Lapidus Pour Homme (Ted Lapidus)

Budget fragrances of 2011 were generally crumby. You've got your CK flankers, your sugar-shock Justin Bieber celeb nothings, your Ed Hardy disasters, your latest Curves in the road, all synthetic-smelling, aquatic, chemical florals and musks. We can't do cheapies with any dignity these days. Sniffing through all the fake fruit-laden contemporary crap last summer had me thinking about trying Creed's Aventus, just so I could smell a fruit note (namely pineapple) that doesn't remind me of a Yankee Candle. Following that train of thought, I remembered a much older scent that utilizes pineapple without the exorbitant price tag. And I got a little nostalgic. Surprise, surprise.

It seems that back in the '80s, even lower-shelf offerings had quality, character, and panache. Take Lapidus Pour Homme, for instance. From 1987, this fragrance can be had for $12 online, and back in the day it wasn't all that pricey, either. Today it's not only a cheapie, but it's out of style and almost entirely forgotten by men of a certain age. Which is a shame, because it's an incredibly masculine fougère in the tradition of Kouros and Tsar. I don't like it quite as much as either of those two, and gave my Lapidus away to a gay friend (I give him tons of stuff because he never refuses anything, and it's a great way to do spring cleaning), but I do feel LPH is a worthy "power" fougère. Having LPH and Kouros is a bit redundant, and I'll stick to my Kouros, but if you find YSL's interpretation of a honeyed animalic too formal, LPH may be the solution; it seems Teddy Boy wanted a sexier honey scent as his signature and cracked a few beehives in the formulation process.

Lapidus opens with a smooth but forceful burst of sugary pineapple and not much else. It's an opening I've never encountered before, and what surprises me isn't the choice of fruit, but how realistic it smells. It doesn't have a chemical opacity to it. It feels like I opened a can of Mott's pineapple juice and splashed it on my chest. This pineapple is transparent, light, and sweet - but still quite strong. It settles on skin with hints of lemon and orange, and seems to recede for a few minutes before allowing the heart notes to open up. Once the top subsides, the honey, backed by a not-so-subtle incense and rose, emerges with startling clarity. The honey gradually loses balance, almost becoming noxious in its intensity, but that issue passes within a few hours. My bottle was older, and the honey note may have degraded. The pineapple never actually disappears, but lurks in the periphery to compliment these darker elements. Gradually the rose becomes stronger and is edged by a spiced jasmine, and Lapidus gets in touch with its floral side. Note separation is effortless here; for a downmarket offering, this fragrance never lets me forget that it's Parisian, a solid piece of French perfumery. I get each note with ease, and the scent as a whole maintains a congruence and beauty that are hard to find in many pricier perfumes.

After a few hours Lapidus brightens - the hints of clove, the darkness of the honey, and the dankness of the rose grow lighter and airier, becoming a bit soapy and free. The sweetness, initially introduced by pineapple and followed by a gargantuan honey element, becomes less realistic and somewhat chemical at this stage. Still, it smells good, and I've definitely gotten the most bang for my buck. To anyone who believes that price is directly correlative to quality, let Lapidus stand as a conscientious objector - it is brilliantly conceived and executed, utterly wearable, and a fine example of how to wear pineapple without wearing your bank account down to its nubble.

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