Perfume Directory

Derby (1985)
by Guerlain

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Derby information

Year of Launch1985
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 367 votes)

People and companies

HouseGuerlain
PerfumerJean Paul Guerlain
PackagingRobert Granai
Parent CompanyLVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton
Parent Company at launchGuerlain

About Derby

Reissued in 2005 for the renovated flagship Guerlain store on the Champs-Elysees.

Derby fragrance notes

Reviews of Derby

Derby had long been on my "to try" list, and due to the kindness of some folks, I received samples of both the vintage and current versions of it. They're similar, but more siblings than mirror images.

When I smelled the vintage, my initial impression was that it was 80-90% similar to Nicolaï New York Intense (now that I've tried the vintage Derby, I'd describe New York Intense as a faithful Derby remake with a dash or two of Héritage thrown in, and it's at least as good as both of those Guerlain clasics). It's a full-bodied, effortlessly elegant, perfectly balanced green-and-floral scent with that oakmoss glow holding it all together. A masterpiece? Well, I certainly can't find fault with it.

If the vintage Derby was a full entrée, the current Derby is a bit like getting just the sauce, but none of the meat meant to anchor it. It's good, well-made sauce, but in comparison to the vintage it misses a bit of weight: it's light, floral, comforting, but the green edge has been profoundly tuned down. While this was undoubtedly due to reformulation, New York Intense demonstrates that the vintage "green effect" is still possible in a post-IFRA world, and is perhaps closer to the vintage Derby than this is.
11th April, 2020
I had a sample of vintage Derby from a Basenoter as far back as 2014. I wasn't ready for it at the time - I much preferred a simpler oak moss fragrance such as Sous le Vent or Chanel Pour Monsieur. The clove in the opening, in particular, did not smell like something I wanted to wear.

Over several years of revisiting Derby, I got into the base of the vintage and got a bottle about five years after initially sampling it.

More recently I got a generous sample of the current version of Derby from the fragrance shop in Montreal. I think it is quite a well done re-make. I would consider backing up the vintage with a bottle of modern. It smells more modern, especially side-by-side with vintage, but I like a little dash of modern sometimes. Not everything modern is bad. This feels like a well executed update. If I was keen on impressing other people, I might focus on the reformulated version - it has a dash of something interesting.
12th October, 2019
Kind of a softer leather soapy blend. Definitely has patchouli and some sort of herbs and floals. Great blend. Why it was discontinued I do not get. Classy and refined power. Its a nice balance.
06th July, 2019
I was in Vegas last week and checked this out at the Bellagio boutique. I'm going to get flak for this but I was instantly reminded of another fragrance I already have. I got Heritage instead after a bit bit of hemming and hawing and when I got back to the Mirage, that's when it hit me: it smells like Dior's current formulation of Jules.
09th February, 2019
After all these years writing reviews, something has clicked and I finally GET Derby. It's wonderful!

For years, Derby struck me as a fairly standard powerhouse 80's woody chypre and I just didn't get the hype. But now I get that it really is best-in-class. Yes, it has a lot of the usual 80's masculine notes - that bergamot/moss chypre skeleton, that mix of hawthorn and sandalwood that smells like expensive burnished furniture, a deep herbal facet that imparts masculinity, and just a hint of Guerlain's classic funk. But it's remarkable for how perfectly matched it all is. Powerhouse woody chypres can be beastly (it's kind of their point), but Derby is mixed in such a way that it smells classy - even its 80's-style strength comes across as expensively rich instead of loud.

Putting all of this under a Chanel-esque sparkling, fizzy aldehydic lemon top is pure brilliance, and a big part of what sets Derby apart. Without feminizing the scent, it adds lift and life in a way I wouldn't have expected. Necessary sniffing!
08th January, 2019
To the recent forum question "If you could do it all over again..." the enthusiast with thousands of bottles in collection, with decades of experience, and with over a quarter million postings, responded with but a single word: "Derby".

Well, let THAT sink in like the sports rub you used to borrow from your Dad's medicine cabinet.

Probably means something, I would think, and not a bad answer at all, I do think... Eagles & Bees... One of the absolute greats!

09th December, 2018 (last edited: 08th March, 2019)

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HUGE Vintage 80s DERBY De Guerlain Men Aftershave 200ml 6.8oz New Old Stock HTF

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