While this isn't my style, I can smell the quality. Spicy Chypre with lots of oakmoss, this is a barbershop fragrance. I can imagine Getty, Rockafeller, or Morgan wearing this back in the roaring 20's.
I own a sample of the Derby Reissue.
Upon initial sniffing, I get a strong impression of rosemary - this must be the combination of peppermint, mace, and pimento playing tricks on my nostrils. Very pleasant and clean smelling. Almost refreshing. Upon drydown, the scent becomes slightly sweeter, more musky, and slightly powdery, like a high quality soap. The moss comes out to play a bit more, ending on a somber note. It DOES make me think of men in vintage suits and derby hats! However, I do agree with the other reviewers about it being unisex, though I feel it is a bit dry for a woman and more appropriate as a work scent for men.
I'm three hours into sampling vintage Derby, and it's nice, and it gets nicer as it dries and develops. This could be a scent where I learn to love the top because the base that follows is so nice, but my first impression is that the smell of the top notes, or one dominant note or accord, that reminds me of Christmas, Christmas shopping in a nice department store, and/or cloves, is not my necessarily a smell I would be looking for in a fragrance.
It reminds me of cloves, which is a smell I like ok, but don't love; but I like the smell more as part of this fragrance.
Leafy in the Yatagan style but with citrus and a slight peppermint to freshen it further. Leather comes in it and remains very fresh and nothing is out of balance. Reading the notes before getting this sample I was imagining an experience like this. It's a bit like green leather that is more green than citrus and good to compare to Creed Royal English Leather which is more orange. It goes into fresh bread territory (rose?) while still smelling fresh . The mint is more green than minty if that makes any sense. This is an outstanding leather fragrance. I have no idea what the original smelled like but I have no complaints about this one. Very satisfied.
My review is for the reissue of Derby (2012 version):
At first sniff, I have to admit I thought this was intimidatingly masculine. Something about the bracing bergamot, muskiness, smoky birch tar, and bitter-ish moss made me think of these old-school fougeres or chypres that my father might have worn in the seventies. I also thought that I could smell quite a bit of my bête noire, vetiver, lurking around in there. But then immediately, I noticed that whereas it did indeed contain all of those traditionally masculine notes, the overall effect wasn't in the slightest bit harsh. In fact, the texture of Derby strikes me as being very smooth, well-blended, and even a bit powdery.
As it dried down, I noticed a few other things. First of all, whereas I don’t pick out any of the patchouli that is said to be a significant component of Derby, I do in fact pick up on a lot of vetiver (not listed) – its dank, sour-ish twang is unmistakable to my nose. I can only imagine that vetiver is included in the ‘woods’ note that is listed. Second, the leather accord here is gently spiced, I suppose from the pepperiness from the carnation rather than from any overt spicing. This differentiates it (for me) from Bel Ami, whose leather is almost brutally doused with woody cinnamon. This is gentler, and perhaps, more refined.
And although this is not a fougere, there is a significant musky, herbal barbershop vibe to this – detectable in the slight clean-soapiness lurking underneath the moss, the pleasingly herbal, saline-sweet smell of male skin freshly lathered and shaved with good, old-fashioned shaving soap. This adds a solid dose of nostalgia to my experience with the scent. I wouldn't object at all to my husband wearing this, as I imagine that this clean, leathery smell would be amazing on freshly shaved skin. However, the bastard decided to grow a beard lately, to spite me, so, you know - sorry darling. Oh well, that’s about two hundred euros saved.
Lastly, the mossy aspects come forward a bit more as the scent dries down, and eventually it begins to resemble a drier, more austere Mitsouko. Was this perhaps the intention of Guerlain – to produce a version of Mitsouko for men? On the other hand, plenty of men wear Mitsouko, so perhaps I am just projecting here. All in all, I find Derby to be an exceedingly pleasant, old-fashioned, leathery-barbershop fragrance – reassuringly masculine and solid, and yet subtle and almost ‘light’. It has the distinct feel of a powerhouse male fragrance at the start, but the texture and subtlety of the drydown is such that I would call it refined and gentlemanly, rather than Alpha Male.