This month, the Yankees introduced a new men's cologne (a women's fragrance will also be available at Macy's soon; it's already available at Yankee Stadium). Here's how they describe the "New York Yankees™ Eau de Toilette":
The New York Yankees™ fragrance epitomizes the winning style of the greatest team in baseball, capturing a sporty and confident attitude.
This fresh, woody scent introduces an invigorating blend of sparkling Bergamot, Coriander and cool Blue Sage. As it evolves, the fragrance reveals a fusion of crisp Ivy Leaves, Orange Flower and Geranium enhanced with rich earthy Patchouli, smooth Sandalwood and Suede to create a timeless, masculine scent.
Who could resist? Earlier this week, I went out to Macy's, bought the smallest bottle of men's cologne I could find (1.7 ounces), which cost me $53.35. Then I assembled a panel of experts and had them take a sniff.
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Pffffshhhh! There's the first spray, and here's what they smell in those first few seconds ...
Michael Carl, Vanity Fair fashion market director: "This is like when you walk into the gym locker room and this is whatever random fragrance they have. It's like the one they just sprayed and I walk into it and I'm like ‘Oooh, intense fragrance!' But? it's also not upsetting. It's really a generic kind of scent."
Chandler Burr, former perfume critic for T: The New York Times Style Magazine and the current curator of olfactory art at the Museum of Art and Design: "They've put in a classic masculine fresh. It's verrrrry much a masculine trope that started in 1986 with Drakkar Noir that used a clean clothes and freshly showered deodorant scent as the default masculine model."
Nick Axelrod, senior fashion news editor at Elle: "I guess this is what guys want to smell like? It's very much like any of those drug-store fragrances."
But after a few seconds, another smell starts to come through … and our panelists look pretty intrigued.
Burr: "This is … wow! It's really startling to me because it's overlaid—that [masculine] model is overlaid with a huge amount of sweet fruit."
Axelrod: "It's sweet! Oh my god, there's like a lot—there's a lot of tropical fruit. There's this weird, subversive fruity smell. Wow, this is a fucking gay smell for a Yankee."
(Axelrod, by the way, is gay.)
Burr, after taking another big sniff: "This is absolutely the pitch perfect Justin Bieber hit. You get a perfectly constructed pop hit that stays resolutely within the boundaries of comfort and familiarity but has a great hook. The boundaries of comfort and familiarities are the 1980s late 20th century masculine and the hook is a very sweet fun fruit—like a raspberry. It's the Justin Bieber of scents—if you could bottle Justin Bieber this would be it."
Axelrod: "There's a Sex and the City episode where Carrie gets with the Yankee. This scent epitomizes that scene in Sex and the City. She gets the Yankee phone number. This is the smell of that moment. This is the smell that mingled between her Nina Ricci and his Polo—whatever a Yankee wears."
But wait, what's happening to that masculine part?
Axelrod: "You lose that beginning part. Whatever masculine pretension the fragrance had completely disappears within the first five minutes and you're left with—remember that gum? The striped one that lasted for like 10 minutes? It had a zebra on the packet."
Pinstripes, meet Fruit Stripe.
And who's the target audience?
Carl: "Someone in Staten Island?"
Burr: "I think it's perfect for a kid anywhere from 15 to 25."
Axelrod: "Maybe I want to wear this? It smells like bubblegum. It smells like candy! It's smells like your boyfriend's candy or something. As a gay man you're always looking for the new or the next thing, right?"
But whenever you're talking about the Yankees, the conversation inevitably comes back to one thing—money. Our panel did not like the price.
Carl: "For $30 I wouldn't buy it, but I wouldn't fault someone for buying it. But for $50? I would fault someone."
Axelrod: "Fifty Dollars! For that small thing? That's crazy. I would say that would be like $30. Seriously, $50? It's way overpriced."
The New York Yankees™ Eau de Toilette, in sum: Justin Bieber in a bottle; pretensions of masculinity but ultimately fruity; way overpriced. Smells about right.
Image by Jim Cooke