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

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    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    H.D.'s avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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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

    montagne's avatar



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    I remember once trying an experiment in 'persistence of vision'. You stare at a flag like a tricoleur, or a union jack, or the stars and stripes, for about two minutes without moving, and then turn and look a t a blank white wall. On the wall, you see the flag, but with all the colours and tone values reversed, like a negative.

    I think the same phenomenon is at play here, in the olfactory sense. As the fragrance evolves, the disappearing first wave leaves behind it a perceived negative. This negative seems to work well as an accompaniment to the emerging bitumen and charcoal of the base. This fools you into thinking you smell good.

    However, try this: spray it on something in the room. Leave the house for the day, and come back several hours later. Sparing yourself thus the olfactory fatigue and 'persistense' effect, you walk into the developed fragrance unmitigated.

    Old peoples's homes. Decay. Cough syrup. Dandylion and Burdock cordial. Wizened academic with elbow-pads. Smoker's curtains. A mantelpiece with a plastic quartz carriage clock beside photographs of cats. Coffee-and-cream slacks and cardigan. Mothballs. Post office. The man who collects the twist ties from loaves of bread, because they might be useful one day.

    To smell yourself as others smell you.

    24th December, 2013

    rbaker's avatar



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    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

    zeemann3's avatar



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    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

    Tripfall's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    Letitbenose's avatar

    France France

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    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

    TW Bolek's avatar

    Poland Poland

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    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's avatar

    United States United States

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    *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

    Andrè Moreau's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    (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's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    pianist75's avatar



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    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's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    Francolino's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    smells transient like an hotel soap bar, my girlfriend hates its guts, I love the stuff makes me feel transient!

    01st June, 2012

    BrandonBoston's avatar

    United States United States

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    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's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    KillerScent's avatar



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    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 .
    AWFUL

    27th March, 2012

    manicboy's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    PerfumeCollector's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    Naed_Nitram's avatar



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    An ancient rose, filtered through grey gauze. Sober enough, and abstract, but pervaded by a stuffy Victorian sweetness. A gathering of diplomats on the lawn of an old chateau. An elderly aristocrat reading metaphysics in his paneled library. A hint of realms beyond. A smell of the grave almost. Distinguished and immaculate, but is it my imagination tells me that a bottle of this scent, presented to me in the 1980s by a certain Monsieur Suleiman, had much more depth and authority, but lacked that deathbed touch of sickly rose?

    05th July, 2011

    barclaydetolly's avatar

    United States United States

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    Smoky. Dark. Forbidding. I wear this when I want to take no prisoners at work. Did I mention smoky? This smells like a man would have smelled in the 1950s, and I don't think that's a bad thing (occasionally). As you would expect, sillage and longevity are excellent -- I can still smell this on my shirt at the bottom of the laundry hamper after a day or two.

    Update: the more I wear VC&A, the more I like it. I think this is very nearly my favorite cologne, definitely in the top four (along with GIT, MI, and Egoiste). Please try it -- you're going to smell very unique among all the aquatics out there.

    27th May, 2011 (Last Edited: 02nd March, 2012)

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    A masculine soapy-herbal-rose fragrance with animalic hints (castoreum?) and leather in the middle phase . Nice, well crafted but IMo not as much compelling as other perfumes of the same family.

    04th May, 2011

    Bartlebooth's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    VC & A certainly hits the ground running, and the general darkness that shrouds it is quickly evident. At times it is as black and dusty as running your tongue down a blackboard, but it also has a slightly smoky quality, like charred wood slowly cooling. It operates in quite narrow parameters, with little or no softness or vestiges of sentimentality.

    This is perhaps more rugged than handsome, rough around the edges, and not quite polished enough to sit at the top table.

    11th April, 2011

    Zowiee's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Amazing, changing, morphing...
    aroma, bouquet, essence...
    I think the most complex and intriguing fragrance I have experienced. It's big and soft at the same time, which is why this fragrance is hard for me to figure out! The more I wear it, the more I like it!

    26th February, 2011

    Shifty Bat's avatar

    United States United States

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    I am an Edward Gorey character in herringbone slacks, waistcoat, and an impressive, shin-length fur coat. I've been everywhere, and I could tell you things...

    VC&A's original calling card scent is a dark beauty and, to me, a real wonder. How can one fragrance smell of so many things without becoming muddled or misdirected? Citrus and herbs, soapy florals and dry woods (as later utilized brilliantly in Tsar), office leather, oil, incense, castoreum, dark moss, damp cinnamon. I'm gonna put every scent I love in a juicer and cross my fingers.
    This comes off as stodgy, but has a spicy, warm heart. It puts on a dark air and casts long shadows so that when the younger folk flee the room in anger or fear or disgust Mr. VC&A can then turn to his business friends and share a little in-joke laugh. He's a great guy once you get to know him.

    24th January, 2011

    alvinnjoinerIV's avatar

    Philippine Philippine

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    i love this scent. perhaps one of the true gems i've found while learning this hobby. i found a few bottles of the vintage juice in the discount counter. no box and sometimes they have been sprayed. the SA actually saves them for me as she knows i love the stuff. i now have approx. about 150 ml of this stuff which may last me my whole lifetime due to the strength of this fragrance and the limited number of occasions they it is truly appropriate for, mostly formal black tie events. what caught me off guard and what has not been mentioned about this scent is that this one is a soapy powerhouse.

    20th August, 2010

    A. Homme's avatar

    United States United States

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    I've been sampling this monster for a few days now. It's a complex fragrance, not to be taken lightly. Frankly I don't get on with it, and I think I've come up with the primary accords that are coming at me from my right arm:

    We have baby wipes atop a base of convenience-store incense, with some light floral notes sprinkled about.

    I realize that this is a respected formulation, but I don't get it. It's definitely complex, and well put together. Not to mention a loudmouth in the sillage department. In the end, I find it to be powdery, moderately spicy and brooding without any solid base notes. This makes me think of the movie "Despicable Me," which I recently took my son to see. If Dr. Gru had a scent, this would be it.

    While I personally think it's worthy of a thumbs down, I'm going with a neutral for now because there's a chance I'm missing something here. Definitely can't see myself wearing this.

    25th July, 2010

    Darvant's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Superb darkness, black mistery, severe balance. Obscure is the night, sinister that man walking away in the cold Belfast's night. Pour Homme is an obscure, sinister, deep juice, epitome of the top virile luxury and unconventional class. The initial angular burst is herbaceous, citrusy and aromatic, including some notes like lavender, basil, juniper and thyme. In this phase the aroma is for a while metallic, pungent and herbal. The blades roll a few time in the air anyway and the soapiness keeps rising up very soon. The yet softer sophisticated heart of this monumental fragrance is indeed woody-floral with notes of patchouli, vetiver, jasmine, orris and hints of spices. This woody heart following the initial aromatic burst links the aroma with the traditional 70's and 80's masculine powerhouse scents traits. The leathery, soapy, powdery, animalic base is rich of amber, dark olibanum, musk, obscure leather, castoreum and oak moss. This dry down is indeed warmer, soapy/leathery and really mossy. The final development is a discreetly rosey, soapy and velvety suede full of shadows (burnt incense), musks and organic molecules. Pour Homme is an eternal fragrance which will be forever a symbol of austere, moody, restrained, almost gothic elegance (despite its undeniable dry/fresh vibe). I must add, anyway, that this is not a one way concoction, it is not exclusively a formal/assertive one; the nocturnal flowers and the incensey ambery base carry effortlessly it inside the fences of the romantic and melancholy territories and turn this fragrance out as a perfect one for a romantic date and a whisper of love under the moonlight.

    10th July, 2010 (Last Edited: 23rd July, 2014)

    sfonativeboy's avatar

    United States United States

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    I had it ... back in the 80's
    I also was young and full of ideas or dreams ...
    Notions of what I thought made me feel RICH Sophiticated and ELEGANT...
    Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme along with Santos Cartier...created that illusion for me...
    wow.... who knew that a
    long-lasting, deep-down leather/smokey/tar-like chords
    would make me long for those youthful days .. now!

    19th June, 2010

    djolney's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    Pour Homme opens with a combination of notes that is simultaneously green, resinous, soapy, sweet, and animalic. The juniper and basil remind me of the opening of Creed’s Baie de Genievre, but with less spice; the soapiness hints at the amount of vetiver to come; the sweetness has a powdery orris tone to it; and the animalic warmth rising up from the base suggests that there is a good deal of animalic action to come.

    As the top notes settle down, the jasmine and orris arrive as a sweet cloud. This sweetness is balanced by earthy patchouli and slightly peppery carnation, which are followed by an earthy vetiver.

    The combination of olibanum, cedar, and animalic notes that herald the arrival of the base reminds me of Caron’s Parfume sacre.

    The olibanum ties the base of pour Homme together: it weaves its way around like smoke, even though it doesn’t smell smokey. The olibanum in pour Homme is like an unlit stick of sweet incense: similar to the incense note in Caron’s Parfum Sacre, or Montale’s Louban. The base is a highly integrated blend of vetiver, leather, sweet earthiness (patchouli and amber), and a warm animalic note. The animalic note stretches and growls every now and then, but careful application stops it from becoming too muscular.

    Every now and then the combination of greenness, incense, and animalic notes reminds me of Kouros, but there are more differences than similarities between the two fragrances. Kouros has a refined barbarity about it that pour Homme lacks, and pour Homme has a hardness about it that Kouros lacks.

    Pour Homme is tightly wound, but not to the point where I would call it stuffy or uptight. It is intense and has gravitas, and is probably best suited to people who can’t help but project single minded determination.

    I am enjoying wearing pour Homme, but I can’t help thinking about what it means that I enjoy wearing it.

    29th March, 2010

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