For the Boys, part deux ...
... once again, not really.
Review by Tom
Well, I have been waiting with bated breath for my sample of the new Andy Tauer to show up in my post, so far to no avail. I thought I'd do a whole lavendar extravaganza, covering Annick Goutal Eau de Lavande, SL Gris Clair and Encense et Lavande (a new fave) and of course Reverie du Jardin. Of course the US Postal service has thwarted those plans. I can't really complain because Andy was sweet enough to send it for free. But 24 hours is not going to be enough to do it justice, soooooo.
But since I wore AG last night, I thought I might just take a moment to run down memory lane and revisit a few from that ultimate niche house, the one that (for me anyway) started it all: Annick Goutal.
For those of you who were mere children in the 80's (er... like me!) and see Annick Goutal's festive, gold-capped fluted bottles in your local Bloomingdales and think "Niche? What's he been smoking!", let me take you back to New York City in the pre-Giuliani 80's. Your humble scribe lived in what could be called, well, squalor in a 4th floor walk-up in the East Village, overlooking . This was before "Wigstock" and booming housing prices made that a demi-desireable address: the only reason any same person entered that park was to get heroin, or killed. Or both. I worked at a Soho gourmet food store of some fame that is still there (albeit at a different location) for about $2.75 per hour. One of my favorite things to do was to wander the aisles of the nicer shops on Fifth Avenue and diss the taste of people with more money than me (plus ca change, right?). It was in this vein that I discovered at Bergdorf Goodman Annick Goutal.
AG was completely different than the perfumes that others were putting out at the time. To give you an idea of a few of the perfumes released the same year as Hadrien: such light little numbers as Antaeus, Must de Cartier, Giorgio and Kouros. Imagine that first sniff of Hadrien or Folavril dancing across your nose. As strange as it is to think, these were something magical and new, especially since, although they were marketed in different packaging for men and women (fluted bottles for the gals and broad square flacons for the guys) the juice was absolutely the same. In 1981, this was as revolutionary as trying to market lipstick and nylons to men. One of the other things they did into the 90's was have incredibly generous give-aways, where you would buy a bottle of one and get a third-sized bottle of Hadrien. Needless to say, there were months that I subsisted on ramen noodles and purloined cheese to fund that little habit.
In any case, now that I have nattered you all into a coma, I will remind you of four of my favorites:
Eau de Hadrien
Colombina wrote "it was Eau d’Hadrien that single-handedly converted me into a fan of citrus scents". I once wrote that the only way it could be more refreshing is if were served over shaved ice. Sparkling lemons (true lemon, the first time I smelled it not from the fruit) and cypress. Years later I had the singular experience of sitting in the shade of a cypress on one of those blazing days in where the breeze feels like a dryer vent, sipping a tart lemonade with the barest whisper of gin and ice cubes made from lemon peel and simple syrup. For me, Eau de Hadrien is almost the distillation of that moment: cool tart lemony pleasure and enveloping warm wood.
Sables arrived in 1985, and I have to write that I was not instantly smitten. I came, I spritzed, I left. To my immature nose I got a hit of something that smelled like really good Maple syrup. To a boy this is a welcome scent. But on pancakes, not necessarily on my wrist. As I wore it, what I later came to know as immortelle became bewitching: alternating between toasty caramel and deep, peaty smoky scotch. An interesting blend of sandalwood, bitter herbs and pepper deepens the sweet immortelle, and although I never see it mentioned anywhere, I swear there's a sly musk in there. This is a tenacious scent: I can spritz it on in the morning and easily awake to its sweet embrace the next day, and I more than look forward to that morning after. Increasingly hard to find in the US, I have a bottle sealed and stashed as a talisman against it ever being discontinued.
Eau de Monsieur
Predating Eau de Hadrien by a year and Sables by four, Eau de Monsieur is almost a bridge between the two. Not anywhere near as heady as Sables, but with some of the same feel to it (I swear there is immortelle in there and even sent some to March for confirmation), it opens with tart oakmossy citrus and ends with with that musky sandalwood. All of it is simply amped down several notches from the admittedly heady Sables. It may be damning with faint praise to call this one Sables Lite, especially considering that it predates Sables, but there you are. Sables is something that I would only wear in cool weather or to some very black-tie affair. Sables is at the Carlysle and a carriage ride through sipping Cristal. Eau de Monsieur is a cruise along 17 mile drive in a polo shirt with the top down, a wicker picnic hamper and a checkered cloth in the trunk.
Eau de Sud
Eau de Sud was introduced in 1995, long after I had left that hovel in New York and settled in another hovel in beautiful Beverly Hills. The people at Neiman Marcus, as the kind people at Bergdorf Goodman before them, were lovely about letting me play, and of course I was hooked again.
If Hadrien is a cool citrus, Eau de Sud could be called a hot one. Its lemons are combined seemingly with a black pepper note that's very summery to me and a salty note (not aquatic, never that) that makes me think of tanned flesh. Mint, basil (the merest breath of them) and verbena keep the scent from becoming too harsh, and there is to me a very light, but not white musk that makes the scent sensual in a way that the fresh and innocent Hadrien is not. Also, while Hadrien can be very fleeting (what better excuse for another sip, I mean spritz?), Eau de Sud has lasting power. Even though I consider Hadrien to be a desert island scent, I sometimes find myself reaching for Eau de Sud more. Now that spring has finally sprung, I can see myself reaching for it again and again.
Annick Goutal fragrances are available at Nordstroms, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. I would venture a guess that those nice people at Bergdorfs might even be able to scare up a bottle of Sables, if you ask pretty.
Next time, Reverie du Jardin, and all the love for lavender. If the bloody thing ever gets here.