Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme by Van Cleef & Arpels

Total Reviews: 93
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)
Stardate 20180305:

Too soapy. Cloyingly so. Good performance.
Now there is a Concentree version of this and despite the name it is more balanced and muted.
If you have an option,get the concentree version. Has all the notes and powerhouse-ness of the original and is wearable.

05th March, 2018
Another old-school classic that checks all the ultra-masculine marks for the overall scent. This one isn't as "stinky" though, has a certain cool, freshness to it. I also find it quite soapy.

Strong performance in projection and longevity.
16th February, 2018
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My neutral rating is fairly generous, my leaving it being due to the bold statement the cologne makes and it's silage.

VC&A pour Homme is a definite specific taste, likely either being adored or disliked. To my nose, I smell like a 19th century harlot, sprucing myself up quickly between gentlemen callers. This, to me, is not so much an 80's powerhouse as it is a turn-of-the-century eye-opener.

I find this cologne to be pretty linear, with little change occurring on my skin. Upon initial application and through dry-down, I'm onslaughted with POWDER, florals and subtle musk. This may be the most "baby powder infused with sweet florals" scent I've ever smelled. It seems much better suited for a woman, not a man. Unless, that is, you lived in 1885 and still liked puffing a wig and attending debutante orgies.

This may come across as I detest the cologne; I do not. It certainly has staying power, harkens to a bygone time, and makes a grand statement. And I respect this scent for that. If you like these qualities, then you'll like the cologne. If, however, you are not keen on floraly powdered perfumes that march into a room way before you arrive (even with minimal application), then you may want to steer away.

A certain try before you buy, even though the full-bottle price is extremely affordable.
14th February, 2018
I just got a bottle of this one, current formulation, and I must say, I am blown away. It reminds me of Cartier Santos, but even better. All day, I have been compulsively smelling my wrist, taking deep drafts of this sublime fragrance. I'll need to do more testing for a final verdict, but for the cheap price I paid, this is a no brainer. It is very natural smelling, herbal and quite complex. I might have to hunt down a vintage bottle to get this one in all of it's late 70's/early 80's glory.
10th January, 2018 (last edited: 02nd February, 2018)
In your face masculinity at it's finest. A rich, bold, assertive powerhouse from a bygone era; where hairy chests, gold chains and designer velours ruled the nights at the disco.
Deep, dark and very mysterious!

Perfumer Louis Monnet created a stunning masterpiece of perfumery that has remained tried and true for nearly forty years. My vintage bottle from circa 1987 smells (and wears) exactly like my 2015 bottle. Outstanding for a any fragrance of this caliber, since nothing truly has remained the same from that era without major modifications!

A spicy resinous formula enriched with woods, leather and aromatic herbs. So perfect for cool Fall-Winter evenings, although with a very slight hand; as since the initial application developes into enormous projection in about fifteen minutes later. Absolutely unique and relatively unknown by the masses. Besides, it’s a real bargain for the money of a fragrance of this quality!
12th November, 2017 (last edited: 18th November, 2017)
Is there something wrong with my bottle? I'm really trying to like this since there should be leather and all kinds of interesting stuff in this juice. However, I get nothing but roses here. To me this smells like a really old ladys handbag. Totally feminine and useless I'm afraid.
13th August, 2017 (last edited: 14th August, 2017)
A true inexpensive powerhouse with plenty of notes, all along the scale. To my nose it seems to be of good quality. I am not fond of its uber masculine, heavy, dark and incense like character. The complete opposite of the common aqua juice we find everywhere these days. If you like all of that I'd say its worthy of a try.
18th December, 2016 (last edited: 03rd March, 2017)
For the Van Cleef and Arpels pour Homme Concentree. Vintage.
Received a sample in trade and it is well..
A Brutal Bergamot and slightly bitter herbal start reminiscent of this era 70's-80's. Can scare most that have been exposed to the Marine, Ozonic, Salty Metro Male slush and Ambroxan false billowed, Faux Nitro Musk, detergent laden muck of today.
As the Top burns off what remains is a Mentholated Carnation floral bouquet surrounded by whispers of Patchouli, Jasmine and to my nose Rose.
Cedar, quite prominent, envelopes this package and fools as a background canvas.
Fools, as further development reveals a Mossy, Leathery true base with distant and light clouds of Castoreum rising.
Take notice of the Incense the next day when a Frankincense bubble surrounds and impregnates your Cashmere sweater/jumper.
Frankincense, almost always, has my mind say "Lovely". Some accord shared with Killian Criminal in Love.
14th October, 2016 (last edited: 27th January, 2018)
I have acquired a bottle of the current version of Van Cleef and Arpels Pour Homme, and count myself lucky. A bottle of the original version would be even luckier, I suppose.

I have read the 84 reviews posted before this one, and they were the finest, most amusing set I have read for any fragrance, the negative and neutral reviews reading more like positive reviews from my point of view. Each mention of being careful not to overspray amused me. I find this current version unlikely to offend, because it mostly smells like soap. Paco Rabanne Pour Homme, which I have in the original version, also smells like soap to me. I like both. My personal taste seems to lean more toward this current version of Van Cleef and Arpels Pour Homme than original Paco Rabanne Pour Homme. (Update: After spending more time with these two, I started liking vintage Paco Rabanne more.)

This fragrance is compared below to Antaeus, and I'm viewing it as a cross between Antaeus and the Paco Rabanne, but closer to Paco Rabanne.

I am now trying the vintage Van Cleef and Arpels pour Homme Concentree, and it adds some interesting element(s), while not quite fixing the problem I started to develop with my bottle. I like the idea of combining clean and dirty, it makes a fragrance interesting, and Van Cleef and Arpels pour Homme does it boldly - soap for clean, which is good, but the dirty note has turned on me, and I'm getting a negative association with it, making it too challenging to be something I would wear often.
19th July, 2016 (last edited: 04th October, 2016)

For those who have a perfect sense of perfumes classic leather, considering the price this one can be considered an outstanding choice. when this kind of scents had a top position among older it is natural novice persons who don't have sense the essence of this scents and no understanding of past masterpieces,excited to see new leathery perfumes and for them to be considered a masterpiece for example Potion Royal Black. for me this one is nostalgia in a bottle as it reminds me my father who he is a unique gentleman. Deep,Bitter,Woody,Earthy, Extremely Luxurious and Powerfully Recognizable.

This absolutely classic men's fragrance makes a strong initial impression due asurprising greenness of lavender,bergamot,basil and green notes that leads the scent to an extreme bitterness elegancy in the heart of dark and deep rose,spice,artemisia, cloves and cedar.last note:the power of darkness underlining a sensual masculine trail of classic leather, sandalwood,oak moss, musk,labdanum and vetiver.this unforgettable scent exudes impeccable style and fearless for a real GENTLEMAN just like MY FATHER.i really love the dry down.this is perfect for formal occasions in cold weather.


Longevity?Great on my skin.

29th May, 2015
Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme is a fantastic leather fragrance with timeless feel and appeal. Like many fragrances from its era, VCA pH has a cacophonous array of notes and needs a few wearings to have the merest grasp about its depth and facets. It opens up on the skin with a beautiful dark green spicy soapy vibe with leather and deep woods lurking underneath; there is the citrus and the lavender, but completely overshadowed by this central green, dark spicy vibe. This opening in itself is cerebral, and arresting like few others. Then the green vibe subsides a bit. The fragrance moves into its heart phase. A dark, brooding masculine rose note presents itself, with the leather and the woods now more prominent. This rose note is almost a mystery- it takes at least 10 wearings to feel it. But once discovered, it is there every time. The fragrance is now a glorious cornucopia of leather, woods, spices and florals while simultaneously retaining its vague soapy theme. It is deep, dark, unmistakably masculine, and even brooding. The projection is good at first and then dies down, but the fragrance has great longevity. Even as the hours grow weary, its aura is perceived in the air around the skin.

A masterpiece.
27th April, 2015
Genre: Fougère

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme’s conventional bergamot and lavender top notes are deceptively subtle given the power this scent unleashes after a half an hour on the skin. By that point Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme has arrayed cedar, leather, patchouli, and vetiver atop a dry mossy wood foundation. It’s the vetiver and patchouli that dominate for some time, placing Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme firmly within the realm of “gentleman’s club” scents, epitomized by “Vintage” Tabarome, and also occupied by Macassar, Baladin, and Équipage.

This whole style is unfashionable right now, but even so, I don’t think Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme represents the best its genre has to offer. Scents like Jules and Lauder for Men exhibit a similar gravity, but with more conspicuous animalic accents that make them less staid and stodgy. In its favor, I can say of Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme that it avoids the belching, buttcrack-showing crudeness of Macassar. On the other hand, it really is more than a little dull. As it ages, Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme bounces back and forth indecisively between leather chypre and heavy fougère, before settling into a comfortable, but hardly distinctive, moss, cedar, and patchouli drydown. OK, I suppose, but no match for the finest in its class.
07th July, 2014
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To me VC&A PH is elegant and sophisticated, it sort of conveys a certain 'savoir vivre'.
It's a classic dark scent with a very appealing 'Old World' aristocratic feel. A bastion of a certain way of life.
It's a beatiful rich, dark classic gentleman's scent that I love to wear.
In short it's the Château Lafite of the world of gentleman's fragrances.
04th January, 2014
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Classic dark Fougère

The vintage version:

Bergamot and juiper berries with a hint of green start it off, and soon vetiver, patchouli and orris are mixed in. Further along castoreum and labdanum blend in well with the typical oakmoss. The moss is not very harsh and not too dominant, but blends in well with the musk and the leather notes in the base. Interestingly, the whole process lasts less than two hours with little development on my skin after that. Good silage and projection with a splendid longevity of nine hours. Dark, rich but not very loud on me. A great classic.

24th September, 2013
Man of War

My man darvant forced me into a blind buy that I will never regret.

Read his review and take out your CC.

Pros: Strong and and relentless
Cons: Wish its topnotes could last forever"

14th September, 2013
I suppose what qualifies a cologne as old school is the olfactory equivalent of gravitas. This one has it in spades thanks to the amber-incense combo in the base, slightly dirtied up by the musk. It's clean and soapy without being ingratiating. It doesn't require a suit to go with it, just good grooming and reticent self-confidence.
01st March, 2013
For sure VAPH is classic masculine (by the way I really can't imagine a woman wearing this one) But it smells too dated to me. The scent is very soapy and heady, which doesn't make it very inviting to my nose. Plus, longevity is... scary. Even though VAPH is not a fragrance I'd buy, I think it's a pillar for the genre. Hence my neutral rating.
15th January, 2013
Very good fragrance but smells very dated and aristocratic. You've got to dress up like an English gentleman in the countryside for this scent. A suit won't cut it. Longevity is very good and projection is moderate.
31st December, 2012
drseid Show all reviews
United States
*This is a review of the vintage juice.

VC&A pour Homme (vintage) opens with a sublime orange and bergamot tandem laced with various well-blended culinary herbs and spices. Joining the immediate top notes in the early heart and hanging around for a good duration is a very strong leather and oakmoss tandem rising all the way from the base, with patchouli and hints of easily identifiable rose and carnation in support. As the oakmoss and leather recede in the late dry-down, some of the well-concealed base notes reveal themselves including a very nice amber and sandalwood combination joining the patchouli that is slightly sweet. Projection is above average and longevity is below average.

The first thing that came to mind as I tried VC&A pour Homme (vintage) on skin was I have smelled this before... It did not take me long to realize that what I was smelling was a very similar presentation to Bijan for Men (vintage). I would go as far as to say the two could have been near-identical twins with their respective oakmoss and leather driven powerhouse presentations making themselves known from the near get-go. That said, while the similarities in the early development can't be denied, the scents later diverge with VC&A pour Homme (vintage) showing a more smooth slightly sweet and polite presentation than the ever-potent and raw Bijan for Men (vintage) that gets even rougher as time passes if that can be believed. Of the two I prefer the more dynamic Bijan on just about all levels (both subjectively and technically), but both are incredible scents that can stand with the best of the powerhouse releases of the past (let’s not insult them by comparing them to the current stuff). My primary (albeit minor) gripe with Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme (vintage) is the relatively shoddy longevity I get with it. By relatively shoddy, I am not talking a few minutes and then poof, its gone, but rather 4 to 5 hours, which on my scent friendly skin is below average. I wish it lasted longer, but while it is present VC&A pour Homme is a definite winner and a distinguished powerhouse for the more refined gentleman, earning an excellent 4 stars out of 5 in vintage form.
08th December, 2012

(vintage verson from Nineties)
A superb one, very masculine, very pleasant and warm. It resembles "those old male parfums with marvelous smell".
Reccommended without any doubt.
30th October, 2012
Swanky Show all reviews
United States
Van Cleef & Arpels pushes all the requisite buttons on the masculinometer: potent sillage, lasting longevity, patchouli and leather and woods, oh my.

This is one of the stalwarts in a mature man's arsenal (by mature I don't mean old; I wore it confidently in my early 20s). It's also one that bridges the islands of classy, powerhouse and canonical.
12th September, 2012
this is a strong frag! i love it, i wear this when i play in the jazz clubs and all the girls are sniffing around to know where the smell comes from! longevity its good but no great, maybe....3 to 4 hours
23rd August, 2012
ElVee Show all reviews
United States
Thus far, this is easily my favorite go-to casual cologne to wear. It's very masculine with a powerful woody, incense, spiciness to it that lasts pretty much all day and has great projection. I absolutely love catching wafts of it through the day. A definite go-to outside of work or night life. It's one of the few frags I own that actually makes me feel more manly.
06th July, 2012
smells transient like an hotel soap bar, my girlfriend hates its guts, I love the stuff makes me feel transient!
01st June, 2012
This is my absolute FAVOURITE men's cologne - of all time!

With my chemistry, this scent is like a subtle version of Opium for women - very oriental and very spicy!

Of all the colognes I have ever tried, THIS is the one that gets me the most compliments from women AND men!

I admit that I also horde this cologne as it is very hard to find. For many years it was not sold in the USA and I could only get it by visiting Europe. I would get the strangest looks from US Customs agents when I would come back home with 10 bottles of the stuff.... LOL

I will continue to buy and wear this cologne for as long as I can find it or until I die - which ever comes last!
28th May, 2012
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
I really want to love this scent--it has everything going for it but somehow--on me, does not seem right. The few times that I have given it full wearings, I keep smelling it and thinking--who is that man and what is he wearing? Not in a good way. I love the era, the classic French jeweller's legacy, even most of the notes (although I am not a rose fan) but it just smells off to me. I get along better with Tsar but even then I like it but do not love it. Oddly enough, my college room mate used to wear this--he wasn't really a French cologne sort of guy so I am guessing that someone gave it to him. He was very preppy but in a rumpled, unkempt way and it smelled great on him; it went very well with the smell of Marlboro reds and bong water that seemed to follow him wherever he went. I'll keep trying it, though.
02nd May, 2012
NOT dark , NOT vampirical, NOT obscure, NOT powerhouse ....This is another soappy fragrance mixed with rose .
It smells like an old lady parfum , too much rose ; nothing manly here .I do not smell leather neither castoreum here .
Rdiculous longevity and proyection .
27th March, 2012
VC&A ph was released the same year as Polo Green. Polo Green went on to become one of the best sellers of all time. VC&A ph, on the other hand, became an obscure and hard-to-find fragrance that has survived, despite it's unpopularity. I think there are pockets of men hidden in Europe who secretly horde VC&A ph, which can only explain it's longevity.

So, what's VC&A ph like these days? Deep, dark and haunting, like a black panther hunting it's prey in a rose bush. A sinister tincture of castoreum and musk anchor this beast to a chain of rose, majorjam and balsam fir. Unlike Polo Green, VC&A ph has largely been untampered with and is still bares quite the bite. VC&A ph could be the most animalic designer men's fragrance on the market after Kouros. Its complexity defies explanation. Get it while you can while you can before that European horde starts to die off.
15th November, 2011
This is an excellent fragrance, a powerhouse without a doubt, and with as much, if not more, attitude than Quorum and Lapidus pH.
This is a perfume for manly men, not for wimps.
It reminds me many other powerhouses, but it combines the best of each in one truly magnificent fragrance. The coniferous accord of Krizia Uomo, the rose of Ungaro III, the opening of Quorum, the "on your face" attitude of Lapidus pH, the complexity of One Man Show (Fendi Uomo, Azzaro pH, etc.) so why having all those (and more) if you can have it all in just one fragrance
Is this my Holy Grail?
It well may be, I liked it from the get go and went right to my top 5 list
06th August, 2011