100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 7: Drugstore Classics
by, 9th September 2011 at 06:45 PM (5013 Views)
Itís installment seven and itís time to get unabashedly masculine, so here are some timeless icons:
These old drugstore scents get a bad rap. Sure, for $5.99 a bottle, they canít possibly contain any expensive, top-notch ingredients, but thatís not a fair way to judge them. To put it simply, a menís designer mall release for $60 a bottle doesnít have the budget for top-notch ingredients either, once you factor in advertising and how much they have to pay to get placement in all those Macyís around the country. Yet we believe that a Mugler or a modern Chanel can create greatness with a couple of dollars worth of juice in an expensive bottle, while we donít extend that courtesy to the drug store brands.
So please try to turn off your prejudices and sniff these for what they areÖ
21. Aqua Velva Ice Blue
I have to admit a certain bias here Ė I really like Ice Blue. It combines many ideas that I love. First, that combination of neroli and vetiver that smells like sweet green candy (think Mugler Cologne or Creedís Original Vetiver). Second, the trick of using a menthol note to make a green scent smell icy (If youíve smelled most any of the Guerlain Vetiver flankers or CDGís excellent Zagorsk, youíll know this effect). Third, it uses upfront flowers (especially jasmine) to play against the icy green sweet candied smell (In a way similar to Guerlainís cult favorite Vetiver Pour Elle).
Of course, itís an aftershave splash cologne and itís not designed to last very long. Sooner than later, youíll end up with a pleasant icy nutmeg smell with flowers in the background, but itís a wonderful end to a short but exciting ride.
Oh, and Ice Blue dates back to 1935, so donít pretend all these modern perfumers havenít smelled itÖ
22. Brut by Fabergť
Oh, poor Brut. Decades ago, they used sports stars to advertise themselves as the cologne for regular guys, and it worked. It was everywhere and, being the 60ís through the 80ís, it was strong. When you think of the stereotypical smarmy guy reeking of cheap cologne, it was Brut.
But enough time has passed to go back and look objectively at Brut. Axe and those terrifying Bod body sprays have long since replaced it as the official scent of guys who donít care about cologne, but still wear too much of it.
So what does Brut actually smell like? Itís pretty good, all things considered. Itís got a lot going on, and itís really quite difficult to break it down, mostly because my nose smells it and just thinks ďOh, it smells like Brut.Ē Thereís definitely lavender in there, and an oily leather smell, as well as dark mossy greens. It goes through a really interesting stage of waxy Caron-esque acacia and orange blossom drenched in motor oil and leather thatís worth the $9.99 alone before settling into a soapy powdery floral (like Old Spice) but with a dark green undertone thatís half mossy forest and half mentholated leather and 100% Brut.
And letís not forget that itís simply impossible for anything to be this popular without being an important influence on the industry. While we look back to Eau Sauvage and Aramis as the godfathers of masculine perfumery, most of the masculine scents of the 70ís and 80ís owe a debt of gratitude to Brut, if only for its over-the-top loudness.
23. Dominica Bay Rum
Ok, so this probably doesnít belong here, because youíd have to find an exceedingly well-stocked drugstore to find Dominica Bay Rum. Truly, I should have put this in my first installment, the one with the old historic scents, but I had to do some experimenting to figure out which Bay Rum Iíd want to recommend and I wasnít done on time.
For this list, I picked Dominica out of all the bay rums I could get my hands on because it feels the most authentic to me. Itís still made on the island of Dominica using Dominican bay tree oil (the secret ingredient of a true bay rum), using a centuries-old method of aging the tree oil in a sugar cane rum distillate with spices thrown in, especially cloves. Itís an aftershave splash, so itís not very strong, so go nuts if you really want the full effect.
Bay rum as a genre is really important to menís perfumery. It established cloves as a masculine smell, and the specific way the herbs and the bay tree oil come together to create a tea effect has become a huge influence on modern niche scents, and just about anything using a combination of spices to get a sweet green effect owes a debt to the traditional bay rum recipe.
Any comments? I basically just called out Guerlain for being clearly influenced by Aqua Velva Ė someone must have something to say about thatÖ
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