Picked up a small bottle of the splash at wally world. Not impressed. Smells nice enough but even after applying very liberally its barely there after 3 hours. No longevity,. no sillage. I'm surprised after hearing how much a powerhouse its supposed to be. Its not for lack of heat either,. I work up a reasonable sweat at work and its just not there. To be fair I think my sniffer may be on the less sensitive side and I've had similar longevity disappointments with current aramis tuscany and devin formulations,. although not quite this bad. The search continues, but so far Insurrection II wild is winning.
In the old days before digital, photographers would calibrate their cameras by using a grey card, 50% black 50% white.
Drakkar Noir achieves a similar balance by mixing the dark tones of leather, patchouli and tree moss with lavender and coumarin. DN may be called black but to my synesthetic nose it smells grey, grey like fluffy mould.
The neutral tones of DN were adopted by feminists when it first came out in the eighties. The tactic of wearing traditionally male perfumes allowed women to sidestep olfactory stereotypes long before Serge Luten's Palais Royale brought crossover scents back into the mainstream.
A middle of the road fougère, sweet yet bitter, moderately heavy, opaque but nebulous, it still divides people today. Some love it. Others perhaps unsettled by its vague indeterminate nature don't like it at all.
It is easy to overdo it with DN, too much can get suffocating so moderation should be the order of the day - not too much and not too little.
I think its not bad - but not great either, just quite nice. Technically its no great shakes either, another barbershop fougère.
And the legacy of Drakkar Noir : eighties gender bender or the smell of shaving foam in a can...?
14th October, 2016 (last edited: 22nd November, 2016)
What else can be said about this masculine classic? I remember this being all the rage when I was a young teenager, it was expensive and hard to find. I haven't touched it since I was 15. So imagine my utter surprise when my Mom gives me a bottle, direct from my Grandfathers' 30+ year old stash. Intrigued, I purchased a new bottle, and then a vintage bottle from 1994. Of course they all smell very different. Is this from age, formulation, different batches? Whatever the case, the vintage is extremely powerful, and lasts forever. The 1994 smells the best to me, a bit more citrusy/pine notes in this one make it special. The newer bottle is good, but severely lacking in longevity and staying power. You can see the bottle quality has changed too, as the oldest bottle is far more substantial and the nozzle feels much more solid.
What makes a "barbershop" scent? Lavender and oakmoss? So this should be the archetypal barbershop fragrance. It's true it does have that old-fashioned, soapy feel, but the complexity of the other ingredients underneath the big 2 make me shy away from that label. And the leather adds a smoothness and richness. It's a green, herby, fresh, soapy experience, but with a sort of spicy, complicated undercurrent that makes it more interesting than you'd think and, well, really sexy.
I've read a number of reviews talking about gay/straight, male/female, particularly with reference to Drakkar Noir. To be honest I don't get that. But then again I'm crossing the "boundaries" of mens /women's scents more and more and I care less and less about what people think about it. Yes of course men would wear this, but I can imagine a cool woman wearing this too.
I was a teenager in the 80s, but weirdly I missed Drakkar Noir then, I really don't know how. So I can't comment on how it's changed or not. I'd describe sillage and longevity now as moderate. It's a great all-rounder: I've been wearing it to the office recently, but I would also wear it on an evening. If it is weaker now, who cares, it's so inexpensive just spray more and more often. I love it.
Shield wall! Now!
Let's talk some statistics for starters. The sentences in which the word "school" is usually included in Drakkar Noir's reviews are rougly divided between the ones having "high" and the ones having "old" in front of it. But since I'm pretty sure that all these "high schoolers" are in no case under 40 years old, both adjectives conclude one thing. Drakkar Noir is by no means a modern fragrance. It's something that trend followers would ironically call an old lady fragrance and amuse themselves for belittling it even further by not associating it with men.
Dear trend followers, unfortunately I cannot pass as an old lady, cause despite having quite long hair, it's nowhere near white. Perhaps my year old beard has some part in it too. You see, bearded ladies belong to the same place where Drakkar Noir belongs too, according to your refined taste and aesthetics. Freak shows...So how would you call a man in his mid-forties who's featuring all this hair and digs old fragrances named after scandinavian battleships? Wait! Did someone say "a bloody Viking berserker"? I guess I could pass as one.
So, let the battle hymns fill the air.
(You may start running for cover now trend followers.)
Enter Led Zeppelin.
(Another much despised "old lady" thing.)
"We come from the land of the ice and snow from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow."
It actually came 10 years after the first Drakkar had already landed on the fabled western shore. It sailed from river Seine, which does not make it a Viking thing exactly. But who cares? This one was black!
I guess a matching black sail decorated with a skull and crossbones was fluttering on its mast as well. Too early for that you said? Pirates you said? I agree, but I also beg to differ. Pirates were not looting only gold coins but golden ideas too. And this rather unrefined emblem had always made gold coins jump into treasure chests by themselves upon showing up on the horizon. Let alone that Vikings actually WERE pirates!
If its intention was to terrorise its opponents and make them flee, Drakkar Noir landed a serious blow without even raising its hand. As we speak, many otherwise hard-boiled dudes are fleeing like cockroaches taken by surprise when someone hits the lights by seeing this veteran warrior approaching.
It brought the same amount of mayhem with a Viking fleet landing in the middle of a raging battle, cause this is exactly what the '80s were. A huge battlefield where ferrocious warriors were exchanging devastating blows in order to prevail and get all the maidens.
Drakkar Noir came to avenge its fallen brother who had perished under the combined attacks of Italian lancers (Gucci pour Homme), English bowmen (Halston 1-12 and Z-14) and Spanish expatriated swordsmen (Paco Rabanne pour Homme). And it routed them single-handedly, conquering their realms and dethroning them from the Kingdom of Macho overnight. For some years it was the absolute ruler of everything, gloriously daunting in its black panoply and towering over every laughable attempt made by usurpers trying to succeed it. Then it was its turn to be conquered, but only by time, and not without making a legendary last stand which is still reverberating through fragrance lore.
If there ever was a fragrance smelling oily and arid in the same time, this was the one. Like sticking your head into an old abandoned well and smell the thick darkness. Cold, dry and slippery. Like a dormant volcano surrounded by glaciers, occasionally venting its ire through fumaroles.
And I say "was" cause the current version of Drakkar Noir smells like a splash bottle being forgotten open since 1982 and smelled again in 2015. The ghost of a scent. And even the most ghastly ghosts become less frightening after a few decades.
But in its heyday Drakkar Noir was turning dimly lit discos and clubs into much feared lairs, packed with predators waiting for any unsuspecting prey to be lured and pass their gates.
Other fragrances of the era like Azzaro pour Homme and its kin were all about machinations and facades in order to trap their victims. Drakkar Noir was the adamant abettor of the good ol' proverbial clubbing on the head. Since we're talking about the Nordic pantheon, the first could be impersonated by Loki, while the latter was 100% Thor, and change clubbing with hammering. No elaborate wording or flamboyant behaviour here. Just plain dark spleen and meaning business. Just the thing to make a Viking warlord proud.
"Yeah, but it's so old school!"
Who said that? C'mon, who said that? No one said that? Right lad, stay hidden in the crowd! This was always a very "brave" thing to do!
Old school? Really? It's a drakkar for Odin's sake, not some high-end missile cutter! Drakkars are still badass and fabulous after more than 1000 years have passed since they first hit the waves. ("Launched" would be too obvious a pun here.) What are the chances of any high-end missile cutter to be remembered and admired after 1000 years? Probably the same with a fragrance launched during 2015 to be widely acknowledged and respected after almost 35 years, the way Drakkar Noir is as we speak.
So come closer to the fire brothers, and with swords held on high, let's bellow in unison.
"Odin I await thee! Your true son am I..."
And rest assured that the ancient gods reposing in the melancholic chambers of the fragrance Valhalla may be gone but by no means forgotten.