Cologne Reloaded is a limited-run offering by Bogue that quickly sold out in 2013, so I was delighted to at least be able to sample this via the generosity of another.
In short, it's delightful and seemingly reasonably loyal to the name: a crossroads between a traditional fresh/spicy men's cologne and a more animalic leather offering. Assertive but not overwhelming, its blend of citrus, lavender, styrax, resins, and most boldly, castoreum, evolves from fresh to spicy and animalic to woody and resinous as well. I'm quite impressed by it.
It really ebbs and flows between the fresh, more cologne-like qualities and the more provocative spicy/woody/animalic side, the castoreum being the most pungent provocateur of the mix, as is often the case, yielding a spicy, animalic type of leather quality that I so adore in other examples--most notably. Tom Ford Oud Wood Intense. of late.
This is a robust perfume that I'd love to own a bottle of but that's a pipe dream, so I'm glad to have been able to try it out and give it a whirl. It has the feel of a modern classic and performs quite well, also.
I hope to someday track down a bottle but I imagine it would be pretty expensive to come by.
Cologne Reloaded is made with perfume materials from the 1940s that found their way into the hands of perfumer and architect Antonio Gardoni. It is derived from a concentrated eau de cologne base called "Colonia della Esperis. The base included instructions for reconstitution to various concentrations, each of which Gardoni prepared in his investigation of the materials.
The discussion of Cologne Reloaded focuses quickly on the materials. Due to regulation and ethical considerations many historical materials are no longer used. As found objects from a remote past, though, these extant materials are free from contemporary censure and can be appreciated for their aesthetic value. They are an unearthed treasure, a time-capsule. The question is what to do with them?
cologne reloadedHow should we view a cultural artifact separated from its era and lineage? In the case of the perfume base, you have the object as well as clear instructions for how it was used during its time. How do you interpret it in the present? Should they be preserved? Studied? Revived and prepared per the instructions? The answer to these questions leads from the materials to the perfumer.
Mixed-media work is not uncommon. With Cologne Reloaded, though, the form isn't an intermedia hybrid. The artist is.
Architecture has a language for adapting the past to the present/future and changing a structure's meaning. Adaptation requires analysis of the original form and reimagining it while reflecting on the unexpected and unintended. An architect who is also a perfumer is in an interesting position to answer the questions posed by these materials from the past.
The rediscovered essences were the starting place for the composition that eventually became Cologne Reloaded. Employing an eau de parfum concentration for a composition intended as an eau de cologne increases the potency but also risks a loss of clarity. Rather than avoid the issue of intensity, Gardoni chose to highlight it, adding materials that emphasize the forcefulness of the perfume by opening it up and making it more expansive. The topnotes in particular vibrate as if they are barely contained and Cologne Reloaded lunges out of the bottle. It has many of the signifiers of old-school perfumery including an expansive hesperidic opening that recalls an eau de cologne and a barber-shoppy hum nicked from the classic fougère. It borrows the twisted logic of the mid 20th century chypre and starts with a pouncing animalic quality yet finishes with a dense, powdery tone. Despite the references to the past, Cologne Reloaded is neither nostalgic nor dated.
Some of the source materials came in the form of pre-mixed bases. The inherent complication of a base is that a perfumer can add to it but not subtract from it. Strong choices and editing become difficult to balance. Gardoni is adept and succeeds in making a perfume with a large dynamic range but no gaps or sharp edges. It bridges genres as easily as it bridges eras. Gardoni makes a compelling argument in favor of tradition, showing it to be a strength rather than a burden. He takes advantage of a traditional approach without falling into the traps of a conservative method. Cologne Reloaded is neither a repetition of the past nor a refuge from innovation. It is contemporary in structure if not style. At a time when restrictions on materials often foster nostalgia and regret, Gardoni uses vintage materials to ground his work firmly in the present.
Production of Cologne Reloaded was restricted by a limited supply of the perfume base. Colonia della Esperis presented the classic zero-sum game: its supply is finite and cannot be reproduced. The dilemma becomes preservation versus meaningful use. Should it be reconstituted per instructions? Is it a museum-piece for display? Should we genuflect when we refer to it? Is there another option?
Gardoni's solution is to investigate the materials and to recognize what they offer. Colonia della Esperis could no longer be produced today, but current aromachemicals allows for the creation of perfume that couldn't have been imagined in the 1940s. Gardoni demonstrates that the value of tradition is not the repetition of customs or the replication of historical objects. It is the evolution of ideas.
Colonia della Esperis and Cologne Reloaded highlight perfume's impermanence and its predicament as both an object and an experience. The perfumes are gone and I mourn their loss, but Antonio Gardoni remains, a prospect that leaves me upbeat about the future of perfumery.
In the fashion I often relate and speak with various designers and it seems normal that each of them find inspiration in productions of the past. Some of them regenerate healthy idea with great skill, others simply copy. But there is a theorem clear to all: if you are starting your career you will never copy a stylist. Imagine a fashion designer who presented his first collection by copying the iconic taylor of Chanel, everyone would say that is an idiot! No journalist would give him credibility, unless the designer did not do this his attitude a strong point, presenting a series of dresses all copied. So in the fashion world an original pattern on a skirt or a screen print of an artist's painting on a t-shirt may be copyrightable. But a dress that a designer sketched in detail, for which he or she meticulously selected the colors, and artistically tailored, is not afforded copyright protection. Not only does fashion contribute significantly to the economy, but fashion design is also a respected form of art! Is it perfumery? It seems that in the world of fragrances who copies is rewarded. This brand has understood very well how to do marketing (bogue!!!) in the world of niche, which in itself is a niche world also for bloggers. And I consider the expressive potential of this fragrance very interesting! However I think that in principle the Nose should learn how to make perfumes, or ask those who produce them for his brand to be more original! Just as I do not like to speak of imitators, the same way I do not like to talk even of false legends niche, as creating a perfume in a way that has no reasons and that is only a story for little children who wants to dream. This perfume is the result of a mix of others ones copied perfume! But the theme of the theft is something old and uninteresting, especially when taking into account how this new approach to perfumery/art is able to influence the foundation: how do art and why. "Who Wore It Better" is a blog created by artists Alison Feldish Frech and Derek in order to "promote dialogue formal and conceptual at the expense of originality." It is a collection of pairs of works very, very similar to each other, which are placed side by side and which are indicated title and author. At first glance it seems an archive of plagiarism or "coincidences". But, according Feldish and Frech, these couples "separated at birth" represent the very essence of art, an essence that can be found. So I want to give a chance to copied perfumes and to the new perfumers who copy, hoping to be in front in the future to someone who I would like to copy!
It saddens me to review a fragrance that's about to be taken off of the market especially when it's as appealing as this one. The opening whiff of juicy bergamot and neroli has me thinking Nice cologne. That is, for about a millisecond, at which point a potent barbershop lavender intrudes, and I say to myself, Correct that: nice fougère. Subsequent developments shatter all my expectations of genre orthodoxy, as big, smoky birch tar and a whole lot of animalic castoreum lead Cologne Reloaded into territory not too far removed from Chanel's iconic Cuir de Russie. With lavender. Have I mentioned that I'm a total sucker for birch tar and castoreum?
Actually the whole idea behind Cologne Reloaded a brisk, clean classical eau de Cologne structure backed by profoundly animalic leather - hearkens back to Edmond Roudnitska's brilliant Eau d'Hermès. Not that Cologne Reloaded smells particularly like Eau d'Hermès. Or anything else, for that matter. Despite (or perhaps because of) an ample number of classicizing gestures, this fragrance feels as novel and original as its components are familiar. Evidence, if such were needed, that there's still plenty of room for invention left within the bounds of traditional perfumery. Antonio Gardoni is a perfumer to watch.
Note: special thanks to alfarom and deadidol for alerting me to this fragrance before it meets its demise.
The opening of Cologne Reloaded is remarkably powerful and deep, basically a straightforward, "in-your-face" condensed anthology of masculine chypres. Bold notes of lavender, citrus, wood, sandalwood, carnation, musk, leather: a dry and austere blend exuding "manliness" and darkness, with a quite funny aftertaste of smoked ham at many points, but still evocative and majestic. The moldy-sweaty-indolic note of civet is remarkable as well, I doubt there's real civet in here (just a feeling) but nonetheless it's a really appreciable and well-built rendition of this "king of dirt" note with its urinous, fecal, savage nuances. On the very base, a hard, raw and dry woody accord, the antique woody closet protecting this precious whiff of vintage smells (and a piece of rotting bacon - that subtle smell of smoked ham which I guess being due to birch wood, won't go away for quite a while). Finally, the drydown comprises a balsamic-woody accord dirtened with metallic nuances, that I don't enjoy that much but which are part of the game as you largely smell them in vintages too, and a slightly unrelated smell of garlic (I guess due to the drydown of civet). Overall impression: on one side it quite reminds me of some works by O'Driù, mostly for the fougère-animalic notes with a contemporary twist, just far more "conventional" and without that kind of creative/artistic/provocative aim. On the other side, it obviously reminds me of dozens of masculine chypres, which Cologne Reloaded is a well-crafted, yet a bit derivative "rebuilding" of. Technically, the materials and the composition are outstanding, you can smell Gardoni put a lot of care and work in this scent: the notes are deep and faceted, and the composition is cleverly balanced and highly enjoyable. And I appreciate the idea of taking back the concept of "daring" (with bold animalic stuff) in the niche world, which has completely forgot what "to dare" means (devoting religiously instead on the concepts of "boredom", "repetition", "marketing"). So, in short, an undoubtedly well-made tribute to an era. But... still, the same I wrote for MAAI applies here too: as long as I'll have access to vintages, I'll prefer them to these well-crafted yet slightly pedantic "reconstructions".
(some press I read elsewhere about this: "vintage materials from the 40's that were found in an old pharmaceutical laboratory"? Oh come on...)
A classic masculine cologne on steroids. A hyper-concentrated mix of herbal lavender, citrus and smoky notes laying on a bold / animalic castoreum / resinoid base. The fragrance feels incredibly aromatic and and old-school while, at the same time, showing traces of modern perfumery. Simple yet multifaceted, daring yet somewhat old-fashioned, rustic while feeling extremely detailed at the same time.
If you dig the work of Vero Kern or Angelo Pregoni, don't miss this.
Watch out for Antonio Gardoni, he has a lot to tell.