Aromi likes to say that if you start getting bored with fragrance, and the hobby just isn’t exciting any more, you can always go smell a bunch of unremarkable new releases.
“[I will] smell as much modern schlock as I can in order for the superior niche and designers to stand out again.”
Well, maybe that’s a bit strong for the current case. The new release, Aqua Fahrenheit, isn’t completely unremarkable. And it definitely isn’t schlock. In full disclosure, I came very close to buying it. I may even end up recommending it to you in a moment. But I have to be honest – smelling it side-by-side with the current release of Fahrenheit, actually made me go out and buy Fahrenheit.
So what am I saying here? Well, let me back up.
Fahrenheit is – no doubt about it – remarkable. Released in 1988, it still remains relevant, in a world where few if any new releases are. Created by Jean-Louis Sieuzac and Maurice Roger, the original has now given rise to a good half-dozen flankers, authored by names including Bertrand Duchaufour (Fahrenheit Fresh) and Francois Demachy (Fahrenheit Absolute). Fahrenheit has proven that it has the chops to be unquestionably iconic, if not a full-blown classic.
Fahrenheit is a woody leather that doesn’t cheap out on the wood, and uses a leather so oily that people routinely accuse it of having an out-and-out gasoline note. But don’t just stop there. Throw in enough violet leaf to make your sinuses wake up from a dead slumber, and you have all the makings of a unique, timeless powerhouse. Guys routinely question whether they can “pull off” great feminines. Well, Fahrenheit is one of those rare masculines for which guys ask themselves the same question.
Now comes another variation – Aqua Fahrenheit. The nose on this one is also Demachy. The theme behind this one is fire and water. The explosive meeting of the two. Ah, yes. This has some promise. In fragrance, conflict is almost always interesting.
When I smelled both Fahrenheit and Aqua Fahrenheit on one of those dual-fragrance magazine inserts, it was almost an invitation to see how the new stacked up against the old. It was also a call for me to buy one or the other. There was a huge hole in my wardrobe, centered around Fahrenheit. I had always waffled on buying the stuff. And Fahrenheit Absolute? Crap – I would need a third testicle for that one. I have never even gotten to the second wear on my 8-mL sample of Absolute.
No – it was time to man up to Fahrenheit, one way or the other. If Aqua Fahrenheit pleased me, I promised myself to buy it. If not, Fahrenheit was getting the nod.
The results on paper were looking good for Aqua. I smelled a lot of very nice complexity in it – more than in the original. Admittedly, I was enjoying original Fahrenheit on paper, but I was enjoying Aqua even more. It looked like Aqua was going to be the one that finally did it for me. I came perilously close to an almost-blind buy here.
However, we owe it to ourselves to be true to ourselves. Both fragrances needed to be compared on skin. So I got myself to a Macy’s and gave each of my arms a good strong shot of one fragrance or the other.
The results? Interesting. They are different enough to deserve careful consideration. Neither one would be a blind buy to most people.
To my nose – now trained on a multitude of fragrances – Aqua was significantly more complex. I could readily pick out the aquatic notes, as well as the normal Fahrenheit. Together, they form something which is a bit less classic Fahrenheit, and a bit more palatable to modern tastes. Indeed, the new flanker has characteristics which approached gourmand – maybe even dark chocolate. I had picked up some of this in Fahrenheit Absolute, and I have to say, it’s an enjoyable experience.
When my wife, son, and friends sniffed both fragrances on my skin, they all picked Aqua Fahrenheit. They called it more modern, more complete, and more “together”. Were I going by the focus group of “Redneck’s Peeps”, it would have been a no-brainer for Aqua.
But there was something that was bothering me. Original Fahrenheit has a certain simplicity – a sleek and slender beauty – something which may not be hot-off-the-press, but which offers the timeless virtue of being free and uncomplicated. Something that was really growing on me. With each attempt to find greater beauty in its Aqua flanker, the tide in my heart was turning in favor of Fahrenheit itself.
And then the fish landed on the beach. And died. And sealed the deal.
To my growing horror, I was able to smell an aquatic off-note in Aqua Fahrenheit. This was not the normal aquatic stuff, which I love. This was a horrifying, shudder-inducing, cringeable combination of fish and chocolate. It was an interaction of the beautiful neo-Fahrenheit darkness, and the beautiful briny Aqua stuff, but the result was anything but beautiful for me. I tried to rationalize it away, but it didn’t work. Before long, I realized that I was only trying to fool myself, and not very successfully. In Aqua Fahrenheit, I was dealing with something just as personally offensive as the obscenely oudy excess of Fahrenheit Absolute.
Aqua Fahrenheit is what I like to call a “personal scrubber”. A good fragrance which has some one aspect which I simply cannot stand. I typically have to recuse myself from judging such a fragrance.
Sometimes the offending perception goes away. Sometimes it never does. But one thing was certain now. Fahrenheit was my personal winner.
So – what is my recommendation?
I recommend Fahrenheit in all generality.
If you are somebody who prowls around the web, looking for the strongest, darkest, and most intimidating fragrance you can find, then I overwhelmingly and “dominantly” (don’t ask) recommend Fahrenheit Absolute. You know who you are. CARPE DIEM!!!
If you’re somebody who loves classic fragrance, and remembers things like Ralph Lauren Polo and Santos de Cartier with fondness, then I unapologetically recommend the original Fahrenheit. Break out your wheelchair, set your oxygen tank next to mine, and let’s enjoy some classic fragrance, shall we?
Don’t sweat the vintage question. Fahrenheit is still a class act. Trust me.
If you’re a young guy, and you want something that smells modern and hip, but with a nod to the classics in a retro powerhouse way, then I strongly recommend that you give Aqua Fahrenheit a sniff. This is probably going to be your gateway drug to powerhouse.
Someday, you’ll set your oxygen tank down on the porch with us original Fahrenheit
lovers. We can wait. We’re nothing if not patient.