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Short review: excellent, must smell, trully a classic. Now, IMHO, avoid it if you are a man thinking men can pull this off.
Long review: Among BaseNoters it is widely assumed that scents are genderless and that men can wear blends sold under the tag "femenine" and vice versa. Still, there are recurrent threads on female scents that men can wear, of which many end up in heated debates. As per my experience, it is cristal clear that the right answer is personal: one should wear whatever the wearer feels worth wearing, so this review should be read with this idea in mind. Of course, the ones reading this review are free to disent.
Arpege is a floral aldehyde, so in this sense, the top notes, besides being as the descriptor says, are sort of taken to an extreme due to the presence of the aldehydes - I have to admit that I am using this term as per its analogies with the most famous floral aldehyde around, Chanel N° 5: it is the high loud notes the ones responsible for this common attribute. As I mentioned in a thread about Lanvin's most famous perfume, I don´t have anything against florals, but of these being sold for men, I really like a small amount of them. To my nose, florals widely used in femenine scents are too acute to my nose - I resort to this term because they feel like needles.
There has been many formulations and I am clueless as to the one corresponding to the sample I tried. In this case, I cannot give any account as to its complexity, it is rather linear. Thus, the mid notes don't evolve that much. Still, I can understand that comments about Arpege being suitable for men are based in the blend's base notes for there are some notes lurking around that have some sort of distant animalic character that are very nice. Now, be aware that these are rather subdued, thus men wearing it will end up with the feeling of having been forced through a floral journey taking hours in order to arrive to very shy animalic accords.
In summary, it is a classic, but not in the same fashion as the orientals, leathers and chypres blended in the first half of the XX century, the ones that many, even me, think that can be easily used by men, and thus, find them full bottle worthy. Thus, if interested, do sample it through a full wear before thinking about buying it, for it is the only way to find if you feel comfortable wearing it.
24th May, 2011