I was browsing in a Paris antique shop one winter afternoon when a fitted leather train case caught my eye.
It contained silver-handled brushes, boot hooks, a straight razor, several silver-stoppered glass bottles.
One bottle was different. Encased in yew-wood, with a handwritten date: 1903.
Inside the bottle, there was still the faint aroma of a gentleman's cologne. Custom-made for a rich traveler a century ago.
Curiosity was eating at me. I bought the case and sent the bottle to a laboratory for analysis. They broke down the residue by gas chromatography. Identified its fingerprint through spectrophotometry.
The report said: an"old woody fougère." Clean citrus notes, bergamot, "green notes." The middle notes: clary sage, cardamom. The dry-down: leather notes, smoky labdanum… elemi, tabac, frankincense.
The detective work was impressive. So is the thing itself. Women like the way it smells on a man. Like a symphony that begins loudly, then soon slides into subtle, entangling developments that grow on them.
Or so I've been told.