11/28/15

Touch For Men (Fred Hayman)


My bottle of Touch. On my coffee table,
Which apparently I need to dust.


I have to admit that I only have the vintage Parlux version of Touch for Men, as the reformulated version by Victory International was unavailable to me. I understand that the newer stuff has a bottle with a silver cap instead of Parlux's matte black, and the color of the fragrance is a slightly lighter amber than the original. Some voices have complained online that it smells like fruity-synthetic crap. Big surprise, right? If there's any truth to that, then it should be considered a completely different scent altogether, and not a reformulation. There's nothing "fruity" or "synthetic" about the Parlux version. And for the record, Jeffrey Dame has stated on Fragrantica that he doubts the reformulation smells bad. Given how obviously dirt cheap the original formula is, I think he's probably right, although I can't confirm it at this time.

I also can't say exactly how old my vintage is. It's impossible to track Parlux's batch code, and probably just as hard to trace anything from Victory International. I suspect it's rather recent, as the bottle markings seem fairly contemporary, and I'd guess that the changes happened sometime in the last eight years. Touch was released in 1995, and that's very surprising to me, because it's nothing like the super-sweet, aquatic, Hedione-laden powerhouses of that decade. Touch is very easy to describe: it smells almost completely like vintage Brut. A late seventies vintage of Brut, to be precise, when you could enjoy the last of its musk ambrette base. Don't expect to smell the burly brutishness of musk ambrette in Touch, but its top-to-base musk notes are still impressive. They're dense and a bit animalic, with subtle undertones of honey and vanilla. They make Touch better than Brut Classic, in my opinion.

This was one of the sleeper hits that Mr. Dame helped to develop with Parlux in the early nineties, an homage to masculine simplicity in an era when Kate Moss' androgyny and pretentious urban hip-hop styles were becoming the rage in the world of perfumery. Touch is the opposite of all that. This fragrance is as masculine and unpretentious as it gets. Hell, according to Mr. Dame, the brief for Touch was simply, "Take Brut and enrich it, make it stronger, more bold and Brutish." When I spray it on, I half expect a young Peter Fonda to walk into the room, an issue of Car and Driver tucked under his armpit, and hand me an ice-cold Rolling Rock. I can only imagine that it was brought into being with the fullest intention of changing the fashion subject to one of romantic and rather patriotic traditionalism, a bid that in retrospect clearly (and unfortunately) failed. Still, somehow this fragrance survived, a testament to its quality and appeal, particularly to the over-thirty crowd.

There's some question as to whether Touch is an oriental or a fougère, but with such a striking resemblance to one of the best-selling fougères of all time, it's hard to call it an oriental. If someone were to ask me to identify the two fragrances in a blind test, I couldn't do it. Touch is only different from Brut in that it has a noticeable coriander top note, mated very closely to its smooth lavender. It's possible the blending in Touch is a bit smoother, but depending on the bottle of Brut you get, this could be a very tough claim to verify. I've also read that this scent strongly resembles Neutrogena's laid back, seventies-styled "Rainbath" soap, but regrettably I've never tried that product.

I would only add that Touch's lavender note isn't quite as herbal and minty as Brut's. It's a bit softer and warmer. The "herbal" aspect in Faberge's cologne is primarily mint and anise, and neither note is outwardly detectable in Touch, but its coriander note seems to fill in that gap pretty neatly. I also get much better longevity out of Touch - around ten hours. Aside from that, I can't think of much else to say about this little gem. It's a straightforward traditional fougère accord of powdery lavender, ambery coumarin, vanilla, and mossy, talc-like musk. I can't recommend it enough. Any guy who shaves with a razor blade and soap will appreciate it for what it is: a precise, timeless, masculine marvel.




3 comments:

  1. "Touch" seems a rather fey name for an unpretentious, masculine marvel. Maybe someone made a mistake & it was supposed to be "Tough"?
    Meh, a young Peter Fonda with a Rolling Rock .
    A young Charles Bronson & a Stroh's is more like it.
    Anyway, that's some man sized dust on your coffee table, Brian. I suppose we should be thankful there aren't any fingerprints on that virile, he-man bottle?

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    1. Honestly the names of frags don't make much of an impression on me one way or the other. And yes, that is man sized dust, Bibi. I spell my name with a "Y" btw. People's names do matter here :)

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