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terça-feira, 3 de maio de 2016

Bargain Fragrances: Tuscany by Aramis (1984)

This is another in a series of bargain fragrance reviews, scents that may be found online or at discount stores for US $25 or less. 
Summary: A classic from the 1980s when dry spices, leather and lavender dominated men's perfumery, Tuscany (the current reformulation) from Aramis is now widely available at bargain prices and is a throwback to not only the 1980's, but generations of classic barber shop chypre-fougeres.
Perfumer: N/A
Try this if you like: Dry spices without  a hint of vanilla or gourmand notes; fougeres that offer up a "shaving cream" aroma; leather and lavender; classic 80s scents but on the subtle side.
Reminds me of: Azzaro pour Homme, YSL Rive Gauche pour HommeSybaris by Puig, Halston Catalyst for MenCalvin by Calvin Klein, Cartier Santos, Crabtree & Evelyn Siena.
Pros & Cons: Tuscany per Uomo (for Men) by Aramis is considered by many to be a classic leather-focused fragrance of the 80s, as one reviewer noted, "Tuscany Per Uomo is one of the best smelling men's fragrances of all time. I have been wearing it since the mid 1980's and it is still one of my favorites. It just smells nice!"
Widely compared to Azzaro pour Homme (another classic that has been reformulated), Tuscany per Uomo was the American equivalent to many European brands with popular men's offerings of the time, Lauder's attempt to capture the northern Italian landscape as a scent. I don't know the backstory of the development of the fragrance, but considering that the Italians had a strong showing during this period, perhaps Lauder was trying to capitalize on the trend.
What makes Tuscany interesting is its subtlety; never as overpowering as its older brothers Aramis or Devin, or its Italian cousins, Tuscany sits a bit closer to the skin and lacks the overall depth many of its contemporaries possessed. As one Fragrantica reviewer explained, "Nice citrus-woody fragrance but not heavy on the citrus, more classic and masculine than I imagined it would be. Tuscany seems a bit more dry than classic Aramis, it's a classy fragrance, but the silage is a bit too close to the skin for me. So yea it's nice with a great vintage feel, I was hoping for something really special with this, but I don't think it is for me. I do think it's pretty nice though, and suits colder weather more that hot."
Another reviewer noted the lack of longevity in the current reformulation, "As always happens on reformulations like this, the powdery effect during the drydown of the vintage is almost absent on the current. Furthermore, the citrus and aldehyde elements come out sharper. Lastly, why mess with the concentration of the current one? It's definitely more diluted. (Yes, I know...they had to dilute it to make it less sharp.) Not to say that the current is a total failure. It is not. In fact, it's one of those cheap things still worth having."
The style of Tuscany's composition is rarely produced today with perhaps the most recent rendition of this genre being YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme. I'm not alone in this comparison, as another reviewer discussed: "I am wearing [Tuscany] along with YSL Rive Gauche Pour Homme today. Smelling them side by side, they smell almost identical to me."
Tuscany (ca 2016) is not quite a powerhouse of a fragrance but boasts average sillage and longevity.
Notes: Top notes are lime, lavender, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are caraway, orange blossom, tarragon and anise; base notes are leather, sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli, cinnamon, basil and oakmoss.
Designer’s Description: "This distinctively sensual fragrance embodies Italian style and passion."
Number of times tested: 10+ times over the last 2 months from a current reformulation bottle I purchased online (ca 2015); 100+ times from previous bottles over the last 30 years.
Number of sprays applied for this review: 1 spray to the back of my hand.
Fragrance strength: Eau de Toilette
Development: (Linear / Average / Complex): Tuscany opens with a punch of citrus and spice with what I like to think of as a "shaving cream accord", likely the lavender, herbs and leather. As the topnotes settle throughout the first 15 minutes, the fragrance becomes smoother and then slowly fades on the skin leaving a spiced leather accord. Like many of Aramis's fragrances, the composition is relatively straightforward.
Longevity: (Short Average / Long-lasting) I had original bottles and remember them lasting longer than the current formulation which gives me about 4-5 hours.
Sillage: (A Little / Average / A Lot) For an herbal leather, Tuscany is quite polite and never overbearing. Though noticeable, this is nowhere near the strength of leather in fragrances such as Tom Ford Tuscan Leather. Easily an office scent.
Note about the packaging: The original bottles (seen below) are repeated in the current version but without the black ring around the cap and with a paper label. The bottle is housed in a simple paper box.
Where can I buy it? A 3.4oz EDT spray is as low as $25 USD at discount sites, even less for testers; regularly retails for $65 USD.

The Bottom Line: I was 10 years old when Tuscany launched at Burdines in south Florida and as such, it was a foundational fragrance in the development of my appreciation for aroma. For years I had samples of both the original and the Forte - which, while not necessarily stronger, offers a richer composition overall with smooth, powdered edges thanks to carnation and iris - but never really called Tuscany my own. I generally preferred my fragrances sweeter with vanilla or ambery flourishes (such as in the original Perry Ellis for Men), or aquatic and fresh; Tuscany is neither of these. Moreover, Tuscany was one of those scents that like Polo, everyone's uncle or dad wore. For me, it never really seemed modern or "my generation" in the way that scents like Eternity or Joop! did.
As an adult in my 30s I revisited the great masterpieces of the 80s and found that I was finally able to appreciate them in a way I couldn't when younger. I finally was able to wear Santos, Antaeus and yes, Tuscany! Part of this is due to the fact that I now enjoy lavender and lavender-themed aromas. Though the purple herb is by no means the focus of Tuscany, it definitely plays a central role and is easily perceivable. And so Tuscany is a beautiful, if austere, fougere. But what makes it even more special are the chypre touches with its orange blossom, oakmoss, leather, vetiver and patchouli! Considering I'm not really a chypre fan, I'm surprised that I enjoy Tuscany as much as I do.
As I write this review I have Tuscany on one hand and the classic Empreinte by Courreges on the other, one of the only chypres I have truly taken to (it, too, is a reformulation ca 2015). I can definitely sense some similarities among both fragrances  - they share woody, herbal, aromatic leathery characteristics. Whereas Empreinte has a bit of sweetness thanks to its fruit notes, Tuscany offers more citrus and green herbs. And this is the beauty of Tuscany - although a bit overwhelming at initial application, the citrus, basil, tarragon and patchouli smooth out the leather and lavender accords, uniting the two different genres and creating a smooth, rich aroma.
Aramis relaunched many of its fragrances a few years ago as part of its "Gentelemen's Colelction"; all are now housed in the same bottles and boxes but with their respective logos and fonts. Tuscany is the 2nd of the collection I am trying after Aramis 900 which I reviewed HERE. I'm keen to try out JHL, a favorite of mine in its vintage version due to its interesting similarities to YSL Opium
It's true that Tuscany isn't quite what it once was, but considering what it is and that I got my bottle for $14 USD (a tester) on Ebay, I'm happy to re-visit my youth via an imagined Italia.

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