Vermeil For Men (Vermeil Paris) Part One

This fragrance is a bit of a mystery. The whole Vermeil brand is a mystery, actually. Who is Jean-Louis Vermeil? Where did this brand come from? Who really produces its fragrances? Where are they really located? Someone out there may have answers to these questions, but thus far I haven't been able to unearth any of them myself. I have a suspicion about who is behind the Vermeil line, and I'll elaborate on that in Part Two of this post. This part is a straightforward review of the fragrance itself.

I read a review on Parfumo.net that compared Vermeil for Men to the original Davidoff fragrance, which is long discontinued. The reviewer called Vermeil "Davidoff Lite." Because I love Davidoff's masculines, and can't find a reliable sample of their original masculine, I figured trying the dirt-cheap Vermeil would be the next best thing, given the reputation of the reviewer, who tends to be spot-on in many of his assessments. Complicating matters further, another little birdie whispered in my ear that "Vermeil Pour Homme" is actually much more similar to Davidoff's Relax than it is to the original Davidoff. That intrigued me, because I have a mini of Relax, and I'm familiar with its tobacco. Internet opinions unanimously hold Vermeil to be a very good tobacco scent. Relax has a subtle tobacco note, and it's decent, but it's nothing much to speak of. I happen to really like Relax, but not enough to spend two hundred dollars on a large bottle. Show me something close to it on the cheap, and I'm all in.

One would be inclined to assume that Vermeil is strictly a masculine - it comes in a bottle ingeniously shaped like a lighter, its color scheme all browns, blacks, and faux brass, and it just feels rather "manly" to look at and hold. Plus, it says "Vermeil for Men" in small print on the box label, which is slapped on as a barcode sticker, like an afterthought. The fragrance is a burly herbal tobacco, with a beautiful bergamot, basil, thyme, and geranium top note, framed in little brackets of lavender and vetiver, and followed by a delightfully simple and eerily realistic tobacco leaf, with some sandalwood and animalic musk. It's safe to say it's a masculine perfume, and it's a piddling point, but it's not actually called "Vermeil Pour Homme." I guess it's supposed to be called "Vermeil for Men," judging by what is printed next to the barcode, although nowhere on the bottle or the rest of the box does it say that. When I think about my life, I realize that I've encountered far more female smokers than male, and the smell of tobacco, no matter how aggressively presented, is not exclusively the domain of men. I had a four-year relationship with a girl who was a walking chimney, for crying out loud. She might have plenty of use for Vermeil, if she didn't already smell like it (and if gender marketing hadn't convinced her to buy a silly pink bottle of liquid candy).

What you need to know, if you're looking for a good, solid tobacco frag, is that Vermeil for Men delivers. My only complaint is that longevity on it is relatively poor, at around four hours with modest application. I guess that's where the super-low price tag comes home to roost, but while it lasts, it smells amazing. That said, the tobacco note is pretty natural, and doesn't try anything fancy. It lets the simple beauty of pure tobacco leaf speak for itself. Furthermore, this scent is VERY similar to Davidoff's fabled Relax, minus the bright mint top note, with a much, much stronger and clearer tobacco note, and with some of Relax's sweetness shaved off the end. Both scents share a near-identical sandalwood/musk accord, and to me it smells like "Relax 2.0" The Davidoff treatment of florals, precious woods, and musk is heavier-handed in comparison (in many ways, it's an attenuated-but-intensified variation of Zino), which makes it harder to wear. I prefer Vermeil's treatment, because it's airier, more relaxed, a little less conspicuous and demanding, but not at the expense of quality. If you love the smell of dry tobacco leaf, please make it a point to buy this and wear it. It's very cheap, so if you hate it, no biggie. It's rare to encounter a well-made fragrance in a cool bottle for less than the price of a Zippo.