The fragrance of old men
31
Aug 2020

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Old men smell like ram, and young men like wet straw. And redheads like bruised grass?

Men have a big problem with body odor.

For the first thirty minutes after they start sweating, it smells nice and attractive to women, especially those who ovulate. The reason for this is that fresh sweat contains androstenol, a pheromone * that carries chemical signals of fitness and fertility. Unfortunately, this pheromone oxidizes within thirty minutes to androstenol, an odor that women avoid and usually find repulsive, except again during ovulation, when they tolerate it reluctantly.

In addition, body odor has to do with diet (just think of the almost immediate effect of asparagus on urine), genetics and race. Orientals have surprisingly little body odor (they also have less overwash) compared to groupings that have their origin at the equator. Clearly, these adjustments have to do with temperature control.

And what about the redheads? The literature is riddled with references to the unique body odor of redheads, and it seems as if there are reasons for this. Only 2-4% of the world population has red hair, and its origins appear to be from northern Europe. With their light skin, freckles and genetically unique composition, it would seem that red hair is an adaptation to obtain vitamin D where there is little or no sunlight. So chances are good that their sweat may smell slightly different. I think so.

And what on earth does this have to do with perfume?

Well, the average South African man is still scared of perfume, with the fear that it might indicate being gay and also that it might reflect on their image as “potato farmer” pillars of society. Fortunately, our children look more androgenic by day (I have to take a closer look at the dumb Goths) and older men no longer care a dime. Recent research at the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago has found that older men are psychologically benefiting from pleasant scents and that it significantly increases their self-confidence.

The average South African man is still scared of perfume, with the fear that it might indicate being gay and also that it might reflect on their image as “potato farmer” pillars of society.

I grew up in a small town in the Little Karoo and throughout high school, only one teacher smelled of anything but carbolic soap. Will I ever forget the summer days, sun bugs in the pepper trees outside the windows, the temperature above 35 degrees Celsius, the knowledge that a lazy river awaits – before your sleepy eyes a table of figures and Mr. X peeking over your shoulder, she Old Spice smells the concentration of primitive anesthesia …

Men who are interested in perfume will make a good start with an exploration of vetiver grass. The very best concentrate comes from India, made in copper kettles over wood fires in the river city of Kannauj. I have a bottle from Kannauj that serves as my reference to what I measure others – the scent is green and soil and arch – something for a gardener with rough hands.

Here are my favorite vetiver perfumes:

Vetiver from Guerlain

The king, already released in 1959, against which all others must be measured. Vetiver begins with light citrus note that instantly transforms into a clinical coastal grass with herbs and sandalwood in its shade. Later the herbs fade slightly, and the base of wet moss and leather emerges.

Guerlain’s Vetiver.

Vetiver is dry, dry dry, in the same kraal as the heavenly Chanel No. 19, and remains neutral and refined. It calls for a summer afternoon at sunset, on a skin that has been outside all day.

Fat Electrician from Etat Libre d’Orange

Do not let this willful name put you off – Fat Electrician is one of the leading coast perfumes. One would never say that if you look at the decrepit butt of an overweight worker on the label, let alone read about it on the website: “A midnight cowboy lost on city asphalt”.

My first sneeze reminded me of a damp wine cellar – that sweet-musty smell of soil and cork. Then you realize that the coastal grass has a blanket of sweeter myrrh and opoponax and that from application, until it fades, it retains exactly the same quality. This perfume will be with us for a long time to come.

Grey Vetiver from Tom Ford

Every year a number of perfume prizes are awarded, some with more prestige than others. It’s an amazingly good perfume, in the distinctive style of Ford. Without petals, silvery clean, and made from only the best ingredients, Vetiver hits you with the opening of fresh citrus, then couscous and lastly comes the slightly-sweet amber and vanilla base. It was a classic from day one.

Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver.

And so speaking of classics, a year or 5 ago Commes de Garçons in collaboration with the Finnish designers Artek, released Standard. A perfume that smells like a carpentry shop, with wood shavings, glue, putty, and turpentine? If you come to London again, drop by the Dover Street Market and buy a bottle of Standard. And if your husband does not like it? – basta! – wear it yourself.

Standard’s Comme des Garçons.

Lastly, two old favourites.

Chanel’s Antaeus

Chanel’s Antaeus was a pioneer with its honey and wood flavors, when it was released in 1981. Unfortunately, it was fashionable to stick it around and Antaeus was known as a so-called “stinker”, strong enough to put dogs barking. Please try again, just a title is enough to confirm that it is a masterpiece.

Antaeus’s Chanel.

Guerlain’s Habit Rouge

Chanel’s Antaeus was a pioneer with its honey and wood flavors, when it was released in 1981. Unfortunately, it was fashionable to stick it around and Antaeus was known as a so-called “stinker”, strong enough to put dogs barking. Please try again, just a title is enough to confirm that it is a masterpiece.

Habit Rouge’s Guerlain.

  • The use of perfume, especially in men, can easily derail. There are products on the market that will protect a bullfighter from a raging bull and release flies from the ceiling. So approach perfume cat’s foot and wear it because you like it.
  • A pheromone is a fragrance that affects individuals of the same species.

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