I need to vent about something. There's an article on Basenotes called "Event: An Incomplete History Of Men's Fragrance : Perfume Lovers London", and it's about what looks like an upcoming exhibition in London about how men's fragrances have evolved over the years, with focus on stuff like Old Spice, Hai Karate, Brut, Jovan Musk and other old warriors like that. Apparently visitors to the exhibition will be treated to samples of some of these old colognes and aftershaves.
Everyone knows, for example, that Old Spice has been around forever, that we wouldn't be here if our grandfathers hadn't worn it, and that it's been really, really, really, really influential. Do we really need to hear it again? It's the same thing with guys who write these wimpy reviews of Brut, for example, apologizing for liking it and writing nonsense like, "It's okay to wear Brut if your grandfather wore it, if you only wear it in honor of him, and you make sure you're not in public when you wear it." What is this?
Enough of this shit.
Of course history is interesting and important, but this high-browed over-focus on history denigrates great fragrances like Old Spice. It very well may be unintentional, but it implies that these scents are just old, tired has-beens that are no longer relevant, and that no one in their right mind should take seriously anymore. It sends a message that says, "Let's all pay our respects to English Leather, but only because it was an iconic scent way back when, and it influenced a lot of fragrances we wear today". Lord help anyone who would actually choose to wear it today on an every day basis! Only old farts, guys who can't afford Chergui, or men who have bad taste wear it now!
Why do they think companies continue producing these fragrances after all these years? So they can fill store shelves with historical artifacts? No, stuff like Old Spice and Tabac Original are still in production because there are people in this world who still think they smell good and wear them for that reason only.
I like reading about old school fragrances from guys who actually wear them, and wear them on a regular basis simply because they like the way they smell. I don't wear Jade East so I can feel all cute and "retro" - I wear it because the drydown smells awesome. I don't wear Brut to pretend I'm Joe Namath. I wear it because it makes me feel clean, well groomed, and ready to kick ass at the start of my day. I'd much rather read an Old Spice review written by a 20 year-old college student who wears it all the time, than reading Chandler Burr's opinion of it.
Proctor & Gamble has the right idea with Old Spice. You've probably all seen those recent Old Spice commercials with the suave guy with the towel around his waist (see picture below). I think they're pretty cool. Those are perfect examples of how the great old school frags should be marketed - in a relevant way that tells its audience that not only should you not be ashamed to wear an old classic cologne such as Old Spice, but that you can still be a cool guy wearing it. There's no reason guys under age 40 should feel awkward wearing Old Spice or, to give another example, Jovan Musk For Men.
Today's Old Spice marketing is great because it just reinforces what is true about all great classic fragrances: that a true classic always smells good and never goes out of style. Old school fragrances deserve to be treated that way - like scents that are meant to be worn, not gawked at like a stuffed dodo bird in a museum.