Aqua Velva Musk (Combe Inc.)

Back in the late 1950s, Max Factor released a fragrance for men called Signature, and it smelled like a cross between Royal Copenhagen and Creed's Orange Spice, with the cheapness of the former subdued, and the richness of the latter abundant. Signature was "cheap" by 1950s standards. It was meant to be a fresh citrus musk oriental, and in lieu of real ambergris, it contained very potent, powdery aldehydes. But it also boasted several gorgeous nitro-musks, which undergirded the woody sweetness of orange and bergamot with a smooth, slightly animalic element.

Aqua Velva Musk reminds me of Signature, as a modernized version of it. The same basic structure is present: woody citrus, aldehydes, musk. But instead of powdery citrus richness, AVM offers a very taut, postmodern, reductionist approach. The citrus is neutered from fruit down to suggestive sweetness; powdery notes are just textural dessication; there is musk, but it's cheap skin musk, which Coty crated into the 1990s by the barrel. If Signature is the oil painting, AVM is the college dorm room poster, framed by a vintage-styled amber color to the fluid.

It makes me wonder if Aqua Velva Musk is actually the original Aqua Velva, released before Ice Blue took over the market. Has it simply been reissued as Musk? Given its similarities to a sixty year-old predecessor, I'm tempted to think this is the case. I also wonder if Olivier Creed considered American aftershaves (in addition to Kouros) when he hired Pierre Bourdon to make Orange Spice. It would explain why the Creed smells so disarmingly simple and versatile, as opposed to the complex masterpiece by YSL. All told, AVM is a very good offering, and worth checking out if you need another alcohol-based lotion with glycerin.

1 comment:

  1. That signature musk of Coty's is usually quite sweet with vanilla. Not unpleasant but definitely recognizable as being a budget scent.
    That bottle is just beyond atrocious in ugliness & cheapness. C'mon Coty it's 2018! Hire a graphic designer who'll amp up & reflect Aqua Velva's classic retro vibe. The old William's Aqua Velva bottles from the 50's look better than that blue mess that tells you nothing about the ambery stuff within.


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