Vintage (John Varvatos)

If you have a chance to visit Sephora and test fragrances, I suggest limiting yourself to three, for any more will likely fatigue your nose. Sephora deals in high-end designer scents (no niche) and designer scents tend to be rather funky, potent animals, longevity not withstanding. Naturally it's a good idea to go with a theme - try a few green scents, or a few leathers. Maybe a couple of tobacco frags. Stick to the theme so your nose gets attuned to one central note, be it fir, or grass, or vanilla, or musk. Diversity of similar experiences will illuminate compositional differences surrounding this one thing. In the end you'll find at least one thing you like, one thing you hate (or simply dislike), and one thing you're indifferent to. Try it, and see. I guarantee this outcome. It's human nature to matrix scatter-shot information into yin-yang orientations, but only if one sticks to a theme. Trying a gourmand, next to a leather, next to a traditional fougere will only result in confusion, and a misguided sense of feeling indifferent, spoiled for choice.

The last time I went to Sephora I re-tried three scents that I've been pondering for a while now: Terre D'Hermes, Tom Ford for Men, and Vintage. Of the three, I disliked Terre D'Hermes (review pending), liked Tom Ford for Men, and was neutral on Vintage. Set against the bone dry ashtray of Terre D'Hermes, and the lemony violet leaf plushness of Tom Ford, Vintage was surprisingly "blah." The theme here was supposed to be tobacco, although I fudged it a bit with TdH, as there really isn't a tobacco note in there. There is an odd patchouli that resembles a dried, ready-to-crack tobacco leaf, however. Which couldn't be further from the potpourri-like pipe tobacco accord in John Varvatos' offering.

Vintage is surprisingly sweet, given its note pyramid, with the moist grapefruit and berry notes taking center stage in both the opening and the heart. Tobacco adds a temperate masculinity, and an hour after application a fir note accompanies the fruit and woods. It's a nice fragrance, albeit a little too sweet for me. The fruit notes mixed with green earthiness sends a strange vibe, like something pseudo-retro, the olfactory equivalent of an Arcade Fire song. Which is to say, derivative, unfocused, and unconvincing.

The whole thing would read better if it weren't so damn sweet. After two hours, I'm left with a fruity tobacco drydown, with vague bursts of fir and tonka pushing in frustration through the syrup. All well. I'm sure someone out there loves Vintage. That someone is simply not me.

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