Saturday, 16 September 2017

Wearing aftershave ironically - file under 'First World problems'

In the mid 90s, when Loungecore had its day in the sun, I didn't need poking with a pointed stick to make me clean out my parents' record collection. Or pay silly money for lounge compilations (back when CDs were still selling for an eye watering RRP of £16) full of Tony Hatch*, Alyn Ainsworth and the Harry Roche Constellation: I sort of loved this stuff anyway. So when clubs like Blow Up and Fabric were having Lounge nights and hipsters (not the hipsters we know today) were crate digging for the easiest of easy listening long-players, I didn't have to listen to this stuff ironically anymore. I could just listen to it.


But how does it work with men's fragrances - I'm talking 1970s aftershaves here? I remember writing that when I was seventeen I thought Blue Stratos was the last word in men's toiletries. At a time when men's grooming comprised soap on a rope and low budget splash-ons - Brut, Denim, Hai Karate, Old Spice, Tabac et al - it was only Blue Stratos that warranted repeat usage. Once you took away the aroma of stale fags and beer from most pubs back in the seventies and early eighties, the only smell left in the room (apart from BO) would have been a couple of wide boys at the bar who'd spent all there disposable income drowning themselves in Brut 33.


So I recently spotted online that you can still buy Blue Stratos. Whether or not it went away and has now come back, or just never went away in the fist place is anyone's guess. Anyway, I had to investigate: would it come in the same distinctive blue bottle? Yes it does. Would I still get that same frisson when I unscrewed the top? Er, no, not really. And, more importantly, would it still smell the same, a smell that would take me back to a time and place? Mmm, sort of. (Or would it smell like an industrial household cleaning product?). And, even if it did smell the same, would I be able to wear it? And by that, I of course mean would I be able to wear it for real, or would it just be an ironic gesture gently reminding me that a much younger version of me would wear this scent in the feint hope of pulling fair maidens who, like me, knew no better? I'll get back to you on that one.

Hardly a ringing endorsement - the jury are still holed up in their hotel, they could be there quite a while yet. Without going into a laboured review of Blue Stratos 2.0 and banging on about floral top notes & musky base notes, the bottom line is that it's 'quite pleasant, actually.' And no, it doesn't smell like an industrial household cleaning product. Not on me, anyway...

* I make no apologies for digging out this Longecore classic again. Tony Hatch can do no wrong in my book.

The Tony Hatch Orchestra: Soul Coaxing

11 comments:

  1. I haven't 'splashed it all over' (to paraphrase our 'enry) for decades, but the mere mention of those classic aftershaves of yesteryear had my nose hairs twitching wildly in half-remembered recognition. Having Mr Hatch & his gang on hand to soundtrack my reverie is just about perfect.

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  2. Very funny - I had a Saturday job in a Chemist's shop in the mid '70s so sold my fair share of Blue Stratos. The female equivalent was a perfume called Charlie and one, unbelievably, called Smitty (our English teacher could never understand how something sounding so much like smutty, was such a hit). Glad to hear you're giving it another whirl as like with music, I think it just became a victim of its own success.

    As for the whole Longecore thing, I always liked this kind of stuff anyway (the Chemist's shop was next door to a TV Services shop that sold its fair share of Tony Hatch) so preaching to the converted.

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  3. And why not! I think I can smell the Blue Stratos now, wafting through the ether....
    Like a cat on the catnip, I could still melt into a helplessly dreamy stupor with just one whiff of Denim, I must confess (and remember that hand slipping inside the jacket?!)
    And Alyson - Charlie was the first one I ever wore, in my early teens, but I don't recall 'Smitty' - but the unfortunate sounding combination of 'smutty' and 'shitty' doesn't make me want to!

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    1. The tagline was "Smitty did it" (there was a song for the ad and I just found it on YouTube) - There I was thinking that the only unfortunate association it had was with the word smutty, hadn't thought of that other one actually!

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  4. TS - Back in the day I really did splash it *all* over.

    A - It stops here btw. There will not, repeat, not be any Brut or Old Spice etc. crossing the threshold of Medd Towers.

    C - Scratch what I've just said to Alyson: Denim you say...?

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  5. I don't think it ever went away to be honest. I'm sure my local indie run chemist on the high street still stocked Blue Stratos before it finally closed its doors at some point in my mid 20s and that's only ten or so years back.

    I guess the modern ironic ones would be the 90s faves; Joop! and Davidoff's Cool Water. I was a big fan of Cool Water as a teen and in my early 20s, but I gave up on wearing aftershave completely a couple of years ago. That said, I still have a relation who buys me some David Beckham fragrance seemingly every Christmas!

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  6. I just thought it would be interesting to take a wander down memory lane and see what would happen when the top came off the bottle...

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  7. I've had a full beard since 1973, so no aftershave for me. But I do like a spot of Tony Hatch. 'Man Alive' is a particular and timeless favourite.

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    1. Hatch. For the man who doesn't have to try...too hard.

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  8. It's strange how a scent can take you back to a time or place , Charlie was the first perfume that was bought for me by a boyfriend, ( shall we say I never had another bottle!) However I have worn another scent, not exclusively, since I was 18. I'd go as far as to say it was my trademark.

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    1. That's exactly right Suzie: a time and a place. We only have to smell the faintest scent of a familiar perfume/aftershave someone close to us used to wear and, momentarily, we're right back there...

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