Zen (1964) Eau de Cologne

Version from 1964
Zen (1964) (Eau de Cologne) by Shiseido / 資生堂
Bottle Design: Marehide Susuki
Where to buy
Where to buy

Search on

More
7.5 / 10     27 RatingsRatingsRatings
Zen (1964) (Eau de Cologne) is a perfume by Shiseido / 資生堂 for women and was released in 1964. The scent is floral-woody. The production was apparently discontinued.

Search on

More

Fragrance Notes

Top Notes Top NotesBergamot, Galbanum, Hyacinth, Orange blossom
Heart Notes Heart NotesCarnation, Orris root, Jasmine, Mimosa, Narcissus, Rose, Violet
Base Notes Base NotesAmber, Oakmoss, Musk, Sandalwood, Cedar

Ratings

Scent

7.5 (27 Ratings)

Longevity

7.2 (16 Ratings)

Sillage

6.3 (17 Ratings)

Bottle

8.7 (32 Ratings)
Submitted by Kankuro, last update on 15.04.2019
  • RateRate
  • CollectionCollection
  • SoukSouk
  • ClassifyClassify
  • NotesNotes

Reviews

9.0 8.0 9.0 5.0/10
Oriane

89 Reviews
Oriane
Oriane
1
Extremely Strong Floral---A Green, Woody, Perfumey Bomb
Top Notes: Orange Blossom, Galbanum, Hyacinth, Bergamot.

Heart Notes: Mimosa, Carnation, Violet, Orris Root, Jasmine, Rose, Narcissus.

Base Notes: Sandalwood, Amber, Musk, Oak Moss, Cedar.

This review is for the vintage eau de cologne.

As this is an eau de cologne, I could have been knocked over with a feather upon application because it smells more like a powerhouse vintage eau de parfum and a very "perfumey" one at that. On my skin, Zen opened with strong notes of oak moss, galbanum, cedar, and hyacinth---so very green and woody. These notes persist into the dry down on me. I am able to detect a fairly strong narcissus, a bit of violet, and a bit of orris root, but I am unable to detect orange blossom, mimosa, carnation, amber, or musk. Oak moss is by far the most dominant note in this fragrance, followed by galbanum and hyacinth.

Zen is an overwhelmingly green and woody fragrance in my opinion. It epitomises "old school," strong, perfumey fragrances. It preceeds the wearer by at least five feet. It does not smell at all modern, sweet, and certainly has no gourmand traces whatsoever.

Zen was first launched in 1964, but it easily could be from an even earlier era. I like it, but just a few dabs on the back of one arm gave me a headache--the same sort of headache that came to me so often in the 1970s and 1980s. I plan to test it a few more times before I reach a final conclusion, but for now, I find it to be very strong, and very perfumey in a very old fashioned way. The floral notes are not at all sweet, and the woody notes are extremely dry. I am not sure this is a fragrance I would wear very often. I do not find it office friendly or enclosed spaces friendly at all. I think it would be safest worn out of doors. If trapped on an elevator with someone who was wearing it, I think I would pass out. I quite like the bottle, though.

Zen is most definitely a try before you buy type of fragrance. If you like very green, woody, dry, rather heavy, non-sweet, sharpish, old school, perfumey fragrances, then Zen would right up your street. This is not a mesmerisingly feminine Guerlain or Chanel type floral. It has the "in your face" strength of vintage Bal á Versailles, and like Bal á Versailles, I fear it is not right for me personally. I have awarded it 5 of 10 because it has held up extremely well for its age--my bottle is pre-barcode--and it appears to have few if any synthetic notes.

Fragrance: 5/10

Projection: 7/10

Sillage: 8/10

Longevity: 9/10
10.0 5.0 7.5 8.0/10
Cryptic

24 Reviews
Cryptic
Cryptic
Greatly helpful Review    18
Scent of the Middle Earth
Back when I was a child, my mother often wore Zen EdC out of the splash bottle. It lingered on her hands and had a way of turning up on everything she touched, including her books. While she was in the middle of her Zen period, my mother happened to be reading the most enticing novel. It had strange illustrations, some of which were a bit frightening, and a beautiful hand-drawn map in the front that mysteriously featured a dragon.

All of this was irresistible to a curious child, and fortunately my wonderful, unconventional mother eventually gave in to my pleading and read The Hobbit to me as a bedtime story over the course of a few months. Not surprisingly, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical tale and illustrations will forever be associated with the smell of Zen for me, and I almost expect its mossy drydown to come wafting off the pages of my recent edition as it did from my mother's copy.

The different perfume sites disagree as to whether Zen is a floral or a chypre, which is not so strange for a fragrance that defies categorization; the floralcy, green notes, woods and mosses are so harmoniously balanced that it is a bit difficult to fit Zen into a particular slot. My vote would be for chypre despite the fact that Zen is missing the labdanum component from the classic formula, simply because the oakmoss is what haunts me about this particular scent. In conjunction with galbanum, it really does bring to mind the depths of Mirkwood Forest in Wilderland. Sadly, I'm not able to pick up the aquatic aspect that others mentioned, but I don't doubt that it's there by virtue of the notes listed.

As a 1964 release, Zen was on the leading edge of the golden age of chypres. I imagine it was popular during the mossy green 70s, only to fall out of favor when the power perfumes changed public taste in the 80s. At that point, subtlety was no longer a fragrant asset and Zen's whispered dark green spells fell silent with discontinuation. Although something called "Original Zen" with the beautiful black and gold sake bottle was recently re-introduced by Shisedo, I haven't tried it so I can't comment on whether it is a faithful rendition of the classic. My sincere thanks to my vintage enabler for restoring a bit of my lost childhood with the lovely sample. I will be spritzing some of it on my copy of The Hobbit for sure. :)
4 Replies
7.5 8.0/10
Sherapop

1239 Reviews
Sherapop
Sherapop
Helpful Review    4
The Inspiration for Aquatic Fragrances?
I feel fortunate to have received a sample of the original, classic ZEN (1964) edc from SystemeD, and all the more, having now read her glowing review below and discovered that she has shared some of a precious elixir in short supply!

When I donned ZEN for the very first time, it occurred to me that this perfume may have been the very first proto-aquatic fragrance. The difference was that this composition did not bother me and did not smell like a chemical soup or rotting melons or Windex or anything of the sort.

As the perfume (and it is a perfume, despite the edc designation!) dried down, I began to fall in love with its soapy iris and galbanum--a truly classic combination, and I understood why ZEN is so beloved to some. I suspect that awesomeness (see review, also below) may have ended up with either a reformulation, or worse: a fake. I say this because I'm pretty sure that this fragrance is out of production, so someone--perhaps not the seller, but perhaps the seller's seller...--may have filled an empty bottle with pseudo-ZEN juice.

To me, this elixir offers a subtle yet captivating beauty. If you are a lover of soapy orris and galbanum, then you would love--or would have loved--this!
4 Replies
Awesomeness

247 Reviews
Awesomeness
Awesomeness
Very helpful Review    3
Reformulated?
Not sure if Zen in the Black bottle has been reformulated or what, but I am extremely disappointed. I purchased a NIB EdC. It was completely unbalanced - extraordinarily loud for first 10 minutes, smelling of florals (hyacinth, LOV?, rose) then a bit woody. After that it disappeared into nothingness. Also tried on paper, and it's the same. No spices, no aquatic character, very un-Zen.

I've never tried a vintage Zen, so I don't have anything to compare it to. However, my experience with the new Zen classic (black bottle) does not match the reviews here or elsewhere.

Caveat emptor.
10.0 7.5 7.5 10.0/10
SystemeD

58 Reviews
SystemeD
SystemeD
Very helpful Review    6
A true classic and a model of balance
Zen has been my favorite fragrance for -- can it be over thirty years? Oh my.

The name is appropriate, as it is the extraordinary balance of notes that characterize this scent.

It opens with the green scent of galbanum up top, and then there's that gorgeous floral accord (sometimes the iris stands out for me, sometimes it does not) at the heart of this fragrance. The entire thing is breathtakingly blended.

On the drydown, you'll see that Zen is suffused with a deep woodiness. The sandalwood and cedar base notes linger in a soft and rounded way.

It's most commonly found in edc concentration, but if you can get your hands on the parfum, don't miss it. It has astonishing depth and richness.

Oh, this fragrance is perfection.

Perfume Classification by the Community


Photos by the Community

by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Gold
by Gold
by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Gold
by Gold
by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Florblanca
by Gold
by Gold
by Sophi
by Sophi
by Digindirt
by Digindirt
by Digindirt
by Digindirt