I would count this as possibly the best thing in my collection. I have the feeling that, at the moment, I don’t know enough to appreciate it properly. Luca Turin’s review of it is insightful, and I find myself going through the same stage of discovery with every use of YH. For instance: spraying some into the cap and then straight on to my arm helps separate out some of the notes. The cap seems to trap the lavender, while skin seems immediately to bring out some of the more gourmand elements.
As well as combining the accords well (perfectly?), there is a terrific balance of light and shade, warmth and coolness. In very hot weather, I’d be more likely to want to wear this than something like l’Instant de Guerlain EDT, my present staple, due to the cooling and relaxing effect of the lavender. But in cold weather, the ‘roasted’ aspect of the coffee and spices that Tanya Sanchez writes about comes to the fore.
It’s hard to say what you can expect from YH, as the notes don’t tend to behave in a uniform way on me. It’s not unknown to have the coffee, liquorice and spices take over at the start, and for the lavender to be prominent in the dry down, a reversal of the usual pyramidal progression. There is definitely something of the Gestalt in YH, whereby the accords want to jump out and compete for attention. As a result, it’s hard just to let it be and do its job; a bit like intermediate musicians want to isolate and replicate their instrument’s part in the context of a band.
Again, YH seems to be out of production. Bottles of the 2013 vintage are currently going for as much as the 2005 on Ebay and elsewhere. I have a full 50ml bottle and most of another one left, and I live in terror of not being able to find others. Worth trying? If you can get hold of it.
One last comment: Is it a fougere? Turin and Sanchez have this done as a “liquorice fougere”. However, the lavender is the only fougere staple ingredient that I can find. So either a single point of overlap is sufficient for this claim, or they are talking more about structure, or the way accords work together, or some other aspect that I just don’t yet have the mileage to understand.
With the exception of the outrageous and incomparable Angel, I am not a fan of gourmand scents. I can't understand why someone would want to smell like he/she has just stepped out of a kitchen.
So, I was skeptical about liking Yohji Homme. No fear, the gourmand warnings were exaggerated. However, what I do get is minimal. Coffee and lavender drying down to a fougere with a whiff of leather in the background. Dry, nice, sophisticated, but hardly a masterpiece as so many great Basenote reviewers find it to be.
It disappears on my skin very quickly. If it had more depth, more longevity, the scales might have been tipped toward a positive review. As such, however, I can admire what it wants to be, not what it is. I would have sent it back to the labs with a nod of encouragement that it is on the right track, but has more work to do before it achieves what it points to as its unique goal.
This review is for the re-released version from around 2012.
Three L's totally dominate here: Liquorice, Lavender and Leather - in that order. This is sometimes referred to as a gourmand, no doubt because of the liquorice. The note list is spot on to call this Liquorice rather than anise. The note reminds me exactly of the raw root liquorice my childhood mate used to bring back from Southern Italy; initially nothing much, but when you scrape your nail against it you get a pungent, savoury, earthy, bitter aromatic smell/taste. A mature, complex multifaceted treat for the palate.
The Lavender exists in perfect harmony with the Liquorice. This might be one of the best blended fragrances around! The blend is like listening to a DJ mixing two tracks, perfectly matching the rhythm and speed so that its hard to notice where one track is fading out and the new one is fading in. The Lavender adds to the dry herbaceous liquorice goodness. It also gives the classic "fougere with a twist" backbone to the scent, dragging the liquorice further into the scents development.
The Leather is far more subtle. I probably wouldn't call it without the note list. Also the rum is subtle and discreet, so this certainly isn't a boozy scent - rather - this is an understated, classy modern classic. Very well representative of Yohji Yamamoto as a brand actually: More likley to be your favourite designers favourite designer (favourite fragrance critics favourite fragrance) than actually achieve mass appeal and high volume sales. This could easily get crowded out by more brash confident scents. This one is destined to go under appreciated but nevertheless exudes quiet confidence and genuine class.
It finally dries down to a lightly spicy, warm wood, slightly oak-mossy clean quiet finish. A master-class in terms of blending. An unmitigated triumph? maybe not quite: performance is on the weak side. The overall composition of this re-release is a little 'thin'. I can image the original release is 'thicker'. Theres a very slight chlorinated / swimming pool type background note that may be due to enforced reformulation. Nonetheless its a pleasure to know this understated, under appreciated gem
So I have finally the opportunity to review this "taking the world by storm" cult fragrance which today I test in greater depth on skin in its original formula and that previously I've "inhaled" superficially in the wrongest of the ways (as sprayed on a paper in huge perfume department, yet having contemporarily on skin and under nose 2 or 3 different scents). All has been already told about Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme. Conceptually "oriental" in inspiration this little gem manages to decipher in olfactory terms all the japanese abstract minimalism which is everything but pale simplism. This fragrance is introvert and "meditative". No doubt about the assertion this is a masterfully crafted and balanced composition combining in a skilful formula sharp aldehydic/fougere green tones, a light (translucent) powdery muskiness (vaguely a la Must de Cartier Pour Homme), perfectly modulated gourmandish/boozy/spicy synthetic elements (anisic coffee-cocoa/sweet cinnamon), dark bitter-herbal licorice, a "tonka/vanillin" exotic whiff, hyper subtle leathery echoes and (I'd add) vague salty-soapy-aldehydic patterns close to the ones we get in several scents from IL Profvmo (Pioggia Salata, Nymphea, Citron Sauvage, Fleur de Bambù). Overall is constantly sharp, light, elegant (with a steady undertone of western glamour sophistication), salty/mild, leathery-spicy in a soapy/velvety harmonious way. My long trip in Japan (few years ago, going also around for several remote regions) induces me to catch in here a sort of silent and melancholic, peaceful and somewhat abstract japanese pureness, anyway combined with a western urban modern versatility. I outline the Yohji Homme's uniqueness despite a bunch of scents could be picked up for several of their particularities, scents as Chanel Allure Homme (for a kind of greenish-anisic-rosey-tonkinian-poudre languid/chic/acidic spark), Carven Homme (for its hyper suble musky-spicy leathery rendition), Canali Men (for its greenish-floral-leathery subtle complexity), Eau de Rochas (for its citric-musky aromatic freshness) but on a certain extent also S.T. Dupont Homme and Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne Pour Homme with its perfectly appointed "coton-candy" lavender-cedarwood powderish/eliotropic final "white glare". A main accord of cedar-lavender-anise-bergamot provides a spark of extreme languid sophistication. Licorice provides a kind of dark-spicy-herbal tone (rendered out spicy-boozy-crispy by rum and dry spices) while I can't deny to detect, along the dry down, a sort of fluidy-incensey trail (or anyway it can be just an impression reinforced by a steady, though light, spicy-resinous lingering saltiness). Finally what I love of this fragrance is its velvety (somewhat floral-musky) poudre background full of variegate nuaces, overall perfectly enclosed in to a light olfactory amalgam quite versatile and timeless. A fragrance which deserves for real all its fame, a solution for a modern man soberly elegant and never banal.
My review is based on the original version, although I am given to understand that the recent reissue is quite similar to the original one (oh I wished other houses did that too). Yohji Homme is one of the 2 or 3 "cult" scents of contemporary perfumery (say, post-2000s) which is highly worth its fame and praise. It is, in fact and without doubts, the unique and timeless masterpiece everyone talks about. If you read Turin's guide to perfumes, his review of Yohji Homme is perfect. Like a really few else recent fragrances (I think of M7, a couple of Costume National, Cuiron), it basically smells like nothing else: just pure, white, futuristic synthetic elegance. Yohji is basically a sophisticated woody-spicy scent, with a transparent, polished but warm and dense texture of gourmand notes, slightly creamy and powdery, with also something floral (it smells like iris to me, apart from the lavender note) elegantly contrasting with a dark, boozy subtle undertone of licorice. Above all of this, a rarefied white fog of pure, artificial freshness, some odd but tremendously fascinating plummy and plushy abstract notes providing and irresistible and refined sort of "white glow" all over. What makes Yohji a masterpiece, besides smelling so (so!) great, is the incredible perfection of the composition: it is a complex scent with a lot of echoes, notes, nuances, from spices to sweet notes, a lot of "new" and never-smelled-before going on all over, but still it is so thin, compact, subtle and transparent, almost "zen" and peaceful in a way. It is like that new wave of experimental "cuisine" with those chemist-chefs which stuff recipes and lots of complex flavours in tiny pills. But apart from all of this, it's enough to say that Yohji smells simply gorgeous, addictive, compelling and unique like a really few other scents.
Yohji Homme has a fascinating bittersweet opening, alcoholic and aldehyde driven. I can't recall anything like it. It quickly evolves into a woody sweet accord with well-blended coffee and anise accents: a bit like a balsawood dowel soaked in coffee with sambuca.
The woody notes grow more and more prominent and the coffee floats in and out until, inside of an hour, the whole thing just up and disappears on me. I suspect anosmia here, which is sad indeed, since by all reports what I’m missing is delightful. What I can perceive of Yohji Homme is very promising, but the quick exit leaves me unfulfilled.
My earlier experiences of Yohji Homme left me unsatisfied (see below), largely because I could not detect the scent after about an hour’s wear. I’ve recently had the opportunity to re-sample Yohji Homme from a new source, and am happy to report that this time I can smell the drydown. A good thing, too, because that drydown makes all the difference.
I’ll echo the estimable pluran in his assertion that Yohji Homme is not quite the “gourmand” scent so many have described it as. While Rochas Man, Lolita Lempicka au Masculin, Body Kouros, and any number of the other scents that riff off of Yohji Homme’s coffee, anise, and rum accord set those notes atop a sweet, vanillic woody oriental foundation, Yohji Homme stands apart in its use of much cooler, drier fougère–style base notes. Yohji Homme’s genius lies in the internal contrast between its sweet, warm, foody notes and the brisk, refreshing aromatics of the fougère construct. Its uniformly sweet gourmand successors all miss the point and wind up smelling ponderous, two-dimensional, and cloying by comparison. Now I get it.