Relax ( Davidoff )

Zino is an extremely ambery fougère, and as such rests but a stone's throw from orientalism. Davidoff traversed that short distance when they created Relax in 1990, bridging the gap between Zino's warmth and Cool Water's minty chill with a fragrance that perfectly embodies both qualities. The Davidoff brand seems to confuse fragrance lovers almost as much as Mugler, Creed, and Montale. 

People are under the impression that Zino and Relax have been discontinued, but I'm told they're both available at Davidoff stores, so I guess I could buy a bottle of Relax on Madison Avenue. That's something I will try in the future. In the meantime, this fragrance is in low circulation, with very few bottles available online, and even fewer available at brick and mortar retailers. Relax commands absurdly high prices, so I recommend phoning your local Davidoff store to see if they can send you a care package.

Hyperbolic comments abound whenever Relax gets compared to more popular releases by this brand, and while I agree that it deserves an ad campaign and broader distribution, I don't agree that it's superior to Zino and Cool Water. Its older brothers are groundbreaking, but Relax is just "nice." It's a fresh, smooth fragrance, with a slice of Zino's lavender intro wedded to a camphoraceous mint note, swiftly followed by a mellow amber with trimmings of musky vanilla, tobacco, and heliotrope. 

I wish the top notes lasted longer to provide some contrast to the burly (and seemingly endless) base, but I have an old bottle on my hands. There's a sweet little sandalwood note that smells like the genuine article, which might be why Relax is in limited production. The overall vibe is comparable to vintage Brut, mixed with Joop! Homme. As mentholated and aromatic as the top accord is, Relax's drydown is just as soft and smooth. It truly smells relaxing, reason enough to use an aspergillum to sprinkle it on co-workers when meetings get hairy. I'm thinking The Fonz would have worn Relax, a fun association to have with this ever-pleasant outlier.

Relax featured in the updated Davidoff bottle design, circa 2005.