Pinaud Clubman After Shave Lotion is a celebrated fragrance that is particularly popular in the USA. It boasts a pedigree of over 200 years and is often enjoyed by traditional shaving enthusiasts.
Read on to learn about Pinaud Clubman After Shave Lotion’s history, composition, seasonality and value for money. This review will use the Bespoke Unit Fragrance Formula to provide a full evaluation of the fragrance and its characteristics.
Before evaluating the product itself, it’s worthwhile exploring the brand’s history to better understand its heritage. Scroll down to keep reading. Alternatively, you can alternatively just jump straight to the review below.
Pinaud Clubman’s History
Firstly, Pinaud Clubman claims a long history dating back to 1810. However, this is something of a exaggeration. For instance, Edouard Pinaud himself wasn’t born until around 1810 and didn’t begin business until 20 years later.
In 1830, Pinaud teamed up with chemist Émile Meyer and they bought a small Parisian perfume shop, À la Corbeille Fleurie. He took over the Legrand Perfume House, which had been established since around 1810. This was a major distillery and provided him the means to export his products abroad.
Edouard Pinaud prospered by exporting his fragrances to the emerging American market throughout the 19th Century. His Eau de Quinine hair tonic was especially successful and was supplied to barbershops across the country.
Pinaud’s Encounters With Royalty & Prestige
Furthermore, he received much critical acclaim through his association with Queen Victoria. During an official visit in Paris in 1855, he and his associate created a soap especially for her. They were instantly rewarded and became official suppliers to the Royal Court. Soon later, they would also be supplying royalty in Japan, Russia, The Ottoman Empire and the remaining aristocrats in France.
Sometime later, Pinaud and Meyer opened a new store in Paris and released their flagship aftershave, Lilac Végétal. They received awards in both London (1862) and Paris (1867). Following Pinaud’s death in 1868, Meyer continued the business in his name and partnered with his son-in-law, Victor Klotz.
Together, Meyer and Klotz would open a new factory, new boutiques and move the headquarters to 37 boulevard de Strasbourg, Paris. Their popularity grew and they found themselves rivalling prestigious brands such as Guerlain.
Due to the high cost of their products, they formulated economical alternatives to cater to the American market. In 1895, they released Roman Smelling Salt Perfume, a powder-base blend that was rubbed onto the skin and used perspiration as a solvent.
Pinaud In The 20th Century
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Pinaud ushered in the new century by inventing Brillantine, a new hair cream and ancestor to Brylcreem. Brillantine quickly became an international sensation when it was launched during the 1900 Exposition Universelle. In the same year, they introduced Pinaud Bay Rum for the American Market.
However, sales dwindled in the United States and their products were reputed in barber shops but not in the American home. Therefore, in 1902, Pinaud opened its American branch on 5th Avenue, New York City. The opening was a major event to celebrate the construction of the million-dollar Ed Pinaud Building.
In 1929, The Great Depression hit home and the Klotz family went bankrupt in 1931. In France, the company was taken over by Roger Goldet in 1935 who renamed the house “Parfums Pinaud”. Meanwhile, the American branch began creating more affordable fragrances for their public. In 1933, their Lilac Vegetol and Bay Rum were reformulated and were introduced to department stores with great success.
During this time, tension grew between the French and American branches. The French looked down on the cheap American formulations. Likewise, the Americans distanced themselves from the expensive perfumes for women. Nevertheless, the French branch continued to supply their essences to the USA, which were blended there and then sent back for distribution.
Introduction Of The Clubman Range
It wasn’t until sometime in the 1940s that Pinaud actually introduced their Clubman range. This comprised of aftershave, talcum powder, hair tonics, shampoos and soaps. A direct reference of their structure was the aforementioned Romain Smelling Salt Perfume, which used a similar powdery base.
The range was wildly popular and by the 1950s the products were found in most American bathrooms. Even James Bond used Pinaud’s shampoo in Ian Flemming’s Casino Royale.
However, in the 1990s, Pinaud transitioned to plastic bottles. Unfortunately, this meant the entire range had to undergo a reformulation to withstand being contained in plastic. Therefore, today many products of the range are different compared to their original formulations.
Eventually, the French branch distanced themselves entirely from the American label. In the USA, Pinaud was still a household name but the brand became “Clubman” instead. In the 1970s, Roger Goldet’s sons took over the business. However, although family seem to continue under the name Ed. Pinaud, it only offers luxury products, which are barely marketed.
Pinaud Clubman’s flagship aftershave is an invigorating concoction of aromatic and spicy notes. It doesn’t stray from convention with a decidedly conventional structure. In that light, it is a definite member of the Aromatic Fougère fragrance family.
Furthermore, remember that as an aftershave, Clubman features a heavy alcohol content for a bracing post-shave splash.
As the alcohol cooks off, the head opens on a citrus burst before deep aromatic notes of rosemary. Faint spearmint closely follows, which ensure an element of sharpness, which stimulates the senses.
Minor floral notes of geranium and lavender offer a soothing, sweet finish from the head. Pepper emerges shortly after to add dry warmth while latent notes of tobacco round off the heart’s structure.
Clubman’s iconic powdery base features dry notes of tonka bean and amber, which contrast with the moist coolness of oak moss. The resulting effect is strongly reminiscent of leather that pairs well with the tobacco in the heart. A long drawn-out vanilla finish tantalises the senses with a gourmand touch.
However, Clubman’s current formulation is noticeably synthetic. It’s hard not to feel some regret that glass bottles are no longer available to enjoy a purer experience of the fragrance. Nevertheless, the fragrance is enjoyably cheap-smelling as if this was the idea upon conception.
The Life-Cycle Of Pinaud Clubman
Clubman’s After Shave Lotion is deliberately linear. Although a number of notes are at play, they are blended in such a way that chooses simplicity over complexity. The dry-down is almost simultaneous and wearers have to be attentive to catch every note, which tend to come as one.
The combined crescendo of notes create an accord that is unquestionably barbershop in design. It’s a warm and familiar blend that is reminiscent of similar fragrances such as Bay Rum and Old Spice. Nevertheless, Clubman is discernibly unique with a formulation that walks the line between originality and familiarity.
Wake & Strength
As an aftershave, sillage and projection are expectantly poor. Nevertheless, this doesn’t come as much of a disappointment given that the concentration is pretty low.
However, unlike many aftershaves, Clubman performs remarkably well in terms of longevity. The fragrance can still be smelled many hours after application and should last the wearer until the late-morning.
When Should You Pinaud Clubman?
Two camps seem to dominate Clubman’s feedback. Some feel disheartened by the overtly synthetic compositions and consider it to be undesirably cheap in nature. However, the vast majority thoroughly enjoys its old-school smell.
Many of those who smelled Clubman liken it to the experience of attending traditional barbershops. Therefore, it’s no surprise that it’s something of a cornerstone favourite among wet-shaving enthusiasts.
With regards to suitable demographics, Clubman is an overall mature fragrance due to its classic structure. Although it can indeed be sported by younger men, it may give the impression that they’re wearing their fathers aftershave. Unlike Old Spice, which tends to work across generations, Pinaud Clubman seems relatively static.
As a cologne, Pinaud Clubman enjoys a very well-rounded usage throughout the year. Whilst the aromatic notes may mean that it performs best during spring, the seasonality is very balanced. However, it’s very much a day time fragrance. It would be hard to imagine Pinaud Clubman worn at night and especially when heading out.
Similarly, this is a very office-friendly cologne. Being not particularly strong, men can happily wear this at the workplace without wrinkling noses. Likewise, its composition seems very fitting for a business suit and tie.
However, what sets Pinaud Clubman apart in its usability is how well it blends with other fragrances. Users can choose whether to solely wear Pinaud Clubman or use it only as a practical aftershave. If being the latter, it can be paired with a complementing fragrance that its own notes can even emphasise. Both will run through their respective dry downs together with the main fragrance taking the lead.
Finally, Pinaud Clubman is a distinctively masculine fragrance. Aside from its association with barbershops and wet-shaving, it features remarkably masculine aromatic notes.
Presentation and Value For Money
Overall, Clubman Pinaud’s bottle is crushingly disappointing. It’s a shame that the fragrance is only available in cheap plastic bottles. Not only does it lower the value of the product, it doesn’t do it any favours either.
Plastic is porous and absorbs a fragrance’s oils. It breaks them down and doesn’t protect the fragrance from UV light but actually degrades it faster. If you do get some, be sure to either keep it in a dark, cool and dry place. Alternatively, consider decanting it into a glass bottle.
Similarly, the fragrance is absent of any cardboard packaging. This may not be a bad thing for the environment (in spite of the plastic bottle), but it means the bottles are unprotected during transit. If you ever decide to give some Clubman as a small gift, it makes wrapping a difficult task.
Clubman isn’t available with atomizers either and you can only obtain splash bottles. This isn’t terribly surprising, though, as it is first and foremost an aftershave. However, the plastic bottle helps here as you can squeeze what you need into your hand rather than tipping it everywhere.
Nevertheless, all of the above likely contributes to the pricing. Pinaud Clubman is remarkably cheap in the USA and provides excellent value. Bottles are available in up to 16 Oz (473 ml) and on you can find 12 Oz (355 ml) bottles on Amazon for as little as $9.
If you have been seeking an authentic barbershop experience, Pinaud Clubman After Shave Lotion is the perfect candidate. It is the quintessential classic aftershave that embodies over a century of tonsorial evolution.
Through a strange turn of events, Pinaud has seen itself transform from a luxury line to a bargain drugstore cologne. Its cheapness is both its biggest advantage as well as its worst enemy. Some may turn their noses up at the plastic bottle and synthetic build. However, others cherish its accessibility and salt-of-the-earth character.
Liked the review? See our video to watch our first impressions:
Charles-Philippe's work has covered a broad range of subjects from cigars and fragrances to wine and spirits. Fascinated by how history and culture together form the unique contemporary identities of alcoholic beverages, his articles follow an in-depth exploration of their development through a combination of tradition and innovation.