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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Creed Green Irish Tweed (1985): Fragrance Review

~by guest writer AlbertCAN

 This is my tenth year, in various capacities, within the fragrance industry. One does not come this far without hearing a tall tale or two over the years. Some printable; some unfortunately aren’t. Thus imagine my amusement a few years ago when George Clooney’s negotiation for fragrance licensing with Coty fell through, in part, because the asking fee was $30 million dollars.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m sure Clooney had his sound rationales, and $30 million dollars would surely come in handy when buying a more secluded villa in Lake Como, with the privacy he had sorely missed when vacationing. With this being said it’s doubtful that I would need a copy of bottled George in the first place, for when I am compelled to take after the leading man —along with other cultural icons such as David Beckham, Russell Crowe, Pierce Brosnan, among others— I pull out my copy of Green Irish Tweed.

actor David Kelly in his green irish tweeds

Officially Green Irish Tweed was created by master perfumer Pierre Bourdon for yet another leading man among leading men —Cary Grant. The chronology gets fuzzy beyond this point, however. He supposedly used it, though Grant would kick the bucket within a year after the fragrance introduction. Carbon dating the scent through its olfactory blueprint would be somewhat futile in this case, for it’s a green aromatic fougère that subtly influenced the masculine market for years, pointing to the future rather than its past. (But more on that later.)

Timeless doesn’t even begin to describe this scent, for Green Irish Tweed is working incredibly well for men of all ages. Just like the same Shakespearean passage could be interpreted so many different mannerisms and contexts, Green Irish Tweed somehow manages to give off a different spark in different situations: on a young lad, the vibrant and brash green opening; on a middle-aged businessman, the all-purpose aromatic earnest; and the golden men, the classic fougère base. That’s not to say that GIT lacks character, as it opens with a bracing rush of green and citrus elements such as lemon verbena. True to namesake fabric the nuances from the crunchy green really maintain the requisite masculine ruggedness; it’s as if one is meeting a true aristocrat, but instead of in the drawing room of his ancestral home it’s a chance meeting right before his polo match, brimming with confidence and vigor. Somehow I suspect geranium is in the mix, having picked up its presence among other similarly structured colognes, yet it’s not listed in the official notes: instead we have an interesting bunch consisting of violet leaves and vetiver making rounds before settling on the aforementioned fougère base along with sandalwood, ambergris and modern musk. Iris is in the mix too, although truth be told I still cannot decide its place: Creed lists it as a top note, whereas it's more of a heart note to my nose.

Now at this point readers with a modern olfactory palette would need some contexts before smelling this fragrance for the first time, for its idioms have been widely utilized ever since. The bookends of this fragrance, the green and the fougère, was to me referenced in Chanel Platinum Egoiste (1993), albeit in an arguably more acrid, slightly more high-pitched incarnation. Of course, Bourdon would also famously reprise the structural integrity of GIT by plugging in Calone into the mix, producing the watershed Cool Water for Men in 1988, just three short years after the release of the Creed.

Comparing Green Irish Tweed with Cool Water for Men is indeed a gentlemen pursuit worth partaking, for the differences are quite interesting. To me GIT is gentler in character, less intrusive than its marine sibling. Both perform quite well in diffusion and sillage, although Cool Water for Men balances out the freshness from Calone with a more assertive base in my humble opinion. Now much has been said about the use of Calone, the synthetic chemical first discovered by Pfizer in 1966 but left on the shelves for decades due to its bizarre slant: in high concentration its scent has been described as oyster like! Yet at a lower pitch it gives off a fresh marine impression with, depending on the context, melon or cucumber with a slightly saline dent. Yet Calone isn’t the magic pill within Cool Water for Men, as its similarities with the Creed imply. Of course, the Davidoff is more budget conscious, done with broader brush brushstrokes, but Bourdon’s signature touches are decidedly present in both. After all, the instrument alone doesn’t make a concert: neither in perfumery does the overdose of a novel ingredient take away from the thought process. We also pay for the perfumer’s time, not just for the sum of the bottled ingredients.

One notable difference, however: GIT layers very well with other masculine scents, not only with eaux de colognes but also quite interestingly with MUMAs. Because it doesn’t come in deodorants I tend to combine it with Terre d'Hermès deodorant stick. Mind you, I have even layered it beautifully with Chergui by Serge Lutens, with Chergui at the base and GIT right above, though looking back the combination is a tad assertive for my taste, fortifying the amber of the Lutens to an opulent, diffusive place I don’t normally venture—but then again conventional rules are out of the door at Lutens; I just dare not go that far.

For more information please refer to Creed’s official website.

17 comments:

  1. Dear Albert

    One must confess that whilst being a devotee of the fabric, I have never come to terms with the fragrance.

    Where others find the classic, The Dandy senses only the dull, pedestrian and frankly, complacent.

    I have no preconceived aversion about this type of fragrance, and get along with Chanel's Platinum for all it's shrill metallic ways, nor do I share the inverted snobbery of many about Creed - though its fragrances I thoroughly enjoy I can count on one hand.

    No, it's just that GIT (to use the ubiquitous acronym) leaves me cold.

    It is neither emotionally fulfilling nor intellectually stimulating.

    Pricey olfactory tapioca.

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy


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  2. TPD,

    Thanks as ever for reading the review and finding time to comment. A few things I chose to leave out due to the complexity of the subjects, but since you brought them up I might as well address the topics. And due to blogger limitations I'll have to split your response into parts so please bear with me.

    Fragrance criticism, as a genre by and large, is foremost about delivering an informed opinion. True, certain understanding on the subject has to be demonstrated, yet at the end of the day critics must respect that the tastes of the audience may be different. Thus I truly believe that it’s not a critic’s job to tell a reader what to think, let alone what to choose when approaching a fragrance counter, but rather a curator who helps others to gain perhaps insights on certain perspectives. As I have said some time ago when responding to another reader’s (differing) opinion on Jean-Claude Ellena: if everyone thinks exactly the same why would I need to blog? It’s this potential exchange of ideas that I’ve chosen to contribute to Perfume Shrine, since Elena would step in and moderate when my occupations do not grant me the luxury.

    With this being said fragrance criticism also requires one to present and share that perspective beyond mere olfactory impressions alone. The how and the when of fragrance composition are also extremely important and should be, more than anything, be factored into the informed opinion. Thus a fragrance review is not all about the “Does it smell original?” factor—in part because what smells original now could not be the same a century from now—but rather the “How does the originality of the composition relate to its time?” question, or even more importantly, the “How does the structure of the fragrance support its central idea?” issue.

    At this point I should duly point out that I do not hold GIT as the epiphany of intellectual olfactory statement, not do I use GIT for that purpose. Yet I am appreciative of GIT for that exact reason, for I currently proudly work for one of the most established institutions in the world, in an extremely detail-oriented position. When serving my clients I really don’t want to mentally wonder off and start thinking about, say, that extremely interesting dried herbal effect in Ambre Sultan, or how a nitrile contributes to the oyster grey in Silver Iris Mist (both incidentally by Serge Lutens). Such would do great disservice to my job, and a greater disservice to my clients—who should by rights have my undivided attention at work. GIT, in this case, fills that need: something comfortable and long-lasting without bringing a great deal of attention to itself. In fact when I am asked the unavoidable question (“You smell great! What are you wearing?”) at work I always answer “Cool Water by Davidoff” and stop the conversation cold right there and then.

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  3. Come to think of it, it also be extremely boring if all fragrances in the world are equally stimulating intellectually, for they would simply take up way too much time for a person to enjoy anything else in the universe. It would be equivalent to dating a string of marvelous people who simply cannot stop sharing how marvelous they are, leaving you absolutely no time to share with them how equally amazing and unique you are. (You will have to trust me on this one :-p) Besides, paraphrasing a Zen principle, how can one experience transcendence without experiencing non-transcendence, and how can one appreciate the extraordinary without understanding the what not? I see your notion of emotionally non-fulfillment simply as the flip side of the duality-themed world, the flip side of the same coin. Thus Guerlain Jicky rests peacefully next to GIT in my drawer.

    While we are at this GIT is not built—quoting your reply—to be pedestrian. At least not in the sense of MUMAs with their pre-determinate proportions. This is a proto-ozonic fragrance before the materials and markets could fully embrace the idea: Jean-Claude Ellena would reprise that basic principle (obviously in a completely different guise) in his “Un Jardin après la Mousson” decades later. It’s also very telling, at least to me, that it took Chanel and Jacques Polge eight years to follow suit and reference GIT somewhat convincingly with Platinum Egoiste. Of course, the idea of proto-aquatic/marine/ozonic fragrances can be traced by to Edmound Roudnitska’s ”Le Parfum de Thérèse”, but that doesn’t diminish Bourdon’s technical brilliance in my book.

    And speaking of technical brilliance GIT has its share of quirks compared to the masculine fragrances of its time. It’s cool interior is filled with lily of the valley (hydroxycitronnellal), combined with alpha-isomethyl ionone (often used in women’s fragrances to give off a powdery violet-iris effect) at the front half of the fragrance to help giving off a slightly metallic breeze, and once combined with violet I’m actually more amazed that so many men at dressing comfortably in GIT without realizing what it actually punches such a hefty bouquet! This is a man very comfortable with his sexuality, and it’s not his problem with you cannot guess his experimentations in private. (Very Cary Grant, come to think of it.) All this meeting the technical demands of diffusion, sillage and evaporation curve, punching the right cards along the development stages—so what if many fragances have since referenced this fragrance, including Bourdon’s subsequent “Cool Water”? Doesn’t waiver my regards for this fragrance.

    Now I’ll give it to you on the pricing front, for I wish GIT could be more readily available. Still, I had secured and tried plenty of samples—through independent effort by simply striking up intelligent conversations with Creed sales representatives—before deciding that GIT was the right purchase for me years later. If not for others decants and samples could be obtained through various means via the Internet.

    I hope this gives you a glimpse of my rationale behind the review.

    Most sincere regards,

    AlbertCAN

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  4. PS. It should have read "my response to you in parts". Sorry!

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  5. Anonymous07:26

    Wow! Albert and Dandy you have made my breakfast reading most stimulating.

    I am ashamed to say that I have never smelt Green irish Tweed (I hesitate to say GIT as this in English has the funniest connotation!). Creed is a bit hit or miss for me. But this does sound intriguing, especially the violet notes. I wonder, does it have any similarities with Grey Flannel or Fahrenheit?

    Thank you both for your thoughts.

    Jillie

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  6. Dear Jillie, there's no shame in not having an opportunity to encounter something else, for if I have seen all my share of things I would be left very little to do in life! Grey Flannel, for instance, I have not sampled for a very, very long time so I cannot even compare it with GIT. As for Fahrenheit it is extremely different! I must tell you that the first bottle of fragrance I ever wanted to buy was the Dior (I was 15), but I just couldn't pull it off. I still can't, unfortunately. True, both have violet leaves, but their placements are so very different. In the Dior the violet leaves are at the forefront, whereas in GIT it's in the middle--but not before the opening of herbal elements. If I were to be asked to really roughly approximate GIT I would take the balance of Cool Water & Platinum Egoiste, and recalibrate by elevating the quality of the elements. That's the extremely rough answer, an I hope you take no offense in the summary! Anyhow, take care and please let me know if you have come across it by chance. A

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  7. Anonymous16:30

    Dear Albert - I don't think that it was a rough approximation at all, and is extremely helpful. I will certainly try to get a sample. My favourite Creed is Fleurissimo, which I know is sometimes derided, but somehow it seems so calm and elegant after the hurly-burly of most modern releases.

    You take care too!

    Jillie
    x

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  8. What an interesting debate!

    I've always quite liked Green Irish Tweed, for me its very safety is part of its appeal - on the right person it lends a comforting vibe, once dried down.

    'Safe' can be both pedestrian or appealing I suppose..

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  9. Are you sure that Cool Water contains Calone? Cool Water was released in 1988. Calone was available for perfumery in 1989, after the patent on Calone held by Camilli, Albert & Laloue (a Pfizer Company) expired. To my knowledge Cool Water contains a overdose of Dihydromyrcenol. Just compare Aramis New West (Calone) to Cool Water to notice the difference.

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  10. Jillie, I have held Fleurissimo in high regard--maybe more on that later--so it's all good! Thanks for your input :-)

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  11. R, you got it! Thank for chiming in.


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  12. Christof,

    Thanks for your input on the background of Calone. As for Cool Water my primary source came from the National Geographic, and for an independent Internet confirmation please refer to the NY Times article below:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/fashion/29NOTICED.html?_r=0

    And I quote:

    "It also incorporated a synthetic compound, calone, with a whiff of saltwater. Soon enough, notes of freshness and wetness began to infiltrate men’s fragrance — most often with additional “fresh” or “watery” notes of moist, dryly sweet fruits like melon, cucumber and grapefruit — and a breezy new sector was born. With a clean, light smell that was sure to offend no one, these fragrances were like Casual Friday in a bottle."

    Katie Puckrik has also identified Cool Water having Calone on her site, which I just checked 5 minutes ago in response to your inquiry.

    Now you are absolutely correct that Cool Water contains dihydromyrcenol, and it imparts a sense of freshness in many fragrances since then. Still, please keep in mind that dihydromyrcenol is also included sporty but non-aquatic fragrances, for instance Chanel Allure Homme Sport (which I have seen labeled as a modern fresh fougère). So whereas the addition of Calone contributes to the aquatic family dihydromyrcenol contributes to freshness in multiple fragrance families in my opinion.

    Albert

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  13. Dear Albert

    Thank you for your exhaustive response to my comment.

    Something I've noticed is that people do feel the need to defend Creed perfumes at great length, even to the most measured of criticisms.

    I do wonder why.

    One thing that struck me amongst your many points is that you are attracted in part to GIT because of its inability to cause you 'to mentally wonder off'.

    Of course one can see the benefits of a default or comfort scent, it's simply that this one isn't to my taste.

    And that is the crux of the matter.

    It is a matter after all not of learning, nor working for 'one of the most established institutions in the world, in an extremely detail-oriented position' but of personal preference, of subjective perception informed more, in my case at least, by experience and enjoyment of all those things that constitute your 'anything else in the universe.

    I am quite happy for others to go on considering this Creed a classic, and I will, I suspect, persist in finding it 'olfactory tapioca'.

    I trust that in this instance you will be as good as your word: "at the end of the day critics must respect that the tastes of the audience may be different."

    Thank you for what I can assure you was a great deal more than a "glimpse of" your "rationale behind the review".

    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy




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  14. Dear TPD,

    Well, true to my words I am not here to tell people what to think. At the same time I consider people reading Perfume Shrine because they want to read and share informed conversations on fragrances. Thus as a contributor I can only present and develop my ideas to the fullest, and to show my work when called upon. At the end of the day people need to form their own opinions.

    As for why some people defend Creed perfumes at great length I am clueless on that front. I only had the opportunity to sample three. So I, too, wonder why. (But frankly I don't care.)

    To reiterate I took the time to reply because you brought up some really valid points, and to show my respect for you as a diligent reader I need to participate when called upon. And they are just that at the end of the day, for fragrance reviews, no matter how thorough, are essentially opinions at the end of the day.

    Sincerely,

    Albert

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  15. Dear TPD,

    I'm going to lay my cards on the table here.

    I really enjoy people's differing opinions on various subject matters, and when I enjoy what people have talked about I leave what you've called "exhausive" comments. That's how I've became acquaintances or even friends with many bloggers. Over the years I have had very differing opinions with Helg and Octavian, for instance, and we'll agree to disagree until the cows come home! And that to me is fantastic, because I enjoy seeing their different perspectives, and I won't be who I am today without it. To me seeing why people say no is exciting. Maybe there's a new perspective out there that I haven't considered! I know Helg, for instance, will at least give my idea a listen--before she says a big no! (Ha!)

    Thus when you first told me how you felt about GIT, I gave you my opinions. As the writer of this review I will gladly show my work very thoroughly whenever it is asked and to whoever. Otherwise as far as I'm concerned Helg can ask anyone else to write a review for Perfume Shrine!

    So we are at an aesthetics impasse. Great. Honestly more power to you! And we seriously need more people like you so the fragrance industry is not compelled to produce derivative products! But I have to stand by words, too, because hey, this is my review!

    I will point out one thing, however: I don't know the Creed line as a whole. I have only sampled Fleurissimo and Green Irish Tweed thoroughly. Creed Spring Flower I have tried, and I DISLIKE IT COMPLETELY! (IN FACT I'VE BEEN PLANNING TO GIVE CREED A PIECE OF MY MIND WITH A NEGATIVE REVIEW, IF ONLY TIME WILL PERMIT! WHAT NERVE DEDICATING THAT THING TO AUDREY HEPBURN?!) Some of the rest I got samples lying in my drawers for years and I haven't had a chance to try them really. So my comments here have been limited to just the two. So I too don't know why some people defend Creed, and I don't give a hoot about why they do--that's their business, not mine. (In fact didn't I agree with you on Creed's pricing & distribution?)

    Sincerely,

    Albert

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  16. Anonymous17:46

    Are you certain there is a vetiver note in here? I have contacted the boutique and was advised that there is none in the formulation (I'm a big vetiver fan).

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  17. Anon,

    this is written by my prized guest writer, AlbertCAN, so I can't vouch for his own perception, but I risk saying that if he smells it it must be there.
    One important consideration is that companies are allowed to admit to the "notes" that are officially blurbed to be present and will not go beyond that.

    However a formula and a notes list are two totally different things, the former very difficult to decipher by a non chemist or fragrance insider, the latter much more legible by a perfume lover. Therefore vetiver might be hiding in one of its forms or as a facet in another material (!) and not be officially represented in the brochures and press material of the Creed (or any other company) boutique.

    A famous perfumer has once pronounced "if you smell it, it's there" (this was said to me in an email by a person who interviewed him back in the day). It means that the nose does perceive facets of things that surface from the edges of a material or perhaps the added combination of two or three other things. If it's a skilled perfumer, the result is voluntary.
    The effect therefore is always credible, , the nose is always right, even if strictly speaking the material itself might be missing. An intriguing thought that gives a whole new meaning to parsing a fragrance! ;-)

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