9/25/16

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 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 more conventionally 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!



9/19/16

Preparing For Autumn In Connecticut With A Gorgeous Arsenal Of Rich, Woody Fragrances: Do You Find That Sexy?



A few weeks ago there was an unfortunate video posted by Daver of the YouTube channel "Fragrance Bros," which I've always enjoyed, in which the host criticized another Youtuber named Jeremy, who is known for his "Jeremy Fragrance" channel. Apparently Daver felt that outgoing single stud Jeremy was possibly reviewing fragrances for fragrance companies instead of merely commenting as an objective voice. Daver also seemed a bit nonplussed by Jeremy's fascination with equating fragrance to compliments and sex appeal.

He's not alone; these kinds of "reviewers" annoy many in our tight-knit community. In eight years, I've read on a daily basis comments made by brosefs about how much "chicks love" something they wore. Every Earth rotation brings at least ten or fifteen new ones to my desktop. There are men who shamelessly equate perfume with getting complementary apple pie, and they're quite vocal about it. Problem is, most of us aren't interested in what a drunk chick said about some faceless guy's Saturday night spritz. We've never met these people. Their singing praises about Aventus because it encouraged them to bump uglies has zero bearing on our lives.

I watched a few Jeremy Fragrance vids to see what got Daver so hot under the collar, and learned something: this guy is handsome and friendly. He's an extrovert, exuding confidence and swagger, his gelled hair and inviting, telegenic features drawing me in for more views with an effortlessness usually reserved for A-List Hollywood celebs. After fifteen minutes of Jeremy, I knew why Daver had posted his unnecessary vid. He's jealous of Jeremy.

As I said at the start, I've always liked the "Fragrance Bros," especially when Jer was on. Lately it's been a solo act, and although he's quite affable and knowledgeable, Daver lacks charisma. He's average looking, very scripted, and on substance he's disgustingly obsessed with niche and high-end designer, with what amounts to an allergic aversion to anything classical, "old-school," or vintage. I don't hold his love of niche against him on a personal level, but as a viewer seeking something of myself in the reviews made by like-minded folks, I resent that 90% of his reviews are for niche frags, stuff that really doesn't interest me, and the remaining sliver is for ubiquitous department store fare that I don't need Daver (or anyone) to talk about.

Jeremy covers a more designer-based range of products, and a fair amount of niche, and frankly I find his content even more lacking, but it's funny . . . He makes me want to watch. He's enthusiastic. He owns the screen. His powers of persuasion are far greater than most. When I was in middle school there was a poster hanging in the art room with a little wide-eyed, happy looking kitten that read, "Act enthusiastic and you'll be enthusiastic." That's Jeremy in a nutshell.

But he does prattle on about female compliments. Oh lord, does he ever. Look, I get it. I love women. When they compliment me on my fragrance, I smile inside. I agonize over what to wear on dates. I'm always on the smell-out for whatever female coworkers are wearing. We all like and want sex. Our sense of smell is directly built into that. But if you're serious about fragrance - key word "serious" here - you get over it and talk about the millions of other more dynamic facets to the fragrance world. Serious fragheads don't wear fragrance to wow potential mates. We wear fragrance to wow ourselves. We hope that if we're impressed, others will be, too. We don't enjoy fragrance in a vacuum, but we're not single-mindedly focused on winning the prize every second of the day, either.

It's autumn in Connecticut this week, and you know what I'm doing? Poking through my collection for fragrances that wear well on crisp October days. Stuff like Zino, Aubusson Pour Homme, Mitsouko, Lagerfeld Classic, Pheremone, Z14, Azzaro Pour Homme, Witness, Furyo, Mesmerize, and Drakkar Noir are making the cut. I want to smell like I stepped out of 1993. Is that sexy? Is a 35 year-old single guy living in a 1950s ranch, buffing a 2003 Buick and reeking of pine, lavender, rosewood, and tobacco sexy? Only if I don't care about it. Women hate insecure men, and there's nothing more insecure than traipsing around nightclubs asking barely legal girls if they think the latest designer junkola smells sexy.

There's no such thing as a "sexy cologne." Alone, without their wearers, fragrances are just pleasant chemical mixtures. Royal Copenhagen or Aventus, it wouldn't matter; Pierce Brosnan could wear either one and elicit the same response from women. The man makes the fragrance. It ain't the other way around.




9/8/16

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.