My Scent Memory: Fairchild Botanical Gardens 1969- Anya’s Garden Fairchild

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It is a common experience of most who love perfume that certain fragrances conjure up strong memories. Sometimes it is the scent of a specific place or an occasion and the fragrance you wore to it. When fragrance works on this level it is about its ability to truly lodge itself within your conscience. One of my favorite fragrances which does this for me is Anya’s Garden Fairchild.

Fairchild was inspired by the Fairchild Botanical Gardens in South Florida. Ms. McCoy has magically created a steamy summer day at these gardens perfectly. My review for CaFleureBon can be found here. Every time I wear it I think of these gardens. There is also one special memory which almost always comes to mind when I wear Fairchild. It was of a late August day in 1968 as my grandfather taught me not to be afraid of change and to judge people by their actions and not their appearance.

Mark L. Harned

Mark L. Harned in 1969

I am named after my grandfather Mark Harned and he had returned to South Florida after his retirement. One of our favorite activities was to walk through Fairchild Botanical Gardens and enjoy the beauty of all the tropical foliage and the smell of the ocean brought to us by the sea breeze. Granddaddy Harned would always punctuate these walks with tales of his travels all over the world. I blame these talks for my wanderlust which has taken me from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in this hemisphere. One thing he never spoke about was his time in World War II. Until this day late in the long hot summer of 1969.

That summer was a moment of tumultuous American history as protests against the Vietnam War and long simmering racial divides finally boiled over in many US cities. Miami wasn’t an epicenter of this kind of activity but there was a moment where the African-American sections of the city set some fires and threw some things at passing cars it was mild compared to what was going on in Chicago or Berkley. As a precocious 9-year old I was a little unsettled especially because I was going to be sharing school with children of another skin color as desegregation was starting with my grade school. I was nervous about what the new school year would bring. My grandfather sensed it and after asking me I told him I was worried “they” wouldn’t be like me. That was when he launched into the only story he ever told me about his service in World War II.

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Map of Ledo Road (in bright green)

My grandfather was a civil engineer in the Army Corps of Engineers and he was flown to India in the Far Eastern Theatre to begin the work on building what would come to be known as the Ledo Road. The Allies needed an alternative overland supply line to the more well-known Burma Road which was in Japanese controlled hands. If the Allies were going to engage they would have to build their own supply line. Construction began in December of 1942 and in just under two years it would be finished and all war materiel would flow down the Ledo Road.

What my grandfather told me next was what was important for me to learn as a young man. Almost all of the labor that worked on the Ledo Road were African-American. My grandfather told me of the construction work performed by these soldiers. He told me of the pride in their work as the progress they made was faster than the commanders had expected. He told me how the work was in brutal heat and brutal cold as they were working at mountainous altitude and then down in tropical jungles in the valleys. I asked him if there were problems like what we were seeing. He looked at me with a smile and said to me something I have always remembered “Marcus always judge a man on his heart and soul, never on the color of his skin. Good and bad exist beneath the skin not because of it.”

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It was a powerful moment for me and it was these words which drove me to start talking to Rodney whose desk was next to me in Mrs. Dundee’s Fifth Grade class. I realized very quickly that Grandaddy Harned was correct as Rodney and I would team up on the basketball court and watch each other’s back at dodgeball. When I got off my bike in the morning I was as happy to see Rodney as I was the friends I had been in school with previously. Our parents, unfortunately, were less evolved and we were never invited to each other’s house. Although in the spring of 1970 Granddaddy Harned chaperoned a field trip and I introduced him to Rodney. My grandfather shared one of those special smiles with me as I introduced him which told me he thought I might just have learned something.

Everytime I wear Anya’s Garden Fairchild I am back in Fairchild Gardens with Granddaddy Harned filled with pride to share his name.

Mark Behnke

Boot or Reboot: Patou pour Homme 1980 & 2013- Taking on a Classic

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The world of movies and television is full of what are called reboots where a beloved older property is given a fresh interpretation by a new set of creative minds. An excellent example of this is the television series of the 60’s Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry and the fantastic re-imagining of that universe in 2009 by J.J. Abrams and the movie version of Star Trek. Both retain the essential soul of the creation but each set of artists imparts their own sense of style to things. Particularly over the past few years the perfume world has seen a number of cherished “out of print” vintage fragrances get a modern reboot. Sometimes the results are similar to the Star Trek experience where both retain the essential soul but differ in fascinating ways. Other times one is clearly better than the other and not always in the original’s favor. In this series I am going to examine both the original (boot) and the reformulated version (reboot) and give you my opinion on both of them.

Jean Kerleo

Jean Kerleo

Of all the purely masculine marketed fragrances to have ever been released 1980’s Patou pour Homme by the perfumer Jean Kerleo is one of those Holy Grail type fragrances. When the discussion of what the best masculine fragrances ever created are I have never not seen Patou pour Homme not make the short list of contenders and is often the winner of many of these olfactory beauty contests. It has created a hunger for the vintage bottles which show up on auction sites and estate sales with bottles fetching between $500-1000 regularly. For me personally it is not just Patou pour Homme but the entire output of Jean Patou which is priceless and they are the most prized parts of my perfume collection as I think they are the very pinnacle of what perfume can be. Patou pour Homme is just one of those which sits very high in my personal esteem.

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Thomas Fontaine

Over the past fifteen years I have watched as numerous business entities have taken a run at reviving the house and reformulating these classic fragrances. All throughout the process I was simultaneously rooting for its success and fearing the worst. Finally in 2013 Jean Patou was bought from Proctor & Gamble by a British firm Designer Parfums, Ltd. They hired perfumer Thomas Fontaine to oversee the resurrection of these perfumes. In the second half of 2013 they released their first three recreations, Chaldee, Eau de Patou, and Patou pour Homme.

pph ad

Patou pour Homme 1980 was groundbreaking for its day as Jean Kerleo used a mix of pepper, lavender, clary sage and tarragon to create a shimmering heat at the beginning. Patchouli, cedar, and vetiver took the traditional triptych of men’s fragrances and moved it up the pyramid into the heart. The finish was a lavish amount of oakmoss, labdanum, and sandalwood. The synergies and interplay has always made this one of the most fascinating fragrances that I have ever worn and M. Kerleo’s skill at keeping this as kinetic as a kaleidoscope is not to be underestimated. This is a fragrance which lives up to its hype.

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Patou pour Homme 2013 has a couple of difficulties for M. Fontaine right from the start. First he has to comply with IFRA restrictions and so the oakmoss is out. The shimmering heat effect also was going to be difficult to replicate. M. Fontaine consulted with M. Kerleo and worked from the original recipe as he composed this modern version. The top notes are much brighter as bergamot and lemon partner the tarragon and galbanum is added to the top notes to try and create that shimmery effect. The effect it gives is a deeper richer citrus accord but the stunning piquancy of the original is gone. Instead of having a two-step of very intense notes M. Fontaine crafts an intermezzo of jasmine, violet, and rose which partner the top notes quite pleasantly. The base is clearly a bit of inspired perfumery as since he can’t use oakmoss he goes for a raw leather accord, olibanum, patchouli, and ambergris. While it misses that “je ne sais quois” of the original it really works at the end of the brighter less extreme lead up of this modern version.

I think it is obvious that the winner of this battle is the original Patou pour Homme but that really is unfair to the newer version. M. Kerleo had a fuller palette to work with than M. Fonatine did and he used that to his advantage. The fragrance that M. Fontaine has created is very good and maybe the real disservice is calling it Patou pour Homme. If it was named Patou pour Homme II I think many would think it was much better than they are going to with it having the same name. If you have never tried the original, the new Patou pour Homme is very good without being compared to one of the great perfumes of the last 35 years. If you’re looking for that experience you’ll still need to haunt the internet and auctions to get your fix.

In this case I would say Boot is the winner but the Reboot deserves its own amount of attention because M. Fontaine has made me believe he is the right person to oversee this revival of Jean Patou.

Disclosure: Thie review was based on a bottle of Patou pour Homme (1980) that I purchased and a sample of Patou pour Homme (2013) I received from Aus Liebe zum Duft.

Mark Behnke

Welcome to Colognoisseur!

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Hi I am Mark Behnke and this is my brand new solo blog. For those of you who have followed me over here from my previous stint as Managing Editor at CaFleureBon, thanks for your support and you can skip the rest of this paragraph because you already know most of this. I have been a lover of perfume for almost thirty years now. From my first bottle of Jovan Musk for my thirteenth birthday, I thought it would make me more attractive, to my favorite perfume of 2013 Knightsbridge de Robert Piguet, which just makes me smell fantastic, I have been fascinated with everything about the liquid in the bottle. My day job is as a research chemist working on rare and neglected diseases in the public sector. That training as a chemist makes me more than a little interested in the things that go into making perfume, both synthetic and natural. Five years ago Michelyn Camen came and plucked me off the perfume forum Basenotes where I had happily been contributing reviews under my nom de blog Somerville Metro Man. Over the past five years, most of it at CaFleureBon, she has been both mentor and collaborator and if this blog is a success a large part of the credit will come from all that she taught me. The name of this blog also came from a discussion on Basenotes on what to call a male perfume fanatic, perfumista seems feminine, even though it is genderless. One of the forum members, who goes by Quarry, came up with the mash-up combination of Cologne and Connoisseur to get Colognoisseur. I’ve always thought it was a great name and even before Michelyn stoked my writing fires I reserved it for this very day when I might be ready to strike out on my own.

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The Wall of Minis at Osswald NYC (Photo courtesy: Osswald NYC)

Colognoisseur will focus on reviews of the newest perfume releases primarily. There will always be at least two new reviews on Monday and Friday of each week. When the pace picks up in the fall I’ll probably be using a third day to keep you informed of the best new fragrances that are out there. This is also a good place to talk about my review philosophy. You won’t see a negative review from me. That doesn’t mean I like everything, far from it. Here is what it means. In 2009, when I started doing this, I sniffed 256 new perfumes. In 2013 I sniffed 514. The number has doubled in five years and one of my biggest regrets is that this tsunami of fragrance is overwhelming for everyone. That’s one reason I think blog reviews are important in helping to notify a reader of something they might like to try in a world where over a thousand new perfumes get released. Every review you will read is the result of wearing the perfume on my body on two different days. If you do the math with 365 days in a year the very most I could review would be 182 new fragrances. Because of that limitation if I try a new fragrance on a paper strip and a bit of skin and it doesn’t seem like it is worth my spending two days with it, that’s the end. The ones I like get put on my bathroom vanity to be worn over the next week or so. I could write that something I didn’t like smelled like a feral cat but that really isn’t giving it a fair shake if all I have done is very peripherally experienced it, especially compared to the fragrances I do write about. The result is you won’t see out and out negative reviews. If you read this blog, and have read me in the past, I think my words convey when I really, really like something over just liking something.

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The Lenox Globe map with the phrase Hic Sunt Dracones (Here be Dragons) to designate the unknown

What I’m going to fill the other five days up with is still up in the air on this first day. I know I want to write a bit about the molecules that have defined whole sectors of perfumery; aldehydes and Chanel No.5 is an example but I’m going to go for some that are maybe less familiar to most. I promise to not turn it into chemistry class. I want to touch on some older fragrances because I think we are in the second Golden Age of Perfumery and many of the classics that will be talked about in a hundred years should be pointed out. I definitely will continue to delve into the people behind the perfume and give you some insight into how important the entire team behind a fragrance is. I’ll editorialize a tiny bit about subjects I think are important.

Like anything I’ve started Colognoisseur will evolve as a cooperative enterprise between myself and, you, the reader. Please let me know what you like, in these early days especially, so I have an idea of what my readers are interested in.

Above all come join me on my latest adventure as together we explore the World of Fragrance.

Mark Behnke