Chanel Pour Monsieur features one of the all-time great openings, a citric blast that feels powdery, playful and ticklish. After that life-affirming moment the scent turns into a perfectly calibrated soapy base which lasts longer than most people think. Indeed Chanel Pour Monsieur has a very strange habit of suddenly returning in strength after some hours of wear.
Classy and upbeat, you immediately notice it is made of the best materials. Very versatile and perfect for more discreet use (office). Probably best worn if you are 40+ or wear suits on a regular basis.
Chanel's masterpiece for men.
Weird, nobody has done this before, so: “say hello to my lil’ friend!”
Havana does come with a reputation as The Last of the Powerhouses. It came late in the game, which probably led to its early demise. But it’s back. Of course it is different than you’d imagine after reading the reviews. Havana is one of the more difficult scents to get a handle on. I don’t think it as overwhelming as its reputation suggests. Good sillage, good power, but nothing really out there. Havana for me is a post-powerhouse. It has all the right moves (and ingredients, lots of them) but already you sense a 1990s influence. There is one note, sort of boozy and fresh, which can also be found in Egoiste (Platinum?) that turns Havana into a hybrid.
The overall impression is somehow equatorial, wet and spicy. Cinnamon to me plays a very strong part -echoes of Obsession- perhaps at times too strong. As with many powerhouses (Jules, Van Cleef, Pour Lui) the base is soft and uplifting. Havana probably is a versatile scent, the number of ingredients will make it smell different in different weather/seasons. It does remind me a lot of Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, a more brash and streetwise sibling without the European noblesse. Although the real bad dude scents remain Yatagan en Trussardi. Great quality and complexity but not as good as the original powerhouses.
Grey Flannel is something of a cult fragrance in Europe. There’s hardly any folk memory surrounding this surprisingly American old school classic so anyone looking for a cheap, stylish scent that isn’t too obvious can always investigate. Much has already been said about this controversial fragrance and I suspect the negatives mainly concern the opening. I personally don’t like the opening, which reminds me of a damp woolen blanket left overnight in the grass. But then again, I don’t like the majority of openings of most of my favorite fragrances and they are relatively unimportant in real classics. After five minutes Grey Flannel starts to mutate and lighten up into something literally bittersweet and unique. The base has a brilliant soapy feel which thanks to the remaining bitterness never gets too sweet.
Longevity and projection are above average but not as forceful as some have suggested (perhaps the original formulation was more powerful). This is indeed a scent for elegant men, not your t-shirt and jeans combo. With its constant associations of musty green and dampness I also like to think of it as the ultimate rainy Sunday morning scent. Calm, clean and slightly austere. A beautiful scent.
I have for some time observed how certain fragrances make more sense in different regions. Perhaps it is a figment of my imagination, perhaps it is due to climatic differences but Sergio Tacchini seems to bloom when worn in Mediterranean weather. The first wearings of this 1987 scent were pleasant but failed to impress me. Yet after a week of wearing it on holiday in Spain something just clicked.
One of the things that mystifies me is why Sergio Tacchini can immediately be dated to the 1980s. But it is there right from the start with an opulent blast of fresh lime. The citric explosion is joined by a light soapy texture which at the very least ensures you’ll be smelling clean, not only laundry clean but also on a grander scale clean like the smell of the sun breaking out after a rainy night. Sergio Tacchini is a breezy scent and it never gets weighted down by the male powerhouse notes of the time instead opting for a pleasant cedarwood/sandalwood combination with a touch of musk just to invoke the male body.
The overall effect is of an air of transparent elegance. It makes one long for white trousers, linen blazers and careless walks in the afternoon sun.
Alvarez Gómez Agua de Colonia is a very popular scent (after all these years) with a great range of grooming products. To my surprise the cologne itself is almost avantgarde. A very sharp blast of lemon, which it is my duty to report does invoke anti-mosquito sprays (and I hate it when reviews do this), is softed by a strange base that somehow reminds me of beeswax, although it never is identified as note. Without a doubt it is a stylish upbeat scent which can be found at very friendly prices. In the end I am more of a Agua Lavanda type when it come to Spanish colognes but this gets a thumbs up for being different.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present: the perfect fragrance. Agua Lavanda is the smell of daydreams. A lovely breeze of soapy lavender that will magically make you look more elegant in the perception of those who cross your path. One shouldn't overanalyze but simply enjoy spells like these. What irony that such a treasure comes in a large plastic bottle for about 5 euro.
A victim of expectations. Thanks to another poetic name which just promises too much: raw smoke, oriental longing, male gazes. Alas, Fumerie Turque is far more civilized, acceptable and well-behaved with its soft velvety patchouli.This is very linear scent with average longevity/sillage and sadly I didn't detect the potentially adventurous girl-pissed-herself note. It did however remind me of Jacomo de Jacomo's heart and drydown, without the brilliant cigarette opening. You know what follows: JDJ is probably 5 or 6 times cheaper and a more complete fragrance.
Fumerie Turque is not a bad scent, just slightly conventional especially compared to Lutens two masterpieces, the horny Muscs Koublaï Khän and mysterious Borneo 1834
I am going to give a contrarian review of Davidoff. Not only contrary to the negative reviews, that's easy because Davidoff is really good, but also to the positive. When I found out about the first Davidoff scent I sighed and realistically prepared myself for the fact that I would never get to smell it. I did find a bottle and it turned out quite differently from what I had expected reading the preceding reviews (before the Basenotes powerhouse gang starting handing out thumbs up.) I imagined Davidoff as a harsh, loud, crude yet somehow loveable concoction. But fragrances never turn out the way you imagine. Sometimes they even turn out better.
First off all, Davidoff isn't that strong. Sure, it is a powerhouse and very much from the 1980s but it is nowhere near the intensity of the four Big Hitters (namely Kouros, Van Cleef & Arples pour homme, Quorum and Lapidus pour homme) more in the range of the original Oscar De La Rent pour Lui (which also contrary to its fame isn't that loud on me.) I drop that reference because Davidoff shares a certain elegance and complexity with that magnificent scent. You are a man of taste –self-assured, affable, into the good things of life- when you know how to wear these scents. There just isn't anything off-putting about Davidoff, this is yet again another supposedly civet-loaded fragrance that fails to raise an eyebrow.
The highlight for me, that strangely enough nobody has mentioned before, is the enchanting hay-like heart of Davidoff courtesy of the classic hay-vetiver interplay, seguing into a tobacco note, that brings back memories of sniffing my father's tins and envelopes filled with pipe tobacco as a child.
I can understand why Davidoff discontinued its first scent. The times changed, their own Cool Water completely changed the game, people quit smoking and this is, as many a powerhouse, a smoker's perfume. But instead of reformulating Davidoff like has happened to most powerhouses (see for instance the sad case of Jacomo de Jacomo) maybe it was more admirable to just retire it.
Too bad for me, I could easily wear this as a signature scent for the rest of my life.
The vintage formulation. One thing we forget when talking about powerhouses is that a lot of them were, and still are, quite avant-garde. Take the opening of Trussardi Uomo, how utterly brutal, somehow ugly yet admirably strange is this assault of dirt and spices. The olfactory equivalent of Swans tuning up. Unthinkable in today's perfumery (sadly) although even in the pre-aquatic age it must have scared away many a potential customer.
The thing is, Trussardi isn't that outrageously strong after the opening. My theory is that a lot of powerhouses got their fame as sillage monsters because of ultra-strong and weird openings. That doesn’t mean that Trussardi has no projection but I would call it civilized. Its form resembles Yatagan quite a lot.
Trussardi is, no surprise when you consider the origin of the house, about leather. You decided to wear your leather jacket again which you wore when you went clubbing in your younger years, you chain smoked and never bothered to get it cleaned. During the walk in the forest you have sex on a bed of pine needles and then you basically smell of Trussardi Uomo. You will also will smell a bit like the female version of Trussardi, another good thing because that is another brilliant and underrated perfume.
Rough, sullen, pensive Italian glamour in a bottle.
No need to introduce Azzaro Pour Homme, by many considered the best fragrance for men ever. I tend to agree most of the times. But some admirers are convinced that through the years it lost some of its power and depth. How much is an ongoing debate. I belong to the camp that thinks it has indeed lost something of its radiance, although I also am a firm believer in the notion that our memories tend to play some tricks on us (especially when it comes to the power of fragrances.)
The solution should be Azzaro Intense Pour Homme, probably dated 2000, but I have read different release dates (some going back to the beginning of the 90s and one tv-ad really makes a good case for this to be true.) This Intense version must have failed commercially because so little is known of the fragrance (even this is the first review on Basenotes) and of course it is discontinued.
How do the two compare? Intense has indeed more volume but is not necessarily louder (and longevity is about the same.) The current Azzaro Pour Homme feels transparent compared to the Intense version which clearly is superior in the base, it feels full and opulent, displaying more character. On the other hand regular Azzaro possesses a better opening, that joyful citric-anise crispiness has been muted here, the anise replaced by fennel (probably to have one easy identifiable point of difference between both scents) giving it, an almost imperceptible fecal touch that I can only perceive on paper/cloth. I also can detect a slight sweetness in the heart that I can’t remember in the original.
In short, if your love for Azzaro Pour Homme mainly concerns the development from heart to base, it is worth checking out, of course without paying the extravagant prices ($100+) one sees around. Comes in a nicely designed box.
Ladies and gentlemen: the 1980’s. In full effect.
This I would like to call budget avant-garde. Lapidus Pour Homme sure is weird. First of all the opening: it has been suggested this is akin to opening a can of pineapple slices. Not so dramatic or crude. No doubt it is fruity but it is more about an idea of fruit. Also I would call Lapidus Pour Homme metallic at times, but not the grating metallic-amber vibe that 90% of current scents seem to push in everybody’s face but a damp metal overgrown with moss. Disgusting? Not so, since it’s counterbalanced by a very pleasing sweetness.
Lapidus Pour Homme is super strong and the atomizer sprays a large amount resulting in true sillage. The “just one spray for me” crowd will faint just by being in the same room as a bottle of Lapidus Pour Homme. This is the quintessential powerhouse: extravert, adventurous and complex. Perfect for occasions when you want radiate a certain stylish, slightly vulgar “I don’t care” attitude. And because Ted Lapidus never has been a flashy house, specializing in well-made affordable scents, they never had to reformulate/weaken it. Consequently Lapidus Pour Homme remains a monument to this extravagant and brilliant period of male fragrance.
Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui (I am reviewing the original version) these days is a fairly obscure fragrance but also a perennial favorite of powerhouse fans. Yet one thing must be stressed: this is no vulgar macho scent. To quickly play the comparison game: it does at first and in a distant way resemble Van Cleef & Arples pour Homme (the same sort of indefinable gritty opening segueing into almost feminine soapiness) with at times a slight fougère echo.
But Pour Lui does not possess the recognizable and extravagant character of VC&A, Naed Nitram was right again: it really is abstract and elusive. I find it very hard to get a handle on this scent; Pour Lui, without dramatics or special effects, just produces an extremely well-blended aura of timeless elegance. This may also be a result of its density; apparently Pour Lui is overloaded with ingredients, especially in the opening, thus creating something like an inverted pyramid. Tales of explosive strength are in my opinion exaggerated; Pour Lui gives off exactly the right civilized radiance whilst being a skin scent after the opening.
An early ad pictures a bottle under a clear starry night and Pour Lui indeed possesses something of the slow, cold and unlimited beauty of the stars. Stargazers can probably wear this fragrance a lifetime without it giving away all its secrets.
The smell of opening a box carrying new, expensive leather Shoes, with complementary shoe polish which somehow is already giving off its fragrance. Nice enough. The polish effect wears off after sometime so the leather and a slightly sweet, very typical Lutens base remains. Well made of course but a bit demanding in the opening phase and overall slightly on the feminine side. Leather lovers should of course investigate but it just doesn’t excite me as much as other Lutens greats do.
A dark, calm mystery. Bornéo 1834 possesses a brilliant evocative name that should flood your mind with poetic associations. It basically is chocolate (civilized without tons of sugar, so we say cacao), camphor and patchouli and reminds me of being a child, wandering through museums dedicated to the orient.
Perhaps slightly demanding as a skin fragrance, you do smell like a stowaway who has been hiding for months in the cargo of a ship returning from the Indies. Maybe Bornéo 1834 would work even better as an ambient scent. Even so, a truly great and artful scent.
In his review of the awful Bleu de Chanel Kaern observes “Can you imagine L'Artisan, Lutens, Keiko Mercheri, etc knocking this out -- not a chance.” At the time I agreed of course, but we both obviously hadn’t smelled L’Eau Serge Lutens.
I find this scent to be quite worrying. Not in itself because it is completely inoffensive. Breezy citrus, a wisp of mint, the tiniest drop of musk. Basically, the smell of household anti-bacterial soap or a slightly more refined take on your average fresh/loud designerfrags in ugly purple or silver bottles that are always discounted. One redeeming feature is the longevity which for this type of fragrance is truly outstanding (at least 10 hours.)
What does worry me is that Lutens is actually following the downward spiral Guerlain and Chanel went on (and plenty of us on Basenotes were dismayed by/laughed at.) As for the reasons, one can only speculate. Lack of inspiration? Tired of complexity? Or a conceptual joke? Me, I like conceptual jokes, but not with such a price tag attached.
What a con. This is my natural skin scent! Just kidding.
Thanks to all the great preceding reviews Muscs Koublaï Khän comes loaded with associations. Quite predictably the first wearing put me thoroughly in the “what’s all this talk about crotch?” camp. I was expecting a mix of smells found in a stable (which I love) but MKK isn’t like that at all. It certainly does not outstink elegant weirdos like Kouros, Jules or Yatagan. I understand the reviewer who wrote that it smells of sunburned skin (skin warmed by summer sun to be more precise.) Actually, those who don’t find this to be dirty in general seem to make this skin association. This makes for a delicious scent although also a bit strange as if you are suddenly wearing someone else’s skin, almost feels like cheating. Funny that I use the word cheating because in another sense of the word a slight paranoid fear is building that my wife, until she gets used to me wearing this, will suddenly start sniffing around me and go “okay, who have you been with?”
It is a sensual fragrance but also bookish, I certainly sympathize with those who wear this at home whilst reading a book. Because of its deepness and elusive complexity wearing Muscs Koublaï Khän produces innumerable impressions that will make one believe you can recover those famous stanzas of Kubla Khan that Coleridge forgot. Great longevity, sillage is civilized. Obviously, a masterpiece.
Hard to add something new to the excellent reviews (pro and con.) Like most male offerings by Caron Le Troisième Homme can at first be really intimidating. The opening and heart possess a strength that competes with the more notorious powerhouses of the eighties and again makes you sigh: “is this really wearable?”
Le Troisième Homme is less green than I expected reading the notes. Maybe the old bottle pictured above helped these green associations but it’s probably due to Caron’s excellent blending. The term symphonic has rightly been mentioned (it's also full of brilliant little details.) There’s no denying this is a sweet scent though. Those who have ambivalent or negative attitudes towards sweet fragrances and especially vanilla should be warned (then again I don’t normally like sweet fragrances but find myself craving Le Troisième Homme.)
It does indeed at some time remind me of Égoïste, which probably was “inspired” by it and made acceptable for mass consumption. But I seldom waste a thought on the outplayed Égoïste whilst the complexities of Le Troisìeme Homme still puzzle and challenge many.
Obviously not a scent for everyone, how many times have terms like beauty and elegance been thrown around when discussing it? But one probably knows instinctively if one is the sort of man (or woman) who is able to wear this. Hard to imagine Le Troisième Homme as a day-to-day fragrance though because it can be quite demanding and prone to saturation of the senses (probably a feeling that people confuse with boredom.) Even so, with a careful hand this is a wearable fragrance that will make you stand out. Longevity is great (around the 10-12 hour mark most of the times.)
They should have named it Caron Narcissus though; because every time I wear it I have a distinct feeling I like myself more than I did before.
07th September, 2010 (last edited: 14th October, 2010)
After reading the reviews I was convinced Jacomo de Jacomo would be the product of Paris at the dark end of the 70s. Yet even though it is a dark scent it also is never gloomy or oppressing. One reason for this (and ultimately its weakness) is that Jacomo de Jacomo lacks strength. Which is a shame because Jacomo de Jacomo could have been the stuff of legend if it had some longevity and proper volume beyond the opening/heart.
As it is, the beautiful proto-Comme des Garçons opening gives way to a discreet base that is quite acceptable and somehow a dead ringer for the same phase in Prada Amber Pour Homme (a good thing of course.) While it lasts (say 5 hours on a really good day) it is a fairly unique scent that does indeed smell of smoke. Not real smoke but memories of cigarette smoke moving through thin air in a club with your lover in proximity. Call me crazy but this feels like a clubbing fragrance and I have a feeling Jacomo know this too; notice how the white letters on the box give off a metallic/rainbow sheen. Very disco.
Lovers/collectors of bottles will want to investigate because Jacomo de Jacomo comes in a very cool bottle which resembles a big lighter.
04th September, 2010 (last edited: 14th October, 2010)
I am going to be predictable: this isn't any good. I thought I was going to be smart but Cedriceccentric and Andrewthecologneguy already spelled out the obvious: Bleu de Chanel should have been named Allure Bleu. Now from a business point of view this looks like a smart idea. Allure and its depressing line of flankers have been a success for Chanel and "blue" scents, well, that's what men want these days, right? Let's put 1 + 1 together.
From an aesthetic point of view the problem is that Allure homme was rather average to begin with. Acceptable perhaps as an inoffensive one-off but not as a base for a line of flankers (which I don't like in general.) Allure is immediately recognizable in the opening combined with some generic but extremely sweet aquatic fruity details. The fragrance is completely frontloaded like the airport scent that it is, which means that after two hours is seems to have disappeared.
Not a deception since Chanel has not been to kind to men for some time now but certainly puzzling that such an esteemed house wants to be associated with something so unattractive as Bleu de Chanel.
11th August, 2010 (last edited: 09th October, 2010)
I am on the fence with this one. I love lavender so the opening blast pushes my pleasure center. But in general I am wary of vanilla in fragrances if it is cast in a starring role as it is here. Even so this certainly is a beautiful vanilla: haunting, ancient, French. Actually, the fragrance as a whole triggers unspecified memories connected more to places than people wearing Caron pour un homme. It is without a doubt a great fragrance, obviously not of this time, but I don’t see myself wearing it at this stage in my life. Although I wish my house would smell like this.
I am going to give a typical "on the fence" review here. I like Agua Brava, it possesses a pleasurable old skool citric-pine opening blast that is very refreshing and morphs into a more woody-spicy base. But, if you have ever stayed/lived for some time in Spain during the last 40 years you'll be sick of it by now. It is basically the national fragrance, worn by every dad and uncle. It is simply impossible to have missed it. Agua Brava is pretty elegant but for me it is too loaded with memories and a certain type of man so that I only can wear it as an ironic gesture.
People still love it (as witnessed here), it is easily available (supermarkets included) and good value for money but I prefer a slightly more modern take on Spanish grooming (with for instance Esencia Loewe).
Mysterious and beautiful scent. The opening is weird and medicinal. It might put some off but I learned to love it very quickly. Others have described its progression and attraction far better than I can. All I can say is that Trussardi (Donna) is extremely elegant and particular, dry and soft. Also can be had for a bargain (which is strange considering Trussardi in general is outrageously expensive.)
I normally follow the esteemed gentlemen who have praised this scent blindly and yes, the gender of scents is ambivalent and all about social convention, but this one is strictly worn by my wife.
Quintessential Spanish scent. Relatively hard to find (although they carry it on Iberia flights and of course in its hometown Madrid you can find it everywhere.) Extremely elegant and rather introverted and controlled. The strange opening works like a slight aristocratic eccentricity (a little joke to keep the crowd away?)
At first wear it seems to disappear rather quickly but its longevity is excellent. It doesn’t scream for attention and possesses weird sillage; Esencia just suddenly seems to breathe back into existence. It contains innumerable shades of green which places Esencia roughly in the same quadrant as Drakkar Noir and Quorum, yet lacking the strength issues of both. Actually, I am convinced that if Esencia had been more popular or widely known the reviews would be as polarizing as said fragrances.
I agree with Naed Nitram that it evokes associations of a tavern although I must say I place its mustiness in a typical Spanish bar during a summer evening, a weird but common combination of wood, ripened food and well dressed/groomed men drinking wine, discussing life, women and futbol.
A green classico.
13th March, 2010 (last edited: 09th August, 2010)
Another lesson in nostalgia. This one surprisingly evokes memories of bed linen and cabinets at my grandparents. Very soothing and mysterious. As with other LJR fragrances this possesses a soft elegance. Cuir de Russie is a clean fragrance in which the leather functions more as a contrast (in play with amber and a to my nose unidentifiable flowery component) than centerpiece. I gravitate to the idea that Cuir de Russie would give me more joy as a scented candle (which they indeed carry) than a fragrance I would wear with any regularity.
12th November, 2009 (last edited: 24th April, 2010)
Strange to see this house is so under-appreciated. It's been around for awhile, they give samples away (swiftly and for a very low posting fee), apparently they use natural ingredients (if you care about that sort of thing, I don't really) and their prices put their niche counterparts to shame. Ah yes, the scent? Beautiful and breezy take on sandalwood with a light soapy touch. Nostalgic, almost haunting, but without the usual strength issues one associates with something made in 1977 (so don't expect monster sillage.) Perhaps a touch too pretty for me.
11th November, 2009 (last edited: 24th April, 2010)
It is nearly impossible to follow up Naed Nitram's review, which is my favorite on Basenotes. So I'll keep it simple. This one is a classic vetiver with its precise interplay of citrus and tobacco. It isn't as in your face and somehow pungent as Guerlain's can be at times. As with other scents by LJR Eau de Vetyver is light, crystal clear, pure...dreamlike. Should be the perfect scent for spring and summer giving you the restrained air of a knowing gentleman.
10th November, 2009 (last edited: 24th April, 2010)
Complex, weird and poetic. Oh, you want more? Difficult scent to break down, especially the beautiful and unusual opening that shrouds what is to come. I find the heart to be a bit intimidating at first thanks to its exploding soapiness that almost veers into feminine territory but just pulls back in time and becomes intriguing bittersweet. Very seventies and somehow very reassuring (memories of childhood, that whole Proustian thing.) Yet calling it outdated is meaningless. Unless one means VC&A belongs to an era with better taste, in which case I have to agree (looking at the great fragrances released just in the year 1978 is quite humbling.)
It reads as an intelligent macho scent (there is just something...horny yet bookish about it, just today I thought of Serge Gainsbourg as the perfect wearer, although he probably didn't care about perfumes). Yet because of its force, style and play between male and female it is also another fragrance that could have been named Le Dandy. Longevity is really good, in the 10+ hour range. Should be tested before purchase by most (although a certain kind of fraghead with experience in the Azzaro Pour Homme - Jules - Paco Rabanne Pour Homme triangle will know what to expect...and love this.) I'm off writing poems about the ghosts of dead children and some evil flowers.
18th September, 2009 (last edited: 24th April, 2010)
Basically, the way American 15-year girls smelled in the 80's. This, one could say, is a good thing. But of course no self-respecting woman should wear this bubblegum water. The name is utter crap too.
Its official name should be changed to The Much Maligned Noir. The French lesbians, the phallic ads (“La douce violence d’un parfum d’homme”), the bottle that looks like your average shampoo, the silly name, the gateway scent of 80s youth. Actually I quite understand why some don’t like it anymore; I won’t wear Fahrenheit or Cool Water because I wore them as a teenager (although I don’t disown them.) But…I never wore Drakkar Noir, so without the weight of memories it’s basically a new fragrance. And it is of course a pivotal scent and (together with the beautiful Azzaro and Paco Rabanne PH) a baseline with which other scents of the 70s and 80s are measured.
It must have been very popular because it does indeed produce flashes of the eighties although I immediately smell it as a collection of (loud mouthed) rip-offs that Drakkar Noir has set in motion. The most flattering I know of, as some have commented before, Gucci Nobile (on paper a more unflattering example: one of the Axe’s at the end of the same decade.) But what I do find surprising is the fact that, contrary to its fame as 80’s powerhouse, Drakkar Noir is a quiet scent, probably the reason it got over applied by plebeian and youthful fools. “Soft violence” does indeed cover it as Drakkar Noir reminds me sometimes of an introverted, sweeter cousin of Quorum (from the same year.) When used correctly it possesses beautiful whispering sillage and after some use I have noticed that its longevity is longer than expected. So from the outside something of a prole but inside hides the soul of a fine gentleman.
18th June, 2009 (last edited: 05th September, 2009)
Typical product in "the current style" of the last 15 years or so, in other words: crap. An uninteresting take on androgyny, death by melon water, with a bunch of flowers and a cucumber to finish the job. The last in an endless line of depressing airport fragrances.