Geoffrey Beene's Bowling Green Is Back. The Question Is Why?

According to numerous internet sources, the long-discontinued sophomore effort by Beene has been reissued to commercial markets at steeply discounted prices. Whether they are new stock or "new old stock" is not entirely clear, but my understanding of Beene's extensive distribution history suggests that it's highly possible the frag has been rereleased by EA Fragrances. Apparently a few people have received bottles with EA stickers, although at least one person has received a vintage Sanofi Beaute bottle, so the situation remains unclear.

I'm not interested in purchasing a 4 ounce bottle from Amazon, even though they're going for about $19 a pop, but the feedback on them is interesting. I remember Bowling Green as being very herbal, spicy, and woody in character, with relatively little "fresh," and a whole lot of old-school eighties-styled "green." It smelled like grass clippings, dried basil, rosemary, pine, lemon, cedar chips, sour citrus, and stale joss sticks. There was a weird, oriental, fake incensey undercurrent, probably because the cardamom and juniper notes had lost clarity and balance. The bottle I used was twenty years old at least. BG's opening accord was spiky and very ruggedly herbal, with only a hint of synthetic lavender. Think Drakkar Noir dressed as a hippie for the first minute, but BG is not a Drakkar Noir clone. It's unique enough, and a very good scent, but nothing great.

Why is Bowling Green back? Recent reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive, and it's safe to say people missed it. But Grey Flannel, which is ten years older, is resoundingly superior in quality and composition. In the late seventies and early eighties, Grey Flannel was Beene's sole creation, a conservative chypre loaded with dry citrus and rich oakmoss, its ruggedness softened by the world's greatest violet note. To suggest that Beene needed a "green" fragrance to follow it is like saying Lincoln needed to offer a "full-size" car after the Continental Mark V.

Yet in 1986, Beene inexplicacably released Bowling Green. The world seemed to like it enough to keep it alive for seven or eight years, but something odd happened. Despite being lighter, airier, and arguably more accessible than its older brother, sales for BG slumped, and Beene had to kill it. Grey Flannel marched on, but Bowling Green was benched. I suspect that things like Lacoste Original, Quorum, Tsar, and Red for Men devoured its market share, and BG just couldn't retain its identity in the face of so much competition, but I'm not sure. Another possibility is that the fragrance suffered from being too ambitious. Beene had a good but limited budget for perfume. Grey Flannel was relatively simple, a stark lemon, coumarin, ionones, and oakmoss affair, but Bowling Green had a conventional eighties pyramid of two hundred different notes.

It smells very nice, but also busy and a bit cheap. The money to properly render and balance all the superfluous herbs and florals wasn't really in play. Inexperienced noses give the scent ten minutes and declare it a grassier Drakkar Noir. Advanced sniffers appreciate its unique interplay of citrus and woods, but in thirty years nobody can say why this fragrance exists. Has it been thirty years already? Well now, I just stumbled on why it's back: EA is celebrating its thirty year anniversary!


My Vintage Kouros Got Stronger - Again!

This is not the first time it's happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last. As you may recall, I wrote a post on September 7th of last year, in which I talked about an older bottle of Kouros that I had acquired. The bottle was full and unused. Its performance was unexpected:

"Imagine my surprise when I found that my pre-L'Oreal vintage smelled surprisingly smooth, mild, and tame in comparison to my 2009 and 2011 vintages. Instead of a monster, I got a mellow, super-smooth, relatively low-sillage fragrance that resembles a restrained seventies barbershop splash more than an intense eighties powerhouse."

Well, that was a year ago. Last September I wore Kouros every single day without deviation, and by the end of the month had only an inch of fragrance left. Fully aware that Kouros ages and intensifies, I packed up that inch and didn't touch it again until this week. Since Kouros is only worn one month out of the year, I forgot I had so little. I gave myself the traditional three small squirts and went to work.

I rarely worry about offending my coworkers with my scent, but by the time I arrived at my job I was worried I'd be sent home. It wasn't "loud." It was pounding.

What happened? I'm not sure what exactly transpires with this particular scent. Kouros is an oddity in that it takes dozens of musk molecules and somehow channels their shrill, stinky-freshness into a civilized and legible form, like fireflies carefully ushered into a jar. The result is a fragrance that smells bawdy but smart. I always know when I'm wearing too much because the interplay of incense, musk, lavender, and honey lingers in my nose. Likewise, I can tell that I've dosed it correctly when it disappears and occasionally wafts. Last year this particular bottle was potent enough to sense for roughly six of the eight hours in my workday, but was never too strong, and frequently not strong enough.

I suspect that the air in the bottle "oxidized" and partially evaporated some of the perfume, causing just enough water and alcohol reduction to concentrate my small pond of Kouros and make it twice as potent as it was twelve months ago. There is no evidence for the notion that fragrances get stronger the more you smell them, but there is plenty of evidence in the scientific community that our sense of fragrances can diminish with repeated exposure to them. So far no scientist has come forward to explain why I might perceive the same sample of Kouros as being stronger this year than it was last year, or whether my perception is real or illusory, but I invite one to comment here.

As it stands now, with three half sprays doing the job of eight from a year ago (I actually had to refresh this scent last year to make it through longer days), I'm going to go ahead and say that no, this isn't my imagination. My Kouros got stronger - much stronger. And that's a good thing, especially with less than an ounce left until I'm spritzing fumes.