Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Avon for Men by Avon

Total Reviews: 1
Avon for Men (1949) is the very first fragrance marketed exclusively to men by the house after their name change from The California Perfume Company, and the first that wasn't a bay rum or lilac vegetal variant. Sadly, Avon for Men is almost lost to the ravages of time because there is little documentation on it outside photocopies of old ads floating on Pinterest, and not even Avon keep much viewable history on what they've produced. In the greater scheme of things, Avon for Men probably isn't all that important outside fans of the house, but it represents one of the earliest examples of a fragrance marketed exclusively to men in the US, a market that had been very resistant to male adoption of perfume outside toiletries like aftershave. Avon for Men launched concurrently with MEM's English Leather (1949) and Rochas' Moustache (1949), but both of those were comparatively high-end options initially (depsite it being hard to believe English Leather was ever considered expensive, it did first appear in department stores), while the Avon had a huge installed customer base in rural "Middle America" much like Sears. This should have meant that a lot of American guys postwar had their first experience with perfume using Avon for Men, but somehow they didn't. What happened? Well, that's hard to judge exactly, but educated guesses point to drugstore aftershaves like Skin Bracer (1931) and Aqua Velva Ice Blue (1935) being too dominant, on top of every WWII veteran's favorite: Old Spice (1937). Packing your fragrance in with military rations is one surefire way to crush the competition, and Avon likely couldn't contend with that kind of leverage despite their market saturation.

The smell of Avon for Men is a rather simple barbershop-style composition with little fuss or development. Avon for Men had that "dad's cologne" aesthetic thanks to it's now-outdated lavender/geranium/oakmoss/tonka focus, but in 1949 this kind of extremely basic fougère accord wasn't considered so, since the only place you were getting it outside this here Avon was from a fancy imported bottle of Fougère Royale (1882), Caron Pour Un Homme (1934) or Dana Canoe (1936). Dry English lavender and bright geranium open Avon for Men, and you can add Menthol to that mix if you're using the aftershave variant, with an oddly feminine heliotrope note floating in behind. Avon was fond of abusing heliotrope in those mid-century years, alongside their ever-present amber, which makes a show in the base. There really are no heart notes to this, and much like Guerlain Jicky (1889), this just collapses into the base after an hour. Oakmoss, amber, sandalwood, hay-like coumarin, and some semi-animalic nitromusks finish off the scent, but expect much less musk in the aftershave version as it wasn't meant to carry long. Avon colognes were every bit eau de cologne back in those days too, so wear time doesn't go much past 6 hours, but layering the brighter aftershave with the rounder cologne and associated talc will bring the performance up to modern eau de toilette standards; early Avon products for men feel like they were meant to be layered together from my experience, which feels like a cop-out to get more cash in the modern day, but this stuff sold for peanuts so it doesn't feel unexpected. If you're daring to wear this in the current century, your best bet is using it after a wet shave on the weekend, or for casual meetings with friends and errands.

Avon for Men was originally pushed by some pretty big names throughout the 1950's, with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio and acclaimed dramatic actor James Stewart among the two biggest faces featured wearing the stuff in printed ads found in popular magazines of the day. This was just before Avon began their famous "Ding Dong, Avon Calling" TV commercials, so Avon for Men perhaps was too early for the kind of knock-out success it really needed. Nonetheless, Avon got the jump on fellow American cosmetic giants like Revlon and Arden, who would both follow suit into the 50's, likely after seeing Avon's modest success and realizing there was a market for exclusively-male fragrance lines. Avon for Men would be downgraded to just aftershave after 1963, when Tribute for Men (1963) effectively replaced it as the marquee line of a newly-created "Avon for Men" sub-label that would house all future masculine fragrances into the 1970's. Wearing the debut eponymous Avon masculine fragrance is like wearing a snapshot in time, and the stuff is every bit safe and conservative as the modern fresh fougères that carry the same purpose in the 21st century. Diptyque Geranium Oderata (2014) is about as close as one can get in the modern age, and being niche, means you're paying $150 for the same experience Aunt Mabel used to bring to your doorstep for chump change. Of course I'm giving this a thumbs up, but more so as an early pioneer of mainstream masculine fragrance for market that didn't know it wanted such a product, and for still being nothing if not "keyed to the masculine taste" like the old ads used to say, whatever that's supposed to mean. Funny how something once so common and almost pedestrian has become a rarified and almost exotic experience within a few generation's time.
08th January, 2019