Set Sail St. Barts for Men (Tommy Bahama)

One of the prevailing issues to be had with department store fragrances of the last ten years is that they tend to smell like very expensive deodorant, and since many are made in deodorant form, that's not really surprising. Bleu de Chanel smells that way to me, with its ashen woodiness lost in a grey, powdery haze that smells neither good nor bad. Many contemporary Chanels smell like that, and when I tried this perky tropical cologne by Tommy Bahama, I found the same intentionally inoffensive, deodorant-like quality. The difference between Set Sail and Bleu is that Set Sail actually smells like something fun and relaxed (which is truly unexpected these days). It's a lovely little melange of salty lime, lemon, margarita mix, guava, vanilla, and musk. The citrus is fleeting but fairly natural, and the salt note is pretty distinct for most of the fragrance's life on skin. Guava fruit has a variable fragrance that ranges from dry and papery, to sweet and musky, with a slight creaminess. Set Sail's Guava is the latter kind, and it lends a cool softness to the composition.

This fragrance was released in 2007, but I wasn't aware of it that year because I was working in Eastern Europe. American fashion accessories tend to find their way slowly to that general region of the world. I learned of this brand when I returned home, probably because Set Sail was a resounding success. My attraction to it is a little more aesthetically motivated than usual - I really love the bottle. It's a hefty, oblong chunk of glass in a stunning Mediterranean shade of Brandeis Blue. Its atomizer is faux gold-plated metal, housed under a matching plastic cap with a little piece of docking rope wrapped around it. It's probably the nicest bottle in my collection (YSL's Jazz is a close second). Design-wise, I think that the fragrance and its bottle are good examples of thematic congruence. The juice smells tropical, blue, and fresh, and the bottle looks like a cross between Venetian blown glass and a polished gemstone. Set Sail is in a cologne concentration, but I get a nice four or five hours out of it before it completely reduces down to a skin scent, and it's startlingly cheap at discounters. Do look into it as a summer option, as there's a lot of good to be found here.

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