Here's one that I've enjoyed for a while, and yet I've neglected to mention it. Released in 1985, Lauder for Men was the American answer to Europe's vaunted Jules (1980) and Kouros (1981). It's perhaps a day late and dollar short to review such a monumental fragrance in 2020, decades after its time, and that far behind society's collective familiarity with it. However, the 1990s and 2000s saw a significant reformulation, and I thought it might be nice to reconsider the "vintage" gold cap formula that signifies the true gold standard of the brand.
Lauder for Men is what every aromatic fougère should be: a rich lavender and citrus accord, buttressed with a tonka note so complex it could be its own perfume. It reminds me of Moustache and Monsieur Rochas Concentrée, two fougères with expansive, natural-smelling coumarin notes that imbue their compositions with soft, grassy, hay-like aromas. Midcentury masculines relied on a careful balance between naturals and synthetics, with lab chemicals extending the silky freshness of citrus past the five minute mark, while also allowing lavender's opalescence into a dusky, oakmoss-extended base. In Lauder's scent a rather expensive burst of animalic honey and Meyer lemon is conjoined with lavender, petitgrain, anise, and juniper, which travel together through a vibrant, mellow, and truly beautiful coumarin. As if the tonka effect weren't enough, Lauder layered a luxurious bouquet of florals across this gorgeous wreath, with noticeable hints of jasmine and carnation wafting through.
As the aromatics settle, they coalesce into a mossy tobacco accord, which smells quite tailored and understated. This doesn't scream "TOBACCO!!!" like Havana does. It quietly radiates, an austere unisex tobacco leaf peeled from the cap of a pricy cigar. For me, Lauder for men conjures images of 18th century aristocrats lounging in a field, their powdered wigs reflecting warm spring sunshine. This is a languid, poised, and very rich composition, and it smells refined and natural, like what a fougère would have been in the 1700s. Perhaps Houbigant could learn a thing or two.