The season of green florals with Grey Flannel
January 27, 2015
Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene or Spring is in the Air
It’s always the same around this time of the year. The winter feels like it has been gone (even there is a big chance it comes back with snow and frost) and my inner calendar starts to notice the first signs of spring (even the smallest ones). Fortunately it’s easy to find something blossoming any time of the year in Amsterdam. Like different sorts of Viburnum shrubs reminding me of the first blossoming fruit trees. Or the yellow flowers of winter jasmine. And once it’s really cold and rainy outside, there is always place for hyacinths and tulips inside the house. The pungent smell of hyacinths that combines the cool green freshness with white floral elements fits perfectly this season.
At the first glance there seem to be not much hyacinth soliflores. Michael Edward’s guide mentions only Jardin Clos by Diptyque. But the cool green note of hyacinth can be found in many fragrant families – green, green chypre, fresh florals, white florals, fresh woody, etc. Like today I am wearing Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene where I defenitely sense hyacinth impression while is not even mentioned in the pyramid.
Name: Grey Flannel
Brand: Geoffrey Beene
Perfumer: André Fromentin (quite an unknown name for a perfumista)
Year of creation: 1975/76 (re-orchestration in 1996 is mentioned)
Pyramid according to H&R Fragrance Guide:
Top notes: Green
Main: Green note
Supported by: Galbanum, Lemon, Petitgrain, Bergamot
Heart notes: Green
Supported by: Rose, Clary Sage, Fern, Geranium
Base notes: Powdery
Supported by: Cedarwood, Moss, Tonka
Other notes mentioned in different pyramids: green lemon, orange, neroli, labdanum, violet leaves, mimosa, orris, cinnamon, amber, vetiver, oakmoss, sandalwood.
Classification according to H&R Genealogy: Chypre, green
Classification according to SFP (Société Française des Parfumeurs): B6m, Floral (Fleuri) group, Woody (Boisé) subgroup, masculine
Classifications according to Fragrance Wheel by Michael Edwards: Woods (Boisé), Fresh (Frais) subgroup
Verdict by Luca Turin: 5 stars of 5 called “sweet green“
Grey Flannel seems to be a controversial fragrance getting a lot “love it or hate it” response. People call it either a “timeless masterpiece” or “synthetic crap”. Even Luca Turin who gives it 5 stars calls it a “masterpiece”, but at the same time mentions that the fragrance “occasionally feel a little crude”. Sounds like a perfume with a daring character. But there is one more thing i discovered reading the reviews from the experienced perfumista. I understand the scent is affected by reformulations. The version of 80’s seems to be richer and more refined than the current one. Well, both facts can explain the ambivalent feelings about Grey Flannel.
When I put Grey Flannel on, I get the same controversial feelings. I do love the start and I almost hate the base. Love the citrus freshness of the scent made almost non-recognizable behind the green fumes of galbanum and violet leaves. That pungent cool green freshness reminding me of a hyacinth flower. Cold and clean like the snow, but with a floral touch of fragile early blossoms. I smell the slightly bitter sweetness of violet leaves rubbed between the fingers. And that dusty powdery mossy base that gives the scratchy feeling reminding me the sense of raw woolen clothe on the skin. The general mood of Grey Flannel translated into colors feels like muted whitish, greenish and bluish tints turned out just to be the shades of grey.
The base tells me the different story. There seems to be a mixture of musk molecules that I can’t stand. I found them in the base of many other perfumes. And I hear more complains about the certain musk molecules from other perfumista. A lot of people are anosmic to one or several musk molecules and can’t smell them. Others seem to experience some musks as being quite unpleasant. Altogether it makes perfumes to be a lottery. A lot of them are very pleasing at the start, but you never know what is hidden in the end.
There are several possibilities to deal with the unpleasant bases. First it’s good to try different launches. Perfumes are undergoing slight reformulations quite often and there is a chance you find a version that is free from unpleasant side effects. Another possibility is to spray more every hour or two to refresh the top and keep down the base notes. At the end of the day you will probably need a shower, but you can enjoy the favorite parts of the scent the whole day. There is a chance you get used to the unpleasant notes and stop noticing them. And the last remedy is to find an alternative that has a similar smell or character, but is free from the side effects. And Fragrantica gives me some hints about Grey Flannel look alike perfumes: Eau de Narcisse Bleu by Hermes, Eau de Gentiane Blanche by Hermes, Green by Byredo, Ombre de Hyacinth by Tom Ford and Background by Jil Sanders. Well, sounds like an exciting adventure of discovering the new fragrances!