|New Script to the Left.|
Eight years ago I purchased a 4.2 fluid oz bottle of Cool Water by Davidoff, and I wrote that Cool Water's formula had officially been destroyed by Coty. It may have been a stale bottle, or it was truly a lame reformulation of a classic that should never have been altered in the first place. I took my time with that bottle and noticed two things: It grew subtly stronger over time, and the liquid changed to a light green. I guess this explains why old bottles look greenish-blue. The juice changed with age (although I think script-font bottles did use a darker glass). In any case, it improved slightly, but still smelled stale.
Fast-forward to today, and I picked up a 2.5 oz bottle of the newest formulation. There has been a community rumor going around for years now that the smaller sizes for fragrances contain slightly stronger fragrance, while the larger and "jumbo" sizes (like 6.7 oz bottles) have watered-down concentrations, which may or may not be true. I really don't know. What I notice with the 2.5 oz Cool Water is it smells sharper, clearer, and fresher than the previous bottle did, and it comes in packaging that is noticeably different as well.
This new packaging has yet another variation on the font of Cool Water. Now the "L" of "Cool" is a line with no loop, and the "W" of "Water" lacks the flourishes on either end (downward rake on the left, overhead swoop to the right), with nothing more than a slanted style. Also, "eau de toilette" is printed on one line instead of two at the bottom. The color of the glass, the bevel cut, and the cap are all the same. If anything, the new glass may be a shade darker, which might be an illusion due to the smaller size.
The new formula smells pretty good to me. Longevity and projection seem to be the same, but I think they amped-up the top accord of crab apple and lavender, with brighter fruit and floral notes, and also perked up the peppermint and rosemary by a hair, which is nice. I get a bit more iris in the mid, and a bit less violet than I used to, but the iris and tobacco in the drydown play very well. Coty has been mis-marketing Cool Water as an aquatic for many years, and so it's interesting to me that they haven't attempted to make it smell like one. Thankfully they've still kept the original scent profile, and when I compare it to my 2006 bottle, it smells like its old self, albeit in a fresher tone.
Covid-19 may have come for Cool Water. In 2020, a terrible pandemic swept the globe, and damaged the olfactory senses of millions of people, some temporarily, others for good. This scourge of the nasal passages punished not just civilians, but also fragrance industry workers. Imagine the Cool Water division of Coty in the thick of 2020. Several high-profile executives get Covid, and suddenly are unable to interpret perfume - any perfume. Things from Dior's Poison to Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille to, yes, Cool Water, were suddenly nigh undetectable to those who were accustomed to detecting everything. What were once vivid scent profiles with varying textures and weights had suddenly vanished into thin air.
Cool Water would have been especially undetectable. It's certainly possible that my previous bottle was stale, but I don't really think so. I think it was Coty's pre-pandemic formula of the 2010s that had been whittled down to a shadow of its former self. Greed and cynicism led to Coty gutting its flagship fragrance, and they basically took the deodorant formula and made it the fragrance formula. Predictably, this led to complaints by people on Fragrantica and YouTube, which further sullied Cool Water's reputation.
But then the Great Anosmia of 2020 took hold. Executives struggled to smell, which meant the formulas needed to reverse course. My theory is that they dug into the archives and retrieved the formula from the mid 2000s, and threw it into 2.5 oz bottles (I haven't seen any 4.2 oz bottles of this new packaging, but I'm sure they're out there in droves). A version of Cool Water that most people haven't smelled in years was revived, simply to make it possible for everyone at Coty to smell what they sell. By resorting to using a previous formula instead of yet another reformulation, they saved money (no need to hire perfumers), and put the savings into the formula budget.
I don't think it's any accident that Coty issued Cool Water Parfum in 2021, or Cool Water Reborn in 2022, both of which were heftier than anything the company had released in a long time. To keep pace, I think they supercharged the original fragrance and hoped nobody would notice the timing. Now, is this to say that Cool Water is really going to behave the way Lancaster's version did twenty years ago? Maybe, or maybe not. It all depends on exactly how faithfully they adhered to their prior formula. It's possible they cut some corners, despite wanting to rejuvenate the intensity, and these betrayals will make themselves evident in the years to come. I'm not entirely sure how far back they turned the dial. All I can say is, it smells like they turned it back. For the first time in living memory, a company reversed their bullshit.
Of interest to me is how beautiful Cool Water is, and how well it stands against the ravages of time. I think Green Irish Tweed helped Coty keep it in production, with Creed's landmark perfume drawing men and women in to make the comparison, which had the unintended effect of bolstering Davidoff's fragrance and keeping it alive. The similarities between the two fragrances are undeniable, and Cool Water remains the best alternative to GIT if you're looking for Pierre Bourdon's work.
I still consider it to be Bourdon's eau de toilette version of GIT, sort of the way Chanel has different versions of the same scent in different concentrations (Coco EDT is entirely different from the EDP). If Creed did EDTs of their perfumes, GIT's would inevitably smell like Cool Water. It's fascinating that Bourdon executed this concept while under contract with two different brands. I imagine that he wanted to give Creed the Cool Water formula for GIT, but just hadn't figured it out yet, and so Davidoff was the lucky winner.
With its sprightly notes of minty aromatics, apple, lavender, neroli, tobacco, iris, violet, and musk, Cool Water remains a masterpiece, and something every man should have in his collection. It's a modernized and lighter variation of Green Irish Tweed, no more synthetic than its predecessor (if we're being honest), and well worth the twenty bucks you'll pay for a bottle. But a word to Coty: Bring back the original all-script logo and font. Bring back the brass-colored lettering. Give us the white rectangle on the box again, with the difficult to read words scrawled and crossed on the cardboard. It was classier, it was easier on the eyes, and it kept the riff-raff out.