Antaeus challenged all passers-by to wrestling matches and remained invincible as long as he remained in contact with his mother, the earth. Like its modern equivalent, Greek wrestling typically attempted to force opponents to the ground, which he always won, killing his opponents himself. He built a temple for his father using their skulls. Antaeus fought Heracles on his way to the Garden of the Hesperides as his eleventh work. Heracles realized he could not beat Antaeus by throwing or blocking him. Instead, he held him up and then crushed him to death in a bear hug.
Antaeus was one of the most beautiful masterpieces of the eighties, and it is among the best animal perfumes that have been put on the market. The vintage version included the animal-based castoreum, which has now been replaced by a synthetic one. I'm afraid such a reformulation has crushed it to the ground to death as the mythological character it is named after. Castoreum was widely used in perfumery. Its very pungent and robust animal note makes it an interesting object in men's perfume, fougères, chypres, oriental-based leather notes. The warm and sweet atmosphere, the proximity to human sweat, and the castoreum's leathery animal note help the chords achieve sensuality. Miserably, I miss that atmosphere, that deep sensuality, and I struggled to recognize Antaeus when I smelled and bought the current version anyway. My olfactory memory had stored a unique perfume, more masculine, powerful, complex, more challenging, warmer, darker, enveloping, opulent than what it is today, in short, an invincible Antaeus who today has lost his immortality. As such, I fear young people will never know how fabulous the vintage perfumes of that period were, such as Antaeus, Shalimar, and Opium.
The composition of the Antaeus perfume is a woody powder. The contemporary Antaeus starts a little more tart with the scents of aldehydes and hesperides. The citrus accord is a blast, lemon and lime are quite tart, and the slightly astringent coriander leaves reinforce the acidity. The explosion doesn't stop there—the dark green of the clary sage and the resinousness of the myrrh complete that vibrant aroma. Although not mentioned, I get a deep waxiness as if pine needles were present, therefore pungent and balmy. Furthermore, even during this initially cool moment, the animal base is distinguishable.
As the aldehyde and musky tones wear off, I feel a slight leathery edge that blends with a beautiful aromatic and floral accord. The fragrance's heart is slightly herbaceous, spicy, rosy, which continues to be infused with the ever-increasing base notes. On the one hand, there are the fragrant green leaves of thyme and basil, on the other hand, there are the delicate flowers of rose and jasmine. The aromatic and floral notes confer delicacy and softness against the rough base notes, with hints of herbs and woods. Sage, thyme, and coriander create a glassy appearance, with the initial rawness further dampened by the misuse of rose and jasmine. Once the sparkling opening has faded on the skin, the beeswax and patchouli create a golden, shiny sweetness. As this evolves, the rose becomes prevalent, but never at levels of oriental Middle Eastern perfumes, recalling other feminine works by Chanel, now more than then.
The base of Anteo is warm and smells of soft, blunt, almost powdery woods and musk. There are leathery labdanum and a hint of patchouli, which has a distinctive earthy, green scent to which oak moss lends density and texture. In particular, the faint sweet smell of jasmine fused with the waxiness of labdanum creates a mellifluous vibe that many souls get from this scent, very close to the smell of acacia honey. Labdanum and myrrh also become prominent, giving a resinous and almost mouldy accord. Yet the vintage animalic castoreum isn't there, miserably, and that's the part I miss the most.
There are oriental and fougère shades in this chypre, the former from patchouli, sandalwood, and labdanum, the latter from a bouquet of herbs and flowers, oakmoss, and a hint of citrus. Along with the chypre labelling, both sides are all identifiable in distinct phases of this fragrance's progression. The last stage of the evolution of this perfume is leathery and powdery, but at the same time sweet, but still too enthusiastic.
Contemporary Antaeus is smooth and relatively linear; it has minimal sillage and decent lasting power, making it wearable even during the day in a work environment. Although it has been reformulated several times, it still maintains its character, once wilder and with more marked phases, now tamer, mellowed, with a less exaggerated evolution. He has lost that purely masculine side and today a female audience can wear it too. However, it remains a nice hit of perfume, for the coldest months, elegant and nocturnal. It has a slightly dirty, animal-like, musky smell with a hint of sweetness. There are some woody and herbaceous notes in Antaeus to still give it a masculine aromatic edge, but what by far dominates the base blend of semi-sweet labdanum and oakmoss. Yes, I like this modern Antaeus, with a hint of melancholy.
This review bases upon a 100ml bottle I own since February 2021.