Halston Z-14, Revisited

Although I did not eviscerate it in my original review, I made it pretty clear that Halston's signature masculine wasn't for me. I blamed cinnamon, and remarked on how this particular "oriental chypre" did not jive with my cinnamon sensitivities. It struck me as being peculiarly dated, very much a seventies lounge-lizard cologne. I must say, my bottle must have either been: (a) a bad batch, completely possible given the threads online with guys complaining about a fuzzy cinnamon element that cloys, or (b) simply a corked bottle that was off before I ever opened it. The Marshalls in my neighborhood is guilty of selling soured colognes, and Z-14 wouldn't be the first I've purchased. I recall buying Azzaro Pour Homme once, and wondering when the hell they put civet in there.

I saw a cologne/aftershave set of Z-14 on clearance in Walgreens today, and figured for nine bucks, what the heck. It's almost a new year, perhaps it's a good time to give Z a second chance. I'm glad I grabbed it, because what currently wafts from my wrist is very nice. Let's not beat around the bush here - there's a cinnamon note in this fragrance that, however subtly integrated, just doesn't work for me. I could do without it. But for whatever reason it's not screaming up at me, and I'm getting far more mossy, citrusy woods instead. In fact, the entire fragrance seems to be a poetic take on lemon.

There's nothing better than a good spicy-woody citrus fragrance. Citrus is common in perfume, and there are two roads, the one traveled, and the one less taken. The first is Juicy-Froot; the second, dry woods. Grey Flannel exemplifies the greatness of the latter approach by husking lemon into a super-dry, intensely bitter note that nearly collapses in on itself. Z-14, from the exact same era, aims just as high, marrying that dryness to tree moss, labdanum, cedar, and pine. It stays bitter and aromatic, never quite leafing up like its counterpart 1-12, and maintains a masculine balance for three or four hours, before fading quietly away. It's not a masterpiece, it's not going to weaken female knees, but it's really good, and smells classy. Try it if you don't mind sacrificing current trends for a forgotten, well-made chypre, one needing nothing but its oakmoss back.