Thursday, March 25, 2010

Guerlain Vetiver

This gorgeous cologne has to be the holy grail of men's woody fragrances. I cannot get enough of it. It smells like cedar, but a cedar in heaven, surrounded by ferns and fragrant oriental spices. I really don't think it could be improved. Perfect balance, seemingly simple, yet so evocative and handsome. I imagine green forest, fresh and moist, with moss growing on craggy rocks. It is twilight, it has just finished raining, and all the leaves of the woodland plants have been bruised ever so slightly, and they all give off an incredible scent.

When I lived in Missoula, I used to go with my friends to this natural hot spring out in a cedar forest. We would have to hike in a mile or so, often through wet snow, to get to a miraculous place, where hot water bubbled out of the side of a mountain and cascaded into a green/blue river. You could sit in this river an remain warm in a little pool of water from the hot spring. It was truly heaven, and it smelled humid and musky and herbaceous and cedary just like Vetiver.

Guerlain is right on the money, as usual here. This does not strike me as formal or old fashioned, although it does have a certain classical structure. It is too good to be described as even a woody scent, since it is also a dirt fragrance and a spice fragrance. If Merlin wore cologne, this is what he would wear. It is mysterious, dark, and intensely natural. Amazing!

Dolce & Gabbana The One

Ok, the one for whom? This is nice, a well-blended fragrance. The peachy top notes are round and warm-smelling, and the musk blends in nicely. It is not cloyingly fruity or floral, which is certainly a virtue, and it is hard to figure out what scents are at play here, which I think is actually pretty cool. The ultimate result is a creamy, peachy, super-feminine effect, with not great sillage. I don't get the bergamot or the other citrus topnotes at all here. I appreciate that D & G is not catering to the masses too much here. It is not that overly sugary, fruity, lollipop profile which has plagued the industry for years.

That said, this perfume is not 'the one' in much the same way as Scarlett Johansson, the poster girl for this fragrance, is not 'the one' in any sense of the word. It is an unexciting, unadventurous scent which relies on a media juggernaut and mass-market unimaginativeness to launch it into some faux 'legendary' category. Just as Scarlett is an extremely pale imitation of real, womanly movie stars, whose image she is emulating in this campaign. The One can wait for someone else with lower standards to make the commitment. I'll leave him on the shelf.

Women's deodorant woes

While I am on the subject of sweat, I have to rant a little. Why is it so hard to find a nice-smelling drugstore deodorant for women? I mean, at least the men have their classics--Brut, Old Spice, Jovan Musk, you know the drill--we will ignore all the sporty newfangled abominations. Women have what? Secret? Carribean Cool? Bah humbug. All of them smell sickly sweet and carcinogenic to my nose. The natural ones, alas, do not work.

For many years I relied on Dove Fresh, which had an understated but natural-smelling jasmine perfume, but on my last trip to the drugstore, to my dismay, I discovered that they have reformulated that as well and it has become way too sweet smelling now. What to do?

L'Eau de Sweaty Man

I am sure it's not just me; one of my favorite smells in the world is the smell of a sweaty man. To me it is a rich, fragrant experience, which means happiness and safety. I got this way when I was very little. Two of my most important male figures in my family--my uncle and my best friend's dad--were both very fragrant men, and I loved being near them because I loved them. My own father didn't smell sweaty in this way--his was more subtle, a scent that would linger on his pillowcases and bathrobes, but you couldn't smell on his person. I associated the comfort of his presence with the smell of whiskey and Borkum Riff pipe tobacco. As I write this, I think, no wonder I like all those woody, darker scents. It's all regression, at the end of the day, or at least Herr Doktor Freud would say so!

As I got older, I--strangely enough--tended to date men who had little personal fragrance at all. My first serious longtime boyfriend did not smell unless he had been working out, but then he smelled sort of metallic, and it wasn't the same as that rich, herbaceous, clean smelling sweat I associated with the idols of my childhood. I do think I honed my nose on that boyfriend, though. I learned to smell where he had been, what kind of exercise he had been doing, and who he had been with on his skin. Don't ask.
My husband also has no discernible body odor. He can go for days without washing and still smell as clean as a soapdish. I have encouraged him off and on to quit using deodorant altogether, but he is a fastidious animal and can't seem to bear that thought. So I keep searching for the holy grail of perfumes for him, something that can simulate that supremely comforting and sublime smell of sweaty man. Perhaps YSL Pour Homme or l'Eau d'Hermes in its old formulation. Who knows. Sometimes Grey Flannel does the trick on him, especially when it is layered with other smells, like the rummy Burt's Bees aftershave, but he is reluctant to wear that one because he finds it overpowering.


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