How should James Bond smell? Interview with the publisher of the CHAP-magazine Gustav Temple
During our winter trip to the south of England, we managed to arrange an interview with Mr. Gustav Temple at his Lewes office, just a few miles north of Brighton. As the publisher of the CHAP, the hip men's magazine for a classic British lifestyle, he seemed to us to be a competent partner in terms of "scent enjoyment". The term "chap", which we only know in German as "guy" or "lad", is used in Britain for the gentleman of the 21st century, who no longer comes from the aristocracy but simply indulges in a lifestyle Motto "Expand your mind, refine your wardrobe".
The interview was conducted very British with several cups of tea on an old Chesterfield sofa. Mr. Temple turned out to be a very charming interlocutor, and the interview increasingly turned into a chat about the differences in perfume culture in Great Britain and good old Germany. We laughed a lot - and maybe finally answered the question: how should James Bond smell?
In preparation for this interview, we read your book "How to be a Chap". Now we know which movies a chap should have seen, which cars to drive, what to drink, eat and smoke. What we have missed, however, is a chapter on the topic: How should a chap smell?
Yes that's true. Until some time ago, we always joked that a chap should smell like whiskey, cigars and old leather. But since I've been immersed in the world of perfumes, it seems a bit more complex to me. Surely it will surprise you that I did not wear any perfume until two years ago. But meanwhile I'm obsessed with it.
Oh, how did that happen?
Somehow everything started when I met my girlfriend three years ago. It was her perfume that attracted me first, and I remember asking her what fragrance she wears. Later she said, when I asked her about her perfume, she knew that I was interested in her. Her scent triggered a very strong reaction in me. You may be attracted to women, but if the perfume a woman wears is wrong, the whole thing changes. It is really important. And I had not smelled the perfume before and I thought: I like that! That's attractive.
When we became a couple, I wanted to give her this perfume for Christmas. Since then I always give it to her for Christmas (laughs). But then she wanted to buy me a scent. And that's how we started. I mean, there are a million ways to start. So I started with the classic male fragrances like "Eau Sauvage" by Dior, which I like very much. And I discovered "Eight & Bob". It was made in Paris in the 1940s for John F. Kennedy and hidden in a book to get through customs. It was called "Eight & Bob" because it had eight bottles for him and one for Bobby Kennedy, and finally I found a modern fragrance that I really like: Tom Ford "Noir".
Where did you test the fragrances? In Germany, in cities like Brighton in the city center every 500 meters there is a perfumery for mainstream fragrances and at least two or three niche perfumeries. But we did not see one ...
Yes, all in all in the UK, the possibilities to try and buy perfumes are very limited. You can go to the drugstore, yes, but it's a closed and strange market. I do not think that perfume get enough attention from us.
Britain has a long tradition of perfume with big traditional perfume houses like Trumper, Penhaligon's, Floris etc.
Yes, but Trumper is also a good example of things that have never changed. Maybe that's why we have a different approach, so perhaps there are not that many perfumeries. The rich folks just go to Trumper, or Taylors of Old Bond Street. We have not detached ourselves from that yet. In addition to these traditional businesses, there are only shops in London where you can find the most common mainstream perfumes. Even the one my girlfriend wears (it's "Faubourg 24" from Hermes), I could not find in any store here! It was even hard to get it on the "High Streets" in London!
I think in Spain, France and Italy it is more common for men to wear perfumes. Because men are generally extravagant, especially in Italy. They think more about their clothes and they are well dressed. So it could be due to the fading of British extravagance.
We have tried some British perfumes and they are more likely to be made for the bankers of London. They do not scream: "Here I am, smell my perfume!" That may not be British.
Yes, maybe you are right. I have a Floris perfume here. It is "Floris 89", the perfume that James Bond is said to have worn, the character in the books. For me it smells more like a hand washing soap or something similar. More like a shampoo, for me it's not James Bond. Well, it's nice, but for me it's very feminine. It's fresh and citrusy, but it was not what I was looking for.
Sounds more like a "cologne".
I do not know how it is in German, but in English the word "cologne" is generally associated with male fragrances. You do not buy a man a "perfume", you buy a man a "cologne".
Oh, that's different in Germany. If you go to a German perfumery and ask for a cologne for a man, you will be shown only light and citrusy perfumes for the summer that are typical of an EdC. In Germany, the term "cologne" is only used to refer to the lowest concentration of a fragrance. But that has nothing to do with gender.
Okay, in the UK it would be very unusual to buy a man something called "Eau de Perfum". Maybe it sounds too feminine, I do not know. By the way, what do you think about unisex fragrances? This is absurd for me because I think there are two different needs for men and women.
Well, we do not pay attention if a perfume is made for men, women or both sexes. One of our favorite perfumes is "Patchouli", which is sold by Reminiscence Paris as a women's perfume. It is very dark and deep. The same company has also produced "Patchouli pour homme". And we tried that out and thought, "This is for women, it's much smoother, a bit sweeter and cleaner." For us, the "patchouli" sold as a womans perfume is much more masculine than the male.
Is that because women are more adventurous and imaginative than men? Did the company think it would be too risky to offer the women the "patchouli" to men, and they made a simpler, more conservative version of it? It seems to me that men are less adventurous in choosing their scents, they want something familiar.
Well, it could be, yes. It could also be that especially British men are not so adventurous - except, of course, James Bond! So, how do you think James Bond should smell?
I think James Bond would certainly wear a civet fragrance, very seductive, powerful and masculine - and expensive. Maybe that's why perfume is not so popular here. Everyone is obsessed with James Bond. He is a strong role model for masculinity in the UK. He has been a reference point since the 1950s and 60s. And I wonder if Daniel Craig - or whoever - would have put on a perfume in a James Bond movie, if fragrances would then become more popular. Because in the UK, perfume is somehow linked to femininity. This, too, is different in Italy, for example. No man expects to be considered homosexual just because he is well dressed. And it's the same with scent. Do you think that generally more German men wear perfumes, even the younger ones?
It seems so, yes. But it also seems that it is a development that is associated with a general development with attention for everything that gives enjoyment and uniqueness. Just as good wines are now given more attention, wine combined with chocolate or cigars, currently in Germany is just the pleasure of whiskey and gin in fashion. It is no coincidence that many new perfume companies have been founded in the last 10 to 15 years. And most niche perfumeries opened just a few years ago.
I wonder if there is a parallel between clothes and fragrance? From my point of view, everything I do with the CHAP magazine has something to do with a particular look, a specific way of dressing elegantly. And I wonder if there is something similar about the perfume. It could be argued that the approach to fragrances is the same as clothing, and that the chaps prefer the classic fragrances that were worn, for example, in the 1940s. They do not experiment, they would not experiment with a new type of pants. But is scent not a more personal thing? When I started, I assumed that I would like all the classic fragrances because I like classic clothes. But I was wrong. For example, I like Tom Ford "Noir" and I like "Eau sauvage" too. But it was not important that it was a classic.
Our experience is that sometimes classic perfumes smell very contemporary and vice versa. And, of course, hardly any scent is sold today that is made with the original recipe from the time it was first published, for allergic reasons, or because synthetic substances are cheaper ...
... or for ethical reasons. Today, civet is no longer extracted from the civet cat or musk from the deer ...
… Yes. But we are seeing some new perfume manufacturers trying to reinvent the older fragrances, such as Oriza L. Legrand, who produced perfumes until 1940, then closed and reopened in 2012, trying to get close to the old perfumes with contemporary recipes. We think that this development is linked to the retro movement, which is also a very young movement, people who buy old things, for example old phones and they use and so on.
Yes, but it seems that fragrance manufacturers have not yet come up with the idea to use it for their marketing work, although there is definitely a market for it if you associate it with the retro movement. It's the same with vintage clothes. 10 years ago, if you wanted to wear vintage style, you had to wear original vintage clothing. But today there is a new industry producing reproductions of old fabrics and patterns. There are dozens and dozens of new companies that make clothes in retro style. Why has not any perfume manufacturer targeted this market? Maybe it should be me!
Yes, that would be an idea! But first of all many thanks for the interview!
Interview: Marie de Winter & Ferdinand Sturm (Redaktion WinterSturm)