Grooming

When They Kill Your Fragrance

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It was woodsy, with hints of sandalwood, leather and a touch of citrus. It was clean, masculine, sophisticated and so very British. Grown-up. If it wasn’t “me” yet, it was certainly something my then twenty-three year old self aspired to be. Then and there, I bought my first bottle of what would become my signature scent for the next twenty years. It was called Sienna.

Sienna - Crabtree & Evelyn

A fragrance is the invisible accessory. Appealing to our basest animal sense, it can inspire intense like or dislike, attraction or repulsion. It can trigger a profound emotional response from a memory. To this day, I can’t smell Aramis without welling up because it was my father’s signature scent.

I never liked the super-popular, hyper-marketed fragrances that are easily and readily identifiable. Wearing something that everyone else wears diminishes its power and kills its specialness, no matter how good the scent essentially is. There’s no mystery. Polo by Ralph Lauren is really a beautiful cologne, but since it was so overworn in the 1980s by every Tom, Dick and Gordon Gekko wannabe, it’s ruined for me. Sienna was never mass-marketed with magazine sample ads. It wasn’t in the “cool” manual. It was unique. It was low on the radar. It was special. It felt like something only a select few knew about, at least on this side of the Atlantic. I got compliments on it every time I wore it. People always wanted to know what it was, which I loved, because it wasn’t identifiable. It was mine.

I never tracked how long a bottle lasted me, but I’m guessing it was a few months. Last time I ran out (a few months ago), I made my usual trip to Crabtree & Evelyn in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. When I entered the store, I couldn’t find it. When the salesgirl asked me if she could help me find anything, I just said “Sienna.”

“Oh, we discontinued it.”

Who? What? When? “Why?” I asked. She didn’t know why, telling me that it always sold well at that particular location. But she did tell me I could still order it online.

On my empty-handed walk back home that day, I tweeted Crabtree & Evelyn about it, expressing my disappointment. They responded by apologizing but also assured me they still had plenty online. So I ordered it. I was so depressed, I watched St. Elmo’s Fire on Netflix. Twice.

This past week, I spritzed my last spritz of my last bottle of Sienna. When I returned to their website to reload… No more.*

I can only speculate why Crabtree & Evelyn would screw me over like that. (Yes, I’m taking it personally.) Maybe the Excel spreadsheets at Crabtree’s corporate HQ told a grim story for Sienna, or maybe the ones making those decisions have no discerning taste. Whatever the reason, if I were in charge, I’d have my Sienna, I’d re-launch it’s long-gone companion room candle, and I’d restore the beautiful original bottle it came in before Crabtree played it cheap and put all their fragrances in the same anemic bottle design.

At 43, I’ve learned that everything eventually ends, even the good stuff. Although I don’t like it, I have accepted that Sienna is gone and that Crabtree & Evelyn is dead to me. But all is not lost.

For years, my runner-up for favorite maker of fantastic low-on-the-radar fragrances has been Royall Lyme from Bermuda. They make their namesake, Lyme, as well as Bay Rhum, Spyce, Mandarin, Rugby and a wonderful Vetiver. Since my former provider failed me, my Plan-B is now my Plan-A: Royall Lyme’s Muske. It’s fabulous.

Royall Lyme Bermuda

I can order it online from Royall Lyme’s website (www.royalllymebermuda.com), but an empty bottle gives me an excuse to visit my neighborhood friends at Fine and Dandy, who also carry the line. I have a new signature scent, and balance in my little universe has been restored.

A fun, fragrant footnote…

On rare occasion, when I ran out of Sienna and before I discovered the Royall Lyme line, I used to wear Pierre Cardin’s long-forgotten eponymous original men’s cologne. Introduced in 1972, it’s a very warm, sexy, ’70s scent that smells amazing. And since it hasn’t been marketed or advertised in decades, no one under 45 has ever heard of it. It still comes in its original ultra-phallic mushroom head bottle and… wait for it… you can get it at Rite Aid. You’re welcome.

pierre_cardin

Bonus Video

* I understand that there is some Sienna available on Amazon, but in light of their dirty and underhanded book nonsense with Hachette, I refuse to buy from them and would be delighted if others would consider practicing similarly principled discernment.

28 Comments

  1. I can feel your pain George. I remember having YSLs ‘Live Jazz’ in the late nineties, I absolutely loved it then but since I’m not such a “signature scent wearer” I juggled with an entire array of fragrances ever since. None of those came close to YSLs for me, I am no expert but I can only tell the blast of freshness it had was unmatched to me, pure nostalgia is how I think of it. So last year I decided to look for it again only to learn it was gone from the radar in my part of the world (Belgium), at least in retail and wholesale. It’s ‘Jazz’ (without the ‘Live’) brother/sister to me doesn’t even come close unfortunately. Maybe I should look into an online solution though I’m not really into buying that type of products online. Massively advertised fragrances are not really my cup of tea either for the same set of reasons you quote and I don’t know how heavily it was advertised at the time but if this baby were to be revived over here in that kind of manner, I would happily make it my guilty pleasure.

  2. Hey George,
    Have you heard of Moonshine? I heard about it some time ago on The Art Of Manliness. I received a bottle as a gift for Christmas a few years back and I love it. According to their website it is “A woodsy aroma with hints of spice: including notes of black pepper, tobacco, leather, gin, and patchouli.”

    You can find it at http://www.eastwestbottlers.com

  3. Once you find out your favorite frag is discontinued, you have to load up and scoop up as much as you can afford while it can still be found.

  4. I never really got into wearing a lot of cologne, but the ones that I do wear are usually hard to find or discontinued. The main things that I use is body wash, moisturizer and beard oil.

  5. Ivan Ratnayake Reply

    Music to my ears. I am in the same boat as you. I too have been wearing Sienna for year (before its Royal Appointment I think). I have 1/2 a bottle left, and its precious. I think there’s a bottle or 2 being sold on the US ebay
    With best wishes.
    Fellow Sufferer.

    Ivan

  6. David Gough Reply

    I too love Sienna and still have a precious 1/3 bottle.

    I emailed C&E to suggest they re-issue Sienne in a special range called “C&E Classics” or “C&E Signature Range”. I also pointed out that their current products seem to be designed for the younger market, and that they are alienating the traditional demographic. They could very quickly win back those who want that traditional “English Gentleman” fragrance.

    I received a response saying they would pass on my suggestion to the Marketing Department.

    Can I suggest a campaign to get C&E to consider this suggestion and bring back Sienna.

    Warm Regards, David

  7. Thanks for your post. I too love Sienna. I still have about 1/5 of a bottle, but I don’t want to use it up because I feel like it is like an elixir of life (silly I know). As long as I have some left I’m going to stay alive!! Because of what you wrote I tried Royall Lime. I love it!

  8. C. McCurdy Reply

    For me, it was Crabtree and Evelyn’s Patchouli cologne. Of course, C&E no longer makes it. I have a small amount left and don’t even use it so that now and then, I can smell the top of the sprayer on the bottle. I used the cologne, the soap, the lotion, and now alas it is gone. C&E is dead to me as well.

  9. Mine was Nomad, I can’t find it any where. I used the soap, lotion and shaving cream. I miss it.

    • Carolyn Ruth Reply

      NOMAD IS NOW CALLED Moroccan Myrrh. Same Formula! Indian Sandalwood is the same as Sandalwood. Just repackaged. I have always bought my man Sienna, and he has a stockpile for years to come. So sad they discontinued it. It is a wonderful scent…….

  10. Ironic you picked the Royall line, because it was gutted in 2010 as part of a buyout. The current USA made stuff is weak junk compared to the made in Bermuda original.

  11. I went through the same thing and am on my very last dribble of Sienna. 🙁

  12. nonformal@aol.com Reply

    hi boy’s, i used sienna shave soap und edt. after c&e was solde to a new US company the stupid managment killed sienna.
    c&e will become now a boring wellness company like all the others, lusch…
    if you has the possibility try “jf” by Floris and a lot of thinks are change in your mind, sienne is just a beautiful town in italy, the tree ist sawn and evelyn smells like teenspirit.
    best to all

  13. Sienna was a winner. So was the Sandalwood line. For me, the biggest single loss was the Sweet Almond Oil Shaving Soap, which was excellent. C&E abandoned some fine products; I haven’t shopped there in years, now.

    I wore Sienna only in cooler weather. My cool-weather lineup now comprises Trumper Spanish Leather, Woods of Windsor for Men, Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Shop, Aramis Tuscany, Lauren Safari, and Truefitt & Hill Grafton. That’s more than enough to keep me occupied.

  14. Have you tried Halston Z-14 as a replacement for Sienna? I find that it’s in the same ballpark. While I never used the Sienna cologne, I did go through a few pucks of the shaving soap and to me it’s similar enough (and affordable) that you might want to give it a go.

  15. I feel your pain. Floris killed my China rose, now it looks as though c&e are killing off Evelyn rose and nantucket briar in the UK. I’m so sad about it, just when I find a good rose they get culled and a good rose scent that actually smells like a rose and doesn’t give you a nose ache is so hard to come by.

  16. I picked up some Royal Lyme at my local Brooks Bros location last summer. While I too love the scent it just doesn’t last long enough on me. Perhaps it’s due to the sniffling heat & humidity here in Houston most of the year. However just last week I bought a small bottle of original Polo (green bottle). I haven’t even sniffed that stuff for 30 years. Guess what? Neither has anyone else so its fresh again. I read where its best to use in temps under 70 degrees and mercifully cooler weather has finally arrived down here. Low and behold, my wife loves it.

  17. Fans of C&E’s Sienna should check out Noble Isle’s ‘Whisky & Water’ products. They currently offer this scent in shower gel, hand soap, lotion and home fragrance. A friend in Germany discovered the hand soap in a remote pub in Scotland, and it immediately reminded me of Sienna, almost a dead ringer if not slightly better. Currently available in stores across the UK and Europe, they also ship internationally.

  18. Christopher Ramsey Reply

    Sienna remains my favorite fragrance. I was devastated when I learned they had discontinued it and, surprising, kept Nomad, a fragrance that as as much uniqueness as a pair of jeans. And i noticed a mention of C&E’s Patchouli. YES! The only Patchouli cologne on the market that wasn’t offensive. It had the layer of temperance that really elevated the scent.

  19. Ted Machnik Reply

    I miss Crabtree & Evelyn’s original fragrance for men which was also discontinued. What the hell! L’Occitane did the same thing with “4 Voleurs” I don’t get.

  20. For me, it was Crabtree & Evelyn’s Spring Rain. It was my signature scent for years and just like that it was discontinued. I haven’t found a new scent I like anywhere near as much. Wankers.

  21. I had the same experience, George, when I went to buy more Nantucket Briar bar soap this Christmas (they usually have great sales around that time, so I stock up). i was HORRIFIED to see that most of the line (including my bar soap) was discontinued. I am still in mourning. I have nine bars left and then my life is over. (Just kidding/not really.)

    I have no idea what to do. I tried ordering a “nantucket briar” scented bar soap by a maker on Etsy that had NO resemblance to the scent. C&E is dead to me as well. What are they thinking???

    As a side note, when I was younger I purchased that very Pierre Cardin fragrance. I’ve been known to check out the male fragrance zone in the past when I wanted a different scent to the flowery stuff I usually wear.

    My current new fragrance is Modern Muse La Rouge. They don’t make a bar soap. 🙁

  22. Joy, I feel your pain! For years, I used Nantucket Briar sachets/potpourri in my dresser drawers….then it disappeared. Just the other day, my oldest daughter was reminiscing about the way those drawers smelled, and how it was a part of her childhood memories. It broke my heart all over again that they stopped making it.

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