Aramis Havana, 1994

havana

Perfumer Édouard Fléchier

The re-released Gentleman’s Collection by Aramis is like a series of love letters from Estée Lauder to men.  This line is top-notch and a spectacular synopsis of the history of Aramis.  Other men’s fragrance lines should take note and be threatened.

Havana is an instance of more being better. The complexity makes for richness without confusion.  Some dissonance, yes.  Enough to keep a feeling of complexity from top to drydown.  Actually the dissonance up top is a glorious riot.  You can tell it’s a woody fragrance, but aldehydes, camphor, grapefruit? Is that celery?

Havana is also a great example of how the best Lauder perfumes can be well-considered nods to existing genres without simply being category-fillers meant to flesh out a line.  Havana could be considered a fougère—there’s lavender  and coumarin—but a bay rum fougère?  A juniper fougère?  A celery fougère?  It also seems to have learned from the best of the men’s 80s powerhouse fragrances and is joyfully potent but not heavy.

In two respects I’ll differ with most reviewers comments.  I don’t get tobacco.  Booze, yes.  Tobacco, no.  And while most seem to see Havana as a warm scent, to me it stays camphorously cool from start to finish.  Wait.  Maybe that’s it.  Is menthol cigarette listed as one of the notes on the Aramis site?

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