3/10/18

Wild Country Cologne (Avon)

Here's one I'm reviewing because its reputation as a "barbershop cologne" precedes it, and not because I agree with the consensus. I respect Avon as a competent budget brand, but don't have much use for their products. Many older guys (ages fifty and up) are sentimentally attached to the cutesy aftershave decanters of the Johnson and Nixon years, those colored glass bottles shaped like sturgeons and Model T Fords, which are inexplicably popular decades after the Avon playground closed and went corporate. Millennials raise eyebrows when men old enough to be their grandfathers get excited over disposable trinkets. No grandpa, the cowboy boot decanter isn't cool.

Wild Country was released in 1967, and is one of the first offerings by the brand. Badger & Blade is home to its fanbase, and I've read countless reminiscences of Vietnam vets and retirees pining for a fresh bottle of the musky, Canoe-like fougère of their youth. Often they're referring to the aftershave, which is no longer made. Sadly, I cannot join the chorus. Wild Country has been reformulated into an anemic wisp of its former self. Yes, it smells archetypically "barbershop" and very "fougère," replete with standard citrus, lavender, musk, and powder, and if I really concentrate, I can appreciate its soft citrus and lavender notes. But unless I bathe in it, Wild Country barely registers to my nose. After twenty sprays, I get a mild waft of sweet tonka over a whisper of talc, and only the talc remains. It smells good, but it's too simple and short-lived. Thirty minutes later, it's as if I never applied a scent at all.

If Wild Country aftershave has held up enough to be worn, go for it. Mesmerize for Men is currently the only fragrance in my collection to have completely spoiled beyond recognition, so I'm not about to scour eBay for "vintage" Avon. Canoe, Clubman, Royal Copenhagen, and Old Spice are better options, and I wholeheartedly recommend using them instead. Canoe is a better fougère, Clubman and Royal Copenhagen are ballsier, and Old Spice is classic. Wild Country is, put frankly, pretty boring stuff.


11 comments:

  1. I've never smelled the aftershave or fragrance, but I used to buy this roll on deodorant at dollar stores. It's nice. Standard barbershop scent, but nice and competently made nonetheless. But I've never been one to buy frags with bad performance unless I really needed to have it on hand. I don't like carrying around atomizers and replenishing, regardless of price. So I guess I will never end up buying this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah you could get Clubman by Pinaud, which lasts about five hours as a skinscent on me, but 2 hrs of decent projection after the initial application.

      Delete
  2. My dad had a bottle of Wild Country in a bottle shaped like an 18th century dueling pistol (complete with gold metallic plastic latch & trigger) sitting next to his shaving stuff in his bathroom. I recall it being a musk bomb (with that animalic 'hairspray' musk that was so popular in the late'60's early '70's)sitting on a very vanilla amber and creamy sandalwood base. The tonka was more vanillic than herbaceous. Very sweet & Canoe-like.
    My dad never opened the Wild Country bottle as he would only wear Old Spice.
    Supposedly Avon does make some good fragrances nowadays - dupe of popular scents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Y'know the more I think about the old Wild Country had a tobacco note too giving it that "tobacco-vanille" or "pipe tobacco" vibe that went on to become very popular.

      Delete
    2. Avon in the 1960s was probably a little more competitive than it is today. More incentive to stand out in a growing market, whereas today it's a case of keeping brand recognition alive without caring whether the product is a "cash cow." In other words, riding on the brand name and caring little if it actually smells good enough to buy.

      Delete
  3. I recently purchased the Mexican version of Wild Country cologne off of Ebay. The only reason I pulled the trigger was because supposedly the Mexican version was stronger. Suffice to say, I was sold a bum steer. The scent literally disappears in under an hour, despite using the atomizer like a tommy gun. And what I did faintly smell was dull as dishwater. In fact, "Dishwater" might be a more appropriate name for this fragrance.

    I did, however, also purchase a vintage Black Suede. That was a very good warm, spicy fragrance with medium strength. But the name makes absolutely no sense. There's nothing "black" or "suede" about it. So Avon is batting .500 in my book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Black Suede is the other golden oldie from this line. I've heard better things about it, and wouldn't be surprised if it smelled as good as Mesmerize did. I will certainly give it a try someday.

      Delete
  4. Your pal Bigsly is up to quoting mystery sources again. Now he has an unnamed "natural perfumer" whom he quotes as well as his famed "fragrance chemist."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah that blog post is so nonsensical that I can't even be bothered to formally respond to it. I'll put in my two cents here:

      Bigsly loves to pontificate about how "natural" vintage fragrances are, how Zino has "natural sandalwood" and how the IFRA has ruined perfumery because they've restricted all the "natural materials" of yesteryear. He has no problem arguing about Zino's sandalwood note, even though there's no chance they ever used actual sandalwood (Zino's perfumer was a pioneer of the synthetic Sandalore, so it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see how goofy the argument is), and Davidoff never had the budget to infuse their fragrances with natural sandalwood anyway.

      Bigsly loves to drone on about how he once spoke to an "insider" for Lagerfeld who told him that Lagerfeld's original formula for KL Homme was made using amazing concentrations of natural oils. He blithely accepts the notion that GBH Red for Men had "over 35 naturals", which is interesting when you consider that Red probably had a total of 200 ingredients in full. When we're talking about cheap vintages, "natural materials" reign the roost in Bigsly's view.

      Then, when you step into Creed's realm, currently going for an average of $100 per ounce, suddenly "natural" isn't in his vocabulary, unless he's making the case that Creed is lying about their claims. Never mind that Creeds are the #1 brand for "batch variations," which are typically only as diverse as they are if a significant number of natural materials are in play. Never mind that Creed has the budget and perfect business model to employ CO2 extraction and even old-world distillation techniques. Pay no mind to the fact that when Creed reformulated GIT, it was when they removed actual sandalwood oil from the formula, making GIT's once-rich base accord a shell of its former self.

      No, we are to believe that budget 80s brands Lagerfeld and Giorgio Beverly Hills made expansive use of "naturals," and $500-a-bottle Creed is just throwing 100% designer synthetics into the mix. Of course Creed isn't using an astronomical number of naturals vs synthetics. Of course they aren't an "all-natural" perfume house.

      But, lol, I stand corrected. Because Bigsly has an anonymous expert who refutes everything I've just said. (And he refutes it in a way that sounds exactly like Bigsly - a real bonus.)

      Delete
  5. Hmmm..so Bigsly has now updated his post to include more info on his mysterious sources.
    Now that I know Bigsly reads this blog on the regular but generally will not post any comments that disagree with him on his blog I'll post this here:

    From Bigsly's post "Viking’s “naturalness:” let’s ask an expert."

    "Generally, the list of ingredients can provide some idea of what the scent smells like, but more importantly in terms of this blog post, such a list tells us that it’s likely the was made the way other mass consumer scents are."

    My comment:
    Preservatives: butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl salicylate, BHT

    All of these can be a component of an essential oil, plant-derived, or be synthesized: Limonene, linalool, geraniol, eugenol, coumarin, citronellol, citral, cinnamyl alcohol, farnesol, isoeugenol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl alcohol

    Your comparison of ingredients in Viking & Calligraphy Rose does not prove anything. You can not tell from the lists whether these organic compounds are from essential oils/plant derived/animal derived or "natural" as you choose to put it.

    The Creed fragrance uses more preservatives & Creed fragrances are known for batch variations (which would be indicative of a higher percentage of "natural" ingredients in use).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bigsly must be screening me out of the updates, because I see none on his post. His entire post sidesteps my original point.

      What he should have asked his "expert" is, "Is it possible that when Creed claimed they used 80% natural materials in Viking, they were referring to the number of materials in the formula for the compound, and not the volume of natural materials in the bottle sold at retail?"

      I set the stage for him to ask that question by unrolling my argument in the last few paragraphs of my post on January 17th. He either asked it, and didn't like the answer enough to publish it, or didn't ask it at all (assuming there was actually a person to ask). But it's not even that difficult to figure out that this was what Creed was talking about. Bigsly acts like Creed was "misleading customers" when really he's underestimating the weight of my logic.

      Even more humorous is when he assumes that Creed is "cheaping out" and using Polysantol in Viking. I'm sorry, I just can't stop chuckling and shaking my head. Zino used real sandalwood oil (Mysore sandalwood, one assumes from Bigsly's logic), according to Bigsly this was what vintage Zino had in the base, until evil chemists and bean counters conspired to reformulate it with no sandalwood. But Viking, which took eight years to release after Aventus, and which costs $495, uses Polysantol. They're not even using the cheaper Australian sandalwood - they're using Polysantol.

      Perfumer Jim Gehr sent me a perfume from his private stock called "Pandit," which he told me was about 80% natural sandalwood, a mixture of Mysore and Australian, mostly Australian. It was one of the most powerful perfumes I've ever worn. Actually, it was too strong, and I think I've worn it three times in the last three years. Natural sandalwood is extremely potent, and one's nose develops a sense of linearity after a while.

      Bigsly claims that Viking is too brash, too obviously synthetic, that its sandalwood is too much to be natural, so it must be synthetic. I'm sure if you took a smidgen of Sandalore, Polysantol, and added some natural Australian essential oils, you would wind up with a sandalwood note that would smell borderline nuclear. Why is it such an immense stretch to imagine that this is what they did in Viking?

      It took Bigsly about two months to release his "interview," and I found it surprisingly inadequate. Barely any substantial questions were asked, and the answers were pedestrian, and in some instances not accurate. There are synthetics that are extremely expensive, and there are naturals that are dirt cheap. Why was this never hashed out?

      If you read The Alchemy of Scent by Jean-Claude Ellena, he talks about how, after years of meeting international briefs from many brands, he whittled his organ down to 200 ingredients. He lists the materials, and notes exactly which ones are natural. I'm not at home as I type this, but I counted it when I first got the book, and I encourage anyone to read this book to see for themselves. I recall the number was about 25% of his organ was natural - the rest was synthetic. And he's a minimalist with a strict minimalistic doctrine. Who's to say that Creed isn't more liberal with their usage of naturals?

      Generally there are Creeds that are overtly synthetic - Silver Mountain Water is one example out of a handful. And to be clear, I'm not arguing that Creed is an all-natural or "mostly natural" perfume house. What I'm arguing is that in the case of Viking, it's possible that 80% of the formula is natural: after the success of Aventus over the last eight years, they may have gathered the cash to batch Viking out using a compound with a few hundred tinctures rounding out a mostly synthetic compound. Numerically, the percentage could be entirely true, and it isn't even that hard to believe. That's what I've been arguing from the start, and Bigsly has yet to point out why this is wrong.

      Delete

Thank you for your comment. It will be visible after approval by the moderator.