Why is Royal Copenhagen Cologne (vintage) so good/bad ?

I recently wore this one, a vintage Swank version, and the thought occurred to me that there’s something really good here, but also something really bad (as I’ll explain below). Here is the list of notes over at Fragrantica.com:

“Top notes are aldehydes, lime, lavender, green notes, bergamot, cardamom and lemon; middle notes are carnation, patchouli, orris root, jasmine, vetiver, cedar and rose; base notes are honey, tonka bean, amber, musk, oakmoss, vanilla, heliotrope and tobacco.”

Sounds great, right (unless perhaps you dislike strong aldehydes and it has them)? In fact, it sure sounds like an “80s power” scent, doesn’t it? For me, it began with a very strong animalic quality, but that didn’t last more than several minutes. Then it was quite nice, though heavily blended. I was concerned that it might be too musky, as is often the case with “men’s” scents of the 1960s and 70s, but this was fine in that department. Nor was it too sweet. Nor was it too “synthetic” in any way. I can certainly see why it has its fans (at least for vintage formulation). What could possible go wrong?

Two things. One is that within an hour or so it began to get very weak. Still, I don’t let that worry me too much because I can always put it in an atomizer with a fine mist and spray it on fabric, such as a shirt, and wear it that way instead on the usual (spraying on the chest). Then I began to feel a bit uneasy. Something was going terribly wrong here. No, it wasn’t too powdery. Nor too floral, or too anythng else. It’s not that I couldn’t detect the notes, though they were not well defined, that’s for sure. Using my imagination, I could even get a hint of a tobacco presence.

Instead, the issue for me was dynamism. While this certainly wasn’t what I would call a “synthetic blob” type of scent (even many dollar store ones avoid that pitfall), there was absolutely no movement to it. Though quite weak, it had a leaden quality that became more and more irritating over time. I decided that applying a lot more would be a bad idea. My guess is that this scent works very well for those who seek a certainly kind of olfactory experience for a short period of time. They apply it, think “wow, that’s great,” and then go about their business for the day, subsequently not thinking much about the scent. To me this is not an aficionado fragrance, nor is it much of a perfume, especially considering what’s fashionable these days.

It may be best thought of as olfactory “comfort food.” I can’t’ think of a better way of viewing it. However, I think it’s a great idea to compare this one to the great “men’s” scents of the 1980s, which also had many notes but often possessed excellent note separation and wonderful dynamism. Thus, for me, Royal Copenhagen Cologne fails on more than one very important criteria, but keep in mind that this is for those who want to have an olfactory experience that lasts for several hours. If you enjoyed this scent when you were young and want to find a vintage bottle, just keep in mind that if you now like the great 80s scents (or some great ones that came later), this might be a major disappointment to you now.

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2 Comments

Filed under Fragrance Reviews.

2 responses to “Why is Royal Copenhagen Cologne (vintage) so good/bad ?

  1. Erik

    If you apply somewhatmore than the normal amount this one powers on well into the next day. This one is difficult to get the amount to apply down. You get better definition of progression with more. It’s well blended but in the top you can detect a citrusy almost sea air type freshness, probably the green notes and aldehydes. The middle notes are hard to pick apart, it always seems to land as a cool spicy powder to me. It’s one scent I can spot a mile away every time at ther point. The base notes develop well when you apply a lot, it settles down to mostly, vanilla, amber, musk and tonka with kind of a warm feel almost reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor Passion for men st that point. Once you get the amount to use down its the perfect scent to feel crisp and refreshing in the morning but settle to a warm inviting evening scent.

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