Allure Homme & Edition Blanche (Chanel)

I met Doctor Bourke in the autumn of 1996, as a freshman in high school. He was my French teacher, a former superintendent for a school system in New York who was serving out his millionaire-bachelor retirement in the classroom. His style was impeccable, all Savile Row suited and Rolex watched. The first thing I ever saw him do was explode at a fellow classmate, Jeremy M____. Good 'ol Jeremy was a buddy of mine, a bona fide troublemaker, the sort of guy who drank Bud Lite on his dad's boat, which was forever hitched to a station wagon in his dad's driveway. I vaguely recall Jeremy making a crack about one of the girls, and suddenly getting crushed by Bourke's thunderous entrance.

"Hey! You!" Bourke said.

Jeremy raised an eyebrow and looked over his shoulder. "Who? Me?"

"That's right. You. Shut up and listen to me."

"You just tell me to shut up?"

"And listen to me." Bourke's voice was suddenly quiet. He went to the podium at the front of the classroom and shuffled his papers around and looked up at us with a scowl that would put Clint Eastwood to shame. "If you think the usual fun and games is going to happen in my classroom," he hissed, "then you're all in for a big surprise."

Six months later, Jeremy, Dr. Bourke, myself, and a handful of French 101 survivors were joking about the French, exchanging stories about the various cars we'd driven (the Good Doctor was a car fanatic and regularly traded his leases for sexy 8 and 12 cylinder toys), and probing our main man about his style and personal tastes. The veneer of toughness, the meanness and academic aggression had been peeled away to reveal a funny and lighthearted guy who was all bark and no bite.

Oh, and he wore Allure Homme by Chanel. He broke that out during my senior year, which was when it was released. When I discovered that it was his new favorite, it became the only fragrance that I wore in the decade to come. I also abstained from wearing blue jeans for ten straight years, as the Good Doctor hated them and always chided anyone who wore them. Yes, his influence was that potent and far reaching.

Recently I had a chance to try one of Allure's flankers, Edition Blanche. The juice was on my skin for twenty minutes when I realized there was no way in hell Doctor Bourke (now well into his 80s and still teaching French at my Alma Mater) would ever wear such an abomination. Its odd pairing of synthetic pink pepper and creamed lemon was a listless olfactory experience and didn't hold a candle to the multifaceted warmth of its timeless progenitor.

One should never ever mess with a classic. And some things, like some people, are simply classic.

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