360° Blue for Men (Perry Ellis)

Drakkar Noir is an incredibly underrated aromatic fougère that gets almost no air time on the blogosphere these days, but it's a very "serious" scent, all business and no fun, loaded with dark aromatics and a uniquely postmodern lavender note. This isn't the naturalistic lavender of older fougères like Caron's Pour un Homme, but rather a precursor to the synthetic, air-conditioned lavender of Cool Water (Green Irish Tweed contains linalool, but has no overt lavender note). It's a thick, chewy byproduct of a hybrid lavender called lavandin, which is made by the crossing of true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Unlike lavender, lavandin contains excess traces of camphor, smells stronger, and is longer-lasting. Its use in Drakkar is quite good, and makes the scent.

360° Blue by Perry Ellis is a Drakkar redux, taking the leathery-pine snarl of Laroche's formula and taming it into a smoother and lighter effect. The good news is that it wisely emulates the specific hybridized lavender element of its precursor, and smells very fresh and purplish-blue. It's also cheap - you can snatch a 3.4 oz bottle of this stuff for under $15 if you peruse discounters like Marshalls (I thought I also saw it once at Tesco when I lived in Prague). This version of Drakkar lacks an evergreen bite, but still contains gentle suggestions of pine and various herbs. Accompanying the pervasive lavandin top is an admirable (but fleeting) rosemary note, and if you concentrate you can smell patchouli and vetiver, with hints of amber later on.

Now the bad news: 360° Blue does not smell quite as good as Drakkar Noir, plain and simple. It's lighter, and lacks the intensity characteristic of good old-school aromatics. There's a slightly chemical edge to the far drydown, hinting at low-grade synthetics, and even for a clone, longevity isn't very good, clocking in at around three hours. Projection is equally timid, and extra application does little to remedy the issue. If you like this sort of scent profile and want the no-holds barred original, get Drakkar instead. Laroche has lightened its formula, and there's no reason to go any lighter.

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