Last days of April. A sunny and warm day, serves as a reminder that summer is never too far away. Not in the small part of the world where he lives at least. He enters leisurely a small and very old cosmetics shop, owned by a middle-aged lady who reminds him of this clever and kind aunt that almost all of us remember from our childhood. Having just smoked a couple of fags, he puts a chewing gum in his mouth. His eyes are scanning the fragrance shelves during the pleasantries. He spots a 50ml splash bottle of Azzaro's Acteur, and considering its 20€ price a bargain for such a vintage piece, he grabs it and walks towards the cash register. And there he sees them and nearly swallows his chewing gum.
Three (!!!) 109ml (not a typo) splash bottles of Givenchy Gentleman, half-hidden in the showcase which also serves as the cashier desk. They lie among brushes, pantyhoses and barrettes, inexplicably away from the fragrance shelves. Trying to act as indifferent as possible, he asks to have a look at them. Their boxes are slightly worn and dirty, and their top side is sealed with a small transparent sticker, bearing the Givenchy logo. But there is no barcode, no estimated sign, no green dot and no EMB code. His heart starts missing a beat in every two. These come from mid to late '70s! He asks whether it would be possible to check them out. The lady, feeling there's a good chance to get rid of three bottles that were collecting dust for almost 40 years, grants him the permission. He opens the boxes from their bottom sides. The bottles are full. He unscrews their caps and he's nearly floored by what his doing unleashes. Trying to put himself together, he asks for a price for the lot of them. He can have them all for half the price of a typical Creed. He stashes them in his mailman bag, and after a slight bow towards this perfume vault involuntary keymistress [sic], he exits the shop. Hindering the impulse to run home and bury his nose in the bottles, he goes on with his business as if nothing had happened. Bows, sang-froid...It seems like the three newly acquired bottles have already started working their magic, by granting him some gentleman's qualities before even opening them. Finally, he returns home in late afternoon, makes a coffee, lights another fag, and...
"I never can be tied to raw, new things.
Such treasures, left from times of cautious leaven,
Cannot but loose the hold of flimsier wraiths
That flit with shifting ways and muddled faiths
Across the changeless walls of earth and heaven."
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, "Background"
Adding anything about the way Givenchy Gentleman smells would be superfluous. Hundreds of lovers or haters have described it very aptly before me, using sometimes the exact same reasons to justify loving or hating it. So my contribution here will be in the form of simply asking why such a ridiculously good fragrance has followed the fate of the dinosaurs, like a gigantic, mighty creature which was outlived by rodents. And if someone tells me that Givenchy Gentleman is not extinct, I'll beg to differ. Cause from what I read, its current formulation is so similar with its vintage one as much as dinosaurs were similar to mammals. In the sense that yes, both species are animals. But any further similarity ends there.
I usually avoid judging scents without testing them, but I think that one with half its notes synthetically replicated in a lab can't hold a candle to one laden with civet (probably the real thing) and oakmoss. The one acre of patchouli per bottle ratio is of course a staple, thus there's no use mentioning it. The funny thing however, is how a fragrance so stupendously fraught with something that its excessive use would label someone as a hippie when it was launched, has "gentleman" written on its bottle.
But please don't get me wrong. I like the hippies' simple life-approach very much, although I never strengthened their ranks. But true gentlemanship has nothing to do with the way one dresses, just like gallantry has nothing to do with one's size and education has nothing to do with schools. Some of the most decent gentlemen I've met so far, were shy, humble people with courageous hearts and little school education.
And speaking of schools, yes, Givenghy Gentleman is definitely the epitome of old-school. It's actually so old-school, that I guess it was already the headmaster of the powerhouse school when lads like Kouros and Antaeus entered first grade.
What was that again? How the current reformulated version smells like? Rhett?...
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."