Perfume Directory

M7 (2002)
by Yves Saint Laurent


M7 information

Year of Launch2002
Average Rating
(based on 1410 votes)

People and companies

HouseYves Saint Laurent
PerfumerAlberto Morillas
PerfumerJacques Cavallier
PackagingTom Ford
PackagingDoug Lloyd
Parent CompanyL'Oréal Group > YSL Beaute
Parent Company at launchPinault-Printemps-Redoute > Gucci Group > YSL Beaute

About M7

The first male scent from YSL since Tom Ford took the helm, is packaged in a deep brown bottle with a silver band at the top. The fragrance contains notes of Agarwood and is a fresh and woody sensual scent. Created by Alberto Morillas (Tommy, cK One, Angel...) and Jacques Cavalier (Issey, Ultraviolet..). The fragrance is so called as it is the seventh mens YSL brand.

M7 fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of M7

You could hardly call this an Oud. There's that medicinal note, but it's dressed with herbs and cherry syrup; and when that fades, it goes down to a creamy brown amber. And while we’re talking about herbs and amber, it makes me think of Ambre Sultan (1993).
M7 is well made, but as an Oud it’s pretty tame. On the other hand it was the first Western Oud, and as such it broke new ground - even if that ground was pretty soft. This gives it an interesting, if minor role in the history of perfume; and, as well as that, it gets plenty of attention from Basenoters. So does M7 deserve any kind of special status - and all those words that have been lavished on it?
First of all I must say I'm not an Oud head, it's just another genre to me; and so, looking at it from a general perspective, and with no Oud axe to grind, how does M7 appear?
Not bad is the answer. The obvious thing is how sweet it is. A creamy smooth mixture of gourmand, amber and oud - which is not really oud at all but synthetics : ood I call it.
After the disinfectant syrup, the profile fades down through amber to finish on a white woody - and slightly cheesy note, possibly what they call mandrake - but surely not the real thing which is toxic and hallucinogenic. It does smell a bit weird though, and has some likeness to Goutal's Mandragore.
The much talked about Oud is only one part of M7, and not even the main one. The core is amber with some odd things going on each side of it, so I see this as a strange amber, and not really an Oud at all.
It’s a good novelty for now and again, but I soon get tired of it.
05th February, 2021 (last edited: 06th February, 2021)
I'm not sure why M7 a cult-like following. At best and worst, it's "fine," a synthetic, dark green-woody thing that feels a little anonymous in 2020.
23rd September, 2020
Just magnificent! A decadently rich composition with a beautiful note of what I smell as cherry flavored pipe tobacco. I always loved it when someone nearby was smoking cherry tobacco, a lovely smell that I associate with childhood. It angers me no end that someone decided to end both M7 and M7 fresh-- two scents that every frag lover should own or at least try.
25th February, 2019
Tom Ford made a number of drastic changes during his time at PPR, particularly with his no-nonsense fashions and perfumes that deliberately fell back on traditional genre tropes like the chypre, oriental, or the fougère. These post-modern efforts helped revitalize Gucci from entry-level designer embraced by the poverty line to the brand of choice for it's champions, namely the hip-hop community, becoming something of an urban equivalent to the rock and roll darling Versace had become. By 1999, Tom was also handed the reigns of YSL, much to the chagrin of Yves Saint Laurent himself, who wasn't happy with Ford's post-modernist direction and once remarked "the man does what he can". The first male-marketed effort from YSL under Ford was quite a stunner for this reason, as literally nobody saw it coming. Yves Saint Laurent M7 (2002) was neither the green aromatic revisted like Gucci Envy Pour Homme (1998) nor an aquatic, ozonic, or fresh fougère like much of the competition, but rather a woodsy oriental built around the theme of agarwood. It's hard to fathom just how crazy this was to Western buyers, particularly Americans, who had zero experience with agarwood or oud/aoud/oudh as it's also known. Balenciaga dabbled with it in Balenciaga Pour Homme (1990), but it was just a flirtation nobody noticed buried in other powerhouse notes that constituted the scent's virile base. In M7, the agarwood was obviously a synthetic composite with only a little of the actual ingredient due to expense, but the smell regardless was divisive to the point of controversial (something YSL hadn't been in years), representing a catalyst for one of the first big lock-ups Tom Ford would have with LVMH upper-managment, eventually leading to his departure in 2004 to form his own house. Needless to say oud would in time become an acquired taste in the West (particularly for men), which is why M7 was re-orchestrated and re-launched as M7 Oud Absolu (2011) almost a decade later, but M7 in its original form was an unmitigated financial disaster for YSL, compounded by a scandalous ad campaign to boot (mirroring 1977's Opium). M7 only lasted on the market for a few years before being discontinued and entering the discounter circuit until somebody got a bug up their ass that it should be the next rare, expensive, idolized miracle of under-appreciated perfume art, with prices in the aftermarket skyrocketing accordingly. A lighter, more-conventional M7 Fresh (2004) came out as capitulation after Tom Ford took his toys and left LVMH, but that too is also a venerated vintage-hunter's trophy because it didn't sell well, being discontinued just in time for Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme (2006) to replace it.

The smell of M7 in retrospect isn't bizarre or jarring so many years removed from release as it may have seemed in 2002, and the oud note itself is really just an earlier, milder form of the medicinal "Comet cleanser" oud note Tom Ford likes to use in his own creations, like Oud Wood (2007), which is rather more polarizing in my opinion than this stuff. M7 opens with a typical bergamot rosemary tandem that lasts only a brief few introductory moments before giving into the heart of that medicinal composite oud. The oud note and indeed the whole perfume was a collaboration between Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier, the latter of whom is no stranger to YSL and returned for both the retro-revival Rive Gauche Pour Homme (2003) and the aforementioned apology that is M7 Fresh, while the former is the darling perfumer behind so many beloved mainstream freshies and seems a bad fit as co-composer. It's actually hard to fathom that the modern-minded Morillas was paired with Cavallier intentionally, but perhaps that was the point to their collaboration, to merge contrasting viewpoints. The oud compound used here feels like it might have been taken by Ford as he left PPR, which would explain why it smells so much like the Tom Ford oud accords we see, whilst the M7 Oud Absolu accord is an entirely different animal with different notes. Regardless, those who've smelled any of the Tom Ford Private Blend oud creations already know the heart of M7; it's scratchy "wonder-agar" is flanked by mandarin orange and vetiver, which honestly hides the "Comet" facets that become a deal breaker for me in the TF lines and draws the comparisons to Cherry Coke some reviewers make. The base of M7 is a nice rounded musky amber accord, which Tom Ford likely borrowed in part for Gucci Pour Homme (2003) the following year, here adding in the strange, esoteric note of mandrake root in M7 to make it feel more exotic, as if he was making a magic potion to cure petrification and not a fragrance. Hoodoo or not, I don't know nor can tell what mandrake is supposed to smell like in M7 but its use feels more for show than olfactory effect. M7 isn't a bomb of an oud perfume as you might be led to think by its worshippers, as it has no rose, and lacks any of the "barnyard" skank we've come to expect from the genre now that we have developed noses for the stuff, and M7 has moderate sillage with longevity just above average. The dry down of M7 is woodsy, bittersweet, a touch creamy, and only infers slight hints of that synthetic oud in it's mildly-peppery and rich demeanor, making it a passable example of an oud for the office if it was still available. Now the next part is something a lot of you won't like reading, but there's a caveat so bear with me.

I'm known for approaching the much-worshipped "unicorns" of the vintage perfume community with skepticism, but that's because I try to hew away hype and get to the experience of wearing the scent itself, which often doesn't match its stature. M7 was a shocker in 2002 because it not only was different from anything else in its designer segment, but also a departure/return to form from the safe direction YSL masculines had taken since Jazz (1988), and a completely new concept to the vast majority of male Western perfume buyers, the kind of guys that still confuse "musky" with aromatic, and aromatic with "spicy". We like our white bread and mayonnaise in the US, so anything with real flavor spooks us. Now, with that having been said, pioneers are often misunderstood and often unappreciated in their lifetime, and that is exactly what happened to M7. The cult of believers which formed around the scent likely still hunt the overpriced survivors on eBay, as do anyone else convinced by this vocal minority of M7's greatness, but the truth is time has not been kind to M7, and its plastic oud construction feels like a pale ghost compared to what's available now. M7 smells gimmicky even when stood next to the brash Montale/Mancera ouds out there, and with every Western house pumping out their own oud hot take finding varying degrees of success, M7 comes across as an old state road existing in the shadow of a massive modern freeway. I think M7 could be a pleasant, piquant, and a fair-quality first oud for the timid if it wasn't priced in Creed territory, but since you can get a nearly-identical accord as this with actually more oud bite for one-tenth the cost from Avon Premiere Luxe Oud (2016), the only reason you'd fork out for this now is bragging rights. On the other side of the M7 fence, M7 Oud Absolu tries in vain to come across as a learned and more authentic Western oud, but that story will be left for another review. M7 gets props for helping bring agarwood to the Western perfume market, even if it took a bullet in the process, but I just can't rate it any higher than neutral because its quality is nowhere close to the mythic status it enjoys in the collector's community. Some legends are indeed deserved of their status, and some legends are just the result of people in influential positions passing out rose-tinted glasses for those who'll listen, and that is the case with M7 (thanks YouTube reviewers). If you're a huge fan of this, no disrespect meant, as I do believe M7 is worth a sniff even if just for history's sake as one of the earliest Western oud fragrances, but its place in the collection of any male colognoisseur at this point is purely ornamental, much like other Gucci and YSL things from the Tom Ford era of PPR which have similarly been discontinued and given their own chapels of reverence.
24th October, 2018 (last edited: 19th December, 2020)
I know everyone who reviews M7 has to mention the oud, but to me, the rubbery and medicinal oud elements fade within a half an hour, leaving M7 much more of a well-crafted creamy sweet boozy wood perfume than an oud.

The real star seems to be a mix of sandalwood sawdust and an especially nice oak note, with a hint of green (herbs on top, vetiver later), a careful creamy milky vanilla that gives everything a wonderful richness without crossing over into candy, and immortelle that gives a boozy medicinal quality to the top and eventually melts into the vanilla and woods to give a really great impression of maple wood.

Even in the vintage, I'd be shocked if there's any actual oud in here - it's more of a Farenheit-esque simulation, though it's masterfully done.

In all, a wonderful scent.
07th September, 2018
I don't dislike M7; it has a mixture of vanilla and berry-type fruity notes, against a spicy background. It actually reminds me of a spicier, heavier version of Patou's Ma Liberte. However, M7 is one of those fragrances that I am very aware of every time I breathe in, which I really find too much (and I enjoy heavy fragrances). Therefore, I have to give this a neutral: I like the fragrance, but find it too heavy and clinging.
31st March, 2018

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