Perfume Directory

Grey Flannel (1975)
by Geoffrey Beene


Grey Flannel information

Year of Launch1975
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 733 votes)

People and companies

HouseGeoffrey Beene
PerfumerAndré Fromentin
Parent CompanyRevlon Inc > Elizabeth Arden Inc
Parent Company at launchElf Aquitaine > Sanofi Beauté

About Grey Flannel

FIFI award winner in 1976

Grey Flannel fragrance notes

Reviews of Grey Flannel

I've worn this for around 20 years now.This one is hard for me to put into words.

Let me just say...masterpiece.

18th October, 2017
Grey Flannel is a love-it-or-shove-it male fragrance that seems to toy with a lot of traditionally feminine floral top notes and typically masculine woodsy bottom notes in an otherwise traditional fougere formulation. It's a scent that smells of things it doesn't possess in the note pyramid, just due to the virtue of how what it combines smells when mixed, and will either clear a room or get people to actually come a little closer in curiosity. What I find most interesting is that it looks nothing how it actually smells, and smells nothing like what it's name suggests, furthermore being quite the surprise for the unsuspecting blind buyer, which also may be part of the extreme reaction to this stuff.

1975 was a time when oriental-themed fragrances were just starting to phase out in favor of heavier, more woodsy aromatic fougeres, which were also replacing not just the orientals, but the powdery barbershop fougeres that carried men through much of the mid-century. Grey Flannel was an odd example of something that wasn't dark, musky, or forest-like at all, during a time when that was becoming the new standard for masculinity. But before the Azzaros and Yatagans of the day could take hold for the remainder of the decade (at least until the 80's powerhouses showed up), here comes little old Geoffrey Beene and his bitterly floral long-kiss-goodbye to the fresh fougere, in a bottle that looked like something one would find some sort of Victorian-era tonic in rather than a fragrance.

I've seen this bottle sitting in it's little trademark napsack on a table as a department store tester for years, which is funny because most department stores nowadays don't prominently display older scents or have testers available for them, if they even carry older scents at all. Most of the time the big fashion-savvy chains like Nordstrom and Macy's only want the most relevant stuff made in the last 5 years on their shelves. Having something this old still out for testing tells me right away that it must be the ONE JUICE everyone over a certain age still yearns for, or a scent with such universal appeal that it still attracts certain buyers from any generation. Once I experienced this, I determined it was the latter. It's just such a strange unorthodox combination of notes within the construction parameters of what is otherwise a very traditional fragrance trope that it blows the heads off people (for better or worse) when they smell it.

Grey Flannel at first glance comes across as a very bitter jasmine, which is the best part of all since it has absolutely zero jasmine in it, but because the violet and petitgrain interact so vividly with each other, they mimic the opening blast of jasmine quite well, but without the sweetness. It's the same sort of flavor confusion one would have when they try amaretto for the first time and mistake it for cherry flavoring without being told it's actually derived from almonds. Grey Flannel is essentially the amaretto of fresh fougeres if that helps to wrap one's head around what's being conveyed here. From there the other florals like rose and geranium take us down the bitter headrush that is the top and middle until we gently fall on a bed of aromatic woods near the end. These woods would threaten to make this more of the aromatic fougere type as mentioned earlier if they didn't have such flowery notes doing their best Three Dog Night impression and singing in three-part harmony all over the top and middle of the fragrance. When it's all said and done, these woods do more to anchor down an otherwise overdone florals in something just masculine enough not to send this into perfume territory, which I sort of feel it already is in anyway. If anything out there deserved to be described as "Perfume for Men", Grey Flannel would be a huge contender.

The next thing worth mentioning is that while this doesn't really smell conventional for it's era, it also doesn't really smell conventional for any era, hence the love-it-or-hate-it reaction, even if most here on this site seem to love it. The scent's dry floral treatment is fresh enough for a warm weather but naturally recalls spring time, so it's best worn during that season, and maybe a bit into summer. It doesn't fit the rustic smells of fall nor have enough warmth for winter, and this is above all else a casual or workplace scent. Nothing about bitter flowers screams sensual to anyone besides maybe a botanist or gardener. Maybe layering this with some musk might be what the scent needs to grow a nice pair of dancing legs, but I don't tend to mix stuff into or alongside my colognes often so I just take it as it is.

Mr. Beane wouldn't make very many fragrances, as his legacy lies more with fashion wear than on scents, hence his name being applied to the "Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award" given out by the Council of Fashion Designers of America every year to various prominent life-long fashion designers, but the ones he did make certainly stood apart from everything else out there at the time. Hey, this managed to win a FIFA award the following year so it must have turned enough heads in the right sense to be praised so officially. I personally enjoy wearing this as a break from the inoffensive powdery fougeres, or aquatics I normally wear in the work space as it maintains that same professional pleasantry but with a whole different construction under the hood, and the fact that people keep saying it smells like jasmine (seriously I get that a lot) when it doesn't contain a bit of the stuff makes me giggle. Timeless? Maybe. A classic? Depends on how you define such a thing. Unique? Definitely. If anyone is going to accuse you of smelling dated, it's more likely to be someone thinking you raided your grandmother's perfume stash over your grandfather's aftershave, due to all the flower power right out in front here. For a daring nose with a taste for the strange, you can't go wrong here, but if you like to color inside the lines, pass on this one.
07th September, 2017
Awful stuff. Would never by again. Pot Pourri, Furniture Polish and Kitchen Disinfectant. Nice bottle though!
06th May, 2017
One of the worst chemical abortions ever made. So many great perfumes are discontinued and I wonder why this atrocity is still in production. Abysmal.
23rd March, 2017
Zowiee Show all reviews
United States
Love this fragrance. Beware of the initial blast, though! A light touch is best for this juice. Bitter herb opening softens to wonderful violet and woody notes that on me, seem to morph back and forth with the rose and moss notes. I adore how it seems to change over it's long-life. May not be for everyone, but is is for me!
19th March, 2017
Love this lasts all day and changes all the time, wears well
03rd March, 2017

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