Foren-Übersicht Perfumes by Note, Accord, Genre Some Thoughts On Classic Fougère - A Matter Of Gender
Apicius
Apicius
3425 Posts
ApiciusApicius Some Thoughts On Classic Fougère - A Matter Of Gender 02.01.2013, 14:10
Drseid posted a review of English Fern recently under the title "This can't be the original formula". He comes to this conclusion since what he smelled appeared to him amateurish and not what he would expect from a classic fragrance from 1910.

I think such conclusions might very well be based on the nearby presumption that a classic accord which has survived the times must be something brilliant, a highly refined and elegant composition and maybe outstandingly beautiful. "If God gave ferns a scent, they would smell like Fougère Royal" – this famous sentence which came down to us from Paul Parquet might support such opinions.

Actually, only few people can give us a record of how Paul Parquet's "Fougère Royale" from 1882 and many of its followers originally smelled like. Some leftovers are kept in the secret caves of the Osmothéque in Versailles. Luca Turin was invited to smell Fougère Royale there, and in his book "The Secret of Scent" he reports that it gave him impressions of visiting a bathroom: scrubbed black and white tiles, damp white towels and fecal aromas - "someone else's shit". You could blame Turin for straining after effect, but to some extent, I can reconcile his impression with my own fougère experiences.

I had the chance to test the discontinued Buckingham and Crown Fougère, both by Crown Perfumery, and the still available "Fougère" by Harry Lehmann. Harry Lehmann is a traditional Berlin perfume manufacturer. The business was founded in the 1920's and they still use many of the traditional formula. For details, look into the Parfumo Travel Guide. These three perfumes gave me an idea of what the classic fougère accord must smell like.

The use of the denomination Fougère is widespread. In its broadest sense, more or less everything can be called a Fougère, as long as it has something herbal in it and is not completely oriental. This use - which would even include a vanilla fragrance like Guerlain's Jicky - is not what I am talking about here.

What I experienced in those classic fougères was a very sharp herbal spiciness in the olfactory neighborhood of the aromas of fennel, celery, aniseed, eucalyptus. There is also a reminiscence to the smell of bales of dusty cloth, the dressing in there, and the picture of somebody wearing a sports jacket which indeed implies a link to the idea of masculine elegance.

But the classic fougère accord is not beautiful, it also has something repelling. If you get too much of it, it can be even nauseating, maybe due to excessive use of cumarin. And the sharpness in it can really hurt. My theory is that Fougère was supposed to hurt!

At some point in history, the use of perfume became more and more a privilege of the ladies. Surrounding oneself with beautiful fragrances became something effeminate, and perfume loving men were considered effete persons. The most amiable flowery fragrances have always been sold as ladies' fragrances. Even today some leftover machos at least in some societies categorically refuse to wear perfume since they regard such as unmanly. At gay sex parties everywhere around this planet you are very likely to be refused admittance if you are surrounded by a fragrance other than your own bodily odor.

Fougère is a cultural expression of the development of gender. If beautiful fragrances are for ladies, effete men and mollycoddled boys, then any use of fragrance must hurt to be acceptable. It is pure masochism: many men punish themselves for using fragrance. They enjoy perfume only if by doing so, they can demonstrate that they can take pain. This is why we have After Shave. Applying a sharp alcoholic chemical to freshly shaved skin hurts a lot, and for this way of using fragrance, there is even the justification that the lesions need to be disinfected! Using After Shave and no Eau de Toilette might tell something about a man's personality.

Now, let's count two and two together: the masochistic use of fragrance by so many men plus Turin's impression that Fougère Royale has something to do with toilets. Isn't it comprehensible why Fougère became a success?

One could write the history of perfumery under the aspect of overcoming strict gender roles, starting with Paul Parquet's Fougère Royale. It is a good sign that this masochism cannot be found any more in nowadays sweetish orientals the style of Le Mâle or One Million.

I am not through with the classic fougère accord. Is it reactionary to use it? Or is there a way to transmute the masochism of the past into something different?

There have been a number of releases in the last decade that involve the classic Fougère accord. These Fougères are different. They all have in common that they try to hide away the pain, more or less successful. What is left is a kind of detachedness, a rather relaxed insight that not every accord has to submit to the idea of beauty in order to evoke elegance.

Find out for yourself, here is my shortlist:

#1 "Tina Farina Charme - Stier for Men"
On the fresh side and with poor longevity. My number one because it fades away before the pain sets in.

#2 Fougère by Harry Lehmann
Presumably the closest to the original still available.

#3 "MPH" by Washington Tremlett
Nice with a special emphasis on lavender which is very well detectable as such.

#4 Sartorial by Penhaligon's
Stressing the textile aspect of Fougère with its declared reference to a Sartorial's workshop.

#5 "Jaques Zolty"
Maybe a bit opulent but very fougère.

#6 Fougere Royale by Houbigant
Reformulated re-issue of the original Paul Parquet fragrance. Very stylish flacon, and a refined and modernised Fougère. The air of light elegance betrays us – this cumarin bomb can become nauseating. If it just hadn't Eau de Parfum longevity!

#7 Vétiver de Frédéric by Frédéric Haldiman
Great Vetiver with a discerible fougère touch by a great perfumer. Sadly, discontinued.

#8 Buckingham and Crown Fougère by Crown Perfumery
An authentic experience - if you can find them.

Sorry I haven't tested English Fern yet, so I can neither agree nor dissent with Drseid's impression.

Drseid
Drseid
92 Posts
DrseidDrseid 02.01.2013, 17:30
Great discussion.

Come to think of it I do have samples of the two Crown scents in question and both of them were very rough around the edges as well when I sniffed them (and in truth neither appealed to me but for different reasons than English Fern). That said, while it has been a few years since I sniffed those two samples, they seemed to have a lot more of the fern than I got with English Fern and none of the geranium that was all over the place (in my opinion) with the Penhaligon's. Sartorial was a much smoother release that was a lot easier to wear than either of the Crowns, for example.

A sample of Fougere Royale is on the way to me that should arrive this week, so it will be interesting to see how English Fern compares to that one as many consider FR a (or even *the*) reference fougere...

Apicius
Apicius
3425 Posts
ApiciusApicius 02.01.2013, 17:55
Drseid wrote:
Great discussion.

Come to think of it I do have samples of the two Crown scents in question and both of them were very rough around the edges as well when I sniffed them (and in truth neither appealed to me but for different reasons than English Fern). That said, while it has been a few years since I sniffed those two samples, they seemed to have a lot more of the fern than I got with English Fern and none of the geranium that was all over the place (in my opinion) with the Penhaligon's. Sartorial was a much smoother release that was a lot easier to wear than either of the Crowns, for example.

A sample of Fougere Royale is on the way to me that should arrive this week, so it will be interesting to see how English Fern compares to that one as many consider FR a (or even *the*) reference fougere...

The modern Fougère Royale can hardly be seen as a Fougère reference, rather as a reference for hiding away the rough side of Fougère. BTW one of the Crowns made me spend a day in hospital - due to an allergic reaction.

Drseid
Drseid
92 Posts
DrseidDrseid 05.01.2013, 12:11
Apicius wrote:
Drseid wrote:
Great discussion.

Come to think of it I do have samples of the two Crown scents in question and both of them were very rough around the edges as well when I sniffed them (and in truth neither appealed to me but for different reasons than English Fern). That said, while it has been a few years since I sniffed those two samples, they seemed to have a lot more of the fern than I got with English Fern and none of the geranium that was all over the place (in my opinion) with the Penhaligon's. Sartorial was a much smoother release that was a lot easier to wear than either of the Crowns, for example.

A sample of Fougere Royale is on the way to me that should arrive this week, so it will be interesting to see how English Fern compares to that one as many consider FR a (or even *the*) reference fougere...
The modern Fougère Royale can hardly be seen as a Fougère reference, rather as a reference for hiding away the rough side of Fougère. BTW one of the Crowns made me spend a day in hospital - due to an allergic reaction.

Sure enough, the modern version of Fougère Royale arrived, and while my first impression on paper is I'll love it, it is definitely different from what I expected (and very much along the lines of what you describe). I have now ordered a sample of the vintage Fougère Royale for comparison, and should have it in a week or two. I am looking forward to sniff what it really smelled like years ago and will do a dual review of the two in the coming month with side-by-side comparisons.

Apicius
Apicius
3425 Posts
ApiciusApicius 05.01.2013, 13:59
Drseid wrote:
Apicius wrote:
Drseid wrote:
Great discussion.

Come to think of it I do have samples of the two Crown scents in question and both of them were very rough around the edges as well when I sniffed them (and in truth neither appealed to me but for different reasons than English Fern). That said, while it has been a few years since I sniffed those two samples, they seemed to have a lot more of the fern than I got with English Fern and none of the geranium that was all over the place (in my opinion) with the Penhaligon's. Sartorial was a much smoother release that was a lot easier to wear than either of the Crowns, for example.

A sample of Fougere Royale is on the way to me that should arrive this week, so it will be interesting to see how English Fern compares to that one as many consider FR a (or even *the*) reference fougere...

The modern Fougère Royale can hardly be seen as a Fougère reference, rather as a reference for hiding away the rough side of Fougère. BTW one of the Crowns made me spend a day in hospital - due to an allergic reaction.

Sure enough, the modern version of Fougère Royale arrived, and while my first impression on paper is I'll love it, it is definitely different from what I expected (and very much along the lines of what you describe). I have now ordered a sample of the vintage Fougère Royale for comparison, and should have it in a week or two. I am looking forward to sniff what it really smelled like years ago and will do a dual review of the two in the coming month with side-by-side comparisons.

That's unbelievable! There are still some vintages around? Please tell us your impressions!

LovingTheAlien
LovingTheAlien
20 Posts
LovingTheAlienLovingTheAlien 07.01.2013, 16:02
What a wonderful and thoroughly researched post!

I've noticed how many creations are labeled Fougère and there was a considerable amount of variance. In my search to discover what is or isn't an authentic fougere accord, I decided to blend myself what I had learned from various sources to be the building blocks of a "real" vintage fougere: Oakmoss (my own tincture!), Tonka Bean (my own tincture again), a little amber(in place of labdanum, which I don't have), sandalwood(Mysore tincture - also mine), a light floral blend (jasmine and rose, a tiny bit of each), lavender(another tincture) bergamot, and a teensy touch of (regretably) synthetic musk. It came out kind of muddled - something was weird. It had a spicy sweet edge something like a fougere, but something was missing. A little investigation, and a drop(well, smallish tacky glob) of patchouli was added. And there it was:

Pinaud Clubman, Avon Wild Country, Dana Ambush, and Canoe!

Despite the totally unmeasured nonsense amateur blending, it was as clear as day. I even got a hint of Indiscret on my skin as it wore on. It was a bit rough, with the tonka being quite strong, but so it is in the others as well (except canoe, which I find to be quite well-balanced). The "accord" was surely there - it was quite blended together, producing what seemed to be a fresh herbal resinous aroma with only the tonka really being identifiable.

This has led me to believe that these are what would be considered "standard" in the fougere category, and although I have not yet smelled the original Fougere Royal, I have smelled Penhaligon's English Fern which is supposedly the same and I get the same results.

The Aromatic Fougere genre certainly spans a large range of finished products, from the still very fougere-like Azzaro Pour Homme to the baffling Dali Pour Homme(one of my favorites) which emphasizes the metallic leathery quality of tonka with castoreum and plays with all kinds of bitter green notes in the top. I can still smell the fougere accord in most of these scents - it's kind of impossible to hide if you know what you're looking for, it seems!

The new Fougere Royale is quite light on amber, oakmoss, and coumarin compared to these classics. Especially noticable is the totally cleaned up "musk." The old fougeres mentioned all have that dirty skin feel from the real sandalwood and nitromusks. Real sandalwood is such a fascinating material - there is really nothing like it. That really goes for too many fragrances today - they're so much cleaner.

That's not to say that the new Fougere Royal is a bad fragrance. I really like it a lot, and I'm glad it exists. I just wish the price point was a little lower. Those Houbigant reissues are absurdly expensive, aren't they?

Anyway, I would love to hear what you all think of my experiences.

Apicius
Apicius
3425 Posts
ApiciusApicius 07.01.2013, 16:25
Thank you very much for sharing your experiences, LovingTheAlien!

I wonder if you were looking for something like the 19th century conception of Fougère, or something that came later. Wouldn't a portion of coumarin have to be in it as well for the original accord? I think coumarin is different from tonka although it could be extracted from tonka beans.

By the way, I opened this discussion on the German forum as well, so please take notice of the posts there. If you use the Google Chrome browser, you can get automatic translation, and it should be roughly comprehensible:

http://www.parfumo.de/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14559

LovingTheAlien
LovingTheAlien
20 Posts
LovingTheAlienLovingTheAlien 07.01.2013, 17:20
A tincture of tonka is almost 100% coumarin in fragrance, just a tad bit waxier and with a tiny arsenic aroma. It's not all that different, and I imagine the synthesized coumarin from then wouldn't be all that pure anyway.

Drseid
Drseid
92 Posts
DrseidDrseid 19.01.2013, 22:18
The vintage Fougere Royale arrived today. I have applied it on skin and can already say I love it, but it is too early to make any specific comparisons with the new version, or others yet. A full wearing or two is required first. I can say it does not have that unpleasant aspect I sniffed with the Penhaligon's though (thankfully).

Drseid
Drseid
92 Posts
DrseidDrseid 27.01.2013, 19:38
As promised, I have posted my review of the side-by-side comparison between the vintage EdC and the current EdP re-issue of Fougere Royale.

To bottom line it though, the re-issue is not really the same scent at all. It is missing the prominent oakmoss and coumarin drivers of the vintage EdC, while focusing more on the bergamot, lavender and cinnamon over a soapy base. Nothing wrong with it at all, but not really a fougere, IMO.

The EdC now having sniffed it is a lot different than I expected. It is not so rough or medicinal at all like the English Fern I disliked so much, but rather relatively tame in comparison. It uses the oakmoss and coumarin to balance the aromatic lavender near perfectly, coming off as a more complete composition, IMO. the ingredients used appear to be of a very high quality and come off as very natural smelling. My only gripe is it has terrible longevity on my scent friendly skin, even for an EdC... My more complete thoughts are in the review...

Apicius
Apicius
3425 Posts
ApiciusApicius 27.01.2013, 19:44
Thanks for your review, Drseid.

So after all, it seems we have found out that the English fougères are a bit rough whereas the french ones are a bit softer. And also, the relaunched Fougère Royal is very much different from its predecessor.

Drseid
Drseid
92 Posts
DrseidDrseid 27.01.2013, 19:50
Apicius wrote:
Thanks for your review, Drseid.

So after all, it seems we have found out that the English fougères are a bit rough whereas the french ones are a bit softer. And also, the relaunched Fougère Royal is very much different from its predecessor.

That about sums it up, IMO.

Foustie
Foustie
30 Posts
FoustieFoustie Re: Some Thoughts On Classic Fougère - A Matter Of Gender 30.09.2013, 15:19
Hello old friends (Drseid), hello new friends. I'm really enjoying this discussion. May I join in?

I love this excerpt from Apicius' piece. It really struck a chord with me;

Apicius wrote:
What I experienced in those classic fougères was a very sharp herbal spiciness in the olfactory neighborhood of the aromas of fennel, celery, aniseed, eucalyptus. There is also a reminiscence to the smell of bales of dusty cloth, the dressing in there, and the picture of somebody wearing a sports jacket which indeed implies a link to the idea of masculine elegance.

But the classic fougère accord is not beautiful, it also has something repelling. If you get too much of it, it can be even nauseating, maybe due to excessive use of cumarin. And the sharpness in it can really hurt. My theory is that Fougère was supposed to hurt!

In my olfactory memory I have an idea of what a Fougere smells like, and no I wasn't around in 1910! We had Fougeres when I was a child. My father had them. I do actually remember that Fougère was the name for them. My dad was in the Merchant Navy and we did have fragrances from all over. I remember Sandalwood Fragrances and Bay Rum, and lots more lovely fragrances that I can't remember the names of now. I can't remember the actual names of the Fougeres but I think that some had the words Fougère, or "Fern", in the title. We also had soaps and talcums called fern or fougere, sometimes with pictures of ferns on them. Some of those would have been Yardley, but not all. Some may have come from France. It's also possible that the actual fragrances that I knew as Fougeres were from the popular masculine releases of the time ( late 60's and 70's).

IF (and only IF) my olfactory memory serves me well, then the contemporary fragrance that reminds me most of these Fougeres is Etat Libre D'Orange Eloge du Traitre. I have said it before.

Eloge du Traitre does not have the classical Fougere accord of Lavender/Coumarin/Oakmoss, at least not according to the published notes. It has Pine, laurel, artemisia, clove, geranium, jasmine, patchouli, leather, musk. In my view it is wonderfully bitter, harsh, dark, very dry, challenging. There is a tension there but it is not at all discordant, quite the contrary. It is not beautiful but it is wonderful, and wonderfully compelling.

Do you see something here? I do! I see that the notes, and my impressions of Eloge du Traitre do in fact match the wonderful impressions of a Fougere described by Apicius above. They match it very well I think.

You may of course disagree.......... if you know Eloge du Traitre or you can access it, please have a sniff and a think and come back.

F
21:14 30/09/2013. Edited: Mistakes and typos, apologies.

MiaTrost
MiaTrost
908 Posts
MiaTrostMiaTrost 17.01.2014, 15:36
This is a fabulous thread, it really made me contemplate fougères. Thanks for starting it, Apicius!

I was wondering, what actually defines a classic Fougére?
In perfume lingo, a fougère is a type of fragrance, mostly masculine, built around a basic accord of citrus (predominantly bergamot), lavender, geranium, coumarin and the earthy trio of patchouli, oak moss, and cistus resins. One element more, one element less, but this is approximately what a fougère structure encompasses. Source: Rodrigo Flores-Roux
Elena Vosnaki describes this concept of a scent as herbaceous, infused with aromatic lavender, which leaves a malleable, soft, enveloping, yet discreet aura on the wearer.

Reading more on Fougère Royal, I learned that Paul Parquet added the synthetic material coumarin to the classical eau de cologne accord of citrus, lavender and geranium. The rich notes of amber, musk and oakmoss completed the composition of Fougére Royal, thus giving birth to a family of fragrances called fougère. Compared with modern perfumes, a unique characteristic of the (classic) Eau de Cologne accord is the absence of a dominant base note, hence its fleeting character. Therefore, one could argue that the novelty here was the creation of a fragrance with complex base notes (whether or not he was the first perfumer to add a synthetic material is irrelevant for the point I am trying to make).

So, what did Fougère Royal smell like?
Going by a review about the reconstructed version at the Osmothèque – I have never smelled it myself - it reportedly is soft and polished. “The bergamot brings luminosity, the lavender conveys outdoorsy liberation, the powdery coumarin suggests kindness and steeliness (it's both smile and stubble at the same time) and the moss grounds the whole with firm resolve. None of the elements is over-emphasised. Nothing demands excessive attention. At no point does the composition judder or shake. Indeed, so impeccable is the balance that it makes most modern compositions seem as ordered as a pile of Lego bricks attacked by a hyperactive toddler.” Persolaise
Drseid, referring to the vintage version, stated, that “Fougère Royale EdC is very wearable, much less vociferous and quite gorgeous and natural smelling”.
Assuming that Fougère Royal is the archetypical (French) fougère, I would argue that classic fougères cannot generally be understood as a sharp, herbaceous and woody scent. Hence, I cannot follow your theory that Fougère was supposed to hurt.

As for the traditional English fougères, I have no idea if for example Wild Fern, English Fern or Crown Fougère, although undeniably on the green and herbaceous side, have always been that pungent and rough. Possibly, I am admittedly not very familiar with that genre but Foustie's description of Etat Libre D'Orange Eloge du Traitre and her olfactory memory of fougères would support this.

A matter of gender?
"From the Renaissance into the nineteenth century, perfume wearing and perfume type were ungendered, and men and women adorned them equally. The deodorizing drive of the mid-nineteenth century, however, led to a demise of perfume and a new conservative outlook towards it. (…) Perfume receded to the background and took on a muted public image, and wearing fragrance became gender stereotyped. (…) In the early to mid-twentieth century, men with any credible social position had stopped wearing fragrance altogether and were only expected to smell of clean skin and tobacco.” Source

This historical account does not go too well with your perception of classical fougères as featuring “very sharp herbal spiciness in the olfactory neighborhood of the aromas of fennel, celery, aniseed, eucalyptus.” Moreover, Paul Parquet had conceived Fougère Royal as a female fragrance, eventhough it was men, not women, who favored the scent. Geoffry Jones

As for the masculine urge for pain, I tend to believe that masochism is essentially genderless. And if you believe applying After Shave hurts, you don’t want to know what some women go through in pursuit of beauty. Wink

Cincy
Cincy
2568 Posts
CincyCincy 17.01.2014, 16:53
Mia's words.....As for the masculine urge for pain, I tend to believe that masochism is essentially genderless. And if you believe applying After Shave hurts, you don’t want to know what some women go through in pursuit of beauty.
You got that right my dear one. Crying or Very sad

QuercusAlbus
QuercusAlbus
25 Posts
QuercusAlbusQuercusAlbus 20.03.2018, 03:24
Am I using the word ~fougère~ correctly? My understanding has been hitherto that it denotes the having strong °broken-stem° type notes in - reminiscent of walking through wet woodland or of beating down an obstruction of overgrowth: examples being the new flanker of ~Bloom~ - ~acqua di Fiori~ - by Gucci, or ~Bracken~by Amouage - the latter being so self-referentially: bracken ≈ fern = fougère.

To my mind, the application of aftershave is purley practical: the antiseptication of the myriad microlesions caused by shaving. And I would advise anyone who has shaved their legs or chest or whatever to do so! The °clean° pain of alcohol or iodine or peroxide on wound is °nothing° compared to the °dirty° pain of infection, such as toothache, or, taking an extreme - & indeed deadly - example, generalised pertonitis. I'm sure most of us have experienced the relief that is afforded when tincture of iodine is applied where a splinter has lodged under the skin & caused an infected spot - small though-be-it! The intense stinging & burning is bliss against what is cured by it - like the Archangel Michael has touched it with the tip of his sword! No! Application of aftershave is to my mind purely practical: there is no masochism-significance atall in it!

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