I’m off to Paris on Tuesday, but I wanted to do one more post before I left, on and cologne-ish scents.
Several separate ideas came together and prompted this. First off, there was Mr. Lutens’ declaration that he hates cologne, coupled with the release of his new Eau (which I still haven’t tried.) Second is my general, inevitable browse in Sephora and Nordstrom, in which I am reminded once again that people who don’t want their perfumes to smell like fruitchouli, cupcakes or laundry detergent want them to smell like, essentially, nothing. Very light. Very fleeting.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I have some musks that are fairly light, some favorite skin scents. I also have some colognes I like. I find them cheerful, and (winter or summer) there are certain days that nothing else will do.
So join me – let’s make a list, with room for debate, of our favorite colognes. I am going to create some rules guidelines (there are no rules on the Posse) which I’ll probably violate as well. For the purposes of this post, let us define “cologne” as that light, refreshing, sorta-citrusy, kinda-herbal-y stuff that comes in bottles large and small, tends to be rather short-lived, and is exemplified on the cheap end by 4711 Kolnisch Wasser – which must surely be one of the “original” colognes, if not the original (this wiki article gives some interesting historical info) – and on the expensive end by, say, the Chanel Les Exclusifs cologne. You know the deal: bergamot, petitgrain, citrus, neroli, herbs ‘n spices….
So: the eau de cologne strength of, say, Bal a Versailles (which smells intensely animalic, thanks for asking!) does NOT qualify as a “cologne” for the purposes of today’s discussion. There are huge gray areas we can argue over: like, does it have to be technically a cologne (as opposed to an EdT)? If it has oakmoss in the base, is it disqualified? What should we categorize as a “cologne” if we’re not going to be hung up on technicalities but are instead aiming for the refreshing cologne effect? Dior Eau Noire, in my book, is too interesting/weird/long-lasting to qualify, although as a fragrance it’s fabulous, I love that immortelle. We might leave out the ones that are a wee bit too redolent of armpit/civet (Guerlain Mouchoir de Monsieur.) And I adore Annick Goutal’s weird/fabulous and rather hard to find Eau de Monsieur, but between the immortelle and the oakmoss, I’m not sure I can endorse it as a nice, refreshing summer scent.
I keep a huge bottle of 4711 in the fridge most summers to splash on in the heat. Our Greek barber has it on his counter; I love it. I’m sure for some of you, 4711 must be like eating a Tastykake cupcake when you might just as well be having some tarte tatin (or some Guerlain Cologne du 68, which I would really like to own). I’d like to include Dior’s Escale a Portofino, which to me smells like a citrusy cologne with an interesting nutty twist, but that musk lasts forever (and it’s also an EDT)… so perhaps not? Do we include Dior Eau Fraiche? Malle Bigarade? Annick Goutal Hadrien? Jean Nate? The Mugler cologne? You tell me. Where do you think we should draw the line? There are lots of “splashes” that are quite light but don’t smell anything like traditional cologne (examples: most of the Marc Jacobs splashes). Do those count? Finally, do you have a favorite cologne? What is it?
PS I bought an old bottle of Chloe EDT for about 2 cents on eBay – seller says it’s her bottle dating from roughly 1980 and kept in a closet. The top’s degraded a little, but I got more of the aldehydes that I remember, and really – that drydown, in all its retro-70s glory, makes me smile. I refreshed a couple of my mother-in-law’s items. The ghost of Chloe lives on.