Perfume Directory

Tsar (1989)
by Van Cleef & Arpels

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Tsar information

Year of Launch1989
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 393 votes)

People and companies

HouseVan Cleef & Arpels
PerfumerPhilippe Bousseton
Parent CompanyInter Parfums
Parent Company at launchElf Aquitaine > Sanofi Beauté

About Tsar

Tsar is a masculine fragrance by Van Cleef & Arpels. The scent was launched in 1989 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Philippe Bousseton

Tsar fragrance notes

Reviews of Tsar

I do not know the (apparently) unfortunate influence that the reformulations exert on the original "classic" perfumes. It is something that everyone seems to agree on, and although I do not have the original Tsar bottle, I must say that the current fragrance suffers from a ridiculously low duration and projection. For the rest, in the first 20 minutes the perfume unfolds like an AUTHENTIC MASTERPIECE: a work of craftsmanship, delicacy, soft, nothing powerful, but, after the initial burst of citrus greenness, it remains in a perfect fougure surrounded by vague exhalations of white moss. In this phase (the only one), I see the fruity sweetness of a forest after the rain, with a faint ray of autumnal sun among the still and moist branches.
From here, the sweetness is accentuated to fragility, the solidity of the perfume fades, and the cloud of moss, really magnificent at the beginning (because it penetrated the mixture) swallows all the shades little by little, until completely annulling the character of the fragrance.
At its best, the perfume justifies its classic category. Frankly, for twenty minutes it's wonderful. For the rest, his incredibly poor performance justifies his category of "Remembrance of a classic". And it is a pale and ephemeral memory.

PD: With three or four sprays on the same area of the skin the perfume reveals completely different. Much stronger, the beginning stops having a citrus innuendo and becomes a spicy explosion of herbal notes, very challenging before moving on to the sublime chord of moss-wood-grass-water mentioned. The longevity increases considerably, and what remains of the fragrance after a few hours is quite interesting. It is true that having to use 7 sprays is crazy, but the result is incredibly good, and the price is ridiculous (I bought a bottle for 16 euros).
24th October, 2018 (last edited: 08th November, 2018)
Ifti Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Solid and has its place.
I was quick to judge from my vintage aftershave sample.
Today I wanted a change up and pulled this out.

It's got at least EDT strength and good sillage. Drying down nicely.

OK descriptions:
Fresh, green, spicy, soapy after a shave clean .
Formal. I've ditched my dandy ways and cravat , buy this feels like that, crisp white shirt, Paisley cravat, polished shoes... velvet blazer... that's what I get from this.

Other comparisons? Well I got this on the idea that it's a 'cousin/brother' of the original Polo Green. I get that. But this is like the top end of it, I.e doesn't have the dank weight that comes with PG.

Some might consider dated, no fancy ingredients, no melon :) no pineapple... solid masculine that will make you feel refined and astute in your choice of fragrance.

04th September, 2018
I haven't tried the original, which I hear is better, but the today's version of Tsar is very well done and one of my favorite fragrances.

It's woody and green if maybe not exactly piney. It reminds of a Northern forest full of lush undergrowth and is wonderful to smell on a cool evening. If you loved the original Polo you should really like this.

4/5 or better for me...I wear it frequently.

Here are the notes printed on my bottle of Tsar:

Top Notes: Artemisia, Lavendin, Rosemary, Bergamot, Basil
Heart Notes: Geranium, Jasmine, Cedarwood
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Amber, Sandalwood

You should be able to pick up a full-sized bottle online for about $30.

EDIT Dec 2018: Tsar may have been discontinued by VC&A now, so if you like it and see a bottle at a good price, best grab it while you can. I just checked eBay and Amazon and 100ml is averaging $75 and up now.
07th May, 2018 (last edited: 27th December, 2018)
Tsar by Van Cleef & Arpels is the underrated house's late fougère-type entry into the 80's powerhouse masculine style, and feels more like a transitional fragrance for that fact. It borrows heavily from the bergamot/lavender/moss trifecta that was so prevalent in the fougère-like powerhouses of the day, but takes a far greener coniferous road than many of it's contemporaries, making it at once feel both older in design but also in line with the emerging "fresh" fougères that were poised to wipe away all the olfactory density of the outgoing decade. Tsar has surprisingly futuristic elements for it's day that would also imply a bit of "sportiness" to it's performance, something mass-market designers would explore with greater depth in the 90's then revisit in the 2000's, but more on that later. The ultimate effect of wearing Tsar is a scent that comes on clean, fresh, soapy, and more modern than it's release year implies, but finishes crisp, dry, with a suit-and-tie elegance expected from more of the early 80's crowd than the latter end of the decade. It's a far sight heavier than most trendy things making the rounds that year, save maybe the last of the "old guard" floral fougères and orientals which represent a generation of late-decade transitional powerhouses. Overall it feels like Van Cleef & Arpels liked to release their masculines as punctuation marks to a decade, since they did this with the first Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme in 1978, and then continued through until the 2010's doing so.

Maybe this practice affords them greater perspective in making something that stands apart from it's peers, as most of their noteworthy efforts seem to do. Tsar being a poster child for this hypothesis, opens with a familiar aromatic fougère blast of bergamot, and lavender, with the neroli being the freshness "X factor" in that opening which sets it apart from its peers. The middle of muguet and carnation is joined by the equally-freshening pepper note that's honestly more common in a 90's scent, which then finishes in a rich base where oakmoss is strangely only an ensemble player rather than a lead guitarist like with a lot of these juices. The obvious choice of balsam fir joins this otherwise 80's standard base to assert that "green" feeling, alongside warm sandalwood, leather, and patchouli, inferring the aforementioned sportiness by giving the whole orchestration a late-game shot of tart but rich aromatic goodness that comes in after the pepper in the heart begins to subside. Polo Ralph Lauren (1978) could easily be this scent's older, and less athletic chypre brother since it too banks on green aromatics. I liken Tsar to a presage to the sporty scents of the 90's in the same way the first VC&A PH was something of a presage to the 80's powerhouse style, but kept one foot in the 70's. Wear time is above average and youngers guys not into classic gent scents nor fans of oakmoss-rich fougères will likely find this dated. Tsar's loose-fitting nature between active and formal use helps it straddle across multiple contexts and temperatures with ease. Tsar won't withstand sweltering heat, or fierce cold, but indoor and outdoor use are both good.

Tsar's white-collar trappings understate it's versatility, and assuming one likes green masculines, Tsar could be the middleground between something like the soapiness Paco Rabanne Pour Homme (1973) and dryness of Dunhill Edition (1984). Tsar stands out with a bit of that "sporty" freshness that the masculine perfume world wouldn't take for granted until stuff like Perry Ellis 360° for Men (1995) focused on it more and stuff Addidas Adrenaline (2003) hit the market and injected this idea with egregious amounts of ozonic top notes. By the 2000's, "sporty" (but often with blue-tinged juice too) had been so overdone in the mass-market segment that one might see this as a more-refined and stately moss-powered version of that style instead of a fougère that's merely inflected with it. If you're the kind of guy that doesn't like to change clothes or fragrance between a day at the office and an evening at the pool haul, Tsar may be just what you're looking for. If you'd rather ditch the bright greens and focus on soapier, more conservative structures, try the first Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme instead. This dependable fougère unfortunately was killed off in late 2018 along with almost all VC&A's "designer" masculine offerings as they transition their perfume offerings upmarket to a prestige-based house, meaning by the time you read this, prices are likely ridiculous in the second-hand market. Thumbs Up, but sample first as Tsar's suddenly-acquired "unicorn" status makes it a costly proposition.
26th February, 2018 (last edited: 11th March, 2019)
TeeEm Show all reviews
United Kingdom
This review is for the original green bottle, I bought around 1990.

For me it did not quite do it... green like the bottle, fresh and slightly spicy...
It reminds me of the Green Polo or the Jazz by YSL, but these two do it better, and have identity and uniqueness.

I remember loads of positive comments from females when I wore it... Happy days
6/10
08th January, 2018
Tsar is an honest, good fougere, the likes of which are disappearing one by one these days. There's the traditional bergamot-lavender-oakmoss structure, but Tsar distinguishes itself with an array of fresh, green notes that are slightly grassy-coniferous than herbal. The bright, vivid opening of bergamot and lavender, tinged with neroli, leads to an aromatic phase that persists over a few hours. It is fresh, delightfully reminiscent of soap, yet retains a surprising crisp dryness. The oakmoss is discernible, though somewhat toned down, and together with patchouli and woods comprise an abstract accord that concludes the final transformation, where the fresh green aspects are still retained. It seems to have very little leathery aspect, if any. Tsar has an appreciable duration of about seven hours and a persistent gentlemanly sillage.

Tsar's neighbours could be Jazz (less green, more abstract and complex), Duc de Vervins (less fresh, more leathery) and Esencia (more woody and coniferous). Tsar could be a classic white shirt fragrance, though personally its charms are best experienced at leisure. I tend to think of Tsar as uplifting, uncomplicated, handsome, authentic, wholesome, more traditional than conservative, and a wardrobe staple for the discerning noses.

4/5
17th August, 2017

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