Out of the gate, it smells “old,” yet within seconds it begins to feel current. A borderline leathery citrus perched on top of an expected mossy/lavender accord, yet all the genre tropes of the ‘80s masculine are subdued to reveal gently powdered and complicated floral accord. There are so many competing aesthetics at work here that it’s amazing that the scent doesn’t just collapse, but what keeps it afloat is a tasteful camphorous-type accord that’s little more than a hint. The bitterness and the herbal overdoses (that tend to overrule this particular style) are scaled back to humane levels, and the whole thing comes off as effortlessly approachable while retaining some traditional edge. It’s not my style overall, and it nose dives into a fairly redundant minty moss after just an hour or so, but it strikes me as more versatile than many of its brethren. A powerful silhouette yet less boorishly “alpha”—impressive overall.
I gave 3rd Man a good college try, but it just doesn't work for me. I have a major problem with the carnation/clove note that never really subsides until about the 10 hour mark. Hey, but it's great after that! No, I can't do it. It's a shame, because I do like the floral aspects. The next-day drydown is lovely too. I own both Yatagan and Pour Un Homme and would recommend those over #3.
I have a huge problem with Caron’s men’s fragrances. My problem? I tried Yatagan first. How any fragrance house could adequately follow Yatagan’s magnificent savagery is hard to imagine. The outrageous animalism of Lutens and Sheldrake’s Muscs Kublai Khan? The ethereal beauty of Dominique Ropion’s Carnal Flower? The briny austerity of Creed’s Erolfa? The barbaric opulence of Montale’s Black Aoud? Caron’s answer was The Third Man.
The Third Man opens with a potent, but fairly standard lavender and bergamot accord, underscored by just a hint of woods and smoky leather. The middle notes include a very sharp cedar, some lush vanilla or tonka, and a hefty dose of carnation or clove on top of the persistent lavender. I sense some rose at the heart, too, accented by a deep fennel seed or anise note. The drydown is mostly moss and woods, with lingering anise and a distinct vanilla/musk counterpoint. The result is an outstanding fragrance, but very heavy and opaque, in the manner of Creed’s Santal Imperial and Bois du Portugal.
Temperamentally, The Third Man is the exact opposite of the wild Yatagan: rich, and cultured, but also utterly conventional. Me? I’ll take Yatagan.
Wearing The Third Man today, I am reminded how very good it is. I have been unduly hard on The Third Man for not being Yatagan, or even L'Anarchiste, but to tell the truth, this scent is just as successful in filling its admittedly more conventional brief as either of those other two. What ultimately makes The Third Man special for me is the drydown, with its perfectly judged balance of vanilla, moss, and warmly animalic musk. In fact there's almost something of a classic Guerlain structure in those base notes. Promoted from a neutral rating for its beauty and utility.
Take your traditional Fougere fragrance with the lavender and bergamot in the opening coupled with a lot of oakmoss. Giving the scent a green fern spicy feel.
Then imagine a floral jasmine and carnation been added to the blend. The herbal lavender accord then becomes soft and sweeter and starts to take over. Add a bit of cloves and vetiver into the mix and you get a sweet floral scent sitting ontop of your classical Fougere with a twist.
I have to say I don't know what to think with this one. On one hand it seems like a laboratory experiment to see what a ton of sweet florals would do to a classic Fougere. On the other hand it is compelling in a weird way.
To sum up a classic Fougere with a twist which has been changed with a ton of florals. Giving you a soft sweet herbal like fragrance.
Clean, crisp, comfortable and elegant like a freshly-ironed shirt! Safe and sophisticated, the kind of scent that can make even the shabbiest man on Earth look nice and charming.
24th January, 2014 (last edited: 27th April, 2014)