10/2/12

Mesmerize for Men (Avon)



Masculine fragrances of the last thirty years have generally trended in two directions: woody-fresh and fruity-fresh, with the first category hosting things like Grey Flannel, Drakkar Noir, Zino, and Ungaro, and the second seeing Cool Water, Acqua di Gio, and Mugler Cologne. They're terrific realms to explore, with specimens of the first genre enjoying a second (or even third) wind. I was complimented today by a young female co-worker when some warm rain re-activated my Drakkar, a mere seven hours after application. Her reaction in a long line of similar reactions suggests, contrary to popular belief, that women in their twenties and thirties gravitate toward herbal-piney scents, and not just your ordinary saccharine musky-florals.

The fact that most female perfume bloggers ignore the aromatic power-fougères of yesteryear amazes me; things like Paco Rabanne, Azzaro, and Drakkar are still as effective now as they were on their release date. Today's blogroll is loaded with comments on fruity-chypres and borderline-unwearable florientals. I love you ladies, but enough with the obscure niche stuff already. Pepper your posts here and there with something about these mainstream masculine masterpieces, and address the poor, pedestrian fougère. I'm fully aware that Parfumerie Générale and L'Artisan are amazing, but I'm dying to meet the girl who dons Skin Bracer in the morning, and would much rather read what she has to say. I understand the French turn their noses up at Mr. Drakkar because he was over-used by lesbians in the eighties. If that's true, I'd like to see a fashion revival, not strictly limited to that demographic.


Which brings me to Mesmerize by Avon, a humble firm with only one notable chypre on the niche-snob radar, a certain retro celebuscent called Deneuve. With no hi-power beauty queen fronting it, I can understand how the feminine Mesmerize floundered, but the masculine version flogs all expectations. I purchased Mesmerize from a co-worker who recently decided to become an Avon rep. She let me flip through her little catalog, and I was very close to changing my mind and declining a purchase, or maybe giving Ironman a try. I don't know what happened, but I suddenly realized I liked the royal blue bottle for Mesmerize, which is the only Avon bottle that isn't Hellishly ugly, and ordered accordingly. I'm glad I did, because Mesmerize is very nice. Its sweet green-apple and bergamot top note is reminiscent of Cool Water and every fresh fougère since, and this aromatic fruity edge persists into the drydown. But wait - there's more to it than this - Mesmerize rapidly transforms into a warm, woody oriental in the Zino/Ungaro axis, with similar ambery overtures of precious woods (rosewood, sandalwood), vanilla, and musk. Though admittedly middle-shelf, for twenty dollars you could do much worse, and in many ways this scent is much better than competition at twice its price. The fruit notes aren't blatantly synthetic or obnoxiously "fresh" and I get a pleasant balance between the softer aromatics in the heart and base. Longevity and sillage are decent but average, clocking in at six hours and two or three feet respectively.

Given that this is sort of a Franken-scent, an unexpected combination of two hugely popular scent profiles, one might ask, 'if not Zino or Cool Water, why Mesmerize?' For the sizable phalanx of adult men under forty, this respectable little oriental (or fougèriental, if you prefer) eliminates the need for an either/or commitment to the two camps represented by those scents, and binds them both into one. Many fragrances since 1992 have tried doing this, and most have bombed. This one stays aloft, and just plain smells good. Ladies, Mesmerize is eminently wearable as an off-beat feminine, and I think female skin would bring out its mandarin and vanilla notes better than mine does. Consider this one of those share-wear frags, and go guilt free after sneaking a spritz or two in the bathroom. And yes, by all means, ignore the feminine version - Avon is capable of impressive things, but they dabble in the mundane far more often.





















4 comments:

  1. I applaud the sentiment, but regret to inform I can't be a part of a renaissance of women wearing fougeres. On my skin they are all wrong, and I suspect that my nose doesn't smell them properly, either. But perhaps someone will heed your call! I'd like to think there are women out there who boldly wear these crisp and bracing fellas.

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    1. Have you tried Pour un Homme de Caron and Third Man? I'm hard pressed to meet a woman who doesn't think they're feminine fragrances! Particularly PuH, which is little more than herbal lavender and soft vanilla/musk. I'm of the mind that there's at least two fougeres out there that any woman can wear, she just needs to try them.

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  2. I'm with you 100% on Mesmerize. I've only sampled it, and liked it, but your review has just motivated me to finally go to the Avon website and order a bottle. I've ordered so many Avons, but I've always held off on this one. I think I've taken it for granted, assuming Avon will keep Mesmerize in production forever. That's a dangerous attitude, since Avon discontinues fragrances like it's a bodily function.

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    1. It's a good one to be sure. I hope you enjoy it!

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