Thursday, January 11, 2018
Aquarius by Max Factor-Review
This is the dawning of the age of asparagus, age of asparagus, asparagussssss....
I've had my eye on this fragrance since the early 70's, but only recently got round to purchasing a bottle. I won it for three dollars on ebay, which was quite the deal given the crazy amounts of cash people will part with for this not terribly exciting fragrance. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia, I guess. Aquarius launched in the 60's, as did I! And I'm an Aquarius. Obviously, I needed it. I'm sort of amazed no one bought me a bottle when it was current, as I pretty much drove every member of my family mad playing the soundtrack from Hair, over and over.
"Hey baby, what's your sign?"
"No loitering, so piss off."
I have so much astrology crap from my youth, the strangest being a gigantic glass bearing my zodiac sign. Somewhere, I still have a 60's beach towel with the water bearer on it. It was never my thing, but that didn't stop people buying them for me. How Aquarius perfume slipped by, I'll never know.
It smells like the late 60's. Oh, I know that isn't helpful to anyone young, and I'll elaborate on the notes in a bit, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't set the scene. If you're expecting Woodstock, I can't help you. My strongest memory from that time isn't riots, or trials, or Yippies. Mention the late 60's/early 70's to me and the first thing I think is, Shear Genius-the beauty shop in Skokie, Illinois where my mother spent a good chunk of her life until the late 70's. To me, the 60's and early 70's smell like aldehydes from hairspray, henna, and nail polish remover. It smells like My Sin on old women, the youthful perfumes like Azuree on the shampoo ladies, and permanent wave developer. It smells like cigarettes because no one gave a thought to lighting up around all those flammable solvents, and it smells like fumes from leaded gasoline wafting in from Dempster street every time the door opened. America was so polluted then. I'd blow my nose, and half the city's exhaust would come out in my hankie. I suppose we'll be heading back to that soon enough, given the current mood about regulations.
Quick story about one of the shampoo ladies at Shear Genius. Her name was Poppy and she wore those fabric poppies they hand out for Remembrance Day/Armistice Day/Veterans Day in her gigantic henna tinted hair. Everyone loved Poppy, and she was the best part of being stuck at a beauty shop for hours while my mum had another layer of lacquer applied to her roller set. I stayed in back keeping Poppy and the other shampoo ladies company. Once, I think I was about 10, I lifted my head from one of the magazines I'd been reading and asked loudly across the room, "Hey Poppy? What's a rubber?" Continuing to wash the clients hair, she turned up the water and replied, "You need to ask your mother about that."* I hated that beauty shop, but I loved Poppy.
Aquarius is a patchouli bomb, so don't say I didn't warn you. There's a good dose of amber in there smoothing it out, but if you don't fancy patchouli, nothing else in the notes is going to make Aquarius wearable for you. It is...powerful. Even the vintage bottle I have, which has lost some notes over the years is the sort of thing that elicits a, "Whoa baby, that's some perfume" from someone like myself that lives for this sort of thing. Rounding out the Holy Hippie Trinity, the patchouli is kept company by some sandalwood and vetiver. But really, patchouli.
There's a leather note in Aquarius that comes and goes in between gasps of the patchouli that is very enjoyable-a bit like Cabochard but only for a moment or two. I find myself wishing for more of it, but then the patchouli comes back and kicks me in the head. I've seen florals like jasmine, orris, and lily of the valley mentioned in various reviews but honestly, I don't detect anything even remotely floral here. I get woods, aldehydes, vetiver, and the patch. If there was any bergamot or lemon in the top notes they are long gone in my bottle-it might have been a completely different fragrance with some bright citrus cutting through.
Notes from what I could find online:
Bergamot, Aldehydes, lemon, Jasmine, Orris, LOTV, oakmoss, vetiver, labdanum, vanilla, and a shit tonne of patchouli. But really, Patchouli.
I have no idea where I could possibly wear Aquarius. This isn't a polite fragrance, and though I harbour quite a lot of contempt for the world, I'm not sure it rises to the level of exposing anyone to Max Factror's idea of the Woodstock generation. Oh, I know it got worse a few years later when that hideous green apple perfume was launched, but Aquarius is one hell of a foray into youthful scents. Strangely enough, it would probably be considered "Old Lady" perfume today. I'm an old lady...I should love it✌
File this one under, "Interesting time-specific fragrance" but slap a label on it warning, "Wear at your own risk."
*I don't remember if I asked mum but if I did she probably told me it was an eraser😮