Tag Archives: Polo

Chanel Pour Monsieur

On a Christmas 20 years ago, a high school girlfriend offered me a choice between two colognes that she may or may not have shoplifted: Chanel Pour Monsieur and something else (what it was I don’t recall). I chose without smelling either, but then it wasn’t a difficult decision: Chanel had a luxurious mystique, even to my 15-year-old mind.

I didn’t regret it. Against the other bottles on my dresser—Drakkar Noir with its pungent patchouli and oakmoss and the sharp pine and citrus of Polo—Chanel’s subtle woods shrouded by powdery notes were mature and sophisticated. Simply put, Chanel made me feel like an adult.

I wore it for a few years after that, alternating with some other colognes, until over-zealous application of all of them burnt my nose out. After about a 12-year fragrance break I gradually eased into it again and thought wistfully of my old Chanel.

One evening a few years ago, an attractive young woman walked by me at a theater, followed by a light breeze of something familiar. Suddenly I was dizzy with memories: it was Chanel Pour Monsieur. Nostalgia gave way to confusion as I pondered how it made me feel to smell an old favorite cologne on a woman (Is it still masculine? Could I wear it again after associating it with a woman?) The next day I resolved to replace my long lost bottle.

That wasn’t easy. I went to Bloomingdale’s, but the Chanel men’s scents they showed me were nothing like what I remembered. Later I went to Saks. The Chanel counter staff lined up everything they had, but again, nothing was remotely close. I asked if it might be out of production, but the Saks reps knew nothing.

Through some casual Internet research, I stumbled upon rumors of reformulations. What may have happened, I determined, was that Chanel changed its Pour Monsieur formula in about 1989. The bottle I received in 1990 was the last of the old style, which was created in 1955. The new version smelled generic to me. It didn’t have the same light lemon top notes anymore, nor the powdery finish. Those notes were replaced by something more common smelling, and decidedly less pleasant.

Fortunately, the old formula seemed to be in production still, and was available in Europe (indeed perhaps everywhere outside of the U.S.). I visited a Chanel boutique in London last summer giddy with anticipation. Would it be the same? I was disappointed at first. It did not smell the same. I spritzed my wrist anyway, and walked out of the store. A block away, it hit me: this was it! I walked straight back to the store and bought the bottle.

In Perfumes: The A to Z Guide, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s indispensable fragrance bible, Turin gave Chanel Pour Monsieur five stars. Convinced that he was referring to the original and not the reformulation, I e-mailed him. His reply was quick and straightforward: “Chanel Monsieur in the U.S. seems to often be the “concentrée” version which, put plainly, sucks. The original is still good.”

An e-mail to Chanel’s consumer relations department confirmed Turin’s hypothesis: “Regrettably,” wrote my contact, “we currently only offer Pour Monsieur in an Eau de Toilette Concentrée formulation in the U.S.”

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful they haven’t quit making the older formula altogether. There’s a lesson here for those of us who find something we like: Get a really big bottle, because the manufacturer may alter it without ceremony. —Harry Sheff



Meet Stan Williams


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:


Meet David Hart

David Hart

From the moment I spotted David on the street, I was intrigued by his look. Its kinda nerdy, but very confident and modern as bowties are quite trendy. He was gracious enough to allow me to take his picture (I’m sure he gets that all the time) and as it turns out, he is a neckwear designer (David Hart & Co.). In retrospect, that makes sense, not only was his tie perfectly done, but with that type of coordination, creativity can’t be to far behind. Anyhow, I had to stop him as I had a hunch he appreciated fragrance. Man, was I right. Read on…

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance?

My earliest recollection of fragrance was definitely the original Polo by Ralph Lauren. Aside from the fragrance which I would still consider classic and timeless, the bottle was such a great design. The loden green with antique gold was stunning. In my opinion, fragrance is great because it creates something unique to its wearer and it essentially becomes an integral piece of someone’s wardrobe.

What fragrances are currently in your rotation?

Lately I’ve been on a huge Creed kick. Currently I’m back and forth between Green Irish Tweed and Tabarome. I love the long history behind Creed and its fans like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Princess Grace. I’m also pretty obsessed with Malin+Goetz’s Lime Tonic and Polo Black. I’m very big on aftershave. Learning the proper way to shave from my Dad at a young age was a right of passage for me. I shave with a cut throat and love all the products like shave soap, pre-shave oil, and creams from The Art of Shaving to Barbasol and Old Spice.

How often do you go out looking for something new? What specifically do you look for?

I usually shop for new fragrances when the old ones run out. I think the next time I am looking for something I will probably stop by Le Labo. I like the idea of creating something that is uniquely mine and a little more exclusive.

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?

I repeated a buy for a fragrance once and it was the original Polo. It never goes out of style

How would you finish this statement. “My most memorable fragrant moment would be…?

My most memorable fragrance moment would be using fragrances as a way of studying for tests. I remember being in high school and learning about Pavlov response mechanisms and from then on I would study wearing a fragrance and the day of the test I would wear that same fragrance as a way to associate the memory of studying with the test at hand. It seemed to work very well.

Gentlemen, that is why I love fragrance. It has the ability to touch us in so many ways. Thanks for sharing David.

The Vault – Harlem, NYC

M. Tony Peralta

You every notice how artists always seem to do everything artfully? That’s M. Tony Peralta aka Big Tone. A graphic artist/photographer/temperamental creator, I met this fly cat in the late 90’s and have had my eye on him ever since. I’ve watched his artistic expression grow in so many ways and I’m proud to consider him a friend. Check out the April issue of Giant magazine where they feature Mr. Peralta in the Flash section where he’s wearing his “Freedom” tee. I ran into Mr. Peralta at a Sound of Art event in Harlem at The Vault on Saturday to celebrate the artist Joe Buck (He’s the guy in the background with the funny look on his face…sorry Joe, I don’t have Photoshop skills) and decided to see how the art of fragrance has made an impression on his life.

What’s your earliest recollection of fragrance? Which names come to

My earliest recollection of fragrances are not good ones. I remember getting headaches from my mother’s perfumes and the image of Brut and Old Spice come to mind as well. To redeem myself from mentioning those cheap fragrances, I have to fast forward a little to the early 80’s and 90’s. I remember my older brother and Drakkar. That’s definitely a bottle that sticks out in my head.
I was just a kid back then, so I wasn’t really into fragrances. I also remember my older friends rocking Cool Water and the green polo bottle cologne.

As a teenager, I was into oils. Egyptian Musk to be exact. Besides the affordable prices of the oils. I really liked how Egyptian musk smelt, especially on a woman. It’s really soft. I’m pretty sensitive to smells, so I like my fragrances to be smooth.

During college is when I really got into colognes. If I remember correctly, I think the first bottle I bought was Jean-Paul Gaultier “Le Male.” Beside the cool packaging I really liked the fragrance. It was a bit strong but I dealt with it. I think it helped me get some attention from the ladies. After that I switched to Versace Green or Blue jeans and rode it for a few years.

What are you wearing these days? What is it about that one that makes
it special?

These days I wear a variety of colognes. My favorite fragrance is L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme by Issey Miyake. That’s the one I wear on the regular. I also own Attitude by Giorgio Armani, Versace’s Eau Fraiche. Other fragrances I love are Rush by Gucci and Emporio He by Giorgio Armani.

How often do you buy a new fragrance? When you’re on the hunt, what do you look for?

The last bottle I bought was Attitude by Giorgio Armani and that was about 8 months ago. I don’t
Shop that frequent for fragrances. I think men should have there staple scent. I think mine is
Issey Miyake but I’m not a afraid to try new ones. As longs as they’re not strong and over powering. I honestly get headaches from strong fragrances.

How would you finish this statement, “my most memorable fragrant
moment would be …?

You know what is my most memorable fragrant moment, it’s this baby cologne that my mom used on my younger sister after she bathed her. It’s a baby cologne that is used frequently by Dominicans. It makes the baby smell so fresh after they’re bathed. I remember my younger sister
wearing it as well as my nephews. It’s like the smell of innocence. Its called Para Mi Bebe

Creative, temperamental, stylish and sensitive…that’s Mr. Peralta

In the beginning there was Aramis, Tuscany and Polo…at least for me that is


As far back as I can remember, I used to go into my father’s bedroom and smell his bottles of Aramis, Tuscanny, Stetson, Grey Flannel and Polo. While he never wore them, at that age I was intrigued by their distinct smells and packaging. As I got older, say Junior High school and my early high school years, I began wearing Joop, Cool Water, and CK One. They were quite popular then. But in 1994 while working at Saks Fifth Avenue, Jean Paul Gaultier made an in store appearance promoting his new perfume and I remember getting a whiff of it and thinking to myself, this is amazing…what interesting notes. Although it was for women, I wondered why I couldn’t find anything as interesting for men. From that point I was addicted to the power of fragrance. That said, I present this blog, Fragrant Moments. I hope what I present here you find useful. I’m not a scientist or a critic. I simply love fragrances and their possibility. I love fragrances with interesting notes, i.e. Comme de Garcons Odeur 71 which has notes of photocopy toner, dust of a lightbulb, electric toaster and ink. That might sound weird but its unlike anything you’ve ever come across. (I own this one and love it )

There’s some great stuff out there gents…you just have to be willing to explore and take a chance.