Drakkar Noir (Guy Laroche)

Oddly enough, the "black" flanker of Drakkar perseveres in an ever-changing market, while the original is now defunct (and has been for years). As ubiquitous as Cool Water, Drakkar Noir has now been reformulated into a lighter scent, no doubt to better conform with today's trends. The bitter citrus, wood, and herbal opening is still quite sharp and recognizable, but it rapidly dries into a hollow juniper, lavender (actually lavandin), and oakmoss accord, with hints of fir. Very nicely blended, very masculine in temperament and movement, and very dull. Drakkar Noir makes a good office scent nowadays, particularly if you're working in an alpha-male environment where being taken seriously is essential. There's nothing light spirited or "fun" about this stuff. There's also nothing particularly refined about it, either. For a manly green fougère from the '80s, I'd rather wear Tsar by VC&A, or even Laroche's own Horizon. Still, Drakkar is a respectably conservative oldie that bears remembering.

I think of Drakkar Noir as the fougère that set the tone for masculine fougères of the 1980s. Things had been chugging along with plentiful doses of earthy pines and spices for some time, but this one came to the party, plunked down its armloads of oakmoss and patchouli, yanked the curtains shut, and replaced The Go-Go's with The Cure on the turntable. After that, the party was never the same again, and people who thought they'd just do a little drinky and smoochie ended up with fragmented memories of unmentionable acts the next morning. For whatever reason, Drakkar Noir was perfectly tuned into the zeitgeist at that time, and was a massive smash hit among folks of either sex. It was the quintessential '80s prowler scent.

Odd then, that it should now be more associated with business than having fun. Times have changed, I'm afraid, and those dark, smoky perfumes of yesteryear elicit feelings of boardroom, not Bordeaux. We have other things to wear while mingling now, things like L'Instant de Guerlain, Fleur de Male, and 1 Million. In other words, things that Charles Bronson would never wear. It isn't such a stretch to imagine Mr. Bronson sporting a few spritzes of Drakkar Noir while out blowing street thugs' brains across New York City, however. This scent shares a strange social context, interchanging between identities as a business, pleasure, and murder fragrance. Well yeah, I suppose the murder part is just my imagination at work. But you have to admit, this one is certainly dark enough to play that role as well.

Sadly, for Drakkar Noir, I stand by my sentiments regarding its usability in my wardrobe. Greener, smoother fragrances like Tsar and Horizon are more desirable to me. I'm more likely to reach for Azzaro Pour Homme than Drakkar Noir. This Laroche release is a good reference scent for anyone who needs a reminder on what a common macho '80s fougère smells like. There's no mistaking that pungent smack of sugarless moss and lavender, that stinging citrus and leather combo that dries into something not out of place on a rhinoceros hide. I'd much rather smell a bit more refined, but suppose the bloke in those cool print ads has no complaints.


  1. This was my big brother's teenage scent, and so for me it's associated with that era (mentally, but I haven't smelled it recently). I'm going to have to pick up a bottle and sniff it next time I'm about -- it would be interesting to see what it smells like now!

    1. Weird that I just happened across this comment now, a year and a half after you've posted it. My apologies! I found a great deal on a Drakkar Noir box set w/aftershave balm & deodorant, and revisiting the EDT, I have to admit that I may have been a little harsh in my review above, although reading through I see I did have some kind words also. Drakkar Noir is a beautiful EDT, something that doesn't have any really successful imitators (except distantly Rive Gauche PH), and yeah Natalie, I hope you've had a chance to wear this fragrance and give it another chance like I have.


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