Elizabeth Taylor : Passion for Men

Created by : Unknown

Date : 1989

Genre : Woody amber

Concentration : cologne spray

I couldn’t help but review Passion for Men.  All those images of Elizabeth Taylor and her many men throughout the week  had me wondering what she would have liked her man to smell like.  And so when I saw the deep purple box at the perfume store, I bought  it.

I have to admit I cheated a little.  I checked around the other blogs to see if it was terribly bad or half-decent and when I read the fairly good reviews, I figured it’s probably worth the low price.  My verdict?  It’s good.  I wore Passion for Men throughout the weekend and I found it fun to wear.  PfM has a subtle swagger facet to it and it made me feel younger… probably because it’s a period piece.  It speaks to the tastes of the 80s.

Passion for Men  is a transitional scent… drawing from the great fougères of the 80s like Davidoff’s Cool Water (1988) and yet helping to pave the way for ambers of the 90s such as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Male (1995) and Chanel’s Allure Homme (1998).  It flirts with being a fougère with all that lavender… and only when I got to the drydown did I realize it was an amber all along. 

According to the Elizabeth Taylor Beauty website, there’s a nutmeg note among the jasmine, patchouli, musc and vanilla but I’m getting more of a ginger note, similar to the ginger-jasmine accord from Caron’s Le 3e Homme (1985).  I’m exaggerating of course because the ginger-jasmine accord in the Caron is gorgeous, upfront and centre but let’s say they share some DNA.

As for lasting power, Passion for Men is an honest fragrance.  As a cologne it lasts about 2-3 hours which is what it’s supposed to.

I’ve never spent so much time looking for an image to go along with a post.  I perused hundreds of photos of Elizabeth’s men… both off-screen and on.  I eventually settled on James Dean because of his swagger.  The above Crucifixion-inspired still of Giant caught my eye.

This one goes next to Stetson… an everyday, inexpensive luxury that reminds me of my younger days and is perfectly wearable.

Top image : Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in Giant (1956)

Stetson : Stetson Original

Created by : Unknown perfumer

Date : 1981

Genre : Soapy amber

Concentration : cologne

Simply purchasing Stetson can be, in itself, “off-road” because many department or high-end luxury stores don’t carry it… but you can easily find  Stetson, as I did, at a drugstore.  There it was… behind a locked glass cabinet with a red triangle on the upper-right corner of the box with the words « New Look, Original Scent ».  I plunked down my $25 Canadian dollars, shoved the nondescript sepia-toned box into my coat pocket, raised my collar, lowered my shades and zipped out… incognito-style.

Contrary to Stetson’s hyper-masculine image and its own marketing tagline as “The legendary fragrance of the American West”, Stetson is actually a very pretty, traditionally-feminine amber with fresh, floral top notes and just a hint of animalic leather that is rare in American perfumery.  Its opening rivals some of the best first acts on the market and if Stetson was made by Chanel or Guerlain, I wouldn’t make such a fuss.  But at such a price?  I’ll make a fuss.

After the complex, layered high-end opening, the animalic notes dropped off leaving a beautiful and seamless amber heart making Stetson Original cologne perfectly wearable by both men and women.  (I don’t usually make this distinction because I think men and women should wear whatever they like but this fragrance is so clearly marketed to men that it’s worth mentioning.)  By the end of the day, I was getting whiffs of a soapy suede that I would associate more with French perfumery.

When I compared Stetson to Shalimar (which costs 4 times the price) both bolted out of the starting gate at the same pace but Shalimar easily took the lead with a stronger animalic subtext and something that made my mouth water… perhaps that pastry quality that Guerlain is known for.  Minutes later the distance between the two increased, no doubt due to the quality of Guerlain’s ingredients and the complexity of the composition but still, Stetson held its own for what it does well… a good-quality amber at an everyday price but with a soapy facet instead of an animalic one.

Interestingly, Stetson Original cologne is not a cologne… it lasts at least 6 hours making it more of an eau de toilette.  I guess the image handlers at Coty didn’t feel comfortable printing the words “eau de toilette” on their masculine, no fuss box.  But basically you’re getting a quality eau de toilette for the price of a bargain cologne making Stetson Original just about the best value for dollar available on the market today.  Agreeably, Shalimar is more beautiful but Stetson is still absolutely wonderful.

So if you are addicted to citrus chypres (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or those ultra-fresh and ultra-boring sports scents and you need a break, try Stetson Original.  For the rest of the week, I found myself reaching for the bottle with the coat of arms on it.  Just don’t get fooled by the “since 1865” hype.  That would be the Stetson hat.  The cologne has been around since 1981.

P.S.  For those who complain to me that they would wear perfume if it was affordable, Stetson Original is and it’s wonderful.

Image : Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969)

P&G : Old Spice Classic

Created by : Unknown

Date : 1938

Genre : Spicy oriental

Concentration : cologne

The SS America (1908), an Italian liner for Navigazione Generale Italiana, brought my grandparents and their two children from Naples to Ellis Island (New York) in 1923.  With them, the liner brought their traditions – incredible Italian cooking, the importance of family celebrations and the Italian tradition of men wearing fragrance.  The very first men’s cologne I ever smelled was from an empty bottle of Old Spice that my grandfather gave me.  Oddly, the bottle was not the iconic white bottle that we all know but one that was modeled after a Bavarian beer mug and it was painted silver so it must have been some kind of special edition.  I kept it for at least 10 years, occasionally removing the cap to smell what was a beautiful, clean manly fragrance.  It seemed like such an adult thing to do.  So grown-up!

And so when the Old Spice Man starting popping up on my screen, I ran out and bought a bottle of Old Spice Classic cologne.  At $14.65 Cdn. for a 125 ml. bottle, I figured… let’s have fun and test it.  The opening notes reminded me of the aftershave that my barber splashes on the back of my neck and if your barber owns a red, white and blue barber’s pole, you probably know what I’m talking about.  Old Spice Classic has a bracing and astringent opening kick to it with an orange, clove and cinammon accord that hints to something antiseptic.  The orange topnote is the most fleeting while the cinammon note lingers the longest.  The heart is vaguely floral which makes complete sense for the time it was created.  My colleagues at work couldn’t figure out whether it was a masculine or a feminine and that’s because today’s masculines are so hairy-knuckled and anchored in heavy woody notes that when we are presented with anything floral we immediately think of feminine fragrance.  The base is vanilla, musk and amber which places it squarely in the oriental family but it actually has an enduring lightness to it.  It seems to stay close to the skin and has outlasted several eau de toilettes that I own, so its lasting power is excellent for a cologne concentration, which is usually around 5% aromatic compounds.  Unfortunately, Old Spice Classic ends on a sweet musc and this is probably the part I like the least… but at this price, I’m not complaining.

Old Spice will never be in my top ten but if ever my collection went up in flames due to spontaneous perfume combustion and the white iconic bottle survived, I’d wear it happily for a week or two until I my insurance money kicked in to replace my stash.

Now… we’ve all seen that hilarious Old Spice commercial but, being a librarian, this parody grabbed my attention.


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