Irisch Moos Eau de Toilette (Mäurer & Wirtz)

This is a tricky fragrance. I've been wearing it for a week now, and have come to the conclusion that there's two ways to think about it. I could be super picky, parse through all the notes, break down accords piece by piece, and focus on the quality of the aroma chemicals that were used, and if I do it that way, I'll wind up with a review similar to the one I posted on Fragrantica. When I obsess over every stage and every accord, it kind of smells like a leather chypre that morphs into a green floral, before finally settling into a drugstore oriental, not unlike Old Spice.

But the other way to approach Irisch Moos is to appreciate the forest for the trees, and just shift my mental gears away from the question, "How is this barbershop?" Because when I first smelled this fragrance, its structure felt very eclectic as a "barbershop" scent, with too many notes and disparate olfactory concepts clashing. A couple days ago I wore it again, and this time it clicked in my brain: Irisch Moos is not a barbershop scent. It's supposed to be. It uses Irish visuals and the color green to imbue the buyer with a sense that he's purchasing an old-school "moss scent" aftershave from the sixties, back when brands like English Leather and Skin Bracer were releasing "moss" aftershaves of their own. Hey, Irisch Moos was just Germany joining the trend, right?

Wrong, totally, totally wrong. It has nothing to do with that old barbershop trope. When I shift gears and get very literal with what I smell, Irisch Moos reveals itself to be Mitsouko done on the cheap. This is an old-fashioned French chypre in the Guerlain mode - a massive slug of bergamot up top that pervades the entire drydown, a pine-like dusting of cistus labdanum soon after, which settles into a hefty wallop of synthetic oakmoss (actually a somewhat competent reconstruction) in the base, with a generous array of floral notes buttressing everything. It actually resembles the much dryer and "manlier" Aramis in the first ten minutes of wear, but rapidly softens into a feminine variation of the fruity chypre theme popularized by Guerlain in the 1900s.

When it hit me, I thought, "Holy shit, they've been selling this thing to guys for decades, and it's a Katherine Hepburn-in-Herringbone chypre." Then I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne, and realized that the great barbershop fragrances of a bygone era were feminines in disguise. Let's face it, Old Spice was a tweaking of Tabu, and English Leather was merely another sweet chypre that would have gone to the girls at any other price. So yeah, Irisch Moos smells pretty good, but also smells cheap, and the spicy clove and carnation in the dry down haven't won me over yet.

Lastly, the name is wrong. This isn't about Ireland. This type of scent is one hundred percent French. It should be called "French Mousse." But whatever.