Green Tea Lavender (Elizabeth Arden)

EA Fragrances has plenty of money machines in its lineup, but none so popular as the Green Tea franchise, which has spawned nine or ten flankers since its introduction in 1999. The company, which is based in New York City, is responsible for some major American classics - Arden Men Sandalwood, Blue Grass, and Sunflowers among them. The range has precious few official masculines, but I've taken the progressive position of considering the Green Tea sprays to be unisex, and occasionally even blatantly masculine. In the case of Green Tea Lavender, they're definitely selling a gentleman's cologne.

I had a brief debate recently with an annoying basenoter on which gender can lay claim to lavender. My point was that lavender has always been a note used in traditional masculine perfumery; her position was that women enjoy lavender just as much as men. She mentioned Jicky, saying something akin to an Irish Spring soap ad, "Manly, yes, but I like it, too!" Evidently men used Jicky before women, and despite its feminine marketing nowadays, men still like it. Whether or not women actually wear and like Jicky seemed beside the point; marketing trumps statistics (kidding).

Lavender is currently more favored by men than women. It is a vital component of traditional fougères, which are generally just for men. Caldey Island Lavender is the brainchild of Caldey Abbey monks, who have an abundance of the purple stuff and see no reason to let it go to waste. They wear the soliflore and have it shipped out to the rest of the world, but you'll find men are its target audience if you peruse wetshaver sites. The inclusion of lavender in feminine perfumes often tends to sway the fragrance more toward the masculine - take Oscar de la Renta's famous feminine, simply titled Oscar. This fragrance is rather mis-marketed in my opinion. Sure, women can wear it well, but the boatloads of sandalwood and lavender comprising its top and heart notes make it something I'm completely comfortable wearing - in fact, I can wear it better.

The same goes for Green Tea Lavender. This fragrance opens with a very aromatic lavender note, very nicely rounded, save for a hint of opaque chemicals in its earliest stage. After ten minutes the synthetic twinge vanishes, leaving a purple mark on the familiar green tea note accompanying it. The remarkable thing about GT Lavender is that it never loses the lavender - the note accompanies the simple structure into the far drydown. Naturally this makes it seem more synthetic than its scent indicates, but it's no problem because it smells quite good. In fact, between this and the original Green Tea, Lavender is an improvement.

It also lends this simple "fresh" fragrance some much-needed structure. GT Lavender feels very loosely like a fougère instead of a sport scent. It also feels a touch more formal, and I could see wearing it to spring functions, like graduation ceremonies (not so with Green Tea). While the other flankers may waffle in character, GT Lavender holds a very confident and mature poise, imbuing the air around its wearer with a clean and dignified attitude. It's nice stuff.

Unfortunately this version is available exclusively at Macy's and other department stores. I have yet to see it at discounters like Marshalls or TJ Maxx. It seems a pity to have to pay $40 for it. But if you're the kind of person who only uses one cologne in the summer, then this is a worthy investment, especially if you like the original Green Tea. Go ahead guys, check it out. It'll fit right in with your fougères.

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