A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Roger at a birthday get together for a friend. As fashionably late as he was, all in attendance greeted him affectionately and I soon learned why, he’s quite the charmer. I caught up to Roger recently at Diner in the meatpacking district where we traded stories about fragrances. I had a hunch he was into them but not to this degree…read on for yourself.
What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
The citrusy linger of my Dad’s Blenheim Bouquet (Penthaligon) on the stairwell, as he slipped on his jacket to go out on Saturday evenings. As a kid, I tried to make perfume by soaking handfuls of lilacs from the garden in cold water and then eventually bringing the whole experiment to a slow boil to concentrate the smell. I recall a heady mess on the kitchen counter.
What are some of your favorite fragrances?
Over the years, I find myself coming back to certain disciplines of thought to which I have handily prescribed a scent – Bel Ami by Hermes, Acqua Coloniale by L’Erbolario and Garrigue by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. Thanks to my buddy Antonio, I have a man in Naples who has created something special that I wear sparingly!
There was a time when my go-to scent was Romeo Gigli. In the 80s when severe shoulder-padding adorned even bodysuits from Donna Karan, the designs of Gigli looked artless and yet distinct. Gigli brought the same sense of proportion and colour to the design of his men’s cologne – from the lilac rectangular box with the dark orange label to the citrine green liquid to the bottle itself, which looked like a burgundy domed minaret, with metal coils around its neck. I would stock bottles of it like champagne.
What’s currently in your rotation?
In an effort to simplify my life, I have doubled up on classifications on the domestic front, which means sorting CDs by alphabet and musical genre and arranging the bookshelf by size and jacket cover. In the bathroom, only white packaged products are allowed in the medicine cabinet, and only brown bottled scents are on display, everything else is hidden. Coincidentally, I suppose, I am drawn right now to Flower Power by Comme De Garcons, L’Occitane and Helmut Lang’s Cuiron.
How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?
Not often and little in particular. When a favorite bottle is finished, I’ll replenish it. However, if it’s a new scent to which I’m not keenly attached, I’ll use the opportunity to review a scent I had initially waited to buy or to preview something new.
Have you ever purchased the same fragrance more than once? If so, what was it and what about it made it worthy of a repeat buy?
Several scents, depending on how they reacted to my skin and the responses they elicited. Though I cannot say print or television campaigns inform my choices as much as before, but I remember being repeatedly seduced by the ads for Kouros, Greek god iconography in blue and white, and by the black and white visuals for Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent produced by Jean Baptiste Mondino with a young Naomi Campbell, in silhouette, hair bobbed and playing the part of a scatting chanteuse. Need I say more?
How would you finish this statement, “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
I have several: early mornings in general, especially Springtime in the country with the windows open; reading Patrick Susskind’s “Perfume” on the New York subway and noticing a heightened awareness to smells; walking into the Comme Des Garcons perfume shop in Paris for the first time; Fracas by Robert Piguet and the accompanying memories of a prep-school romance to more mature expressions of love and lust, encouraged by Caron’s Yatagan.
Well groomed and versed, that’s Roger Joseph.