I have been going through my samples trying to make some sort of a catalogue so that I can actually be able to go back and find what I really want. So I came across this vial I knew I had but haven’t touched for ages: having something is not enough, you must also be able to know where it is.
Gravel – A Man’s Cologne
This is as hard to get as it gets and as historical. Gravel was composed by Michael Knudson in 1957, a chemist from New Jersey. He got his big break when Dave Garroway, original host of the Today Show, discovered this scent and presented it on television. Gravel was an effort to attract men in wearing cologne. To make his product more unique and distinctive, Knudson added real gravels inside every bottle. The bottle design and logo were classic but today look like something out of Tom Ford’s Private Blend series.
The humble rocks inside each bottle aspired to promote the idea of manliness and ruggedness, something necessary to sell perfume to men at the time. I do not know how well the perfume and packaging performed in sales and how much the Today Show promotion helped. Enough to keep Micael Knudson blending, bottling and gravel-filling these beautiful bottles I guess. At least up until a few years ago Gravel was sold at a modest price form the man himself and he even had a contract with First in Fragrance for selling his perfume online. This is where I got my sample from.
Unlike what one would expect from the name and packaging, Gravel is not the monster scent of masculinity. It is a sweet, powdery sandalwood scent with a citric kick. It is very soft with mild projection, but I can witness that the sandalwood used is of excellent quality. It reminds me of the salty sandalwood in Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Santal Noble. Overall it smells like Paul Sebastian PS or Lancome Sagamore. I would say that Gravel is not so much a man’s cologne. A Gentleman’s Cologne would be more fitting and it is certainly a scent that could be worn by women.
It will not be worn any more though. Michael Knudson was mixing and selling Gravel well into his late 90’s. A passion and dedication I cannot help but envy and admire. He has now passed away, and with him Gravel has been forever (?) discontinued. Perhaps I am a purist but I find a strange sense of dignity and true artistic endeavour in the idea of a perfume being hand blended and bottled by the perfumer and eventually being discontinued with his death. The world of perfume and fashion have suffered enough from the death of creators who have been forced to haunt the world of the living with products that bear the name of the original creators and nothing much from their spirit, in a way that makes their name rattle meaninglessly like a chain.
Notes from Parfumo: Balsamic notes, Resins, Woods, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Citric notes
Notes from my nose: Lemon, Sandalwod, Salt, Earth, Powder
MemoryOfScent by Christos Karageorgos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.