Perfume Directory

Kouros (1981)
by Yves Saint Laurent


Kouros information

Year of Launch1981
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 1187 votes)

People and companies

HouseYves Saint Laurent
PerfumerPierre Bourdon
PackagingAlain de Mourgues
Parent CompanyL'Oréal Group > YSL Beaute
Parent Company at launchSquibb > Charles of the Ritz Group

About Kouros

YSL's best selling men's fragrance and features in the best seller lists most years. The fragrance is distinctly woody, and the bottle based on Greek Architecture.
FIFI award winner in 1982

Kouros fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Kouros

It is almost impossible for me to dislike Kouros as it's in my dna. I have been wearing this stuff since I was 14 years old. I had a little break in my mid 20's but can't really remember any other time when I didn't have a bottle.

Powerful, manly, animalistic................But at the same time very fresh!!

Love it!
15th November, 2017 (last edited: 29th November, 2017)
Jesus Maria and Joseph! Still got power, still animalistic, still wearing Kouros for almost 20 years. Reformulated but still has basics though. I bought yesterday 2 bottles just for pleasure. Thank You Bourdon Pierre!
07th November, 2017
Kouros is such a watershed fragrance, it's on the lips of almost everyone I come across that knows more than two cents worth about masculine fragrance. It's right up there in mythic must-haves alongside Azzaro Pour Homme, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Eau Sauvage, and the like. It constantly makes top personal lists all over, and is still a best seller for the label nearly 4 decades on. I must say that so much heaping praise does tend to make me shy away a bit from a scent, not because I hate mainstream popularity, but just because some products (not just fragrance) take on a cult-like sense of value that can sometimes mean folks convince themselves it's good since everyone around them says so; I'm glad however, to report that definitely is not the case here. Yves Saint Laurent had always been known for making provocative fashions, and it's no surprise that the scents he oversaw were equally so. His first pour homme (which many still swear by) holds nearly as much mythos as this, but with Kouros, it seems he made his real mark with cologne-wearing guys.

The advertisements for this were equally as prolific as the scent itself would become over time, and it all factors in to why I avoided this one for so long. I literally just saw it everywhere (although to be fair, haven't seen it in a major department store in a few years). My formal introduction to it was a full unused and vintage 1.6 oz spray of it found for just $3 at a rummage shop that sells off belongings from estate odd lots, so perhaps even better for me as I can objectively experience it in it's originally intended state, and not anything reformulated. A lot of talk here is had of this scent feeling like urine cakes, cat spraying, and other unsavory things in the opening, but as a staunch fan of stuff like Moustache Rochas myself, that didn't really scare me one bit. Horrifying top notes are usually a prelude to something very special in the dry-down, or so I've noticed with older scents, and it's almost a rite of passage to survive them in order to smell the true quality of what you just doused on yourself. This very urine-inflected opening lasts all of maybe a minute or two on the skin, perhaps five on clothing, before revealing it's true nature. The very simple and elegant jasmine, clove, ambergris and moss come out to play the longest and the coriander, bergamot and artemisia stated to be in the opening probably responsible for this "cat pee" opening are just here for conveyance.

The intent of Kouros seemed to be uncompromisingly masculine without the use of heavy musks or tons of patchouli/sandalwood/tonka mish-mashes like the old guard from a decade back. YSL was undoubtedly out to summarize "male" in the most concise way possible with this one, as it smells almost like what a fragrance made to capture the more pleasant aspects of a man's natural skin scent would be, or approximate it without actual sweat being added. It's one of the few scents with that "sweaty" aspect that I actually enjoy, as most others try to scream "active lifestyle" and dress that perspiration tang they synthesize with a bunch of aquatic notes into something that's just above armpit-covered-in-speed-stick aroma. I don't care what your sexual orientation or preferences are here, if you at all enjoy the smell of a guy (or being a guy) in his natural hygienic state, you would undoubtedly love this fragrance as it cleans up and adds to it without completely covering it up. If you're more of a "mask it" kind of person rather than somebody who likes body chemistry, you'll want to stick to your aquas and your spices, since this won't work in place of actual bathing. Kouros pulls no punches in it's delivery of "Epitomizing the ultimate in man" as the old adverts used to say, and it's really as simple as that. Now I understand what everyone is on about with this stuff. I must say it isn't an everyday wear or something to hit the clubs with (at least anymore), but in controlled application, it's a great day scent in spring or fall, and can't do you wrong in casual or dress casual environments. Does it live up to the hype? Well no, but nothing ever does. Amazing nonetheless!
06th November, 2017 (last edited: 19th December, 2017)
-If I were King of the Forest, Not queen, not duke, not prince.
-My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz.
-I'd command each thing, be it fish or fowl.
-With a woof and a woof and a royal growl - woof.
-As I'd click my heel, all the trees would kneel.
-And the mountains bow and the bulls kowtow.
-And the sparrow would take wing - If I - If I - were King!
-Each rabbit would show respect to me.
-The chipmunks genuflect to me.
-Though my tail would lash, I would show compash
For every underling!
-'f I - 'f I - were King!
-Just King!

When the cowardly lion belted this one out in '39, little did he know it'd be borrowed 78 years later to illuminate the sheer awesomeness of a men's fragrance released in '81.

Well, there it is.

Kouros IS King! King Kouros!

* sung by Bert Lahr, music - Harold Arlen, lyrics - E.Y. Harburg. From The Wizard of Oz.
28th October, 2017
Recently tried this again as I've enjoyed revisiting 80's fragrances with a bit of oomph..give me chanel anteaus any day over this. The opening to be fair is quite nice and soapy but in the dry down it stinks of cat pee. This modern version is pointless really as the reformulation has left this in tatters..shame really because I had a bottle of this as a kid and it was very popular and in no way smelt this weird. I think ysl should pull this one in and admit defeat, the ingredients that made this special just aren't there anymore.
04th September, 2017
Kouros, despite its challenging 'unwashed public restroom' opening, remains to be one of YSL's best-selling masculine fragrances. Just who are these buyers? Female baby boomers buying for their husbands? Customers with blocked sinuses and a perpetual cold?

The answer reveals itself after 5-10 minutes when the funky opening loses its potency and your sense of smell recalibrates. What remains in the air is an attractively clean, lightly spiced scent with subtle floral nuances. Texturally it feels dry but neither scratchy nor powdery, a remarkable balancing act achieved within the aromachemical constraints in this post-IFRA era.

Up close and personal, I traced little of the skank that featured in the beginning and unsurprisingly, zero oak moss. Kouros has clearly been stripped of its backbone, usurped of its crown yet retains enough of its overt charms to ring in the cash registers.

Still very good by current standards, but not as great as the vintage. A solid 7 out of 10.
07th August, 2017

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