8/15/15

Cool Water Has Officially Been Destroyed



Well, they finally did it. It took nearly three decades and at least four reformulations, but the manufacturers of Davidoff's iconic fresh fougère have officially ruined the fragrance. This is a devastating development for me, as this fragrance was one of my absolute favorites. Let me explain what happened.

Contrary to what you usually read about reformulations (from morons who opine about diminished ingredient quality and dramatic packaging changes), the changes here were insular, streamlined, and sneaky. I've had a theory for a while now that Coty Prestige is beginning to lose faith in this brand. The constant annual cycle of summer flankers and special editions belie the financial hard times this perfume has, in my estimation, fallen on. The truth is that Cool Water isn't embraced by youngsters anymore. People in their teens and early twenties aren't really wearing it. I haven't met a single young person in the last six years who claimed to wear Cool Water, and I've met a few people recently who have actually never even heard of it, which is hard to fathom.

Compounding the issue is the recent rise of the richer-smelling Green Irish Tweed. As of eight years ago, Creed's woodier, muskier take on this genre was still an obscure niche scent with little to no commercial visibility. A handful of eighties fougère connoisseurs knew about it, but it didn't have the notoriety that it currently enjoys. Then the buzz started. Threads began to fill the boards at basenotes, Fragrantica, Badger & Blade, and guys rendered their collective verdict to the world: GIT is better than Cool Water. This cut into Davidoff's cache. Where it once was the popular choice for people who wanted a semi-sweet, semi-green freshie, now it was being derisively labeled "cheap," "chemical," and "inferior." That GIT is just as cheap to manufacture, almost as chemical-smelling, and in no way more effective at what it does than Cool Water did not register. People simply equated "richer" with "better," and that was that.

My guess is that declining sales over the years have spurred Coty to reevaluate the formula. They're in it to save money at this point. I'm intimately familiar with all forms of this scent, including the deodorant spray, and I believe that they used the deodorant formula in the new EDT. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except the deodorant was always simpler and flatter smelling than the EDT. Instead of crisp, long-lasting lavender and green apple notes, the deodorant opens with a muted lavender, only lightly brushed with apple, that swiftly segues to a muted tobacco/musk accord. It's the stale, wet cement note that used to crop up in older versions of CW. It has incredible power and presence, and still fills a room. I imagine it's not immensely cheaper than what was in the EDT, but it's definitely a few cents less.

The result is a fragrance that simply lacks dynamism and contrast. It also lacks its sparkle and appeal. I don't want a dull tobacco powder on my skin for eight hours. I don't want something that far removed from the neroli-shimmer of the 2013 formula. Having done a code search, I can tell you that my new bottle was manufactured in December of last year. And oddly enough, Coty's people decided to enlarge the Cool Water logo on the bottle by a few millimeters, which I'm guessing cost them next to nothing (no dramatic color, design, or packaging change), but lets them identify the different formulas by simply glancing at the bottles. I know that enlarging a logo by a few millimeters can be done in InDesign within ten seconds, and would add nothing, or next to nothing, to the printer's bill. But just eye-balling the new bottle next to the old one reveals the difference, and cleverly makes identifying which bottle is which very easy.

This would be a true disaster if Green Irish Tweed and Grey Flannel didn't exist. Frankly, I like Cool Water better than GIT. But not anymore. This new version doesn't smell very good. It smells much less fresh and appealing than the version before it, and I'd rather save my money and buy GIT. So sad, and very rare for this to happen. It is literally the first reformulation in my collection that has made me feel this way.


10 comments:

  1. I can't find Live Jazz locally anymore either. Bourdon's other masterpiece and my favourite scent of all time.

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    1. Never tried that one, the descriptions never appealed to me. Sorry to hear it's endangered.

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  2. At least we'll always have Aspen...

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    1. Yes, I wore Aspen yesterday, still very good. The clean, fresh, and rather soapy muguet note (not Jasmine) in its drydown is quite special and so well done.

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  3. Brian, shoot me your address. James@garnerjames.com

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    1. Hi Jim, check your inbox. Good to hear from you!

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  4. Unrelated, but if it makes you feel any better (better might not be exactly the word), I by chance read reviews of two different fragrances comparing both to vintage Brut - Penhaligon's Sartorial and the recently released Acqua di Parma Colonia Club (the former also was compared to Grey Flannel by some reviewers...)

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    1. I've been meaning to try Sartorial for a while now. I've heard it's very similar to vintage Brut - from the sixties, that is. That would make it a scarce commodity for a fern lover like me. Colonia Club is interesting from what I've read, but doesn't sound as compelling. Thanks for reminding me to try the Pens.

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  5. Interesting to read that you are able to determine the year of manufacture by Serial number.Here's mine:
    0113904034 Cool Water EDT. Any idea what year that would be ?

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    1. Hi Atze, this serial number is incomplete. There should be a preceding pair of characters, one letter and one number. With that pair you can determine the age of the bottle using Check Cosmetic or Check Fresh.

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