digging (into) vintage: Aramis Devin, 1977

(Photo by Cathy Merenda)

Perfumer Bernard Chant.

Devin fits perfectly into the Lauder school of boy/girl pairings.  The girl side of the pairing, whether it was the original fragrance or the sequel, is the greater of the two.  Larger (Aromatics Elixir compared to Aramis 900), heavier (Cinnabar to Aramis JHL), or more forceful (Aliage to Devin.)  The Aramis by Aramis/Estée Lauder pairing is the exception to the pattern.  They are equally sharp leather chypres, descendents of the renown steamroller, Grès Cabochard.

Like JHL, Devin is a toning down of the original on which it’s based, Aliage.  Aliage is sharp and direct, but also singing and smiling.  Devin filters Aliage.  It screens the brightness through a chypre-sieve, unfortunately losing the best parts in the process.  Aliage is bright and utterly clear.  It suggests briskness, even a slap of chill at times.   Devin is unfortunately a bit smudged and feels like Aliage served as reheated left-overs.  Devin filters out the rich and expansive aspect of galbanum while keeping the sweetness, which, without the compensatory resinousness, appears saccharine sweet, like a shrill whisper.

Devin is one of the few instances where a chypre base is unsuccessful.  It weighs Devin down without adding the smolder or mystery that the drydown of a chypre imparts.  It gives a dull opacity that constrains Aliage’s defining characteristic, which is clarity.  Aliage’s drydown starts about 4 to 5 hours into wearing.  Devin’s starts in 30-45 minutes.  Devin ends quietly and stays very close to the skin, possibly a goal given its male target audience.  Drydown is its best side, though, and I should add that Devin, when reactivated by a little sweat/activity hours after application, has a lovely musky closeness.

I’d prefer not simply to compare perfumes.  You know, the whole ‘by comparison we suffer’ bit.  But all of the Lauder twins, by nature of their parings, implicitly ask for this sort of examination.  With most of the other pairs, I’ve savored both and appreciate the different statements they make.  In this case, though, I’ve never had an instance where I’d wear Devin when I could choose Alliage.

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