Thursday, August 27, 2015

Aramis-Fragrance Review

I've never been able to persuade any of the men in my life to wear Aramis, so I finally gave up, and started wearing it myself. For years, my dad had a large splash bottle of the stuff on his dresser completely full and unused. It must have been a gift from someone that didn't know him very well because he could barely be bothered to shave his face with any sort of accuracy, and he sure as hell wasn't going to bother with cologne. Around 1980 I finally liberated the bottle from the dresser-top and promptly ploughed through it much to the dismay of those around me.

I recently bought a bottle of the new, reformulated Aramis, and I must say, they did an excellent job of it. Getting that oakmoss note replaced is no simple task, but they managed it, and I'd have a difficult time telling the vintage from the modern formulation. Aramis was always about the leather and cumin anyway. I'm also pleased that they resisted the urge to update the bottle-bravo to the person in charge of that!

Oh god, how I have always loved this cologne. On paper, it sounds like the sort of fragrance that would induce asthma and/or migraines with all that leather, spices, and vetiver. The only thing it comes close to inducing is a swoon-I'd be all over a man that smelled like Aramis. Unfortunately, the only person I've smelled it on in the last forty years is myself, and that might be taking self-pleasure a step too far if it ends with fainting! This has to be the butchest cologne on the market, and frankly I don't understand why it isn't more popular. It can't be the strength or heaviness because we're all swimming in a slough of oud which isn't exactly subtle, so what's the damn matter with Aramis? I repeat, what's the damn matter with Aramis?!

The new formulation has retained the grand sillage that announces your arrival ten minutes before you reach your destination. The longevity of Aramis is epic-you'd better be certain you like it before applying as you'll be living with it for a long, long time. The drydown is pleasant...but still quite strong. Leather and oakmoss are dominant here, and they don't fade easily.  On the other hand, you only need a spray or two and a bottle lasts ages, so yay, bargain! Layering with soaps and lotions might get tricky because anything floral or ozonic isn't going to compliment Aramis. In the old days, there was Aramis soap (probably even on a rope), and shaving lotion but I have no idea if they are still being made. If you find yourself wearing it regularly it might be worth investing in some unscented soap. Whatever you do, stay away from anything too fruity or gourmand.

Strangely enough, cumin isn't listed in the official notes, but anyone that knows their fragrance notes will pick up on it immediately. I don't know if this was a deliberate decision on the manufacturer's part as cumin is often associated with a sweat/body odour note, or if it is something else creating the smell. Whatever the reason, I still smell it along with a bit of "ashtray overflowing with Chesterfields" note that makes me a little nostalgic for the days when people had enormous ashtrays on their coffee tables instead of stupid hipster books about hobbyist farming of rare breed sheep. That's what I like about Aramis-the person wearing it doesn't give a toss about your raspberry shrub recipe, or your Herman Miller furniture, or whatever faux-retro coolness you're trying to project. Aramis is threatening-it is threatening to shave that stupid excuse for a beard off your face, and stick that hair back between your wife's legs where it belongs.

Ahem, shall we get to the listed notes?

Leather, patchouli, oakmoss, musk, sandalwood, jasmine, vetiver, myrrh, aldehydes, atremisia, amber, cardamom, sage, bergamot, thyme, gardenia, clover, coconut, orris root.

I don't get any coconut or gardenia. I believe it is there, because heaven knows you need something to counteract all that machismo, but as far as picking out the notes, I find it impossible. I should mention that the leather note in Aramis isn't the typical leather note you find in fragrances like Bandit. Aramis isn't offering up a suggestion of something slightly kinky, it doesn't need to. This is more like the interior of a Coach bag, back when they were still worth having.

Anyone walking through our bedrooms looking at perfume trays would think they were in the wrong rooms by the fragrances we favour. Danny's tray is filled with the sweet stuff-Shalimar Souffle, La Vie Est Belle, Dahlia Noir, several Ardens from the Green Tea line, Jaipur, Apres l'Ondee, and so on.

Me? I love a good chypre, particularly a leather one. I like a fougere as well. My current rotation on the perfume tray has V.O by Sinan, Guerlain Vetiver, Balenciaga L'Essence, Mitsouko, Penguin, and the like. We have completely different tastes, which is fine save for the times I'd like to invest in a full bottle of something expensive to share. We won't be sharing a bottle of Creed Green Irish Tweed any time soon.

Aramis is my son's idea of a chemical weapon. He can't stand being near it-at least not until the drydown is well underway. I can kid myself arguing he'll grow into something like Aramis-but I rather doubt it. Most people just don't care for it, but those who do are fanatical about it.

The feminine version of Aramis was of course the old Azuree (don't bother with the new stuff, it is a completely different creature). I like vintage Azuree quite a lot, but if I'm being honest I'd prefer to just wear Aramis-gender stereotypes in perfume be damned. It is also easier to find as the reformulation is still wearable (what happened to Azuree I'd be curious to know). Sure, the bottle is old fashioned looking, but generally (with a few exceptions) I don't buy a fragrance for the bottle.

I really don't see why Aramis isn't more widely worn by men and women-it is a brilliant fragrance. I can't help but wonder if it is a lack of marketing, where it fails to reach a new generation and is perceived as a "grandpa" scent. Perhaps what Aramis needs is a branding makeover as some sort of heritage fragrance. Whatever it takes, I hope it happens soon as it would be a terrible loss for this one to fade away (but if it does, you'll still be able to smell it decades after...).


Bibi said...

I LOVE Aramis.
Aramis does remind me of the leisure suit wearing, tinted glasses, hairy chested, gold chain festooned, "What's your sign, baby" machismo of the 70's.
I absolutely adore spicy scents on a man. My husband unfortunately only likes 'clean' scents. The cardamom in Aramis stands out to me. The aromatic scent of huge piles of green cardamoms in the spice markets here is swoon worthy. Yardley makes a lovely spicy fougere with white chocolate & cardamom as a base called 'Gentleman' (I've never seen it in the US only the middle east & the UK).
On setting lotion for hot rollers- I used to put a heat protective lotion on my hair before using hot rollers. Then with the rollers in I'd spritz all over with a strong hairspray & let it dry for 5 minutes hoping to get an almost 'wet set' voluminous look - it kind of worked. The hot rollers certainly didn't damage my platinum bleached hair - at least not any more than the flat iron.

Mim said...

My mum's a big fan of that on chaps. I can't recall it myself. Another one to add to the sniff list.

Has Danny tried Habit Rouge? My husband's a big fan of that, though it is definitely one where the older stuff in the gold-topped bottle is much better than the new one with the silver top.

Goody said...

I don't think I smell cardamom "correctly." To me, it always smells bright, and citrusy-like orange zest. Not a bad thing, but not the rich, spicy scent I hear others describe it as. It has to be me (and my stupid nose).

Danny has a sample bottle of vintage Habit Rouge, but he isn't in love with it. You'd think he'd like it with all the Turkish Delight notes, but I guess he prefers his fragrances in the candy floss notes. I wear it more than he does. New one's no good, eh? I can't say I'm shocked, but maybe a little disappointed.