Aramis New West was launched in 1988 and it was one of the perfumes that made wearing american colognes cool. It was labelled “Aramis, Los Angeles, California”, not “Aramis, New York” and it was launched as the ultimate sporty, marine scent of California Coast. For the life of me I do not know why…? Probably because calone was just introduced in perfumery in the 80′s as the molecule that could put the ocean breeze in a bottle. The 80′s and 90′s are full of calone heavy fragrances like Kenzo Homme, L’Eau d’Issey, Cool Water and Dune. But with New West something went wrong. Or did it?
I still remember the first time I smelled New West: it was like a breeze of cold mountain wind slapping my face. Cool, abrasive and dense. The note pyramid lists everything but the kitchen sink: aldehydes, artemisia, lavender, sea notes (the star molecule of calone), mint, caraway, bergamot, pine tree, coriander, juniper berries, bay leaf, jasmine, watermelon (this was an aromachemical that got completely lost in the composition) , geranium, leather (what? vinyl maybe but who would put leather notes in an ocean breeze scent?), sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, oakmoss and cedar. In reality what dominates the opening is a bitter green accord of fir, juniper, pine and everything resinous. Everything seems swimming in a sea of green-ness. The classic geranium and bergamot notes are hanging form the branches of conifers and calone is there too but to my nose it never manages to smell like sea breeze. The ocean is never so green. Instead the air caressing my skin is the cold mountain air that ruffles fir branches and sweeps the snow. As development progresses the foliage becomes thicker and the scent more traditionally masculine.
After New West. perfumers seem to have mastered the use of calone. With experience came standardization and all the clean fresh scents flooded the market. which is not a bad thing. But I still haven’t found a crisper, more joyful fir tree scent. New West became extinct with some modest cult followers. In 2009 Aramis made an unusual but extremely intelligent decision to relaunch New West together with the other discontinued or semi-extinct gems like Havana, Devin, Tuscany and Aramis 900 in a new uniform bottle under the title “The Gentleman’s Collection”. It was a wise decision because prices for a Havana bottle on e-bay were sky rocketing. And every single one of those fragrances is still as unique as it used to be when we first smelled it. The new bottle is rather insignificant while the original was copied by Acqua di Parma for the Blu Mediterraneo line. Interestingly enough I remember having a sample of Blu Mediterraneo Cipresso di Toscana or Quercia Marina and I vaguely recall similarities.
Notes from Fragrantica: aldehydes, artemisia, lavender, sea notes, mint, caraway, bergamot, pine tree, coriander, juniper berries, bay leaf, jasmine, watermelon, geranium, leather, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, oakmoss and cedar.
Notes from my nose: fir, pine, juniper, bergamot, geranium, lavender, vinyl, mountain air