3/8/20

Lauder for Men - Vintage 1980s Gold Cap Formula (Estée Lauder)



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.

7 comments:

  1. Certainly, Lauder for Men is a fragrance that is out of the mainstream these days, but one I enjoy as well. I recently bought it along with the re-release of Dior Jules around 2018. Jules use of sage reminds me heavily of cat litter. I must have worn 20% of the bottle through several wearings before I finally gave up on it. However, Lauder is something I would certainly wear during the Autumn and Winter months, paired with a cable knit sweater or a tweed sports coat. It has a mature sensibility.

    Kouros never gave me the animalic/urinous notes that other people detect. To me, I smell the fresh (unused) urinal cake mixed with floral notes. It's another fragrance that seems to have fallen out of the mainstream, but still one of my favorites.

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    1. Kouros remains my favorite of this type of fragrance, with Belenciaga PH a close second. The animalic muskiness is more prevalent in the “chrome shoulder” formulas that predate 2008. When you get into 1990s vintage you really find a beautiful interplay between musk and ambergris in Kouros that I love. Have you tried Lapidus PH? Another great one.

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    2. Lapidus PH and Kouros are some of my favorites in my collection. Another fragrance that I find has a similar vibe is Paco Rabanne PH. They all seem to share honey as a fairly prominent note. Not dissimilar to Hugo Boss Number One or Giorgio Beverly Hills PH.

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    3. Paco is one that consistently gets love on here. Shares that powdery animalic fougere feeling with a bunch of ferns from that period.

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    4. Great review. Is the current, new version of Lauder for Men worth trying?

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  2. PS - Does the new version have any similarity to the vintage?

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    1. Never tried the new version but from what I read it’s certainly similar to vintage and worth buying in lieu of.

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