Nautica Voyage, 2006

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(image Costa Conconrdia)

Perfumer Maurice Roucel

I don’t understand how fragrances are “aquatic”. Do they bear any more relationship to water than any other particular style fragrance style? I suspect it’s the triple whammy of conditioning: 1) The aromachemicals that comprise the category have been used in so many masculine shower, shave, and grooming products that men have been conditioned to affiliate them with water. 2) Water, water (and glossy advertising) everywhere. We’ve grown numb to the models’ antiseptic sweat of leisure and their stoic tolerance of the yachting life, but the water has seeped into our brains. 3) These aquatic scents are composed without any of the seamy bits that suggest the botanical or the animalic and have no living reference point. Hence the effective marketing that has sold us on the scent of ubiquitous but odorless water.

Aquatic? Marine? Ozonic?! This last word is one of the greatest ciphers in perfumery and advertising, proving the point that through targeted repetition, a word that has no fixed significance gains a sweeping vagueness of reference without actually having a precise meaning.

I found Nautica Voyage for quite cheap, hazily remembered something about it, looked up Luca Turin’s review and then bought it. I love Roucel’s Missoni, so wanted to try what Turin had likened to Missoni in what I had hoped would be that unicorn, that transgression of gender: the pretty, floral for men. I can vaguely smell the similar componentry to Missoni, but it’s nothing compared to Voyage’s derivation of Davidoff Cool Water .

Voyage is Cool Water, minus. Minus the metal astringency that balances the non-specified fruit. Minus boldness. Minus refinement.

Derivative not subversive, Nautica Voyage is one of the hordes of clones riding Cool Water’s coat tails that Turin and most other perfume critics refer to at some time or other.


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