I'm not really sure where to start with Helmut Lang EDC. So what does it smell like? White soap in a hot steamy shower, baby powder, a little bit of civet poop, a disconcerting hum of bleach, and a background sweetness that's sort of herbal that gets so thoroughly drowned out by the soapy powdery wet heat that it's barely worth trying to figure out.
Given a couple of hours, it ends up as a soapy metallic coumarin that's clearly inspired by Le Male, but with all that powder instead of the vanilla. As such, Helmut Lang has a sort of clean/dirty juxtaposition that works with the nondescript herbs to give it a modern niche feel. Realistically, I'm not a soapy powdery musk kind of guy, and the Le Male-inspired drydown doesn't really do anything for me, so Helmut gets a thumbs down, but with a caveat that there's some interesting artistry here.
The original Helmut Lang EDC is a great "white" perfume, and a pillar of modern minimalism in perfumery. It is essentially built with a really peculiar texture of ultra-clean notes - lavender, heliotrope, spices, white musks, sandalwood - completely "devoided" from any natural organicness, and juxtaposed to a dusty, slightly musky-woody dark base. All stuffed within a futuristic, metallic bone-structure that alchemically transforms this ordinary blend into something completely different from other similar scents - a sort of dusty, "gassy" composition, limpid yet with a feel of lunar soil and alien concrete. The feel is of a "clean" scent, but a particular kind of clean, a sort of industrial, standardized sense of cleanliness, pretty much like sterilized laundry clothing, cleverly mixed with a cloud of grey notes, which manage to be airy yet humid like wet soil. So there is this mixed feel of white silkiness and grey dustiness which I find really classy and well-executed, a futuristic harmony which creates a sort of "lunar" kind of whiteness, a shady grade of white. A lot of fragrances came after this, but none of them catches this particular sense of dense, faceted, clever minimalism. The persistence is sadly fairly short, as this is an EDC, so I am not really sure if the crazy prices are still worthy - it was surely worth the purchase when its price was far less than now. Grab it just in case of good deals, or content yourself with the new version, which is not that far from this original one.
Briefly put: at the very first sniff, the new version of this EDC smells much close to the original one, giving you that instinctive, soothing feel of "oh, that's it!". The only difference I detect, speaking of notes, is that this new version appears to be somehow slightly softer, sweeter and "whiter". The original one managed to blend harmonically a clean whiteness with a metallic and shady grayness, in a really faceted yet minimalist composition; here, that fascinating subtle contrast seems a bit tamed down in a blend more tending towards a straightforward "clean" feel, slightly softer, sweeter and also perhaps a bit more fruity than its previous version. In short, it seems to me slightly less "dirty" than the vintage EDC – that peculiar kind of dusty, "lunar" dirt. Apart from this, which perhaps is just a matter of subtle nuances, as I said the notes smell all quite similar. The main difference between the two versions is another one, and it is about the *substance* of the notes, which smell quite different to me between the two versions in terms of texture – and this may be considered a "deal-breaker". The new one is significantly lighter, sharper, cleaner, standing to its original version like a hologram, or a shade, just capturing its surface appearance leaving behind all its substantial richness and evolution – its "life", basically. I won't say the difference is as much clear (and depressing) as lying on a Moroccan beach and watch a poster of that beach while sitting in a travel agency, but that is the concept. And it's something you'll notice after one hour or so of full wearing. Comparisons aside though, if you are not familiar with the original EDC and you don't care much of it, this cologne is basically a white heaven of lavender, heliotrope, tonka, vanilla, sandalwood and a dry, aromatic herbal notes, sharp and classy, so "abstractly" clean it can work pretty much anywhere and anytime. And if you are not particularly picky and always wanted to smell the original EDC... this is quite faithful to its predecessor, taking into account the differences I mentioned. A little duller, yet still pleasant.
The reissue of EdC gets right to business with an immaculate, round lavender that’s paired with a sophisticated herbal blend. The biting soapiness that sometimes accompanies lavender is diminished by a fresh, dryer-sheet musk that renders the scent eerily clean. Although there’s an insinuation of a traditional style, the scent lingers somewhere between luxury and functional fragrance.
Within minutes, the herbal facets fade to reveal a hint of a creamy musk akin to that of EdP while the lavender keeps the powder in check. Whereas EdP is like a plush towel pulled straight from the drier, EdC is an herbal lavender sachet placed on crisp, white bed linens. I won’t say that it feels futuristic, but there’s a level of clinical sterility that would befit a magazine image of a particular space rather than smelling like the space itself. For the first half an hour it comes off as fitted, starched, and impeccable.
But whereas the recent EdP reissue formed an elegant and lasting fragrance blanket, the performance here is negligible. Within thirty minutes, EdC is down to the lingering level that you might expect from a strong shower gel or a dusting of talcum powder—a modest coating, if that. While the laundry musks used in EdP seem to bolster and elevate the creamy focus, the notes that they elevate in the EdP vanish too fast leaving the musks to fend for themselves. And, as already noted, these are polycyclic laundry musks that tend to trigger anosmia quite fast. So, when the only other thing on the menu is a much-attenuated form of EdP’s creamier notes, there’s very little scent at all.
I’d imagine that EdC would function more as a functional effect than as a perfume—a way to feel clean and crisp without much effort. There’s a time and place for strong restraint, but it’s hard not to wish that there was a little more “oomph” to this reissue—especially given the “oomph” of the new pricing.
Helmut Lang EdC for Men is an amazing fragrance which combines a multifaceted powdery-laundry, heliotropic and vaguely earthy (in a typical Etro's style) chypre neo classic approach with a brand's (trademark) minimalistic conceptualism (which does not actually hamper the perception of a really kaleidoscopic congeries of detectable olfactory nuances). How can I express my feeling? This fragrance is really clean-laundry, freshly green-floral-soapy, musky and exotic. Since the beginning I feel the musks (a wonderful labdanum for sure), an unmistakable eliotrope connected with chypre powder (powdery woods plus tonka), a white rosey laundry radiancy, a touch of wax, clouds of talky soapiness, animalic amber and a burnt licorice/earthy patchouli like arcane undertone which I connect to the Etro's tradition (which can be captured for instance in scents as Sandalo or Shaal Nur). I detect also on me a warmer (and almost pungent/salty like the smell of skin burnt by sun) typical organic "baby clean skin-like" powdery effect. The fist whiff on skin is one of the best moments since a touch of bergamot, aromatic herbs (fresh lavender and salty-aromatic rosemary in particular) introduce an upcoming heavenly articulated aura of muskiness, earthiness, talkiness and finally soapiness. The floral notes are ghostly, somewhat indiscernible and subtle. The dry down is vaguely animalic chypre and comforting (still discreet and dry). Effectively, despite the complexity of the olfactory spectrum, the final aroma seems like "padded in the blurred diaphane time of childhood" but avantgard, minimalistic and conceptual at same time (white, spacious empty New York's lofts comes on mind, the walls expose huge unframed modern art pictures). I agree with Alfarom (minimalistic but never simplistic). A great great piece of classic and discreet intimate elegance at top.
P.S: over a couple of hours the powdery eliotrope jumps on the stage mastering as counteracted by a sort of salty organic warmth. Excellent.
06th October, 2014 (last edited: 20th September, 2015)
(Helmut Lang EDC, its discontinued so I bought a small sample from The Perfumed Court)
There is nothing about this scent that offends me. It has a powder/vanilla theme, but nothing else to make it that interesting. Other reviews talk about florals and wood....I did not get any of that. I think this works better for the ladies. I will finish my sample eventually but I would not buy any more.