4/30/13

360° White For Men (Perry Ellis)




The entire 360° fragrance line by Perry Ellis is little more than a cloning machine, with blatant copies of several best-selling masculines of yesteryear "reinterpreted" for budget-minded consumers. That's fine, except most of the fragrances being cloned are already relatively cheap. Acqua di Gio, Drakkar Noir, and Le Male were all targeted for reproduction. Most of Ellis' chromos are good, but White stands out. This fragrance is a really good deal for fans of Le Male, and I think that Gaultier's fanbase would benefit more than the guys who prefer Red and Blue, mainly because I smell a crudeness in the other "colors" that isn't as offensive in White's formula. White is definitely a good substitute for Le Male, but if you truly like its musky-barbershop structure, you might as well pop for the original. Its lavender and mint puts it a league ahead. If you're cash-strapped and determined, White will certainly make ends meet until the check comes in.

As for the fragrance, there isn't much to say. White has a big, vulgar, chemical-smelling opening. I have to endure that awful intro for about a minute before the musks coalesce into a sweetly white-floral aftershave scent, loaded to the gills with powdery vanilla. You can sense the exact moment when White gets its shit together: its chemical burn suddenly becomes creamy and sweet, and stays that way for a few hours. I don't get any lavender, mint, or woodiness out of White, unlike Le Male, and it's a few notches louder and more white-floral than its older brother, but otherwise it's a near-carbon replica in the drydown. What's the point of 360° White? Hard to say, but I imagine it's dirt-cheap to make it at $18 a bottle, and it probably sells like crazy at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. Hey, I can understand wanting to cheat designer prices without sacrificing fragrance quality. You sacrifice a little here, but if you're like me and not all too concerned with owning Le Male, White is just fine.









4/26/13

Beautiful Eau de Toilette (Estée Lauder)



I never liked the ad campaigns for Beautiful. They tend to feature brides and grooms and flower girls, their Photoshopped faces illuminated by heavenly sunbeams streaming through lace curtains. For some reason, this green floral from 1986 is pegged by its creators as a "wedding floral", a dubious call made before anyone else can make that determination for themselves. That's unfortunate, because when I think of wedding florals, I think of unwearably-synthetic white floral bouquets, indoles piled a mile high, with the requisite screechiness and rubbery drydowns - the original Sung, for example. There's this western idea that a bride must wear floral bouquets, mostly of tuberose, rose, jasmine, and ylang, lest her maidenhood be sullied by (gasp!) - harsh citrus, masculine woods, prostitute-grade ethyl maltol - all before the cad-in-waiting can get his mitts on her. It would be refreshing to read that a girl wore Bois du Portugal or Giorgio, or some trashy boudoir water to her wedding, instead of all that frilly-frop crap. Perhaps she'll wear something like that to mine, whenever that is.

Beautiful's aroma chemicals are nicely blended in an abstract interpretation of potted greenery. As it dries down, the headiness of its white-floral intro subsides a bit, and a cool shimmer of muguet and orange blossom emerges, exuding decidedly greener airs. I enjoy the heart stage the most, as it's the greenest part. Eventually a gentle sandalwood and vetiver base asserts itself, and supports Beautiful's rich sweetness with load-bearing authority. The sandalwood is some sort of reconstruction, perhaps using Ambroxan, but it's hard to tell with all the residual floral notes. True to Lauder form, this one exhibits the wonders of a synthetic green-floral done right, but it does feel rather stodgy. Ladies, it's certainly okay to wear this on the big day, but only because weddings are about love and commitment, two serious topics that aren't fully addressed by the sexy-trashy attitudes of Paris and LouLou. For a shotgun wedding, I'd go with those two instead. Hey, if you HAVE to get hitched, you might as well have fun consummating it. Beautiful is many things, but fun it ain't.







4/25/13

DKNY Be Delicious (Donna Karan)



It's hard to hear the name of this fragrance and not think of Scarlett Johansson, at least for this red-blooded American male blogger. To my female readers, I apologize, but I've been an admirer of my country's cutest and least-talented actress for some time now. She embodies the fantastical notion of anyone literally being delicious. The dilemma for Donna Karan is that she would be hard-pressed to convince anyone that any perfume, no matter how wonderful, could add anything to someone who looks like Scar Jo. The argument is plausible because if Scar Jo smelled like sweaty b.o. on the red carpet, even with her hair and makeup undone, she'd still be the hottest person within a three-thousand mile radius, or to wherever Emmanuelle Béart is standing.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me address DKNY Be Delicious, the name of which plays on two themes: cutesy-pie sex appeal, and Golden Delicious apples. Hard to connect the two, isn't it? What, exactly, makes smelling like apples sexy? Is it sexy? Is it carnally "delicious", or just attractive and pleasant? The postmodernist, Frank Gehry-esque bottle suggests that apple is indeed the core focus of the fragrance pyramid, and it does not disappoint. One spritz, and presto! We've got apples. Barrels and barrels of sweet, acidic, somewhat-green apples. Well that, and aldehydes, along with watery floral notes in the manner of Ivoire, Pleasures, Tommy Girl, and Cool Water. There's magnolia, freesia, jasmine, and white musk, all woven into a snow-blinded gauze of floral freshness, and tied together by an unbreakable strap of sweet apple.


When it comes to this sort of fragrance, I'm usually turned-off by its "samey" and somewhat linear characteristics. Smelling Be Delicious makes me think of all the aforementioned perfumes, and also Ralph, which is equally pomaceous. As Be Delicious' apple note gets sweeter and breezier, I start to think of apple Jolly Ranchers, and that's never a good thing. If I want musky fruit, I'll try to stay on the "mens" side of the aisle, and reach for Pinaud's much-maligned Lime Sec (review pending). It's a toughie for guys to wear something like this (apple is a unisex note), because its combination of sweetness, fluorescent florals, and girlish packaging feels like an ensemble of pure crass. For straight-up manly crassness, it doesn't take much (again, Pinaud Lime Sec), and spending $25 is completely unnecessary. There's also the fact that Be Delicious is a baldly cheap formula, which is fine, except that it follows in the steps of Tommy Girl as being an apple-floral that only works as long as the girl wearing it actually benefits from it.

If you're a naturally beautiful woman between the ages of twenty-one and forty, and you were offered modeling gigs as a teenager, Be Delicious is automatically wrong for you - it really is just plain cutesy, and aims to complement plucky, freckle-faced girls, and make them more desirable to men who drive Audis and buy their luggage from Victorinox. Beautiful women don't need fragrances like this. On their skin, the candied apple-floral-musk effect is best if done expensively, or not at all - perhaps a total departure into the land of languid, Shalimar-inspired orientals is more fitting. Now I don't mean to stereotype or pigeonhole fragrances as being specifically for small subsets of people, especially women, but it's a precarious order of business with a fragrance like Be Delicious, because by nature it is stunning on only the right women, and downright sad on the wrong ones.





4/21/13

Lagerfeld Classic (Karl Lagerfeld)



In 2012, Karl Lagerfeld ended his licensing agreement with Coty, and signed a twenty year contract with Inter-Parfums, wedding all formula rights to the French company. Lagerfeld Classic, formerly Lagerfeld Cologne, has once again been re-branded, and likely reformulated for the umpteenth time. I’m reviewing the Coty formula of “Classic” because it's all I could find, and it’s one hell of an interesting fragrance.

Lagerfeld Classic is arguably one of the most contentious reformulations in the history of masculine perfumery. Opinions vary widely on whether Coty successfully preserved the strength and character of its progenitor, with some swearing the differences are negligible, and others considering Classic to be absolute tripe, and unworthy of the Lagerfeld name. I have never tried the vintage Cologne, and don’t care to. When it comes to masculines at this pricepoint, I learned my lesson with Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur. People drone on about how infinitely superior the Tsumura formulation of PCPM is to Five Star’s, and how its richer, more-natural ingredients are sorely missed.

I happen to own both formulas of PCPM, and while I agree that Tsumura’s blending is smoother, I disagree that the fragrance smells richer. It is light and transient, with a weaker lavender than Five Star’s, and a simplistic amber that falls short of the garrulous woodiness in the reform. While it’s worth seeking out the older formula, its superiority is grossly overstated. With seventies masculines, the temptation is to view reformulations as neuterings, when in fact they’re simply reworkings of dated structures to better comport with contemporary fashions. Such is the case with Lagerfeld Classic. The original Cologne contained an amber base called Amber 83, which contained Musk Xylene, one of the most commonly-used nitromusks of yesteryear, now disavowed by IFRA regs. Its extraction was necessary, but one thing leads to another, and when the musk went, so did the amber base (replacement parts were, from what I hear, successfully found and delivered). But I digress - this fragrance is cheap enough to make owning both formulas a viable option for reference.

Coty’s formula is lovely, an example of how well the company performs under pressure. There's little doubt that Karl was the one applying that pressure. He is a notorious workaholic and control freak, possessed with obsessive-compulsive professionalism and perfectionism. I recently saw a documentary about Karl Lagerfeld, which followed him through endless preparations for a seasonal show, with the man jetting between four cities in two days, just to ensure that there were no empty hangers rolling through workrooms. It is very hard to believe that he disapproved of how Coty handled Classic. I think he would sooner discontinue it, than allow it to languish.

Lagerfeld Classic opens with an bright burst of pithy orange and green tobacco leaf, its airy crispness filtered through fizzy aldehydes. The bitter citrus swiftly leads the nose to a waxy white-floral note, which has been compared here and there to Jovan Musk for Men. I don’t smell any similarity at all (though Classic is very woody-musky), but that’s just me, and perhaps there is a faint resemblance between these two. Tarragon, opopanax, tonka bean, tobacco, and patchouli lend the heart a sweet, powdery softness, although I’m more comfortable describing it as soapy, rather than powdery. There’s a certain freshness here, with the synthetic orange note pervading the entire structure, and sending the simplicity of tobacco and opopanax to a more utilitarian realm. I’ve read that the aftershave is brilliant, and indeed can smell potential for a top-grade tonic with such a pleasant balance between warm citrus and soft spice.

Yet there’s more to it than a mere feeling of everyday comfort. To fully understand Coty’s treatment, one must refer to Lagerfeld’s place in history: it was released in 1978 as Karl Lagerfeld’s signature oriental, and I’ve read that the original formula was a bit dense and “perfumey,” with an unremittingly heavy vibe. Coty had a thirty year interval at its disposal, and with an interest in toning back the concentration while preserving the orientalism of an opopanax-based amber, they apparently referenced the original formulation of Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men. While by no means interchangeable, these fragrances share a peculiar fresh-musty style of floral ambers, where the soapiness of the green notes mesh with the softness of the spices to form a rich, semi-dandified feeling that projects for miles and lasts forever. I recall a doctor telling me once that my cologne smelled soapy-citrusy, and it was Obsession - I could see Lagerfeld eliciting similar reactions.

Comments about the difference between “Cologne” and “Classic” are definitely amusing. Some veteran basenoters and Fragranticans have wildly different opinions, but with this fragrance it pays to heed the “formula skeptics” who find little to no difference between Type A and Type B. Foetidus writes,
“I find it hard to say if it's been changed much with reformulation. Sometimes I think so because I think the rich opoponax in the base doesn't seem as rich as I remember. Other times I'm struck with an often experienced nostalgia when I spray it on. But whatever, I don't think the change has been very great, if there has been one. The bottle I use now is a recent purchase and I don't get depressed using it as I do when I spray Antaeus or Trussardi Uomo or some of the other classics that have been noticeably changed.”
In turn, Perfaddict says,
“Not much [change], really. After over 10 years without LC, i bought a 30ml bottle last July. I was not disappointed with what i smelled. Bought a larger bottle afterwards. Slightly less intense from what i remember but with good sillage and longevity. And i am a card-carrying powerhouse freak.”
Oslo-Fjord adds,
“I re-visited this fragrance some days ago, and it`s just as good as I remember. A timeless classic. Excellent sillage and staying power. I will definitively buy a bottle of this gem!”
And on Fragrantica, Starshadow opines:
“this CLASSIC version . . . I see no difference at all between it and the original. If the two are not exactly the same - and I believe they are - then they are, in my estimation, entirely too close to distinguish from one another.”
So would it be fair to say that the reformulation of Lagerfeld Classic is a cheap shadow of its former self, a dollar-store version of Lagerfeld Cologne? Certainly, but only as a subjective opinion about Coty’s formula. It’s safe to say that experienced noses would disagree, based on what is quoted above. Woody, spicy, powdery, sweet, citric, musky, Lagerfeld Classic is a little bit of everything to all people, and remains in production as that rare seventies oriental with a view to the twenty-first century.









4/19/13

Love & Luck for Men (Ed Hardy)



There are hundreds of discount, down-market designer masculines out there, and maybe one out of every thirty of them is worth a sniff. Given those odds, you'd be forgiven for passing on Ed Hardy's Love & Luck, a cheap cologne in a cheesy bottle aimed at teenagers. My only reason for giving this fragrance a chance is that it's constantly being compared to Creed's Millésime Impérial, which is at least five times more expensive. I figured the comparisons were way off, and wanted to find out what L&L really smells like. Well, turns out it smells (drumroll, please) - cheap.

Love & Luck's best feature is its warm citrus opening of mandarin, bergamot, and cardamom. It makes me think, "Okay, clean fruit and a touch of fresh spice - not bad!" Of course, not very imaginative or interesting, either, but at least it smells good. After seven or eight minutes, the fresh top gets woodier, and reveals a sheer violet leaf note that feels very conventional, and reminds me of Calvin Klein Man's violet leaf, which means it also reminds me more distantly of Dior's reformulated Fahrenheit. I don't get the oiliness of either of those fragrances, nor do I get the Creed associations that others do, but then again Millésime Impérial has been compared to Green Irish Tweed, which has been compared to Cool Water, which has been compared to Grey Flannel, which has knocked shoulders here and there with none other than Fahrenheit in fragrance discussions. With those and CK Man in tow, are we looking at the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon here?

I don't know, but I do know that eventually L&L falls apart and just becomes a watery-musky mess. In light of far better options (everything listed above), I have no idea why anyone would opt to wear this. It doesn't smell like Millésime Impérial, and just smells of raw aroma chemicals Lego-ed together into a party-favor "cheapie" with a sunny disposition. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind smelling it on a woman.





4/17/13

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 a drop of 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.









4/16/13

A Comprehensive Visual Rundown Of What A Real Creed Green Irish Tweed Looks Like



Over on Sherapop's excellent blog is an interesting post that questions the authenticity of a Creed Tabarome Millesime she recently purchased. I can verify that the bottle and the box are 100% authentic based on the photographs she has provided. Sherapop questions the authenticity of the perfume, stating that it does not smell as good as a carded sample she recently wore, and that the coloring is odd. There's simply no way to verify the authenticity of a perfume based on those concerns alone without smelling the juice for myself. Creeds are unmistakable in quality and "content". They're like olfactory pornography: you know what it smells like when you smell it (no need to ask questions), which makes me think she may have been the victim of one of the most unlikely Creed scams imaginable - Tabarome Millesime bottle tampering. Why anyone would attempt to counterfeit Tabarome is beyond me, as it's a bottom-tier Millesime and hardly a big seller. Green Irish Tweed, on the other hand, IS a big seller, probably still Creed's biggest (next to Aventus), and justifiably a cause for concern when found on the grey market.

I posted this thread on Badger & Blade in 2011, highlighting the details behind what a box and bottle of Green Irish Tweed actually look like. My Creed was purchased from the Creed Boutique's web site and delivered via UPS within 24 hours from a warehouse in New Jersey. This blog post, like the thread, is meant to guide the dazed and confused Creed "newbie" through the many elements of Creed's packaging, and will likely serve to better inform about Creed's boxes than their bottles, as every fragrance type bears different labeling, coloring, and whatever else (try comparing Bois du Portugal to Silver Mountain Water, and you get the idea.

At the very least, this will give people a template from which to examine their grey market purchases, but it comes with a warning - WHENEVER POSSIBLE, BUY DIRECTLY FROM THE CREED BOUTIQUE OR AN AUTHORIZED CREED RETAILER. DO NOT PURCHASE CREED FROM FRAGRANCENET, BEAUTYENCOUNTER, EBAY, OR ANY OTHER UNAUTHORIZED RETAILER. Creeds sold from these retailers may in fact be genuine some of the time (definitely not all of the time, do a thread search on basenotes and Google to read horror stories), but even if you receive a genuine Creed, there is a good chance that it is (a) quite old and possibly spoiled, usually in the basenotes with Creeds for some reason, and/or (b) partially used, a returned product being resold at a discount. I can tell you by looking at virtually all of the photographs of Creed products on Fragrancenet that there are several sprays missing from the bottles, as the juice does not top off high enough - this is especially easy to spot in the feminine 2.5 ounce bottles. I've been told by Fragrancenet customers that their Creeds were satisfactory, but none of these people seemed to know anything about spotting a fake Creed, or a used Creed, so I take positive reports with a grain of salt. It's tempting to spring for the discount, but trust me on this one, it's not worth the agita of trying to determine if you've acquired the real article or an elaborate fake. And there are certainly some elaborate fakes out there.

Fortunately, Creed treats its packaging like the Federal Reserve treats its monetary designs - like precious currency in need of protection from forgers. Like American money, Creed boxes and bottles are surprisingly intricate, full of details, and sometimes it seems no two boxes and bottles are entirely the same. I have a 4 ounce bottle of Green Valley purchased from the Creed Boutique that has no lot number anywhere on it, not etched, and not stickered. But as you will see, my Green Irish Tweed bore all the usual markings expected of the real thing. Without further ado, let's examine what a real Green Irish Tweed should look like.






Top:
As you can see, this is Green Irish Tweed with the box. This is the latest version of the bottle and box - the bottle hasn't really changed, but the box has. Earlier versions of the box (going back about two years) did not have the Creed logo and name embossed all over it - BUT COUNTERFEIT BOXES DID! This complicates the quest for truth. But fortunately there are plenty of other details to check out besides the embossing. The real box should be as pictured, about the same height and width as the bottle, and three colors: white, moss green, and gold.

Middle:
Let's take a quick look at the atomizer. The Creed logo should be fairly well-centered with the nozzle. However, don't be put off it yours isn't mathematically precise in its centering - mine isn't, which tells me that the stamping on this piece is close but not 100% centered. Prior versions of the atomizer may have been more accurate, but the current version is not. Also notice that the nozzle is depressed from the atomizer cap and is black. The atomizer attachment to the bottle is the same shade black as the atomizer itself - glossy black metal. There should be a uniform glossy black look to the entire atomizer mechanism, which is clearer in the image below.

Bottom:
The bottle is the hardest thing to spot when dealing with the difference between real and fake. Unfortunately, the GIT bottle is pretty basic-looking, simple in design and coloring, and therefore subject to easy manufacturing by counterfeiters. However, there are quite a few things to look out for - here is what a real GIT bottle from 2011 looks like at a glance. Really the only thing to notice here is that the cap lines up nicely to the short "collar" that extends up off the top of the bottle. This collar should have three semi-smooth sides as pictured (no hard lines are anywhere on the bottle itself).







Top:
Here we have a good look at the bottle with the cap off. Again, notice the proportions of the atomizer to the bottle. It's a pretty good-sized mechanism. Look at how the glass bottle extends a little ways past the collar before connecting with the glossy base of the atomizer - this is only evident when the cap is off. Counterfeits probably won't have these proportions exactly right. Also look at the fine ribbing of the base to the glass, airtight against the bottle.

Middle:
Here we have one of the most well-known telltale signs of a real Creed - the white atomizer ring. When you remove the atomizer, the ring at its base should be white plastic. If it's black to match the bottle or atomizer, it's fake, fake, fake. The nozzle itself should extend a little ways up and is also white.

Bottom:
One thing I notice with counterfeit Green Irish Tweed bottles is that the bottle itself has centered seams connecting two units of glass, which are visible from the top. These seams are usually very distinct and sharp because the glass is not coated the same way as the genuine article. Here, from a top view, you can see how the flask-shaped bottle does have a seam, but it is very soft-looking. Obviously the real Creed bottle manufacturer connects the two parts before the matte black coating process, and that makes the seams somewhat indistinct. Anything that looks like fancy plastic in the seamwork should be regarded with suspicion. Take a look at the more obvious seams on the fake GIT here:


And in this instance, one would be hard-pressed to even consider this "fancy plastic."






TOP:
If you're feeling particularly nervous about your atomizer, take a look at the inside of it. There should be a rather complex arrangement comprised of a milky, semi-translucent plastic fixture to the outer black plastic shell.

Middle:
All Creed caps should have a cap within a cap, made obvious by the wedged ring around the inside seam. GIT, Silver Mountain Water, Original Vetiver - they're all the same, and all look like this, albeit in different colors depending on the type of scent.

Bottom:
I tend to ignore the caps of my Creeds because I think looking at the bottle and box are far more important - caps are interchangeable, and just because you have a fake cap doesn't necessarily mean the whole deal is fake - just that your merchant dabbles in both real and fake Creeds, and mixed up the merchandise. In any event, it's not a bad idea to know the basics behind what a real GIT cap looks like - the same rules apply to all Creed caps. Here you see the top, which has the circular impressed logo (the Welsh crest) firmly centered on it. You should get the impression that rather than this being one piece of plastic, it's two, mainly because real Creed caps are two pieces of plastic put together. NOTE - THE WHITE FLECKS IN THESE PICTURES ARE DUST.






Top:
The bottom of GIT bottles look very simply like this. It should say MADE IN FRANCE/PARIS and have a rather feeble-looking version of the Creed insignia centered on it. The HP and a number (in my case 7) should be there as well. Other letters/numbers may apply, but the most important thing is to see that the logo is there, and that it says PARIS, NOT RARIS. They sneak those "Rs" onto the fakes.

Middle:
At the back bottom part of the bottle should be the lot number. This should be engraved into the glass coating of the bottle's lip and shouldn't really be any other color than the matte black, although if there's some dust or debris in those little numbers and letters, I wouldn't worry about it. If this lot number is present, it's a good thing. If it's not, it's a bad thing.

Bottom:
So let's now look at the Green Irish Tweed box. The new version of the box is pretty spiffy. It should have the Welsh Crest and Creed insignia embossed all over it. 1760 should be just above the label. The main Welsh crest and the framing of the label should both be matching gold. I've seen plenty of GIT boxes pictured by discount online retailers that have a white frame around the front label. That's wrong. I've also seen the Welsh crest in white. Also wrong. There should be an abundance of gold going on here. The framing of the label has a braille-like pattern on it. Looking at the label itself: the green should be a nice mossy green - I've got to say that the mossy green very cleverly matches the color of real moss. If it's a dark forest green, it's wrong - if it's an olive green, it's wrong. This part is actually a fuzzy felt. Creed's insignia, date, the words GREEN IRISH TWEED (NOT Green Frich Tweed), and the Paris address should be impressed into the felt in gold. On the bottom part of the box: Again we see Creed, and a rather dainty version of the word MILLESIME (with an appropriate accent mark) and those two lines of French text beneath. Metric and Imperial measuring units are marked on either bottom corner that state the weight of the fluid within.







Top:
I've read online that a way to spot a fake Creed is by how flimsy the box is. This is misleading - real Creed boxes are basically just as flimsy. What separates them from the fakes is the rigid cardboard box-lining, which I've taken out and placed next to the exterior box. This part fills up the real GIT box and keeps it rigid. It should be totally un-foldable, as it's not entirely connected at the seams.

Middle:
So this is the back of the GIT box. It matches pretty much all the Millesime boxes. But notice how the word MILLESIME does not have an accent mark like its counterpart on the front of the box. Intentional Creed curveball to throw off counterfeiters. If you see an accent mark here, question it and examine the rest of the box thoroughly. It might be a typo, an intentional variation, or fake.

Bottom:
Here's a closeup of the text on the back. You can match your box to this accordingly. Make sure the spelling and accent marks are all there. This should match perfectly. Ignore those on basenotes who claim that a few typos here and there are nothing to worry about - if you see more than one, you should worry. Sometimes large production lines slip up and miss a letter, but usually never more than once, and even then only rarely. If you're seeing two or three inconsistencies in the text on your box, you have a fake box.






Top:
The top of the box should have three fonts on it - the Creed insignia, the de pere en fils line in script, and the famous sans-serif List of Royals. Really a bitch to do, but it's important if you're in doubt to check the list against your box. If someone is missing, someone is added, someone's name is misspelled, or your name is there, you have a fake.

Middle:
Pop the lid open, and the first thing you should see is that silly little card that comes with all Creeds. If you buy from Creed boutique directly then of course the card is there, the card is real, and this point is moot. But any other online retailer may or may not include the card. An absent card is preferable to a card that is on flimsy paper, printed in blurry ink, or without gold. If they went to the trouble to stick a crappy counterfeit card in there, imagine how much work they put into counterfeiting the rest of the product. The real card should be on solid stock, have a bend at its bottom so you can stand it up on your desk, and should have James Henry and Olivier's portraits very clearly printed and gold-framed on them. The de pere line is clearly printed on there as well.

Bottom:
Just under the card is the literature. This is on stiff, grained paper, unfolds to a considerable size, and is in several languages. I can't say if all the Green Irish Tweeds come with the same literature - Creed may or may not change up the languages they print on it depending on where the product is stocked. However, if your literature is in all Arabic, this is cause for worry. Another myth circulating on basenotes is that Creed's middle eastern distributors carry literature written only in Arabic. This is false - there should be at least English and French written on it - if Arabic accompanies these two languages, then I wouldn't worry. If it's going to take a college course in Asian languages to read the literature, you've got a fake.





Top:
It's a bitch to do, but if you're a stickler for detail, you'll have to match up the text on the inside of your box to this photo of mine. Check out Google Translate for the French translation, but the first line should read that the Creed Millesimes are made only with the finest essences and rarest infusions, etc. Olivier's signature should be printed beneath this statement, and the address should again be in script below.

Middle:
The bottom of the Creed Green Irish Tweed box is the part that looks most fake, even though it's not - the technical specs are unsightly and wisely relegated to the part you never see. One mistake basenoters make is in thinking that the sticker should only read INGREDIENTS and not CONTAINS - the authentic sticker has both. Unless you buy directly from the Creed boutique, the barcode sticker may not be located here. If it bothers you, look for the barcode as it's probably stuck somewhere else, or nowhere at all. Barring some foreign release, 99% of real Green Irish Tweed boxes have Arabic printed on only one place: the bottom of the box.

Bottom:
Last but not least, a little extra detail regarding that rigid inner cardboard sleeve of the box - there should be a cut on its top for the cap to fit through. When you open the box and remove the card and literature, the cap should be peeking through that to greet you.


In Conclusion
The 2011 version of Green Irish Tweed has nothing printed on the sides of the box, but older and newer versions may have places for lot numbers and other various words here and there. If your box matches mine to the letter, but the sides have all kinds of weird things and Arabic writing all over them, double check the French and the bottle for authenticity. Also, regarding the Creed insignia and text printed on the bottle - I had a hell of a time getting a readable shot of the de pere en fils line and size labeling on my actual bottle - Green Irish Tweed and the rest of the text is written in a matte text that is only about two shades darker than the rest of the bottle. Here's what I suggest: run your thumb over the text and feel if it's slightly raised off the bottle. If it is, that's good. The real thing has the text printed at a slight emboss on the glass. Also, the CREED insignia is raised, and painted a darker, glossier black than the matte backing.

I hope this blog post helps. I've grown tired of the misinformation about faked Green Irish Tweeds - it's a classic, it deserves to be documented in its real form as opposed to its fake alter-ego. My wish is that by posting these photos, you'll never have to wonder what a real Green Irish Tweed looks like again.


4/14/13

Aqua Quorum (Antonio Puig)




Twelve years after the release of Quorum, the folks at Puig made a predictable move and conformed to the "fresh-aquatic" trend of the nineties by releasing its first flanker, Aqua Quorum. I have read a few things about this fragrance over the years, with most of the impressions positive, so recently decided to grab a bottle in preparation for the warmer months ahead. I'm glad I did, because Aqua Quorum is one of the loveliest fresh fougères I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.

Aqua Quorum's structure is fairly simple and direct, but the quality of ingredients is surprisingly high for a budget scent, and their integration is seamless. Its opening accord is one of the most beautiful openings I have encountered in many years, a fizzy combination of lavender, bitter grapefruit, and pine needles, with a healthy shot of freesia, clary sage, and salt. It transports me to a beach on a northeastern coastal state, perhaps Massachusetts or Maine, where cold ocean waters caress gritty sands on salinated breezes, and send shocks of blue air through patches of Eastern Hemlock and Atlantic White Cedar. It's a wild, free, outdoorsy aroma, blended to perfection.


The effect is citric, aromatic, and green, and is so bracing and clean-smelling that it nearly makes my knees buckle. Yeah, it's that good. I don't often come across such well-wrought "fresh" accords, and expected Aqua Quorum's top to possess its progenitor's gummier, less-pleasant grapefruit note, along with dihydromyrcenol-fueled ozonics via Guy Laroche's Horizon, but I was pleasantly surprised. My cynicism was totally unwarranted here. As it dries down, the saltiness comes forward, the lavender and grapefruit dissipate, and the breezy evergreen notes waft across a light array of blond woods and musk. I smell the melon-like sweetness of Calone in here, but it balances the bitter greens, and never gets overbearing. Couched in the beachiness is a pleasantly aromatic cedar note, Puig's precursor to Quorum Silver, to come eleven years later.

This fresh fougère version of Quorum has been compared on basenotes and Fragrantica to Cool Water and Polo Sport. I smell almost no similarity to Cool Water, beyond perhaps a similar usage of lavender (Aqua Quorum's might be a bit more natural), but there's definitely a family resemblance to Polo Sport. There's no pineapple and it's not as loud, but Aqua Quorum is just as peppy and fresh, if not a little cleaner. The only downside is longevity - expect two hours of reasonable sillage and projection, and not much else after that. It becomes a salty skin scent, albeit a nice one. I can't believe how underrated and underappreciated Aqua Quorum is, but I'm thankful that Puig still makes it, and makes it well. It's truly one of the greats in the "fresh" and "sporty" genres, proof that not everything in those categories smells boring and crassly synthetic.





Navy For Men (Dana)



Of all the weirdo, oddball, and bizarre fragrances for me to like, Navy for Men by Dana takes the cake. I bought my bottle along with a few other Dana "cheapies" in a gift package just after Thanksgiving, and must admit that it has me licked - I have tried my damnedest to dislike it, but can't shake the stuff. It smells like deodorant (it's kind of like Bleu de Chanel, but far simpler), and it's good. Basenoters hate the stuff, which ever-so-perversely gives me pleasure. It receives a slightly warmer reception on Fragrantica, which adds to that feeling. All told, Navy will never win any prizes for Best Masculine On A Budget, but that's not really its fault. That's the wrong category. It should fall under Best Masculine For Guys Who Don't Give A Shit. It takes pride of place there.

I like that Navy for Men is simple, cheerful, unpretentious, and cheap. The notes pyramids for it are usually correct, if a little long-winded - I definitely don't get any water lily, juniper, or leather. There's an eensy-weensy nutmeg note in the base, smothered in white musk, and preceded by bright notes of peppermint, lavender, and tangerine. Navy is all about that top accord, with the minty tangerine effect lingering right into the drydown. If you concentrate real hard, you might perceive a sketch of nondescript carpenter's wood with a dusting of nutmeg, but don't bust a vessel. Only the herbal fruitiness has clarity, but what can you expect for nine dollars? At least there's that much, and not less.

This is the kind of cologne a cash-strapped college guy owns but rarely uses, because he thinks wearing fragrance is for pussies. When he does spritz his collar, Navy's minty sweetness compliments his affable vulgarity perfectly. It's the first thing a girl smells as he slips into bed with her, and the last thing she smells when he dumps her the next day. When my bottle runs dry, it will quickly be replaced.






4/13/13

Eau de Prep Tommy & Tommy Girl (Hilfiger)



Tommy Hilfiger's branding mechanism covers all the usual nooks and crannies: clothing, home and personal accessories, perfume. In a strange twist of fate, their success in clothing has largely eclipsed their efforts in fine fragrance, to the point where I wonder why they bother. I got far more satisfaction out of my one Hilfiger shirt than I was able to glean from an entire group of Hilfiger fragrances, some of which aren't even worth talking about. Their recent Eau de Prep duo is yet another exercise in futility from a house that has done better (see Tommy and Tommy Girl), but I can see why they exist, and don't find either to be offensive (the one for men comes close). They're just a bit dull, to put it kindly.

Eau de Prep Tommy smells a bit like the white shriek of fingernails on a blackboard sounds, at least in the first two minutes on skin. Imagine a bundle of faceless, astringent notes - black pepper, unripe grapefruit, sage, low-grade lavender oil - and filter it through a standard el-cheapo aroma chemical budget, where everything smells half like itself, and half like laundry detergent. That's EdPT, to a "T." It's sharp, cold, chemical, and harsh. Then the piercing qualities fade, leaving laundry detergent lavender, an ironic commentary on the honesty in capitalism. Package cheap shit and re-sell it as a "fragrance" at an eighty percent markup, because it's mish-mashed together quite randomly, and the odds of it being done exactly the same way before or since are next to nil. The result is a "fresh" citrus-woody whatever that masks b.o. and sets you back the price of an IMAX movie. You lose little and gain little, and that's exactly what they want you to want, so you do.

Eau de Prep Tommy Girl is a little more amiable to my nose, with a very simple formula, half of which is winning. They took the original Tommy Girl, shrank it down by three quarters, added a hefty slug of ethyl maltol for balance and to sweeten the hell out of it, and jettisoned any attempt at a coherent drydown by allowing the fatty aldehydes of the top to carry the sugary base into a Pop Rocks-flavored denouement. I appreciate the adherence to some aspects of the original, which is a brilliant fragrance. But Tommy Girl was sweet to begin with, and pairing its saccharine berry effect with an even more saccharine cotton candy note is overkill. That said, I have a soft spot for twenty-somethings in pink halter tops, and can imagine smelling EdPTG on one, which makes me grin. Cheap and trashy, but I guess it smells fine on your date when you take her to an IMAX show with the cash you saved by avoiding Eau de Prep Tommy. Silver linings.








4/11/13

Boucheron Eau de Parfum (Boucheron)



When people bemoan reformulations, one has to wonder if they ever ask why something goes under the knife in the first place. The common wisdom (read: assumption) is that cost-cutting dictates the outcome. Pinching pennies is something every major fragrance company specializes in, from the poor print jobs on the boxes, to the ugly white plastic ball atomizers, to even the flimsy, poorly-fitted rubber caps, and the color of the juice itself. Why not mess with the contents of a fragrance to save a few thousand dollars, and just hope no one notices?

There's a well-known contention regarding masculines from the eighties and nineties which suggests that companies "cut out" expensive notes, and then compensate for their absence by "ramping up" the intensity of the original formula's cheaper elements. Zino by Davidoff has been cited as suffering from this, with the precious woods and ambers of the original formula being eclipsed by its cruder wood and lavender accords in the new one. This idea has been extrapolated from the treatment of many masculines (and some feminines) - Lapidus Pour Homme, Red for Men, Cool Water, Eau Sauvage, Diorella, Silences, etc. The theory is that this "Zinoization" of fragrances is a way of pulling an olfactory "fast one." There's even the silly suggestion that reformulations of popular fragrances should be given new names, like "Zino Homage", "Cool Water Today", etc. That would never work, because it would be catering to the few (those who are obsessed with reformulations) at the expense of the many (those who aren't). Nevertheless, it's sad, but true - companies cheap out, and fragrances can suffer as a result.

But sometimes this view is cynical and inaccurate. Cost-cutting isn't always the reason for reformulation. Times change, and so do people's tastes. What was reasonably pleasant and commonplace yesterday can often seem vulgar and overbearing today. Instead of axing a brand completely and depriving its legion of fans, companies strive to hit the "middle road" by altering formulas and renewing their leases on life. In some cases, this is a welcome change. Take Boucheron EDP, for instance.

I had the grave misfortune of smelling the original formula a million years ago, and recall its sonic blast of chemical nastiness reading as little more than an olfactory whiteout condition. In 1990, Boucheron was likely a "safe bet" type of fragrance, a conservative white floral bouquet with fresh peachy notes on top, and a solid amber/oakmoss in the base. Its loudness was to be interpreted as some kind of excessive decency. With things like Poison, Giorgio, and Red Door floating around, Boucheron was in step with the new woman of the nineties. Fast forward twenty three years, and it's a different story. Today's woman has no interest in shoulder pads, tube dresses, or Aqua Net. Makeup is skin-tone friendly, shoulders usually go bare, and I have no clue what these weird new-age hair "products" are supposed to be, but they're not doubling as flame-throwers, so I'm not complaining. Needless to say, today's girl has toned it back, and Boucheron wants a piece of that non-action, so they've toned their signature feminine as far back as it can go. And it works. The reformulation smells crisp, fruity, sweet, fresh, and strong, but holds its initial transparency through to the drydown. The bombast has been pared back, and thank Jesus for that. Still, it's not for me.

Fragrances like Joy, N°5, and Canoe are abstract, and don't offer a rendition of any particular flower, but they do convey an essence of flowers - a floral idea, more than a floral smell. I find it interesting that Canoe sprang to mind when I first tried the reformulated Boucheron (sans oakmoss), because Dana's cologne is often considered a fougère, and in truth I do believe it is one. However, in a rare case of differing with the Leffingwell chart, I found that they consider Canoe a "sweet floral." It makes sense in a way; Canoe's lavender-vanilla-tonka-carnation squares nicely with Boucheron's highly-blended tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, and African ylang. The new Boucheron has a pronounced tagetes note, with all the citric sweetness of the flower, and underlying the bouquet is a darker, spicier accord of indeterminate notes (I get a bit of musky clove), which reminds me ever-so-slightly of Royal Copenhagen - but don't get me wrong, there really isn't anything about Boucheron that smells like RC. I am just reminded of the fragrance by how the dry spices play against a series of more expansive floral tones.

You can see how these elements are thematically popular in so many fragrances from yesteryear. I can't help but wonder, by looking at the ingredients list on the back of my sample, if the reformulation of Boucheron is in fact a gussied-up fougère. Citrus, lavender, and coumarin are listed together. There is no oakmoss of course, but there is certainly a crisp fruitiness on top that one could explore in search of lavender, and a sweet, earthy whisper in the heart, which perhaps could be construed as moss, or at the very least, woods. Wearing Boucheron on one wrist, and Canoe on the other shows me just how similar these two fragrances are, but also shows me how different: the former is very smooth and floral-sweet, while the latter is simply vanilla powder and lavender. I encourage you, dear reader, to poke around with reformulated Boucheron and Canoe, and see what impressions they give together.






4/9/13

Giorgio (Giorgio Beverly Hills)



There comes a point in every man's travels where he feels an onset of chronic ennui. Like a sinus infection, it creeps up very gradually and then viciously attacks, bogging all sensory perception in quicksand, a sort of olfactory limbo. The culprit is repetition. Eventually it's just one too many of everything: too many ambers, too many fresh-woody nothings, too many cotton candy fuzz-fests, yet another citrus cologne formula you didn't need, a glut of masculines that are too tepid, and feminines that are far too sweet. You yearn to smell something refreshing, and not in the abstract sense of sea-breeze ozonics or fruity-florals, but in the literal manner, with a new note, never before encountered, illuminating your surroundings and shedding light on why you dwell on fragrance in the first place. I had this exact experience when I first wore Giorgio several months ago. Without it, I'm not sure I could move forward with the same gusto as before. But thanks to Giorgio and its gorgeous fruity-floral nuclear explosion, I'm all in.

When people discuss "grape notes" or "grape candy notes" in fragrances, I usually suspect it's amateur hour. Broadly speaking, very few fragrances actually incorporate grape, or anything akin to grape, in their formulas. Grape has a deep, acidic, dry smell, distantly related to red apple, but far richer. To use it in a composition is like using a T-90 to plow snow - it cleans up perfectly, but there's nobody left to appreciate your effort. Methyl anthranilate has a room-clearing (world clearing?) effect. Most perfumers opt for subtler apple, berry, or even peach notes, the Ford pick-ups of perfume. I've seen Cool Water draw comparisons to grape candy, and it always makes me chuckle. I suppose if one is unfamiliar with the brisk concord grape aspect of anthranilates, it's easy to mistake Cool Water's combination of lavender, amber, jasmine, and tobacco for a soda flavor. But smell Giorgio and there is no mistaking anything. This is the real deal of grape notes. The opening is so dense and powerful that it elicits memories of an unnaturally-purple cough syrup my mother used to give me when I was a child, but it rapidly develops into an expansive, champagne-like dryness.

To me, Giorgio is unisex, although I can understand why guys would fear it. To address that in masculine fragrance parlance, I'll point to Joop! Homme for comparison. I'm not saying Giorgio smells like Joop! Homme, but the explosively sweet'n fruity top notes of both fragrances lead to similar drydowns of indolic white florals. Joop! Homme's drydown maintains an abstract sweetness (mostly jasmine and orange blossom), couched in fuzzy notes of sandalwood and musk, while Giorgio's becomes a truer bouquet, with more concise accords of tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, orange blossom, and ylang. Following the bright grape intro is a tart pineapple illusion, wedded seamlessly to meaty tuberose. All the proportions are burly and over-sized, like a Tamara de Lempicka painting for the nose. Every so often I get whiffs of peach through the petals, and true to eighties form, there's a megadose of patchouli and amber connecting top to bottom. The word on the street is that Giorgio boasts a prepackaged Schiff base, and I don't doubt it. The yellow tint to the liquid is endearing, the perfect cherry for this super-vulgar sundae.

Is this something today's woman can wear? I'd rather smell it on myself, but a girl would do well to sport Giorgio. It's undeniably a sexy perfume. This is what I expected Tom Ford Black Orchid to smell like (it didn't), and something about Giorgio turns me on. I want to know a woman who wears this in just the right dose, and she should favor avant-garde French cinema from the sixties and conceptual art. Ultimately it's very eighties, very velvety-purple, but it is unswerving in intensity, mysteriously alluring, and simply irresistible to anyone with a pulse. It would work wonders on a summer night. I think this is a case of gender-bending being completely called for. Let men wear this for a decade or two, and women (all women) can have Drakkar Noir.








4/8/13

Old Spice Bar Soap Is Back!


I had read that Proctor & Gamble discontinued all Old Spice bar soaps to make way for an expanded body wash and deodorant line. I don't mind all the body washes (although they aren't soap), and having thirty extra deo sticks to choose from makes life a whole lot easier. But I like soap. Real soap. And real soap comes in bars.

So guess how excited I was to find two kinds of Old Spice bar soap at Stop & Shop today? If you think I was very excited, then you think I'm the lowest common denominator of nerdworthy geeks. And you would be correct. I encountered Pure Sport and Swagger in bar form and felt little chills of delight run up and down my spine. I will eventually try both of them, but I bought Pure Sport first. I understand Swagger also has an extensive history with the brand, but I don't know the original Swagger, and am unsure if the bar soap does it any justice. Pure Sport is an established Old Spice scent with a simple and lovely grapefruit and sandalwood structure. I look forward to trying it. I also hope they bring out Game Day in bar form.

From what I smelled of a dry bar, Pure Sport is more citrusy and less of an oriental than its brethren aftershave. I'll shower a bar down to a sliver and see how my feelings about this new product develop. I'm really thankful to P&G for bringing these back, and hope that any positive words I write about the product encourages people to buy it. Based on the smell alone, I can already tell you Pure Sport soap is worth it. Bring back as many bar soaps as you can, P&G! Reviews are pending.








4/7/13

Fan di Fendi Pour Homme



The remarkable thing about postmodern fresh aromatic fougères like Paco Rabanne, Azzaro Pour Homme, Drakkar Noir, Cool Water, and Polo Sport, is that their structures are "first drafts" of type, yet largely perfect. Paco Rabanne and Azzaro were at least close to perfect, with Kouros and Rive Gauche Pour Homme later showing us what needed work. Drakkar Noir, as far as I'm concerned, has never really been improved upon. It was one of the first aromatic fougères to incorporate noticeable traces of dihydromyrcenol, setting the stage for Cool Water, but contemporaries like Lomani Pour Homme and Taxi failed to add anything groundbreaking to its structure. The same uniqueness applies to Cool Water, with Polo Sport taking the idea to its only workable extreme. Fougères are unusual creatures in that they have a core structure of a handful of notes, around which hundreds of variations can be utilized, yet only a few dozen tweaks actually smell good. If you stretch lavender too far in one direction, or coumarin in the other, you wind up with caricature rather than coherent design. Yet these components demand to be caricatured. It's not unheard of in modern (note, not 'post modern') fougères to caricature everything into extreme poles as an exercise in seamless function and balance, the olfactory equivalent of a Mark Rothko painting. Fragrances like Pino Silvestre, Moustache, and Caron Pour un Homme have shown us how that should be done. The results are sometimes breathtaking.

Nowadays we inhabit a time and place where people have forgotten their ancestors, and make old mistakes new again. I've seen this happen to Hollywood in the last ten years, and it's been driving me crazy. Once upon a time, studios and directors devoted extra attention to screenwriting and special effects crews. Then Spielberg came along with Jurassic Park (the 3-D version of which I saw yesterday, btw - unnecessary but still great), and the word was out: Computer Generated Imagery is the only way to make anything fantastic seem "real." Never mind that Jurassic Park is visually stunning because it cleverly combines CGI with animatronic dinosaurs, making it twice as hard for us to discern what is and isn't real. It takes me back to the days when studios thought clay animation and puppets would enhance the look of unreal creatures like King-Kong, or the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts. The human eye can be fooled to a certain extent, but the optic nerve connecting it to the brain clamps down on anything even remotely implausible, alerting our cognition that movements are a touch jerky, textures are a hair too blurry, colors aren't comporting to the natural palette, and therefore, despite all efforts to the contrary, we're seeing something to be considered false.

This dynamic applies to our noses as well. The combination of natural and synthetic materials in a composition determines its balance and plausibility. Today I'm wearing Sung Homme, and although it is largely synthetic, the few trace naturals in its pyramid make the fragrance amenable to scrutiny. A few drops of real cinnamon and clove oil works wonders in a forest of lab-made flowers and woods. It's far from perfect, but it smells good. This brings me to Fan di Fendi Pour Homme, a department store fragrance from the once-venerable house that brought us the great Fendi Donna, which is now discontinued. While it smells rather good in a conventional citrus, dessicated herbs, and dry woods manner, it doesn't have any overtly natural elements within its streamlined structure to recommend it. It's also strangely sweet, without the fresh-fruity ambiance of progenitors like Cool Water, and its nineties late-cousin, Allure Homme. It's as if the nose thinks coumarin's bittersweet, hay-like nature is fine, but its position and role in the aromatic structure is too fine, and in need of diffusion. Reader, I can tell you that FdF ph is an aspirational masculine that sets a low bar for itself, and doesn't even try to surpass it. I encourage you to set a higher bar for yourself, and simply wear any one of the fragrances listed above to better effect.








4/5/13

N°19 Eau de Toilette (Chanel)



Although it has unfairly been called a "bitchy" fragrance for cold, "wire mother" types, N°19 EDT has proven time and again that it is in fact a friendly floral-green composition, full of softened edges. I've yet to wear the EDP and parfum extrait, so I can't comment on those, and they very well could be meaner than the EDT. But true to its advertising, I find the lower concentration of 19 to be full of spring colors and smiles. Compared to its snarling Panther sister, Jacomo Silences, it's just a frisky little kitty in a dewey glen.

The main difference between this Chanel and Silences rests in the uses of citrus and galbanum. N°19 opens with fresh bergamot and iris, commendably the same Biolandes synthetic and orris tincture found in the pricier Les Exclusifs, with its velvety, truffle-like aspect carefully balancing a few drops of gin-dry fruit. Galbanum and oakmoss are present, but noticeably muted, lending just enough bitterness to last into the far drydown. Pale shades of rose, hyacinth, and muguet bring sweetness and warmth to the heart, which rests on a simple base of vetiver and musk.


N°19 is very green and cool, but it lacks Silence's eeriness. Jacomo's interpretation of the green theme begins with an intense, almost overwhelming cloud of grey galbanum, with no bergamot, or any discernible citrus to speak of. If you squint, you can just barely catch the same dessicated edging of woody citrus found in fragrances like Grey Flannel and Polo, but it remains lost behind that incredibly bitter top note. Eventually iris and hyacinth push their petals through the haze, and Jacomo's very different approach to iris becomes obvious; Chanel consistently renders a "true" iris, while Jacomo, perhaps due to budget constraints, opts for an abstract, powdery-grey gauze. In conjunction with crisp hyacinth, muguet, and rose on a near-identical base of vetiver, oakmoss, and musk, Silences is but an angrier N°19. I must say, I prefer it to 19, for that reason alone.

Nevertheless, 19 smells terrific and is notably quieter than Silences, which may make it easier to wear. The great thing about these green florals (I'd call them green-floral chypres, but purists would howl about the absence of labdanum) is their ability to usurp fresh ozonics and sports aquatics while maintaining an air of discreet sophistication. They're aloof and unsavory, dry enough for men to pull off without feeling self-conscious, and fresh enough for the dead heat of summer. There's really no excuse to wear Polo Blue or Chrome, not while these are still being made. And it saddens me that today's woman reaches for the sweets instead of these classy sours, as the many Angel flankers and "body mists" found in malls far outnumber classical chypres.

How can I impart to women of the twenty-first century that they're sexier in iris and vetiver than cassis and ethyl maltol? Hard to say, but I can tell them here and now that N°19 is Lady Brett Ashley in a bottle, so go read your Hemingway, travel the world, and figure yourself out. I'll be here when you get back.







4/1/13

Spring Is Here!



April marks the start of spring fragrance wearing for me, and that means breaking out all of my green, fresh, citrusy fragrances. I'm particularly excited to start wearing Moustache, Silences, and Oscar for Men! This year will see a heavier rotation of aromatic fougères, with a couple of chypres for good measure. The nicest thing about early spring is the weather - I'm not a fan of grey, rainy days, but they tend to be incredible for wearing green fragrances. And you know how very much I love green fragrances.

Up this month: reviews of a few excellent floral fragrances, some really tawdry masculines, and at least one or two bitter French chypres. Just wanted to wish you a happy April! So happy April!