Vera Wang for Men (Vera Wang)

I remember feeling oddly enthused about this fragrance when it was released (broadly in 2005, here in CT), I believe because the notes pyramid, as cited by Wang's P.R., seemed really unique, with things like yuzu and anise adding their own poetry to the proceedings. I cannot remember my first reaction upon smelling it, but in recent days I have tried my best to understand Vera for Men, and still haven't managed it. I just don't like this one. It has me, as Bertie Wooster would say, "mistaking the standing lamp for a burglar." In other words, it's unnecessarily confusing.

Whoever created this scent seemed to want a prominent sandalwood note in its base, perhaps to complement its abstracted accord of tobacco and nutmeg. Yet the fragrance is made of blatantly cheap synthetics, including the wood note. That's not really a problem, because I've experienced dirt-cheap sandalwood notes that work fine, despite their crudeness. Joop! Homme happens to be a brilliant study in synthetic sandalwood. Coupled with a pleasant pinch of real patchouli (is there any other kind of patchouli?), Joop!'s woodiness is so absolute, so unwilling to play third fiddle, that I end up with friendly sandalwood soap whenever I wear it. While I'm writing about Joop!, I'll add that whoever formulated Vera Wang for Men should have studied the pink stuff for pointers - citrus does not have to venture into tropical parrot-land for low-key sweet effects. If you're not into the creaminess of yuzu, and instead are aiming for a "fresh" accord, you're better off with candied orange, which nicely complements the woody violet note in Joop!'s intro, and would go well in any warm-woods structure.

Vera Wang for men is not, as a whole, truly comparable to any particular sandalwood oriental, and smells instead like a sweet, "spicy-woods" thing, riding the waves of Envy for Men and Allure Homme. It unfurls as flat citrus, unbalanced anise (a poor reconstruction), raspy nutmeg (an olfactory impression of sinking in quicksand), followed by an uneven floral arrangement, black pepper, watery notes (violet leaf), and the cheap furniture polish effect of bargain basement woods, ala English Leather. Weird that a bridal fashionista should propose such a thing for her grooms. I can think of a hundred better masculines, all of them oozing more coherence and class (Rive Gauche Pour Homme tops the list), and none of them trying quite so hard to cover every base of commercial appeal in one stroke. This might be the spritz of choice for someone with sensory perceptions so dissonant that his lover's only sane course of action involves writing a "makeover clause" into the prenuptial. Even then, it pains me to think that some women would let it slide that far.

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