Good article, thanks. But Clinique Happy for men? Seriously?
So I picked up a copy of the March edition of GQ US at the airport to read on the plane (Justin Timberlake was on the cover), and there is an article by Chandler Burr with some wonderful illustrations. I've checked all over the GQ sites and can't find the article. (So I just typed it out, hopefully that's ok!?)
Fact vs Fiction
So what is cologne exactly?
Well, not what you think. You and every other American male have been programmed by marketers to think cologne is for men and perfume is for women. Completely wrong. Don't freak out (seriously, don't freak out) but in the original French, the word for "fragrance" - for both sexes, is parfum; cologne is a very specific parfum, a light version that comes from the city of Koln (thus the name), based on citrus (lemon, grapefruit, bergamot).
But obviously I should wear "men's" fragrances, right?
Wrong again. Anyone who knows anything about scent (that's you now) knows that dividing fragrances in "masculines" and "feminines", as the industry does, is just a marketing device to give straight American guys psychological permission to wear them (which European and gay guys don't need). As Hermes perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena puts it "Scent is art. Is there a painting only for women? A symphony for men?" Authentic houses don't gender their highest-end scents: Tom Ford's Private Blend, the Hermessence collection, Chanel's Les Exclusifs, Armani Privé.
Where and How to Apply
1. The tops of your forearms - and skip your wrists.
2. On either side of your neck.
3. A shot inside your T-shirt and down your back.
4. For God's sake, watch the volume. Hopefully, you're not playing your iPod so loudly passersby can hear it - you shouldn't be blasting your scent, either.
Where to Store It
Best: In the refrigerator. Constant and cool temperature, no light to damage the juice, as little oxygen exposure as possible.
Worst: On a sunny windowsill or your bathroom, where the climate fluctuates with each shower.
What to Look For
If you haven't done a thorough recon of what's out there since high school - and you've never heard of perfume makers like Le Labo, Serge Lutens, Andy Tauer (he's Swiss) and Frederic Malle - you're starting at zero. They produce things with the three technical aspects you want: (1) persistence (it lasts more than thirty minutes on your skin) (2) performance (how well it diffuses when sprayed) and (3) structure (the raw materials fit well together). The fourth quality is your own: Do you love it? Do other people? The only way to know is to try several. Keep one on your right arm, one on your left, and pay attention to who notices.
What to Avoid
Steer clear of anything that reads "Dad," stamps an invisible date on you (1986, say), or suggest you want to start a harem. And don't worry about whether it smells like it's for a guy, or be seduced by "masculine" classifications like "woods," "citrus," and "spice." Focus on whether it smells good. Dior Homme is an iris for men and one of the best scents you can buy. The Different Company has an amazing, smoky, spicy rose, Rose Poivrée (unisex!), and applying Comme des Garcons 2 for women is like putting on a $2,000 pair of shoes.
The Well-Groomed Man's Scent Wardrobe
Your closet holds a mix of basics and standouts; your olfactory inventory should be equally diverse
Vetiver Babylon Giorgio Armani
Vetiver (and Indian grass) is green and lemony. It makes this unisex from Armani's Prive collection less ferocious than the 1959 men's-only version; subtle, clean, it's the navy suit of the group.
Happy for Men Clinique
This is like a basic blue oxford that turns out to be a cool twist on the traditional business shirt. it smells like citrus mixed with nitrous oxide - or mandarin oranges grown on Mars.
Light Blue for Women Dolce & Gabbana
That's right - in the "feminine" Light Blue, perfumer Olivier Cresp has created for D&G a perfect scent for guys (sorry, ladies). The combination: Sicilian lemon peel, green apple, and cedar.
Tom Ford Extreme Tom Ford
Here's a "men's" fragrance that's awesome on every level. It's recognizably male without being a cliche - no "soap" or "deodorant" smells - and perfectly spiced and as sleek as a Maserati.
Un Jardin Sur le Nil Hermes
A unisex, this stuff is as far evolved from Drakkar Noir as a Lexus hybrid is from a '63 Beetle: It smells of unripe mango-peel in a cool breeze under a tropical sky. Fragrance doesn't get better.
Good article, thanks. But Clinique Happy for men? Seriously?
Last edited by dynastyd95; 15th March 2009 at 08:49 PM.
yea seriously clinque happy is like the worst choice
he would of been better off recommending AdG
I think his choices might have other agendas behind them
Off-Site Decants =) (updated 05/16/12)
Oh btw, thanks Gblue, for taking the time to type this up. I enjoyed reading it.
Last edited by L'Aventurier; 15th March 2009 at 09:42 PM.
Sales thread here
I don't read GQ but...are any of the suggested fragrances advertised in that issue, the previous few issues or will they be advertised in near future issues? That would be too much of a coincidence, wouldn't it..
"Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be"--Anonymous
I don't agree about storing fragrance in the refrigerator. I used to do this, and noticed that when I sprayed it on, the scent exploded (figuratively, heh) when it met room temperature and my skin, and then died out faster than normal. I've found that the best storage is on the cool side of room temperature. Find a stable, coolish dark place in your digs, in a closed cabinet or drawer close to the floor. Never in the bathroom. It should be stored, in my experience anyway, just a tad cooler than the environment in which it will be worn. Avoid extremes.
I'm not a fan of JC Ellena's work but I like the quote by Ellena
As Hermes perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena puts it "Scent is art. Is there a painting only for women? A symphony for men?"
I am paging Renato and other BNers who think scents are classifiable as either masculine or feminine to comment. :P
Although re Jardin sur le Nil, I say it's a unisex perfume that can be hated equally by both sexes!
His advice makes for a good intro introduction to starting a serious reflection about perfume, but I do believe his recommendations are a bit hipsterish. An overpriced vetiver, the worst Hermes, and emblematic synthetic trash (Light Blue) that no one with any interest in perfume would want to touch with a ten foot pole? Happy is very nice, but there are greater citruses...
He did mention good ones in the text: dior homme, Rose Poivrée.
In order to be constructive here, I would have suggested (today):
Givenchy Vetyver (true Navy suit Vetyver)
Acqua di Parma Colonia (unisex citrus)
dior homme (unisex floral gourmand)
Mazzolari Lui (ultimo macho)
Diesel Fuel for Life Men (decent modern fruity leisure synthetic)
Last edited by the_good_life; 15th March 2009 at 11:09 PM.
II est de forts parfums pour qui toute matière/Est poreuse. On dirait qu'ils pénètrent le verre.
Let's see what the powers that be say. Personally, I think it's a great feature, too, and I'm glad you posted it.
I took Burr's selection as a handful of modern scents that would "fix" a highly dysfunctional wardrobe belonging to a GQ reader with an emergent but flawed, "legacy" taste in fragrance. That selection might not even be appropriate for a BNer with a highly evolved and specialized taste in frags. Bluesoul blogged another counterpoint article which I think shows how a BNer might choose their own "core" set of 5 frags. Mine is a bit different from bluesoul's. But I think the point is that every guy out there needs to have a selection of at least 5 frags, just as they need at least 5 sets of clothes. For that reason, I think Burr did a real service by gently pointing people in the direction of BNer taste - although perhaps not BNer taste itself.
I agree with frug about frags in the fridge - one has to be careful. I generally refrigerate my vintage, bulk, low-usage, and precious stuff. The heavy-rotation stuff doesn't need it. The picture in the feature, showing the frags in the fridge door, emphasizes the point that light refrigeration (meaning cave cool) is probably ideal. Also, people quickly figure out that you can pull out a week's worth of frags from the fridge, and they generally warm up in minutes.
Overall, I think this article does a service to the fragrance community. In a way, it's almost an advertisement for BN-level attention to fragrance.
I am amazed he has picked Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil. I had the misfortune to sample this recently, and it really is one the blandest things I have tried in some time. The choices seem very off-beat, in a contrived sort of way.
Last edited by Bartlebooth; 15th March 2009 at 11:59 PM. Reason: Typo
Sorry folks, but when I want to know about a particular genre or need an opinion, I do not look to this person or anyone like him. He has his own agenda and it's not in keeping with mine.
I come here for unadulterated information. It's more honest, less jaded and even if it "sounds" unprofessional, it still is sound advice.
Refrigerate? Spare me man. I could do without condensation buildup in my juice. Cool and dark is good enough for me.
I am extremely sceptical about magazine recommendations (I know how it works for music magazines for instance) and there always is commercial consideration or agenda involved, but I still bought GQ today after reading last night's blog.
Same observation as most of you - everything was going swimmingly until I reached the recommendations. Then it was "Whoa, what the hell is THAT? Clinique Happy??" (sorry, CologneJunkie!)
If I weren't already familiar with Burr's writing, and taste, I'd have thought it was a joke. Sorry, Chandler, from the hundreds of fragrances you could have picked to educate the hapless hordes of GQ readers, your selection left me puzzled, perplexed, and peeved.
I second TGL's alternate recommendations, and would add:
Acqua di Parma Colonia Assoluta
Rive Gauche PH
Hell, I'd recommend French Lover over most of Burr's recommendations. Head and shoulders above D&G or Clinique.
Last edited by Snafoo; 16th March 2009 at 12:40 AM.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. Daniel Moynihan
Intelligent discussion often requires more than a one word insult.
And I don't know if it's allowed to be on here with copyright, but I appreciate the effort of typing it over. The choices were a surprise but it's also nice to see people recommend different fragrances all the time instead of the same old same old. Might be just me though
But once you get locked into a serious perfume collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.
Intelligent discussion often requires more than a one word insult.
As a former chem student - remind me - how does putting perfume in the fridge build condensation inside the perfume that will be bad for the perfume?
Most of the water condensations tend to form on the outside of the bottle. If they form on the inside, assuming even a perfectly airtight sealed bottle, that's because the evaporated water vapor content of the perfume inside the bottle evaporated and recondensed - which is nothing bad - because the condensed water vapor and other condensates come from inside the perfume bottle itself, so it's not "foreign matter".
Plus, everyone knows lower temperature (in general, unless proven otherwise in highly specific cases) slows down chemical reactions which preserves perfume longer.
The condensation forms on the inside of the bottles I've refrigerated in the past. It doesn't matter to me that the water came from the parfum itself. I don't want it sprinkled on the inside of my fragrances bottles, nor do I want it separated from the original body of liquid.
Lets just remind ourselves that it's a bit over the top to be storing our fragrances in the fridge? If anything it suggests that the manufacturer produced it improperly, if its so fragile. I understand storing something 100$+ in the fridge like MI, because the natural notes really do tend to go fast, but who is sticking 60 dollar bottles of synthetics in the fridge? Whats the point? If you are dropping so much money on fragrances, fork up the extra thirty or forty bucks for a mini fridge, so you have room for some food in your real one. Or maybe thats the point, if you spend so much money on fragrances, you have no money for food, and thus a roomy fridge in which to store them?
For the average GQ reader, I think a cool drawer is just fine. People generally don't get interested in refrigeration until they come on here. At that point, they start getting a fair number of bottles, and they realize they're not going to be finishing many of them within the next 5 years or so. The urge to preserve kicks in.
Burr gave best and worst options for storage. If GQ would have given him more word-space, a middle option (cool drawer) would have been nice.
Absolute humidity ranges from 0 grams per cubic meter in dry air to 30 grams per cubic meter (0.03 ounce per cubic foot) when the vapor is saturated (100% humidity) at 30 °C/86 F
A cubic foot has 1728 cubic inches.
An 'average' raindrop is about 0.00416 ounce of water so a cubic foot of air at 30 C/86 F and 100% humidity would have approximately 8 average raindrops of water in it if all the water were condensed (leaving the cubic foot of air totally dry with 0% humidity).
Now let's see what volume of air can possibly fit in a totally emptied 1 inch X 2.5 inch X 5 inch bottle of fragrance.
I calculate it to be 12.5 cubic inches.and I round out the amount of water possible to condensate from that volume, were it at 100% humidity and 30 C/86 F and all air (bottle emptied) to be about 0.053 of an average raindrop of water or about 0.0002 ounce.
Also, let's not forget when fragrance warms up and the air in the bottle warms up from the refrigerator temp toward room temp, the captive air once again becomes rapidly more humid by taking the condensation back into it toward the original equilibrium, with or without fragrance in the bottle.
Significant enough addition of water from condensation of fragrance displaced and replaced by humid air (probably 100 ml/3.4 oz fragrance in that size bottle) to notice a difference in fragrance strength as you are using it?
I personally don't see how it would be considering the miniscule amount of water involved.
disclaimer: I am not a math whiz so feel free to check my math as I may be off somewhere here or there and I got tired of calculating and just estimated in a few places.
Last edited by kbe; 16th March 2009 at 04:08 AM.
"Nostalgia just ain't what it used to be"--Anonymous
I thinked and I thanked and I thought I'd abridge,
But a bee in my bonnet and a Burr in my sock
Made me mirthful and merry myself then to mock.
So I bought every Bond, every Bois, every Blanche,
Every fabulous flanker and limited launch,
'Till a fridge overflowing with fragrance I found,
And methought that I might in their boxes be drowned.
Then a dog in a Derby drove up in the drive,
With a knapsack of niche that had missed Chandler's five.
"We best be a-coolin' it off" he did say,
And my inner neat-freak said that it was OK.
So we artfully added the niche to the stack,
By hammering bottles into every crack.
Then we fired up the fridge and the freezer on full,
And onto our cold paws did our mittens we pull.
Seventy! Sixty! The temperature dropped
As we fought to preserve all the flankers that flopped.
Fifty-five! Forty-five! Downward by ten,
And the derbified doggie's cold breath I saw then.
"I've got an idea!" he said in a rhyme,
"At absolute zero they'll last for all time!"
So we hijacked a tanker of liquid N2.
And we sprayed down our juice 'till the bottles turned blue.
While the wetness of water was a worry, no doubt
Condensation of oxygen carries more clout.
If I ventured a guess at the cause of the boom,
'Twas the LOX and the bagels that took out the room.
I suppose there's no need now the next part to tell
As I thumb through GQ in my cool prison cell,
But perhaps you'll be wiser these words then to heed
As you ponder the possible freezing of Creed.
You can freeze all your frags or a fabulous few
And the chem of the cooling is working for you,
But the physics of freezing your frags is a flop.
Don't let doggies in Derbies make you lose a drop.
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
Hold it right there mister. How dare you... HOW DARE YOU? Make positive comments about an article written by Burr? You should know better. Whenever I hear his name I reach for my bucket full of rotten tomatoes and assorted vegetables. (Some say that manure is more efficient but I think he has a basic form of human decency)
I mean, How could he possibly recommend something that I do not like?
The nerve of that guy?! He should recommend Vintage, HTF stuff and SL perfumes because that is what the average reader of GQ likes. Or better yet, he should chose from my wardrobe.
(Wait a second. Most of his recs. are actually in my wardrobe )
Aromi & Ken - I think what Aromi is seeing is simply phase separation of certain components in the chilled frags. Many of the components of a perfume are (molecularly speaking) mostly hydrocarbon with just a little bit of functionality - therefore highly non-polar, and of limited solubility in the ethanol. Drop the temperature and they start dropping out of solution. Keep cooling and some of them may actually freeze, and it will look like dirty ice. All of this is very disconcerting to most folks. The question is, does this affect the juice?
For something like a skin product, the answer would be yes. These are emulsions, suspensions, and whatnot, and they're designed to function properly within a certain temperature range. Things which break the emulsions or cause precipitation and oiling out of components may lead to changes which don't reverse properly upon warming. You've probably seen creams and things like that, which went nasty from freezing.
For fragrances, I doubt that there is much of a problem. The substances are designed to be a solution at room temperature, and if something oils out, it goes back into solution when it warms up. It's disconcerting to see components separate, but the physical change does not imply a chemical change. Just as a point of reference, I used to put many organic solutions in the refrigerator in the lab. There would frequently be some kind of oiling out or phase separation in these air-tight, bottled samples. Sometimes there would be freezing, precipitation, etc. I would warm them up to room temperature and they would return to their former state, without any apparent consequence - as verified by things like NMR analysis.
The real bother for me with refrigeration is the possibility of losing a seal. That - in combination with condensation of ambient water vapor coming through the seal - could be nasty. If you've ever seen a sprayed decant become cloudy from water condensation during spraying (you will feel it getting cold during the spraying), then you know how little water it takes to cloud a perfume. That's why I don't take the temperature any lower than normal refrigeration. No freezing. I simply don't know how well the seals will hold when frozen. But I really think that there is no danger storing aromachemicals in the fridge - particularly if you're careful to avoid condensation during warm-up. There are multiple ways to avoid condensation (like plastic bags), and from what people report, they seem to work. I have a cool basement, so there is very little condensation when I let my vintage frags warm up there after removing them from the fridge. So I don't even bother with bags.
I will say this. Refrigeration can make sensitive organics last for decades. Things that would normally disappear in a few months or years. So it will guarantee freshness, I have no doubt.
Good overall advice; terrible recommendations.
Nice to see some sensible advice in GQ.
Guys, don't get so hung up on Burr's recommendations. His tastes are subjective (just like yours are). I personally don't like Happy for Men either, but perhaps someone who doesn't know fragrances at all will try to sample HfM before they snatch up one of those awful Axe body sprays otherwise.