I’ve left it late trying L’Homme Ideal properly. I had to let the howls of disappointment that were echoing across the perfumed cybersphere die down. I had to get a bit of distance from its vomitous name and tacky marketing campaign. And I had to get over an encounter with it in a department store which left me feeling I’d damaged my nose, as it came across as a screechingly synthetic sugary citrus.
Trying it at home I am of two minds. I have to balance my perception that the aura of this perfume is warm, inviting, comfortable (supremely safe), and would make me want to nuzzle up to myself if I could, against its synthetic and yawnsome aspects.
A perfectly projected aromatic sweetness (as found in certain popular daddy colognes and soaps) is constant throughout this Homme’s evolution – it’s certainly there in the gum drop citruses at the start, it’s backing the unusual almond heart phase (almost spoiling it), and it finds its home in the mild woody base that is territory marked out by numerous designer ‘masculines’. The problem, as many have pointed out, is that this base while sweet and reassuring, also comes across as overly synthetic: the citruses, though muted, still linger, resolutely gumdroppy, the appealing almond scales back to being just another player in the mix before bowing out, and the woody-tonka base seems almost completely concocted.
Here one cannot avoid a bit of interference from memory – the best Guerlain bases twinkle with a myriad mysterious facets, this one is just a radiant aromatic thing that smells generic, it belongs, one cannot help thinking, in some twinky cologne perpetrated by some sports manufacturer.
While emphasizing L’Homme Ideal’s synthetic feel, it would be wrong to suggest that this is a displeasing scent – no, despite its amped up sweetness (the taste of the times) it is well-balanced with good projection. But like the perfect man, it is a crashing bore.
Nonetheless, smelling its trail upon re-entering a room, I am struck by how broadly inviting it is – it’s the kind of thing I’d smell on someone and instantly say, ‘My, you smell good.’
If this was Guerlain’s stab at mainstream popularity, it wins on that count – and I think the sales figures are backing it up. Does it belong in the Guerlain tradition? Let’s just say we’re in different times...