2/3/14

Brut By Fabergé - Wilt Chamberlain, Joe Namath, Muhammad Ali, And . . . Cary Grant?





One of these days I'll walk into the NYC Creed Boutique and pretend to be interested in a bottle of Green Irish Tweed. Rodney or Louis will approach me and start their spiel about how Cary Grant is associated with GIT, and I'll blithely say, "Actually, during his lifetime Mr. Grant was associated with Brut, not GIT. You know, Brut, right? The cheap cologne in the little green plastic bottles you find in all the drugstores."

Oh, to see the looks of incredulity cross their faces upon hearing this, and I'd have PDFs of the info ready and waiting on my iPhone, just in case they asked for further verification. No doubt the revelation that one of the world's suavest male movie stars was a creative director for lowly old Fabergé, and had no public association with Creed, would stick in their craws. So be it - it's true. Cary Grant was involved in spreading public awareness of Brut and other Fabergé products during his retirement. George Barrie, co-founder of Rayette-Fabergé and creator of the Brut line of cosmetics shared a flight with Cary Grant, and convinced him to become one of Fabergé's spokesmen. The following is an excerpt from Marc Eliot's 2009 biography about Grant:

"During the flight, alone with Grant, Barrie proposed that the actor consider joining the board of Fabergé, a position that offered only a token annual salary of $15,000 (with stock options) but would require nothing more than the occasional personal appearance . . . Barrie did not think he had much of a chance of getting the actor to accept the deal, but to his surprise, shortly after returning to LA, he received a phone call from Grant saying he would love to be associated with the world-famous cosmetics firm as its 'Good Will Ambassador.' As Grant later told reporter Cindy Adams, he was delighted to represent Fabergé because 'The use of my name doesn't harm the company, and I'm permitted to do whatever I choose.'" (page 360)

Grant's specific connection with Brut is bolstered in the following excerpt from Ken Mansfield's The White Book: The Beatles, The Bands, The Biz: An Insider's Look At An Era:

"A little background - Cary Grant had just made a series of commercials for Brut cologne (he was on the board of Fabergé, Brut's parent company) and somehow through this endeavor became acquainted with George Harrison." (page 154)

The funny thing about Cary Grant and perfume is that no company, not even Fabergé, was able to get the man to say on the record that he actually WORE any of its fragrance products, but that didn't stop Fabergé from cashing in on the actor's name.

Did Cary Grant wear Brut? There is no written account anywhere to suggest that he did, although one has to wonder why he would accept a paltry $15K a year to join Fabergé's executive board if he did not at least like something they made, anything really. Perhaps he was familiar with Brut deodorant. Perhaps he did wear the cologne or aftershave. Grant was a notorious tightwad throughout his lifetime, reputedly careful with every penny he ever earned, so I could see him wearing something as popular and inexpensive as Brut. By most accounts, Grant worked for Fabergé during the late sixties and into the seventies, eventually retiring from his post to raise his daughter Jennifer away from the public eye.




7 comments:

  1. Hi Bryan,

    great post - yeah, what a delight it would be to watch the Creed folks cough up some desperate response. this past week i've worn Brut (mainly splash on) 4 days. I ain't worn Creed yet. Not that I don't love some of their's too as you know. But still, Brut rules.

    t.

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    1. Brut's a whole lotta fun. I have a vintage '70s bottle of Brut 33 splash-on lotion, which is great stuff. And as you probably know I also have the current splash-on, the cologne, and Brut "Classic," which is supposedly very close to the original formula is definitely smells a bit more complex and nuanced than the plastic-bottle version. This stuff simply smells good, dries down smelling good, and stays good. I wore Classic today and in the middle of my workday thought that the drydown smelled pretty close to the cool-powdery talc of Rive Gauche PH. Cary Grant juice to be sure!

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  2. I grew up with the vintage juice and yes.........I'm that freakin old. (57 to be exact). My age is actually an advantage in this hobby because of the reference point it provides for me.

    There's nothing wrong with the Brut's, Aqua Velvas and Old Spice's of the world if that's what floats your boat. That's the great thing about a subjective hobby. Loving a particular perfume is like the heart. The human heart goes where it wants as does our tastes.

    What I like about your blog and the way you approach the hobby is that to you, everything has merit.......until it proves otherwise. I look at it the same way because it's true.....and it's fair. Nice job.

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  3. You know Aromi, I'm so glad you said that, because there's a huge negative bias against these fragrances, especially among Youtube reviewers. There have been videos recorded of guys basically telling viewers to completely avoid these fragrances because you'll just smell "cheap" and "not good." Granted, Brut and Old spice aren't going to smell like top-tier niche, but if worn correctly and with a good grooming regimen accompanying them, they smell terrific.

    It's important for readers to realize that the key with Brut, Old Spice, and any fragrance really is that the act of applying your fragrance of choice should never be an isolated event. In other words, you should streamline your entire grooming regimen to accompany and support your scent. So if you're going to wear Old Spice, but you're afraid you'll smell weird and "cheap," think about what the cologne is joining on your skin. Don't wash in the shower with "Mountain Rain" soap and put "Icy Rush" deodorant on, and then slap Old Spice on yourself. You'll smell like a strange and discordant mix of "fresh" and "old-school barbershop," and yeah, that's not going to come together very well. If you use Old Spice body wash (original scent), matching deodorant, and then the cologne, guess what? You're going to smell like a pleasant powdery oriental all day, and no one will think you smell weird or cheap. It seems like no one addresses the fact that the soap and deodorant you use should be compatible with whatever type of fragrance you're committing to, and I think it's really important.

    Thanks for the compliment, it's true, as you have written yourself, all fragrances are worth investigating! Price and prestige should never be the deciding factors for what you wear.

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  4. Hi, Bryan.

    I'm writing a bit about the fougère genre on my site scenthurdle.com. I don't think we'll be overlapping in terms of content, and your writing is so informative on the fougère that I was wondering if I may link to your site in my writing. I see that you and the writer from Bigslyfragrance's have some disagreements, and I'll make the same offer to him as well. I'm interested in the nomenclature of the fougère, but it's not my primary focus. OK to link to you? If not, all's fine, but please feel free to look at shat i've written and join the discussion. Thanks for your consideration. jtd

    (v groovy story about Cary Grant/Brut btw!!)

    http://www.scenthurdle.com/the-foug-re-project

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  5. Hi, Bryan. update: i asked both you and Bigsly about linking to your writings on the fougere in an attempt to hear from both sides of a discussion I'd heard of, but hadn't fully investigated. Having read Bigsly's blog I have decided not to reference it at all. I don't find it pertinent to the discussion. On the other hand, I find your thoughts on the fougère very informative and would still like to refer to them. Sound OK to you? Thanks, jtd

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    Replies
    1. Hi jtd, that's fine with me, I'm looking forward to reading this article of yours, going there now! Link away!

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