Clubman Aftershave-Lotion (Pinaud)

This blog isn't really all-inclusive of both eau de toilettes and aftershaves. Clubman is a fine exception because it doubles as a cologne. Actually, it doubles as a perfume. The damn stuff is so strong. But as a piece of Americana and pure liquid nostalgia, it damn well better smell strong. If an early 20th Century American aftershave is going to survive into the 21st Century, its scent needs to embody the boldness and universality of its time.

A quick history lesson: Ed. Pinaud founded the American branch of his high-end perfume company in 1920. From 1933 until the later half of the century, the Ed. Pinaud building on 5th Avenue in New York City was renamed Klotz Family Business Co. by Victor Klotz, Pinaud's son-in-law. A French supplier had been grumbling about its association with an American toiletry company, and Klotz responded by re-branding his line. It was circa 1940 when Clubman was first exclusively distributed to barbers for use in their shops. Using very little advertising and a word-of-mouth driven campaign, the Klotz Family Business brought Clubman to every country club, barbershop, and bathroom in the country. Klotz's strategy of reaching the American everyman paid off, and the transition from fancy perfumes to barbershop lotions was a success. Still, the product was never marketed as widely as Aqua Velva, Old Spice, or Skin Bracer. Clubman was always the commercially-aloof, in-the-know professional's choice.

Today, Clubman is found in Walgreens and Rite Aids for a few bucks a bottle. I've been using the scent for a couple of years, mainly as an aftershave, and very carefully. Many wetshavers choose to cut their alcohol-based aftershaves with water or witch hazel; I prefer to use Clubman straight, and usually consider it my SOTD due to its massive strength and sillage. Anything more than a thimbleful results in serious migraine material.

Classified as an ambery fougère, Clubman hits the skin with a pleasant array of floral and mossy notes. The top boasts a Victorian-era rose note, which isn't lost to the ensemble of lemon, lavender, cinnamon, oak moss, and tree moss comprising the base. The velvety concoction swirls into a powdery drydown that smells exactly like a barber's brush. In fact, every time I use this stuff, I feel like I just got a haircut. It's truly amazing how much scent-association is built into Clubman.

Flanked by Clubman Special Reserve, Clubman Vanilla, and Clubman Musk, the original Clubman stands alone as the ultimate barbershop fougère. That's a pretty coveted category, although it's one that gets overlooked by niche-loving snobs. Even YSL felt the need to address the barbershop fougère with Tom Ford's Rive Gauche pour Homme. Frankly, when I think of Clubman, I think of this:

Now I know that first impressions are the most-enduring, and when meeting a woman for the first time, concerns of which shirt to wear, which way to part your hair, and which cologne to use prevail. But consider what happens if you and the lady end up together, and she takes the time to peek at your toiletries. I can think of no cooler thing than to have a nice big 16 oz. bottle of Pinaud Clubman sitting by my sink - it tells her I'm a man's man, a little grizzled, a little neat . . . but totally refined. Attention to detail, in the end, is the ultimate aphrodisiac.


  1. This is an old article, but relevant for me... I long ago had a little Walgreen's bottle I'd picked upon a road trip before getting into all of this, and jettisoned some time later, mistaking its cheapness for something crude (that is, not endearingly so...What can I have been thinking?)

    Anyway, I missed it, and my wife overheard me missing it and one day returned from a beauty suppliers with a massive jug of the stuff. It has certainly grown on me, to the point where it's guiding my choices for fall fragrances. So here's the question: what would you layer it with? I've been wearing it lately with Azzaro Pour Homme, which honestly helped to redeem my opinion of the latter (in current, wan formulation) considerably (the moss in Clubman's drydown helps to plush out the Azzaro's lack of moss), BUT, I'm still on the hunt as Azzaro gives me a weird lump in my throat (not the sentimental kind) and reminds my wife of her 1970's uncles (I guess her uncles never wore Eau Sauvage, which is a big hit with her.)
    I've also tried it with Caron Pour Un Homme, a favourite of mine, but the two don't seem all that well mated. Any suggestions? Another fougere perhaps? Third Man? Rive Gauche? Kouros? (NB: this Holy Trinity unavailable to me on my isolated island in Western Canada, so your advice really is appreciated...)

    1. I find it difficult to layer, too.

      There's only one thing that works decently with it: Rive Gauche PH. Sometimes I can get away with Third Man. Not Kouros. Brut works, but if you're wearing Clubman, Brut is redundant. Ditto for Canoe (and I actually like Canoe better). I used to wear Clubman more often, but now I reach for Old Spice and Myrsol Formula K far more. I still get some Clubman going once every few months, though, and I still enjoy it. Typically I'll use it and let it be the SOTD, but if I go easy on it, RGPH does work quite nicely.

      One thing to note: the latest version of Clubman is a bit weaker and less tenacious than the stuff of 10 years ago. Not MUCH different. But just a bit. Still quite potent, but not to the point where I get headaches from accidentally over applying it.

  2. Thanks! I'll look for the old tin can, though part of me gets a bit discouraged looking for discontinued scents (even ones as readily available as this)... I just hate treating bottles like museum pieces, which seems almost inevitable when dealing with vintages, for me at least. Before I went down this wet weather fougere rabbit hole, I was mostly looking to buy myself a big bottle of Guerlain Vetiver... Maybe I'll just settle for that and stop overthinking things (fat chance of the latter...)


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