12/9/14

Alpha Ionone At Little More Than 1% Concentration Responsible For Natural Sandalwood Effect In Grey Flannel



One of the many things I love about vintage Grey Flannel is its beautiful, smooth, natural-smelling sandalwood note, an effect one might surmise is attributable to high quality ingredients not found in today's iteration of the scent. I was fortunate enough to acquire from perfumer Jim Gehr a sample of Ionone Alpha at 1% concentration, something I requested, and I'm surprised to find after several days of scrutiny that this aroma chemical is in fact responsible for that velvety precious wood effect in the older vintage, although perhaps at a higher concentration.

What does this mean? Let's face it, ionones are not super expensive materials, and I doubt any perfumer would classify them as being exotic in any way. They're common to floral notes, with A and B ionones combining to make violet (B alone smells of roses). If it's a cheap material with a memorable aroma, why scale back on it in the newer version of Beene's perfume? In its pure form, Ionone Alpha smells of slightly spicy, violet-tinged sandalwood, albeit a rather soapy, creamy-smelling incarnation of it. Rich, buttery, and quite smooth, this element is obscured in Arden's Grey Flannel, which seems to contain a more textured and anisic cloud of galbanum.

Maybe the intense woodiness of Ionone Alpha was considered by the suits at EA to be dated. My suspicion with most reformulations of old masculines is that times change the scents more than executives, with new waves of young men favoring cleaner, sweeter concoctions than their fathers and grandfathers ever wore. Look at Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water - the former, while certainly classic and still sought after, smells rather loud in an eighties way, overly rich for today's blood, while the latter remains a throwback, but much crisper and cleaner. "Sheer" is the word I'd use to describe a key difference between them, because CW smells transparent compared to GIT.

Galbanum and spiced anise notes are lighter, and a touch closer to being "au courant" than dense, unremitting bergamot and violetty sandalwood, so unnecessary tweaks were made, and today's Grey Flannel is different and arguably more wearable for today's young men. Naturally most youngsters favor newer scents, but hey, they tried. The supposition that oakmoss is a factor here is something I've entertained in the past also, but to be honest the oakmoss concentration in this scent is better at a low dose for me, as I seem to be just a little sensitive to it. IFRA is on to something.

The moral of the story: ingredient quality in vintages is not necessarily better. Just the same at a higher concentration, or marginally different. No expensive sandalwood oils were used to make Jacqueline Cochran Grey Flannel the beauty it is. It was merely infused with a heady slog of Ionone Alpha, and of course the perfumer's talent in integrating other notes to yield a masterpiece of modern design.



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