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 eraseršŸ˜®


Polyester Princess said...

I quite like Patchouli, which takes me right back to youth club in the late 1970s. All the kids were wearing it. I didn't. I was the only punk, and punks didn't really wear Patchouli. I don't remember what scent I wore instead, if any. I love how just one whiff of something - doesn't have to be perfume - can take you right back and I very much enjoyed reading your story about the shampoo ladies at Shear Genius. My favourite kind of post! xxx

beate grigutsch said...

a fragrance review right up my alley!!
love your style of writing! <3
1968 i was born... behind the iron curtain. the only scents ladies used was 4711 or tosca..... you´r opening a whole new world to me!
btw - the european union banned natural scents out of perfumes in 2009 - so only synthetic mixtures now. to protect allergic people. smells bad - to my nose - and stays not very long on the skin..... and i´m kind of allergic to synthetic scents. ha.

Veronica Cooke said...

Do you know Goody, I don't think I remember or have even heard of this perfume! I was into fashion, make up and perfume in the 1960s so don't know how this happened. Anyhow, based on your review I don't think I'll be trying to track down a bottle!

I do remember buying 'Desert Flower' by Shulton in a gift set and loving it. Does it still exist I wonder...

Bibi Maizoon said...

I was launched in'65 under the unattractive sign of Cancer. Thankfully I was not gifted a lot of crab related items.
Americans' nostalgic love for patchouli is rather odd. In the American mind patchouli is exotic, foreign, almost mystical and usually associated with India.
Indians actually aren't very fond of the scent of patchouli as it's considered a cough & cold remedy here. Scenting oneself with patchouli in India would be like scenting oneself with Vick's Vapo-rub in the US. Thus Western perfumes with a lot of patchouli don't sell well in India- I have never smelled the hyper-sweet patchouli based modern best seller in the West "La Vie est Belle" on an Indian.

Beth Waltz said...

Holy hippie trinity of stinks, indeed. Nag Champra incense reminds me of brown rice and green tea, Ravi Shankar on the stereo and -- just remembered that odd fishy smell that was probably sizing of some sort -- gauzy Indian cotton skirts drying on the shower tower hooks. ((Yes, there was another scent of smoke wafting about; however I did not indulge directly.)

ThriftyParka said...

Hee, rubber.

Thank you for sharing you memories. I can only imagine a young Goody poring through magazines in a hazy cigarette smokey salon.

Hope you and the fam are keeping warm!

Happy thrifting ;)

Goody said...

All the punks in Chicago smelled like a combination of Tennax hair gel and Ivory soap flakes used to hold up their Mohawks.

A lot of good perfumes suffered reformulation after they removed the oakmoss and other allergens. I'm sympathetic to that, but it might have been better to just let some perfumes go rsther than try to fix them. I don't hate all synthetic notes, but there are some I could definitely do without (iso E super, etc.)

Love the patchouli/Vicks comparison. Personally, now that I'm an old lady I find the fragrance of Fisherman's Friend cough lozenges downright sexy on an older fella ;)

@Thrifty Parka
I hope you're keeping warm too!

Goody said...

"I didn't inhale" :)
Maybe it was the dye n those skirts that stunk so bad-I know exactly what you're remembering. Those skirts are worth small fortunes today.

Mim said...

Those notes make me think I'd probably like that one.

Weirdly, my mum bought me a badge with my star sign (Pisces) on it for Christmas. She was really into it when I was younger, but it was odd to see her lapsing back after all these years. And the badge is the constellation; like Bibi not being given masses of crabby things, I don't think I'd want masses of fishy things.

Emily from Etsy said...

Wow, those outfits are all so lovely! I especially like that beaded coat. It looks like springtime.

The original Bijan is one of my favorite fragrances ever, so we have that in common. I find it similar to Oscar de la Renta, but just different enough that it's necessary for me to own both.

It's interesting that you have Bijan Wicked (the purple figure-8 bottle) and One Hundred % Bijan (the bottle shaped like the lower-case letter "b"). There's very little information about One Hundred % Bijan online, but in my opinion it's the same scent as the original Bijan fragrance, just a different shape of bottle. Do you think so too?

The bottles of One Hundred % Bijan that I have managed to get my hands on in real life had no box for me to study, but I have seen one boxed example on the Internet, and the box itself does not say "One Hundred % Bijan" on it, just plain old "Bijan," which seems to support my theory that it is the exact same scent, just repackaged in a different bottle.

Your telephone handbag is amazing! And I'm drooling over the lemon bars.

Goody said...

Ah...ooops! The Wicked bottle wasn't what I meant to post-that'll teach me to use old photos to illustrate a post. I wasn't aware 100% is a different smells identical to me. I can't tell that much difference in Bijan DNA either, so maybe my nose is going or it just gets overwhelmed by ALL the notes? I have the 100% box somewhere-I'll look for it. I'm pretty sure it just says, Bijan.

Radostin said...

That "no loitering" quote is the best ever. I've never watched Hair.