11/30/12

Taxi (Cofinluxe) - Mark Buxton Gets Started



Thanks to reader LustandFury, who happened to mention this fragrance in a conversation we had about Halston 1-12, and also to Shamu1's excellent reviews on his blog, I decided to snag a bottle of this stuff and give it a try. I got lucky and had it delivered extremely fast, and I'm wearing it as I type. I just want to say, it's so nice to smell a traditional fougère that simply IS. Let me explain.

Aromatic fougères are traditional fougères with added spices, woods, and herbs. If you take a look at the pyramids for Drakkar Noir, Azzaro Pour Homme, and Paco Rabanne, you'll find there's an assload of green-woody stuff in them. Fir, patchouli, coriander, sandalwood, cedarwood, clary sage, rosewood, you name it. The basic framework is still there of course - lavender, oakmoss, and coumarin, with brief hits of citrus off the top, and aridity in the drydown. But the embellishments make them more complex, significantly louder, and sometimes harder to decipher.


Traditional fougères are much more basic, with simpler movements, fewer elements, and a directness not usually found in their aromatic brethren. It's rare to find a traditional fern these days because the style has become outmoded and "dandified", with oldies like English Fern, Fougère Royale, Dunhill, and Worth inhabiting rarefied territory. Aromatic and fresh aromatic fougères are still at the forefront of today's fougère market, catering to the proclivities of the masses. People still buy gallons of Cool Water and Polo Sport, but Arden's Sandalwood and Rochas' Moustache are no longer nearly as popular. They are not the default setting for people's notion of a crisp, clean fragrance. That's not to say they're not still sought after, but the general populace has moved on.

Taxi brings it back. Smelling Taxi for the first time, I pulled my nose away, closed my eyes, and smiled. There, in my nostrils, was a traditional lavender/coumarin/oakmoss fougère, arrayed with excellent raw materials in a timeless composition. Perfumers can take creative license with traditional fougères and adorn their spare frames with one or two additional notes, and in Taxi, the legendary Mark Buxton (of Comme des Garcons fame) used heady notes of juniper and star anise to keep things interesting. But the basic fougère makes its presence known from beginning to end: Taxi starts with a beautiful 10-second bergamot and spike lavender accord, brightened by a lovely non-toothpasty mint note, and when the bergamot burns away, juniper wells up from under the minty lavender, and dominates the top and early heart phases. Smooth coumarin eventually develops in the mid, but it isn't the saccharine honey-like coumarin of Paco Rabanne, or the coy nanosecond of sweet aftertaste to Drakkar's leather. Taxi's coumarin is simply rich, warm, sunny, salty, suggestive of weathered hay, and altogether the fulcrum from which everything else pivots.

And everything else is simply oakmoss, dihydromyrcenol, a faint touch of star anise, which bends things into an herbal zone, and a simple, soapy-green drydown. The one thing about Taxi is that it smells brighter and mintier than any of the aromatic ferns in my collection. LustandFury mentioned an association he made with Taxi to Irish Spring soap, and he's spot on - although it certainly doesn't smell just like Irish Spring, it has the same fresh-green ambiance that somewhat approximates the aura of Irish Spring. There's a very good chypre out there, which I've reviewed here and spoken of before, and it's called Sung Homme - Sung is nearly identical to Irish Spring, and carries all the brute-force manliness of the soap on its spicy-green tide. Taxi is much, much gentler, with fewer jagged edges, and more unisex appeal in its creamy freshness. It is what I want from a fougère, that classical and straight-forward masculine accessory from nature (and the lab), that exists without frills, without the need for anything beyond a universal notion of the hypothetical smell of "fern." Some have commented on how this fragrance strongly resembles Drakkar Noir, but I smell it a bit differently. Other than having identical spike lavender notes, the two fragrances don't have all that much in common. Taxi isn't really a simpler variant of Drakkar Noir. Taxi is what Drakkar would be if you pulled it out of the aromatic fougère category and placed it alongside the old-fashioned traditional fougères of days gone by. Instead of Warren Beatty and Robert Redford, think Cary Grant and Gregory Peck. What terrific stuff it is, and amazing to think it's already 29 years old!





















5 comments:

  1. Wow that really was fast! Glad you liked it so much and glad I wasn't off on the Irish Spring note. "approximates the aura of Irish Spring" is exactly how I would describe it. 29 years old seems kind of crazy. And I also think the comparison to Drakkar is off. I can see the relationship but Drakkar is a thick fog in comparison to Taxi and less fresh. Drakkar always brings to mind a steamy, humid shower clean. Taxi is much simpler, but not simple, and fresh to me. The bergamot/juniper/lavender has a tart, almost sour zing to it that is balanced by a creamy quality I like a lot. Is the creaminess from the Ambergris listed on the Fragrantica pyramid? It's an element I have no reference to other then the little I've read of it.

    I wonder if they are still making this stuff or is it all old stock? The ingredients on the side of the box list Oakmoss extract on the one I have so I imagine that makes it at least 10 years old by now, no?

    Where was the market for this? The packaging is so odd.

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    1. I know, I thought it would take a week at least to get it but it arrived almost immediately after we last spoke and it's been a pleasure to wear. No, you were right about the soapiness, and while I do understand why people would compare it to Drakkar, I think it's a situation of two fragrances belonging to two different categories (or sub-categories) and therefore being vastly different in many ways. Ambergris is listed on Fragrantica but I don't see any mention of "cream" or milkiness or anything like that, and if there is ambergris in here it's in a microscopic dose. Might account for that slightly salty vibe I'm getting.

      Based on the condition of the bottle and box, I'd say they're still making this. It looks brand new. Oakmoss extract is still being used regularly in fragrances, believe it or not. Very recent (as of within 16 months) reformulations of Grey Flannel and Kouros both list Oakmoss extract in their ingredients. You can even find it still present, along with tree moss, in barbershop ferns like Pinaud's Clubman, which is still selling at Walgreens and Rite Aid and similar drugstores across North America.

      This being a fragrance from 1984, I'd say the packaging is targeted to younger men. But your guess is as good as mine. Has that weird retro-futuristic look to it. Makes me think of the movie "Videodrome". Awful label design, and kind of a lackluster cap, but the bottle is well made. This is one of those fragrance oddities that somehow, like Lomani Pour homme, survived the decades intact, despite getting virtually no attention from the blogosphere.

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  2. I'm really referring creaminess in an abstract textural way. I'm probably not explaining it well. I'm still a novice. This is only the forth full bottle I've ever bought although I'm fortunate to live in a city with a lot of sampling options (just scored four Bond No. 9 samples last night from a very friendly sales manager and suppose to be getting a few more in the mail).

    Yeah that's the thing. How does something like this survive enough to still be produced. It's kind of amazing to me.

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  3. Ah, in that case yeah, this should be expressed somehow in fragrance databases and applied to the description of this scent. The general "flow" of Taxi is very rich, smell, and easy-going. I wore it again today, and could not get over how amazing it is. This is going to end up being one of my favorite fragrances. One big heartfelt thanks to Cofinluxe for continuing to make it.

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    1. Very rich, *smooth*, and easy-going, sorry.

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