Chevignon by Chevignon Brand (1992)

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Chevignon Brand is a ready-to-wear fashion arm of Les Établissements Charles Chevignon, founded by the former and Guy Azoulay, and has always been centered around minimalism and a certain brusque aesthetic that seems more suited to men (even if they have had items for women in the past too). Perhaps best known for its jacket, denim, and leather accessories, Chevignon set its sights on businesses outside of fashion as early as a controversial (and failed) cigarette arm in 1990, then later a fragrance division launching in 1992 with the Bogart Group handling composition, manufacturing, and distribution. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Bogart Group is home to both the Ted Lapidus and Jacques Bogart lines, producers of the most unapologetic and masculine fragrances on the planet, meaning the debut masculine Chevignon (1992) would be right at home there. Other critics in the past called this a cut-rate Ralph Lauren Polo (1978), and they wouldn’t exactly be wrong, since Chevignon has strong similarities, but this is no clone. The whiskey flask bottle and old-timey writing on the front go hand-in-hand with the faux-Americana the brand tried to channel in a decade that was back-to-basics compared to the preceding one, although by 1992 stuff like Polo was the furthest from what young guys looking to grunge it up actually wanted.

The opening is very familiar to Polo fans, with artemisia and galbanum, dry bergamot and aromatic notes like caraway, swapping Polo’s coriander for basil. The differences are slight at this phase, as Chevignon does not have the pine of Polo in the heart, although it has just about everything else save muguet and leather, the latter of which is moved to the base in Chevignon. This includes jasmine, carnation, rose, geranium, filling in the heart, leading to a transition into a lighter less-dense base spearheaded by that leather note. The leather is very rounded and spicy like Hermès Bel Ami (1986) but much softer, and some may say Chevignon veers closer to Ralph Lauren Polo Crest (1991) by this stage. Cedar, oakmoss, amber, musk, and that leather form the base of Chevignon, with the telltale tobacco and vetiver from Polo absent in Chevignon, using increased patchouli to bring in some resinous green feeling that steers more towards something like Givenchy Gentleman (1974) or Giorgio Beverly Hills for Men (1984) but with traces of the Polo “vibe” filtered through from the top and heart. Chevignon becomes its own beast by this stage, but just barely. Wear time is average at about eight hours but unlike most of what I’ve mentioned above, this is not a powerhouse fragrance at all, bringing the 70’s/80’s masculinity in line with 90’s sillage. Best use would be formal situations where something green and mossy feels apropos, and likely more mature.

I like Chevignon but with stuff like Jaguar for Men (1988) still out there as cheaper viable alternative to vintage Polo, I see no reason to pay the steadily-increasing prices of the discontinued Chevignon. When this stuff was viewed as the cheap Polo alternative, it probably did Chevignon no favors which is probably why they chose to discontinue it in the first place. People who wanted Polo were going to buy current Polo regardless of formulation because brand cache matters to the average consumer, while fragrance collectors will either spring for the vintage Polo because “ermahgerd muh oakmossuses” or vintage “wood cap” Jaguar for Men, which is now the cheaper alternative for Cosmair-era Polo than the near-unicorn prices for the Chevignon. Logic dictates if you’re going to overpay for a “rare and precious” vintage, get the original and not the reputed imitator right? Back in the day when Chevignon was new and common, I would have recommended it as a slightly lighter and perhaps more summer-suited alternative to fans of heavy green stuff like Polo or Givenchy Gentleman, especially since leather bases tend to shine in hot weather, but now I’d say only go in on a bottle of this if you’re a collector. As it is now, Chevignon is a neat little historical blip, a transitory piece sitting between 80’s power and 90’s apology, but not worth the price of admission for any functional purpose beyond completing a display of such fragrances. Thumbs up.

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