It's time to start a blog, and I'm going big: 100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try
by, 3rd September 2011 at 04:56 AM (9717 Views)
I’ve been meaning to start some sort of a blog here, so I hereby give you something crazy, a huge project that’s been brewing in my brain for ages:
100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Must Try
A while back now, Now Smell This posted a great list of perfumes every perfumista must try. It was a fun read, but very obviously geared towards women. With that in mind, and with all due respect, I’ve always thought it would be fun to do a version for men, or at least focusing on men’s scents or a man’s perspective.
So what qualifies me to do this? Absolutely nothing! I’ve smelled an awful lot of perfumes and raw ingredients and read a lot on the subject, but I don’t claim to be an expert (seriously, I’m no expert – anyone who’s gone sniffing with me can attest to that…), just someone with a slightly informed opinion.
Oh, and I’ll definitely need help, so please please please leave comments! I want this to be a discussion, not just me rambling on…
With that, let’s start at the beginning:
Here are some centuries-old scents that are still relatively easy to smell today, just to set the mood for the next 95 entries. Keeping this list to 100 perfumes, obviously not everything can make it. I left off Creed’s excellent Royal English Leather for two reasons – First, I’ll be including the quite-similar-smelling Knize Ten in a later entry, and second, I personally doubt Creed’s claims that it was the perfume that invented perfume back in 1781. There are also some obvious ones I’d love to include for historical importance (Houbigant’s original 1800’s Fougere Royale springs to mind), but it’s simply not possible to get samples and smell them, and I have to be at least a little practical with all this. So, here are my first five:
1. 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser by 4711
From 1792, this is supposedly the original citrus cologne from Cologne, Germany that the name and the whole concept of cologne come from. Its basic recipe of refreshing citrus over soapy, woody petitgrain and orange flowers has been copied a million times (everyone from Chanel to Creed to Hermés’ legendary Eau d’Orange Verte), and you can still find a bottle cheap. Sure, others have done it better since then (with more realistic citrus notes, for one), but it’s certainly worth smelling the original (or at least a reformulated version of the original…). As a side note, it was originally meant to be drunk as a healthy elixir in addition to being worn on skin – go ahead, I dare you!
2. Number Six by Caswell Massey
Dating back to 1789, Number Six was proof that an American toiletries house could make a barbershop cologne just as well as its British counterparts. It’s lemon with spicy green herbs and cloves, lightly soapy and a little musky. Oh, and it was the cologne George Washington wore. You know you’re curious!
3. Kolnisch Junchten by Parfums Regence
In theory, this formula dates back over 300 years, and has been produced under the Kolnisch Junchten name by a few different companies, Parfums Regence being the company that makes it now. To my nose, it’s almost pure pine tar, smoky and burnt, like someone took an ancient leather tannery in the middle of a forest, set it on fire, and tried to put it out by rubbing that salty European licorice on the burning leather hides. Probably the angriest, manliest, ballsiest scent I’ve ever worn, and utterly brilliant in its defiant attitude. An absolute must-sniff among must-sniffs!
4. Hammam Bouquet by Penhaligon’s
Ah, England! You’d think a British men’s cologne from 1872 would be a stuffy, powdered wig of a smell, all lavender and talc, but that’s forgetting that Victorian aristocracy had a quirky side and a love of all things Eastern, back in a time when international travel was truly a ridiculous luxury that only the most wealthy and brave could afford (and hence, highly fashionable). And so we have Hammam Bouquet, a Victorian fantasy adventure in a bottle - unapologetic roses mixing with jasmine and middle eastern resins and wood notes, under a buzzing umbrella of lavender intended to simulate the smell of hot steam in a Turkish bathhouse. Thoroughly modern-smelling and weird (in a niche way), but perfectly of its own time, this is the grandfather of a long line of quirky aristocratic British scents (Creed’s Windsor springs to mind as one of its obvious protégées).
5. Jicky by Guerlain
From 1889, Jicky is legendary for multiple reasons. Besides being the first truly “important” Guerlain, it remains quite popular with perfume fanatics to this day, and to me it’s a valuable tool to remember just how much perfume (and life itself) has changed in the last 130 years. At its core, Jicky is a study of civet and lavender – meaning that, especially in the topnotes, it basically smells like a filthy diaper mixed with lavender. I personally find it horrifying, while others find it warm and “alive.” Either way, it’s a potent reminder of how much life stank (literally) in the 1800’s that rich people would scent themselves with feces in order to make themselves smell better…
Please discuss and stay tuned for part two!
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