One Thousand Scents

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Top Hat: Stetson by Coty


One night eight or ten years ago, probably a year before we bought Casual Friday, Jim and I were talking about scent--not a topic of much interest to him, and I can't remember how or why the subject arose. I suppose I must have asked him if he hated every scent, and he said that there were a few he didn't mind and one he actually liked, something a co-worker had worn that he thought was very sexy. He wasn't sure of the name, but he was pretty sure it was Stetson. I was curious to see if he actually liked something, because that sure hadn't been my experience up until then, so we went to the drugstore and he sniffed the tester, and sure enough, that was the one. Not only did he not hate it: he liked it enough to buy a bottle.

He never did wear it much--applying fragrance just goes against his grain--and then, naturally, I inherited it. It's undeniable proof that an inexpensive scent doesn't have to be cheap, that "drugstore scent" isn't necessarily a pejorative.

It's pure masculinity: with a name like Stetson, it had better be. The top note is the usual assemblage of citrus notes and something briefly resinous and piney. These burn off in ten or fifteen minutes, leaving it to rapidly settle down and assume the character it's going to maintain until the end: warm, somewhat sweet, a mélange of the deep manly notes of perfumery--leather and tobacco, ambergris and a touch of patchouli. The drydown is, unsurprisingly, ambergris and a little vanilla, here in the form of tonka bean.

It's too sweet for some people (but not nearly as sweet as the candylike Lagerfeld or some of the gourmand scents of nowadays), and others will simply turn their noses up at something that can be found in every drugstore and Wal-Mart, but I'd never hold that against it. It's been around for twenty-five years, and it must be doing something right.

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