In the August 2008 issue of GQ, there is an expensive six-page advertising spread for AXE’s new Proximity fragrance line; these ad pages, showing model-actors wearing not only AXE body fragrance but clothes by Dolce & Gabbana, Paul Smith and Tom Ford, are positioned right before a GQ grooming article by Chandler Burr on nice-smelling deodorants called Give Up the Funk. Interestingly, among Burr’s deodorant picks (Mark Birley, $29, HM by Hanae Mori, $20, Tokyo by Kenzo, $18) is a plug for AXE Dry Sharp Focus — $5.
AXE’s Proximity print ads are aspirational — as in AXE aspires to attract an older, more affluent customer for its $5 body fragrances. But who in their right mind would think a man wearing a Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo for a night on the town would opt for an AXE Proximity fragrance? Hell, a man wearing that tuxedo could do much better than Dolce & Gabbana’s own fragrances. But I’m here to try what scents come my way, be they $5, $50 or $150. I got all three Proximity fragrances for under $10 and I approached them with an open mind and flared nostrils.
Proximity Bergamot smells like a typical sport fragrance; it begins with that familiar cold, metallic bergamot note we all know so well, then it goes into fresh musk-light wood territory. Proximity Bergamot is not unpleasant and it smells no less expensive than sport fragrances costing 10 times more that you’ll find at Nordstrom or Macy’s (in fact I find it just as wearable as Chanel Allure Homme Sport for one!) Since AXE is certainly making a profit with their $5 fragrances, we know we’re not paying for the bottle contents of designer fragrances of this type, don’t we?
Proximtiy Vetiver smells awful upon application, rather “rotten” and “cabbage-y.” A friend said: “It smells like vegetation breaking down!” — yes, the compost bin (is this what artificial vetiver smells like?) One can also detect hints of “fresh” notes (that quickly sour and become stale) and a note that smells of warm sea water. HOW did Proximity Vetiver get approved for sale in its current form? I won’t even use it as a room spray, and after reading the many warnings on the AXE can about the dangers of flammability and inhalation, and the possibility of heat-activated explosion (“CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE”…”can cause serious injury or death”), I don’t know HOW to dispose of the unused can in summertime! (For some added weirdness, watch the Huffing and Igniting videos at theaxeeffect!)
Proximity Amber smells like a fruity-fresh, lightly vanillic amber. When I let others smell Proximity Amber, the consensus was “It’s alright — but it smells cheap.”
Of the three AXE Proximity fragrances, Bergamot is the best, Amber is an average drugstore/discount fragrance and Vetiver is a nightmare. (After smelling Proximity Vetiver, the strong “teen” AXE scents smell downright pleasant.) All three AXE Proximity fragrances have decent lasting power but are not overpowering; they stay close to the body.
Compared to other over-designed/“decorated” AXE products, the silver and black Proximity packaging (a metal can with plastic top) is austere, but the nozzle that shoots out fragrance with the force of a water hose is still utilized (what comes out of the nozzle is more like “fog” or thick vapor than what you get from a normal natural spray atomizer).