9/20/21

Clubman Country Club Shampoo (Pinaud)



When it comes to shampoo, people like to break out the scorn machine. I'm guilty of it too, a derision often aimed at the low-brow work perfumers are forced to offer shampoo makers. I imagine the chemical composition of generic shampoo limits their options, and the result is a yawniverse of apple-tini and cherry blossom hand soap. Some five-star luxury hotels and resorts bring their A-game by spending cheese on A-list perfumers to perfume their toiletries, presumably with good results. I'm just another rube, so my hotel experiences are limited to the average airport layover boarding house, where they just decant Prell into little plastic squirt bottles with the hotel chain logo stamped on them. 

This doesn't deter me from fantasizing about what my luxury layover hotel would offer, if I were wealthy enough to golf with the Hiltons at their easy-entry country club (Paris, call me). The grounds would have male peacocks roaming freely, the lobby a tireless piano player, and every suite a jet-black tiled bathroom stocked with Pinaud products, with a smallish bottle of Country Club Shampoo flat on a black shower stall shelf. 'Tisn't by any means luxe, as it simply smells like the granddaddy Clubman aftershave, but customers would quickly realize that Clubman is just so goddamn good. That powdery barbershop fern smell is timeless and comforting, exactly what a guest needs after twenty-six hours in a cramped tin can with three-hundred disgusting strangers. Clean is king.  

What would the guest experience be like? It's a surprisingly dense shampoo that sits like half-set jello in hand and lathers very rapidly, filling the shower stall with Clubmanny goodness that admittedly requires an extra minute to rinse out. I do notice that the scent disappears pretty quickly during the rinse stage, but it leaves my hair feeling fairly soft and clean. Pinaud markets this as being pH balanced, protein-rich, and of course, for professional use only, despite there being a barcode on the back. Naturally my hotel's mini bottles would be customized for my brand; instead of touting Panthenol, they'd say Fitted for Theft Deterrence, and cables would tether them to their stations.

9/4/21

Renaming the Oriental Category is a Good Idea. Now Throw Away Your Smartphone.




My least favorite fragrance family falls in the "oriental" category. While I enjoy the open-collared ease inherent to fougeres, and love the austere and uncompromising nature of the best chypres, orientals tend to smell like too much of everything to me. They're usually too sweet, too spicy, too complex, too heavy, or just too grandoise for a given occasion, and wearing them makes me feel like I've maxed out my "Cologne Guy" risk factor. People think that the last two decades saw the rebirth of this fragrance type, but I'm convinced its zenith was in the late nineties, and it hasn't gained much since. 

That the woke fragcomm is fervently attacking the political incorrectness of naming an entire category of perfumery "orientals" should be of no surprise to anyone in 2021. Why, you ask? Because, it's 2021. Just think about how much western culture has seen in the last ten years. Is it really a shock that leftists have sniffed out things to disapprove of in perfume culture? Their argument is elucidated in Fashion Magazine's July 4th (how apropos), 2019 piece by Madelyn Chung, in which she questions the use of the term as it applies to fragrance by noting its connotations with European colonialism. 

Her view is echoed by Jessica Matlin in a Harpers Bazaar article from May of this year, in which she calls the label "problematic." The brief piece also makes a connection to The Age of Enlightenment, and those evil European colonizers, with Tania Sanchez approving, however obliquely, of a suitable replacement word. Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang's July piece for CBC News manages to connect it to "white supremacy," and elicits from Yosh Han, an incredibly successful Asian American businesswoman, perfumer, and Scent Festival producer, the following sentiment: 
"No other industry - not wine, not chocolate, not beer, not tea, not coffee - nobody else uses this term. [Oriental is] basically a fake marketing word . . . that just means anyone who's melanated. Then you realize, 'Oh my gosh, this is white supremacy . . . we realize the industry has been stacked against us. It's been primarily Eurocentric.'"
Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine proudly announced in June that Michael Edwards' Fragrances of the World has officially retired the term this year and replaced it with "Ambery," fostering "a truly new, global world of olfactive wonders." Earlier in the month, Victoria, author of Bois de Jasmin, supported the progressive value of changing the term, calling it "misleading and vague." She states:
"Under the layers of incense and roses, however, the term 'oriental' hides much more unsavory associations with exploitation and colonialism. For the colonized lands, the European quest for spices, gold, and raw materials had tragic consequences, many of which are still with us today."

The gist: "oriental" is a baddy-bad word in perfumery terms because of evil Europeans conquering, colonizing, fetishizing, sexualizing, exoticizing, "othering," and otherwise wantonly degrading people of color throughout history. While none of these magazines or blogs are able to give specific examples of how using the oriental category of perfumery is/was degrading to anyone, and are quite prolific at offering only the vaguest correlations to these unnameable race crimes in their historically-bemoaned contexts, I'll give you my hot take. I think at this point it's safe to say that people are full of it.  

To be perfectly clear, I'm not supporting the use of the term "oriental" in any context. Frankly I find the semantic argument boring and pointless. We don't need to call things "oriental." We can call the rugs by whatever country they're from, simply saying Turkish rugs, Japanese rugs, etc. Ditto for perfumes, although there is some utility in eschewing nationalities altogether by deferring to terms like "ambery" or "spicy." I'm of the opinion that if people are offended by the use of a word, and that word is applied to pursuits that all people should enjoy without an unreasonable sense of ennui attached, we should jettison the term and find linguistic replacements. The English language is wide and far-reaching, with tens of thousands of viable options. We can request substitutions. That's not a problem. Why not ditch an old-fashioned term? It's not a big deal to do so. 

Where I get annoyed is when people resort to bullshit reasons for making the change. They needlessly complicate the issue and obfuscate the rationale for a solution. If the word offends you, just say it offends you because you feel it's politically incorrect and could lead to hurt feelings. Just say you'd rather use another more neutral word instead. I respect that. I can get behind that one hundred percent. But don't start lecturing me on the language's link to European colonizers. You have a smartphone in your pocket as I'm typing this, and you're going to lecture me on how Europe "othered" their way into Asian cultures? Do you have any idea how awful smartphone companies are to Asian countries? Yet none of the well-covered evils of these technological giants, evils that are happening today, concern you enough to swear off owning and using smartphones.

Selective outrage is de rigueur among those who magically profit from the very things they're offended by. For all of their Asian pride, I can't find any info on Madelyn Chung's website about which part of Asia she's proud of, nor will anyone say "Yosh Han" and "Thai American" in the same sentence. These women claim to be concerned about perception of and respect for East Asian peoples and cultures, yet keep their own ethnic lineages out of the dialogue. This is passive aggressive. It's like Chung wants me to dig into her biography, so if I have occasion to ask her about wherever her family is from, she can ask me why I thought it was important enough to research it. I've dubbed this behavior "Proactive Indignation." Instead of doing the decent thing and exonerating everyone for their confusion, people like Chung would rather foster the conditions for committing future faux pas to perpetuate their emotionally cathartic cycle of outrage.  

That's the problem with the pseudo-intellectual conversations being had on the topic. Oriental perfumes, or those categorized as "orientals" in perfumery, are named so to clarify that these perfumes are of Eastern origin. Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, or just generically Eastern, the "oriental" moniker covers everything. And there are issues with nationalizing these fragrance classes. If we rely on saying things like Chinese perfumes, Thai perfumes, Japanese perfumes, we're still not saying anything specific. Every scent category exists in these countries. So which category are we referring to? Saying "Ambery" is a little better, although it gets us into a different kind of trouble.  

Old Spice has historically been recognized as an oriental because it relies on orange citrus, powdery spices, musk, and vanilla - things found by merchants in what were considered, at one time, lands of the Orient. Yet it isn't really an amber. Can we call it an amber anyway? What if we call it a "Spicy Vanilla" instead? Isn't that an oxymoron? I guess the soapy powder effect is still an amber of sorts. I suppose we can settle for a less concise labelling of Old Spice. But we've only labeled one frag. By nixing a term, we've removed a simple and effective way of knowing which family it belongs to. Still, I can settle for vaguer language, if it's just a word game we're after. My motto: The fewer feelings needlessly hurt, the better. We should all live in a world where all people and cultures are loved and celebrated. The oriental perfume category isn't that important.

But what I won't settle for is being perpetually called a racist. I don't own a smartphone. I get made fun of all the time for that, but I don't want one. Unlike the majority of the people who tell me how awful it is to ignorantly ride the racist coattails of my colonizing predecessors, I'm cognizant of how easy it is to limit my complicity in today's most racist industry. There's nothing easier than not owning a smart phone. Virtually all of them are made in exploitative sweat factory slave-labor conditions, and it's tough to own one for less than $500 (the most competent phones on the market today are upwards of $1000). I'm not going out of my way to pony up for a product that drove somebody in another country, someone considerably less advantaged than I am, to consider suicide. 

These Foxconn nightmares should be today's outrage machine, and instead we're whining about Enlightenment values and getting twisted in knots over what we call our perfumes. Enough already. If you care that much about being "sensitive" to the plight of foreigners, ditch your smart phone, delete your Twitter account, and live a relatively frugal lifestyle. Let's see how long you last. I've been gifted two iPhones that I never activated. Those are my values. What are yours, and how are you living them? Do you still want to re-label Enlightenment values as "white supremacist" values? Cuz I see 500 GB of white supremacy sticking out of your butt pocket. 


9/1/21

Stephan Lilac Fragrant Skin Toner (Stephan)




I tend to approach barbershop products with love. I'm won over by their shabby and unpretentious looks, their schlubby labels, and their distinct sense of purpose. When it comes to vintage barbershop fare, few things go back further than nineteenth century lilac water. To date, I'm aware of only two that still exist, Pinaud Lilac Vegetal, which dates to the 1870s, and Stephan Lilac, which might date back to 1897, although there's no way to know. That was the year Stephan's company was founded, so I assume the lilac water was one of their first offerings. If I'm wrong, then at the very least it goes back to the early twentieth century. Either way, this stuff is pretty old. 

This particular old-school lilac water is hardcore American barbershop. It has its pros and cons, so I'll start with the good first: the scent. Although it isn't really a natural lilac aroma, it is far closer to the smell of lilac flowers than Master's Lilac Vegetal, and it's more straightforward than Pinaud's. Where Pinaud gets abstract with its green notes, and Master settles on nondescript sweetness, Stephan opts for a literal lilac flower, and comes awfully close to nailing it. The drawback is the budget, which limits the dynamism and "flattens" the floral tone, but I expect that with after shower/aftershaves. This stuff costs less than a dollar an ounce, and you get fifteen ounces. I don't expect high art, but I'm impressed by the degree of accuracy that this product achieves. 

The negatives: the first and most important thing is that the formula contains acetylated lanolin alcohol. This is a compound produced from lanolin, which is derived from wool fat, so if you're allergic to wool you might have a mild skin rash reaction to something with acetylated lanolin. Of secondary concern is the weird blurb on the product label, which states, Bay Rum is one of the few completely natural scents nowadays, followed by a description of bay rum. One problem - this isn't bay rum. But it is a good lilac water, and its scent lasts more than an hour, so buy some and try it if you're into this sort of thing. I don't regret the purchase, and the face feel is soft and soothing, so it achieves that distinct sense of purpose, and then some. Long live lilac water!

8/21/21

17 Oud Mosaic (Banana Republic)



It's August, and autumn is right around the corner here in the stormy and muggy Northeast. Although I'm growing ever fonder of barbershop stuff, and foresee a future of wearing inexpensive powdery things commonly found on Barbicide-stained hair salon shelves, there's still occasion to don something that is more mature and sophisticated. 17 Oud Mosaic by Banana Republic makes for a compelling option in that regard.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, I'm not a fan of oud. The oud craze emerged back in the late 2000s, mostly with niche releases, and carried steadily onward through the last decade, when it penetrated the designer market, but I never warmed to it. Real oud is a complex note of prickly rotted woods and barnyard animalic funk, and is usually polished with a silvery glow akin to incense, and while that sounds like my thing, there's something about the funk that turns me off. I'm all for animalics, but the weirdly sweaty aspect of quality oud doesn't register as anything particularly sexy to me. 

Fortunately, Oud Mosaic doesn't contain a detectable oud note, real or synthetic. I won't hold back here: this fragrance is a 2017 recalibration of a 1989 fragrance by Azzaro called Acteur. Claude Dir, who authored the original feminine Escape for CK back in 1991, clearly studied the budgetary constraints of Azzaro's formula, assessed Maurice Maurin's rose reconstruction, approximated the spiced-woody accord that segues into Azzaro's floral note, and relied on excess of fruity esters to present something arguably original. That said, the rose here is Acteur's (the far dry-down woods are Zino's).  

The very top of Dir's fragrance is an opulent cloud of cedar, cardamom, vetiver, pepper, saffron, and musk, . . . eh, no this is complete bullshit. It's really just a piquant raw apple cider with underpinnings of cedar and lime that swiftly blurs into a darker semisweet stewed red apple and dry rose accord, and this October rose stays pretty linear before fading away several hours later. Longevity and projection are pretty good, although not mind-blowing, and I do wish the opening brightness persisted for much longer than it does, but the rose is so pleasant and grounding that all is forgiven. For twenty bucks, this is incredible stuff, and the sort of thing I miss dearly. It's the early nineties again.

I'm not sure why it's called "Oud" Mosaic, though. Is the woodsy cider effect meant to create an olfactory mosaic that generates the impression of oud? The classic pairing of woods and funereal rose is what's presented, and maybe the dusty anachronisms of the two parts lend a psychological perception of oud's presence? I'm not getting that, which guarantees I'll be wearing 17 Oud Mosaic often in the months to come.

8/8/21

Eau de Quinine (Pinaud)



British Colonial Soldiers, early 1900s

I'd like to get this out of the way first: Pinaud's hair tonics are not meant to provide hold. Compare the ingredients to their aftershaves, and you'll find the hair tonics are merely alcohol, fragrance, preservatives, and artificial color. The only difference is it says Hair Tonic instead of Aftershave on the label. Hair tonics are meant to de-flake the scalp and soften the roots for healthier hair, and that's it. Use styling gel to mould your coif, but be sure to run some Eau de Quinine through first to clean your head. 

Pinaud's Eau de Quinine is the brand's oldest surviving barbershop product. According to the Smithsonian, it was originally released in the 1850s, and has survived nearly two centuries in various iterations. Today it is labeled for hair-care but easily doubles as an aftershave-cologne, and I find its scent to be one of the most durable in the Pinaud lineup, a lovely shaving foam tune with a bracing quinine and cherry chord instead of anisic lavender, followed by a minuet of patchouli and vanilla in the dry-down. 

People ask, why Eau de Quinine? What place does quinine have in a barbershop? The answer takes us back to nineteenth century England, when Britain's Imperial Century saw the expansion of its empire across Africa and Asia, continents where malaria was everywhere. The Brits knew quinine was useful in fighting mosquito-borne diseases, and put it in anything they could - water, tablets, alcohol, toiletries - and it became an essential tool in the belt of the English colonizer. Pinaud marketed their Eau de Quinine shampoo, hair tonic, and cologne to safari-bound parties, and it caught on in the 1870s, when expansion was fully underway, becoming popular as hair-care for women, and an all-over bug repellant for men. This required copious amounts of quinine extract from the bark of the South American and Caribbean cinchona tree. 

Synthesis of quinine was first achieved in 1944 by organic chemist Robert Woodward and Professor William Doering, and Pinaud's hair tonic made a comeback around that time, although natural quinine retained its status. Ian Fleming featured Pinaud's Eau de Quinine shampoo in chapter two of the 1963 novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service, detailing how a road-weary James Bond found hotel respite in a bottle of champagne and a cold shower using "Pinaud Elixir, that prince among shampoos." I find this interesting because it shows that Fleming himself used the shampoo, and held it in high regard. He likely booster-shot new life into Pinaud's product line, although sadly the shampoo has long been discontinued. Bring it back, Pinaud. 

Today, Eau de Quinine remains a historical novelty, but I think it's amazing that Pinaud sticks to its guns and continues making it. I wouldn't recommend it as a hair product, but heartily endorse using it as an aftershave and cologne. I get several hours of noticeable longevity from it, and find the smell very much in line with traditional barbershop tonics. It has a freshness, yet also a smokiness, a hint of tobacco, a subtle earthiness, and a masculine vanilla powder at the end that is tooled finely enough to compete with pricier fare. It gets mixed reviews, with one notable blogger calling it "utterly boring and uninspired." I disagree - this is historically inspired, and thus unavoidably interesting. 

A note on unicorn vintage hunting: for several years now some jerk has been listing a 30 oz bottle of 1960s Elixir shampoo on eBay for $1k. So far, no buyers. Let's keep it that way. Vintage Pinaud is best priced between fifty and a hundred dollars, unless the bottle is from the eighteen-hundreds, pristine, sealed, and full. 

8/1/21

Let's Keep the Terms "Designer" and "Niche"




A few years ago, Youtuber Daver of Fragrance Bros. fame posted a thought-provoking video in which he proposed retiring and replacing the terms "designer" and "niche" to distinguish between the two different perfume camps. His solution was to employ the labels "mainstream" and "boutique" instead. This got me thinking about why we might be more wedded to how we address these categories than we realize, particularly when he gets to the part about what "makes sense." 

Let's start by briefly considering what I like to call, "The Comedy of Semantics." This is when a description, a series of adjectives, a prevailing definition, is parlayed several different ways, with the same result each time, and without actually clarifying a subject in any iteration. Superman is the personification of The Comedy of Semantics, because we're exposed to three Supermans across his history: Superman, the supernatural alien god, Clark Kent, the supernatural alien god in plainclothes, and Super-ego Superman, the douchebag in a cape. For the record, Super-ego Superman is the real Superman. 

When I say "Superman," you think of a noble hero who looks and acts like a man, yet can literally reverse Earth's rotation if he walks fast enough. When I say "Clark Kent," you think of the same guy, except he wears glasses. But Super-ego Superman? This is the long-form name for him, which is to say it's just him, pure and simple. In the 1950s, Superman's entire legacy was book after book of him belittling and insulting his friends, creatively degrading women, unduly chastising his kids, and just being an all-around jerk. He wasn't a hero, he wasn't even "super," he was just an asshole. And American teenagers scarfed it up. When the pretense of heroism was stripped away, it revealed a boorish cad. But the boorish cad was Superman with his hair down. It was inarguably Superman being himself. With that said, the Superman who saves Lois Lane and pretends to be Clark Kent is also inarguably the guy being himself. Why bother with Kent, Superman, or Superman, "King of the Earth," when the man is the same? 

The answer, of course, is in why we might be drawn to these different labels, and who they represent. For some, the unvarnished Superman is the coolest way to take in his otherworldly majesty, flowing cape and all. For others, Clark Kent holds a peculiarly familiar charm, despite the obvious bullshit. For still others, seeing Superman act out after a long day in the office by berating and insulting his friends is his most "super" act of all. There's a different audience for each, and different levels of humor in attendance. And here is where the semantics of perfumery directly apply to Daver's argument. 

Daver suggests that there's no longer any practical use for saying "designer" and "niche," because the fragrance world has expanded to the point where nothing is clear anymore, and people don't even know why they're using the terms. This may be true to some degree, but he proposed using "boutique" and "mainstream" instead, and I expressed myself in the following comment beneath his video: 
"You have to ask why someone would buy something. With 'designer' fragrances, people are buying because they want a connection to the designer brand, and the product is sold to them via the perceived pedigree of that brand. With 'niche' there's no prevailing brand awareness to form the cultural tailwinds because the brand is entirely conceptual. Unlike a Chanel, where I can associate the perfume with the clothing and accessories (and commercial image), a Xerjoff stands alone with only the Xerjoff name and perfumes to speak for it. 
If I don't understand something specific about Xerjoff perfumes, like what kind of fragrances they make, and how those fragrances compare to everything else, I won't be inclined to bother buying anything. Thus I'm basing a purchase solely off of what I know, rather than what I perceive. This makes the act of buying one of self-stratification with niche, while buying designer is me adhering to commercial stratification; when I buy Xerjoff, I am distinguishing myself as someone who appreciates Xerjoff perfumes, whereas a Chanel purchase is Chanel successfully tagging me a Chanel customer.
The problem with your term 'boutique' is that it's a distinction without a difference. Chanel boutiques are literally what they're called. So does that make Chanel's frags 'boutique' frags, when they're clearly just 'mainstream,' as you say? Creed Boutique is another example. Creed's logo is a clothing tailor's scissors. They're not hiding the ball there, they're telling the world they're designers . . . These terms 'boutique' and 'mainstream' don't really address what customers are buying, because they negate why they're buying them. So basically let's just keep 'niche' and 'designer.'" 

While I think his argument is interesting, my counter-argument is that there's really no point in trying to separate the two categories with different language when the current language is clarifying from a consumer's point of view. Terms like "boutique" and "mainstream" are probably useful guidance for the suits wanting to know which market they should penetrate, but they fail to acknowledge the psychological motivation of the customer. Daver actually mentions this, stating that "niche" used to target a specific audience, which elaborates on the exact definition of the term, yet he deviates into the notion that the targets have broadened enough to warrant calling the whole mess "boutique." Certainly you could do this, but it would confuse many people as a colloquial term, especially when discussing designer boutiques. There's just too much definitional overlap there, a certain Comedy of Semantics. 

He argues that there's too much audience overlap between the two market segments, but by taking an introspective approach to that argument, I hoped to parse out the utility of maintaining the Old Guard terms. In some ways I see his point more in regards to saying "mainstream fragrance," simply because this doesn't confuse. Stuff like Bleu de Chanel and Dior Homme are "mainstream" and mass-market. But there's still a linguistic weakness inherent to applying this label; we live in a world where familiarity isn't always the act of knowing. While Chanel and Dior are familiar "mainstream" brands, there are entire swaths of their catalog that exist under the radar. Everybody knows Chanel No. 5, but a tiny subset of everybody knows of Chanel Boy. Yet the same "mainstream" brand makes both. If you're releasing perfumes that very few people are aware of, are you in the "mainstream," or simply successful at penetrating mainstream markets? How would a customer ever discover Boy? Oh, yes, because they're interested in something to go with a Chanel tweed sweater, and the knowledgeable salesman happens to mention lavender. Suddenly the clothing matters again, even if it has nothing to do with how anything smells. Clark's Glasses vs. Superman's Cape. 

If you ask me, "What kind of boutique fragrances do you like," my answer will be, "Huh?" Ask me "What niche brands are in your collection," and I'll immediately know what you're talking about, because I'm the niche audience that wanted specific items in my collection. Boutique fragrances are pretty much all fragrances, and it's hard to know what you're after if you use that word. 

We need to be clearer in the language we use. In a time where everyone has their own pronouns and "truths," where definitions are being adjusted and expanded upon on a minute-by-minute basis, it would behoove us to rope in meaning when we see it, and I'm fairly certain the demarcation of perfumery markets is a worthy subject for that. Then again, Super-ego Superman would probably reduce me to a blubbering mess for suggesting it, so let's keep this between us. 


7/16/21

Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme and Yet Another Irrefutably Clear-Cut Account of In-Bottle Maceration




The thing that interests me most about Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme is that it's a nineties fragrance that was issued in 1999, almost the end of the decade, yet it reverts back to 1991 stylistically. Couple this with the fact that it's yet another rebadged Chanel after the likes of the famous Ungaro fragrances, and also currently one of the best deals in masculine perfumery, packaged in a wonderful bottle, and there's some fascinating material to consider. At $18 a bottle, this smells more like $80.

I consider it a rebadged Chanel via the two degrees of Kevin Bacon separation between Ferragamo Group and the Wertheimer empire. In the nineties Ungaro fragrances were licensed by Chanel, and Ferragamo Group owned Ungaro, making their small line de facto Chanels also. Thus Jacques Polge, Chanel's master perfumer, created Ferragamo PH. Well, Jacques and Jean-Pierre Mary, who co-authored the scent. It smells rather like a typical Polge fragrance, i.e. a Chanel fragrance, but the central fig element is very unusual and puts an unforgettable twist on what would otherwise be a straightforward spiced vetiver. My theory is that Polge crafted the more conventional woody accords, Jean-Pierre Mary reconstructed the fig, and together the two men fiddled with marrying their work into one coherent perfume. The result is quite good.

Let's start with the fragrance's highly original top notes. Instead of citrus, lavender, mint, the usual stuff, SFPH opens with an intense blast of burly clove and cedarwood. It's the inverse of every other fragrance in my collection; instead of the typical fresh brightness, this fragrance smells darker and severely mature from the beginning. From that point it relaxes into a very subtle fig and fig leaf, but here I'll depart from the majority of internet reviewers by observing that the fig notes act as a framing device for a saturnine heart accord that smells like a typical post-eighties oriental. Well-rendered notes of cedar, geranium, pine needles, vetiver, hay, cardamom, cinnamon, caraway, basil, oakmoss, rosewood, and sandalwood sprawl across a green-figgy bed of sweetness that reminds me of the clovey cinnamon-spiced apple pie accord found in classics like Balenciaga Pour Homme, Aubusson PH, Bogart's Witness, and to a far lesser degree, Havana and Lapidus PH. The scent of Ferragamo captures what was, at the time of its release, the recent past, and this has me pleasantly surprised. Longevity is lacking however, and a mere three hours after application the fragrance thins down to a vetiver-infused green fig, as transparent as an organza veil. Still, a lovely effort all around.

Ferragamo's signature, despite being Italian, doesn't seem especially Italian to me (your regular Italian). There's an Italianate edge to how the pine and cedar notes are handled (they're crisp and fresh), but otherwise it's a creamy/spicy affair. I'd say it leans rather American barbershop in feel, maybe because of its deceptively potent clove note, but I really enjoy it. If you're looking for a unique and conservative woods fragrance, this gets my endorsement, but be careful - ya gotta like fig.

Of particular interest to me is a review of this fragrance that I found on Fragrantica by user "cvaile," in which the perception of in-bottle maceration is clearly and confidently described. For several years I've heard from various maceration skeptics who say that this phenomenon is impossible (and commercially impractical), or who posit the dubious alternative supposition that one's nose becomes more sensitive to some fragrances with increased exposure to them, yet I keep finding comments which suggest maceration of some sort is at work. User "cvaile" writes: 
"I must say, my bottle has matured spectacularly well over the past 5+ years. When I first got it I enjoyed it but had a distinct impression it was a bit watered down and I could spray the entire bottle on without sending people running. In the mean time it would seem to have concentrated but the bottle doesn't appear to have seen the juice contract that much. It's become stronger obviously, but also a bit sweeter and I can definitely detect many more notes than when I first got it."

When this person states that the bottle "doesn't appear to have seen the juice contract," he's referring to the chance of some liquid volume reduction due to alcohol evaporation, which would lead to oil concentration and a stronger perfume. I've had this happen with several retail-purchased Creed GITs and Orange Spice. Initial perceptions of GIT is it's weak and transparent in nature for the first few wears, at which point I'll put it away for a while. When I return, it's a completely different story. I recall one bottle starting out like water, and a few months later it had grown so potent it was almost unwearable (and had reached a Joop! Homme strength). Orange Spice also changed, going from a few thin hours to double shifts of pounding Valencias within five years. I've since then witnessed dozens of people commenting on the same thing happening to them. 

It's intriguing that Ferragamo's scent is cited as one that undergoes in-bottle maceration after first use. My take on my new bottle is that it's pretty potent for two hours, and then dies down to roughly less than half its original strength. This behavior is aligned with the behavior of other fragrances that kept macerating while in my possession. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it developed into a different performer over the next year or two, and I will keep you updated on that.