Smoky, herbal, dry, woody, leathery...what other signifier of masculinity could you possibly want in a scent? A shot of testosterone, perhaps? Maybe the bottle should sport a hairy chest merkin?
But wait, there's softness and powderiness, a familiar accord also in Bulgari Black, which has a leather/rubber/tobacco/powder effect that is so incongruous and sexy. Was BB influenced by Knize Ten?
Top notes: Bergamot, lemon, orange, petitgrain, rosemary
Heart notes: Geranium, cedarwood, rose, orris, carnation, cinnamon, sandalwood
Base notes: Leather, musk, moss, amber, castoreum, vanilla
(Perfumers: François Coty and Vincent Roubert)
It's my second day sniffin' Knize Ten and I have to say I have a totally different relationship to it today than I did yesterday. The first time I put it on, all I could notice was the leather, the toughness. Today? I’m picking up its floral nature, its softness, its freshness, and even some warmth and a smidgen of sweetness from the amber/vanilla in the drydown.
Knize Ten starts with a hot blast of birch tarry-leather, petitgrain* and rosemary, topping, so to speak, its bright top notes of bergamot/orange/lemon. Soon after, the woody-powdery center (sandalwood and orris) takes the perfume into a desert of dryness, while subtle aromatic cinnamon and spicy carnation provide a bridge to Knize Ten's smokey-leathery drydown. A touch of vanilla, amber and a menthol note (is the resiny, mentholated facet from cedarwood?) intervenes occasionally, but throughout, from top to bottom, a tough, tarry, smoky, rubbery leather is ever-present and my favorite part of this gorgeous leather classic.
Started in 1858 by a Czech military man named Joseph Knize (pronounced “kuhneesha”), Knize is a Viennese bespoke tailor/men’s clothing house that’s still kicking today. Knize Ten was released in 1924, the “ten” representing the highest handicap in polo, the chic sport whose images Knize used in its advertising. It’s been reformulated, I hear (this review is for the vintage) and may be a little less smoky or leathery, but it’s still supposed to be wonderful, and often on back order at LuckyScent. **
Knize Ten, like a young Marlon Brando, isn’t just macho. It’s beautiful. And it’s the touch of conventionally feminine notes alongside masculine ones that both soften and highlight Knize Ten's butch persona, the way Brando's feminine lips work with his whole masculine gestalt. (I had to say something about his lips. Sorry.)
I'd been waiting for a nice, dry leather, and I love Knize Ten.
*Bitter, earthy, woody, and herbaceous, petitgrain is the oil from the leaves, buds and twigs of the bitter orange tree ( citrus Aurantium). Depending on the variety of the tree/orange, its blossoms are used to produce neroli and its rind, bergamot or bigarade.