Thursday, January 26, 2012

On My Quest for a Good Cologne I Had to Stop & Ask For Directions


After reading a few books on the topic of smell (Like NY Times Scent Critic Chandler Burr's The Perfect Scent & The Emperor of Scent, also Luca Turin's wickedly funny scent manifesto Perfumes: The A-Z Guide) I've been a lookout for great cologne. Hopefully one I can call my go-to scent. Easy enough, right? Um, sure... if there were only a handful of scents to choose from. But there's hundreds on the market and a steady stream of new ones every month it seems. (Let's just toss in a few more truck loads of hay onto that stack hiding the needle.)

Navigating Without A Scent Compass

During a long phone conversation with my fire-red haired chum on the topic of perfumes and scent, I came to the realization that she has a quasi-scent-compass. Opium. By Yves Saint Laurent. (Oh the lament she wailed about Opium's reformulation! But that's a different story.) It's her go-to scent. Hearing her speak, I think it bestows her with supernatural powers. Clark Kent needed a telephone booth to transform, she just needs a spritz of Opium. It seems that she navigates through perfume with more ease than I do. I theorize this is because Opium has become a sort of bearing for her in the endless stretch of perfume land. It's something she can return to if she doesn't find something else her nose enjoys. I want a scent-compass of my own.

paul cram bare chestTrudging Through Aroma

At first, I like every single cologne I smell on my skin. Nothing is bad. This isn't because everything is good. In retrospect, I realize it's because most everything I was trying out was just mediocre. Nothing that I'd really want to sleep in.

Bottled Up Shiny Blue & Red Spandex

I am under-whelmed. I am asking for a lot, I know. Who doesn't want to crack open a bottle of cologne and find a red cape and spandex tights inside? (You know what I mean.) An aroma that turns the wearer from normal to super with just a spritz.

Making Headway With An Emerging Scent Motif

From all the time spent whiffing, I realize my nose responds favorably to Honey, Violets, warm spices, and Citrus. (Can someone say classic Bay Rum cologne recipe?) Of which I have tried a few versions. Like St. John's Bay Rum, C.O. Bigelow, and Ogallala. Of those I prefer the second. My issue with all of them is they disappear from my skin in a matter of an half hour or less. Which isn't really what I am after.

Finding Tweeters Leads Me To Artist Perfumer Liz Zorn

Upon slight coaxing from my red-haired chum, I join Twitter. (Love the idea of getting away from Big Brother Facebook.) Which leads me to follow the tweets of business luxury-brand blogger @NathanBranch and men's scent blogger @FragrantMoments. Adding much delight to my online reading time.
It's through reviews by each (read Nathan's review & Fragrant Moments) that I become introduced to independent perfumer Liz Zorn and her recent work Rivertown Road Pour Homme. Their glowing write-ups pique my curiosity. Especially the quote from Liz herself saying "Rivertown Road is a complex yet modern Bay Rum Fougere with Seville Lavender Absolute..." The clincher is the Bay Rum reference. So I buy a sample vial to try out. Then I look up the word Fougere.

Definition Of The French Word Fougere

"Fern-like", is one of the main families into which modern perfumes are classified, with the name derived from the perfume Fougère Royale... The class of fragrances have the basic accord with a top-note of lavender and base-notes of oakmoss and coumarin. Aromatic fougère, a derivative of this class contain additional notes of spice and wood. -From Wikipedia

Cracking Open The Vial Of Zorn's "Modern Bay Rum Fourgere"

It comes in the mail on Saturday. I quickly cut open the envelope and pop open the top of the vial and apply to my skin. I am not sure of this scent at first. Sweet, a little honey. I move on with my afternoon of reading and every few minutes find myself putting my wrist to my nose and inhaling. The book winds up slipping from my hands as I drift into a cat-nap. A half hour later coming out of a cozy sleep haze, I wonder what the good smell is? It's me- err, it's the Rivertown Road. It would seem that this scent doesn't vanish in 30 minutes like those earlier mentioned bay rums.

The Aroma Brings to Mind a Sprig of Fresh Lavender Dipped in Honey & Spice

I like it so much that later that same evening I order the 32ml bottle from Liz's website. It comes inside a red cardboard cylinder. The bottle itself makes me think of a chunky nail-polish jar. Rather cool.
Considering that I've already used up a third of the bottle, also that I find myself sniffing the aroma in my shirts when I take them off, and that I wear the cologne to bed- I think it's safe to say I've found my go-to scent.


It seems to me that I've got a sense of my bearings a little better now in the terrain of men's cologne. I'll certainly be trying out more Fourgere style scents, that's for sure. Much gratitude to the bloggers & authors that assisted me.

Fellow Scent Soul Mates?

I actually like Rivertown Road so much I find myself spritzing my wrist before bed so I can smell it while I drift off to sleep. (Does anyone else do that with your favorite scent? Let me know with a comment, so I know I am not a lone weirdo.)

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