2/16/16

Versace L'Homme (Versace)


Going Old-School


If you have any doubt about the classification of Versace L'Homme, just look at its bottle. Its glass shoulders are sculpted to look like ferns! Yet this is one of the most chronically misidentified fragrances out there. How it could be called a chypre or an oriental is beyond me, although even the H&R Genealogie chart gets it wrong. This is the very definition of a traditional fougère, as old-school as it gets.

It's also an odd duck in that it's from Italy, and should represent an Italianate style after Krizia Uomo, yet smells impeccably French. It reminds me most of Rochas' underrated Moustache, a classic mossy fougère from the forties. It opens with a similar barrage of lucid citrus notes (lemon, bergamot, lime) with a seamlessly blended lavender chord, and rapidly dries into a spiced floral heart, very clean and bitter, with distinct jasmine and gardenia notes. After a few hours the green notes soften to a powdery tonka, with a pinch of mild tobacco to round it off.

The current Euroitalia version is good, and likely preferable to vintage, at least for me. Older vintages had heavy oakmoss, but frankly I think a preponderance of moss would be overbearing in this style, teasing it into being chypre-like. Euroitalia's version has no moss at all, yet it still smells adequately mossy. It also has delicate nuances of basil, cinnamon, patchouli, cedar, labdanum, castoreum, and petitgrain, all of which are easily separable in the top and heart, but none of which are loud enough for a vulgar "aromatic fougère" vibe. Their subtlety is exact, for L'Homme's sharp focus is on an orthodox three-tier ensemble of lavender, tonka, and mossy musk.

There has been quite a bit of talk about the reformulation of this fragrance, including conversations about how vintage L'Homme's color is darker than current. I suspect this is a fragrance that gets darker with age, but I'll have no way of knowing until I've had my bottle for a few years to compare. I can say that these kinds of "green" compositions are changeable, because my EA formulation of Grey Flannel has darkened noticeably in the last few years. Now, citrus-heavy fragrances are often criticized for smelling "synthetic" after reformulation. In my experience, vintage citrus notes smell very "perfumey" and deep, but that's not exactly a good thing.

The reformulation's citruses are crisp and bright, and the lemon note actually has that sour muskiness of real lemon rind, so I can't complain about the citrus smelling synthetic. However, if I were to give this bottle fifteen years of room temperature storage, I wonder if the citrus notes would blush out and get "perfumey" on me. Some guys like that. I'm not one of them.

Is this the best traditional fougère to come out of the eighties? I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it deserves fair praise. Its longevity is perfect (about six hours), its sillage is very limited, its construction is solid (nothing chemical or unbalanced here), and it has that dry, powdery afterglow of a classic masculine for fastidious men. My favorite part is its rather sheer green tobacco note, which lingers long after the citrus and floral notes have faded. This is a nice one.



2 comments:

  1. Eh, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on color changes in a fragrance product. Synthetic dyes are notoriously fickle & fugitive with even the slightest exposure to light, heat, or pH changes.

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    1. Hi Bibi, thanks for saying that. That's my point! I'm tired of reading comments from people who make a big deal out of vintage perfumes being "darker" in color than reformulations. As I've witnessed with Grey Flannel, it's evident that some perfumes change color with time. The point is that when these vintages started out new, they may have been the exact same color as the reformulations of today!

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