11/28/15

Touch For Men (Fred Hayman)


My bottle of Touch. On my coffee table,
Which apparently I need to dust.


I have to admit that I only have the vintage Parlux version of Touch for Men, as the reformulated version by Victory International was unavailable to me. I understand that the newer stuff has a bottle with a silver cap instead of Parlux's matte black, and the color of the fragrance is a slightly lighter amber than the original. Some voices have complained online that it smells like fruity-synthetic crap. Big surprise, right? If there's any truth to that, then it should be considered a completely different scent altogether, and not a reformulation. There's nothing "fruity" or "synthetic" about the Parlux version. And for the record, Jeffrey Dame has stated on Fragrantica that he doubts the reformulation smells bad. Given how obviously dirt cheap the original formula is, I think he's probably right, although I can't confirm it at this time.

I also can't say exactly how old my vintage is. It's impossible to track Parlux's batch code, and probably just as hard to trace anything from Victory International. I suspect it's rather recent, as the bottle markings seem fairly contemporary, and I'd guess that the changes happened sometime in the last eight years. Touch was released in 1995, and that's very surprising to me, because it's nothing like the super-sweet, aquatic, Hedione-laden powerhouses of that decade. Touch is very easy to describe: it smells almost completely like vintage Brut. A late seventies vintage of Brut, to be precise, when you could enjoy the last of its musk ambrette base. Don't expect to smell the burly brutishness of musk ambrette in Touch, but its top-to-base musk notes are still impressive. They're dense and a bit animalic, with subtle undertones of honey and vanilla. They make Touch better than Brut Classic, in my opinion.

This was one of the sleeper hits that Mr. Dame helped to develop with Parlux in the early nineties, an homage to masculine simplicity in an era when Kate Moss' androgyny and pretentious urban hip-hop styles were becoming the rage in the world of perfumery. Touch is the opposite of all that. This fragrance is as masculine and unpretentious as it gets. Hell, according to Mr. Dame, the brief for Touch was simply, "Take Brut and enrich it, make it stronger, more bold and Brutish." When I spray it on, I half expect a young Peter Fonda to walk into the room, an issue of Car and Driver tucked under his armpit, and hand me an ice-cold Rolling Rock. I can only imagine that it was brought into being with the fullest intention of changing the fashion subject to one of romantic and rather patriotic traditionalism, a bid that in retrospect clearly (and unfortunately) failed. Still, somehow this fragrance survived, a testament to its quality and appeal, particularly to the over-thirty crowd.

There's some question as to whether Touch is an oriental or a fougère, but with such a striking resemblance to one of the best-selling fougères of all time, it's hard to call it an oriental. If someone were to ask me to identify the two fragrances in a blind test, I couldn't do it. Touch is only different from Brut in that it has a noticeable coriander top note, mated very closely to its smooth lavender. It's possible the blending in Touch is a bit smoother, but depending on the bottle of Brut you get, this could be a very tough claim to verify. I've also read that this scent strongly resembles Neutrogena's laid back, seventies-styled "Rainbath" soap, but regrettably I've never tried that product.

I would only add that Touch's lavender note isn't quite as herbal and minty as Brut's. It's a bit softer and warmer. The "herbal" aspect in Faberge's cologne is primarily mint and anise, and neither note is outwardly detectable in Touch, but its coriander note seems to fill in that gap pretty neatly. I also get much better longevity out of Touch - around ten hours. Aside from that, I can't think of much else to say about this little gem. It's a straightforward traditional fougère accord of powdery lavender, ambery coumarin, vanilla, and mossy, talc-like musk. I can't recommend it enough. Any guy who shaves with a razor blade and soap will appreciate it for what it is: a precise, timeless, masculine marvel.




11/22/15

The "Goodness" Of Good Scents





The quote pictured above is ironic and daft to me. Rand was wrong in her assertion, or at least she was not thorough enough; she fell shy of the truth. I agree instead with a philosophical view which Elizabeth Warren recently put forth. She contended that we all step into the world as people who have benefitted from the labor of our neighbors, with their combined efforts making our forward trajectory not only possible, but also bound to the dual responsibilities of upholding their work while paving new roads for future generations. Men and women are armed with more than their own visions; they carry the advantages bestowed upon them by their communities, and are also armed with the self-aware acculturations from which their visions can be enacted.

Rand suggested that some men are genuinely "self made," and that they alone were the pavers of their own "new roads," but this is a fiction. She re-crafted a bit of a mythology, one that has always been very popular with right-wingers (and extreme right-wingers). As with all things political, such thought processes punctuate the mindsets of different people with different interests, and the fragrance world is no exception. There has recently been a bit of "Randian" thinking on basenotes.net, in which a couple of members suggested that "perception" of a scent is the only thing that matters in moving forward with personal preferences - which I find to be, like Rand's quote, an example of incomplete thinking and faulty logic.

One member posited the following sentiment, which is entirely true:

"Now some may say, 'But i have a pre-reformulation bottle, and it smells nothing like the new one.' Fair enough, but one thing that can and does happen many times is a scent will degrade over time. Slowly. Slow enough that changes may not register as they are so gradual. The bottle you buy today will not smell identical in ten years. There are so many factors at play."

I smiled while reading this. I thought: Yes! People are finally getting it! The real world context of vintage and discontinued classics is being thoroughly weighed by noses with brains - and this one is a newbie!

The quoted sentiment was received with a statement that was entirely subjective and perhaps honest, but also intellectually limited:

"It's important not to bring in another issue which serves to obfuscate the discussion in favor of the 'pro reformulation' side of things. That is, I'd be the first to mention that I used to wear vintage more often, and that some vintage I don't like as much as I used to, whereas others I like more. This, however, has nothing to do with my perception of the 'quality' of the scent. Now sometimes I don't feel the need to wear a quality scent, and I often reach for a 'super cheapo,' but if I'm in the mood for vintage Zino, for example, that's what I want. I have no interest in wearing what I believe to be reformulated Zino, ever. Others can't detect any difference, or claim it is negligible . . . so the best you can do is read the relevant information online and try to make the right decision (but it will only be the right decision for you, not necessarily for anyone else).

First, I have to say as an aside that I wonder if this basenotes member frequently uses Zino as an example in these discussions precisely because its reformulation is indiscernible from a well-preserved vintage? It’s like he’s counter-intuitively using a perfume that blatantly contradicts his argument as a distraction, with which he can claim that there’s some special “quality” in the original formulation that correlates with a “cheapness” in the new stuff - an assertion that nobody can convincingly corroborate for obvious reasons. This would then seem to fortify his position that only “perceptive” noses - an implicitly rare kind of human, according to him - can detect the discrepancy, when in fact no such discrepancy exists. Unfortunately, I can only commit to my own opinions on the general issue of reformulations, and the more specific case of Zino.

On the surface, this seems to be the whole thrust of his comment, and I take issue with it. It suggests that if someone points out the deleterious effects of time on perfume, they are "obfuscating" the issue for a "pro-reformulation side of things," which is completely absurd. It's absurd because the smells of most perfumes will absolutely change over time, beyond a doubt, with the exception of a small percentage of extremely synthetic compositions. It's also absurd because whenever anyone points this out, they're merely acknowledging the existence of time's effect on matter, which in the case of perfume is usually not very positive.* To mention this is to clarify, not obfuscate. It may be an inconvenient truth for the "pro-vintage" crowd, and they might want people to believe it is an obfuscation, but cherry-picking facts is never a good way to respond in these kinds of discussions. Here it just re-crafts another mythology.

If you're coming to this as a newbie, you might wonder why it matters. So a perfume changes, but still smells good - so what? The "what" here is how a perfume smells within the years of its peak shelf life, otherwise known as "what the perfumer intends for you to smell." Some perfumers labor for months on formulas, but all of their work is an effort to discover where designs function best, and preserve them for as long as possible, before the inexorable march of days alters their compositions into liquids that are no longer pristine specimens of talent.

Perfumers know that the creation of their perfume, after weeks and weeks of toiling in a lab, happens in but a moment, that priceless instant when they sniff the strip and realize the synchronization of their assembled parts has quite suddenly been perfected. This moment is then temporarily frozen for us to enjoy. It's what perfumers want you to experience, and therefore is, quite paradoxically, the nexus and event horizon of a perfume. No perfume lasts forever, but forever truly resides in perfume.

Now, getting back to that comment I dislike so much - I wrote, "On the surface, this seems . . . " because later in the thread, the same author wrote the following:

"Those who can't smell the difference [between vintage and new] appear to get irritated that such threads exist, which makes no sense to me."

This revealed to me, reader and reluctant non-participant, the real message: "You can't smell it, BUT I CAN! Nah, nah, nah-nah naaaah!" (Raspberry noises.) How this person could possibly know what people can smell is a mystery. It would take a certain level of paranormal ability to develop such knowledge. Mind reading, perhaps? I'll let you decide.

I also dislike that the initial response is naked speculation, cloaked in intricately-woven airs of fact, and made semi-acceptable to some functioning minds by its appealingly subjective form. The writer uses "I" and "My" throughout, which is very attractive, winning, and wise, but also dangerously misleading. The scent that he mentions is a curious one. I happen to own vintage eighties "script font" Zino, and brand-new "block font" Zino. I am also acutely aware of how exhaustively this fragrance has been discussed on basenotes and fragrantica. There are several people out there who agree with me that it's not even clear if Zino was reformulated. In fact, I have read respectable people write that they doubt there was ever a reformulation at all. If ever there is a perfume not to hold up in an honest argument for vintage, it's Zino.

I personally believe Zino was reformulated, but I strongly feel, based on all the note comparisons that I can possibly make for myself, that the reformulation is just as great as the original formula. I am speculating, and I am honest about it, but my guess is educated, based on background information I dug up on Michel Almairac's career trajectory, and how it coincided with some remarkable advances in chemistry. I learned that he went to the Roure School in the early 1970s, and that he began making a name for himself when Givaudan (which was associated with Roure) invented "Sandalore." This synthetically-made molecule was patented to cut costs on natural sandalwood oil, without sacrificing the sensations of real sandalwood's texture and richness. For cheap scents like Zino, its implementation makes as much sense then as it does now.

In making the formula comparisons, there was something I had to overcome: the degradation of the vintage. And by "degradation," I don't just mean the loss of top notes. Ninety-nine percent of my vintage experiences have revealed problems with all stages of development. The loss of top notes is the least of it. With vintage Zino, the fragrance is intact and legible, and each note is basically where it belongs. Yet it suffers from potency issues, balance issues, and the typical "fuzz-out" effect that seems to occur frequently with woody classics. In short, the potency seems attenuated, down three or four hours compared to the recent stuff; the zesty bergamot and lavender head notes smell like they've separated from each other, where once they were blended (both notes are a little too strident); the precious wood notes in the base "fuzz" into a gentle, sandalwood-like blob that fails to yield individual tones (the bergamot goes on, amazingly).

At stake here is not the perception of "quality" in the vintage fragrance. I can smell that the composition is comprised of "quality" materials. For the record, I can't recall anyone ever announcing that they couldn't smell the "goodness" of something that smelled good to them. Therefore, the suggestion that those wary of vintage can't detect their "quality" rests on the fallacious idea that the perception a wearer has of a fragrance can parallel, and even diverge from the recognition of its effect on his mood. What is more likely to occur in the minds of anyone studying fragrances in-depth is the surprising realization that the durability of a beautiful perfume is just as important as its beauty.

To make sense of this, I had to "read" my two Zinos carefully. This means that I took note of what I smelled in vintage Zino, and then had to readjust my impression afterward against what I know about degradation, and the smell of current Zino. Industry veteran Jeffrey Dame made it clear to me and my readers that the shelf-life of most fragrances, with the exception of orientals, is to be taken seriously; with Zino, I had to acknowledge that what I smelled matched his assessment of the time/quality factor, and then set the information he gave me aside to better judge whether the olfactory impressions of vintage Zino's somewhat degraded accords correlated with the current juice.

In other words, I had to ask myself, "Is what I'm smelling in the old stuff the same as what I'm smelling in the new stuff, only degraded?" There's something a bit archeological about doing this. You have to dust off what exists, and use what you know to imagine what used to exist. Except here you must use your nose, not your eyes. And the "dusting off" process is really just accepting the irreversible and quirky nature of aged perfume.

I'm telling you this because it requires a sensitive nose to figure these things out. Having a feeble nose will do you no good if you're really interested in determining whether vintages are for you. Those who survey the field of classics and make a focused effort to familiarize themselves with specific olfactory structures, such as the aromatic fern, the ambery oriental, the mossy chypre, and specific notes, such as bergamot, lavender, labdanum, vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss, musk, are bound to develop better noses. Once developed, they can use their heightened sense to pick apart the true quality differences that abound between the worlds of "vintage" perfume and "new" perfume.

But those differences in quality will have to be weighed against degradation. In most cases, I'd say the degradation will be relatively minor. In other cases, however, it will certainly be overwhelming. Recognizing how notes and accords degrade is a skill which takes that of simple note identification quite a bit further.

I've long suspected that the person who made the Zino comment quoted above actually has tremendous difficulty with this level of recognition. I believe this to be true because this person has stated on more than one occasion that he has never encountered a vintage fragrance that smelled like it had gone bad, or gone off. I won't call this person a liar. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that this is representative of what might be a true deficit in his olfactory abilities. I suspect that instead of acknowledging and admitting this shortcoming, he and others like him pretend the exact opposite: that they possess remarkable abilities of incredible "quality" discernment.

If your nose is good, you'll have no problem admitting that many vintage perfumes don't smell quite right - in fact, most will seem a bit "off." It's important to recognize that this doesn't mean the perfumes will smell bad, or unwearable, or offensive in any way. There's often a good chance that they'll smell appealing. But the key is to determine if what you're smelling is an accurate representation of itself, as it was intended to smell. Only then can you really decide whether or not this matters to you. With some perfumes, the accuracy of what you smell might matter; with others it might not. You must ask yourself, "How has this changed?" And once that is answered, you must follow up with, "Has anyone fucked with the formula?"

These are very different questions. Don't get them confused.





* This refers to time in the long term, beyond what may be construed as in-bottle maceration, or any other maceration process that gradually allows the volatilities of naturals to synchronize.

11/1/15

"My Old Spice Is Better Than Yours!" How A Classic Drugstore Scent Became The Most Contentious Reformulation Of All Time


The Ship Grand Turk


On February 22nd of this year, I stopped at a store and picked up a few things. On a whim, I grabbed some shaving items, and noticed they had P&G's Old Spice cologne in stock. It was the version with an atomizer. I'd never experienced this scent in spray form, so I bought it, also on a whim. One of the nice things about its plastic bottle is that it hearkens back to the mid 1950s, when Shulton first started exploring plastic for packaging, selling smaller travel bottles and ancillary grooming products in this material.

February was the coldest month for Connecticut in recent memory, and that day happened to be the coldest of the year, with evening temperatures dipping to around ten degrees below zero. It was eight o'clock at night, and I had to get gas, so I pulled into the station and mentally prepared to freeze to death at the pump. I imagined they'd find me there the next morning, my blue claw of a hand still clutching the metal pump handle, my frostbitten ass still leaning casually against the haunches of an icicle-encrusted Pontiac, my body a suburbanized version of Jack Nicholson's corpse in The Shining.

As the bitter cold attacked my face and hands, I realized that a good diversion would be to try the Old Spice spray. It's an excellent way to distract the mind away from black patches of dying flesh. Shivering, I primed the atomizer, and gave myself two sprays to the chest. The cologne practically crystallized in the air, but I gave my wrist an extra puff for good measure.

A stunning accord hit my nose, a beautiful blend of orange aldehydes, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It was so clean and clear and cheerful that I wondered why I'd been wearing KL Homme all winter. The tank was filled, and I was on my way, still marveling at what I was smelling. By the time I reached my house, the car was full of musky cloves with hints of powdery, slightly vanillic amber wafting in the background.

This got me thinking about Proctor & Gamble's version of Old Spice, a formula much maligned in the wet shaver community as being the utter ruination of grandpa's only cologne. It is indeed a bit different from the "Shulton formula," but I'll get to that in a minute. The past few months have seen me ruminating on the strange dilemma facing today's Old Spice fan, as my experience with the current fragrance could not be more different from what many men on fragrance boards are claiming to smell. If you're someone who likes Old Spice, or is interested in trying it for the first time, you have to figure out which version is best to track down: the Shulton version, the "Shulton" version, the "Indian Shulton" version, or the Proctor & Gamble version.

You may be wondering why I keep putting "Shulton" in quotation marks. Shulton stopped manufacturing and formulating Old Spice when it sold the brand to American Cyanamid, a chemical manufacturing conglomerate, in 1970. This little factoid seems to elude many of the guys who complain about Proctor & Gamble's formula. They act as though the formula was sacred and untouched for seventy years, like the ultimate gesture of all-natural perfumery for the undiscerning male, until those evil assholes at P&G came along and cheapened it with their plastic bottles and vile synthetics. But this is simply not true.

In 2012 a man came forward on Badger & Blade with a headspace gas chromatography analysis of three Old Spices, a vintage Shulton, "current Shulton" (actually a generic, Indian-made aftershave), P&G's version, and the North American generic version of this scent, primarily made by Vi-Jon, with results clearly posted for everyone to see (click image to enlarge):


This analysis suggested four things about this fragrance:
1. An Indian reformulation of Shulton's Old Spice changed the formula, making it spicier (with far more variegated peak activity).

2. The volatility and balance of the oldest Old Spice is possibly a bit degraded after years of storage.

3. P&G's version of Old Spice is only notably different from vintage Shulton's in the tippy-top notes, possibly four chemicals in the early drydown phase, and apparently one base note (where one P&G chemical is noticeably stronger, probably eugenol).

4. Vi-Jon "Spice" aftershave is only mildly different from P&G's, and the significance of those differences is hard to fathom. (It shares more in common with P&G's formula than either of the earlier Shultons.)

Again, "Shulton" is in quotation marks, because the "current Shulton" was actually a Menezes Cosmetics formula, manufactured in India. Many people don't really understand what Menezes Cosmetics did with Old Spice. Let me clear that up.

"Old Spice" was a generic name for aftershave in India. In 1968, Menezes introduced the brand in India as a licensee of Shulton, and continued to manufacture and sell Old Spice for the better part of the seventies and eighties. They officially sold the license to P&G in 1993. Old Spice changed hands four times in twenty years through the eighties and nineties (Menezes, Godrej, Marico, Menezes), most notably to Marico Industries in 1999, until P&G returned licensing to Menezes in 2002, giving them a ten year contract to manufacture Old Spice. Until 2012, P&G permitted several corporate entities, including Rubicon Formulations, Colfax pvt (Menezes' original founding company), and MCPL India pvt ltd (the most recent incarnation of P&G's partnership with Menezes), to sell their aftershaves in India as Old Spice. Again, in India, Old Spice was the generic term for aftershave. ALL aftershave. Hence, several Indian companies made it under the watchful eye of Menezes, and eventually P&G, and were given permission to market it with "Shulton" printed on the bottles, which happen to closely resemble the original bottles.

In December of 2012, P&G reigned it all in when MCPL India's license expired, which means that, as of 2013, these smaller Indian subsidiaries aren't manufacturing and distributing their generic aftershave formula as Old Spice anymore - not legally, at least. Native Indians are now getting the same stuff we get here in North America. So much for Indian Old Spice.

This explains why there's so much confusion regarding Indian Old Spice, and who manufactures and distributes it. Guys are always getting bottles that look and smell different from each other, and with different markings. Yet they rarely investigate why this is. Well guys, now you know why. One word: "Generic." And in India, of all places, the outsourcing of a formula to a half dozen competing companies with access to a wide-ranging variety of raw materials would yield very strange, subtly different, and virtually untraceable formulas, some even coming in questionable plastic bottles, painted white to resemble Egyptian ceramic.

But I digress. My corresponding takeaway from the analysis results are as follows:
1. This is an excellent example of a reformulation that made a scent more complex and dynamic, not less, which refutes the notion that all reformulations are bad. The Indian version sampled is quite a bit more volatile than the vintage Shulton formula.

2. This is yet another fragrance that exhibits some degradation with age.

3. The differences between vintage Shulton and P&G are evident but negligible, clearly showing that the newer formula has better longevity via an added base note.

4. The difference between Vi-Jon and vintage Shulton is far greater than between Vi-Jon and P&G. It even has similar longevity to P&G's, exhibiting the same peak in the base (which is absent in Shulton's). To suggest using Vi-Jon's formula as a substitute for Shulton's version is misleading.

You would think that people who dislike P&G's version would read the gas chromatography charts posted in that thread and seriously question their assumptions about Old Spice. In 2012 (and for several years prior), Old Spice by P&G was lamented as being far inferior to "vintage Shulton." Yet the images of the analysis show a different story. The delicate citrus and spice accord of the top-heavy vintage is barely different from P&G's; the spicy heart accords are quite similar, and the base of P&G's formula is more complex than the nonexistent base of vintage.

Yet the fallacy remains: "P&G ruined Old Spice."

Not one single soul has ever offered a clear definition of those terms. In what way specifically has the scent been diminished? Which notes specifically were removed? Which notes specifically were replaced by nasty synthetics? In what way specifically has the drydown arch of the scent been degraded into something unworthy of eight or nine dollars at a drugstore? Examples are never given. Here is a typical complaint:
"Suffice to say, P&G destroyed Old Spice. It was so disappointing, I used the rest of the bottle while bathing my dogs. Thankfully we can still get the Shulton India Old Spice, which to me is the same as the original before P&G took over the USA operations."

Aside from being a grossly inaccurate statement, this comment reveals nothing about why this person thinks P&G destroyed Old Spice. Now imagine a hundred of these, all from men with the same level of ignorance. No wonder P&G has a bad rep.

We can see from the "headspace" gas chromatography analysis that the formulas have some basic similarities and differences, but unfortunately the analysis given isn't complete in its cataloguing of volatile elements. Had the poster given results of a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis, a clearer understanding of how exact notes and accords differed might have been reached. As one member said,
"In examining the tracings closely, it appears that the current Shulton has 4 strong spikes (at 10.4, 11.3, 13.2, 13.7) that are either absent or much weaker in the vintage. The spike at 14.0 is much stronger in the vintage than in the current Shulton. The spikes at 14.1 are strong in both, but much stronger in the current. In addition there are other minor variations. The current and vintage do not appear to be the same formulation, and the observed differences could account for differences in odor. Such differences would also depend on the potency of those components, the identity of which are not known. This is not my area of expertise, but I'd like to know why do you feel that the formulations are identical. It might be worth doing a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to actually identify those components that differ between the two, as they might be quite important parts of the overall aromas."

The gas chromatography charts clearly show that the Indian sample of Old Spice has more volatility than any other sample. There are more spikes in chemical activity at shorter intervals in the Indian version compared to the Shulton version. One might surmise that the Shulton version would match the activity shown in the Indian chart if it had been the same age, but according to the poster, this was an "older" sample. I attribute the wider and more numerous valleys in the vintage Shulton to its age.

The charts also clearly show that there is only a small difference in the top notes of Shulton/Indian OS and P&G OS, as the former reveal three small peaks, while the latter shows none. What is unclear is what those little peaks mean in the non P&G formulas. Are they showing us a difference in volatility between active, or inactive ingredients?

The poster made the crucial mistake of analyzing aftershaves, and not colognes. Thus, not all candidates for olfactory analysis are perfume odorants. There may be some skin conditioning esters with tertiary odorant effects in the formulas, and in P&G's formula those effects may have been intentionally eliminated, marking the absence of those three little peaks.

Or it could just be that the castor oil in the P&G version wasn't sitting as long as in the other samples, which again makes sense with a newer product. Castor oil gets funkier the longer it sits. Since this is "headspace" chromatography, one has to wonder whether the slightly ashy funk of old castor oil was taken into consideration with the older samples. I know that the presence of this oil in OS accounts for why the aftershave smells a bit different than the cologne. Yet nobody mentions this element in the thread.

In the heartnotes drydown stage, about twenty minutes into development, it's clear that P&G's formula has a couple of spikes that vintage Shulton's lacks, and vintage Shulton's has a few spikes that P&G's lacks. However, the general "flow" of the drydowns are very, very similar. I can't help but wonder if comparing the two is splitting hairs. The pictures don't lie. Different formulas? Yes.

VASTLY different formulas? Not even close. P&G's formula is blatantly recognizable as Old Spice.

The P&G formula has the most complex base of the three, which oddly doesn't get mentioned. I guess having a simplistic powder base with no real "spice" to it is preferred by members of B&B, because that's how Shulton's version actually smells. What the charts really show is that P&G's formula has longevity, a trait seriously lacking in Shulton's formula.

Yet many members of the board lament P&G's formula as having "no longevity." The claim is that the new stuff is gone in minutes, while the vintage Shulton lasts and lasts.

Which is complete, utter, totally unadulterated hogwash.

The exact opposite is true. I have owned and worn vintage eighties Old Spice cologne by Shulton. It lasted all of five minutes on skin before vanishing completely. It really was all about top notes, that stuff. Smelled great, but gone in a flash.

P&G's version? Hours. With liberal application, the rich clove note in the base, combined with a few whispery resins, really maintains a presence throughout the day. I honestly doubt that any of the naysayers on Badger & Blade have actually bothered to give the stuff a full wearing. They're too busy assuming it sucks. They are apparently a group of "Feelers," not "Tasters."

But the most ridiculous and perhaps intellectually damning little tidbit to the analysis is that it reveals a major fallacy perpetuated by people online regarding Vi-Jon "Spice Scent" aftershave - that it is more like vintage Shulton Old Spice than P&G's formula. The analysis shows the opposite is true. There is a closer match between Vi-Jon's development and P&G OS's development, and aside from perhaps an airier spice accord in Vi-Jon's top, the two are basically cut from the same cloth. Even their drydowns are a closer match, although again, P&G's has more complexity and hold.

Amazingly, this has been a subject of debate for not weeks, or months, but years. The analysis thread is still active. Three years after it was posted, and about twenty pages later, guys are still talking about the reformulation of Old Spice. Isn't it time to just say "enough," and move on? All of the griping about P&G ruining Old Spice isn't borne out by fact, but by opinion only, and that's not enough to give it real legs. It just fuels endless, pointless conjecture.

I've noticed that "vintage lovers" like to exclude a certain consideration from their thinking, and use its absence to explain why their world is so unpleasant. They foam at the mouth about the destruction wreaked upon their favorite formulas by contemporary manufacturers, but dismiss without a second thought any suggestion that the differences detected between samples could be attributable to age. Refreshingly, one B&B member named "Hank Corbett" wrote in 2010 the following about Old Spice:
"I am one of the few who have changed their position on the OS 'recipe tinkering.' I had, until recently, been convinced that the new stuff was not the same water we all know and love. I now am on the side of P&G on the issue. I think it's a matter of 'freshness,' as it has been stated. A bottle of 30 year old after-shave or cologne is not going to smell the same as a bottle of juice manufactured last week. The Shulton stuff ages well and still smells fantastic after prolonged storage and I do enjoy wearing it. I am of the opinion that the P&G stuff will age just as gracefully. I have been wearing P&G Old Spice cologne exclusively for the past week find it to be the same stuff I wore back in pre-P&G days (but certainly 'different' than Shulton only because it has not aged for years and years). After a few hours of wear, it smells like Old Spice. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, one must actually wear the stuff; not smell from the bottle at the store. But I did sprinkle some in my baseball cap and the next day, it reeked of Shulton."

Is it possible that older aftershaves preserve better than colognes? Perhaps Old Spice has a generous maturation period of several decades, and not years? I couldn't tell you. But this post at least acknowledges the reality of the situation - you can't expect to make an accurate comparison between something made thirty years ago, and something put on store shelves yesterday.

A member named "Goss" responded in kind to Hank's comment:
"I agree and have changed my position on this subject also. I believe it has to do with aging of the 'recipe.' I have a brand new bottle of Old Spice AS and plan on tucking it away for the next 20 years. I'm sure it will age just like the Shulton O/S."

An even more prescient sentiment was shared by someone going by the moniker "WastedResources" -
"The average shelf life for a bottle of cologne or aftershave is about two years. After that, the ingredients break down, and the scent is no longer its original form, but it may still smell pleasant. This has nothing to do with evaporation. It has everything to do with the aging of chemicals in a bottle. It doesn't mean that the ingredients in the 70 year old bottle aren't different than what's in the new bottles. It just means that the 70 year old bottle doesn't smell the same as it did when it came off of the shelf."

It's possible that an older fragrance may smell somewhat pleasant, and certainly wearable, but as I've always said about this subject, would you really want to experience a fragrance that way? Wouldn't it bother you that you're not really smelling the composition the way it was meant to be smelled? That you're experiencing a faded, simplified, and relatively stale version of whatever scent you enjoy? Isn't it better to get a fresh bottle and, if maturation is a plus for you, let it sit for two years or so, and then enjoy, rather than letting it sit twenty or thirty years past its peak? And most importantly with this scent, isn't it a serious miscalculation to assume that Proctor & Gamble "destroyed" your favorite cologne if you've never had an issue with early nineties P&G Old Spice, back when they still bottled it in glass?

I often feel this way about my bottle of Furyo by Bogart. I love the stuff with a passion, and it still smells good and quite wearable, but I always wish I'd found it back when it was still on the market, new. I wish to God that I'd worn it in the early nineties, and experienced what it actually smelled like when it was fresh.

If you dislike Proctor & Gamble as a company for some specific reason, state that reason when you complain about them as being some sort of "evil empire" that kills good products. Otherwise I'm left reading your thoughts in suspended animation. I have no idea why you hate them; you just do, and they don't give a shit how you feel anyway.

If you dislike P&G's formula for Old Spice, state why, exactly. Saying that they replaced the spices with "synthetic floral and powder notes" isn't saying anything. Yes, there's a synthetic carnation note in Old Spice. Guess what? There was always a synthetic carnation note in Old Spice. And you know what else? Old Spice always smelled like it was made with synthetics. There's no shame in that. That's what perfumery is. Recent batches have a very natural-smelling clove note in the base, which is unsurprising given that eugenol is a readily available, naturally-derived perfume ingredient that smells terrific, if you like the smell of clove. Actually nothing synthetic there, although to read people's thoughts on it, you'd think they distilled "eau de plastic" into the base. Hey, it's in a plastic bottle, so it automatically smells like plastic, right?

I can't help but wonder why nobody mentions this incredibly clear and potent clove note on any of the boards. Do they not know what eugenol smells like? Are they incapable of identifying clove in a composition? Are they even wearing this stuff long enough to smell it? Are they wearing it at all? The fact that clove is never mentioned as a prominent note in the drydown of the new formula makes me think that most of the complainers aren't really giving P&G OS a fair shake.

If you have a real beef with Old Spice as it stands today, I can only make one suggestion. Try it on the coldest day of the year. They say that a rock song's quality is measured by how good it sounds unplugged. The "Perfume-In-The-Cold Test" is a similar metric for fragrances. If it's really shit, it'll literally collapse under the weight of frigid air. But if it's a masterpiece, the cold can do nothing but enhance its beauty further.

I feel sorry for people who believe that Proctor & Gamble destroyed Old Spice. They're "vintage lovers," and are, unfortunately, their own worst enemy. They nix the potential of any new product, based on its association with an equally (and arbitrarily) maligned manufacturer, and deprive themselves of easy enjoyment by seeking out pricier and rarer vintages. Most insidiously, they spread misinformation about new products on the internet, discouraging people from buying them, putting products that the rest of us enjoy on the line. When confronted about it, some will even reject their own culpability in the commercial stakes, saying their words bear no influence on the fate of a fragrance.

But recent reissues of internet stars like Acteur and Red for Men suggest that the internet is very influential to industry decision makers, perhaps second only to sales. And while those are success stories, it's a two-way street; negative press, if repeated for years on countless threads, will eventually jeopardize the subject's commercial prospects.

Meanwhile, there's nothing stopping "vintage lovers" from just dropping the bullshit and accepting that a little change here or there isn't worth throwing an endless tantrum over. With Old Spice, it would behoove them to just enjoy the reformulation and move on, rather than dwell on an ever-dwindling past.

But I suspect this will never happen. It's tragic, really.