Someday the Aramis brand will get it’s due. Between 1965 and 1995 the house introduced a series of distinctive and affordable fragrances for men, made with outstanding materials and composed by some of the world’s most talented noses. Granted, the brand management has been, shall we say, inconsistent (OK, idiotic), with greats like Havana and Tuscany Forte discontinued and many of the others hidden in the most obscure corners of the men’s fragrance shelves. But still: Aramis, Devin, Aramis 900, Tuscany, Tuscany Forte, JHL, Havana…who else has that kind of track record for masculine scents? Even when it comes to women’s fragrances, few firms besides Chanel, Guerlain, and Dior have turned out scents of such consistent quality.
Aramis 900 is one of the easier of the Aramis scents to find, and along with Tuscany, one of the easiest to wear. In structure it hovers somewhere between an ambery patchouli and a green floral chypre in the manner of Givenchy III or Azzaro Couture. The contrast between Aramis 900’s sweet amber and its bitter green floral accord enlivens the entire composition, engendering a tension that drives the scent in a grand arc from aromatic bergamot opening to mossy balsamic drydown. Given its vintage and its general style I’d have expected Aramis 900 to be loud, or even overbearing, but it’s surprisingly suave and understated. While hardly weak, it does wear comfortably close to the skin, just bold enough to make its presence known, but never so boisterous as to offend. In sum, Aramis 900 is a rounded, satisfying, and sophisticated scent for grownups, one that’s at once wearable, versatile, and rather sadly underrated.
Bernie C. And Estée L. must have been sitting around talking about all the elegant sharp green chypres that were selling so well to women in 1973. They must have decided to take out the overtly feminine notes, the indolic peach, the white jasmine and ylang, and see if men would go for whatever was left. Oh sure, put in a little rose for strength, some carnation for prettiness and a touch of geranium for happiness. And add a good squirt of tomcat pee to get the ladycats curious. "And Bernie," said Estée, "leave in your moldy-sour myrtle so people will know you wrote it."
No way was I ready for this in '73. Or in '83 or '93. (I didn't know a chypre from a chalupa until '13.) Honestly, the much later Givenchy Insensee gets so much credit for being an edgy men's floral, but I find it to be a rather conventional woody fougere with a few flowers. But I think 900 deserves far more credit, not for thinking men can smell more feminine if they want, but for saying it's OK for men to have a sense of smell, and an educated one at that.
I like 900 and I don't think it's feminine at all. I think young guys would have a hard time wearing it because of the "shower-fresh" emasculated timidity pushed on them today. "Tattoo yourself all over and put piercings everywhere, but if you smell like anything other than an ocean breeze it's too offensive for civilized company." Well, I think Bernie and Estée didn't want men to trade one hyper-masculinized prison for another, and I don't think they had any desire to feminize men. And I think that equating Aramis fragrances with lounge lizards (as many do) is dead wrong too. I think they were on an honestly liberating track, sensitive to changes in the culture, but also affirming strength and growth. Actually kind of heroic.
Yes, all that in a smell in a bottle. I'll get down off my soapbox now. But try 900.
900 is a pared-down powerhouse. It is beautifully simple - a pretty English rose laid atop a bed of soapy, classic oakmoss. Hints of carnation and bergamot support the structure; the rest is mere brushstrokes, quietly necessary like darkly clad stagehands.
Hammam Bouquet with green moss instead of pink powder.
Ungaro III without the citrus and wood.
Many will now regard this (vintage version at least) as grandmotherly but they should be ignored. 900 is one of the purest green rose scents around.
21st February, 2014 (last edited: 26th November, 2015)
During the winter months I comeback to this Frag.Dont be put off by the strong opening,it quiets down to something very unique.
It is the right hand to Clinique Aromatics Elixir's left.
Another triumph for Bernard Chant.