digging (into) vintage: Rochas Globe, 1991

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Faux Infrared Murrells Inlet Salt Marsh

(image source Infrared Atelier’s Infrared Photography Blog)

Perfumer: Nicolas Mamounas?  Jean-Claude Ellena?

Globe is one of the lost boys from the 90s. Guerlain Heritage (the only one of the bunch still in production), Jacomo Anthracite, Givenchy Insensé, Paco Rabanne Ténéné.  Diverse trends led to the perfumes of the 90s.  The fougères from the 70s, the power frags from the 80s, the remapping of the terrain by Davidoff Cool Water. The fragrances themselves have a range of olfactory qualities and don’t smell alike, but they are a cohort, and they were launched into similar markets. There are plenty of opinions as to why this set of fragrances didn’t take hold, and an equal number of opinions as to the meaning of their failures.

Assuming all of the above forces and trends, let’s just take a look at the perfume.

Globe didn’t jump out at me the first time I wore it. I certainly have fallen for perfumes at first sniff (1969, Egoiste, Liaisons Dangereuses.) These perfumes back up their promises with the goods. If what you’re selling is (capital-B) Beauty, you better be ravishing. I’ve had to work on some of the more meaningful perfumes.  (Aromatics Elixir, Cristalle, Vol De Nuit.). Not every perfume offers the same thing, and my love or value of a perfume isn’t be based strictly on the first impression.  In fact, it’s the challenging perfumes that bring me back. Uncertainty can be delicious.

Some conquered this era and were able to pursue minimalism. Case in point is Jean-Claude Ellena, whom many cite as the creator of Globe. (Wikipedia and Now Smell This. Fragrantica and Basenotes cite Nicolas Mamounas, the perfumer who created Byzance, Mystere and others for Rochas, as the perfumer who composed Globe.) Many perfume houses misunderstood the impetus for minimalism and instead created wan, pale, diluted perfumes.

With Globe, Rochas offered not so much minimalism as subtlety. Globe is a sweet floral chypre, with a medicinal tone that ties the balsams to a peppery carnation, creating not so much an exact scent as a feeling of chilled sweetness. Globe smells like glare and the palor of light through clouds, and connotes weather in the same way that Hermès Equipage does. It suggests the apprehensiveness of an overcast day. Equipage is more crisp and incisive, but both share a coolness that I associate with a cool season or climate. Also Like Equipage, Globe has grown on me and I’ve come to appreciate its virtues over the years.  I wonder how Globe would fare if it were released today.

Why Globe was discontinued is an open question. Luca Turin groups Globe with the ‘lost boys’ I mention above, suggesting that they were too good or too pure to survive an era that called for cleansing and reparation from its men’s fragrances. I won’t disagree. Shame, though. Globe would have been a great alternative to so many of the sport/fresh/aqua fragrances of the 1990s. Chilled and smooth, it rang a few of the right bells, but wasn’t a Cool Water clone.

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