Monday, July 12, 2010

Unlocking an Unknown - Mr. Webber Parfum 6T

I am an occasional visitor to estate sales, but I never find much perfume. So when Carol of WAFT revealed that she had discovered a treasure chest full at a sale she stumbled across (she was tipped off by a friend, actually -- I should have such friends) I was, I’ll admit it, a little envious. Who wouldn’t be, with these untold riches -- full bottles of vintage classics, stored properly and still good?  But that’s not all. The man whose estate this was was a chemist. He concocted the scent of Pine-Sol (and generations of Tijuana bartenders and clip-joint operators are still thanking him for that). He left behind a series of mysteries; pretty frosted bottles of perfume bearing the logo pictured, which we’re calling “6T.”
Carol came up with this joint blogging project, most interesting because there are no published lists of “notes,” no reviews, no posts. In other words, no cheat-sheets -- not that I would ever resort to such things --  for 6T. 
Well, here goes.
I’ve had my bottle for about a month. It’s perfume strength. As soon as I unstoppered the bottle I thought, “It’s a chypre!” 
I have a few vintage chypres. They were the first stop on this long road for me. They conjure up visions of 40’s movie stars, big dramatic gestures, “don’t mess with me” stares hiding untold passions, and so on.  I wondered how this scent would compare to the originator of the Chypre genre -- Coty Chypre -- and one of its close relatives, vintage Givenchy III (GIII). I tested all three, on blotter and skin. 
First the blotters. 6T opens cool, GIII woody, Chypre with the classic bergamot. The three perfumes differ in trajectory. The 6T morphs rather quickly into a kind of lemony-floral note, while the GIII seems to become harder, more stern, and then takes a swipe at the spice cabinet -- which is over very quickly. The Chypre is still bergamot, meanwhile.
All three eventually arrive at a floral midrange, with differences. The GIII I’d call “Hello, Miss Dior!” -- vintage, that is; there is a gardenia or jasmine bloom. The Chypre is still “chewy” (all real Chypres have that quality to me) with previews of oakmoss. The 6T is coming up with a maddeningly elusive note. It’s a little bitter. A little fruity, maybe even melon-y; I can’t put a name to it. 
On skin, these are similar to the blotter analyses, but faster. The 6T is already leaving the bitter/fruity/melon behind to arrive at its final drydown. The Chypre is still bergamot and oakmoss, with florals beginning to creep in around the edges. The GIII has regained a little spice and is on its way to a woody drydown.
I think that 6T is a lovely fragrance, and I wish it lasted longer on my skin. Perfume strength normally hovers close, but after about half an hour, I can only smell it by pressing nose to wrist while, meanwhile, the Chypre is still lean and mean, just getting started and the GIII continues its descent into the woods. 
I’ve worn 6T several times, night and day. I decanted some to spray onto a shirt. That lasted longer, but remained very "close."  I asked a friend, who has fragrance-retaining skin, to try it. Her report: pretty much the same as mine, except that she could smell it pressing nose to flesh for several hours, longer than I could.  The drydown, on both of us, was a basic chypre ending, with resins and a bit of patchouli and a little echo of that melon-like fruit.
I wonder if Mr. Weber was working on a formula for a modern chypre, one with the general structure intact but a little bit of “modern” added, perhaps a touch of melon  in there somewhere. That’s what I suspect.
I would think 6T would be a perfect fragrance for getting around the office perfume-o-phobes. It would be your secret. “Hey, office nanny! I’m wearing perfume, hahahahahah!” 
So, leave a comment: Why do you want a bottle? 
Photo by Pat Borow, © 2010 all rights reserved.
Check with WAFT  for deadlines and other information about the contest.

“Unlocking an Unknown” is a joint blogging event. The other bloggers are:
Bloggers Links 


Suzanne said...

Hi Pat,

You found this very similar to the way I did, except that I got lots of bergamot, a bit of spice, and no fruit/melon note. I decanted some of mine into a spray bottle, too, and it definitely expressed itself more under that type of application.

Changing subjects, I was bowled over by the paintings you did for your Mystery of Musk posts. Especially loved the nudes -- gorgeous!

Ines said...

It seems I'm lacking a bit when it comes to chypres, I never made the connection. :)
I also got a bitter vibe from it at some point - and lucky me, it lasts a lot longer on me even though it stays very close to skin.

carmencanada /Grain de Musc said...

Definitely a chypre, but I see that you found, like me, that it was actually a discreet, wispy little thing, when compared with two much more forceful juices.
Just wondering if you know the age of your Coty? I find them quite different depending on the vintage...

olenska said...

Your three-way comparison experiment was a very novel approach to the mystery of 6T-- a process of deduction, true sleuthing. (I wonder if the lime-zest note I found is akin to the fruity-bitter note you mention-- I agree there was an interesting touch of bitterness, maybe from the pith of the peel? Hm.)
Great review!
:) Meg

Josephine said...

I want a bottle because of all the blogs that are involved in this 6T project, none of the reviews are similar. Certainly, I could wear the perfume ten different times and provide ten completely different impressions.

6T must be related to my moody nose.

What could be more intriguing than a close-to-the-skin, aldehydic, floral,salty, Leave It To Beaver chypre?

I'm on a serious chypre binge and 6T needs a loving home.

Olfacta said...

Hi Suzanne...what a nice thing to say! Thanks!

It is interesting that people are having such different reactions to this perfume. I'm wondering if it was a labor of love, a hobby product, or a fragrance he was tinkering with that didn't quite make it to market.

Olfacta said...

Hi Ines -- Never fear, it took me quite awhile to recognize chypres and then it was "aha!"

My skin eats fragrances. Always has, always will, I guess.

Olfacta said...

Hi D --

I think my bottle of Chypre is from the 70's. Soft cardboard box, etc -- I researched it when I got it last year but can't remember all the indices now. It's an EDT but is very strong, very "chewy" and essentially takes no prisoners.

I have a sample I got from Suzanne before I bought the bottle. I'll find it and compare the two. Interesting!

Olfacta said...

Hi M --

Thanks! It seems that 6T is one of those fragrances that smell different to different noses.

Olfacta said...

Hi J --

Ah the memories -- my first perfume binge was for vintage chypres. Good luck!

queen_cupcake said...

Ahh--you did the paintings? Wow!

I would love a bottle of this mystery parfum because most of the modern fragrances I try just are not doing it for me. Vintage chypres are what I crave most, and this one intrigues me. Also, 6T would be appropriate for me because soon I will be...60.

queen_cupcake said...

I want a bottle of 6T because I love chypres, and because most of the chypres I own have too much sillage for me to wear around work. Besides, the name "6T" is calling to me...

Prosetry said...

Mmmm, a vintage chypre. I want a bottle so I can squirrel it away with my tiny and lucky-found bottle of vintage Bandit parfum. It can hold court in my WW2 ammo box/perfume storage case with my barely-there dregs of a 1970s bottle of Cabochard bath oil (which is, by far, the most beautiful Cabochard I've ever smelled). It can be there for me to sniff-test against my tiny sample of vintage Mitsouko parfum, or just pulled out randomly during the afternoon for me to breathe in and enjoy the fleeting bitter-greenness and elegance of a real, full-bodied chypre.

I guess I don't know if I care what the mystery scent is, just that I can have these tiny reminders of a soon-to-be-lost genre.

When my little girl (who is a tottering baby, though already sneaking perfume bottles off my shelf with chunky little hands) is a full-grown perfumista, these relics will be all I have left to uncap and share, to show her a lost art, the richness and depth of banned oak moss, the long-forgotten, real chypre that these new pink chypres don't hold a candle too.

I mean, all this if I don't run out by wearing it lavishly whilst playing movie siren dress-up.

Also, you've made it sounds fascinatingly maddening. I DO want to guess what it is! I can't imagine a perfume fan wouldn't!

I have a mystery bottle myself, that a friend received in a blind scent test in an alleyway behind a church in London...I have no idea either! Anyway, it just has CLE written on the bottle and I have NO IDEA what it is. Perhaps I should send YOU it. Your nose seems to be a bit better than mine!

Tamara*J said...

Hello all!

Please enter me in the drawing for the mysterious 6T.

I would love to have something so unique and special in my growing collection of scent.

I think as we just delve deeper and deeper into olfactory creations of the past and present, it just gets more interesting and the rewards of discovering a fragrance we appreciate are greater.

And then we want to share it with others and that is why I consider this not just some frivolous hobby but an exquisite art form, with my skin as the canvas.

Truly, Tamara Jackson

Olfacta said...

Hi QC -- I think this is a great "stealth" scent. Good luck!

Last night I did some math and figured out that I'm actually a year younger than I thought. Will be in a good mood all day.

Olfacta said...

Hi Prosetry -- Suzanne (Perfume Journal -- there's a link to it on my blog here) is much better that this kind of sleuthing than I am -- make sure you leave a comment on her blog, who knows?

Sad to think these perfumes will be relics by the time your girl is grown. I have my mother's 1960-vintage Arpege and Moment Supreme and I treasure them.