Perfume Reviews

Neutral Reviews of John Varvatos by John Varvatos

Total Reviews: 40
I forget why and how, but I once bought this as a present for my dad, and moving in his vapour trail made me wonder why I hadn't just kept it (and bought him something else instead, of course, I'm not that mean).

Trying it for myself, at last, and my reference points became clear: Aventus and Philosykos, that is, scents with prominent fleshy or dried fruits, and woody bases. In John Varvatos, that place is filled by dates and tamarind.

To cut to the chase: this is no Aventus. I'm no particular fan of Aventus, but the message there is clear. John Varvatos on me was remarkably mutable, changing even from moment to moment. Sometimes the fruit was too prominent for my taste, in that strange dry/sweet way that you get from dried fruit and making the ensemble slightly flabby, not like the austere but milky effect provided by Philosykos. The best parts came when the vanilla, leather, spices and wood came together to form a terrific masculine scent. However, to get me really enthusiastic, this would have had to constitute a consistent drydown with more aggressive performance.

Many have commented on the performance - on me it was quiet but persistent, so average longevity and sillage in the lowest quartile, so to speak.

All in all, very frustrating - I can sense there's a fragrance in there that suits me to a T, but it's dressed up in too much fruity frippery. Imagine a steely-eyed guy in a tux, dripping masculinity, ordering a peach daquiri with two umbrellas. That's this scent.

And because I'm so qualified, what would I do differently? Lose the dried fruit, crank the performance, emphasise the spicy woods, leather, and vanilla, and trust that the softness of these materials compensates for unforgiving sillage. There's a great scent waiting to get out here, but there's too much to fix for me to wait around. A disappointment.
21st November, 2016
numcks Show all reviews
United States
Sweet and fruity and somewhat synthetic - like a hard candy. Some suede leather and sandalwood/amber/vanilla. Somewhat youthful/juvenile.
08th November, 2015
hcr Show all reviews
United States
I get the cherry/fruity smell from this. Very pleasant, not very strong though. Doesn't seem to last too long, would need a lot of sprays. Probably going to stay in the sample pile.
25th August, 2015
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Another unexpected, gifted bottle of fragrance, but this one I actually like, at least initially. The opening is very appealing in a classic men's scent sort of way with a nice fruit/herb/wood combination which lasts about an hour on me.

However, I agree with previous reviews in that the major dissappointment to John Varvatos is the projection and longevity are woefully inadequate. After only an hour or two this is essentially a skin scent on me and it has lost all the appeal and smells a bit powdery. I think this one could benefit from a reformulation that increased the longevity.

11th February, 2015 (last edited: 13th February, 2015)
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Fruity, fruity is the opening, with green herbs and a mildly peppery note in the drydown. The base is a bit fuller and richer, with a nigh medicinal light ambery impression mixed with a suede and vanilla - all right IMHO a but not more.

On my skin this never really takes off. Solidly manufactured, a bit too generic, and lacking distinction. I get decent sillage and projection, and it lasts three hours. Middle-of-the-road- 2.5/5.
13th January, 2015
What to say about this one. I LOVE the smell but I HATE the sillage and longevity. I get 4 hours on this tops. It screams elegance and very mature scent. If you're in you mid twenties go for it. You can go trigger happy on this'll need to. I purchased this from Ross for $13.99 so really a steal though it is the small portable one. I will get the bigger bottle, you should wear this in cooler weather and more so at night. It can be an office scent to but carry around an atomizer.
06th October, 2014
Genre: Oriental

Look out! Here comes the John Varvatos party pooper!

John Varvatos opens with a standard-issue modern men's fragrance fruit accord that's made somewhat intriguing by a hint of something dusky and animalic deep in the background. Unfortunately, the animalic note is quickly overwhelmed by what I've come to think of as the "Jolly Rancher" accord: cheap, artificially fruit-flavored hard candy. Like the candy, the fragrances that use this sort of concoction all wind up tasting the same to me, no matter what color they are. So for all its exotic medjool date, tamarind, and ajowan notes, John Varvatos winds up smelling crassly sweet and commonplace to me.

Part of the problem may be that even true, fresh tamarind can have a steely, artificial edge to it. On top of that, the date, which is a very flat note under any circumstances, comes across as particularly synthetic and two-dimensional here. The very sweet, powdery synthetic amber in the base does nothing to improve matters.

The fruit accord rests on a bed of very smooth woods and sweet vanilla, softened by the powdery amber, and I have to say that the result is oddly redolent of high-end tanning lotion. For something that's so fruity, John Varvatos is potent stuff. The projection and sillage are both exceptional. More in line with the bulk of fruity fragrances, John Varvatos enters its drydown very quickly, perhaps even within an hour. The listed leather note only appears way deep into the drydown, and even then it's almost too anemic to matter. The sendoff is the vanilla, soft woods, and sweet powdery amber accord that supports the scent's heart. The John Varvatos fragrance pyramid lists eaglewood (a.k.a. agarwood, oudh), but the folks at Quest International must have just waved the closed vial of oudh over the mixing vat, because its presence is entirely undetectable. A few hours into the drydown, and the interesting animalic note from the opening finally reappears, but it's too late and too little to get me excited.

Though my evaluation may seem harsh, John Varvatos is by no means a "bad" scent. It's just disappointingly ordinary for something that's been so highly praised.
19th June, 2014
A shock

I love the smell of this one. It has a sensual fruity quality, almost as if the fruits are on the edge of being overly ripe. There is richness in the basenotes, something musky and a bit dark. The only problem I have is the projection is not great, and the longevity is lacking.


So, here is a problem; this makes me nauseous half the time I wear it. I have now worn it about 6 more times, and three of them I have felt sick. There is something in the initial sweetness that does not agree with me. A few more wears, and my bottle might go to someone who can enjoy it more consistently than I can.

04th July, 2013
I'm not going to say this is a bad fragrance, However, I do believe it could use some assistance. I would classify this as a dark fragrance, in many ways similar to Hugo Dark Blue. Or on other words like a dark woodsy oriental.

I am giving this a neutral
First, the bad. While it is a darker scent, to me it seems to have no real direction. There is a slight Dr. Peppery note in there that I do enjoy however. It also seems to last fairly well without being overpowering and the scent dries to a darker sandalwood / amber type of accord. You could get a good 8 hours out of this without dousing yourself in it. A little goes a long way here.
23rd March, 2012

Quite an interesting modern masculine fruity fragrance with a dark temperament, a slightly boozy-herbal vibe and a soft background. The scent combines a huge quantity of synthetic fruits (red fruits, citrus, exotic fruits, watery fruits), with hints of herbs (rosemary, myrtle, thyme, lavender), floral notes and leather over a base of balsams, musk, gourmand notes (dark chocolate?) and resinous woods. The smell reminds me a bit the one from Canali Black Diamond and ends very smooth and leathery with hints of fruitiness. The scent is not unpleasant, on the contrary the smell exudes a captivating aura but unfortunately i smell a sheer detergent feel in the synthetic background that reports instead to me the idea of bath-shower foam. I write "not bad" because of the nice dark smell but i say "what a pity" because of its too much artificial and "candy kind" texture and its too shy final temperament.
22nd February, 2012
To me, it smells like someone spilled cherry cough syrup on a leather jacket, and allowed the cough syrup to dry. It's not a bad smell, necessarily, but I don't think I want to smell anything like this. It is unique, and I can see why some may like it, especially in colder weather.
05th August, 2011
Meh. Nothin' special, just a spicy-sweet cinnamon fragrance like Carlos Santana for Men or (a less annoying) 1 Million.
03rd March, 2011
PradaG Show all reviews
United States
This scent reminds me of leathery trees in a mossy forest. I went sampling at a local perfume shop and of all the fragrances I tried on paper that day, I told myself I would leave spraying this one (JV) on my neck. Great smell but WEAK longevity. After going trigger happy with the bottle in the store, I only got a couple hours with this one. This makes a great: poker night with the buddies while drinking whiskey scent.
09th February, 2011
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This is the fragrance that first caused me to pay attention to--and then love--perfume. JV came out while I was working at a department store, but it didn't attract as much attention as many of the other fragrances. I was looking for something distinctive, and the spicy, leathery notes of JV won my heart.

However, as I've grown as a perfumisto, JV has grown to feel thin to my nose, without the depth I want to pretend is there. That said, I still think it is a pleasant, distinctive fragrance that is at the very least more interesting than many of the masculines on the market. Although it's longevity isn't great, I have gotten many compliments on it over the years, and I still wear it when I'm feeling nostalgic for my department store years....
01st February, 2011
Great fragrance. Longevity is, well non existent. Projection is weak as well. This gets a thumbs up for the fragrance part.
11th December, 2010
I would have given this scent a thumbs up on the scent alone. It has a lot of wild and unique fragrance notes inside. They are very well balanced and blended, and you get a nice sweet dark cherry/plum vibe along with a mixture of spices, vanilla and soft leather. The only main problem with this cologne is the projection and longevity is not good at all. It is a very weak and subtle fragrance. For the cooler months in the winter this might lack the staying power. If this was stronger, I think it would be an excellent winter fragrance. I say john varvatos would be more suited for the fall months as it is. Overall nice smell, unique, Great mixture of fruit and spices.. and the price is great. You can get it very affordable online. Downside, Projection and longevity. Certainly not the panty dropper, however, Maybe great for a night out for a couple hours at a fancy restaurant.
08th October, 2010
Rather weak juice, as TropiRock complains. My wrist required quite a generous splash to appreciably bring out the dimensions of the scent. Immediate notes are astringent and grassy with flickerings of apple spirits far off, this then swiftly and dramatically changes to a bright and sugary blue-green accord of jasmine and cinnamoned vanilla; this latter note comes to dominate the middle of the fragrance as the jasmine cools. For the half-hour to 45 minutes that the vanilla ran the show this fragrance was much too buttery-cinnabun rich and linear for my taste, but as the vanilla wanes the mellowed jasmine is uncovered once again and the result, for a very short while, is a delicately sweet, much softer, and lightly floral recapitulation of the initial jasmine-vanilla confection. In a word, this final stage of the fragrance smells like one might imagine Santa Claus would smell, albeit, Santa imagined not as a cartoonish caricature but as a magical, ageless fellow. All this isn't to say that this scent is clearly appropriate for any age. I'd say that young men should only wear it if they feel comfortable in one of dad's old hand-me-down Stafford sweaters, sipping scotch or eggnog at a family gathering, perhaps with a very chaste date. This stays very close to the skin. In sum, it certainly won't raise the ladies' body temperatures, but it might add something to the pleasantness of an evening near the fire with friends and family---only, however, if applied a good hour in advance of one's plans, as that middle vanilla salvo is indeed a caricature.
25th July, 2010
Positives: Great sweet, yet masculine, scent. Fairly unique. It may work well for an evening date.

Possible Drawbacks: the scent life is unbelievably disappointing. A great scent from start to finish, but it just finishes way too quick. 4 or 5 hours is all I get, and the projection is not very impressive

Overall: If you're willing to reapply this scent at some point during the day or night, then this could be a great buy.
12th July, 2010
When I first started looking into colognes, I wrote out a list of what to find. It was mostly naive essences like sawdust, but one idea grabbed my heart: I wanted to find this syrupy, dark exotic fruit, with herbs that sparkled up as if through deep water, while the syrup dripped down into leathery spice.

I want John Varvatos to be that cologne. Sometimes I tell myself it is. But it's never quite there — a little too friendly, a little too fresh — not a murky purple pierced by gold and sprouted leaves; instead, just a wash of smoky violet. It'd be a lie to call it a bad cologne. You'll like it. But I can't see myself wearing it anywhere but a bar downtown, and I keep wishing it had been made for a lounge on the other side of the earth.
27th June, 2010
My review will be quite brief. A great bottle does not a great cologne make. John Varvatos is a nice little cologne, with one glaring deficiency: the formula is so weak that, even after 6 or 7 sprays, I can still barely smell it – even when I press my nose firmly against the forearm where I normally apply colognes. Other BNoters have mostly expressed good sillage and longevity, while a few others have noted the cologne’s weakness. Interesting. Anyway, in good conscience I can’t rate this higher than a neutral. With a stronger recipe, maybe it could be a thumbs up, but if I can barely smell it, I can’t very well endorse it.
26th March, 2010
It took me awhile to identify the similarity, but to me this is most similar to Donna Karan Fuel for Men and not at all as well done, nor crafted as creatively.

With that out of the way, if you never step foot near DK Fuel, I'd say damn good job finding John Varvatos. It's pretty damn cool - Fruit/Spice/Warm Leather. Wear this at night.
15th March, 2010
Yeah, the names on the pyramid are as pretentious as they are silly. But really, aren't all the items listed on most of the pyramids. They generally help me anticipate a fragrance.....not one bit.

This is not a masterpiece, but it is good enough to have inspired me to get back into fragrances after a long hiatus of more than 15 years. A while back I went to the counter at Nordstroms and tested a boat load of...ho hum to downright wretched things. I was looking for Egoiste, which I had liked in the early nineties, and nothing smelled remotely interesting to me (certainly not Platinum Egoiste --Yick!). Except this one.

Some of the top notes remind me a bit of egoiste but deviates from then on. Has maybe some sweet pipe tobacco, and there is never anything unpleasant about this one. However, it does seems to have some pregnant pauses that occur throughout the day, as if some things that were supposed to meld and sauté together didn't. So it is a bit disjointed. It is not cloyingly sweet, yet still could benefit from something giving it a sharper of darker dimension.

The perfumer was onto something here, but this remains an early draft.
11th March, 2010
This fragrance's opening is very intriguing and exotic. It screams with dark, sweet dried fruit with a leathery wood overtone which is very nicely done. The more I smell this fragrance the more I like it. The sillage is above average for a short period of time but, this suffers in longevity. The drydown loses the dried fruit and focuses more on the leather and becomes somewhat less intriguing. It's the sophisticated manly version of Le Male.
The scent falls apart quite quickly most likely due to the poor quality ingredients which is a shame because it's a very interesting fragrance though, a tad too sweet on certain occasions.

06th February, 2010 (last edited: 23rd February, 2011)
tanto Show all reviews
United States
This is one scent I really can't figure out. Too me, it's "syrupy". I don't hate it nor do I love it. By the way, the 4.2oz EDT spray is now available at Marshall's for $26.99
26th January, 2010
John Varvatos

The finest moment of JV is the opening with the delicious creamy date smell. I love it. Overall a sweet fragrance which I quickly learned does not last very long on my dry skin. Perhaps 2 hours at most. Yes, JV can last on fabric for 24 hours (clothing, bag, coat...etc, but on my skin it is very fleeting. I find this frustrating as I do prefer to apply fragrances on my skin. After I had initially dismissed my bottle as a "mistake" purchase, I began testing JV on different fabrics. On my carry-on bag, JV allows the creamy date smell to linger and it lasts over 24 hours on it. On my baseball cap and winter coat, the vanilla and leather seems to come out very well on those fabrics as well..

Usually for daily wear I spray my inner shirt below my neck and the elbows of my shirt. When sprayed as such, JV does get tiring and very sweet. The sweetness is not really restrained, although not over the top as some other masculine’s ( Allure Homme). I believe JV works well on thicker fabrics, not soft and thin t-shirts.

Anyways, JV is not a fragrance I would consider strong at all. When I first sprayed this, I was very apprehensive. It was a blind buy. Anytime I spray a fragrance for the first time, it catches me off guard no matter what. Initially I did not like it. That was over one year ago. But quickly I took a liking to JV. Top notes are fantastic. Unfortunately on my skin, the dry down does not reveal the black leather.

It is difficult to recommend a fragrance that does not wear well on (my) skin. That is unless, however, like my self, you learn to live with applying JV to your coat, shirts, and carry-on bags. That way it smells nice, lasts very well, although I am not sure how bad this is for your clothing.

The bottle is very cool looking with the color and faux leather around the bottle. The sprayer does not release a lot of juice. About half as much as some bottles I have.

If JV works well on your skin and gives you good longevity, then this is a good fragrance. I am gonna go neutral on this one. JV could use some restraint in the sweetness; as well have more pronounced leather and more lingering date note.
26th June, 2009
sweet oriental

Mainstream sweet-almondy-sandalwood oriental. Certainly not the wost in its class, but lacks character. Likable by many, I suppose.
13th March, 2009
It’s not that bad but to my nose almost disturbingly sweet. Fresh, fruity and very very sweet.

Very gimmicky pyramid release to my mind….I think this is far more simple and unoriginal creation that note list may suggest.

Dried fruits covered in massive piles of sugar, very small hint of suede and lots of that Minotaure-Roma Uomo- like amber. That sums up JV quite nicely, doesn’t it (?)

Very contemporary, versatile and harmless subtle fragrance if I take it easy on the trigger. Larger amounts makes that sweetness hit in very unpleasant style.

Nice but also awfully average fragrance at the end of the day.
03rd March, 2009
VERY sweet, I can't separate all the notes, I definately pick up the vanilla when I wear this frag, but very little, if any leather. Sometimes I can pick it up, other times I can't.
10th February, 2009
I am slightly disappointed with my (blind) purchase of John Varvatos.
I love the initial burst of meditteranean herbs and date fruit but when it dries down it becomes too sweet and cheap smelling. Doesn't last very long either. One woman at work described it as 'awful', however I wouldn't say it is that bad.....just try before you buy.
23rd October, 2008
Tony T Show all reviews
United States
one day you love and the next day i hate. to say the least it's a subtle mildly fruity and mildly sweet. almost as many notes as antidote i feel there is no kicker here. u know to spice it up, or trick it out. a decent safe scent that i gave away but wished i did not. still haven't tried vintage or artisan.
05th September, 2008 (last edited: 25th August, 2009)