Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Long Should A Men's Cologne Last?

The word is "tenacity." It refers to the duration of a fragrance's smell. A tenacious perfume lasts and lasts, for hours perhaps. A perfume that lacks tenacity may be "unsmellable" after an hour or two. Manama is a good example of a perfume that has wonderful tenacity. From your own experience buying and using perfume you could probably name more than one heavily advertised perfume entirely lacking in tenacity.

Tenacity is not always desirable. In bath products it's nice to enjoy the fragrance released by water in a shower gel. But is that the aroma you want lingering on your body all day?

Even more so for dish washing detergents. It's nice to open the dishwasher and find a fresh, pleasant odor. But do you really want your dishes to be perfumed?

Now what about men's colognes?

When I was developing Blackberry I was concerned that it lacked tenacity. (It does.) Toxic, my "modern art" men's fragrance, shares this quality, or "defect" if you will. I've even had people point this out to me.

Then one day I was talking to a friend about fragrance. He said he had long favored Eau Sauvage (1966) created for Christian Dior by perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. My friend then added, "it doesn't last very long." Roudnitska is considered one of the all time greats in perfumery so this comment got me thinking.

How long do we want a men's cologne to last? Is tenacity always a virtue? Friends who know me know I have an almost anti-fragrance attitude toward men's colognes at times, sometimes because a man has drenched himself with it; sometimes because I hate the overpowering sweet, citrus aroma that can hang so heavily in the air, even in modest use. That hateful aroma can fill a room and make me want to gag and I can only think the man is wearing it because a woman of simple, unsophisticated tastes bought it for him, to make him smell more sophisticated!

Some of the men's colognes I truly hate have lots and lots of tenacity. And they would be far more pleasant if they did not.

So I've been thinking of the "mechanics" of men's cologne and why a man would want to use it in the first place. I think sometimes that men don't think much about fragrance unless the fragrance is from food. Red meat on the barbecue. But men DO like to freshen up in the morning -- the shave ... the shower ... deodorant ... maybe a splash of aftershave. And that, I think, is where men's fragrances of LOW tenacity fit in perfectly.

Of course I'm thinking of my own lifestyle and my own men's fragrances, Toxic and Blackberry, but I suspect that Eau Sauvage fits into the same category, as do the older classics, Mennen's Skin Bracer and Shulton's Old Spice.

The object wasn't to "perfume" a man all day long. It was simply to give him a nice "wake up" jolt in the morning and any lingering fragrance was light and pleasant -- too light to offend. In short, they freshen you up and then disappear, exactly as they were intended.

So having recalibrated my thinking about men's fragrances, I'm no longer embarrassed over the lack of tenacity shown by both Toxic and Blackberry. Do you really want to smell "toxic" all day? Of course not! And Blackberry too, because of its initial intensity. No, you would want only a light, lingering note -- exactly what it delivers.

So now I can go out and sell my stuff without shame, embarrassment or a sense of failure. Now the pitch -- certain to work with those who have NOT ready this article -- is that these fragrances for men work exactly as good men's fragrances SHOULD work. Which is to say they should give the user -- the man -- a jolt of pleasure in the morning WITHOUT offending his co-workers. Even Toxic, for all its ominous sounding name, delivers on that promise.

But here's a "PS" that you may find enlightening. The first men's fragrance that I marketed (quite successfully, although I did not create the formula myself) was wonderfully tenacious. And the men who loved it were men who worked outdoors, doing physical work. THAT fragrance (which I no longer sell) was great for its ability to rise above a modest level of body odor. Desk guys -- artists and executives -- don't have this need.