Marketing to the Maxim Set, Cont.

Yesterday, in comments, we had a pretty cool conversation about the young men, cologne and body-spray. None other than Drakkar Noir came up, the weapon of choice for young boys of my era who were going for GQ, as opposed to Maxim. Drakkar was what you wore with your khakis, suede front and over-sized glasses.


A commenter was kind enough to link to some history:

Drakkar is significant for me because it was my very first fragrance, ever. I wore this a lot when I was in college in the late '80s, when Drak' was at the peak of its popularity. The smell was everywhere back then, especially at college parties, which reeked of the stuff (I also remember sillage clouds of Eternity For Women hanging in the air as well). Sure, I liked the way it smelled, but back then I didn't give a damn about fragrances. I wore Drakkar for one reason only: to meet girls. It could have smelled like Scotch whiskey for all I cared. As long as women liked it, I wore it. Those of you who were in diapers during this time may not understand this, but Drakkar Noir was considered a serious babe magnet back in the day. This sounds ridiculous nowadays, especially when you consider that most guys practically showered in the stuff back then. 

Drakkar Noir, however, was not the kind of fragrance you would want to douse yourself with. It was one of the early aromatic fougeres, and a stonking powerhouse. It had the transparency of lead. In fact, I believe it was one of the first fragrances to blend heavy amounts of leather with patchouli and oakmoss to create the supermasculine aroma that is so characteristic of '80s powerscents. It was the strongest cologne I'd ever smelled, and any more than just a few dabs from my splash bottle had me breaking a sweat. It had face-melting power, with 24-hour longevity and sillage that could kill a plant. Even with all this power, guys still bathed in it and the girls loved it, so of course I had to wear it. Actually, I used to apply it very sparingly, thereby preserving my sinuses and my sense of smell for later in life.

The "girls loved it" portion will be, no doubt, hotly disputed. But my (admittidly male-tinted) recollection was that it was a favorite. For what it's worth it's also Kenyatta's recollection--Drakkar or Cool Water. Of course always overdid it. We thought it was magic. We didn't know that the man wore the cologne, not the other way around.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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