Green Water (Jacques Fath)

Some products are meant to be used in tandem with each other. I find this to be true mostly with colognes, as they're usually too weak to last very long on their own. A good shower with body gel conditions skin to support and project a matching eau de cologne. Green Water is the definition of something that needs total product-line deployment to achieve maximum effect.

My story with Green Water is a little lopsided. Before ever encountering the cologne I owned and used the gel for a while, and loved it. It's supposedly identical to the cologne, but not nearly as old. It smelled quite green, but not a nice green. There was a rawness, something vegetal about it. Its mint was bracing; the petitgrain was tough and bitter. Its tonka base was just enough to lift its verdant herbal heart. Everything smelled realistic, suave but hard-boiled, like how Sam Spade would smell while turning Brigid over to the police. It made me speculate on the cologne - I got a sense of something tailored and genteel, yet borne of desperately progressive, pre-body gel times. Perhaps an aroma made to radiate from Ivory-soap scrubbed skin through an old tweed suit.

One day I took a trip out to my favorite little perfume shop, which is inconspicuously located in a corner of the Post Mall in Milford. It's a terrific shop because the owner actually knows and loves his business, and isn't just another guy out to blindly make a buck. He's been a retailer for a long time, and despite all the wonderful wares on his shelves, still swears by good 'ol Brut as his personal signature. He happens to sell Green Water, which is pretty amazing considering that no one else in Connecticut sells Green Water. This scent, along with Le 3ème Homme de Caron, is regrettably absent from store shelves. And trust me, I've looked.

But anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my friend sold Green Water cologne, and we had a little conversation about it. I told him that I'd used the body gel, and he encouraged me to try it. He said, "It's an old one - you can't find it anywhere, and it's very unobtrusive, so it's nice." I applied it liberally to my wrists and gave it a sniff. And it was . . . eh. Uninspiring, to say the least. It didn't match the body wash at all, although I could see how the two products would work together. They were inverse fragrances; the body wash gave the skin a bold, fungal-green tonality, which in turn fleshed out the wane, hesperidic chypre cologne. Together they work; alone, they're singular oddballs with no reliable reference points. Green Water cologne was the denouement of other necessary morning ablutions. At least that's how it seemed to me.

Sadly, that's not really enough to exonerate Green Water's toilet water. I expect a composition to stand alone on its own merits, without a supporting cast. And Green Water isn't capable of it. The unripe citrus and refreshingly-minty herbal mix has a very fleeting eau de cologne feel, with abysmal longevity and zero projection. There's a burst of clean and bitter greenness, all awash in lemon, which evaporates into a hint of oakmoss and sour synthetic musk. I love the greenness, and its unique composition - when I can smell it. But the longevity and projection issues really kill the whole experience.

Despite its problems, Green Water still feels like a plus to me, if only for being another classic green cologne that's still in production and semi-available. I'm so absurdly addicted to green scents that I wouldn't rule out wearing Green Water, and I get a kick out of the nostalgia factor. People rhapsodize over Green Irish Tweed and how Cary Grant sported it back in the old days, but I figure it's far more likely that he wore the original formulation of Green Water. It's something to try if you're a green lover like me, and even better if your accoutrement is an Irish tweed suit.

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