Green Water Vintage Eau de Cologne (Jacques Fath)

As quoted by Luca Turin, Guy Robert's statement "Un parfum doit avant tout sentir bon" translates as "A perfume must above all smell good". Both Yahoo BabelFish and Google Translate tweak the results to read, "A perfume must above all feel good". The verity of both statements is proven in the thrift trenches, where one might pluck an unlabeled fragrance sample out of a mixed assortment and sigh with joy the moment the stopper comes out. Lack of knowledge about its provenance or pedigree does little to mar one's enjoyment of its beauty; a single inhale provides irrefutable truth.

Exhibit A: an unassuming little green glass bottle, barely two inches high, discovered on an antique store counter top. Nothing but a weathered black-and-gold label reading Eau de Cologne 80° hinted at its contents. One twist of the white plastic cap, however, made up my mind. Did I really need to know who produced this delicious stuff? (Of course I did-- but my curiosity was easily satisfied by turning the bottle upside down -- replacing the cap first, thanks! -- where tiny raised letters declared "J. Fath, France".)

Designed in 1947 by Vincent Roubert, the original Green Water is a wonderfully refrigerated aromatic fougère with pronounced mint, basil, and sage notes against a fresh citrus backdrop. It goes on like strongly-brewed (and ice-cold) Moroccan mint tea-- and as it dries down, it follows the tea-drinker's adage:
Le premier verre est aussi amer que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour,
le troisième est aussi doux que la mort.

(The first glass is as bitter as life,
The second glass is as strong as love,
The third glass is as soft as death.)
That is to say, Green Water's first act is sharp and bracing with a keen icy edge of mint; its second act increases in warmth and vivacity as tones of basil and sage assert themselves, and its drydown is a mere whisper of lavender and musk, quiet and elegaic.

Men are lucky. Their fragrances are made -- and priced -- to be splashed on sans inhibition, while we ladies are constrained to careful sprays and strategic dabs. Green Water is undoubtedly meant to fill the hollow of the palm and be lavished on in large measures. But my bottle is small, and my habits are ingrained. I am enjoying it one minty-cool touch at a time... and dreaming of a much larger green glass bottle hidden somewhere in the depths of the antique store.

Next time, next time.

NOTE: Green Water was completely reformulated and relaunched in 1993. I haven't tried it yet, but according to this review of both fragrances on Now Smell This, the new version appears to be a completely different beast. I'm looking forward to tracking it down to see how it measures up to my little bottle, which (from its condition and details) appears to date from the late '60's.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, petitgrain, lemon, orange, peppermint, rose, lavender, basil, clary sage, tonka bean, musk