100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 9: The Seventies

    100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 9: The Seventies

    post #1 of 5
    Thread Starter 
    To be honest, I had always kind of considered the seventies a bit of a lost decade for mens scents. After Aramis opened the doors to the mainstream, fragrance was no longer the realm of educated aficionados leading to the first real dumbing down of perfumery, especially on the masculine side. There were more new scents, but they often smelled similar, leaving, at least to my nose, the 70's as a largely unremarkable haze of Lemon Pledge topnotes and ubiquitous hawthorn-laden drydowns.

    But, talking with one of San Franciscos more renowned perfume experts, he made the argument that the 70's were an amazing time for mens scents. Their popularity (of which I only acknowledged the bad side) mixed with the experimental nature of the times allowed for some really amazing scents to be made that could never have come out in any other period. He called it character and said thats why you had so many 70's masculines that no one can copy to this day, one of a kind creations that straddled genres and established dynasties. With that in mind, I give you my pick of outstanding 70's characters.


    27. Eau de Campagne by Sisley



    A week or so ago in my just go out and smell stuff post, I specifically suggested that everyone go out and smell tomato leaves. Theyre deeply green, grassy, vegetal, and bright. Theyre a wonderful smell, but incredibly difficult to work with in perfumery, because, at least in liquid form, they carry with them a horrifying undertone of bile and vomit. Any perfumer working with tomato leaf has to put a lot of work into masking the puke smell somehow, and almost everyone fails. Some get away with a tomato leaf note by burying it deep in the mix, but as far as I can find, Eau de Campagne (arguably Jean Claude Ellenas first and possibly still his finest masterwork) is the only scent with a really prominent, obvious tomato leaf note to actually smell good.

    Campagne is a chypre, with the bergamot and labdanum and mossy base, with that bright green explosion of tomato leaf on top. It has a masculine heart of hawthorn and it gets soapy (in a white floral/white musk sort of way) over time. If you look for it, you can spot the bile note, but it works as a balance to the hyper-clean soapy notes, so its not very bothersome.

    Anyway, the first spray of Eau de Campagne is one of the finest moments in all of perfumery if you havent smelled it yet, please try.


    28. Yatagan by Caron



    You want character? Smell some Yatagan!

    In theory, Yatagan is a fairly standard 70s woody chypre. Its got the skeleton of bergamot, labdanum, and oakmoss, masculinized with the standard Aramis dark green herbs and a shot of hawthorn. Its genius came from the realization that a big slug of pine would work wonders in tandem with that hawthorn.

    Hawthorn is an interesting note. It pretty much defined the 70s masculine smell, but it's rarely discussed any more. Apparently, its technically a flower, but with a smell thats kind of like lemony wood, but waxy enough to feel kind of leathery. As with anything else that has defined an era, it smells pretty dated today, but its a fantastic, nuanced note. In combining it with pine, Yatagan found a perfect pairing. The end result is leathery and dirty, but alive with forest smells and a huge spicy smell akin to peppery sawdust in a woodshop full of sweaty lumberjacks. Somehow, despite its obvious woody chypre classification, it has a subtly oriental character, with a resinous grassy patchouli undertone that keeps it from simply smelling like wood.


    29. Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene



    Poor Grey Flannel. It survives today as a super-cheap discount store scent, where its generally assumed that it sucks because its old and inexpensive. Plus, its got a really distinctive smell thats actually quite artistic and interesting, but the unexpected smell mixed with the low price lead many to assume that its simply crap.

    Honestly, its hard to describe what Grey Flannel smells like. Its heavy on the violet leaf (which doesnt smell like violets or like leaves, or like Green Irish Tweed, despite that being most peoples' reference violet leaf scent). Its got a lavender brightness to it, but its a very dark smell, like a mossy forest, but with an almost metallic green darkness to it. If you can imagine the smell of the thick night air outside a house bordering on a huge mossy forest on a hot dry night with the smell of lightning in the air while someone around you picks lavender while wearing a typical 60s mens cologne, youd be close to imagining Grey Flannel. Sort of.


    30. Polo by Ralph Lauren



    Honestly, I mostly put Polo in todays entry because it technically came out in 1978, but really, its the smell of the 80s in a bottle.

    For most of the 80s, I remember Polo as sort of classy and yet everywhere, making it the heir to Aramis as the luxury-branded but attainable mall scent that the masses wore when they dressed up. But what keeps Polo on this list is that its managed to keep that status for decades now. It seems like everyones dad wears Polo. Its what conservative upper class white retirees put on after a game of golf so they smell nice when they meet their wives in the clubhouse for brunch.

    Im honestly not sure how Polo has managed to stay so ubiquitous for so long. Its pretty unremarkable, as scents go. Its got a bunch of lavender in it, as well as those same Aramis dark masculine herbs. It has a nice cinnamony mace note that dominates the drydown, which is definitely its best attribute. It also has a chemical quality to it a sense of chemical freshness that doesnt really smell like much of anything, but broadcasts out away from the wearer. This chemical freshness mixed with the bright, almost metallic lavender has probably been Polos biggest contribution to masculine perfumery, as this would go on to become a huge trend years later.


    31. Mûre et Musc by LArtisan Parfumeur



    From 1978, Mûre et Musc is arguably the earliest niche perfume on my list. Sure, weve already had entries from Penhaligons and other non-mainstream houses, but LArtisan has always felt to me (along with Diptyque) as the grandparents of the modern niche perfume industry. Theyre not a fashion label or a centuries-old perfume company, but a small business making perfumes specifically designed to be artful and to appeal to a small group of aficionados instead of the mass market. And Mûre et Musc is a picture-perfect example of this.

    This is still the 70s after all, so Mûre et Musc (and Im talking about the legendary original, not the completely different Extreme version, which is more of an experiment in rubbery fruity leather) is a chypre, just like everything else on todays list. Its leafy and green and has, at its core, a big candied blackberry note sitting right in the middle where the hawthorn would be in a standard mens scent from the era. Its a bit soapy and not musky at all, really.

    Its unisex in that its a leafy green chypre, and the only thing openly feminine about it is the blackberry and the notable absence of masculinizing elements like the aforementioned hawthorn. In short, its sweet and not ugly, which for some men is enough to make it feel awkward. Which will be the theme of tomorrows upcoming epic post


    post #2 of 5
    Nice selection. These are definitely some heavy hitters - all worthy of the big 100.
    post #3 of 5
    So **THAT'S** what turns my stomach about tomato leaf - I never realized it smelled like bile until now. No wonder I hate Eau de Campagne. Actually, if you like tomato leaf there is a facial toner by Burt's Bees called Garden Tomato (and a soap too) and IMO it is the BEST tomato leaf smell in existence.

    Yatagan, Polo and Grey Flannel are all wonderful, but I have never been able to 'get' Mure et Musc (probably due to my selective-musk-ansomia) and I've tried the regular, the Extreme and the extrait.
    post #4 of 5
    Thread Starter 
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mikeperez23;bt5786

    I have never been able to 'get' Mure et Musc (probably due to my selective-musk-ansomia) and I've tried the regular, the Extreme and the extrait.

    For the life of me, I don't think there's any noticeable musk in the original or the extreme. Maybe a tiny bit of soapy white musk in the base of the original, if I absolutely had to find something, but it's really just a green leafy chypre with berries, to my nose. I actually think this year's solid parfum version is the most easily wearable of all of them (just leaves and berries), though I dream of somehow getting ahold of a sample of the Duchoufour extrait, as well as some sort of limited edition Japanese cologne version from a few years ago that our local L'Artisan rep had heard of but never smelled...
    post #5 of 5
    Aw, Polo. I don't think that it is unremarkable. You mentioned "nice". I think that sometimes we get carried away and we dismiss "nice" as meaning OK but uninteresting. Maybe we should value niceness more. Polo has managed to stay afloat so long because it is nice, and it is more than that. Lovely components with that chemical "zing" that you describe, comfortable, attractive, and influential too. Hurrah for Polo. I haven't smelled any for ages but I need to now.
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    9/15/11 at 9:51pm

    rogalal said:



    To be honest, I had always kind of considered the seventies a bit of a lost decade for mens scents. After Aramis opened the doors to the mainstream, fragrance was no longer the realm of educated aficionados leading to the first real dumbing down of perfumery, especially on the masculine side. There were more new scents, but they often smelled similar, leaving, at least to my nose, the 70's as a largely unremarkable haze of Lemon Pledge topnotes and ubiquitous hawthorn-laden drydowns.

    But, talking with one of San Franciscos more renowned perfume experts, he made the argument that the 70's were an amazing time for mens scents. Their popularity (of which I only acknowledged the bad side) mixed with the experimental nature of the times allowed for some really amazing scents to be made that could never have come out in any other period. He called it character and said thats why you had so many 70's masculines that no one can copy to this day, one of a kind creations that straddled genres and established dynasties. With that in mind, I give you my pick of outstanding 70's characters.


    27. Eau de Campagne by Sisley



    A week or so ago in my just go out and smell stuff post, I specifically suggested that everyone go out and smell tomato leaves. Theyre deeply green, grassy, vegetal, and bright. Theyre a wonderful smell, but incredibly difficult to work with in perfumery, because, at least in liquid form, they carry with them a horrifying undertone of bile and vomit. Any perfumer working with tomato leaf has to put a lot of work into masking the puke smell somehow, and almost everyone fails. Some get away with a tomato leaf note by burying it deep in the mix, but as far as I can find, Eau de Campagne (arguably Jean Claude Ellenas first and possibly still his finest masterwork) is the only scent with a really prominent, obvious tomato leaf note to actually smell good.

    Campagne is a chypre, with the bergamot and labdanum and mossy base, with that bright green explosion of tomato leaf on top. It has a masculine heart of hawthorn and it gets soapy (in a white floral/white musk sort of way) over time. If you look for it, you can spot the bile note, but it works as a balance to the hyper-clean soapy notes, so its not very bothersome.

    Anyway, the first spray of Eau de Campagne is one of the finest moments in all of perfumery if you havent smelled it yet, please try.


    28. Yatagan by Caron



    You want character? Smell some Yatagan!

    In theory, Yatagan is a fairly standard 70s woody chypre. Its got the skeleton of bergamot, labdanum, and oakmoss, masculinized with the standard Aramis dark green herbs and a shot of hawthorn. Its genius came from the realization that a big slug of pine would work wonders in tandem with that hawthorn.

    Hawthorn is an interesting note. It pretty much defined the 70s masculine smell, but it's rarely discussed any more. Apparently, its technically a flower, but with a smell thats kind of like lemony wood, but waxy enough to feel kind of leathery. As with anything else that has defined an era, it smells pretty dated today, but its a fantastic, nuanced note. In combining it with pine, Yatagan found a perfect pairing. The end result is leathery and dirty, but alive with forest smells and a huge spicy smell akin to peppery sawdust in a woodshop full of sweaty lumberjacks. Somehow, despite its obvious woody chypre classification, it has a subtly oriental character, with a resinous grassy patchouli undertone that keeps it from simply smelling like wood.


    29. Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene



    Poor Grey Flannel. It survives today as a super-cheap discount store scent, where its generally assumed that it sucks because its old and inexpensive. Plus, its got a really distinctive smell thats actually quite artistic and interesting, but the unexpected smell mixed with the low price lead many to assume that its simply crap.

    Honestly, its hard to describe what Grey Flannel smells like. Its heavy on the violet leaf (which doesnt smell like violets or like leaves, or like Green Irish Tweed, despite that being most peoples' reference violet leaf scent). Its got a lavender brightness to it, but its a very dark smell, like a mossy forest, but with an almost metallic green darkness to it. If you can imagine the smell of the thick night air outside a house bordering on a huge mossy forest on a hot dry night with the smell of lightning in the air while someone around you picks lavender while wearing a typical 60s mens cologne, youd be close to imagining Grey Flannel. Sort of.


    30. Polo by Ralph Lauren



    Honestly, I mostly put Polo in todays entry because it technically came out in 1978, but really, its the smell of the 80s in a bottle.

    For most of the 80s, I remember Polo as sort of classy and yet everywhere, making it the heir to Aramis as the luxury-branded but attainable mall scent that the masses wore when they dressed up. But what keeps Polo on this list is that its managed to keep that status for decades now. It seems like everyones dad wears Polo. Its what conservative upper class white retirees put on after a game of golf so they smell nice when they meet their wives in the clubhouse for brunch.

    Im honestly not sure how Polo has managed to stay so ubiquitous for so long. Its pretty unremarkable, as scents go. Its got a bunch of lavender in it, as well as those same Aramis dark masculine herbs. It has a nice cinnamony mace note that dominates the drydown, which is definitely its best attribute. It also has a chemical quality to it a sense of chemical freshness that doesnt really smell like much of anything, but broadcasts out away from the wearer. This chemical freshness mixed with the bright, almost metallic lavender has probably been Polos biggest contribution to masculine perfumery, as this would go on to become a huge trend years later.


    31. Mûre et Musc by LArtisan Parfumeur



    From 1978, Mûre et Musc is arguably the earliest niche perfume on my list. Sure, weve already had entries from Penhaligons and other non-mainstream houses, but LArtisan has always felt to me (along with Diptyque) as the grandparents of the modern niche perfume industry. Theyre not a fashion label or a centuries-old perfume company, but a small business making perfumes specifically designed to be artful and to appeal to a small group of aficionados instead of the mass market. And Mûre et Musc is a picture-perfect example of this.

    This is still the 70s after all, so Mûre et Musc (and Im talking about the legendary original, not the completely different Extreme version, which is more of an experiment in rubbery fruity leather) is a chypre, just like everything else on todays list. Its leafy and green and has, at its core, a big candied blackberry note sitting right in the middle where the hawthorn would be in a standard mens scent from the era. Its a bit soapy and not musky at all, really.

    Its unisex in that its a leafy green chypre, and the only thing openly feminine about it is the blackberry and the notable absence of masculinizing elements like the aforementioned hawthorn. In short, its sweet and not ugly, which for some men is enough to make it feel awkward. Which will be the theme of tomorrows upcoming epic post


    9/20/11 at 9:39pm

    Redneck Perfumisto said:



    Nice selection. These are definitely some heavy hitters - all worthy of the big 100.

    9/22/11 at 7:27pm

    mikeperez23 said:



    So **THAT'S** what turns my stomach about tomato leaf - I never realized it smelled like bile until now. No wonder I hate Eau de Campagne. Actually, if you like tomato leaf there is a facial toner by Burt's Bees called Garden Tomato (and a soap too) and IMO it is the BEST tomato leaf smell in existence.

    Yatagan, Polo and Grey Flannel are all wonderful, but I have never been able to 'get' Mure et Musc (probably due to my selective-musk-ansomia) and I've tried the regular, the Extreme and the extrait.

    9/22/11 at 10:36pm

    rogalal said:



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mikeperez23;bt5786

    I have never been able to 'get' Mure et Musc (probably due to my selective-musk-ansomia) and I've tried the regular, the Extreme and the extrait.

    For the life of me, I don't think there's any noticeable musk in the original or the extreme. Maybe a tiny bit of soapy white musk in the base of the original, if I absolutely had to find something, but it's really just a green leafy chypre with berries, to my nose. I actually think this year's solid parfum version is the most easily wearable of all of them (just leaves and berries), though I dream of somehow getting ahold of a sample of the Duchoufour extrait, as well as some sort of limited edition Japanese cologne version from a few years ago that our local L'Artisan rep had heard of but never smelled...

    10/21/11 at 4:00am

    Foustie said:



    Aw, Polo. I don't think that it is unremarkable. You mentioned "nice". I think that sometimes we get carried away and we dismiss "nice" as meaning OK but uninteresting. Maybe we should value niceness more. Polo has managed to stay afloat so long because it is nice, and it is more than that. Lovely components with that chemical "zing" that you describe, comfortable, attractive, and influential too. Hurrah for Polo. I haven't smelled any for ages but I need to now.





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