Perfume Reviews

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

Total Reviews: 66
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 lsmoky 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 makes it less wearable to the guy that can't stomach that decade-specific Pink-Dove-Bar vibe. 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: 23rd March, 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)
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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
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
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
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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 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
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
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)
Zowiee Show all reviews
United States
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
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
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
Superb darkness, black mistery, severe balance. Obscure is the night, sinister that man walking away in the cold Belfast's night. Pour Homme is a saturnine, sinister, poetic 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, crisp 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 place this fragrance out as a perfect one for a romantic date and a whisper of love under the moonlight.
10th July, 2010 (last edited: 18th April, 2016)
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
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
Edgar Allan Poe would have loved this one - dark, sweet, yet kind of nice. I just sprayed it all around my little redoubt, and it smells just perfect. It's great if you're in a goth mood - but do spare application, please, or you'll choke everyone.

[EDIT 28th August 2012] After wearing this more or less daily for two and a half years, it's safe to say that I'm hooked for life. The leather, rose, powder, and incense all work together perfectly. I always feel like a King whenever I wear it, and that's a Very Good Thing. I still like the other scents that I've reviewed, but this one will be my constant companion for as long as it's made. VC&A, if any of your reps are reading this, you need to keep this one in production in perpetuity. Seriously.
30th December, 2009 (last edited: 28th August, 2012)
I wish I had tried this when it originally came out, but then again, I would have been too young for it.

It is a more "mature" man scent, no doubt. If you want to go down that path. it can certainly conjure up some of the negative cliches detailed in other reviews here.

But it also stands apart from the fresh aquatics and says "I'm here! Deal with it."

Take great care wearing this one. It's not a good casual scent. It is also the biggest sillage monster I've tried. First time I wore it, I left my place and rode the elevator. When I returned 20 minutes later the scent was still lurking and waiting for me in the elevator like a cloud (it smelled great by the way), But that kind of strength will freak a lot of people out these days.

I don't care if it's a cliche frag. It smells rich, masculine. powerful and stands out.
29th November, 2009 (last edited: 07th February, 2010)