2/22/20

Dakar (Al-Rehab)



It's been a while, so I'm revisiting my Drakkar Noir clones. I ran out of the real stuff a year ago, and never restocked it for reasons that elude me. Yesterday I wore Taxi for the first time in over a year. I'm not sure if it macerated in the bottle, or I just never noticed its strength before, but it's a beast! I got fifteen hours and ridiculous tenacity out of it, and still smell it on the inside of my jacket. It's a lot better than I ever gave it credit for; Drakkar is a smooth, smoky fougere with near-perfect balance and adequate projection, but Taxi is even smoother, a little richer (at least compared to Drakkar's current formula), and a touch sweeter. It's great stuff.

People have been asking me to review Al-Rehab's version of Drakkar Noir for years, and I never got around to it. Aptly called "Dakar," their clone is a pale shade of green, and comes in roll-on and EDP spray. I bought the 50ml spray for ten bucks off Amazon, but that isn't the greatest deal. Parfums Belcam sells 75ml of their clone for eight dollars, and it smells surprisingly close to the original. And when I want something similar and at the same price-point as Drakkar Noir, I reach for Francesco Smalto's excellent version. Given how successful these are, I had high hopes for Dakar.

And Dakar did not disappoint! It's an interesting variant of the theme: all drydown. From top to bottom, it smells of an aged (and intensified) Drakkar Noir, conveying its wood-smoky characteristics with near perfect accuracy. The only noticeable changeup is a distinct cumin note, which adds exoticism to the otherwise familiar milieu. Its weakest phase is the top notes, very brief, unfocused, flat, and cheap. Nonetheless, this doesn't detract from the wearing experience. Dakar smells directly on point after two minutes on skin or fabric, and really blooms in its drydown. Vintage, full-throated Drakkar Noir is alive and well in this fragrance.

If you're into collecting Drakkar clones like I am, I highly recommend giving Dakar a try. After going through a few different versions, I've come to believe that Drakkar Noir is a remarkably easy formula to imitate. I suppose it's a straightforward case of GC analysis, with the understanding that roughly 10% of the main course is dihydromyrcenol. Dakar has a fairly complex ingredients list, with oakmoss included pretty high up the ranks. So yeah, this scent is about 98% identical to vintage Drakkar Noir from the 1980s, and maybe the 90s. It's strong, fresh, incredibly masculine, and smells like it belongs in a John Hughes or Joe Dante movie.

With that said, if you're someone who just wants a handful of Reagan-era classics, and you don't obsess over fougeres, just get Drakkar Noir. It's like $40 on Amazon, and you can get the 7 oz bottle, which should last you a hundred years. In any case, if you do opt for Dakar, just know that you're getting a powerhouse fern from a bygone era. This is going to raise eyebrows if you wear one spray too many, and even if you don't, you sure as shit won't smell "au courant." To me, that's a major plus!


13 comments:

  1. I took Pour Monsieur's and your advice and bought Taxi which is good. I haven't had a Drakkar cologne for eons, but the memories are good. If you want a fougère that hasn't been boxed in by IFRA, check out Fougère l'Aube by Rogue (on Etsy). Thanks for the review.

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    1. They’re all boxed in by IFRA regs at this point Bob, but with some it’s harder to tell than others. I’ll have to look at Fougere l’Aube. Thanks for the tip!

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    2. Rogue's raison d'être is to produce perfume outside of IFRA stipulations.

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    3. Rogue takes on a load of liability by eschewing IFRA regs that could easily be offset by a layman’s unfalsifiable claim to said fame. (In other words, I think Rogue is full of crap. Welcome to the world of niche.)

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    4. I'm not au fait with the legalities, but as I read this, Rogue is eschewing IFRA and EU rules and so is unable to service European retailers.
      https://rogueperfumery.com/about/

      The scents certainly smell and project like vintage ones.

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    5. The legalities go like this: Rogue eschews IFRA regs, one customer has a fairly severe allergic reaction (not nearly as far fetched as you might think), takes the fragrance to a lawyer from a reputable firm, who sends the perfume in for gas chromatography analysis, comparing results to IFRA regs. Case is built for commercial negligence and endangerment, client successfully sues Rogue. Two weeks later, client asks lawyer what he should do with his newly acquired perfume brand. Lawyer strongly recommends reformulating everything.

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    6. Sounds a plausible scenario. I'm not sure whether a disclaimer along the lines of "Not Perfumes" would allow an out for contributory negligence or whether it's a bit too cute. I might have to buy some more before the bloodsuckers strike.

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    7. Don’t worry about the bloodsuckers Bob, there’s nothing for them to suck. I’ve been saying I think Rogue is following IFRA regs and just saying the contrary for marketing purposes. The power of persuasion is especially effective with the olfactory sense.

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  2. I like the way some of these Arab cheapie houses make copies of popular western fragrances and add a little Arabian touch to them like cumin or rose. My particular favorite in Al Rehab's Silver with it's rosy take on Creed's Silver Mountain Water.

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    1. Yeah those little embellishments are great, and especially satisfying when they barely change the nature of the clone they’re in.

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  3. Dakar is certainly one of Al-Rehab's better attempts at a clone. I regularly layer the oil version under Drakkar Noir and it is a great combination. At the opposite end of the scale the Al Rehab take on Lapidus Pour Homme has to be experienced to understand how a clone can accentuate the heart of a big name fragrance in such a clumsy, overwhelming manner. The smell haunts you for days after.

    If you find cumin interesting you may wish to find Al Rehab's Khaliji. It's a strange beast as the cumin is very pronounced. It may, however, be a little too eastern for your tastes.

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    1. I would gladly try Khaliji, but must admit that outside of Dakar and Silver I don’t see myself getting any further enthused by Al-Rehab. Thanks for the tip, though.

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    2. That's fair enough, especially as you're not a fan of the eastern style. It's less I think you'll be enthused by Khaliji, more that you'll be completely bemused by its cumin note. Think fresh manly sweat.

      It's good to see a western blogger think a fragrance like Dakar is a worthy clone.

      Al Rehab's target audience are Muslims on a low income in the Arabian world. Take somewhere like Egypt where the average wage is about $120 a month. Given that the use of fragrance by men before prayer is encouraged, a Muslim who prays five times a day is going to get through a lot of fragrance. You're asking $2 for a roll on. It's the closest a lot of these people, especially those who will not ever use alcohol denat, will get to a genuine bottle of Drakkar Noir.

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