Not long ago I was researching a vintage (1978) “masculine” Avon scent called Trazarra. Having had good success with some others, such as Clint (and considering how cheap they can be had, if one has some patience), I decided to go for a blind buy. Another reason was the notes: “…civet, heliotrope, oriental notes, woody notes, sandalwood and spicy notes.” Yet another was this review from Basenotes.net:
…The good news is that Trazarra wasn’t really a late-to-the-party “me too” spin on an older established trope like Tai Winds (1972) or Clint (1976), even if those were still very high quality, and instead was a mild-mannered, familiar yet still distinct oriental, although a bit too light-weight to really compete in the nightlife circuit. Trazarra is a finely-tuned well-studied take on the style, but just doesn’t have enough bite heat up with a little sweat like the big boys, and just sits at the bar sipping happy hour well drinks. Luckily, this very same lightweight feel makes it remarkably more versatile in different weather conditions, and it allowed a bit more leeway with office use too, but it’s definitely no match on the dance floor to it’s designer contemporaries. That’s okay, it has it’s own quirks and qualities that still might make it a worthwhile addition to a vintage Avon collection…
The “lightweight” quality he refers to seems to common to these old Avon cologne formulations (the aftershaves are even lighter and I try to avoid those), and simply means using more is necessary for similar effect. However, it’s not uncommon to find five to eight ounce bottles of the EdC formulation selling for around $10 to $15 total on ebay! I applied Trazarra liberally to the chest, and this is my review of that experience:
Tangy, animalic, powdery-floral, slightly sweet, spicy, and with a touch of dry woods. Sound appealing? I noticed that you can still get the cologne formulation on ebay for low prices, so after looking at the notes and year of release, decided to go for a blind buy. If you’ve had any experience with old Avons, especially orientals, I think you will get what you expect here. I’d also say this would be a unisex niche scent if marketed today. It’s quite far removed from today’s synthetics, so if you are seeking a break from the usual aroma chemical suspects, this might be a great, low cost option. The notes are a bit vague, so the use of phrases such as “oriental notes” makes sense. The projection isn’t along the lines of vintage Kouros, which might be an advantage for a lot of people, but it’s got a similar idea to it (though not nearly as “urinal cake” as Kouros). Something else you can do with this kind of scent is to layer it, so that you use a little of a similar but more powerful and synthetic fragrance underneath this one (on the chest) so that it enhances these older fragrances. Overall, if you want a true “dirty” oriental but without the synthetics of today’s niche and without the high prices, grab a bottle while prices are still low! It lasts at least as well as an Eau de Toilette, but projection drops off quite a bit after no more than two hours.
Of course, subsequent wearings may reveal further nuances. As to the “super luxury” in the title of this post, I was thinking about this after reading the 2007 book, “Deluxe,” which includes these passages:
[the super wealthy] have perfume made just for them, like Louis XIV did two centuries ago. Each year, Patou receives a handful of orders for in-house nose Jean-Michel Duriez to create a made-to-measure perfume bottled in a Baccarat crystal flacon. The service costs approximately $70,000…
[the super wealthy] don’t need the logo entry-level handbag or to wear labels or logos. We buy from luxury brands, but not ordinary products. Special items. There’s always something special. You can see what is mass and what is special. Luxury is not how much you can buy. Luxury is the knowledge of how to do it right, how to take the time to understand and choose well. Luxury is buying the right thing.”
My thought was that rather than having a perfumer make a scent for you, which you still might not enjoy all that much after a few wearings (that has happened to me), you can “choose well” if you have access to a lot of variety, especially ones that are “high quality” but nobody wears any long, such as these old Avons. Now I don’t care about being regarded as “high class,” but I did find it amusing how so many seem to be buying the “big name” fragrances and don’t realize how the super wealthy might find that to be the mark of a “peasant!” By contrast, if I told a super wealthy person that my friend was a perfumer and made a fragrance just for me (though it actually was an old Avon) that person might think that I’m more “high class” than the person wearing the latest Chanel, Tom Ford, Dior, Gucci, etc. To be honest, I tend to think of most people as “intellectual peasants” (not in the sense of IQ but in terms of not being more curious and avoiding spending more time researching their interests), though I wish they would be as motivated to learn as I am, because then the world might be a more interesting place.
Also, I’ve noticed that some hobbyists don’t appreciate variety as much as I do, and to me that is the most important thing. For example, in a Basenotes thread, one member seemed aghast that I would prefer to have access to all Balenciaga fragrances (in any formulation I wish) rather than Chanel, but even better would be Avon, due to the huge number of fragrances they have released over the years. But Avon is the antithesis of luxury, apparently, though in this case, smells are smells; you like them or you don’t, you have specific uses for particular ones or you don’t, etc. The attempt to attach the notion of luxury to these olfactory concoctions is just idiotic, IMO. Are there different aesthetics? Does Avon (and the “lesser houses”) generally follow rather than lead? That certainly seems to be the case. But this is about my “personal luxury” as opposed to “bragging rights” among pretentious friends and colleagues, a distinction rarely mentioned, probably because it would not result in massive profits for the major luxury brands!
Coincidentally, while I was composing this post, I noticed the reviews of a recent release by Amouage, Figment Man, at Fragrantica.com. This one reflects the opinion of many, IMO:
Right from the start you smell heavy animalic and earthy notes. Not much movement, it stays pretty much the same throughout its life. I don’t detect much complexity in this one.
Figment has a primal, raw vibe but sadly is very hard to find a suitable occasion to wear it as it can come off repulsing. Smells quite dirty 🙂 Sorry Amouage, I didn’t like this one.
If I could ask those who wrote these kinds of reviews a question, it would be, “suppose there was an old scent by Avon that you’d likely perceive similarly, but you can still get for around $20 for 4 ounces or more?”