An Unlikely Survivor: Brut 33

This isn't going to be a long, in-depth post about formula changes between the different vintages of Brut 33. I just thought I'd mention that I recently happened across an old 1970's bottle of Brut 33 at an estate sale, and for a few bucks I grabbed it. Contrary to what people think, Brut 33 was never discontinued. The original Brut cologne used to be sold at a higher concentration (from the sixties through to the mid-seventies), and then Brut 33 arrived in '75 and turned out to be a success. Fabergé discontinued the Brut 33 label, but kept the formula and swapped out the original cologne for the lighter "splash-on," presumably thinking no one would notice. Few did. Brut 33, now simply called Brut, continued to sell just fine, as it does today.

Then Idelle Labs pared the formula down further and released a new "Splash-On." The difference between the old and new Brut 33 is negligible. In fact, there is almost no difference at all, save for a slightly dirtier musk in the older vintage. But get this - I smell plastic in the old version, which seems to account for its sooty vibe. I don't get any plastic in the new version, and the new stuff is definitely cleaner and brighter. I seriously think that these mass-marketed colognes have been chemically improved to allow containment in plastic without suffering from scent contamination, a theory bolstered by the fact that they're now housed in clear plastic, which exposes the fragrances to light. My aftershaves haven't turned, despite being exposed to light over the course of several years, so something's up. P&G's decision to house Old Spice in opaque plastic did not adversely change that scent, either.

My only complaint is that the Fabergé bottles look better than Helen of Troy's. You can see in the picture above that Brut 33 from 1975 has an eye-catching look, with a nice shade of dark green, and a silver cap. The eyesore behind it looks more like mouthwash, as Luca Turin pointed out in The Guide, and couldn't be any uglier. If their design division buckled down and revamped the original bottle aesthetic, slimmed it back down, made the green brighter (to reflect the nature of the scent), and brought back the silver cap, even Brut 33 would look dignified again. At the end of the day, it's a fragrance for haggard, war-torn police officers and doctors, and could use a better uniform of its own.


  1. I've been getting my daily Brut nostalgia courtesy of the shower gel which smells fantastic!

  2. BTW what are your thoughts on Blue Stratos Bryan?

    1. well Marcus, I can tell you my thoughts on Blue Stratos, but not on how Blue Stratos smells, because I have never smelled Blue Stratos, and this ties into my thoughts on it. I think Blue Stratos is a mediocre fougere that was many years ago a popular drugstore scent, in line with Brut, but only really sold in Europe. I think the fact that Blue Stratos was a popular 20th century European drugstore fougere makes it a rare item in 2013, and that its rarity is what makes it desirable to people, and of course perfect in the eyes of someone like Luca Turin. I think that if Blue Stratos were as ubiquitous as Old Spice and Brut are today, and if Blue Stratos could easily be found at drugstore prices in drugstores here in America (and in Europe), Blue Stratos would not be anything too remarkable to anyone, and would simply be another good inexpensive fougere. It would have gotten two stars in The Guide like Brut did. Luca Turin would not have sung its praises. And we would not be talking about it under an article about Brut 33, but would discuss it under an article about Blue Stratos instead.

      All sardonic wit aside, I'll say that if I can ever find an affordable bottle of Blue Stratos cologne, I will buy it without hesitation, and write up a review immediately.


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