|Ralph Lauren Holiday, 2005|
When I started writing about vintage perfumes here I called it "The Lost Perfume Series". I felt that some these treasures from our perfume past were not only gone, but close to being forgotten. Or in the case of bad reformulations, their true nature was being forgotten. Then there are the ones that truly slipped through the cracks of time, and most people don't even know they existed.
Case in point: Tuxedo by Ralph Lauren. The 1979 follow up to Lauren's classic (now badly reformulated) Lauren, meant as its evening counterpart. It didn't live to see much of the 80s. Amelia on The Vintage Perfume Vault shares her thoughts about why Tuxedo was a flop. I agree with her about the gender confusion, to a degree. But I think it's also an issue of brand identity. Back in the 1970s and even today to a degree, despite Lauren's Black Label line and evening wear, the designer's image is horsey and outdoorsy. Is the woman who aspires for the life depicted in the original Lauren ads the same as the one who buys a leather-floriental named Tuxedo? A woman in a tuxedo is very YSL, not necessarily Ralph Lauren's customer.
Which brings us to the perfume itself, the lost Tuxedo. The bottle is a black version of the classic preppy Lauren, with a red logo. It's the only color combination possible for this dark and sexy beauty. It hits you from the very first whiff with a vintage vibe that was probably already considered dated by 1979 (the seventies seem to have been more about green chypres than about smoky leather ones). I smell the oak moss right away, a leathery moss or a mossy leather. It's probably due to the perfume's aging that it takes a bit for the floral bouquet to unfold and show its grandness. The blend is smooth and quite seamless, an animalic floral fortified by wood and a sweet thick ambery base. It hints towards the big-boned florientals of the approaching decade, but in my opinion Tuxedo is superior.
There's certainly a gender-bending element here. The aged leather, hints of a smoky library with its worn Chesterfield couch and a glass of aged cognac are not necessarily a typical seventies or eighties perfume, which is another reason to love and appreciate Tuxedo. It was unique back when it was created and it's even more special now. I think of it as an incredibly romantic perfume. How ironic it is that Ralph Lauren's anemic, scrubbed-clean Romance is the one that people know and recognize everywhere, while Tuxedo is lost forever.