Only The Brave (Diesel)

In the world of perfume writing, price is often a mind changing component. Only The Brave is about ten dollars an ounce, which put simply is a little too much for something as "safe" and forgettable as this is. If I could get a 4.2 oz bottle for twenty-five dollars, I'd feel a whole lot better. I guess forty dollars (on Amazon) isn't terrible, but I can get 1.7 ounces of Prada Amber for thirty-eight dollars, and that's a richer, classier, and much "safer" bet! Sure it's less juice, but it would last me longer (it's stronger) and smell infinitely better, so why bother spending more than five bucks an ounce on Diesel?

How does it smell? Here is where both price and packaging effect perception, arguably more than they should. Consider this review from "Way Off-Scenter" on basenotes for a glimpse of how extreme tackiness can backfire:
"Only the Brave consists largely of two accords. One, a blend of aquatic notes and caustic, sinus-piercing woody ambers, is meant to smell 'clean,' but actually smells like something I’d use to disinfect my toilet bowl. The other, a potent artificial 'froot' flavor, no doubt meant to smell 'fresh,' in fact smells like the solid air freshener in the nearest public men’s room. Together, they smell just plain bad."
Now if OTB came in a subdued Green Irish Tweedy bottle, with gentle black matte and a no-frills cap, and the whole affair cost half as much as it does, I'd bet Mr. Scenter would consider it on better terms, perhaps as an unexpectedly tame and casual "drugstore scent." Then again, maybe not, but it's hard to see the Avon inspired glass fist with its knuckle iron name tag and not retch a little in your mouth.

My point is that despite smelling a bit cheap and generic, OTB doesn't really smell that bad at all. Yes, it does smell "synthetic," with no natural notes leaping forward at any stage, and sure, its "fresh" accords mimic the smells of bathroom cleaners, but you have to use a little context here. Kerosene's Copper Skies smells like blood-soaked cloves and wood varnish, and I wouldn't wear it to a pig roast. Next to Copper Skies, Only The Brave smells like a Creed.

Its greatest sin is its blandness. Its sugary mandarin top note, followed by a nondescript "blonde woods" middle on a base of violet leaf and sweetened amber is a recipe for whateverdom. Smell it on a collar in a smoky Czech pub after a few pints, and I guess it projects a youthful everyman vibe, but one spray too many on a car ride cross country might lose you some friends.

If you're looking for a "modern" masculine that is intentionally generic and "safe," and favor a soapier, sweeter approach to that idea, I'd sooner refer you to the aforementioned Prada Amber, Clean Shower Fresh, Davidoff Horizon EDT, Dior Sauvage, and Dior Homme Eau. They're all quite different, but generally fit a "modern" and "safe" profile, being scents you can just throw on and forget about.

Still, if you're under 25 and want a good pub crawler, OTB is worth a sniff. Sidenote: I've seen reviews that compare it to the original Allure Homme. That fragrance is something closer to Cool Water than OTB, and is far better than OTB. Tangentially, if you want something that is truly similar to Allure Homme for a third of the price, get Joop! Jump.


  1. "Smell it on a collar in a smoky Scottish pub after a few pints, and I guess it projects a youthful everyman vibe"

    Since there has been a smoking ban in Scottish pubs for years, even for that it is useless.

    1. That's a shame Martijn, can't believe Western Europe has gotten that uptight. I guess I should edit the article, see above!

    2. I have to disagree with you there; I think it was an excellent decision. Actually the Scottish smoking ban plays a very important role in the research on the dangers of second hand smoke: a very well executed study around the adaptation of that ban is the best evidence for the dangers of second-hand smoke.

      Still I love tobacco in my perfumes.

    3. Other than perhaps the odd Lalique scent, and Versace Dreamer, I can't think of very many cigarette themed tobacco frags, but generally whenever people tell me they love tobacco frags, I assume they mean pipe tobacco. Cigarillo, Vermeil for Men, and VC&A PH all have aromatic, somewhat sweet tobacco notes that don't really replicate cigarettes. It's like perfume culture has embraced the fact that cigarette smoking is passé and are strictly celebrating celebratory tobaccos, like cigars and pipes.

  2. Diesel is an Italian brand that's very popular with rich young brats in India. They specialize in the trashed & thrashed denim look. Apparently their fragrance line is created in partnership with L'Oreal.
    My sons wanted to try their clothes so we went to one of Diesel's boutiques in a posh Delhi mall. I availed myself of sampling Diesel's scents while my sons tried on clothes. I was particularly interested in Diesel's Fuel for Life Femme fragrance as it was said to be a dupe for Soap & Glory's Pink scent (a fresh fruity floral somewhat reminiscent of Creed's Spring Flower). I tried nearly all the perfumes on offer (Loverdose, Green, Zero, etc). The common note amongst all of them was a blast of ethyl maltol with it's cloying sweetness and tinge of red berries. All were unremarkable and unoriginal with the tacky bottles. Fuel for Life Femme was vaguely similar to S&G's Pink but missing the realistic peach & fig notes entirely.
    My sons decided Diesel's style was too immature & juvenile for their sophisticated selves. They liked the American Levi's with no rips or holes that mom buys for them better.

    1. Lol that sounds about right, Bibi. I've always favored the Robert Redford-in-Brubaker look over the Milo Yiannopoulos' style and can say that Levi's are the uncontested champions of the denim world.

      I've tried a couple other Only The Braves and agree that they're pretty representative of an unoriginal brand. Sometimes brands like Diesel accidentally pump out a masterpiece, but as far as this line goes I'm not smelling one.

  3. Diesel's popularity seemed to have waned a bit. I remember seeing their jeans way more often like 10 years ago. It's a lot less common now, unless the logo isn't as obvious as it used to be. Probably also because their jeans are garbage, and you can get a similar style now for much less.

    Im surprised this isn't less than 20 bucks. Their older frags went the Kenneth Cole, CK, Nautica etc route and got discounted almost immediately. I actually have a soft spot for the white and red ones. Even more so with the green one, which came in a bottle either shaped like a grenade, or lawn spray. It was cheap, sweet, synthetic, and didn't last at all, but there was something about it which made it stand out at the time (15 years ago though lol)

    1. I think you can occasionally find this at discounters for about $35, I recall seeing a bottle a few months ago for something like that, but unless a fragrance is priced at $25 or less, I don't see much discount value there. Unfortunately brands that invest this much into packaging aesthetics undercut their merchandise if the contents of said packaging don't live up to expectations (cue the Creed Viking music).


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