Eau de Grey Flannel (Geoffrey Beene)

With his re-release of Grey Flannel in 1996, Geoffrey Beene green-lit the first and only flanker to his trademark scent, Eau de Grey Flannel. Commonly thought of as an aquatic, EdGF is really a fresh fougère, comprised mainly of spices, florals, and woody notes, with touches of ozonic notes throughout.

Summer this year was particularly hot and sticky, and I found myself reluctantly needing a cheap fresh fougère. With three minor exceptions (to be discussed in future reviews), I generally loathe the category. To me, a fougère (meaning "fern-like") isn't something that needs the redundancy of "freshness." Good fougères capitalize on the essentials: bergamot, lavender, violet leaf, clove, and any assortment of precious woods. To me, there's more freshness in a single clove than in a hundred gallons of Chanel's Platinum Egoïste. But maybe I'm just a little stodgy. You decide.

Not wanting to go crazy, I stopped at a nearby Marshalls and decided to exercise some brand loyalty by purchasing a bottle of EdGF. I've been through the ringer with blind buys before, but this time I felt pretty safe (the $9 price tag didn't hurt). Having read everything available on the web about EdGF, I knew exactly what it smelled like, even before I sniffed it. As soon as I got back to my car, I popped the cap, gave it a spritz, and yep. No surprise whatsoever. There, on my hand, was the pure smell of male sport deodorant. Actually, it's the pure smell of dihydromyrcenol, that woody-citrus-"fresh" aroma chemical found in practically everything since Drakkar Noir. This should be called Eau de Dihydromyrcenol.

Naturally, I delved a little further into the scent profile. Fragrantica lists notes of cypress, star anise, and mandarin orange off the top. While I concur with the cypress, I don't get much else, other than a sweet citrus, which I suppose is mandarin. The middle contains a bit of Calone, gussied up with eucalyptus and sage, which are identifiable. The result is something clean, a little spicy, a little sweet, and a lot disappointing.

The problem with EdGF is that it's boring, plain and simple. Only a slightly-metallic "blue" vibe emanates from this scent, and not much else. It's the same tried-and-tired "blueness" covered by Cool Water and Polo Sport. Its ingredients are obvious, cheap, and predictably arranged. This isn't to suggest that EdGF doesn't smell nice - it does - but let's face it here. You're not going to win an award for originality wearing this. I think the bigger issue for me is the fact that Beene slapped the Grey Flannel name on this thing. In terms of artfulness, Grey Flannel is many leagues above EdGF. It's a masterful chypre, whereas this is just '90s teeny-bopper juice. The two scents are nothing alike, not even in the same ballpark. It's apples and oranges. It's ridiculous.

All well. If you need something fresh for the ides of August, you could do worse. Just don't be surprised if you've already forgotten it by September.