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October 20, 2016

Chris Pine—a telegenic hunk whom you may know from Star Trek, but do not know from Captain America (because that’s Chris Evans, silly!)—is the new face of Armani Code Profumo. He’s repped the Code Collection for Armani since 2014, which means he is kind of an expert.

So when I find out that I’ll have a chance to interview him, I know I need to brush up on my fragrance know-how. This man is a pro!

To prepare for our chat, I sink into a foam-padded office stool that I pretend is a leather-bound loveseat and brainstorm. An entirely invented, but in-my-mind solid gold monocle over one eye, I read the press materials for Profumo: “Intense and vibrant, Armani Code Profumo, the new masculine fragrance for men, envelopes itself in warm colors and draws us into a world where seduction is an art, a lifestyle. The flawless mastery of every code.”

“What a lovely and masculine haiku for men,” I think. I continue, taking notes now. “Armani Code Profumo resonates with a real and present masculinity,” the one-sheet reads. It makes for a “magnetic attraction.” It has a base of tonka bean.

Pretty soon, it’s time to talk to Chris. We’re chatting over the phone, but that’s fine because there is a very nice photo of him at the top of this press release so I can visualize him. He is like the Mona Lisa. No matter where I’m standing in this tiny conference room, his eyes follow me. I look down at the rest of the one-sheet, in search of inspiration: “Code Profumo illustrates the seductive vibrato played out between a man and a woman. In a sensual wake, he charms, the atmosphere warms,” it reads. Chris! Behave!

Anyway, I force myself to pay attention and get serious! I have an interview to conduct.

Moments later, my iPhone rings. It’s Chris! We exchange pleasantries and I pause for a few seconds, waiting for the air around me to warm. It doesn’t happen. I blame that on my over air-conditioned office and carry on. Since this new masculine fragrance for men is all about “a world where seduction is an art, a lifestyle,” I decide to kick off our conversation by finding out when Pine last exercised this talent. International man of mystery that he is, he isn’t very interested in telling me.

“I don’t know what that means,” he says. “That’s not really reflective of what I like about especially this new fragrance, Profumo, which is really wonderful and intricate and complex.” He “just [thinks] it smells really nice.”

“Succinctly speaking,” he continues, “this line of [the Armani Code] fragrances runs the gamut from the top citrus notes to the deep bottom base notes of tobacco and leather and patchouli, all these things that I tend to love. If you like fragrance and you like it to be well-made, I think you’ll find it here.

“You’re a very seductive salesman,” I am tempted to say, but I stop myself. Instead, I ask him what Profumo reminds him of.

“It’s perfectly timed for this fall, as a fall fragrance, I guess,” he says. I immediately think of pumpkin spice lattes. I can’t help it! I’m sorry. “I’m just kind of making that up,” Pine says. “But I say that insofar as it has those kind of notes that are redolent of smoke and leather chairs and sitting around the fire and sharing a great meal and conversations.”

SoOooOOOoooo, no PSLs, then. Okay! The truth is, I get it. I mean, as we know, Code Profumo is a masculine fragrance for men. And men do not drink PSLs, oh no no no no no.

“Given how Profumo markets itself,” I say, “I’m curious to know what you think ‘masculine’ means in 2016.”

“That’s a really good question,” Pine says. “I don’t really have a good answer for you at all.” First, he decides that he should “look it up in the dictionary just to see what…its actual definition is or how it’s perceived to be.” Since evidently no one is around to hand him one, Pine takes a stab at it: “How do we define it? As those traits which define a man?” Ultimately, he rules it “a pretty complex and pretty subjective” concept.


But clearly, I’ve gotten the cogs turning, the wheels spinning, and Pine continues. “The reason I like the line so much and the reason Giorgio Armani has always had an appeal for me is there’s a timeless elegance to him and his work, his clothes, his fashion,” He says. “There’s a sense of what was powerful, magnetic 50 years ago is just as powerful now and will be in the future. Quiet confidence, a sense of chivalry, a sense of humor, integrity—I think those are all in there.”

The clothes don’t make the man! But the fragrance just might.

Beyond Profumo, his fall fragrance of choice, Pine insists his grooming routine is simple. “I kind of stick to Argan oil and moisturizer and a terrycloth face towel to wash, and that’s about it,” he says. “Some soap. Some hot water.” He trails off. I choose to pretend he’s wondering whether he should share the secret to flawless brows.

“That’s it! Minimal!” I say, adding that I assume he has some kind of “toothbrush-toothpaste situation,” too.

“No, that’s not for me,” he deadpans. “No toothbrushing or toothpaste.”

Wow! A man!

Since our time is running out, and we’ve already covered intellectual matters like the gender binary, I have to ask Pine about a photo of him that recently made the rounds on the Internet.

“Loooooove overalls,” he says, genuinely enthusiastic. “Overalls are great! Great movement of air happening in the overalls. Great storage device in overalls, harkening back to my love of trains as a child.”

“Wow,” I exclaim, more excited than I mean to be. Overalls! I observe that this overalls habit is obviously not some faddish experiment. His love runs deep!

“They’re super fucking comfortable, and I like the blue stripes,” he says. “But you can create whatever narrative you want about it.”

About 24 seconds later, Pine, devoted fan of overalls, stripes, dictionaries, and old-world quiet confidence, has to go. And for a second, just a second, I wonder: Is that the faint scent of tonka bean I smell?


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