6/2/12

Chèvrefeuille Original (Creed)


Summer is almost here. When I think of summertime, I usually don't think of '80s fragrances, mainly because there aren't many light, summery compositions for men from that decade. You have to get creative if you want to wear a Reagan-era masculine in dead heat. Many people turn to aquatics and fruity-florals, and neglect another category of "fresh" that works better than those two. They're called "green" perfumes, and they smell of grass, flower stems, flowers, roots, herbs, coniferous berries, and moss. Things like Silences, Tsar, and Brut qualify (galbanum bomb, Rococo coumarin, white floral powder, respectively).

These three scents are great for spring, and somewhat acceptable for summer. I'm comfortable wearing Silences when it's rainy and a little cool, but not in blaring sunshine. Ditto for Tsar, unless it's a cooler, dryer sunny day. Brut is the only one that works in all conditions, except those over 90°. Last year I was searching various databases for a green and summery fragrance that would be easy to wear in rain, and sun, - even Ishtar conditions. I happened to spot Chèvrefeuille Original, and saw the date of origin posted next to it: 1982. Reviewers described a clean, grassy, semi-sweet floral scent that straddled the feminine side of unisex. My interest was piqued.


Before I get into Chèvrefeuille (which means honeysuckle in French), I'd like to make an observation: Creed's grey-cap EDTs are slipping into the dark nethervoid of extinction. Royal English Leather is gone, possibly vaulted, but probably unavailable 51 out of 52 weeks a year. Vetiver is not even on the radar anymore, it's the stuff of gerontological perfumery legend, and soon it's likely to be a topic of discussion among archaeologists. Ambre Cannelle is totally phased out. Santal Imperial is recently killed off, much to the chagrin of its ardent fan base. Epicea (i.e. "Spruce") is long gone. Royal Scottish Lavender is retired, vaulted, released only occasionally in small batches, and after the last release, probably never to be smelled of again. Baie de Genievre, well. Scores of wetshavers are still crying into their cornflakes over that one. Citrus Bigarrade - from what I understand, it was Creed's go-to citrus scent. Once. And last but not least, Chèvrefeuille - recently retired, very likely to make brief three or four-day appearances in Aril or May, but only once every god knows how many years. I just hope they've vaulted it, and not sold their last bottle off.

This is a real shame, because all of these fragrances have good reputations, and all draw on old-school formulas, without pandering to modern mores. The only remaining grey-caps are Bois de Cedrat (its days are definitely numbered), Orange Spice (I'm amazed they're still selling this one), Zeste Mandarine Pamplemousse (probably their bestselling grey-cap, and unlikely to see its demise anytime real soon, although I wouldn't bet on it being around three years from now), and Acier Aluminium (considering Creed is selling 8.4 oz flacons of AA for $235, it's probably the one product they're dying to get rid of, and just can't, no matter how hard they try). Four grey-caps are all that remain of Creed's EDT legacy. It's a shame, and that's an understatement. I hope Erwin is planning on replacing them with a whole new line. Otherwise, there's not much to look forward to with the house of Creed.


Chèvrefeuille Original is third fiddle to Green Valley and Original Vetiver's super-green super-stardom. It doesn't fall into the same slot as Green Irish Tweed, because Olivier's flagship is about dihydromyrcenol-as-green, a more mainstream '80s approach to the scent profile. Chèvrefeuille is a more naturalistic green scent, based instead on bitter grass notes, camphorous fennel seed, mint, and delicate honeysuckle leaves, touched ever so slightly by their flowers. The remote presence of actual honeysuckle creates a suggestion of powdery pollen, appropriately underscoring rippling fields as they pass, breeze-like, through this perfume's lovely heart. Fennel, which is often mistaken for anise, anchors the pyramid, and balances its divergent poles. It provides a useful fulcrum for bitter grasses and sweet honeysuckle. Indeed, Chèvrefeuille Original is one of the proudest, and best poised green perfumes I have ever had the pleasure to sniff. It is clean, fresh, and full of life.

This surprisingly complex EDT can still be found on some discount sites, and if you can visit either of the two Creed boutiques, you can probably snag a spare bottle. Here in New York, Louis is likely to ameliorate concerned customers by pulling Chèvrefeuille out from behind those dusty flacons of Acier Aluminium. This honeysuckle scent is totally unisex, and doesn't smell the least bit dated, so try to rid yourself of those Drakkar and Smalto associations. This grey-cap, like all grey-caps, is timeless.















2 comments:

  1. I remember thinking when I reviewed this one that it should really be called

    Feuille de Chèvrefeuille

    because it is sooooo much more green than floral!

    But I have to say that I do like it much more than the übergreen Creeds! (-;

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    Replies
    1. I completely agree with that, it should have been called Feuille de Chèvrefeuille, which is more accurate in describing the scent, and also has a nicer ring to it.

      The greenness of this one is astounding, and more naturalistic than other "green" Creeds. Another thing about this - it's the one Creed that smells truly amazing on the exhale. It's good stuff.

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