9/2/14

Tuscany Per Uomo (Estée Lauder)



My bottle of Tuscany was manufactured in June, 2011, which makes it a recent formula, although presumably not the latest and greatest. I understand this fragrance has suffered tremendously from reformulation, to the point where its fans no longer want to buy new bottles. They seek only "vintage" and say that the old stuff was much richer and ballsier in the woodsy-herbal department. I'm probably writing in error when I say this, but based on what I've read, I can't imagine the original version was a particularly interesting old-school masculine. There are only so many ways you can take citrus, lavender, "Mediterranean" herbs, patchouli, tamed floral notes, synthetic sandalwood, and synthetic musk, and make them smell unique together. Azzaro Pour Homme already has quite the little Italian sports car with that package, as does Krizia Uomo, Quorum, and the original Davidoff scent. I think Azzaro's fougère is Tuscany's main problem, and was likely the fragrance that prevented Lauder's scent from dominating its corner of the men's market at the time. As far as the success of the eighties and nineties Aramis line goes, the brand has always been the Cyndi Lauper to someone else's Madonna anyway.

Owning and wearing the current stuff with no knowledge of the original is neither here nor there to me, though. What matters to me is that the current fragrance possesses the above laundry list of typical eighties genre notes, yet somehow manages to smell unlike any other middle class designer scent I've ever worn before. I say "middle class" because Tuscany does resemble an upscale designer scent in the heart and base, but I'll get to that in a moment. First, the start of the perfume on skin - expect an Azzaro effect in those first ten minutes, but with a defter handling of the anisic citrus/lavender accord, due mainly to a more naturalistic rendition of citrus, a much subtler use of anise, and a very Moustache-like blending of lavender into the potent citrus, almost to an abstract degree. Never does the lavender leap out and smack my nose, like it does in Azzaro PH. Instead, a vibrant accord of bergamot, lemon, and lime assails me, smelling very juicy and fresh. This crisp, shimmery citrus intro remains a deciding factor for how interesting Tuscany eventually becomes. First and foremost, it is a refreshing execution of citrus rarely found in a scent of any pedigree. It smells not of cleaning agents (as an accidental over-application of Moustache might), or of extra-fine cold-pressed soap (4711), but of very real fruits blended in discreet harmony. I really admire this aspect of the scent.

Two hours later an interesting note peeks through the dusting of herbs and spices. It's a citric note with a sweetly floral edge, which creates the illusion of citrus lasting well past the top note phase. This note is very clearly neroli, with a bit of bitter orange rind sprinkled on it, and its clarity puts Tuscany squarely beside Creed's Orange Spice for the remainder of its drydown. I feel no qualms in saying that the materials used for this floral accord are the exact same materials used in Orange Spice, only here they're used in a much lower concentration. There's just enough anise, patchouli, and zesty caraway to maintain complexity and herbal texture, yet Tuscany carries itself as a bracing citrus composition (perhaps with a drop of Hedione in the mix) for five hours before fading away to a skin musk. To design Tuscany as a citrus fougère makes perfect sense from a conceptual standpoint. I attended college in Italy in 2004, visited Tuscany, and stayed for a few nights in Florence. The Tuscan region is not known for growing oranges, except the bitter Chinotto orange, yet it is home to a slew of local recipes that feature the fruit in various salads, pastries, and even French-derived duck dishes. Funnily enough, Italian Fanta (the soda) is in my experience the fruitiest and most citric version available in mainland Europe, and is far superior to French, German, Czech, Irish, and English Fanta. And there's always Limoncello. Even in crap beverages, the Italians take citrus seriously.

Lauder is not an Italian brand, and the minds behind this perfume had no vested interest in being truly representative of the region, but it is a very well made EDT with a sublime citrus component, making it a desirable addition to the collection of any lover of twentieth century fougères. If you enjoy Azzaro PH but always wished its relatively harsh citrus and lavender notes were better calibrated, Tuscany is for you. I suppose seeking out the original formula is a worthy pursuit if you're interested in richer patchouli and sandalwood notes, provided its naturals and synthetics survived the decades intact. Just keep in mind that the wonderful citrus notes are not likely to have made it through thirty years unscathed. If my description of this perfume intrigues you more, then purchase Azzaro PH for your woodier fern variant on this theme, and go for the recent version of Tuscany for a brighter, fresher take on the Italianate fougère. My experience with the Aramis line is currently limited to the original Aramis and Tuscany, but now that I've worn the latter scent, I seriously want to give Havana, JHL, and New West a try also.





11 comments:

  1. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the other aramis fragrances too (once you get your nose on them).
    I've owned and enjoyed aramis, tuscany and havana reserva.
    900 and devin are next on my list. I haven't tried them yet but the online reviews are encouraging.
    Also, devin came out the year I was born... So it must be good!
    :)

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    1. I'll definitely post my reviews of those when I get around to them, thanks for reminding me to wear Devin also, almost forgot about that one. I've seen it in brick and mortars here, as well as vintage 900 (the Aramis I'm least interested in).

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  2. I have been actively seeking this out at Thrift stores and garage sales and on eBay since I love it's feminine counterpart, Tuscany per Donna. They sound similar in note structure, just more flowers in the per Donna.

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    1. Last I checked, Villa Fleur in Hamden, CT had a vintage bottle on its highest shelf. The guy who runs the place is pretty reasonable, I can't speak for him, but I'd be surprised if he had a problem making the sale over the phone. Only downside of buying from him is he doesn't accept returns (his frags are also by no means discounted, either).

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  3. How wonderful! That you know where one is and how I could obtain it but I must be disciplined and stick to my local hunting. All of us have way more fragrance then we will ever use in a lifetime so I have adopted a more serendipitous attitude about finding things. Thank you for your kindness!

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    1. It's no problem whatsoever, if you change your mind let me know.

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  4. If you still have your June 2011 bottle, savor it. You purchased one of the earlier reissues which are know to be stronger. (it was reissued in 2011). You must have a batch code between A11 and A71. The later bottles were weaker.

    I recently purchased Tuscany and it was about as strong as air freshener. There was no sillage, the projection was minimal and it was a skin scent in 45 minutes or less. After an hour, I could barely smell it. Many reviews on Amazon mention something similar so I called Estee Lauder and found out that Tuscany, Havana and probably every flanker was discontinued in 2016. If you go to the Estee Lauder site, you'll only find the original Aramis.

    The batch code on my bottle is AC5 (Dec. 2015. As a personal request, would you be so kind as to mention the batch codes of your bottles in future reviews. I know you often refer to whether it's a current or vintage bottle, but these formulations are changing so frequently, that the batch code/date (and the formula code, t0o) are all important in these reviews.

    I received a May, 2013 of Havana last year that I had to return because it was so weak. Either the bottles are counterfeit, or the circuitous route these bottle take before reaching the discounter over several years results in degrading the oils due to poor environmental conditions during shipping and storage.

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    1. The batch is actually C61, and it turns seven years old this month. I'm basing its age off checkfresh.com and checkcosmetic.net. Where do you see the batch correlation in the A's? My understanding is that by 2011 the Aramis line was well into the C's, D's, and by 2013 it was cycled into the middle of the alphabet.

      It doesn't surprise me that they discontinued these fragrances. While decent quality and classical in structure, I don't see them being big money makers anymore. Which is gravely unfortunate, but business is business I guess.

      I can't promise I'll always refer to batch codes, as I'm not entirely enamored with the practice of theorizing about discrepancies between batches, but if I sense that a fragrance has a batch issue, or a checkered reformulation history, I'll certainly give you the code in my review.

      I wouldn't worry about these frags ever being counterfeited, as unlike Chanel and Dior, they're not exactly profitable to the original manufacturer, so there's no reason to expect a counterfeiter would come out ahead on Aramis.

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    2. I just came across a bottle of Tuscany at a drugstore for a song (100ml for $20 Canadian!), and my batch code is D18. Which, according to CheckFresh.com, means it was manufactured in...January 2018. So either something's wrong with the database, or Estee Lauder is still making the stuff, discontinuation discussion be damned.

      As for the scent...well, it certainly smells of its era. I'm a millennial and have always had more of an intellectual appreciation for the classic aromatic fougéres than a personal affection. They tend to scream "Dad's aftershave circa 1990" too loudly for me to feel comfortable wearing them. And yet, this bottle of Tuscany is actually agreeing with me. Perhaps it's that I'm in my 30s now and my tastes in fragrance have matured, but I'm also betting that reformulation has rendered Tuscany softer and more wearable for the modern era than I imagine the original was. (Yes, I bought it unsniffed.) I like it when I'm in the mood for a bit of old-school elegance that still feels fresh and easygoing, not stuffy.

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    3. Darryl, Lauder's batch codes repeat every ten years. It's possible your bottle is from 2008, although there is no way to know for certain. It's also possible that the GC hasn't been DC'd, and Lauder has simply lowered the corporate visibility of the products by removing them from their site (why they would do this is a mystery, but given Aramis' historical inability to advertise, I wouldn't discount the idea).

      If you're in your 30s, like, your MID 30s, then you're not a millennial. I'm 36, and I've had a few people suggest that I'm a millennial, but I reject them. I was born in 1981. I was old enough to enlist before the start of the 2000s. I believe that I (and anyone my age) just missed the moniker "millennial" by a hair.

      My brother, on the other hand, was born at the end of 1986. He was still in HS well into the 2000s. He is definitely a millennial. People quibble over this, but if you take a look at the difference between my experience growing up and his, it's actually pretty stark in a number of ways (musical tastes, movie references, technological references, etc), and he is far more abreast of what the 2000s are about.

      I mention this because I hope your age and the constant drumbeat of "you're a millennial" hasn't misled you into thinking that classics like Tuscany are "before your time." They are before your time as an adult, but if you're 35 or older, you're actually beyond the millennial mark, and you should enjoy older frags with total immunity from the label.

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    4. I didn't know the batch codes were repeated - thanks for the clarification. I usually don't pay much attention to them, burned out as I am on all the discussion of batch codes on Basenotes over the years (take a breath, fellas).

      Re: millenials...yes, there is too much quibbling, and I also wouldn't consider a 36 year-old a millenial. I was born in 1985, a junior in high school when 9/11 occurred (the widely accepted "generation-defining" event), and recently turned 33. So I'm certainly on the tail end, but my experiences of culture growing up are probably closer to your brother's than yours. All of this hair-splitting is to emphasize that I often feel a mental hurdle when attempting to adopt certain items of fashion or culture that come from before my time...like aromatic fougéres. It's not indoctrination, either, but an instinctual feeling, like when someone who hates ginger catches a whiff of it in a dish and knows that dish is probably not for them. Azzaro Pour Homme is my ginger. Tuscany is less heavy-handed with the ginger than other dishes of its ilk, which is perhaps why it's found its way in to my, er...recipe book. (Why do I attempt metaphor?)

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