California for Men 
Dana (1990)

Average Rating:  10 User Reviews

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About California for Men by Dana

People & Companies

Fragrance House
Jaclyn Smith
Original House
Max Factor
Additional House

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of California for Men by Dana

There are 10 reviews of California for Men by Dana.

Rarely do I part with something that I like, but in the case of Jaclyn Smith's California, I felt it was too close to several things I already had, too mediocre in the performance department, and an unjustifiable waste of space at a time in my life that my own living space was limited, so it fell victim to a culling of sorts. It has since fallen out of production and while not quite a unicorn, it has become a little more mystical in price due to ye olde eBay scalpers that always look to send somebody over a barrel for wanting to wax nostalgia. This is one of those things I'd recommend as an affordable alternative if it was still available, because it is quite likeable, but the quality of the scent for the price one now might pay is silly, and I'd rather you save your cash for a decent niche scent instead. As it stands, California for Men is a fougère that blends elements of 80's powerhouses with sunny beach-going vibes that make it easier to use outdoors. Jaclyn Smith herself was a former Charlie's Angels star who transitioned to fashion design, and like Elizabeth Taylor, pioneered the idea of celebrities cultivating their own fashion brands instead of inking deals with other houses or perfumers. Sadly, most of her dealings were with Kmart, whom since being swallowed up by the also-failing Sears, is all but an extinct avenue for her wares, which is why we hear little to nothing of her products outside of jokes at their expense. Ultimately what we get here is a semi-generic but earnest summer scent that is a redressing of older ideas, which ultimately grew less and less appealing as the effort needed to maintain stock of it in one's wardrobe slowly eclipsed it's value and sense of style.

The quickest, easiest, and most concise comparison here is to Guy Laroche's seminal Drakkar Noir (1982), and much of California's DNA can be gleaned from it. Some people also like to compare this to Azzaro Pour Homme (1978) and Aramis Tuscany Per Uomo (1984) and I can totally understand why, but what California shares with them is more abstract in the sense of brighter bergamot tops than the Laroche and an overall more relaxed feel. California sort of meets between the sun-bleached Italian fougère and rich, mossy jazz club juice dressed in black, but comes dressed in sandals and cargo pants. Bergamot and lemon verbena almost go without needing mentioning in the top of this, with rosemary, artemisia, and basil, just like Drakkar Noir. Lavender is moved down into the heart to keep the scent brighter for longer, and shares space with geranium, manadarin, coriander, and cedar. The base has a light dusting of amber, musk, oakmoss, patchouli, fir, and coumarin. This doesn't have any smoke or dryness to it in the end like others of it's ilk, and just remains a pleasant, casual, if somewhat fleeting fougère, like a powerhouse de-fanged to seem less out-of-place as the 90's began. It mostly worked, but due to the shakey ground on which Jaclyn Smith did business, distribution and manufacture for this kept shifting, making this fall in and out of production enough to make anyone who liked it eventually give up on it out of frustration, like myself.

Once, twice, three times this changed brands over the years, and I suppose the three-strikes rule applies here since the last house to acquire California dumped it after only a year of return to the market. Beyond Jaclyn Smith's own eponymous label, California was picked up by drugstore cosmetics firm Max Factor, whom at the time had been waning from the fragrance market anyway, but after the turn of the millenium, ended up selling the line to Dana, who made a huge push on the scent then dropped it year later, with newly-designed bottles missing their etched logo caps and having plain brass slip-over tester-style caps being bundled in gift sets and sold in Walmart into the late 2000's. It was like seeing factory seconds refurbished and sold as holiday exclusives, and very sad, which is why I divested myself of California for Men in the end. It was like shopping at the aforementioned Kmarts once home to the Jaclyn Smith brand: perfectly adequate, but uninspiring, which could be overlooked if not for the fact that watching it slowly plummet on life support into oblivion was so damn depressing. A fragrance that is more or less advertised as bottled sunshine should be anything but depressing. If you're looking for a lighter free-wheeling alternative to an 80's powerhouse fougère, just buy Azzaro or Tuscany Per Uomo and call it a day. Typically this would be a thumbs up because it is a nice smell, but my neutral rating reflects the bad taste left behind trying to own this as part of a regular rotation.
Mar 21, 2018

Not much of Tuscany in this at all. It's a lighter, fresher offspring of Drakkar Noir --- a coniferous chypre with the focus on the citrus and lavender topnotes, and the green, woody, smoky and musk base notes de-emphasized. A pleasant enough concoction, and light enough to use as an after-workout splash. Doesn't last very long at all, which can be fine for certain situations.

I'm giving it a neutral because although it's a well-balanced composition and very pleasant, it's still a derivative with nothing particularly distinctive about it.
Oct 19, 2012

This is basically a less intense, more tolerable version of King which is a cheapy fragrance. Same color juice, and all. King smells like old bar-b-que'd meat, onions, and a hair salon. California has an impressive sunny/orange/beach-like opening, but looses its promise quickly, and turns into a less intense version of King.

This fragrance is discontinued, and extremely rare.
May 21, 2011

Happy orange peels and musk, basking in a glorious sun! It's even darkly-colored enough to look like a little bottle of orange extract, much to my chagrin as a shirt-splasher. I'd say it's like a sweeter, calmer Drakkar Noir, or maybe Tuscany without the brisk herbiness. I can't decide which type of Californian it reminds me of more: the tanned 80s surfer dude in Manhattan Beach who was focused but too cool for school, or the cocksure day trader sitting in his skyrise office in Century City, waiting for the next big deal and the next big score with one of the secretaries. Ah, junk bonds and testosterone! But buyer, beware: I have a newer spray bottle, with a rounded rectangular design and blue cap, and it has been reformulated from the deodorant-stick-shaped silver-capped version to be less cigaretty and more sugary, which I think has largely ruined it.
Jul 11, 2009

I thought about this one long and hard but in the end, I decided to return it to the store. This is not to say it's without merits: it's a nice sunny fragrance; however, I felt it would be a better fit for an older gentleman (I'm 25). It just seems a bit weird for a recent colleage graduate such as myself. Someone had mentioned a comparison to Tuscany - I found Tuscany to be much more sophisticated. California has a one dimensional linear compisition whereas Tuscany is far more complicated.
Feb 19, 2009

California really surprised me. I was expecting a pleasant generic drugstore fragrance and what I got was a close clone of Green Irish Tweed by Creed. No kidding. It's stronger than GIT, and a little bit synthetic, but it's the closest thing to GIT I have ever smelled. The longevity is very good, as is the sillage. Nice and green. Very nice.
Sep 9, 2008

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