Perfume Reviews

Negative Reviews of Mambo for Men by Liz Claiborne

Total Reviews: 18
Mambo seemed to be released at a time when everything Liz Claiborne made for men smelled like Curve (1996), regardless of whether or not it was a Curve flanker. Lucky You for Men (2000) was a licensee scent that was effectively "greener Curve" (and thus better), and Mambo was "spicier Curve", which is a really crass summation of the stuff, but so close to the truth it hurts. The itchy facet of Curve which bothered me so much was also present here, and exacerbated worse by the synthetics and spices on display, making this a big "no-can-do" for me. The problem with Mambo is it obstinately tries to maintain that "90's clean" but head into a full-bodied, more complex direction that orientals or gourmands were starting to take by the early 2000's, and it's a compromise that maybe could have worked (Burberry for Men did it pretty well in 1996), but was gone about in all the wrong fashions by nose Carlos Benaim; certainly not his best work. Laurent Hainaut appears to havd made no other fragrances bottle designs according to basenotes information, and it has me wondering why, because Mambo does get served up in a cool bottle, which was the reason 20-year-old me picked up the thing. Ultimately this went to a best friend who ended up falling in love with this, Curve, and the follow-up Bora Bora (2002), which I was loathe to try after striking out so much with Claiborne.

Mambo has the usual 90's/early 2000's hyperbole exotica notes so I won't list them, as some sound like attempts to put lace on a pig (such as saying lavandin in place of lavender), but what you get here is a very barbershop Curve-like opening that doesn't need describing a second time here. The middle notes are where the spices live, with clove, cinnamon, and cumin joined by geranium, rose, orange blossom and muguet. The cumin here is the only ingredient with a sense of purpose, adding that tell-tale sweatiness that denotes this as "sexier" than it's Curve patriarch, but it's too buried in business anyway. The base is all synthetic sandalwood, patchouli, musk, and fir basalm, the latter of which is too green and throws all the other floral/spicy/vanillic ingredients off course. This was almost a good scent if you took away the itchy chemical top and confused heart/base notes. Remove the florals, remove the green, and bam; this could have been a decent oriental cheapie. As it stands, it's the Toys "R" Us kid of oriental hybrid fougères (ironic that Toys "R" Us goes defunct as I write this), meaning it doesn't want to grow up into a solid masculine, but rather keep meandering with musings, inspirations, and ideas, but never commit to a direction. It's not a very good mambo dancer with two left feet.

This might be okay for the guy that wants to color just barely outside the fresh fougère lines, or the kind of person who just occasionally bumps up from the mild salsa to the medium for a rare bit of pleasure outside the comfort zone, but I've never been that guy to be honest. Even if this thing didn't cause a rapid-fire sneeze fit that lasts all day, I still don't know if I'd be able to handle it's confused and mediocre blending of synthetics and mid-tier elements rebranded as luxury ingredients. This is the fully-loaded entry-level Hyundai of oriental/fougère hybrids. It's certainly no Boucheron Pour Homme (1991) or Dior Fahrenheit (1988), and isn't even on the level of an Avon in terms of risque note interplay. It's blending bites in all the ways it shouldn't, and fails to impress in all the ways it needed to for it to be anything more than a "spicy Curve". I remember seeing this on the clearance counter at the perfume section of Sears (which says a lot), next to other Claiborne men's staples, and it was the only product placement with not a single box touched. I really don't think I need to say any more than that.
17th March, 2018
Very synthetic. Extremely spicy and harsh. IMO this is not worth the money even at its current price. Avoid.
30th November, 2016
After dry down it smells something like artificial coconut. Not a masculine fragrance IMO.
27th August, 2016
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I doused myself with this over a few days and could not detect any scent whatsoever - it was like smelling pure alcohol.

This has me stumped - on me it's a non-scent.
04th September, 2012
Eugene Levy sporting chest hair, gold chains and a track suit. Faux-machismo that's so over-the-top synthetic it's laughable, and at higher doses, intolerable. This isn't 'bang for the buck,' it's a ten-megaton chemical bomb.
11th December, 2010
Horrible, potential is there as it is with many in the Claiborne House, but this is as synthetic as it comes. The only way I can describe Mambo is that it smells like somebody spilled peach soda on a circuit board..the board was liquefied in a blender, then concocted with 12 other unneeded ingredients and BAM..We have Mambo!
28th February, 2010
nothing to offer cheap cologne and SMELLS CHEAP to my nose i definately do not reccomend it......its a shock that they had this at the mens wearhouse and didnt have anything like armani, gaultier, gucci, laurent, versace and other high end stuff
18th January, 2010
MikeB Show all reviews
United States
I have had a small bottle for three years now. It barely lasts longer than an hour on me and smells inoffensive but lacks anythithing special about it. The only person i know who wears it is a 50 year old marine missing half his teeth. So i guess if you are 50 and a marine and do not care how you smell then this is perfect for you. I can't say much about a fragrance as poor as this.
22nd November, 2009
okay this might be the wine talking but this stuff just plain sucks... I'm not even going to give it the benefit of describing the scent pyramid because so many before me have said enough... I totally understand "value" fragrances and some people might have an extremely small budget for cologne, but when you can pick up Carven Homme for twenty bucks or a mulititude of others for a bit more I can't see the point in shelling out an hours worth of work for something this disastrous. I have two toddlers that I have just suffered through potty training, and to be honest I would rather clean up an "accident" than ever try this again... Yuck!!!
26th April, 2009
lex Show all reviews
United States
tru. notes dancing around.all doing a different dance to a different tune.smell chemicals,alcohol
15th March, 2009
Mambo for Men is a confused concoction, with watery, sweet and woody notes bumping into each other. I think the worst part of it is that I get an unpleasant burnt smell that begins soon after the opening lasts for a good while. The basenotes are pleasant woods and musk; not especially remarkable, but pleasant... still not worth waiting for.
09th August, 2008
I don't know what's going on with this. It's got everything but there's nothing. Spicy, sweet, synthetic, watery,... it dances in a messy confusion of notes.
24th April, 2008
Hey, what can I say -it's a Claiborne fragrance. Much more spicy than Curve (to me), but very similar.

Would be a decent scent to wear in a smoky bar, because it seems as though this stuff is just ridiculously LOUD.
10th September, 2006
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flee Show all reviews
United States
Imo it smells like this was something they just threw together. No for me
28th May, 2006
Mambo is quite a mess. The notes and accords show up in globs of undifferentiated… globs. The top, for instance, has a sort of minty / lavender / citrus accord where the notes seem to be stumbling over each other. I don’t find it an attractive accord, and I’m hard pressed to believe that many people would find it attractive. Then things get worse — the movement is to a middle that combines conifer notes, spices, rosewood, and lots of florals, plus the lavender from the top that is still hanging on: much too busy, much too complicated to grasp because the notes are so messy and indistinct. The base is primarily wood with a little musk thrown in — The cedar gives it an almost incense feel, and that part is actually not bad, but that’s the part that doesn’t project very much. The construction of the whole fragrance seems as if Liz had about three different fragrances that weren’t selling so she combined them all into one and called it Mambo. Papa doesn’t love THIS Mambo.
10th December, 2005 (last edited: 14th March, 2008)
Ok, I am a big fan of both curve and realities. But this one reminds me of vomit. Seriously, the smell reminds me of bile.
05th November, 2005
incedal Show all reviews
United Kingdom
This has to be one of the worst ever blind buys, it smells like a orange scented bathroom cleaner, I put my 50ml bottle in the garbage on the first day, could not not give it away because of how bad it smells.
04th October, 2005
I got this cologne the day it came out. The first week, I loved it. But the smell got really annoying after a while. I see that many of the reviews seem to be of people who bought the fragrance recently. If you really like the smell when you tested it, I wouldnt' suggest anything more than 1.7 and even that should be used sparingly.
16th October, 2004