Duc de Vervins very well satisfies my criteria for “neutral.” It’s a competent approach to a traditional genre, and while it has no glaring faults, it does nothing special to distinguish itself among its many kin either. It’s a classical aromatic fougère composition in the established mold of Azzaro pour Homme and Aramis Tuscany per Uomo: bergamot and lavender top notes; additional aromatics, including hints of anise, caraway, and sage, at its heart; and a drydown of coumarin, vetiver, and patchouli with a touch of moss. It partakes neither of Tuscany’s Mediterranean sunshine (less citrus, no tarragon or basil,) nor of Azzaro’s animalic depth (no ambergris reconstruction). Instead it offers a well-balanced, if also rather featureless reminiscence of a style predominant in men’s perfumery well over a decade before its release.
Duc de Vervins shares with other late entries in the aromatic fougère style, such as Tsar and Tuscany, a degree of understatement not often found among masculine scents of the 1980s. In this respect it may hold some lasting appeal, though to my nose both the Aramis and the Van Cleef & Arpels offer more of interest than the Houbigant, especially considering that Duc de Vervins has a less full and nuanced drydown than the other two. Since Tuscany and Azzaro pour Homme are both cheaper and easier to find than Duc de Vervins, I wouldn’t feel especially compelled to seek it out.
Duc de Vervins opens with a gentle aromatic lavender breeze, supported by just a hint of bergamot citrus and green oakmoss rising from the base before moving to its heart. As the composition reaches the early heart the lavender remains, though now in support to the also remaining green oakmoss that takes control, as the composition turns slightly powdery and quite soapy fresh with traces of cumin spice balancing the fresh soap. During the late dry-down the oakmoss continues as star through the finish, with its powdery facets increasing late. Projection is excellent, as is longevity at over 12 hours on skin.
Many compare Duc de Vervins to vintage Drakkar Noir, and there is no denying the resemblance. I doubt that Duc de Vervins was ever intended to clone it, but something about the way the soapy clean oakmoss is implemented in both makes the comparison inevitable. That said, Duc de Vervins holds up well on its own merits, blending in aromatic lavender, and cumin spice so mild you could almost miss it if not paying attention. In truth, before I thought Drakkar Noir, I first thought Monsieur de Givenchy -- not really in fragrance profile, but rather spirit. By spirit, I mean the composition is so clean, balanced and relatively light that it is extremely versatile. Unfortunately for Duc de Vervins the fragrances it conjures images of (in spirit or actuality) are some of the best ever, and I can't really say it quite rises to the challenge in comparison. The bottom line is Duc de Vervins with its impressive performance metrics is quite tempting at its approximate $45 per 120ml cost per bottle on the aftermarket, but as you can find vintage Drakkar Noir for not much more than that and Caesars Man for significantly less both surpassing it overall, it is hard to recommend without reservation despite its "very good" 3.5 star out of 5 rating.
Polo. Loewe Esencia. Tsar. Drakkar Noir (Yeah, I know, I know...). These four fragrances have conspired to create Duc de Vervins. Sometimes conspiracies are a good thing. Duc de Vervins case in point. What we have here is a citrusy opening with a nice blend of spices (See Escencia), a lavender heart accompanied by a green note which I believe is geranium, and a Siberian-sized blast of oakmoss holding down the base. Duc de Vervins is a powerhouse. Masculine and mature (Not old, mature), Duc de Vervins makes most watery designer offerings cry like a spooked hyena under the moonlight. Duc de Vervins does not strike me as a fragrance for only the monied and well-bred. This fragrance goes for the folks looking for a long-lasting piney, mossy fragrance that is right at home on a cool day or any other time it darn well pleases to be worn. It does wear you.
Fresh, green, minty vetiver drying to a light leather accord
This is a slightly spicy, fresh, green, minty scent with a nice underlay of green vetiver notes. After 15 minutes, it dries down to a warm leather accord with the green and minty notes still interwoven.
It's certainly "nice," but is not ground-breaking in any way, smelling very like dozens of its ilk, such as Drakkar Noir.
Its only drawback is its lack of longevity.
Pros: Fresh and green
Cons: Very like others of its ilk, does not last long
fresh, green, and ephemeral
Although I detect a delightful citrus note in the opening, it is very green, with a hint - of mint! A touch of pepper and tarragon appear on the drydown. Pleasant but after two hours it's gone. Needs respraying liberally. The opening makes it worthwhile.