Vintage Floral Delight by Tanoko Tonic (2022)

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Tanoko Tonic is a small operation of candle making, perfumery, and compounding of essential oils for therapeutic applications, based out of Mansfield, Missouri. Their fragrances typically come in oils a la attars, or compounded into alcohol like a Western perfume; but without any added water, perfumes worn this way end up projecting highly and feeling mostly like extraits or attars when finished settling on skin. With Vintage Floral Delight by Tanoko Tonic (2022), the brand seeks to capture the familiar feel of old-school feminine floral fragrances from about the mid-20th century, which means sweeter and a bit more ambery than the rakish sharp things from the 70’s or big musky aldehyde bombs from before WWII. This distinctly prim and effeminate postwar idealized woman in all her domestic goddess glory is seen these days as a vestige of patriarchy in Western cultures (particularly the former US middle classes), but damn if Grandma and her old “Suzie Homemaker” aesthetic didn’t know how to smell terrific. To be fair, Vintage Floral Delight is not a strict exercise in bringing the old Avon or Coty perfumes of the period back from the dead, and does have a lot of modern quirks of its own, not to mention a certain fundamentalism inherent from being an artisanal fragrance. Brands that don’t pay attention to established practice or style are always the most fun.

The opening of VIntage Floral Delight is sweet, unsurprisingly so, but not sugary like modern takes on sweetness, no ethyl maltol overdosing as it were. Bergamot and neroli provide most of the lift, that is then used to convey a classic rose and jasmine tandem made greener from an old-style orchid accord, before Tom Ford co-opted that note to his own designs. Vanilla is here, patchouli too, but a clean iris and musky ylang round out then smooth what could otherwise be earthier elements of this perfume; this is the modern part I was talking about, and Vintage Floral Delight avoids being powdery or animalic with big doses of civet or sandalwood. The latter material is suggested, alongside a cleaner wood facet of cedar, but this is polished in more of a Calvin Klein late 80’s way than a 1960’s Dior way, if that makes sense. Ultimately, Vintage Floral Delight is a watercolor impression of vintage women’s fragrance more than a direct deconstruction of it, and Tanoko Tonic takes this Claude Monet approach to the finish-line of amber, tonka, and very linalool-heavy clean. The skin scent of Vintage Floral Delight lasts forever and is almost sparkly, and wears best in spring to my nose, with great projection from the alcohol-based formula tested. I haven’t smelled the oil to really speak on it. Best use is probably just for yourself, no context suggested by the perfume brand nor really needed.

My favorite aspect of Vintage Floral Delight is the potpourri sachet qualities it presents on skin, which itself is sort of a vintage thing because who still scents their home with potpourri anymore? The dry, fresh, clean, slightly-spiced flowers that emanate from Vintage Floral Delight remind me of visits to Grandma (once again), and perhaps that is the real “vintage floral delight” of the fragrance; it isn’t a reminder of vintage perfume worn by people years ago, just a reminder of how flowers in general were presented long ago in homes of our fallen domestic Goddesses. The rose for me is the dominant floral, so rose lovers probably will like this best, and as the brand themselves suggest, Vintage Floral Delight is going to be a challenge for all but the most open-minded guys when it comes to gender roles in fragrance. There is little a man with conventional heteronormative tastes can latch onto with Vintage Floral Delight, but that doesn’t mean male lovers of perfume should avoid sniffing; just take into consideration that you may smell more of Grandma’s house than you may care to if you walk into the office sporting this perfume. For me, that is a non-issue, and the only complaint I can conjure if any, is Vintage Floral Delight is something I’d rather smell in the air via candle than maybe on myself; but I’ll settle for my own skin because I like what’s here that much. Thumbs up

Dharan by Clandestine Laboratories (2021)

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Dharan by Clandestine Laboratories (2021) is quite plainly a floral fragrance, and is among the more-direct fragrances made by Mark Sage for his indie brand, being rivaled in that directness only via Master by Clandestine Laboratories (2021), which likewise is very plainly about leather. However, I think Dharan may have Master beat in the sheer simplicity department, as there isn’t an impossibly complex assimilation of materials here causing the singular floral accord like there is comprising Master’s leather scent. Instead, Dharan is very much mint, florals, cedar, and ambroxides. There are more things that that shaping and pulling on Dharan, but in the midst of it all, you will smell rose very clearly, with a bit of green here and there to keep it from feeling jammy or dark. Fans of the Francis Kurkdjian approach to rose perfumes will like this, as will lovers of 70’s green rose things; but make no mistake, this is not a rose soliflore. Dharan by Clandestine Laboratories is based on the the second largest city in Nepal; sharing its name with the city, and in the brand’s own words: “a name derived from the Sanskrit word Dharana, a meditative focus on the divine”. In short, this won’t blow minds nor does it reinvent the wheel, but it’s “just plain good” in its own non-fussy sort of way way.

The opening of Dharan is bright and fresh, with a citrus character even though none is listed by the perfumer. I do get the mint, but in a hazy non-potent way, before what smells like a mix between some sort of green stemminess and honeysuckle joins. Again, no listed honeysuckle here, just my impressions. What is listed however, is something called rhododendron leaves. Rhododendron is Nepal’s national flower, but has no odor of its own, and I have never smelled rhododendron leaves in isolation so I can’t really tell you what I am smelling here. Like many other Clandestine fragrances, the name-dropping of one completely foreign exotic material is par for the course, much like the choya loban in Film Noir by Clandestine Laboratories (2021). Rose and geranium is next, green and metallic, fresh, and uplifted with jasmine and lotus accords. Cedar, white musks, and slightly salty ambergris note round this out, bringing us from MFK to being more like Creed and how they execute ambroxan-powered ambergris notes in their florals. That salty freshness lingers with the rose and jasmine, with just the tiniest puff of woodiness. In a nutshell: this is very nice and uplifting, with long staying power that feels best in warmer months for a casual fragrance fling. The musks in this do come out much more on skin than clothing, so I will warn you there.

Many conventional CISHET guys will say this is feminine, and even the perfumer himself doesn’t particularly think this meshes well with conventional masculine skin chemistry (or his own anyway), and that women will appreciate this much more. Here I tend to agree, so I think labeling it as a feminine perfume is not incorrect. However, if you really enjoy fresh florals, green rose accords, jasmine hedione, and salty ambergris applications; or better yet, you are a fan of things like Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie (1980), Olene by Diptyque (1987). or The Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose (1973), I wouldn’t let suggested gender usage dissuade you from at least sampling Dharan. Sometimes there is elegance in well-constructed simplicity, and sometimes simple pleasures are the best ones. I personally can take or leave the exotica over the name or theme; and if you are going to get a simple fresh floral in the niche category, why give the big corporate-backed luxury brands like MFK or Creed your money when this exists? Not only is the value much better for the price, but this does something those don’t, and Dharan is many times more lucid of a floral fragrance to my nose than anything you can find at a luxury department store counter anyway. Not extraordinary, but beautiful in an extra-ordinary way that seems comfortable. Thumbs up

Punjab by Roberto Capucci (1979)

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Punjab by Roberto Capucci (1979) is a men’s fragrance that could never happen today for several reasons, most of them having little to do with the actual smell itself. For those who remember the 1970’s in fragrance, Punjab will feel pretty conventional, as a “brown smell” of leather, ambers, spices, woods, and musks; this is a fragrance that doesn’t do much very daring by standards of the day, and was at that vanguard of the powerhouse era like so many from the mid-to-late 70’s. Competing against the likes Caron Yatagan (1976) and most resembling it in structure, Punjab was a spiced leather chypre that basically took the rough compost-like nature of Yatagan and softened it with southeast Asian influences, if the name didn’t give that away. Alongside others such as Halston Z-14 (1976), Etienne Aigner No. 1 (1976), and Ted Lapidus pour Homme (1978), Punjab was packing a crowded house, soon to be joined by latecomers in Leonard pour Homme (1980) and eventually Phileas by Nina Ricci (1984), the latter being another stab at the DNA of Yatagan but by the same perfumer who made it (Vincent Marcello). Punjab’s anonymous perfumer sits his ideas somewhere between Yatagan and Phileas, using the focus on Indian spice and some pretty tasteless advertising in retrospect to get his point across, which brings us to the name. Punjab is a region of India, a state bordering Pakistan to be exact, and the market copy banks on the wearer being a “conqueror”, which has a really bad colonial vibe that wouldn’t fly today. As a note, most other vintage Capucci masculines seem to get less hype than this one, and unsurprisingly because less collectors squawk about them online. Try some of them too.

As for the smell itself, Punjab opens up pretty nicely, with juniper and aldehydes immediately colliding with castoreum leather and arbor notes of fir, galbanum, and oregano. Here, the oregano is much tamped down compared to Yatagan, and disappears pretty quickly as an array of curry spices like cinnamon, caraway, ginger, cumin, and clove come to the fore. By the time we get to the smoothed-out base, jasmine and geranium have lightened the load some so the patchouli and sandalwood play nice with the oakmoss and frankincense; the exposed joints of the structure filled with amber, labdanum, myrrh, and a bit of smoke from birch for that leathery effect. Honestly, if you own things like the aforementioned Yatagan, or any of the similar brown, ambery leathers from the period, Punjab may feel a bit too familiar, and some people also don’t like prominent cinnamon, which this shares in common with Halston Z-14 or Bogart Witness (1992) from over a decade later. Otherwise, if you can forgive the borderline racist marketing, Punjab is actually a pretty well-constructed smooth macho man kind of fragrance, and exactly what those obsessed with the days when “men were men” crave from a fragrance. For me personally, the amber and sandalwood make this sufficiently different enough from the go-for-broke starkness of Yatagan, but also parts of it that remind me of Yatagan will likely also have me wishing I had worn that instead. Wear time is good and projection is also good, considering the period. Best use is whenever, as this is far outmoded for modern contexts. Back in the day, this came with shaving accessories and was likely considered signature-worthy.

Obviously, since the name “punjab” also sometimes gets used as a racial slur against those of Indian (or just southeast Asian) descent in anglophone countries, we will never see this fragrance made under this name again. Smell-wise, something like Punjab could technically exist today because Yatagan still does, and this is only a stone’s throw away from it ingredients-wise. Smell-wise, if you found the leather too sharp and the herbs too green in Yatagan, Punjab will remedy that for you; but you also better like cinnamon and clove, or else there’s no dice for you with this fragrance. If Punjab was more readily-available at reasonable prices, I might consider ownership, but being a unicorn these days in the aftermarket makes my interest in picking up pretty nil. Besides, if you’re a huge fan of Yatagan, this will remind you of that to the point of just making you wish you had worn it instead. For me, something like Balenciaga Portos (1980) makes a better mark to hunt instead, even at current mega-inflated prices of surviving stock, because it does something far different by leaning into juniper more and having a nice rose/geranium core between it and the similar castoreum leather base. True, they aren’t very comparable, I’m just saying if I had to pick one overpriced discontinued B-list designer from the 70’s/80’s cusp over the other to buy nowadays, I’d pick one that travels in a lane least-occupied by things it could remind you of or ostensibly be replaced by for less. That said, Punjab by Roberto Capucci is a fine spiced leather scent with a not-so-fine marketing angle. If one comes your way cheaply, check it out. If not, stick to Yatagan. Thumbs up

Krizia pour Homme by Krizia (2014)

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Krizia pour Homme (2014) is nothing if not continuing the expectations of Krizia fragrance fans, the ones that haven’t tuned out after the 90’s of course. You see, that’s a sort of problem with Krizia overall; they made such an impact with their whacked-out styles both in clothing and fragrance, that most who remember the brand associate them with the 1980’s and early 1990’s; much beyond that, and you might as well say the label took a space ship of its own design and launched itself into the sun. Therefore, it is of no great surprise that most who venerate the brand only do so for the original K de Krizia (1981) or Krizia Uomo (1984), and maybe Teatro Alla Scalla (1986) or the Krizia Moods and Krizia Moods Uomo (1989) pair. Much after that, and we see a complete drop off in interest for the brand from the online fragrance community, and only the real hardcore lovers are going to have Spazio Krizia Uomo (1993) or anything much after that. However, this is not yet another paean to the cruelty and narrow-mindedness of of those who live in the past and deign the future unfit, nor the trend-obsessed fickleness that becomes the cultural equivalent of a liminal spaces creepypasta video on YouTube, just a brief contextual introduction to a review of the overlooked scent at hand from the erstwhile forward-fashion darling Krizia. Krizia pour Homme and Krizia pour Femme (2014) both have a similarly-dashing bottle emblazoned with a giant K, being the first and so-far only releases from new Chinese holders Shenzhen Marisfrolg aka “The First”. The men’s scent is an unusual exercise in iris and green aromatics, which makes it extremely out of time with what was current fragrance fashion of the 2010’s.

The opening of Krizia pour Homme is actually pretty quiet, and this has what I call a “reverse drydown” where it gets louder as it settles on skin. Bergamot and dry pepper slowly heat up into a dusty spice melange of nutmeg, cinnamon, and sage, inflected with elemi resin and bitter artemisia. This slightly-green dusty aromatic spice heart is joined quickly by a rooty orris note that is obviously not real orris butter, but fairly photo-realistic for what it is, becoming the core of the fragrance. I find this decision to dress iris in green and muted dry spice to be extremely novel, as usually iris is dressed in soapy accords of neroli and tonka a la Prada, or go full-makeup like Dior once did with vanilla and leathery notes. Here in Krizia pour Homme, the iris stays fairly rooty and earthy, having some carrot seed aspects which remind me of Eau d’Ikar by Sisley (2011), and this is all before the dry down emerges. Eventually dry woody compounds subbing in for cedar and sandal come forward, before a tobacco-like dry tonka similar to Luna Rossa by Prada (2012) enters. Eventually, I get bits of patchouli and leathery compounds here that remind me of some much older things in the skin scent phase, but they are unlisted by the brand, and finally some vanilla to round it all off. Wear time is long, and performance is surprisingly good, so be careful with application. Best use is in spring or fall as a casual or office scent, as Krizia pour Homme really isn’t that crazy of a concept once all the dust settles and the iris/orris core calms down after about an hour. If you commute, you’ll be ready to go by the time you show up if you apply before leaving the house. Otherwise, maybe not an office scent.

In the end, a brand nobody pays attention to anymore releasing a men’s fragrance in a style that sits between the late 90’s and 2000’s (with a speck of the 80’s) isn’t something that’s going to warrant investigation from many except for the fringe like myself (and the person who sold me a backup bottle of theirs), so I don’t expect anyone to run out all at once and buy this based on my review. However, if you do enjoy stuff like Moods, this may be up your alley, especially if you enjoy iris enough to wear any of the Dior Homme (2005) variations or Prada Infusion series scents. I hate to say this smells “like niche” because the term “niche” itself has become so subverted by the industry as to lose all meaning, much like “cancel culture” has become a dog whistle by those in power against whom public accountability is ironically ineffectual. Still, fans of everything from Bijan for Men (1981) to Gris Charnel by BDK Parfums (2019) should give Krizia pour Homme a shot if it’s still available at a good price; that last part is the real bugaboo about Krizia as a house, since its fragrances seem to quickly come and go from the market much like Van Cleef & Arpels’ designer-tier fragrances used to before they just killed them all and went upmarket. Green, rooty, earthy, woody, spicy, yet somehow clean, Krizia pour Homme really does honor the brand’s left-of-center design, I’m just afraid that nobody in the designer fragrance market anymore really values anything that isn’t a retread of a “blue” fragrance or an absolute candy bomb. Krizia pour Homme is a very pleasant surprise, nonetheless, and one I do not regret picking up, even if I had no idea what I was getting until it was on skin. Thumbs up

Ashes by Clandestine Laboratories (2021)

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Ashes by Clandestine Laboratories (2021) has a weird and perhaps unsettling theme for some, yet smells much more optimistic and beautiful than what you might think given that theme. To cut right to the chase, this is a white floral perfume, having some semblance to the “bitchy” white floral chypres of the 70’s a la Chanel Cristalle (1974) or Jacomo SIlences (1978); although Ashes is ultimately too abstract for the chypre tag and I think that categorization would maybe even limit its interpretation by the wearer somewhat. Yeah, full-blown “wearable art” perfume is this, perfect for the niche connoisseurs that need to be taken on a perfume journey of the heart, body, and soul with every sniff; forum veterans who sit with folded legs surrounded by new age crystals and the sounds of Enya wafting from their Bose Lifestyle systems somewhere in the pampered burbs, far beyond the reaches of the brand’s humble Bronx NYC origins. It’s 3pm, better not be late for Yoga class. Speaking of that theme, it’s one of death and rebirth, with ashes being less of a an actual note (thank goodness), and more of an implied one with other materials joining hands. Bright, yet also earthy; floral, yet also aromatic; green, yet also airy; Ashes by Clandestine Laboratories is a very delicately-balanced fragrance that is more potent than its apparent transparency leads you to believe, meaning fans of work by perfumers like Jean-Claude Ellena or Christine Nagel should take note here too. There is nothing particularly antipodean or classical here either besides the resemblance to the aforementioned 70’s female-market designers, so consider Ashes one of the more thoroughly-modern affairs from the house, however by “modern” I do not mean commercial or overtly synthetic to cut costs in the expected cynical sense.

The opening is fairly sharp and sour at first, with a classic presentation of citrus that to me feels like the shrill bergamot of the old bitter femmes mentioned earlier. This sour sharp freshness may come across a tad bit urinous to those used to the much-softer bergamot notes that tend to be found in commercial perfumery today, but wearers of things from the 60’s and 70’s will feel right at home with this opening. From there, things taper off somewhat into a green grassy direction, feeling sometimes again like the old galbanum doses of those “bitchy” chypres; but once more Ashes softens and tapers after a few moments, while retaining that strident piercing effect. This is because jasmine and gardenia enter the stage as the main white floral players here. The heavy and sometimes more indolic nature of these florals has been removed, and the fleshier aspects of gardenia that can sometimes remind of tuberose are also removed, rendering the white florals cold and luminous, sheer almost to a fault. This is a serious perfume despite being so bright and ultimately affable, like a firm handshake rather than a soft hug. Flinty mineralic elements that can also remind one of the sharper olfactive points in top soil are also evident, mixing with bits of what the brand says is clover. I’ve haven’t sniffed clovers in recent memory, but I do recall elements of what smells like the outdoor gardening section of Home Depot here. This earthen mineralic quality also recalls Jean-Claude Ellena’s work as well, although most likely in happenstance, not intentionally. Incense, patchouli, vetiver, and white musks base this out, and the terpenous elements of patchouli in particular continue the sharpness from the opening on through to the finish. Wear time is very long, and projection is also quite potent. If I said the best use for this was in spring, would you really be surprised?

Like several I’ve tried from this house, Ashes by Clandestine Laboratories is not mass-appealing in the least, and therefore not for everyone. This one in particular needs confidence to carry it if you expect feedback, but at it’s core wears as a clean scent, so it will likewise offend no one. From a practical perspective, I think this is perfectly unisex due to the treatment of the florals; and Ashes reminds me most of something like Creed Royal Water (1997) if it had been handled in an alternate universe by Jean-Claude Ellena as Olivier Creed’s underpaid ghost perfumer rather than Pierre Bourdon, since Ashes has many of the strikingly fresh qualities of Royal Water, just with a peaty trick from the mineral notes and more complexity in materials selection. If you liked those colder, sharper, more serious white floral chypres from the 70’s as a man, but you could not bring yourself to wear them due to gender norms, then Ashes by Clandestine Laboratories may be the answer you’re looking for. And for the ladies, this is a decidedly more-modern and gender-neutral take on that theme with big thorny heart. For me personally, I get more rebirth than death; as the combination of tart citrus openings, piquant earthen elements, bitter white florals, and nostril-tweaking patchouli fumes all just remind me of spring time, with only the earthy sharp bits reminding me in any palpable way of ashes. I think that’s a good thing though, as the point of Ashes by Clandestine Laboratories isn’t to dwell on the loss implied by ashes as remnants of what once was; but rather to smell like what arises from them in time, life going on undeterred by said loss. Ashes is far more green to my nose than gray, but your mileage may vary as you consign yourself to the beautiful oblivion this scent themes itself around, I seem particularly sensitive to the greener, more stemmy facets of the composition. Thumbs up

Sir Irisch Moos by Sir/Mäurer & Wirtz (1969)

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Sir Irisch Moos by Sir (1969) is an odd thing that will likely have more familiarity to those living in or around Germany than anywhere else in the world. Created originally by the German shaving supplier Sir (which takes its name from the middle letters of “rasieren” meaning “shaving”), Sir Irisch Moos is the only remaining product from the brand, and might as well be the brand itself now, as that’s how owners Mäurer & Wirtz market it. Primarily an aftershave, Sir Irisch Moos is a classic green aromatic fougère, an early example of the darker, bolder type first seen upon the arrival of the seminal British Sterling by Speidel-Textron (1965). Like how British Sterling was claimed to have real UK heritage yet was never initially sold to them, Sir Irisch Moos was not made in Ireland nor sold to the Irish initially, instead banking on a cultural stereotype. What’s funny about this is the smell of Sir Irish Moos is basically a missing link between the darker British Sterling and the soaper Paco Rabanne pour Homme (1973) that would come later, almost as if it was an answer to the former and source of inspiration to the latter. Ignoring all this, Sir Irisch Moos is a very bold, masculine, satisfying wet shavers delight that can be worn just as fragrance alone, much like Mennen Skin Bracer (1931) or William’s Aqua Velva Ice Blue (1935).

The opening of Sir Irisch Moos is as those familiar with this scent profile might guess: fresh and soapy. Bergamot, lemon, coriander, rosemary, and a soapy aromatic clean dimetol note that would later be paired with dihydromyrcenol in Paco Rabanne pour Homme, but here just stands with the usual white floral woody characteristics into the heart of lavender, geranium, muguet, and galbanum. The fougère heart is supported by patchouli, cedar. clove, oakmoss, and tonka in the base, and is expectantly dry. As a midway point between the even darker and leatherier British Sterling, and the aforementioned Paco Rabanne, I can’t help but catch fleeting glimpses of the later Pascal Morabito Or Black (1982) when smelling SIr Irisch Moos, especially as the clove and oakmoss converge. Also make no mistake about potency, as even in aftershave format, this is one knock-you-down fragrance that an overzealous splashing hand can cause you to seek oxygen as you choke in a cloud of big, mean, green, clean. Wear time is about 6 hours, which is really good for an aftershave, and if you find the rare bottle of cologne (or later eau de toilette spray), expect a bit longer. Best use is after a shave with something like Proraso green shave soap, pretty much any time of year hot or cold. Layered in other Sir Irisch Moos products like bar soap, deodorant, and so forth, you can get quite a potent scent bubble going, just like vintage Avon men’s products.

The following year (1970) Germany would see the creation of Irish Spring bar soap, featuring a smell eerily similar to Sir Irisch Moos known internally at Colegate-Palmolive as “Ulster Scent”, while the same soap would launch in the US by 1972. Several other perfume houses like Worth or Roger & Gallet would meanwhile compete with Paco Rabanne pour Homme with similar fougères, while 20 years down the road, Fragrances of Ireland would make a tourist-friendly men’s fragrance also loosely based on the Sir Irisch Moos DNA called Patrick by Fragrances of Ireland (1999), although most of this stuff is sold only abroad or in tourist trap gift shops. This means after two decades of German chemists declaring Sir Irisch Moos is how Irish men smell, nobody inside the country wears this aftershave, nor has even heard of Irish Spring Soap, and is barely aware of the Patrick cologne; yet some Irish guys are at least somewhat familiar with Paco Rabanne pour Homme, without any notions of fragrances like this being associated with Ireland by guys abroad, which I find particularly hilarious. Being as this stuff was always meant to be sold cheaply at a drugstore, I’m not sure if digging up deep vintage will make much difference beyond oakmoss quotient, especially if you live outside Germany and need to shop online for it. Thumbs up

Eau de Vetyver/Vetyver Givenchy by Givenchy (1959)

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Givenchy has stated that this fragrance began life as Eau de Vetyver by Givenchy (1959), and was bespoke made for Hubert de Givenchy the same year Monsieur de Givenchy (1959) was composed and released for mass consumption as their first flagship male offering in fragrance. Perhaps Hubert wasn’t really enamored with the soapy musky citrus chypre style popular in the mid 20th century, or perhaps he saw what Carven had done with Vetiver Carven (1957) a few years before and told his perfumers “gimmie sum o’ dat”; either way, we’ll never really know the conversations that took place between him and his staff at that time since he has left us, and nobody seemed brave enough to ask him beforehand. What else is known about this scent also comes from old Givenchy market copy, which stated that Eau de Vetyver was blended from rare vetiver varieties and only four other ingredients for support, including bergamot, coriander leaf (as opposed to spice), sandalwood, and oakmoss. Smelling the oldest specimens of this, I can definitely see that being the case, even if there are likely more ingredients than that hiding between the cracks. Lastly, this was originally sold as a “couture” fragrance only in Givenchy boutiques located in Paris and New York respectively, never to be distributed in department store chains, making the original bottles painfully rare and expensive to find in the aftermarket. Luckily, Givenchy would remedy that after seeing how successful Guerlain Vetiver (1961) would become later on, giving Eau de Vetyver a bit of a makeover and releasing it just as Vetyver Givenchy into the 70’s alongside Givenchy Gentleman (1974). This didn’t last terribly long however, and Vetyver Givenchy soon disappeared from the market as well, allowing decades of unobtainium status to grow its mythic status.

The thing that’s really impressive about Vetyver Givenchy is just how focused on vetiver it truly is, and you can see in the distant future how Tom Ford was inspired by it for his own Tom Ford Grey Vetiver (2009). This single-minded focus on vetiver gives Vetyver Givenchy a timeless quality that helps it avoid smelling particularly musty or old like other vetiver treatments of the era which embellished the subject more with ingredients that were “conventionally masculine” for the era, and this includes the much-lauded Guerlain Vetiver as well. Lanvin and Parfums d”Orsay would both release vetiver-centric flankers to existing lines or stand-alone fragrances like Monsieur Lanvin Vetiver/Vetiver Lanvin (1964) and Eau Fringante by Parfums d’Orsay (1969) respectively, but these would have heavy doses of oakmoss or orris root, and other things that wrinkle the nose of someone not particularly interested in “vintage” smells. Vetyver Givenchy on the other hand, smells natural and singular like many a modern (and much more expensive) niche vetiver offerings from the usual luxury “haute parfumerie” crowd these days. Indeed a noticeable bergamot riff opens the Givenchy, before the nutty and grassy qualities of vetiver come to the fore. Givenchy opted for a more photorealistic take on vetiver, rather than concentrating the essence to bring out smoke like many 80’s vetivers do, nor is there a noticeable tobacco and leather bottom end like with Guerlain’s more-popular take. Sandalwood, and unlisted notes of cedarwood and oakmoss hold this together for me, with the mentioned coriander leaf just adding some dustiness that sucks all moisture from the composition, which is perhaps the only thing that “dates” the scent; utter dryness was very popular in men’s fragrance mid-century.

Performance is light but persistent; and I can imagine with Hubert de Givenchy’s refined personal taste for menswear (when was he ever not in white shirts or tailored suits?), he wanted something that just barely graced the air that surrounded him; which is perhaps the only other element which “dates” Vetyver Givenchy somewhat, as the fashion of men’s fragrance in this nascent stage of a separate men’s fragrance market was to be discrete and not projecting like women’s fragrances of the era. After decades existing as merely a legend (or extremely-overpriced surviving specimen for collectors), Vetyver Givenchy made its return as part of the Les Parfums Mythiques collection, alongside other older masculines like the aforementioned Monsieur de Givenchy and Givenchy Gentlemen. Granted, this return is in much-reformulated form, as real Mysore sandalwood was all but impossible to source in mass-market quantities and other ingredients like bergamot oil and pure oakmoss were being clamped-down upon by IFRA. In short, it simply wasn’t possible to make such a rudimentary composition of materials like it was back in 1959, unless it was to be worn bespoke (and thus beyond the reaches of regulation) or made in small and extremely expensive hand-crafted batches a la Areej le Dore. The newest iteration does the best possible job recreating the simple pleasures of bergamot, natural vetiver, coriander leaf, and sandalwood, and I’d still buy this over dozens if not hundreds of other nosebleed-priced niche vetivers competing for its fundamentalism. To be honest, this should have been the “reference vetiver” and not Guerlain’s. if only because it is literally a reference to vetiver by design, although Guerlain Vetiver ultimately did more to inspire the progress of the vetiver genre. Thumbs up

Witness by Jacques Bogart (1992)

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The almighty Witness by Jacques Bogart (1992), the lauded and venerated ultimate cinnamon oakmoss and sandalwood bomb placed upon pulpits and proselytized on high, is none of these things; but time and time and time and freakin’ time again, so many self-styled vintage “gurus” drink the Kool-Aid set out by a few trusted voices who smell with their sentimentality and not with their nose, that a cascade of frenzied buying results. This used to be a reliable and cheap alternative to Roger & Gallet Open (1985) or Montana Parfum d’Homme (1989), even years after it was pulled by Bogart for really failing to catch fire, much like its slightly-younger sibling Eau Fresh by Jacques Bogart (1993). Both of these fragrances share bottles and a perfumer by the way; and in both cases are worked up into being something they’re objectively not, although to much-lesser extent for Eau Fresh. Young finance bros in “the game” follow in the footsteps of boomer retirees who already own 16 backups of this, singing like songbirds about the fragrances of their glory-years being the best there will ever be, leading to binge-buying stuff like Witness, or anything they name drop really, until thousands are spent in massive 200-bottle hauls that get posted on YouTube. After a while it’s like collecting cards, being less about what the fragrance is, and more about the fact that “I got my bottle”; and Witness deserves better than that, yet paradoxically also doesn’t deserve its own hype. Where is the line drawn? Hopefully I can help. The short answer: don’t believe the hype, and grab a mini or sample first, saving yourself much stress and possible disappointment. This is another good scent that was once a cheapo starter recommendation (like most Bogarts) with too-long a shadow in the online collector’s space post-discontinuation.

Witness is indeed a fragrance that features cinnamon, sandalwood, and oakmoss; but the thing that few seem to mention is the whopping dose of artemisia that is in it. So much artemisia is in Witness, that I think it plays a bigger role than cinnamon or sandalwood in the end. I’d actually put Witness in the runnings alongside Quorum by Antonio Puig (1982) or Chevalier d’Orsay by Parfums d’Orsay (1911) in regards to older fragrances with big artemisia doses. Once you get past this distinction, you realize why Dominic Preyssas did this: to cover for the lack of pricier materials in the scent since cinnamon and artemisia pack a lot of power for the money in perfume formulas meant to be more aromatic in nature. Under all that “brown” provided by these two, is a tobacco-themed aromatic fougère very similar to Quorum, and sitting between it and higher-quality things like Open or Montana. The heart has geranium, rose, lavender, and sage dancing around with balsam fir for a touch of pine; but the base smothers it in tonka, cedar, and a bit of sandalwood that is far more likely to be polysantal than Mysore if we’re talking Bogart here. Patchouli, benzoin, and oakmoss continue to pad out the finish, and Witness wears quite nicely for a day, better in colder months, and isn’t too terribly loud for a Bogart (but louder than average). If you’re looking for a classic spiced tobacco fougère, you’d only have to wait two more years until Aramis Havana (1994) came to market, doing a far better job of this floral tobacco-meets-spiced burliness fusion by having a snappier and smokier feel. Expect the far dry-down to once again return you to artemisia, like the killer coming back to life at the end of a horror movie, with muted traces of the main woody tonka riff repeating until credits roll.

That is of course, unless you’re willing to go far enough back to pick up bottles of Avon Öland (1970) or Jacomo Eau Cendrée (1971), which are in my eyes the truest champions of this mini-genre, with Quorum playing second-fiddle. The most reductive way I can describe Witness is by taking Open and adding a drop of Halston Z-14 (1976), then layering that over a dried-down film of 2000’s Quorum which omits the castoreum; vintage Quorum by contrast sits midway between Chanel Antaeus (1981) and Open by Roger & Gallet because of it. Is Bogart Witness good? Sure it is, and in my opinion superior to the weird fresh-but-not-fresh green musk chypre/fougère thing Bogart Eau Fresh tried to be, which was Dominic Preyssas’ other contribution to Bogart from this period. If you came to Witness like I did, after hearing the echoes of orgiastic moaning over cinnamon, oakmoss, and sandalwood in various congregations of vintage hoarders online, you will be disappointed in learning this is not the Holy Grail of these materials, although it damn near is the Holy Grail of artemisia and “Dodge Cordoba Brown” delivered 20 years late. Witness shares company in the eyes of enthusiasts with vintage bottles of Bogart Furyo (1988) and One Man Show (1980), although the latter are at least somewhat deserving their worship. Witness is a muted, unadorned spice melange worthy of consideration only if the price comes down to planet Earth via a reissue or uncovered cache of NOS a la Furyo; or if you’re a collector of Bogart and need to fill a gap in said collection; or finally if you’re a vintage binge-buyer that needs to “flex” $10,000 away into the hands of laughing eBayers. I don’t regret buying it, but if you are deep in the aforementioned fragrances like me, you won’t often call upon this Witness to testify. Thumbs up

Eau Fresh by Jacques Bogart (1993)

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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

Continuum [12:00 GMT] by Tumi (2021)

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Continuum [12:00 GMT] by Tumi (2021) is actually pretty good, almost shockingly so, although you have to be a fan of the usual Amouage shtick of resins and incense to really appreciate what Tumi has effectively brought “downmarket” here. I say that because what Tumi has placed in this copper-hued bottle is a proxy to the dry downs of many Amouages throughout the 2000’s and 2010’s, both Christopher Chong and Reynaud Salmon eras alike. If you’ve smelled things like Amouage Jubilation XXV (2007), Amouage Interlude Man (2012), or Amouage Boundless (2021), you’re already prepared for what’s in store with Continuum. Furthermore, there are some “boozy” qualities here too, leeched undoubtedly from more-recent designers like Bentley for Men Intense (2013), plus the pepper from Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb (2012); all of thesecongeal into a rather dark, masculine, and serious affair that will still register as modern to the FragBros, something that is necessary as this is the kind of brand to try and ride the online hype-train to profit-town in lieu of much brand cachet with the buying public at large. You see, that is because Tumi is a luxury luggage company stranded in a post-pandemic world where most of its main clientele now no longer leaves their little blue-blooded nesting places.

So, the obvious answer was “hit’em at home” because these same folks traded in flying business-class city to city for endless zoom meetings in their designer pajamas, and ordering expensive sushi dinners nightly via DoorDash, while the Teslas stay perpetually-docked at their condo garage complexes like Dustbusters on wheels. The previous two fragrances were meant to form a morning and night regimen, hence the names Awaken [08:00 GMT] and Unwind [20:00 GMT], but creatively-speaking they left much to be desired for their price points. Here on Continuuum, Tumi has ditched the regimented fragrance solution claptrap a la Jeremy Fragrance’s Fragrance One outfit and just gone down the path of making fragrances mostly without context. Continuum implies by its name that you just use it continuously, wherever. Smell-wise, this opens with a peppery boozy blast of orange and olibanum over a fairly earthy amber. Base notes standing in as top notes is de rigeur for Middle Eastern fragrances, and it is no different here, with things only getting darker as labdanum, orris, and tonka filter in to smooth the opening. The base is some form of nice medicinal oud note, likely synthetic albeit, layed over some sheer musk compounds and suederal-type leatheriness a la Tom Ford. Performance is definitely potent, but this is not a projection monster either, fully meeting the expectations of a true eau de parfum.

I’d say the only context you should mind is the weather, as Continuum makes for excellent day or night wear in cooler temperatures, while we still get to have some of those before climate change roasts us all alive like shrimp in a steam basket. As I’ve quoted in my past two reviews, the official word from Tumi about their fragrance range is thus: “Now, people are spending time working from home, and their normal cadence has changed. That journey is continuing to evolve. And as we started exploring what those needs were for our customers and how they were living those lives, we realized that having a scent was really important to them.” I don’t exactly know how having a scent made by an expensive luggage brand is supposed to be important to those who no longer need to use said luggage, because they can pull the puppet strings of the world remotely from the relative safety of their glass houses, so the “smell” of business travel at that point seems like something they wouldn’t miss, and I don’t think people associate Tumi laptop cases and rolling briefcases with exotic adventures in the Swiss Alps. Anyways. the banality of appealing to the fickle muses of haute bourgeois aside, for fragrance enthusiasts, Tumi has finally pulled something out of their collective asses actually worth paying the $110 per 100ml for, at least until they raise they inevitably price and slowly negate that interest. Thumbs up