I have a love-hate relationship with cologne. I love the idea of the clap of a tart, citrusy cologne and how it wakes you as surely as jumping into a swimming pool. I love the luxurious ritual of a splash of cologne between shower and dress. In Perfumes: the A to Z Guide, Luca Turin summarizes it well:
A good cologne is the perfumery equivalent of a postconcert encore: brief, familiar to the entire audience, which sighs with pleasure when hearing the first notes; and completely devoid of any ambition beyond transient joy. It is also one of life’s absolute necessities, perfume for when you don’t feel like perfume, before going to bed, to splash on your kids after the bath and introduce them to life’s finer pleasures, etc. In short, cologne is a cleanser for the soul.1
How could you not want some of that?
Truth is, I’m the sort of person who bristles at too much sharpness. I bathe instead of shower, because I don’t like having to stand under an assault of pelting water. I’ll take the rambling drive through the country over the thrill of a racetrack any day. Although the idea of a brisk cologne appeals, I like to be woken gently.
So, I’m always on the search for a warm, gentle Eau de Cologne. Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini sounded like a contender. It launched in 2010, and its notes include Calabrian bergamot, Tunisian neroli, freesia, oolong tea, jasmine, blond leather, tobacco flower, gaiaic wood and musk. Its branding includes a typewriter, a glass of whiskey, and copy about writing. Maybe Oolang Infini was made for me.
Oolang Infini’s opening notes are all about bergamot. In the fragrance’s opening minutes, rather than the more delicate oolong tea, bergamot-inflected Earl Gray comes to mind. The bergamot is warm, thanks to a cushion of musk that grows as the cologne’s tingly citrus transitions to tingly jasmine.
Musk can be a touchy subject among perfume enthusiasts, and musk can smell so different, depending on what kinds are used. This musk isn’t the soapy laundry type of musk or the musk that smells like dirty skin. It isn’t that foul, peppery woody-musky headache inducer used in so many new perfumes, either. It’s the 1970s Bonne Bell or Coty Musk type of musk, warm and slightly chewy, and a nice counterpoint to Oolang Infini's bergamot and jasmine. A bit of bleached wood bolsters its edges.
Oolang Infini’s citrus and floral notes don’t make it past lunchtime on my skin, but the musk purrs quietly along most of the day. Don’t be shy about applying it. Once the initial citrus hit fades, the fragrance sticks close to skin.
Will Oolang Infini unseat my current warm cologne favorite, Rochas Eau de Rochas? No. But it’s nice to be able to know a musky cologne is out there if I need it.
How do you feel about classic colognes? Are you a fan? If so, which ones are your favorites?
A 200 ml bottle of Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini Cologne Absolue is $225; 100 ml is $150; 30 ml is $85; and a 2 ml sample $3. A soap ($20) and candle ($55) are also available. For information on where to buy Oolang Infini, see Atelier Cologne under Perfume Houses.
1. page 183, from the review of Institut Très Bien Cologne à la Française.