Carrington by Charles of the Ritz (1985) is a bizarre little historical blip in the fragrance market, and goes to show how much impact television once held on the public consciousness, arguably in the same way internet personalities do now. So the thing about this stuff, is it was originally sold as being from the House of Carrington, a fictitious cosmetics brand operated by the also-fictitious oligarch family of the same name from the popular prime-time soap “Dynasty”. Yeah you heard that right, this was a soap opera that aired at night.. oh the 80’s. My parents were infatuated with this show like most of middle-income white suburbia back then, but we never had these fragrances. Original retail price on the women’s perfume Forever Krystie by Charles of the Ritz (1984) was (when adjusted for inflation), about the same price per ounce as many of your top-shelf gulf brands like Spirit of Dubai; so we’re talking hundreds of dollars here for a scent from a -fake- celebrity made by a drugstore brand. I imagine most of that nonsense was just to get real celebrities to flex the stuff, because the real manufacturer (Charles of the Ritz) soon doled out an eau de toilette of it and this men’s fragrance at somewhere under $8 (which would be about $22.50 today), to be sold at every corner drug store that would carry it; and I remember seeing this at mine growing up, it just happened that my parents just never decided to bring these home.
The fragrances both were advertised by actors John Forsythe and Linda Evans, the stars who played the characters of Blake and Krystle Carrington respectively; so not only was this a real scent from a fake celebrity brand, but the real celebrities who played those fake ones on TV advertised it… oy vey! So in any case, don’t fret about missing out on this one, and do NOT pay the beyond-stupid prices this one carries (mostly as memorabilia for fans of the “Dynasty” show), as it was about on par with other Charles of the Ritz offerings of the time, the ones that weren’t licensed manufacturing of designer brands like their one-time ownership of YSL Beauté. Right alongside stuff like Enjoli by Charles of the Ritz (1978) or Aston by Charles of the Ritz (1979), Carrington was another made-for-the-mainstream offering that in this particular case, took on an ambery form of the old DNA already widely circulated in Brut by Fabergé (1964) by then. In essence, that means a powdery opening full of lavender, lemon, galbanum, sage, white floral notes, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and the usual sandalwood/tonka/oakmoss shenanigans of the barbershop fougère. The key twists here in Carrington aren’t enough to make me want to shell out the finder’s fee however, as a little bit of anise and a base-smoothing amber just aren’t enough to remove hundreds from my wallet. Performance is as you’d expect for an 80’s scent in the sillage portion, but unexpectedly close to skin after a while.
The appeal for this beyond fans of Dynasty, is precious little outside the usual “no price too high” collectors of-all-things-discontined and exalters-of-all-things-vintage, that gladly pound the “Book of Oakmoss” as they quote “Psalms of Prunastri”, giving sermons about how perfume is dead (long live perfume), and how the best days are behind us; so every future generation should spend their lives in mourning of what was lost before they ever came to be, rather than finding joy with what -they- have at hand. The sad state of being unable to grip one’s own mortality and the solipsistic nihilism that creates aside (not to mention the Pharoah-levels of burying oneself in “treasure”), the real truth behind realizing something like this exists (and that people actually hoard it) is ultimate proof of the “emperor’s new clothes” concept, even more than today’s redressing of vintage styles as haute luxury. At least when today’s Tom Ford or Roja Dove redress something once populist – or at very least fashionable in decades past – as an exclusive slice of today’s “good life”, they’re at least trying to say that things of the past should be valued by today’s cultural curators, they’re just re-wrapping it to be appealing for those curators, who are often into gluttonous nouveau-riche face culture. What Charles of the Ritz did here isn’t even that; it’s just a retread of a twenty-year-old fougère trope by a competing brand, given one of the most surreal facelifts in modern perfume history, and people bought it to feel one step closer to something they saw on TV but can’t have because it isn’t even something real, and never was. Wild man. Neutral