10/2/11

Acteur (Azzaro)


Acteur was a hard-sell for me at first. Azzaro fragrances tend to be that way. The spicy Azzaro "house note" is one I don't care for, a strange blend of oakmoss, cedar, rose, and carnation that appears in most of their masculines. This one is getting harder to find, and there's a perception in the blogosphere that it's discontinued. I've read that new bottles are available at the Azzaro Boutique in Paris, but their numbers are limited. I'm not sure if the current formulation utilizes the trademark Azzaro notes in the same way as the vintage. I only have the latter version, and would say an abstraction of those notes in a new release would be a demerit.

The fragrance is considered a leathery chypre, but I disagree with that. It smells more like a floral chypre to me, as its oakmoss, amber, and musk base shimmers through the muted florals in its heart. I don't get any leather from it, and it's too sweet to be labeled "woody." Acteur opens with a nice burst of fresh bergamot. The citron is a little green, thanks to calamus. After a minute on skin, the fruit is spiced by the bitter entries of mace and cardamom. This spicey accord smoothly transitions into a unique heart of rose, cedar, and carnation. The carnation meets the cardamom head-on, and establishes a nice floral piquancy. Touches of muguet and jasmine sweeten the woody rose accord, creating an olfactory illusion of apple cider. The cidery aura emanates from Acteur for a few hours, before sliding into a warm, mossy, musky-sweet base. As the fragrance evolves, the floral notes steal the show, tempered only by the darker cedar and moss notes. It's all very well-balanced, fresh-smelling, and dry.

When I look at the time when Acteur was introduced, it's no wonder to me that it was a hard-sell to the public. Released in 1989, Azzaro's off-beat chypre inhabited a market that was eschewing the bombastic '80s "powerhouse" fougères, in favor of fresher aquatics and sweeter chypres. It was an odd netherland, where holdovers from the last decade were infiltrated by the hybridized aromas of the next. The sweet, lactonic-fruity florals and fougères of the '90s hadn't appeared together yet, but were showing up as oddball cliques in each fragrance category. Some scents, like Ungaro I, Davidoff's Relax, and Acteur bridged the gaps, usually without lasting success.

There's the questions of who should wear Acteur, what the fragrance's concept relays, and when it is best worn. French perfumes have a way of making me ask those questions, and this one makes me think of Richard Bohringer playing the quiet assassin in the 1987 film Agent Trouble. Actually, it makes me think of Bohringer in general. The suave, sophisticated, older French gentleman, a man with a soul full of twists and turns, his complexities hidden behind wistful eyes.



Acteur conveys that sense of elegant and masculine adroitness. There's something about its expression of greens, spices, and flowers, that brings class and ruggedness into the same room, sits them down, and negotiates a truce. Still, when I first sniffed this fragrance, I wrinkled my nose. It was nice, but seemed like an incense and tobacco monster. However, I tried it in late summer, and by early autumn it smelled lighter, airier, and not nearly so threatening. The apple cider aura of Acteur makes it ideal for October.

Luca Turin has written that the problem with chypres is that most have seen more of the world than their wearers. This suggests that one must seek out fragrances of less-than or equal-to savoir-faire. This is nonsense; a man makes a scent as much as the scent makes him. It's like the tagline of the classic ad for Paco Rabanne Pour Homme: A vous de le rendre inoubliable: You have to make it memorable. A fragrance's success requires nothing more than the confidence and self-sentience of its wearer. I think any man should try Acteur. If it intimidates him, he should assess everything in life that intimidates him, and reconsider the fragrance with a renewed perspective. Then he can stop being afraid, apply Acteur, and go forth.






























8 comments:

  1. In my search for a good rose frag I have not been able to find this one in my area. I did try Ungaro III on your recommendation and it's quite good. It was the reformulated version. It really shares a lot of similarity to the dry down of Aventus but minus the pinapple and more rose. Really grew on me as I wore it. Tried Tea Rose as well and you're right about that one. It smells exactly like fresh cut roses. I liked that too and for the price it may be worth getting. Lastly the drug stores here are full of the latest Paco Rabanne release 1 Million Intense. I was never a fan of the original but sprayed some on for the hell of it. What do you known, it's a very rose forward scent. Starts off a little too sweet and bubblegum like but once that settles its a really nice cinnamon and rose combo mixed with leather. I was pretty surprised to like it so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a few good masculine rose frags out there, and Acteur is one of them - in fact, you're better off finding a bottle of Acteur and wearing that instead of Amouage's famous Lyric Man. But if you're happy with Ungaro III and Tea Rose, you've get "stronger" rose frags, more rose-centric in nature. Acteur has rose, but it's not really all about rose. It's a complex blend in which rose only plays a part.

      Delete
    2. Lyric Man is what started this latest obsession. I like how it was heavy on the rose but still a composition. I really loved the type of rose dried, dark note in it. Tea Rose is more of a memory scent for me. It reminds me eactly of my grandmothers rose bushes. Ungaro III was rally nice too. I'm kind of thinking about it now that it's gone. I just don't know if I would ever go through a full bottle of it. I might just grab some Acteur online since it's pretty cheap and give it a spin. Why do you say I'm better off with it then Lyric Man? I would probably never splash out on it anyway. Amouage is REALLY expensive in Canada.

      Delete
    3. The problem with Lyric and any Amouage I've tried is that the quality to price ratio is iffy at best, under par at worst. I'm not convinced that Amouage is worth the money, although I am convinced that they're worth a lot of money. They seem overpriced by a hundred dollars easily per bottle. Yes, the rose note in Lyric is hard to match, and Acteur's entire composition is very hard to match, and so far I haven't encountered anything that smells like Acteur. For thirty bucks, that's a higher quality to price ratio.

      Delete
  2. Yeah I hear that. Lyric Man is one of my favourites and it smells expensive but it's hard to justify a price $300 and up. However I will say that the few I've tried have all been really powerful and a little went a long way. I'll order Acteur this week and report back. Is the vintage worth seeking out over the reformulation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hard to say for me, I've not tried the new one. The vintage bottle I had was at least fifteen years old when I got it three years ago. I'd buy the new one without hesitation. Azzaro seems pretty good at reformulating their masculines.

      Delete
  3. Acteur by azzaro. Ein duft der die Sinne berührt, ein duft der mich unmittelbar an die 90er erinnert. Ein duft der seinerzeit und heute noch die einzigkeit des Erfinders seines ersten und besten duftes azzaro pour homme ergänzt. Schade nur dass er so schwer zu bekommen ist. Ich kann mich glücklich schätzen eine halbvolle 50ml flasche zu besitzen um mich, wenn ich es brauche, daran zu erfreuen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's arguably the finest Azzaro ever made, and I agree with the descriptor "soothing." This is soothing AND suave.

      Delete

Thank you for your comment. It will be visible after approval by the moderator.