Pino Silvestre (Parfums Mavive)

Marketing is tricky, as any graphic designer will tell you. Having designed professionally myself, I can attest to the incredible difficulty clients have in determining the value of a product's appearance. The weird thing is that few companies seem to embrace a product's obvious assets. They favor abstract over representational styles. If something tastes like Oreo cookies, looks like Oreo cookies, and is called Oreo Cookies, better put it in a square bag with lots of blue. The thought of packaging the cookies in a big plastic Oreo cookie is apparently out of the question. Fragrance is mostly the same deal - Aqua Velva Ice Blue has been around forever and has an icy blue color, but there ends the allusion. I have yet to encounter an Ice Blue bottle in frosted glass.

My drawing professor at The Mason Gross School of the Arts used to say, "genius comes in stating the obvious." Don't try to embellish what you're seeing with fancy flourishes that aren't really there. Draw exactly what you see, for only in pure representation can a draughtsman approach the skill level of Leonardo, or Michelangelo, or even Michael Whelan. This makes sense, as reality is the only true pivot point into anything fantastic. Misrepresentation just confuses things, and leads to problems later. So with this knowledge intact, one might ask where such magnificent examples of "obviousness" can be found.

Look no further than the total commercial embodiment of the phrase "truth in advertising," Pino Silvestre. Originally released in 1955, Pino is a fougère that exhibits remarkable honesty on every level. Housed in a glass pine cone, this pine-focused scent embraces its concept in an incredibly holistic way. Named after the evergreen Pinus Silvestris, the scent simply smells like pine. It opens with a bracing lemon note that sweeps into a crystalline accord composed of lavender, carnation, basil, clary sage, geranium, cedar, and moss. Trust me, you'll get none of these notes with your nose. They're all part of a brilliant olfactory illusion designed to give you the most bang for your buck. I consider it more a technical than artistic approach, as Pino is a very old scent with a conservative attitude. The bright pine hangs in for about two hours before drying into a slightly warmer, honey-like amber base. The whole thing is crisp, green, chilly, and as natural as that spruce in your back yard. My only gripe is that it doesn't have the sort of strength or longevity that I expect of older scents. With generous application I get about three hours, and need to re-apply or just forge ahead smelling like nothing at all. If they ever reformulate it, Pino needs to be made a leeetle bit stronger.

This is a terrific time of year to wear Pino Silvestre, and last season I wore it while picking out my Christmas tree. It's also very Italian, and I believe it's still manufactured in Venice. Pine is an amazing thing - it's a naturally fresh aroma, something clean and green, the way men used to smell back in the earlier half of the twentieth century. If you're a fan of straightforward and vintage approaches to personal style, this is the stuff for you.


  1. You (and your professor) are so right about the difficulty we seem to have with embracing the obvious and straightforward. After all, who wants to take one step too many and be "literal"? (This is a very bad word, it seems.)

    But back on topic: the scent sounds perfect for this time of year!

  2. Literalism is most certainly dead, or at least near death. Sad but true. Pino is excellent for the holidays, and it's unisex!


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