Brooks Brothers New York Gentleman (Interparfum)

There's a saying in the multi-generational world of rock 'n roll: "Better to hear a good song played badly, than a bad song played well." In the case of New York for Gentlemen, we're dealing with a mediocre song played very well, which cuts both ways for the smart wearer. But before getting into the fragrance directly, I'd just like to say, take a look at that gorgeous bottle. Someone mated bottles from Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier and Christian Dior, resulting in this offspring specimen of eye-caressing design work.

Put simply, and without getting into the florid language of which aroma chemicals are where, this fragrance is a rehash of a tired masculine formula: the citrus-floral chypre. The high priest of them is Eau Sauvage, with Diorella, Chanel Pour Monsieur, Guerlain Vetiver, and Monsieur Balmain kneeling at the altar. Yes, some came years before ES, but only two used Hedione (Clinique's Aromatics Elixir, released the same year as Diorella, was the third, and arguably only one truly intended for women), and at the time, Hedione is what propelled the citrus chypre idea into the stratosphere for perfumers and their work. The hint of decadent jasmine freshness implies that there's more to sell here than previously thought. It's not just about fruit and moss. It's about that crisp, green, romantic smell that accompanies anything that dabbles past the mundane with flowers and musk. Which brings me back to NY Gentleman, a stripped-down and hastily-assembled redux of Eau Sauvage.

According to Richard Herpin, Brooks Bros. insisted on several expensive aroma chemicals and raw materials, presumably to make up for a lack of content in the formula. Their fragrance has a brilliant opening of bergamot and lemon oils - genuine citrus oils - and it smells luscious, worthy of any $150 niche cologne. It segues into a pricey vetiver extract, also genuine, also lovely. Standing in for Hedione is Calone, which offers nondescript sweetness, followed by a triad of musks, one of which is high-end, and the other two unnecessarily cheap. The drydown is a sparse vetiver/musk/carnation, and smells intermittently of peppery greens and clean cotton T. You can't go wrong smelling like this, and it's a damned good execution, but significantly clunkier, cheaper, and less compelling than Eau Sauvage, a scent that has yet to be rivaled by any fragrance, and sees no threat from this one.


  1. I quite enjoy this fragrance. It has the traditional EDC mask while maintaining, at least for me, EDT longevity. It's nice that a relatively contemporary release isn't afraid to be overtly traditional in its masculinity. No cinnamon roll or grape Kool Aid in sight.

    1. It's a good one, although I wish they'd remained consistent in the far drydown and not felt the need to incorporate three different musks, with only one being of high-quality. As you pointed out, that helps longevity, and I guess could be counted as a plus or minus depending on taste. Herpin admitted to using Calone in the heart, presumably because it's hard to miss, and why bother trying to hide the fact? (Calone seems to have become a bad word in some fragrance circles - the folks who frown on aquatics and fruity-florals.) Here in NYG, I think it smells bright and fresh, and lends a nice buoyancy to the scent. This is a really good offering, but marred a bit and cheapened by some compositional bareness and a confused base. One can add points again for a lack of cinnamon roll or grape Kool Aid :)


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