It should not come as a surprise that a blog named Colognoisseur has an affection for cologne. As I began writing about perfume there was a concurrent re-interpretation of the lowly cologne. Over the last ten years the style has been given new life by many brands and many talented creative teams. One of the earliest brands to re-imagine cologne was Thirdman.
When Thirdman came onto the scene in 2012 they wanted to create a sense of mystery to go along with their colognes. Creative director Jean-Christophe le Greves centers the campaign around the first three releases with the query; “Who is the Thirdman?” I along with many others lauded the first three releases and wondered who the perfumer was. Thankfully M. le Greves gave up that secret with the release of the fourth Thirdman perfume Eau Nomade. The perfumer behind it all was Bruno Jovanovic. Before we get too much further, I must clear up the confusion on the name. When it was released in 2013 it was called Eau Nomade. Some years later it was changed to Eau Contraire which is how you will find it available now. With either name on the bottle it is the same cologne inside.
The Thirdman aesthetic was to stick to the classic citrus and spice cologne recipe but to use higher quality ingredients. For Eau Contraire the choice was blood orange and cardamom. There are a couple of other ingredients, but this is a cologne primarily about those two. It provides a cologne of the desert much as its original name portended.
It opens with lemon providing the sun high in the sky. This sets the stage for a high concentration of cardamom to take its place. There is a clever shift of actual citrus fruit to the lemon-tinged spice in the early moments. Blood orange comes next. In most fragrances the blood orange can get lost. When it is the featured player it gives it the opportunity to show off its richer facets. It creates a fantastic harmonic with the cardamom. In the base a set of white musks create a more expansive accord over the final development.
Eau Contraire has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.
Eau Contraire has become my midsummer Mad Dogs and Englishmen cologne. I keep a small decant in the refrigerator as a fragrant refresher. I’m not sure why M. le Greves hasn’t followed up with a new perfume in over four years. Because of that it is easy to understand why Thirdman Eau Contraire is Under the Radar.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
The smell of oranges is the smell of lazy summer days spent in the branches of orange trees near my home in South Florida as a boy. When done well there is almost no other smell which triggers as strong a scent memory as an orange focused fragrance. One of my five favorites is Diptyque L’Eau de Tarocco but I just included that in the recent Diptyque 101. I’ll give you five more of my favorite orange perfumes.
Probably the very first orange fragrance which triggered this atavistic memory was Hermes Eau D’Orange Verte. It wasn’t the perfume but the bath product which I was using at a luxury resort in the 1980’s. It had no label and I had to find out from the front desk the name. I bought a bottle upon my return home and it is still compelling nearly thirty years later. Perfumer Francoise Caron combines the full spectrum of orange notes on top of green muguet. It all produces an evocation of sitting among the leaves of the orange tree while peeling one open.
It would be twenty years until another orange fragrance would make a dent in my monogamous relationship with Eau D’Orange Vert. Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentree is arguably the simplest perfume in that collection. It succeeds in the same way an artist’s still life succeeds. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena paints in olfactory watercolors a still life of orange. It is given nuance by aldehydes, cardamom, and hay. It is the smell of a fresh ripe orange picked off the tree before cutting into it.
Roger & Gallet Bois D’Orange is one of my favorite bang for the buck orange fragrances as you can find 100mL bottles for less than $40. Perfumer Dominique Ropion was inspired by the gardens of Alhambra in Spain. M. Ropion takes that inspiration and provides an intense citrus accord led by the orange which is matched by an equally deep floral accord lead by jasmine and rose. There is also a prominent green underpinning to tie all of it together.
Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine was the first one I tried when Creative Director Sylvie Ganter introduced the line to me a little over five years ago. It is a brilliant orange cologne that has the bonus of lasting a long time on my skin because of the Cologne Absolue concentration. Perfumer Ralf Schwieger evokes that moment when I would bite into an orange and the juice would flow from my mouth over my chin. Using the green floralcy of geranium on top of a sandalwood base it is near perfect. Except the new Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale is now vying for my attention within the brand. The next time I do this list there might be a change here.
Thirdman Eau Nomade finishes my list and this one does not remind me of my youth. Perfumer Bruno Jovanovic uses a fabulous green cardamom in conjunction with blood orange as the nucleus of a cologne which is meant to remind one of a spice market. This is the one I keep in the refrigerator to wear on the most sweltering dog days of summer. It has become the olfactory equivalent of a cold glass of lemonade.
None of these suggestions will provide you with any vitamin C but they will all add some needed energy this summer. Give them a try if you haven’t already.
Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.