Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche
Allure Homme Edition Blanche starts with refreshing citrus--mostly grapefruit with a touch of lemon and lime. I love grapefruit, but what has kept me from enjoying it in most fragrances is either the tendency for the grapefruit to get a little sweaty and urinous, or, in the case of highly synthetic grapefruit notes, the unchanging linearity which becomes boring and a little too overwhelming. I am pretty sure AHEB contains at least some natural citrus, because the scent is changing, deepening, becoming less of a zesty, fresh squeezed citrus and more like a glass of fresh grapefruit juice. I am also beginning to smell mandarine orange, which is pleasantly sweet--it softens the bitter edge of the grapefruit, and slightly covers the fact that the grapefruit is decomposing into its usual sulfuric compounds. Underneath the citrus I smell herbal notes--rosemary and perhaps an evergreen such as spruce. The development has been slow and steady, and an hour in, still has a pleasing citrus herbal tone, even though there is a bit of sharpness from the grapefruit.
Further into the development, the grapefruit is undoubtedly urinous and sufuric. I never find the ending stage of grapefruit pleasant, but there are some other notes in AHEB which mask it a bit. The fragrance has turned a bit more powdery, and the sweet base notes are starting to come forward more. I smell some faint florals, but nothing that is particularly recognizable. The sweetness could be vanilla or tonka, which might account for the powdery note. Unfortunately, the degraded grapefruit is really ruining this fragrance for me. The effect in the drydown is stale, oxidized grapefruit with weak perfumy powder. Sadly, it has really fallen apart and does not seem to be taking a desperately needed turn for the better. In the deep drydown, the grapefruit is more tolerable, but still recalls its earlier ugly sulfuric stage. The soft powder and vanilla does help, but there are times that the vanilla and grapefruit combine to give an orange flavored baby-aspirin effect. This is definitely not a dreamy drydown that I can sink into.
Guerlain Homme EDT
I am not sure I am smelling this right--is it sugared mint and herbs? I heard that GH had a mojito note in it, and so I was expecting something slightly alcoholic with a mint tinge to it. Instead what I smell is buttercreme mint candy. Mind you, it is not unpleasant, at least to me. Butter, sugar and mint--what is not to like? This phase is very short lived, and the herbs start taking over, bringing a medicinal pungency to the composition. I am pretty sure it is lavender, and perhaps rosemary, that starts to come out, and it really overwhelms the sweet sugary mint so that it is barely perceptible. Mostly what I smell of the mint is a coolness, that sort of "mentholated" effect that many mints have. The herb blend is rather common, so it is actually a relief to have this slight mint edge. I can't say GH is very distinctive--so far it is a typical run-of-the-mill fougere. However, the mint does give it a bit of individuality, and its very faint sweetness tones down the medicinal notes somewhat.
In the middle development, the herbs become more subdued, which is a welcome relief. Although I find herbs to be refreshing in a fragrance, sometimes the herbal notes are quite harsh and penetrating. I don't find this to be particularly pleasant--it is like having my nasal passages scrubbed with a sprig of rosemary. In some cases the herbal accord is so stringent as to be unbearable. GH skirts a thin line between refreshing and stinging, and thankfully doesn't stay there too long before the overall composition softens into a mellow herb blend combined with a sweet vanilla and musk base. Surprisingly, the mint has endured through the strong herbal phase, and reappears to blend with the base as a soft, sweet and cool note.
I was expecting to dislike GH, and I must say that even though I don't find it particularly masterful or ground-breaking, I am enjoying it a great deal. The drydown is sweet, but is not the old "guerlinade" of resins, musk and powdery vanilla. The drydown definitely has vanilla (or tonka) and musk, but it lacks the resins which often smell sweaty. It also lacks strong powdery notes that give a more classic vibe to a fragrance. The mint is completely gone in the drydown, but a little of the herbal accord remains to give a bit of sharpness to the base. There is also some leather and tobacco which gives a pleasant warmth to the fragrance. As with the earlier stages of development, there is nothing outstanding about the drydown, especially when compared to other men's designer fragrances. However, there is a sort of "X" factor here, and perhaps Guerlain has found the sweet spot where they can have a potentially popular scent which is also well crafted. I am impressed with this composition as a modern and youthful fragrance which reaches from the roots of classic fougere.