digging (into) vintage: Paco Rabanne pour Homme, 1973

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Perfumer Jean Martel

I grew up in the 1970s in New England. I don’t remember being aware of cologne or perfume in general, but I remember Paco vividly. I liked it, it was spooky-ubiquitous and there was nothing else like it. It was soapy, mossy, resinous and barbershoppy all in one. It isn’t terribly complex and it doesn’t show much evolution over time, but it’s wonderfully breezy in a way few scents then or now are.

I understand that Paco was eventually overshadowed by Azzaro pour Homme, the next king-of-the-hill fougère. Azzaro is more sophisticated (although even louder) and notable more complex. Still complexity isn’t necessarily a virtue in a fougère. Also, I don’t think Azzaro would cover the reek of weed quite so well. (A classic use of 70s herbal cologne.) Paco is less like the Azzaro fougère than it is two that came later: Caron’s Troisièmme Homme and YSL’s Rive Gauche pour Homme. By comparison the Azzaro seems baroque and a bit busy in its evolution on the skin.

I can’t un-stick PR from the 1970s, but if you don’t have that reference, how would it strike you at first sniff?  If you knew fougères from, say, Cool Water forward, what would you make of this?  I wonder.

See Also: How Paco Rabanne pour Homme saved Masculinity


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