Perfume Directory

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme (1978)
by Van Cleef & Arpels

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Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme information

Year of Launch1978
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 376 votes)

People and companies

HouseVan Cleef & Arpels
PerfumerLouis Monnet
Parent CompanyInter Parfums
Parent Company at launchElf Aquitaine > Sanofi Beauté

About Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme is a masculine fragrance by Van Cleef & Arpels. The scent was launched in 1978 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Louis Monnet

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme fragrance notes

Reviews of Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme

This is what an upscale soap, like Irish Spring, would smell like. It's beautiful and unmistakable in its beginning notes and comes through all the way to the finish line. I'm referring to the vintage bottles of VC & A if you can still find them. I had 1 bottle from the early 2000s and just bought another one from someone who didn't know what he was selling (most vintage VC & A Pour Homme sell for $75+).

Because of the reformulations of classic fragrances to push forward the bottom line of the companies that make them, it's a major reason why I'm trying to find and buy vintage fragrances. I've tried some of the current formulations and I just don't like them.
10th January, 2019
The current formulation suffers from the same problem as the modern version of Tsar: an incredibly successful beginning, but barely perceptible persistence. Some say that the current version (black and brown box) is very close to the first one, others that is so far away that it is unrecognizable. I have not tried the original formulation, but I can say that the pefume that you can now buy for just 30 $ has one of the best openings I've smelled in my life, surpassing a good amount of high-priced niche fragrances. It opens a dark and decadent atmosphere, a heavy vagueness of a green gotic rose (similar to that of Lyric Man, no doubt) surrounded by woody and floral nuances drowned by the gloom of an atmosphere of unbearable saffron. It resembles the luxurious "Saffron Rose" by Grossmith, showing that suffocating atmosphere of saffron and rose among the exhalations of the melted wax of burning candles. Warm, really romantic, full of dramatic virility (as if it were the truly poetic version of Lyric Man), the combination quickly turns into a soapy climate (still really dark and dirty, similar to Jasmin Kamá by Rania J. but tremendous, masculine and earthy) increasingly prominent and dry. I have rarely felt so attracted to a fragrance, distinguishing that perfect and unique balance that qualifies the great perfumes, along with a deeply sordid and challenging invitation that completely escapes the standard category of the great classics (that's why we reject them as "conventional").
Magnificent, yes, for thirty minutes. In one hour the perfume has completely turned off, not only on my skin, but also on the perfumery papers. It is true that there remains a ghostly and dense memory, now clearly earthy and sharp (a barber's fragrance) of what the opening was, but it can hardly be smelled. That is all. If I smell the original formulation, I will review this criticism. Until then: a perfume of longevity and projection scandalously low, but so good at opening, it deserves a thumps up.
31st October, 2018 (last edited: 09th November, 2018)
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United Kingdom
To my nose this smells like a lavish bar of rose soap in a luxury hotel - potent yet subdued. Floral, clean and classic. I don't detect any leather note however it dries down to a white soap with a touch of cigarette ash and asphalt, similar to Quorum. Love it.
19th October, 2018
Loud and proud, Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme represents the higher end of the heavy colognes that have entered into legendary status.

Rich, loaded with character, and rife with the typical brashness of the era from which it comes (and a perfect predicter of all things 1980's beast-mode quality!). VC&A is classy, a loud chypre scent that is fresh, aromatic, spicy, and sweet. Not for the faint of heart nor for those spurning vintage powerhouse scents, VC&A takes time and patience to truly appreciate, given the montage of fragrance notes in its triangle:

Top notes...basil, bergamot, green notes, juniper berries, marjoram, thyme and lavender;
Heart notes...guaiac wood, patchouli and vetiver, tender floral and sensual spices;
Base notes...amber, castoreum, smoky incense, dark leather, oak moss and musk

A lot going on here, which is a hallmark of so many men's colognes of that era. Seems like companies back then were competing to see how many spicy, citrus, floral, wood, musk, and other notes they could load into a scent and still come out above the competition. (I would be interested to see an article listing all the "fails" of men's colognes that tried but failed to deliver, even with a huge cornucopeia of notes packed into their formulations!)

VC&A is an arguably legendary scent which, though many may not fully appreciate nowadays in the crowded and diversified field of available scents, still has its followers who can understand its appeal even after forty years since its introduction.
30th August, 2018
An old classic..

This one is special. It reminds me of the old, masculine style of perfumery. This is almost the quintessential barbershop fragrance. To me it's a leathery fougère . It's also mossy and has the rose, vetiver, lavender and carnation. It's very sophisticated and done in an exceptional style of perfumery, from arguably one of the best decades in perfumery.

This fragrance, like Tsar, which was released over a decade later, is very masculine and refreshing. In fact, I find this has a barbershop quality much like Rive Gauche pour Homme. You get a very masculine blend of dark herbs, spices, oakmoss & vetiver etc. and it's wonderful. I like it very much.

If you are a fan of the old style of masculine classic perfumery, this is one to try out. Good for the price too.

26th August, 2018
Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme is a pre-powerhouse dense aromatic leather chypre that seeks to be the late 70's version of a generalist scent. We think of generalists now as being midway between an aquatic, a fresh fougère, and sometimes with oriental or gourmand notes tacked on if we're post-2000's, but almost none of those now-conventional genres existed back then, so if one was to make a "something for everyone" masculine, it would be shockingly different from what we might expect now; Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme is that scent. To be clear, this is lightyears away from any modern generalist in terms of distinction and quality, save maybe something blended to perfection like Dolce & Gabbana or Armani's 90's offerings, which get accolades even from fans of far older styles. The danger Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme faces is the same all generalists face: the "little bit of every contemporary style" can backfire and include something that some people just don't like, but overall, the complex orchestration of perfumer Louis Monnet does it's best to blend it all into a nice, dry hum. For the late 70's man that didn't know whether to reach for his Paco Rabanne Pour Homme (1973), Monsieur Musk by Houbigant (1973) or Bogart by Jacques Bogart (1975) he could simply reach for this one instead. Overall, this is for fans of heavily-mossed late 70's and early 80's masculines, be it a fougère or chypre as it is in the case of this. Fans of the aforementioned would do well with this in their collections, and likewise Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme slightly presages the similarly rich orris-powered heart and mossy bottom of Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui (1981), and staunch woods of Chanel Antaeus made the same year. Dare I say both draw some inspiration from this.

Granted, it doesn't really represent the oriental category much, but they typically stood apart from other masculine categories then because of their sweetness. Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme opens with a typical bergamot top, but is saddled with herbs and florals right from the get-go for a much leafier opening than most things in it's class, pulling this into a direction similar to a middle ground between the rosy demeanor of Monsieur Musk and the soapiness of Paco Rabanne Pour Homme. From there, a crisp smoky accord merges with more soap thanks to the vetiver and orris in the middle, striking up a similarity between Paco Rabanne once again, but with an arid quality all it's own. Before VC&A PH starts being too much of a Paco clone, cedar and jasmine start playing tug-of-war with the "incense and hotel soap" presentation into the rich leather chypre base, which is where this compares most favorably with Chaps Ralph Lauren of the following year (1979) and the earlier Bogart by Jacques Bogart. Leather, oakmoss, olibdanum, labdanum, musk, and amber are all here trying to share the same park bench, with small drop of raunchy castoreum sneaking into the photo shoot at the end. It's never quite enough to eliminate the soap of the middle, which is the scent's greatest weakness, since this soapiness is what ultimately dates Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme the most and then further makes it less wearable to the guy that can't stomach that decade-specific soap by adding the Pink-Dove-Bar vibe with the rose. I personally appreciate it, or else I wouldn't own so many things from this period of this design, but I do admit that one can quite quickly become burned out on the 70's version of "clean" quite quickly if this is worn back to back with many of it's peers, as they all start to run together.

All of this is also why I label VC&A PH a pre-powerhouse, since it keeps one foot firmly in the conventions of it's own decade with that herbal/soapy/barbershop vibe, but transitions through that dark aromatic leather chypre dry down into something dense enough to fight toe-to-toe with any of the mossy übermensch which appeared at the dawn of the 80's, particularly anything of the aromatic variety. Equally convenient is the fact that this does straddle late 70's and early 80's so perfectly that for the vintage masculine fragrance fan who can't decide on which decade he wants, VC&A PH presents a unique compromise between the two. I give this a thumbs up because I enjoy the green floral leather chypre vibe anyway (even feminine ones), and having it blended with crisp herbs, woods, and moss is an added plus because I like the darker and heavier fougères of the era too. Folks not really jiving with that combo are better off with Van Cleef & Arpels' later powerhouse offering Tsar (1989), which was more coniferous and mossy with a dedicated and uncompromising fougère base, having no toes dipped in anything other than once again straddling decades. Anyone digging this is apt to enjoy any of the fragrances I listed from which this combines aspects, or the late Quorum Antonio Puig (1982) as well, which seems to absorb some of this one's style. This "70's generalist" would sadly live in the shadow of Polo Ralph Lauren and Aramis Devin of the same year, but has it's fans and is still kicking around in perfume stores for that reason. Fall and winter seem best for this, and it feels most at home in an office. It's too stiff for romance and too dark for casual/recreational use. It's an interesting cross-section of 70's masculine styles, with 80's power, and very likeable leather that doesn't have the typical gasoline bite. Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme is not by any means essential, but a nice flanking option for fans of this era. Very well done first masculine effort.
05th March, 2018 (last edited: 20th May, 2018)

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