Well now, we are getting into the way-back machine..
Someone on here happened to mention good old Jean Naté, which is something I haven’t even thought of in decades.
According to the interwebs, Jean Naté was created back in 1935 by Charles of the Ritz. Not quite sure whether it was originally supposed to be a cologne, or always the “after bath splash” that I remember from the bathroom I shared with my grandfather Leo when I was a kid.
Grampa Leo was, it was explained to us, not our actual grandfather. He was my paternal grandmother’s second husband, her first having been killed in a road accident in the early 30’s. They were married in the late 30’s and he raised her children from her first marriage and had another with her. Upon Grandmother Sarah’s death in the late 60’s Grampa Leo came to live with us (oddly rather than his own child, but hey.) Grampa Leo was given pride of place in our household: I learned to like his beloved Polish food since at least a few times a week it was what was served for dinner. I still have a taste for the occasional Kielbasa and Pirogi are always welcome at my table- pan fried and served with sour cream and applesauce, please. I never learned to like the wrestling shows he enjoyed, although you would think that scantily clad sweaty men rolling about while trying to “pin” one another would have enthralled, it didn’t, perhaps because the Nautilus machine and back-waxing had yet to be invented.
In any case, Grampa Leo loved his Jean Naté. He was a very natty fellow, and would always splash some on after his bath. The bathroom always smelled of fresh lemons and Grampa Leo always smelled powder-fresh.
Having been reminded of it’s existence and cruising Amazon, I discovered that it was still out there, still in the ginourmous splash bottle, and under $15. How could I resist? Would it take me back? Would it seem the same as my dim memories of the early 70’s? Are you all still awake?
The notes from From Fragrantica:
Top notes are Lemon, Bergamot and Lavender; middle notes are Geranium, Spicy Notes, Rose, Jasmine and Lily-of-the-Valley; base notes are Musk, Virginia Cedar, Tonka Bean and Sandalwood
Is it like I remembered? Yes, and no. It’s actually a lot more complex. The initial lemon blast is there, raspy and a bit Pledgy, but that burns off fairly quickly to get to the lavender and the flowers. Some random spices follow and the musk, if that’s the drydown, is of the powdery order. The spices and the flowers, while not really identifiable individually are certainly there. Not overpowering, but enough to say “why yes, I did bathe today, thank you for noticing. A little extra too.” I think that is what Grampa Leo liked about it: it is an “after bath splash” so could be construed as just another step in one’s bathing ritual, nothing as self-indulgent as perfuming yourself. My problem is, that since it does leave a discernible scent, I am not sure that I would want to put anything on over it. I certainly get why Grampa Leo adored it: on a hot, humid New England summer day in a house without central AC, one of those days where five minutes after leaving the shower you feel like you need another one, this final cooling step would feel wonderful. If I had teen boys I might have it set up as a final rinse in the shower like the wax sealant at the car wash.
Now, those tests were on bare, not-out-of-the-bath skin since I wanted to do what I pretend to be a scientific deep-dive on this (“how you all work me”, as Lucia would say) in the two days I have had it, So I am not sure if the one thing that I do remember about this still holds true: on freshly bathed (rather than just showered) skin it will strip off dead skin like old paint. This may not be a selling point to you. It works for me.
Jean Naté is available at various places on the interwebs for shockingly low prices. I purchased my giant bottle at Amazon for around $15. Photo of the bottle is my own.