One Thousand Scents

Monday, May 01, 2006

Instant Chemistry: Halston Catalyst for Men

On Thursday I mentioned Halston's Catalyst for Men in passing, and I figured now's as good a time as any to write about it.

You can't talk about the scent without talking about the packaging, which is sheer genius, because what man doesn't have fond boyhood memories of his chemistry set? The 50-mL eau de toilette spray (shown above) is encased in a test tube which comes with a metal-plated plastic rack; when Catalyst for Men was launched, the samples were packaged in tiny little versions of the test tube, really just standard 1.2-mL vials with the bottoms rounded off, but still. The 100-mL EDT is in an Erlenmeyer flask (the conical kind), and the after shave is in a Florence flask (the round kind), as is the shower gel. Once, buying the shower gel, I got a gift-with-purchase set that had three one-ounce test tubes, one each of spray EDT, shower gel, and biphasic after shave, with their own little rack. I had to have it. Just seeing the packaging makes you want to own it.

So does just smelling it. It's a spicy oriental scent which has inspired some imitations (Coty's Wild Spice is one), but it's the best in its class. The top note is a flash--just a flicker--of citrus and lavender before the main event: cloves, and lots of them. But not cloves-in-a-bottle; they've been shaded and softened, tempered with other spices and rounded out with sandalwood. The overall effect isn't of a pomander, but of something more abstract; it is the scent of quiet masculine confidence. Just wearing it makes me stand a little taller, push my shoulders back a little more, smile a little more.


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