Eau Fresh by Jacques Bogart (1993) is part of a dual release staggered by a single year, with the other part of that release being Witness by Jacques Bogart (1992). Both of these fragrances share bottles and a perfumer, although Witness tends to get more of the usual “it’s discontinued therefore a masterpiece” hype among the two. Naturally, I can see why the usual unicorn chasers ignore Eau Fresh, as the Bogart fanbase is the stereotypical “cologne guy” looking for the most powerful make-an-entrance juice he can find for the money, while most self-described vintage fans are really just obsessed with the 70’s and 80’s. Jacques Bogart originally was designed as an exclusively-male fashion brand, then became France’s answer to a dedicated masculine line like Estée Lauder’s Aramis division once The Bogart Group began using its profits to buy up other designer houses instead. After One Man Show by Jacques Bogart (1980), it was clear the shift was from classy to trashy, debonair to sexual conquistador, and boy did bottles fly off shelves. So the brand mostly stayed through the almost comically-loud Furyo by Jacques Bogart (1988), then something happened: the 1990’s. Like with Witness and eventually also Force Majeure by Jacques Bogart (1998), Eau Fresh tries to be a more-respectful and fashionable representation of the brand’s usual power-for-power’s sake, displaying a bit of an identity crisis with the Bogart camp during a decade when what was fashionable in the men’s mainstream fragrance market amounted to pleasant nothingness and plasticene fresh achieved with then-novel chemicals. I’d be remiss not to mention that this was done partly in response to backlash from fragrances like Bogart had been known for up until then.
You can tell Bogart really struggled with this concept of benign mass appeal because even the 90’s output from Bogart has more chutzpah than nearly anything made by anyone else save maybe Bogart-owned properties like Lapidus and Balenciaga. So, Eau Fresh really isn’t all that terribly fresh, but I guess it is “for a Bogart”. The premise is take a green aromatic fougère of the mid-to-late 80’s like Houbigant Duc de Vervins (1985) or Tsar by Van Cleef & Arpels (1989) and dilute the aromatics. Then add civet musk, tonka, and labdanum like the later Vermeil for Men by Jean-Louis Vermeil (1995) to make it appropriately “manly” and serve. The opening delivers lemon verbena, neroli, petitgrain, mint, and rosemary. The blend of Duc de Vervins and Tsar is clear, with lavender and balsam fir meeting with sweet orange and muguet over muted spices like coriander and nutmeg in the heart. Eau Fresh never rises to the same level of distinction as either Tsar or Duc de Vervins however, going into that yellow musky territory with oakmoss and vetiver reminiscent of Vermeil. By this point, Eau Fresh has long since stopped being fresh, but it is smooth, albeit quieter on skin than one would think given the notes. Fans looking for a cheaper alternative to Tsar may have reached for this when they were both still produced, but Eau Fresh is a pale shadow if judged solely by that brief likeness, and is now itself no longer cheap. Wear time is of course still long per Bogart’s performance standards, but this one does not scream off skin, with literally everything I compared it to above being much louder than it. Best use is probably early spring and late fall, as this would die in cold and sweat off in heat, although I don’t know when you’d really want to use Eau Fresh as it is going to ultimately be just a personal scent bubble for you, and absolutely nobody else.
Still, being the weakest of all Bogart fragrances means stronger than many current offerings from Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and your usual host of entry to middle-tier designers, if that counts. This is one of those things where I’d only recommend hunting down long-discontinued stock if you absolutely had to have another bottle in this vein, although there are much better and more-reasonably-priced options in this genre still plentiful to find, like Aura for Men by Jacomo (2000) or Lomani pour Homme by Lomani (1987), not to mention bottles of Duc de Vervins or Vermeil for Men coming up for decent prices in the gray market as of this review (subject to change). Only the Bogart collector will really see value here, or the hoarder of off-beat unloved fragrances (story of my life). While Eau Fresh is conclusively a good fragrance with just average projection for the 90’s, deserving of the same attention as One Man Show, Furyo, or even the later Bogart pour Homme (2004) this scent is not. Dominic Preyssas is the perfumer here, and he’s done good work for The Bogart Group before and since, including with Witness; but here he was likely phoning in on assignment. Still, if yet another musky green aromatic fougère is what you crave, you could do far worse for your money in the niche realm remakes these days. I’d suggest getting a smaller bottle if you can’t sample, especially if you own plenty of things just like this from the period, since you won’t reach for it enough to warrant 100ml if so. As for the typical “perfume died after 1990” hubris, if that’s where you stand, you won’t want Eau Fresh either. Otherwise, Eau Fresh is a misnomer of a scent that’s is nothing if not a solidly competent fougère, yet bizarrely missing the mark for what it wants to be. Thumbs up