Monday, November 12, 2012

Grey Flannel



Grey Flannel is one of my favorite fragrances, so it's only fitting that I finally review it for my blog.  Besides, the other day fellow Grey Flannel fan Bryan Ross posted a really good piece about all the Grey Flannel hate on the internet, and it's inspired me to also come to the defense of this classic scent.  I come from what seems to be the polar opposite end of the current day's opinion spectrum: Grey Flannel is awesome.  How can you not like it?

It must be the violet leaf that turns some people off.  Dry, sharp and steely, the violet leaf in Grey Flannel would slash your nasal passages if it weren't for the other ingredients like galbanum, sandalwood and oakmoss softening the blow.  There's also a wonderful sparkling note I detect in here that smells like black pepper.  The overall effect of Grey Flannel is one of intense greenness, that's both grassy and crisp.  It's dry and bitter (I like that), but its verdancy persists for the entire duration of the scent, and that's what draws me to it. 

Grey Flannel is a clean, debonaire smell.  Wear this with a crisp, freshly ironed white button-down shirt, and you're set.  It also makes a great scent to wear in a business setting, because it also comes off as serious and austere when you want it to be.  If you're in a position of authority and need to show it, the smell of Grey Flannel will protect your back.

Take a look at Bryan Ross' article on Grey Flannel.  Watching all those YouTube video reviews makes me wonder if a lot of the hate may be, in part, generational.  The guys trashing Flannel all appear to be at least ten years younger than me, which means most of them likely grew up during the Nineties.  Think about it: by the time the 90's came around, aquatic and sport fragrances were in style and considered the norm.  All those hairy chested aromatic fougeres and chypres from the Seventies (Grey Flannel's era) and Eighties were considered outdated, and were a borderline laughing stock.  I grew up in the 70's and 80's, and the smells of my youth were things like Brut, Jovan Musk For Men and Drakkar Noir.  By contrast, if you grew up smelling L'Eau d'Issey all the time, then it's not so surprising that something like Grey Flannel would smell outdated.  Often times, our tastes are based on what we were used to smelling when we were in our developmental years.

A case in point: my kids.  My kids (my son is 11 and my daughter is 6) are used to smelling stuff like Quorum, Kouros, Eau Sauvage, etc., around my house all the time.  They smell my wife wearing stuff like Miss Dior and Miss Balmain a lot.  They don't know one fragrance from another, but they're familiar with these kinds of smells.  Yesterday I asked both kids to close their eyes and sniff Grey Flannel and tell me what they thought of it.  Both of them said it smelled really good.   Strong, but good.  What does that tell you?

In my most objective state of mind, I still cannot understand all the associations between Grey Flannel and dead bodies, grandmas, the bra aisle in a department store, etc. that are made in those YouTube reviews.  What is that all about?  Even if I try to put myself in those guys' shoes, all I ever get from Grey Flannel is a sense of green freshness.  How can you not love that? 

I'm definitely guilty of tacking on the term "dated" to many fragrances, but Grey Flannel is not one of them.  To me, Grey Flannel is timeless, classic and eternally modern.  It's one of my most frequently worn scents, and I give it a perfect score.

MY RATING:  10/10

Fragrance House:  Geoffrey Beene

14 comments:

  1. I'm 51 and absolutely love Grey Flannel. My kids too have grown up exposed to scents of the 70s and 80s and have much the same response when I break open something newly acquired from Aramis or Guerlain, etc. You're right to speak of 'generational' familiarity. I wear Grey Flannel and many folks in their 20s and 30s are almost taken aback. It's as those they've encountered a entirely foreign scent. At times when reading reviews elsewhere, particularly negative ones of classic scents, I often wonder the age of the reviewer. Scents, like clothing fashions, can change, but personally I see some aspects of this as the difference between 'fashion' and 'style.' Fashions may and do change, but in my mind there are some things that never go out of style.

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    1. Absolutely. By the same token, I should note that my daughter, when she was only three, asked for her own bottle of Old Spice. I gave her my 2.5 oz. bottle, and she loved it. She doesn't wear Old Spice anymore, but for about a year when she was three and four, she did.

      By the way John, how's the Wild Fern?

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  2. What a great piece. Thanks for writing this. I think the only thing I can say, in addition to what I said on my blog about these guys' first impressions, is that first impressions aren't always what people should go on with fragrances. I'm reminded of my first experience with Pour un Homme de Caron. Those first two spritzes were possibly the weirdest I've ever experienced. I wasn't smelling lavender and vanilla, I was smelling cold metal and some sort of Play-Doh note. It was only thirty minutes later that my nose started making sense of what was actually going on there, and then a switch was hit in my brain, and I got it. If I'd gone by that first impression and tried it on camera, I may have recorded something similar to what these guys are doing with Grey Flannel. But the difference is, I gave it a chance, and hours of my time, before coming to a conclusion. These guys with Grey Flannel are just trying it and making their initial reaction their permanent stance on this frag, which is sad because they miss out on a good thing.

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    1. I don't know, I love GF, but it's pretty linear on my skin. I don't smell a big difference between what I'm smelling the minute I spray it on and what I smell three hours later, other than less harshness. So I'm not sure any of those guys are going to change their mind after wearing it for a few hours.

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  3. I'm a broken record when it comes to the "generational" stance, since I didn't fall prey to it myself, I guess. As a kid in the 70s, I preferred Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley to Queen and The Bee Gees. My first car, in high school in the 80s, was a 1958 Pontiac, not a 5.0 Mustang. I don't understand only liking what is new, since I myself have never followed current trends, not automatically anyway. Sure, in the 80s I liked "Miami Vice", too, but not because it was contemporary. If something is dated, it wasn't very good in the first place. Grey Flannel doesn't seem at all dated to me. Timeless, yes.

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  4. Great review of a great scent--I loved it as an 18 year old when it first came out, I love it now at 50 and my father in law at 75 rocks it. Fresh, green and distinguished. Interestingly, while they came close with the follow up "Bowling Green," they never reached the levels of GF with a woman's scent.

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  5. Another unique scent that now graces my collection after you mentioned it in your "Questions" section. A winner for every generation...

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  6. Grey Flannel is freakin' awesome, and I loved it from the first sniff. It just might be the most fresh smelling powerhouse I have come across.

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  7. Looks like I've been preaching to the converted.

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  9. Another big fan of Grey Flannel since its launch. If there were noted online fragrance critics around when GF was "in", it would have a better following today, i daresay.
    GF is mainly about violet, no doubt. However, GF is also a galbanum bomb, and i guess that's were its signature bitterness comes from.

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  10. I'm with you on this one, Shamu. Nice frag. Great job with this blog, too. I've been here several times reading your great reviews.

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