"Blue Stratos" by Luca Turin
To any sentient male born before 1960, being told that Blue Stratos is in production is like finding out that 1975 Alfa Giulia Coupés are still made in Moldavia, cost € 1200 new, are available in Positano Yellow and Amaranth, and can be ordered on the Web. The first reaction is awestruck joy and disbelief, the second intense suspicion: can such a monument of obsolete grace have survived all these years without being tampered with ? Only last week, unaware of this resurrection, out of my wife’s earshot, I was discussing with a friend the defining smells of our early lives: Old Spice until 1965, Pino Silvestre till Brut came along, then Agua Brava and Blue Stratos before Eau Sauvage set in. Old Spice was always a bit too boring, Pino Silvestre too much like pine-scented cleaner, Brut never the same again after the ban on Musk Ambrette, Agua Brava a mite aspirational and Eau Sauvage too horribly refined. But the one that really hit the spot came in a plain bristol blue bottle with a white gull diagonally across it and lower-case Helvetica lettering: blue stratos.
There was something about Blue Stratos that didn’t belong to the soapy, tuneless "after shave" idea, something childlike, halfway between talcum powder and vanilla sugar. You smelled it a few times on others and wondered what it was. It made you want more, like a little riff that turns a simple tune into a big hit. Later that night I was tempted to do a bit of dynamite fishing on Google to see which macerated relics of the past would float to the surface. Put in "Blue Stratos" between quotes to avoid secondhand Lancias, wait .11 seconds and there it is: The very same stuff, available from www.parfumsbleu.com!
An interview with Tim Foley, CEO, explains that the giant Procter and Gamble bought Stratos from Shulton, then "rationalised" its products. In the perfume industry, as in ancient Sparta, that means shooting the old and the lame. Blue Stratos came up for sale. Foley borrowed money from everyone and bought the whole thing for the price of a semidetached three-bedroom house in Far North London. The sample came in the mail this morning, and I opened it with trepidation. Would it work ? Perfumes are tricky creatures, the smallest change is like a typo in a password: nothing happens. Ten minutes later, the Doors of Memory had opened wide. Blue Stratos is risen.