Polo Crest (Ralph Lauren)

As a general rule I really try to avoid reviewing discontinued fragrances on this blog. They're often a bitch for readers to find, and even when found, are not always reliable for sampling, due to improper storage and degradation of ingredients. There's nothing worse than a bottle of something formerly great that now smells like an old shoe, thanks to decades of heat, direct sunlight, and carelessness on the part of the merchant. Also, top notes are the first to go, and with many fragrances the top notes are so integral to the full experience that losing them is a massive disappointment. I keep wishing I could get the citrus (what used to be orange and lemon) from my sixty year-old bottle of Max Factor Signature. It's fun to use as reference for nineteen-fifties "barbershop", but because of its degradation, not something I'll ever wear.

In the case of Polo Crest, I have to make an exception. This fragrance is so good that to avoid mentioning and recommending it feels criminal. Besides, bottles can still be found at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, it's a hit-and-miss situation in that regard, with brick-and-mortar stores more likely to offer deals than anyone on the internet. I got my bottle for a surprising discount because the guy who sold it didn't know what it is, and he even shaved a few more dollars off his sticker price for me because I'm a regular customer. Polo Crest is one of the few discontinued masculines from the early-nineties that is truly worth seeking out, twenty-two years after its release. Ralph Lauren wisely integrated a substantial number of synthetics into the formula, which buttress the naturals (of which there are many), and prevent degradation of the fragrance. Unlike many releases from its time period, Crest possesses many hallmark notes of its era within a modern, leathery chypre structure that somehow manages to smell timeless.

Polo Crest is essentially the original Polo in miniature, with a dash of Herbs de Provence up top, and natural cedar in the base. Its opening is brisk and balanced, a masterwork in itself. Whoever created it so adequately judged the proportions of lemon, rosemary, and caraway, that the resultant accord, though lacking in sweetness and warmth, brims with a freshness that always makes me smile. The ensuing minutes carry artemisia to the fore, with a heart accord of lavender, patchouli, and oakmoss in tow. When dissected by this nose, its note contrast is sublime: hints of sweet jasmine, velvety rose, minty geranium, bitter thyme, and piercing wormwood to squelch the sugar of the flowers and patchouli. It's similar to Red for Men and Yatagan, but without the dissonance of the former or the snarl of the latter. Polo Crest is a vast improvement on the original (itself no slouch), and the epitome of masculinity in a polite, low-sillage form - a hot-blooded thoroughbred in a world full of Clydesdales. Try Modern Reserve for the update.


  1. Very nice and spot-on review of Crest. Another close alternative, easily available today, is Chevignon's Brand for Men.


    1. Hi perfaddict, welcome to my blog, yeah I've read a lot about Chevignon being a viable alternative to Crest, as well as Modern Reserve (which doesn't get as much love but is still lauded). Thanks for the suggestion.


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