One Thousand Scents

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Lull: 1982-1983

A clutch of interesting scents were launched in 1982 and 1983, but I didn't know anything about any of them until at least a year or two later: at this point my obsession didn't have an outlet. How different it is nowadays, when anyone with Internet access and a credit card has access to, for all intents and purposes, every commercially available scent. (And how different the number and rate of new releases: there may have been a thousand marketed scents at the time available to the average consumer, though even that seems high to me, but now there are not less than a thousand new scents every year.)

In 1981, Jovan launched a men's scent called Andron, which supposedly contained pheromones and which by rights ought to have been junk, but it was not: it was a spectacular men's animalic oriental, a bright green citrus at the top rapidly segueing into a huge pool of sexualized base notes--all the animal scents, castoreum, civet, musk, and ambergris (all surely synthetic at the usual Jovan price point), with a little patchouli and sandalwood to keep it from rankness. (As it was, my grandmother thought it smelled like body odour.) The bottle was dismayingly cheap--a flimsy cap, a rickety gold-tone plastic sprayer--although the shape was clever, a standard angular prism but jutting forward as if it were so intent on getting somewhere that it might actually topple over, and who really cared about the bottle anyway when the contents were that good? I discovered Andron in 1982 with my friend Debbie, who bought the women's version (the same bottle but rendered in curves, much less successfully); she thought it would help seduce her boyfriend, and it did. I wasn't interested in seducing anybody at the time with my bottle; I just thought it smelled terrific.

Drakkar Noir hit the market in 1982: it seems certain that it was available to me, but I didn't notice it at the time, and though it had a seismic effect on men's fragrance in the ensuing years and decades, to this day I don't even quite remember what it smells like. It seemed like one of those boyfriend scents, the kind of thing a young woman gets her guy to wear because she likes it, or that the guy wears because it's impeccably masculine. Two other 1982 launches, KL by Karl Lagerfeld and Eau Sauvage Extreme, had a much bigger effect on me, along with 1983's Salvador Dali, Paris, and Diva: but since I did not know about any of these at the time, either because I couldn't get them in poky little St. John's or because they were women's scents that did not appear on my radar at the time, it makes more sense to write about them in the order that I ran across them them and made them a part of my life, so I'm going to save them for later, with the exception of Diva, which you can read about here.

To the best of my recollection, I made do with Andron, Dieci, Lagerfeld, Grey Flannel, Vetyver, Oscar de la Renta, and Jacomo de Jacomo throughout '82 and '83. (There may have been a bottle of 1981's Stetson in there somewhere as well.) That ought to be enough for anyone, a normal person would be thinking at this point, but I instinctively wanted experiences I couldn't have: I wanted more, I wanted all of it. As I said, my obsession didn't yet have an outlet. I had no idea what was coming a couple of years down the road.


  • Your 80s series is really resonating with me. I had and loved the women's Andron, to this day nothing has come close. I mourn the loss of some of these beauties. Drugstore perfumes back then were better than most of what I smell in Sephora today.

    By Blogger Daly Beauty, at 12:30 PM  

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