6/11/16

Witness (Jacques Bogart)


"Another View Of The World"


Stylistically, Witness is an embodiment of early nineties poise, a complex structure replete with evergreen balsams, lavender aromatics, and a crisp cedar base. It bears similarities to Aubusson Pour Homme and Balenciaga Pour Homme, but unlike its congeners, which celebrate artful contrasts between green and musky notes, Bogart eschews pungent musks, favoring instead a more staid arrangement of cinnamon, fir, incense, and woods. The result is something that lacks animalism, and smells much darker and drier than expected, but is nonetheless quite good.

The nose for this scent is Dominique Preyssas, who according to Fragrantica authored Jaguar for Men, an aromatic fougère that preceded Witness by four years. I've heard that Thierry Wasser co-authored Witness, but can't confirm it, though the wonderful Art Deco bottle design is credited to Joel Desgrippes, the genius designer for Revillon's French Line and Kenzo's Jungle, both packaging masterpieces. It's interesting that the color scheme for Witness' bottle is identical to Aubusson's, and I wonder if Desgrippes did both. My personal feelings for Witness (the perfume) echo those for Balenciaga and Aubusson, and I'm certain that Bogart's interpretation of this theme is the most "oriental," and also the most "mature." The key is the incense.

Witness' mossy cedar base isn't far removed from that of Krizia Uomo, but a haze of cool, smoky incense focuses my nose on the lushness surrounding it. Gentle nuances of old-school lavender, basil, artemisia, geranium, sandalwood, and jasmine are lifted by quiet aldehydes, lending charm to what could have been a woefully dated formula. The blend is subtle and a bit sweet, the ingredient quality is high, and the balance between spice, greens, and woody amber is flawless. As with Aubusson, I briefly get an abstract apple pie effect in the first minute of Witness, but once the cinnamon segues into artemisia, the gourmand impression goes with it.

If (and only if) you enjoy this style of fragrance, Witness is something you should add to your collection. It's vintage Bogart, and thus is stylistically superlative and very well made. I have yet to encounter anything less by this brand. One should note that it's a bit of an acquired taste; nectarous accents are woven into heady classical accords in a manner that might, if you are unfamiliar with this approach, seem too unconventional and "out there." It may be difficult to determine the appropriate occasion for Witness.

To me, this sort of thing is good for casual Fridays at work, and weekend nights out on the town. It may not be suitable for black-tie dinner parties or first dates, but it's perfect for deal-closing phone conferences and gallery art shows, pairing well with wool sport coats and Chardonnay-fueled conversations about touch and form.


8 comments:

  1. Very nice... but (vis a vis your old Habit Rouge review) you'll never convince me you are 'no intellectual!' You'll just have to find another term to distance yourself from Habit Rouge (or better yet, try it again and write another review!) There are many different kinds of intellectual, I imagine.

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    1. Thanks, I'll have to read that review. I can't remember what I said about Habit Rouge! LOL

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  2. One thing I found unusual about Witness, considering when it was released, is how sweet it is!

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    1. It's a post-Joop! Homme woody oriental competing (at that time) with things like Balenciaga PH, Feeling Man by Jil Sander, and Wings by GBH. So yeah, there's a definite sweetness in its composition, but it's not extreme imo, nor unusual for its time.

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  3. Thanks for the review Bryan! During the past winter, I was lucky enough to get this along with Maxim's pour homme as both are now rare to find.

    You said it well that Witness is quite unconventional and yet, as they say in modern parlance - it works. It has this unusual Johnson and Johnson's 'Band-aid' smell...but the drydown is awesome and long lasting. Sillage is medium, perhaps rightfully so.

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    1. It's a good one! Have read about Maxim's, but figure it'll only get reviewed here if I see it at a brick and mortar for under $50.

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    2. Hi Again Bryan,
      If you have Chanel Antaeus and if you are satisfied with it (I remember from your review that you generally found it 'okay'; nothing groundbreaking), then you can skip Maxim's. Maxim's is reminiscent of the older formulations of Antaeus i.e., raunchy animalic. If someone is not satisfied with the current Antaeus, then perhaps it would be worth seeking out Maxim's (ideally as you said in the bricks/mortar store) as the similarity is remarkable.
      Looking at Bogart's pour homme signature (I believe it was their first release during the 1970s; still available), some say that it is Paco Rabanne PH without the honey. Have you had a chance to test that one?

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    3. Not yet. With Bogart I kind of figured it was a green, old-school leathery thing, the reviews are pretty consistent with that one. The comparison to Paco makes sense also. Like I said, I'm open to reviewing Maxim's, but wouldn't pay much for it. Then again if it's like Antaeus with raunch, maybe I'd go with whatever sticker price is on it.

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