Roughly one year after its release, I finally find the time to convey my definitive impressions of Kouros Silver. I say "definitive" because it's taken me a long time to decide how I feel about this fragrance, and why I feel the way I do. There has been some waffling, some head-scratching, some more waffling, some chin rubbing, and I may have ground a millimeter from my molars trying to put this into words, but as the Bee Gees once said, "words are all I have," so here it goes. Bear with me.
I want to hate this fragrance without any reason for it, other than a personal dislike for the scent alone, but it's more complicated than that. You see, when you smell and wear as many fragrances as I have, you reach a point where your response to things can't be summed up by the Yes/No sign behind Robert De Niro in Casino, but not because a simple "yes" or "no" fails for you personally. It just gets, well, a little deeper than that, or maybe a better way to put it is to say it gets a little more technical.
Kouros Silver, in my personal opinion, is a terrible fragrance, but if we're going to dwell on the personal for more than a sentence or two, I'd add that I dislike this "type" of fragrance more than any individual scent representing it. I can't stand the "sweet," the "sticky," the blatantly "chemical," and all the motherfucking Aryan Nations musks that are both front AND backloaded into these things. What scares me is that the lineage for Kouros Silver traces back in the short term to equally terrible fragrances, which is bad enough, but when you continue to follow the bloodline, you actually get to some truly great perfumes that every hardcore enthusiast loves, and that's what changes the tone from a Sesame Street bedtime story into something the Brothers Grimm crept themselves out with and didn't even want to publish.
In the short term, the fragrance that started this madness was Versace's Eros, back in 2012, when someone decided to sweeten a stock formula woody amber accord with some vaguely fruity ester, and called it "apple." Between Eros and Silver are minor travesties like Joop! Homme Wild (which I actually don't dislike), Man.Aubusson Intense, and Cool Water Night Dive, with the latter two being circular reasonings on why vaguely synthy-fruity woody ambers buttressed between shitloads of laundry musks are "youthful" and "contemporary," as if these terms mean the same thing.
So yeah, a big yawn. And if we go back further than Eros, we touch on - oh hey, wait, WAIT A MINUTE HERE! Wait just ONE FUCKING MINUTE. Fruit? Woody ambers? White musks? Weird, synthy, gourmand-ish olfactory illusions using wood notes and musks that are so sweet they almost smell edible? Individuel? Witness? Aubusson Pour Homme? Feeling Man? Joop! Homme? Balenciaga Pour Homme? SKIN BRACER???? How did we get here? This can't be right. No, break out the map again, we gotta double-check. There must be a mistake. I must've - wait, no, no, no, no, no. No. STFU. WTF? And any other letter combo that annoyingly turns a foul-language phrase into an awkward acronym.
Eventually, the realization crystallizes: yes, unfortunately yes, there are classic underpinnings to these grotesque chemical designers. From deep within terpene-laden green-woods accords, found in things like Yatagan and Quorum, were coumarin-tinged musks that whispered sweet whimsies on winds that grew ever muskier with time. By the late eighties and early nineties, the musks had become so animalic and multi-faceted that their interaction with piney notes, incense, and woods developed illusory fruity aspects, with apple and pineapple effects in Balenciaga and Feeling Man, apple pie hallucinations in Aubusson PH and Witness, and sweeter, violet-like heliotrope in Joop! Homme and Individuel, all perfumes that smell incredible on their own terms.
This is how my mind shifted through its gears with Kouros Silver wafting from my collar. All of my personal experiences with fragrances, both new and old, somehow connected to this oddball contemporary style of masculine perfumery that I've grown to detest. It's as if, after all the wonderful experiments with truly skanky musk molecules ceased, the perfumers decided to pare everything down to two adjectives, "sweet," and "clean." The result is something that smells, to me anyway, very thick, unpleasant, blob-like, chemical, and unbearable after five minutes.
And yet, despite that, some objectivity kicks in. I consider the qualities of this style, gleaned from various frags, that appeal to me in even the most fleeting way. The clarity of the green apple in Man.aubusson Intense. The synthetic, Skin-Bracery fougères in Joop! Homme Wild and Night Dive. The ghost of animalism in that extra layer of musk that baaarely makes it into the first ten seconds of Kouros Silver. Despite all its repulsiveness, I can kinda, sorta get why the youngsters like this sort of thing. It's generational. This fragrance really erupted four years ago, and now it's becoming its own thing, and guys a lot younger than me are wearing it. I don't really understand why they prefer Kouros Silver to something like Balenciaga Pour Homme, but maybe that doesn't matter. Maybe I'm not supposed to get it. Maybe it's enough that I just acknowledge that someone, somewhere, likes this shit.
I don't like it, and I'd never wear it, and I could get into how, for me, this style is better found on drugstore shelves in aftershaves in much lower concentrations, or how sad it is that L'Oréal is stooping to this kind of boardroom-tested "safe" formula approach with a brand as gargantuan and legendary as YSL, but that's what Fragrantica and basenotes are for. On my blog, I'm satisfied with telling you that I understand Kouros Silver's existence, and maybe even its appeal to a certain demographic. But between you and me, with everything I know and understand about perfume fully in check, I don't approve of it at all.