First, let me announce the winner of the Benefit sample set – Pattie! Contact Us with your address, thanks.
Well – the weather is warm, sort of, and I think we’re really ready – in spirit if not in body – for a roundup of your favorite cologne and cologne-type scents.
All this was brought home to me when I savored an armload of Guerlain’s Cologne du 68, which I’ve given short shrift to, only because if you actually see it on a counter somewhere, it’s standing between, say, Sous le Vent and a bee bottle of Vetiver Pour Elle, and oh, look! here’s Bois d’Armenie and Derby and some other interesting stuff you hardly ever see and whose dumb idea was those bulb atomizers blah blah blah and I end up leaving the counter 45 minutes later with my nose hairs singed, and the 68 has long since disappeared from my mind.
I was in a cologne-ish mood, though, recently, so I sprayed Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle all over one arm and the 68 on the other. Pour Elle was the one I was really interested in, and … eh. I don’t know. Luca Turin’s pretty wild for it, it’s a more floral vetiver, but my vote for the money is the original (men’s) Vetiver, which LT describes as “reference vetiver” in the Guide. I’m sure many of you have vetivers you like better, but I am not the Vetiver Queen and I find Guerlain Vetiver to be a pretty perfect summer refreshment. Added bonus: you can pick it up online and at your local discounters.
But the 68 was the one that really swept me off my feet. I’d put it in the cologne-plus category – something slightly more interesting and long lasting than the bergamot-petitgrain-laden tradition. Allegedly its name comes from its 68 notes and the store address on the Champs-Elysees, and I have no idea how those 68 notes stack up to the number of notes in a “regular” cologne, but it smells more complex to me. There’s a list of notes on the front of the bottle (in French), and the most comprehensive list I’ve seen is on Now Smell This, so here’s my link to Robin’s review. It used to be terrible distribution, I think only the store in Paris? But the price is cheaper now (smaller bottle) and you can find it online for $100. The bottle itself is kind of cool, isn’t it? It’s handsome and looks a little out of place with the retro styling of most of the rest of the line. It reminds me a little of the Caron Reglisse bottle, although it’s not as tall.
Notes via NST are bergamot, green mandarin, citron, clementine, cedrat, blood orange, limette, grapefruit, basil, fennel, star anise, lavender, bay leaf, cypress, elemi, thyme, myrtle, bigarade, mandarin petitgrain, lemon petitgrain, pear, violet leaves, ivy leaves, gentiana, sap, blackcurrant, freesia, lily of the valley, hazelnut leaf, cyclamen, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, pink pepper, nutmeg, ginger, jasmine, frangipani, magnolia, orange blossom, peony, rose, carnation, ylang ylang, lychee, fig, blackberry, immortelle, lentisque, opoponax, amber, benzoin, vanilla, cistus, heliotrope, iris, tonka bean, sage, musk, patchouli, agarwood, cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, vegetable musk, praline, myrrh and moss.
The first two minutes of 68 are a little warmer and sweeter than I’d expected. I’m standing there thinking, yeah, this is nice … oh, really nice … you know, about as good as it gets mentally for cologne. Then really nice moves on into legitimate fragrance territory, by which I mean I start mentally evaluating 68 as more than something I’d throw on when the thermometer reads 92 and I want to run away from home. It goes through several phases – the citrus/sweet top, an interesting fruity interlude that made me think of lychee, then a couple rounds of anise, then a really great nutty section that made me think of sesame but must have been the hazelnut. At that point I was really enjoying myself, and we hadn’t even gotten to the immortelle or the drydown that, on me, goes on approximately forever and smells equally of musk and cut grass with a tiny nibble of almond macaron (the praline?)
There’s always a place in my heart and my fridge for a big ol’ medicinal bottle of 4711, and I am pretty sure that somewhere on here in the past I basically said, hey, how many colognes does anyone need? Just as some of you are testing new waters (florals! oud!) and feeling the love for the first time, I’m really re-evaluating my relative lack of respect for cologne scents. I think this and Escale a Portofino are at the top of my list right now (speaking of another cologne-plus scent), and I definitely need to retry that Mugler, I know a bunch of you are nuts over that.
Also, I think it’s terrible that Dior seems to have killed off all their giant colognes in local stores (Blanche, Noire, Bois D’Argent) – where did they go? Did I miss the memo about them being discontinued or something? Does anyone still see them around? What’s your favorite cologne?