The first colognes I bought for myself were: Guerlain's Eau Impériale in a big “bee” bottle, Yves Saint Laurent's Pour Homme, Monsieur Balmain and Bijan Men (from the beginning of my perfume habit I did not practice restraint). I purchased all these colognes over 15 years ago at Christmastime in the beautiful Bullocks Wilshire department store in Los Angeles, so these scents bring to mind cool weather, holiday excitement, and carefree indulgence (I had just gotten my first “college” credit card).
Things change: the landmark Bullocks Wilshire building is now part of The Southwestern University School of Law, there's nothing carefree about my abundant credit cards, and living in Seattle means cool weather is not as special as it used to be. I began to wonder how my First Colognes (unsniffed in ages with the exception of Eau Impériale — a constant in my perfume arsenal) would smell in 2007.
Today, YSL's Pour Homme gives me a headache — caused, I think, by the duel-in-a-bottle between its carnation and patchouli notes (their fusillades keep hitting me right between the eyes). Monsieur Balmain smells less elegant and “pure” than it used to — the deep, natural and warm lemon scent that I remember from long ago does not match the brighter, lighter, rosier, and more ordinary, aroma of the current formula (and the new bottle and packaging look cheap to boot). But Bijan Men still appeals to me and smells exactly the same as I remember it. I was happy to rekindle the relationship and I bought a bottle.
Bijan Pakzad opened his shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in 1976 and the colorful Bijan “by appointment only” boutique is full of art and antiques and outrageously priced men’s clothes and accessories. The Bijan store is often described as “the most expensive shop in the world”. You may take a virtual tour of Bijan’s store at www.bijan.com; do note the chandelier in the main salon — its “crystals” are made of $1 million worth of Bijan Women perfume bottles (filled with real perfume bien sûr).
Bijan cologne for men was released in 1987 — at the height of 80's Exce$$, when being famous and rich and flaunting your fame and riches were not considered gauche, but inspirational. Advertising his clientele, Bijan had the names of some of his most loyal customers permanently engraved on the front window of the Bijan boutique. President Bush, Vladimir Putin, Paul Allen, John Kerry, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Tom Cruise and Tom Ford have all shopped at Bijan.
Bijan Men, the “classic” in a larger line of men's fragrances, contains: citrus, bergamot, rosemary, lavender, nutmeg, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, musk, amber and oak moss. The opening of Bijan Men is delightful: a spicy-floral blend of fresh lemon and bergamot spiked with balmy nutmeg. As Bijan Men develops, the citrus grows fainter, and bracing lavender, rosemary and vetiver come forward. There is a smooth transition from the herbal and grassy middle notes to a well-blended base of airy patchouli, light sandalwood, powdery musk and amber. As nutmeg heightens the opening of Bijan Men, oak moss gilds the base. Bijan Men's ingredients are held together gently, allowing individual notes to shine. Compared to the bold and scene-stealing Bijan Women, Bijan Men is calm and decorous (but not boring or predictable). Bijan Men's lasting power is very good.
I have always loved the Bijan-designed bottle: a round glass ring, topped with a stylized turban. The bottle is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute. Bijan Men won the Fragrance Foundation's FiFi Award for “Most Successful Men's Fragrance (Exclusive)” in 1988. Bijan Men is also available in body/hair shampoo, aftershave moisturizer and antiperspirant.