Fall / Winter 2014 Men’s Cologne Review

To say that 2014 has been a slow year for the men’s fragrance industry is a tactfully-stated fact. Week after week, my exploratory trips to the perfume counters have turned up bleak with an astonishingly low number of new releases. While this presented itself as somewhat of an issue in the warmer months, there has been a slight increase in activity for the winter months, coupled with a perennial host of classics that have stood the test of time.

This season I’ve pulled together a few new scents, and partnered them alongside some veterans from my collection. I selected these scents not only because of the brilliantly-blended aromatic profiles, but because of the psychological affect they afford the wearer: even the roughest, coldest of days will be made a little gentler and warmer, with each passing breath.

Michael Kors for Men

by Michael Kors

“It seems like men’s fragrances are either a citrus bomb or all patchouli. This is a hybrid. Hybrid is my favorite word, “said Kors, and added that the scent is “sexy, but unexpected.” The first part is very true. The second part may be as well, but it’s a cologne I’m still getting accustomed to. Harry Fremont, the nose behind this unique scent isn’t in any manner the most profound in the industry, but has in my estimation had a few pleasant scents to his name. This is one to be counted among them.

The first impression of this scent to me is a strong seasonal allusion to winter – the robust flourish of bergamot, coriander, star anise, black pepper, thyme and elemi unleash an outgoing fragrance that brings to mind the great spice and citrus themes of so many holidays gone by. It’s never an overpowering scent, and it has a pleasant tendency to deliver brief, small, unexpected bursts of scent throughout the first few hours of wear. It’s a shame, though, that once the upper notes fade, one has to go sniffing to find evidence of the beautiful heart of tobacco, incense, suede, and a bit of sage – and when you do, that’s when this fragrance really shines. In spite of his  “all patchouli” comment, Kors approved it for this scent, along with a plethora of other pleasant deep tones, among them sandalwood, musk, and sleek woods, all of them working cohesively.

Its success as a long-term fragrance is yet to be determined, though I have high hopes for it. In the meantime it’s worth as a unique and charming piece to add to a small rotation is indubitable. It doesn’t possess quite the lineage of refinement or body of the other fragrances, but for some people that may not be the goal. Michael Kors for Men is an original, light-hearted take on a quintessential palette of winter tones.

Perfect for: the life of the holiday party, or making one into it!

Available exclusively at Macy’s – 2.5oz / $62 – 4oz / $78

One Million

by Paco Rabanne

Gold is a fantastic thing. It is the epitome of opulence and all things royal and distinct. In spite of that, any cologne bottle dressed in gold, I remain vigilant toward and keep my distance. You see, it goes against the very essence of a fine fragrance — something that is noticed but never seen. Gold as an element of design can be a symbol of excellence, but it can also be a cheap allusion and suggestion of quality. Use sparingly.

Or, cover your whole product in it, as Paco Rabanne did in the “One Million” line of products. If it hadn’t been for the sample I received, I’m not sure I would’ve ever given this product a chance, but I’m thrilled that I did. There is no other cologne quite as unique and multifaceted as this scent, and for that reason it remains one of my absolute top five of all time.

I should start off my description of this scent with a disclaimer: it’s not for everyone. Though it’s not necessarily “in your face”, it is a very outgoing and boisterous scent. It has a tendency to attract attention, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a gregarious scent with a bright and spicy head of sparkling grapefruit, red orange, and mint that is loud but never overbearing. Those scents linger, and slowly fade to reveal a gentle and warm base of rose, cinnamon, and an mysterious cacophony of assorted spices. The great multi-layered nature of this scent is apparent in its chameleon nature to transcend throughout a variety of different levels, all the way down to and through a base of leather, blond wood, patchouli, and my favorite, amber.

Perfect for: making the coldest of nights cozy and inviting

Available at Macy’s – 1.7oz / $60 – 3.4oz / $80

La Nuit de l’Homme

by Yves Saint Laurent

The Yves Saint Laurent l’Homme (corrected so eloquently by my computer to ” l’homie “) line of fragrances is the most established of all the fragrances I’ve reviewed here. There could be a number of reasons for that – financial solvency and persistence, the nature of its sister fragrances to support and help sell one another, but my theory is that it does so well because this scent is such an understated breath of elegance; a well-calibrated blend of winter’s best notes.

La Nuit de l’Homme is just that – understated elegance. Never drawing unnecessary attention to itself, it’s the fragrance that best personifies the idea of a fragrance being the extension of a man; his signature — in a sense — IN scent form. On the top, it shares the bergamot of the Michael Kors, but where the MK used coriander which lent a citrus top note, the YSL uses cardamom, which gives a soft, smooth cinnamon-like spice note, along with a light dose of fresh lavender and cedar pleasantly commingled. The hearty warm base is comprised of cumin and vetiver, a sweet and rich base that lingers, albeit just a bit too faintly.

While the scent has a fantastic profile, and great projection in the beginning, it unfortunately suffers from a rather quick dissipation, meaning that reapplication can be necessary. Perhaps somewhat unintentionally, though, I’ve found the overspray from this cologne that inevitably penetrates the fibers of whatever I’m wearing, to have a tremendous amount of staying power compared to other colognes. It preserves itself well, and while it is not a verbatim note-by-note retention, it’s just enough to make you smile and always remind you where it came from.

Perfect for: the individual who has nothing to prove, and proves much by doing so.

Available at Macy’s – 2oz / $65 – 3.3oz / $85

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