3/21/12

Aramis (Estée Lauder)



As far as leathery chypres go, nothing compares to Aramis. This isn't to say I like Aramis - but I respect it tremendously. It is one of the few "leather" fragrances that actually smells like clean animal hide. Its citrus and herbal components are beautifully arranged around a coumarin-type sweetness, very hay-like, quite dry and spare. I imagine Hemingway would have liked Aramis a lot, and sometimes fantasize that it was developed just for him as a bespoke gift from Bernard Chant, who immediately sold the formula to Aramis upon Papa's death. To sense this EDT wafting from the sunburned neck of one of America's greatest writers as he steered his little ship through Florida's balmy waters imbues it with greater meaning than it would otherwise have. I only wish it didn't take such a far-fetched dream for me to tolerate it on my own skin.

Something about the way it opens up is confrontational to me. The bergamot is crisp, but very blank and colorless, like a starched white shirt, and holds nothing beyond a charred offering of sage and clove. After a few minutes the oakmoss and patchouli coalesce around a stony base of precious (petrified) wood, and vetiver. Crisp, pungent, earthy, dry, sharp, masculine, and classic are the words to sum it up. There's no denying this smells like something of the '60s, and its '65 release date and perfectly classical composition suggest it is the centerpiece of Chant's limited oeuvre.

Unfortunately I live in less than romantic times, and personal association plays a strong part in how I feel about Aramis. I went to high school with an overweight guy who drove an '81 Cadillac, chain-smoked Marlboro reds, and routinely swilled Busch Lite on his father's boat, which was forever parked in his father's driveway. This guy was a friend, but a bad one, always trying to get me into the kind of mischief that results in police intervention. He leered at women, listened to grunge rap, and sold an oddly potent blue-tinged type of marijuana to hopeless freshmen. It just so happens that this walking bachelor party cliché wore Aramis religiously, and used nothing else. I must say, despite his other debaucheries, he even wore it with restraint. Not once did he ever emerge from a cologne haze like so many other Le Male-abusing morons in Notre Dame's honors society. No, you read that right - this was the '90s, when walking bachelor party clichés were regularly admitted into honors societies. That wasn't strange, not then.

I can't help but remember my old buddy every time I sniff Aramis, and so for me it's a no-go. Maybe, given my bachelor party and Papa associations with it, I'm just not man enough to wear something this balls out manly. There are other guys in future generations who will wear it with aplomb, and perhaps reintroduce the scent into the mainstream. It's nice to think so, isn't it?
















5 comments:

  1. I do like Aramis, but I think you are dead on about the sort of confrontational, "guy's guy" feeling of it. Hemingway seems like the perfect spokesperson. Bit of a chip on his shoulder, etc. :) I actually like one of the flankers better ... just looked it up and I'm not sure if it's "Classic Reserve" or "Impeccable." (And with names like those!)

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    1. Yeah I need to try more of the flankers. They're actually not that easy to find. I've only ever seen Aramis 900 and Devin when out and about.

      Finally managed to get blogger to cooperate with me and yield some new options for commenting. Glad you like!

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  2. And, yay for new commenting options! Now I can comment whenever I want (fingers crossed) and not just when blogger is playing nice!

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  3. I wear the shit out of Aramis, and it's most awesome. However I am overweight, have an 83 Eldorado(it's not driving right now), and I believe Busch Light will treat you right. When I first got my bottle and sprayed it on it was very harsh especially in the opening, but now I even love the opening. I actually got a real good quality, but cheap knockoff oil of Aramis so the real thing will last longer.

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    1. D, I can't even imagine how that faux Aramis oil mixed with the original Aramis must smell, but pairing it with the aromas of stale beer and Naugahyde has me thinking you are one brave fella.

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