Francesco Smalto (Francesco Smalto)

One of the cool things about fragrances from the seventies and eighties is that many of them were designed to complement cigarette smoke. Back then, people smoked a hell of a lot more than they do today. If you sat in a waiting room for five minutes, there could be someone else smoking next to you, and by the time you got out of there, you'd smell of smoke. For wearers of things like Quorum, Drakkar Noir, and Francesco Smalto for Men, the smoke-cling wasn't much of an issue, because these "powerhouse" masculines already smell dry, bitter, and smoky. I imagine that putting a quality tobacco oil in a composition jacks its price up a bit, so perfumers would skip that and just hope your surroundings filled in the blank, which they most assuredly did whenever you stepped outside (or if you were a smoker yourself). Smalto for Men was a little late to the party, arriving in 1987, and I think of it as the first of several "transitional" chypres and fougères that bridged the eighties to the nineties (Jazz, Tsar, and Sung Homme were others).

I actually think of F. Smalto as a combination of the elements found in those three scents, along with a dihydromyrcenol freshness via Drakkar Noir. There's something about the dusky herbs and clipped, bittersweet florals that strongly resembles Tsar, which means it also resembles Jazz, by proxy. Smalto is more leathery than those two, which is interesting. A sun-dried leather effect is subtle but noticeable at all stages, and at the drydown's two hour mark there's a surprisingly Sung Homme-esque carnation-cedar accord, very woody and wry. If you're someone who likes macho masculines from this time period, but dislikes the thickness of Tsar, the coriander of Jazz, or the Irish-Spring freshness of Sung, F. Smalto might be the perfect alternative. Likewise, if you kinda-sorta like Drakkar Noir, but feel the dihydromyrcenol is overkill in that one, F. Smalto plays with synthetic lavender in the same way, but tones it back significantly. There's a unique tarragon note, along with a pinch of anise in this scent that sets it apart and lends it a kind of gentlemanly warmth, which is also nice. This scent is a modern classic.