Tag Archives: Guerlain

Good Read…

I find it incredibly sexy when I come across a woman who admits she wears men’s cologne. It’s the confidence that comes along with making that choice that does it for me. The industry does a good job segregating fragrances and having the courage to break the rules takes knowing yourself and what works on you. Continue reading

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Arlington Cologne and the Quest for Hungary Water

Whenever I ask fragrance people if they’ve heard of Hungary Water, I get blank stares and the same question: “Hungry water?” No, I correct them, Hung-gare-ee, as in Hungarian.

Wikipedia, ever the reliable resource, says that Elisabeth, the fourteenth century Hungarian queen, commissioned the world’s first alcohol-based perfume. Or it may have been Elisabeth of Poland. Or Saint Elisabeth of Hungary. No matter. Suffice it to say that Hungary Water, or Queen of Hungary Water, is a very old concoction of herbs in alcohol, usually some variation of rosemary, thyme, lavender, mint, sage, marjoram, orange blossom and lemon. It was probably worn as a fragrance and drank as an herbal remedy.

Today, herbalists and natural skincare firms market versions of Hungary Water as face-cleaning astringents and toners, like complicated versions of rosewater or witch hazel.

The Internet offers a few modern recipes (here, here and here), but my experience with Hungary Water comes from Crabtree & Evelyn, which produced a version of it starting in 1975. I had it in a shower/bath gel years ago, but I’ve never smelled the cologne. When I used my bottle up, I discovered that it had been discontinued. Fortunately, I found a bottle of shower gel on eBay, overstock from a London fragrance shop. It smells amazing and fresh, citrusy and deeply herbal—like nothing else I have.

Finding a suitable replacement for Crabtree & Evelyn’s Hungary Water has been a years-long process. After realizing that classic colognes most closely resemble it, I struggled to find one that had the herbal depth of Hungary Water. Was it the rosemary? I wish I knew for sure.

Colonia Russa, a scent created by Santa Maria Novella around the turn of the 19th century, came close, as did Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Impériale from 1853. And 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser, a true cologne in the most literal sense (created in Cologne, Germany in 1792), comes close too; it’s a steal at about $20 for 2 oz.

But all three of these are citrus scents that have very little staying power. Within an hour or two, almost every trace of them is gone on the skin.

The closest I’ve come to Hungary Water yet is D.R. Harris’s Arlington Cologne, another bargain at about $45 for a 1.7 oz. spray. It’s got fresh citrus top notes with the pungent herbal edge that I was looking for. D.R. Harris calls it a citrus with fern, but more than one commenter on fragrance forums have complained of multiple reformulations (a constant problem for those of us seeking old scents).

Arlington has a strong lime-citrus top note, very clean-smelling, but the rest is hard to pin down. There may be some subtle rosemary, possibly sage, maybe basil?—I don’t know. The notes in colognes are very hard to separate. Many colognes claim to dry down to musk notes. I’ve found that most dry down to nothing. Which brings me to my next quest: the search for the lasting citrus cologne. —Harry Sheff

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Meet Stan Williams

stanwilliams

The year was 2006 and Stan Williams and I had lunch at the Bryant Park Hotel’s, Koi restaurant. At the time, he was the Fashion Director of Maxim magazine. I was a relatively young publicist clamoring for his time. As we were finishing up our chat, I blurted out, “you smell great, what are you wearing?” Stan replied, “Vetiver by Guerlain.” I remember being struck by how incredibly clean and masculine it smelt. I ran out the next day and bought my first bottle of this potion.

All of this rushed back into my head as the days led up to the party for his soon to be released book, The Find, held at Ports 1961’s Meatpacking boutique. Upon greeting him at the party, I reminded him of that day and told him I just had to interview him. He smiled and said “of course, I’ll be glad to.”

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?
My earliest recollections of fragrances were all those drug store brands that my dad used to wear: English Leather, Mennen, and all those Avon car-shaped-bottle aftershaves (in the Deep Woods fragrance) that he kept on his dresser. I also remember watching all the Hai Karate ads on TV and wanting a bottle of Jovan Sex Appeal when I was 11 or 12. I think I got it for Christmas as a joke.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?
Mandarina Duck for Men, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Aramis (really have a new-found love of it), Eau d’Hermes and L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Eau d’Absinthe.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?
I never go looking, but I always stop and try things. I don’t really have a profile. I like old-fashioned smelling fragrances, but I also like bright ones. It just depends on how I feel. However, I can never go wrong with the YSL Rive Gauche……

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?
Yes…L’Artisan Parfeur, Hermes, and YSL Rive Gauche. I just love them, and I feel like they fit my personality.

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?
When I was obsessed with Ralph Lauren Polo in high school and my best friend’s step mom somehow nabbed the gigantic display bottle for me. I was in heaven!

What is your book all about and might there be applicable tips for fragrance shopping?
The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details is a book that takes people on a personal journey in learning how to find beauty in other people’s cast-offs. It’s filled with 500 original photographs of work by many of today’s tastemakers — GQ’s Jim Moore, Barneys New York’s Simon Doonan, decoupage artist John Derian, Real Simple’s Kristin Van Ogtrop, This Old House’s Alex Bandon — just to name a few — and hopefully empowers people to feel comfortable decorating their own environments with vintage and thrift.

When shopping for vintage and thrift, there’s also one thing that rings true for purchasing fragrances: only buy what you love. I say that when thrifting, don’t be over-obsessed with pedigree or brand. If you love it, it is good quality, and suits your purposes, then buy it. Same goes for fragrances. I think people sometimes buy a product because they are attracted to a brand name or a bottle. But bottom line, if the juice doesn’t work on you, then don’t wear it again. And try different options. Just like in thrift shopping, it may take a while to find what you’re looking for, you’ll eventually find the scent that suits you.

Thanks Stan. And for those who have no idea of the comedy associated with Hai Karate, enjoy:

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