eau de toilette for men is based on a fougere accord, a classic in men’s fragrances, which is reinterpreted in a timeless version.

The scent is balanced by a deep lavender absolute from Provence and a soft leathery accord structured with cedar from Virginia, patchouli from Indonesia and vetiver from Haiti. This woody men’s fragrance, Pluriel Maison Francis Kurkdjian, challenges time constraints in the search for the everlasting.

Why is Masculin Pluriel one of my disappointing fragrance purchases: If Zaharoff Signature Pour Homme, Masculin Pluriel would be a bomb. One of the best office-friendly fragrances for more mature men on the market.

There is literally nothing offensive about this scent and is blended to perfection by master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.

For these reasons, and because Zaharoff is a more affordable and more complex formula, I cannot see myself reaching for MFK’s fragrance more often than I would for Signature Pour Homme.

Lavender is clean, and vetiver as well. There is nothing wrong with the performance, but depending on what you want from your work scent, is the main factor when choosing which kind of fragrances you prefer.

In my books, Zaharoff is the clear winner here. Last but not least, Masculin Pluriel is the only fragrance on this list that I still own, but for how long? We will see.

  • Perfumer: Francis Kurkdjian
  • Perfume Oil Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Fragrance Type: Woody Aromatic
  • Release Date: 2014
  • Most dominant notes: Lavender, Vetiver, and Woods
  • Target Audience: Men
  • Age Group: 25+
  • Seasons: Spring and Fall
  • Occasions: Business
  • Longevity and Sillage: 6 – 8 hours with moderate projection
  • Compliments: Low
  • Likeability: Medium
  • Uniqueness: 3/5
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Accords: Floral, Woody, Aromatic


Oud Satin Mood - Disappointing Fragrance Purchases

Thankfully, I only had a couple of disappointing fragrance purchases in 2021, and while I do have a positive opinion about every one of them, for one reason or another, most of them ended up being sold.

I hope to see you soon in my next article as a continue the Holiday Special – 2021 edition.

What are your most disappointing fragrance purchases of 2021? Let me know in the comment section at the end of the article.

In case you are in doubt whether you should consider buying a particular fragrance, it’s always good to take a look at Scent Grail’s S.P.A. Signature Factor Guide.

It is easy to use and the most relevant perfume buying guide on the web. This way, you can check out if a particular fragrance is worth checking out, and potentially find your signature perfume.

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Until next time, have a great time and keep smelling like a million bucks!

Best, Marin!
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  1. Hi Marin! Can you give as straight comparison of ADP Colonia Leather with TF Ombre Leather.
    I am intrigued because TF OL is my biggest discovery of last year, and instantly promoted to one of favorit perfumes..

    1. Hi Luka! Thanks for the question. The only deciding factor that you should look into before deciding whether should you choose between Ombre Leather or Colonia Leather is how much you like floral notes, specifically rose. While the dry down of both scents is close, I prefer Ombre Leather due to the lack of florals that are present for a good couple of hours in Colonia Leather. Hope this helped. 🙂

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