Royal Copenhagen Spray Cologne (Five Star Fragrances)

I wrote a scathing review of Royal Copenhagen on basenotes, which I can't change because those fuckers banned me last winter, and I wore Royal Copenhagen Musk when I lived in Prague a few years ago, and disliked it intensely. My opinion of the original Royal Copenhagen has, rarest of rare things, changed. And changed for the better. The other day I bought a gift set of RC spray cologne, deodorant, shower gel, and bar soap. For $20 I figured I couldn't really go wrong, not with all that other stuff thrown in the box. I've been wearing the cologne and now I must say, this is not as I remembered it years ago. I wonder if it differs depending on spray or splash - I originally tried the splash, and it smelled awful. The spray, on the other hand, is quite nice. I'm enjoying it.

If you take a look at King Frederick VII of Denmark up there, and think carefully about what this chap from nineteenth century Europe might have smelled like (especially as his portrait was being painted), you should get an approximation of Royal Copenhagen. This stuff smells spicy, soapy, powdery, and pretty darned stodgy, but with little oriental flourishes that carry it into its own league. It's an ambery oriental with a brusque vetiver top note, playing loudly through heavy aldehydes, not dissimilar to the opening of Tabac Original, but without the intense citrus. Light notes of bergamot, orange, and lemon are detectable however, and provide a fresh lift to the vetiver, preventing its rootiness from overpowering the proceedings. Neat.

Within thirty minutes the scent simplifies, becoming very powdery, with hints of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and oakmoss tinging the winterscape of its wispy base. It reminds me a little of Gold Bond body powder, which sounds horrible, but I actually like how Gold Bond smells, so . . . so there. Am I damning an outdated oriental with faint praise? No, I hope not. Listen, there's only one way to say this: you gotta be a guy's guy to appreciate Royal Copenhagen. It's probably not all that easy to understand the vibe of this stuff if you're a metrosexual man, or a modern woman with postmodern sensibilities. Ambery seventies orientals are not accessible to today's nose. Released in 1970 and bearing the namesake of an old Danish porcelain factory, Royal Copenhagen adheres to a rich tradition of scents like Old Spice and Tabac, which offer warm, diffuse, slightly soapy, and very powdery-oriental "fresh" profiles. Unlike its predecessors, RC comes as a blue-dyed barbershop juice, with a silvery royal-mark label, and a dated bottle with a royal blue cap. The blue suggests "stately masculine clean," which translates to "barbershop." Think warm citrus, smooth floral notes, sprightly spice, and that famous talcum drydown we've smelled on older gentlemen of bygone eras. If that makes sense to you, then RC is something you should own, or at least look into.

I like it a touch more than Tabac, and about the same as Old Spice, although I think it perfects Old Spice and creates a more dynamic oriental experience, in what can only be oxy-moronically described as a modern Old-World style. One more thing - wearing RC ensures you're wearing something only one or two other men in your country are wearing. No one wears this stuff anymore. I mean it. I'm amazed it still exists. There must be a lot of grandmothers buying it for their grandsons, mistakenly thinking, "it's blue - it must be that hairspray crap all the young'uns wear these days!" That's a shame, of course, but great if you consider that you can duck the cliche of donning Old Spice without sacrificing quality, and still smell unique. You could try to "bring it back," and make RC fashionable again. Maybe powdered wigs will make a comeback, too. Think of the possibilities.