Derby (Guerlain, 2012)

It's been a long week of work and looking at houses. So far my home search is proving to be especially interesting, as I encounter pad after pad in serious need of "Home-Path" loan repairs. Except for one particular town, in which it's pad after pad in serious need of a guy wearing a pink robe, John Barrymore style. I intend to buy there. Connecticut, as it turns out, is chock full of shitty houses. If you come here, look for our fifties-styled ranches. People take good care of them, they're relatively inexpensive, and they're usually true to their period (which means cool bathrooms).

In all the hubbub, I managed to sneak in a few samplings and a full wearing of the "new" Derby, to contrast with my unpleasant "vintage" Derby experience. While significantly better in both fragrance and performance, the new stuff doesn't really wow me either. I guess I just don't care for Derby. Again, if Derby were a broadly appealing scent, it would likely have top billing from Guerlain, but instead it is relegated to the weird revival line and seems destined to remain the brand's back-up player for years to come. People do like it, and they buy it, but it's nobody's first choice. I imagine Vetiver and Habit Rouge have always outsold it by a comfortable margin.

What can I say about the new Derby? It smells like a standard spicy-vanillic oriental, which surprises me. In fact, the composition seems to be built around a massive carnation note, which in some ways makes it similar to Old Spice, of all things. Plus there's a smooth vanillic amber in its heart, also quite Old Spicy. I don't know how I feel about that. I actually compared Derby to P&G's Old Spice cologne, and it turns out there's a lot more nutmeg in that cheapo drugstore formula than I had originally thought. There's also a competitive citrus note, mostly orange, and the vanilla in the drydown is adequate enough to give "new" Derby a run for its money. There's a harder cedar/peppermint accord in the heart of "new" Derby, and that duo ties the peppery-floral top to a heavy woody-patchouli base.

I've included a Scent Prism of "vintage" and "new." As you can see, the older formula is more complex, boasts harder notes, and you'd think it's more interesting than the newer composition. That may or may not be the case, depending on how you interpret the structure, but despite its complexities, "vintage" Derby smells overly nutmeggy and dull. The new stuff is fresher, a little fruitier, with softer notes, and a simpler structure, but its cheap patchouli base note leaves something to be desired. I guess the touch of saltiness to the older Derby's musk is a good thing, because the new one is pretty standard and "blah" in the musk department. Otherwise I can't think of anything nice to say about the original.

Speaking of saltiness, I would take my scent prism with a grain of the white stuff, because your interpretation of the two structures may differ tremendously. However, I should warn you: don't let your impression of the original formula influence your take on the new one. There are some similarities in overall feel, and in the notes used, but all things considered these are two very different fragrances. It's just too bad neither of them strike my fancy.

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