11/14/12

Royal Copenhagen Spray Cologne (Five Star Fragrances)



I wrote a scathing review of Royal Copenhagen on basenotes, which I can't change because those fuckers banned me last winter, and I wore Royal Copenhagen Musk when I lived in Prague a few years ago, and disliked it intensely. My opinion of the original Royal Copenhagen has, rarest of rare things, changed. And changed for the better. The other day I bought a gift set of RC spray cologne, deodorant, shower gel, and bar soap. For $20 I figured I couldn't really go wrong, not with all that other stuff thrown in the box. I've been wearing the cologne and now I must say, this is not as I remembered it years ago. I wonder if it differs depending on spray or splash - I originally tried the splash, and it smelled awful. The spray, on the other hand, is quite nice. I'm enjoying it.

If you take a look at King Frederick VII of Denmark up there, and think carefully about what this chap from nineteenth century Europe might have smelled like (especially as his portrait was being painted), you should get an approximation of Royal Copenhagen. This stuff smells spicy, soapy, powdery, and pretty darned stodgy, but with little oriental flourishes that carry it into its own league. It's an ambery oriental with a brusque vetiver top note, playing loudly through heavy aldehydes, not dissimilar to the opening of Tabac Original, but without the intense citrus. Light notes of bergamot, orange, and lemon are detectable however, and provide a fresh lift to the vetiver, preventing its rootiness from overpowering the proceedings. Neat.


Within thirty minutes the scent simplifies, becoming very powdery, with hints of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and oakmoss tinging the dusty-white winterscape of its wispy base. It reminds me a little of Gold Bond body powder, which sounds horrible, but I actually like how Gold Bond smells, so . . . so there. Am I damning an outdated oriental with faint praise? No, I hope not. Listen, there's only one way to say this: you gotta be a guy's guy to appreciate Royal Copenhagen. It's probably not all that easy to understand the vibe of this stuff if you're a metrosexual Manhattanite, or a postmodern woman with postmodern sensibilities. Ambery seventies orientals are not accessible to today's nose. Released in 1970 and bearing the namesake of an old Danish porcelain factory, Royal Copenhagen adheres to a rich tradition of scents like Old Spice and Tabac, which offer warm, diffuse, slightly soapy, and very powdery-oriental "fresh" profiles. Unlike its predecessors, RC comes as a blue-dyed barbershop juice, with a silvery royal-mark label, and a dated bottle with a royal blue cap. The blue suggests "stately masculine clean," which translates from Danish to "barbershop." Think warm citrus, smooth floral notes, sprightly spice, and that famous talcum drydown we've smelled on older gentlemen of bygone eras. If that makes sense to you, then RC is something you should own, or at least look into.

I like it a touch more than Tabac, and about the same as Old Spice, although I think it perfects Old Spice and creates a more dynamic oriental experience, in what can only be oxy-moronically described as a modern Old-World style. One more thing - wearing RC ensures you're wearing something only one or two other men in your country are wearing. No one wears this stuff anymore. I mean it. I'm amazed it still exists. There must be a lot of grandmothers buying it for their grandsons, mistakenly thinking, "it's blue - it must be that hairspray crap all the young'uns wear these days!" That's a shame, of course, but great if you consider that you can duck the cliche of donning Old Spice without sacrificing quality, and still smell unique. You could try to "bring it back," and make RC fashionable again. Maybe powdered wigs will make a comeback, too. Think of the possibilities.


























6 comments:

  1. Why would anyone be banned from basenotes, especially someone like you, Brian ?? Just curious..

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    1. Basenotes bans people all the time - just run through old threads to see the banned members speckled throughout the forums. I was banned for revealing the "secret dependents board" which is a secret forum that is only visible to people who have 1,000 posts or more. I mentioned it on Fragrantica (don't remember how it came up, but it was a thread lamenting basenotes for some justifiable reason), and some asshole cross-referenced my Fragrantica identity with my basenotes identity, reported me, and without warning, I was banned. If you're a basenotes member Omar, be warned - the core population of "super" members are generally not very nice, elitist, often vindictive little mice. It's a bad scene when you read what they write about "newbies" in that secret board.

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    2. hell ! so there's a ghost forum for 33rd degree basenotes members and you played the insider ! Good to know.. I think BN is just commiting a suicide with their tacky 90's webdesign while Fragrantica owns the place.. I'm still on BN sometimes to know about some perfumes that are unlisted in Fragrantica but for how many time again ? that's another topic and thanks for the answer..

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    3. Agreed, basenotes doesn't hold a candle to Fragrantica. What amuses me is that most basenoters think Fragrantica is a place for the fragrance hoi polloi, those who know little and wish to learn a few random factoids about cologne, while basenotes is the true "connoisseurs forum." Meanwhile if you do a traffic check, you'll find basenotes garners less than half the footwork as Fragrantica, which has many of the same members as basenotes (most of us have duplicate accounts), plus thousands more. No secrets, no nonsense built into the place, just a superior database with multiple features that are missing on basenotes, plus the added benefit of an up-to-the-hour news feed, and no need to pay for privileges. I think the joke is on our fragrance connoisseurs.

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  2. Always good to have a new member of the RC fan club. This really is a great scent, and I think you've described it well. Frags don't get any more old school than this, to the point that I'm surprised there are enough people still wearing it these days to justify its continued production.

    I find it to be a pretty complex scent, depending on how I apply it. When I use a medium to heavier application, it smells dirty and animalic on my skin. When I spray it on light, though, it's got this light, breezy, floral aura similar to Ho Hang that I love.

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    1. I get the same effect with RC. A little extra and it adopts a slightly funky-floral effect that is quite nice. Just a couple of sprays yields that fresh floral powder, which reminds me of Johnson & Johnson Baby powder. It's an oldie but goodie. Agree though, it's hard to imagine who is buying this in large enough numbers to warrant continued production.

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