Antaeus by Chanel

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Image from Chanel.com

Antaeus is eau de toilette for men launched in 1981 for the men of 80’s, who “were more prepared to assert their masculinity, but were no longer afraid to admit to their softer side.” It looks like Chanel sees a symbol of a “powerful, but not invincible” hero, who is “masculine without being macho” in the name of Antaeus (quotations from Chanel website).

According to Greek mythology Antaeus was a son of Gaia and Posseidon – a very strong and invincible hero, who could draw his power from his mother Gaia (earth) by touching her. Antaeus challenged men to wrestling matches and killed them collecting their skulls to build a temple for his father Poseidon. Heracles who was another ancient hero had puzzled out the secret of Antaeus and conquered him while holding in the air without chance to touch the earth.

The duality of Antaeus as a symbol of powerful but not invincible masculinity can be found back in the fragrance. It’s a contrast between tender sweet floral accord and bitter aromatic leather. Although the fragrant pyramid is very common to describe a fragrance I don’t think it will be suitable for Antaeus. Two contrasting layers seem to be a better option.

The tender layer has a heart of classic jasmine-rose bouquet freshened with myrtle and just some citrus, warmed with a touch of spice like coriander and sweetened with honey and basil.

The masculine leather consists of aromatic herbs like lavender and sage on a base of patchouli, labdanum and oak moss. Its bitter character has some resemblance with clean men’s sweat. Within the contrast of those two layers is the perfume pretty linear. There is no fresh citrus opening – you smell the competition between sweet floral and aromatic leather from the begin till dry down. They play with each other seeking for the limits of balance and contrast.

I do agree with Chanel classifying Antaeus as leather aromatic. I do also understand why it’s classified as woody chypre on Osmoz (www.osmoz.com). It has the resemblance with the contrast between dark mossy notes and fresh bergamot notes that is very characteristic for chypres.

After the launching in 1981 it becomes very popular within the gay community. It was a number one gay man scent. Was it because of its name creating two naked muscled Greek heroes wrestling with each other? Or because of the time when the prejudice of being gay if you are not hide your feminine side was still alive? The metrosexuality was in its infancy…

The modern public opinion is positive about Antaeus. Luca Turin gives it four stars and calls it woody masculine. Although he finds it more appropriate as a woman’s fragrance these days. The opinion on the basenotes are mostly positive. My personal opinion about this one is positive two. I do like its classic floral accord without sweetened with honey instead of vanilla. I do like its aromatic leather, although I’d prefer fragrance with soft smoky suede as a leather note. I do like the balance between both accords. It has an interesting resemblance of it’s aromatic notes with clean men’s sweat. It’s a nice dark elegant perfume, but it has got easily tamed on my skin and I stopped recognizing it very soon. It’s still a nice finishing touch, but at the same time it’s too common, too routine for a dark leather perfume lover these days. No doubts it is worth to try a couple of times more before I make my own verdict.

The perfumer: Jacques Polge

Fragrant pyramid according to Chanel:

Top: Myrtle from Esterel, Alpine Lavender

Heart: Clary Sage from the Caucasus

Base: Cistus Labdanum from Esterel, Beeswax absolute from France, Indonesian Patchouli



Russian version: click here

Why self made hair gel? Well, first of all because I find it interesting to figure out what a hair gel is made of and to reproduce it. Another funny thing is that I decide myself what I put in – I chose what colour, fragrance, preservative and even the thickness I need. I can avoid unwanted components or put some herbal infusions or essential oils turning it into a hair masker.

The basic components of each gel are very simple – water and gel forming substance. Colouring, fragrance and preservative could be added. Glycerine is used for the wet look gels. For my gel I have chosen a recipe from www.hekserij.nl where I have also bought all the ingredients mentioned.

As a gel forming agent I used a sodium carbomer (aka sodium acrylate or PNC 400). It’s a white hygroscopic powder, that can tie and hold water forming a gel. Sodium carbomer is recognized as a safe chemical. The recipe advice to use 6 drops of fragrant oil to give this gel a nice smell. My personal idea was to enrich this gel with essential oils and give my hair a nice treatment each time I use the gel. As for fragrance – don’t need it in gel – it supposed to be a hair modelling agent and not a perfume. I have chosen the combination of the most popular essential oils for the hair care – camomile, sage and rosemary. Those herbs can be also used in form of water infusion that replaces the water. Traditionally camomile is used for the blond hair – in combination with sunlight it can lighten the hair. Sage is traditionally used for dark hair and rosemary is a natural antidandruff agent. I used a mixture of all three. To make a mixture of essential oils and water I needed an emulgator – an agent that helps mix water and oils, because it has affinity to the both liquids. LV 41 (aka PEG-40 or Hydrogenated Castor Oil) is a perfect one suitable for making a gel. To prevent the mould growth and decay I used parabens mixture – a preservative with a controversial reputation.

The procedure is very simple – I put 30 drops of LV41, 15 drops of parabens, 6 drops of sage, rosemary and camomile essential oils mixture into a gel pot and added 100 ml of hot (70 C) water. Than I poured 1 g of sodium carbomer while stirring. Lid on the pot and shaking well till it doesn’t splashes anymore. It looks granular at first, but left till the next day it become a nice gel.

You can see what I´ve got on the image. Well – it’s a kind of LIGHT gel – you can’t make a Mohawk haircut with it. But it’s perfect modelling agent for the soft thin hair that fall apart each time after washing and don’t hold any form.


Knowing by Estée Lauder.

This fragrance is introduced in 1988 as a sophisticated and distinctive fragrance for a mature, refined and self-confident woman. It's served in a bottle resembling to the piece of crystal to please your every sense according to Estée Lauder.

Estée Lauder classifies this fragrance as a woody floral. Turin & Sanchez in their guide describe it as rose chypre. Well, it's definitely a rose and it's woody. Even oriental woody I'd say. Not sure about chypre as I can't recognize it behind the rose curtain.

Estée Lauder gives the following pyramid for Knowing:

Top Notes: Rose, Tuberose, Mimosa, Plum
Middle Notes: Jasmine, Patchouli, Orange Flower
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Amber

Some other sources mention also spices like coriander, laurel and clove; melon, orange and aldehydes in the top; cedar as a part of woody component. Well – enough ingredients to compose your own bouquet.

My own olfactory experience is – it's all about the rose. Beautiful fresh petals of a dark red evening rose are sinking in a sultry syrup of floral honey and ripe fruit to the bottom of sweet woody amber. It's stupefying viscous and enshrouding directly from the opening. It's pretty linear and doesn't change much from top to the base, except may be the ambery honey sweetness that gets stronger. Knowing has a good sillage.

Summing up the opinions of perfume experts, I can say that this fragrance is appreciated for its finely balanced composition, complex structure and sillage. It's described as lush, European styled and multi-coloured. Five stars at Turin&Sanchez guide.

A good friend of my is using Knowing and I always like to catch a train of it when she is passing by. Really attractive. I completely agree with Estée Lauder's recommendation to use this perfume for a mature refined woman with a touch of class. This perfume gives me a feeling of a warm fond embrace – the one my mother gave me when I was a child.