10/16/16

The Musky Orientals Of The Nineties



I have been wearing Witness by Jacques Bogart lately, and just wanted to comment on a few things that have come to mind.

This fragrance smells more and more like Balenciaga Pour Homme to me. Its central chord of artemisia, woods, fruity esters, and musk are almost identical to Balenciaga, with the main difference being that these notes are sweeter and less animalic in Bogart's scent. (It also contains noticeable cinnamon, which is absent from Balenciaga.) There are heady terpenes in Witness that evoke pine, juniper, and evergreen woods, and in this regard it resembles Aubusson Pour Homme, another musky gem from the same era. And though it generally smells different, Bogart's Furyo contains a louder, civet-laden version of Balenciaga's and Witness' musk. Can you guess where the connection between houses is?

I read a very interesting review of Balenciaga PH on Fragrantica the other day, posted by member "Michel Vaillant," which, if true, explains everything in one sentence:

"As far as I know, the house of Balenciaga was owned by the Bogart Group at the launch of this fragrance in 1990."

When I read that, it made sense. These spicy beauties were a very distinct style between 1989 and 1994, but their stylistic roots can be traced back to Kouros in 1981, YSL's epic fougere and landmark masculine musk bomb. Whenever people dismiss the importance of tracing fragrance genealogy, I nod to Kouros. From Bourdon's scent springs a generation of "powerhouses" and classical late 20th century masculines, but without this historical context people get confused. From Kouros to Witness, one follows the breadcrumbs to Giorgio, Zino, Boss No. 1, Dali Pour Homme, Lapidus PH, Sung Homme, Ungaro Pour L'Homme, Ungaro Pour L'Homme II, Balenciaga PH, and Joint. Witness is one of Kouros' logical end points.

In any case, I'm wearing it again today. Jacques Bogart is one of perfumery's most underrated houses, and Witness and Furyo are among the best in my collection.


7 comments:

  1. I remember smelling Witness back in the mid 90s at JC Penny, who sold several Bogart Fragrances, including Lapidus PH(Lapidus scents are made by Bogart). I was 16 or so, and thought it smelled like cola. I was always drawn to the Lapidus, or Chanel PM which Penny's sold as well inexplicably.

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    1. It has an almost gourmand feel to it, with its rich cinnamon and amber accord. Also there's a hint of fruit, which is also detectable in Aubusson PH.

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  2. Dominique Preyssas is the nose behind Witness and was a perfumer for Balenciaga in 1990 when BPH came out. (Although Gerard Anthony is credited with BPH) These noses are a congenial bunch & there isn't much 'secrecy' in the perfumery biz as SOME people seem to think.

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    1. I'm not in the industry, but if I had to guess at its deepest inner workings, I'd say the biggest secrets being held by companies are the exact formulas of their perfumes. I doubt that I'd be able to interview a chemist and have him give me the mathematical breakdown on, say, Gucci Guilty, or Chanel No. 5. But even there, if I were inquisitive enough, I could probably get a chemist to give me at least a vague idea of what their basic structures are made of, and seriously doubt that their employers would hold the dissemination of this information against them.

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    2. The "noses" often confer with each other & share what is exactly in their creations. Is it a mathematical breakdown? No. Want to know who uses real ambergris or green civet glands? That's easy to find out. Besides, in this grand and glorious 21st century for a few hundred $s you can easily have a quantitative & qualitative analysis done- so what's secret?

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  3. Witness is truly a beautiful fragrance that is perfect for the cooler and colder months. It is heavy on the cinnamon. I also get a good amount of cinnamon in Balenciaga Pour Homme, but it is not as loud and better blended. Both are definitely related and a joy to use.

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    1. Another excellent trio of fragrances are Bourdon's Joop! Homme, Individuel, and (by another perfumer) Feeling Man. All three employ cinnamon to different effects. Feeling Man is more closely aligned with Witness and Balenciaga. Joop! Homme and Individuel are soapier and the latter smells much like car wax.

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