In 1996, Azzaro released Chrome, its landmark '90s masculine, and took the Cool Water concept one crucial step away from fougère-dom, and into the territory of conceptual perfumery. The concept was "metal." Chrome exhibited all the typical characteristics of a fresh fougère and citrus chypre, married them, amplified its perpendicular musks to blaring levels, and voilà! A shiny metallic perfume that made teenagers and twenty-somethings smell like R2D2. Mission accomplished.
The only precedent for such a horrendous concept (and fragrance) is an obscure niche release from 1980 named One Man Show. Jacques Bogart, on the heels of its successful Bogart Pour Homme, which is an ambery fougère in the Zino/Rabanne axis, attempted to modernize the flagging genre of masculine chypres, and envisioned a world where men smelled of rusty metal, tree resins, and raw incense. It was to be the ultimate meeting of declined Utopia and vengeful nature, all in one powerful scent. The calibration was inspired but simple, of equal parts pine and oakmoss, styrax and patchouli, incense and geranium, all tuned to a hi-pitched shrill. It smells weirdly majestic, with nosehair-singeing pine top notes concentrated into unrecognizable proportions, and redolent of tarnished aluminum sheeting and rusted steel plates. This lengthy opening stage is unremittingly caustic and synthetic, yet also irresistible and quite compelling.
The drydown consists of a simple incense and cedar accord, and possesses a distinctive austerity seldom seen in '80s masculines. It is here, around the ninety-minute mark, that One Man Show clearly reveals itself to be a polite EDT after all, and not a hairy-chested powerhouse. The growl in its beginnings rumbles down to the relaxing patter of vetiver leaves rustling in a twilight breeze. Only hints of the cold metallic note remain as nature reclaims its territory.
This fragrance is odd, charming, and full of well-executed synthetic forms. You may or may not smell the resemblance to Chrome, but you'll definitely appreciate an unusual and well-made fragrance while wearing One Man Show. On another note - I have no idea why it was given such a tacky name, but I like how it provides garish contrast to the otherwise-sobering Eastern-European package of muted greys and blacks. Someone over at the Jacques Bogart company has an interesting sense of humor.