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Varanis Ridari

MIA Fragrance Review: XX Artisan by John Varvatos (2020)

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John Varvatos XX Artisan (2020) doesn't really smell like a true part of the contiguous Artisan (2009) line, but rather more like an unused formula for something else dressed up in Artisan wicker and slapped with the same XX anniversary trappings as John Varvatos XX (2020) of the same year. I'm not saying this is bad, but also not saying it's good either, and if post-bankruptcy Varvatos fragrance (now mostly an imprint under direct control of EA Fragrances like Giorgio and Claiborne) has showed us anything after casting off Rodrigo Flores-Roux, it's that they plan on running the brand into the ground with a litany of things that smell mostly like direct-to-video versions of everything popular in the designer world. True to that form, XX Artisan has nothing to do with anything and smells like someone wanted to mash up YSL, Tom Ford, and Prada in a blender.

The opening notes of XX Artisan remind me a bit of Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme Ultime (2016), with a metallic geranium synthetic rose aldehyde mix that adds mineralic pop and dry citrus. Bitter orange and bergamot are listed, but I don't get much of those, although things start to get a bit peppery and herbal with wormwood and Sichuan pepper in the heart. Geranium becomes the dominant player like in L'Homme Ultime, before a bleak grassy vetiver like in Tom Ford Grey Vetiver (2009) joins, laying over top a base of cetalox a la Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume (2010). There's some kind of woody note here I guess, and something else that's musky, but XX Artisan smells like boring office guy too cheap to buy a bottle of something made better like Prada Luna Rossa Carbon (2017). Performance is about 6 hours of medium projection, so the usual Varvatos sillage modesty can be expected. Best use for me is as a work scent.

XX was pretty good, but XX Artisan has nothing to do with it nor really anything to do with Artisan or anything else Varvatos makes except maybe the lackluster JV x NJ Silver (2019) which this could have been an alternate formula for that saw production as this Artisan flanker to recoup R&D costs. Calvin Klein has been known to do some wacky recycling like this too, with tobacco fragrances shoved into the cK One (1994) range or flankers to Eternity for Men (1989) that smell like clones of Versace Eros (2013), so it seems Varvatos is circling the same creative drain with inane releases that reflect an overall desperation for relevance with the buying public so the shareholders or creditors don't come knocking (again) for under-performance. The race to the bottom continues here after a brief blip of creativity with XX, but so we've come to expect with this brand now. Neutral

Updated 24th May 2021 at 10:55 PM by Varanis Ridari

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Loving perfume on the Internet since 2000