Derby (1985)
    by Guerlain

    Derby Fragrance Notes

    Derby information

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

    Reviews of Derby

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    Showing 1 to 6 of 56 reviews.

    bokaba's avatar
    United States United States

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    Gentlemanly Masterpiece

    Derby was originally launched in 1983 as the second masterpiece of the now disgraced Jean Paul Guerlain (his first being Habit Rouge). He released numerous feminine scents, but like the Guerlains who preceded him, his real talent was creating gentlemanly perfumes.

    Derby came to the fore in time when the last vestiges of classical (by classical, I mean Victorian/Edwardian/Belle Epoch, etc.) perfumery had come to end in the 1960s. Derby likely took much inspiration from another timeless and brilliant scent that was introduced a few years earlier—the irreproachable Patou pour Homme designed by the mainstream fragrance industry’s final farewell hero, Jean Kerleo.
    Derby is a leathery woody fragrance for men, most suitable for autumn or winter evening wear. The opening is a brisk bergamot and green herbs followed by a soft floral heart of Spanish jasmine and Bulgarian rose with aromatic spices such as nutmeg. The base is built strongly with a good portion of real oakmoss, patchouli, and sandalwood.
    The overall feel of Derby is dark, but never brooding or overpowering. It is an 80s powerhouse style fragrance if you will, but retains more than enough good breeding under the watchful eye of Mr. Guerlain himself.
    The juice itself has darkened to almost dark brown at this point (purchased and shipped from Italy recently), but I feel nothing has suffered the passing of time save maybe the citrus because Derby contains mostly elements that improve over time if stored properly like a 1963 vintage Bordeaux wine. My bottle is the first edition "eagle" bottle that is supposed to look like an eagle with its wings outstretched. It was horribly unpopular and Guerlain quickly changed to the standard rectangular bottle.

    14 September, 2013

    DanHD's avatar
    United States United States

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    Complicated in a Good Way

    I didn't like Derby at first. It felt sort of old fashioned and on the powdery side. But luckily I gave it more tries, and I found that I'd developed an addiction. This isn't an easy scent for me. It has a carnation note and a touch of bitterness that doesn't work on certain days. But it's usually worth the challenge and it's fun the way you get different notes throughout the day. There's a vetiver greenness that pops out along the way that is pure joy, and the musk/woods towards the late middle/end are delicious.

    I think I'll own it one of these birthdays/Christmases. I have a hard time justifying the price of a bottle but I'll always have a decant or split on hand.

    Pros: Sophisticated, diverse, challenging
    Cons: Takes a while to comprehend, Doesn't always work"

    01st September, 2013

    Jack Hunter's avatar
    Jack Hunter
    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Eighties Masterpiece!

    This opens with a green herbal scent which reminded me of a mixture of Aramis and Devin. This then moves into the heart of a warm spicy leather accord so you have a warm herbal spicy leather scent.

    Now this is where things get very interesting as underpinning these main accords is a host of supporting notes making this scent very complex. I can pick up patchouli, a bit of citrus and some floral notes and these are constantly shifting and changing on your skin. So every time you take a sniff you can pick up different notes behind the main herbal warm spicy leather accord.

    This scent does have a slight Eighties feel and does not smell contemporary, but it is so well orchestrated and is very complex. When I scrutinised this scent I have to say it does live up to the hype and is worthy of all the praise.

    To sum up a green herbal spicy warm leather accord made complex by a host of supporting notes making it a masterpiece of it's genre and time!

    23 June, 2013

    Gary F's avatar
    Gary F
    United States United States

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    Bought a sample of this and had high expectations - loving other Guerlain's as I do. This is one I didn't have strong feelings about either way. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't enjoy it enough to pay the high price (or honestly any price) to get the bottle. It is very well blended and balanced, but I was bored by it.

    Pros: Leather is nicely balanced
    Cons: Interesting but Ultimately Bland

    20th June, 2013

    JackTwist's avatar
    United States United States

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    Light carnation/clove scent for summer wear

    This is a very nice, light summer scent - a green, woody effervescence that coalesces around a light and  refreshing carnation/clove note -odd that neither of these is mentioned in the ingredients list, but are for me the most predominant notes in this creation.


    Along with Guerlain's Vetiver (spicy and green - the very best available) and their Habit Rouge (dry citrus calming down to a moss), Derby completes the classic trio of their men's scents, stretching from 1959 to 1985. They would be best used in the following order:  Habit Rouge for morning, Derby for early afternoon, Vetiver for evening.


    Although perfectly nice and subtle, I can see why it failed in 1985. It was a quiet port in a storm of the scents of its time. Though hardly a masterpiece, as Luca Turin claims it to be, nor "one of the ten best masculines of all time," as he asserts, it is perfectly nice and a fine choice for the middle aged to older gentleman.

    Pros: Excellently balanced and sophisticated
    Cons: None

    20th May, 2013

    florestano's avatar

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    the first thing that hits me in the derby (vintage) longevity is not long, too bad because the drydown is very nice. reminds me a little monsieur carven without a rose, you should apply a few drops more and quit after about thirty minutes in order to have a good time, I still have to use it again to understand it furtherfor now, 3.5 / 5 waiting for a new review

    12 May, 2013

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