Gucci Nobile is a prime example of a discontinued cologne becoming a cult object, right up there with the original M7 by YSL (one of Tom Ford’s most influential early efforts) and the beautiful Krizia Moods Uomo. There are others, of course, like Guerlain’s original formulation of Derby and the highly sought after Jean Patou Pour Homme that go for even bigger bucks on eBay and the secondary market. But in terms of relatively recent offerings that have gone extinct there are few if any that inspire the hushed reverential tones of awe that Gucci Nobile’s ultra-green juice does.
So then the question becomes, is everybody so taken with Nobile simply because it is no longer readily available or is it actually worth the $200+ bucks sellers are asking for a full sized 3.4oz EDT bottle? First off, Gucci Nobile is one of three men’s fragrances that were abruptly discontinued when Frida Gianni became creative director of the house in 2006, along with 2003’s ultra-woody Gucci Pour Homme and the equally beloved Envy for Men from 1998, both of which also command high prices on the secondary market. And one can see why a new creative chief might ditch these three classics in one fell swoop, especially a female one: all three are different facets of old school men’s fragrances, miles away from sweet, loud things like One Million and Versace’s Eros. In the case of 1988’s Nobile, it is quite simply an archetypal Aromatic Fougere with a scent as green as the juice in the bottle.
It opens with a refreshing blast of herbal high notes, including rosemary, lavander, bergamot and a distinctive, unusual hit of tarragon. Interestingly, most reviewers do not mention much in the way of animalic qualities in these top notes but combined I get a strong civet-like slap (i.e. a bit like urine), one which took me a while to come to grips with. It’s not quite the nose-singeing effect of a Kouros but I definitely get a touch of that sharp, tangy sting. And so while almost all reviewers will call Nobile smooth and discreet, I have to put it a little more into the Drakkar Noir powerhouse category. Yes, it’s more subtle and brighter than that dark legend but still there is something… pleasantly unsettling and animalic there, especially when first applied.
This cologne is also so smoothly blended that while you’re getting those sharp top notes the middle of masculine flowers, a little piney fir and the basenotes of crisp vetiver, musky oakmoss and a rather rough-edged sandlewood are likely to bubble to the surface and join the party almost from the get go. Continue reading
My renewed interest in exploring men’s fragrance began after I had been wearing Armani Eau Pour Homme for over a decade as essentially my signature scent. I always felt that if I had my cologne figured out why bother changing it up too much? Eventually, though, I found myself increasingly bored wearing the Armani day in and day out, craving a bit more variety to my scent life. More than that, while always pleasant it started to go missing after about an hour. Yes, it still remained present as a skin scent (something you really have to put your nose close to to smell) but I wondered if continual reformulation through the years hadn’t neutered it, a common problem with classic colognes. Most of all, though, I came to realize I was looking for something to break the monotony and break out of my olfactory ennui. So I started doing some research, going to the local Sephora for samples, reading Fragrantica and looking at some opinionated men’s perfume blogs like Pour Monsieur and From Pyrgos. That piqued my curiosity to try new things, change it up and give several other colognes a chance. And one of the pleasures of this new scent journey has been finding out just how much variety there is in good men’s cologne these days, as well as how much wearing different fragrances for different occasions and circumstances can give you both personal enjoyment and a leg up in terms of confidence and polish to one’s sense of style.
So let’s talk about one of my new favorites, Estée Lauder’s Lauder for Men. Now, Lauder for Men is not a new scent at all, just new to me. It was created way back in 1985, in what some consider the golden age of power fragrances. But Lauder for Men is not a typical 80s badass like Drakkar Noir, Kouros or Lapidus. In fact, it seems to harken further back to more restrained, less spicy aromatic fougéres of the 60s and 70s. There is nothing ballsy, hairy chested or in your face about Lauder for Men. It opens crisp and green with pleasingly bracing notes of juniper and clary sage. This is freshness in a bottle, a classic cologne smell with the longevity of an Eau de Toilette. There’s also a pleasant hint of sweeter citrus — lemon and mandarin orange peel — to balance out the galbanum, though I don’t really get the cardamon or coriander listed in the notes in my modern formulation.
Not just for your gin Martini!
The dry down is equally lovely, the green vibe lingering for certain but opening up with pleasant notes of masculine flowers like carnation, jasmine, lily of the valley and rose. Continue reading
Because looking good is only half the battle we’re starting a new feature here on MFL: Men’s Cologne. After all, when you’re suited & booted for work or play you want to smell just as fine as your outift, don’t you? Now, we don’t claim to be the world’s greatest experts on men’s scents or be the biggest noses (that’s perfume speak for “connoisseur”). But we know what smells good to us. We don’t really mess around with unisex scents or go in much for stuff that smells like a fudge browny. We’re also not afraid to go back in time to pick something classic from the 70s or the 80s or even older. Who says you can’t wear something your dad rocked back in the day? On rare occasions sometimes we may even go hunting an old vintage or discontinued frag. But we’re definitely not afraid to try something new or popular.
That said, we also don’t want to be identified as “Cologne Guy.” A man’s fragrance should certainly be noticed in a positive fashion, maybe even complimented, but it shouldn’t speak louder than he does or try too hard. When you’ve got the right cologne on it compliments but doesn’t drown out your other positive qualities. In other words, you don’t want people saying “Nice suit but what the hell was that smell?” In short, we want to smell manly and good, just as a guy should, and from here on out we’ll be sharing our favorite and not so favorite colognes with you and our honest opinions of them. If you’re then tempted to try one or two on our recommendation then have at it. Keep in mind that smell is a very personal sense and you may not always agree with what we choose to wear. But we think that more often than not you’ll like what we’re spritzing on, as well as our advice on how and where to use it. It’s a big wide world out there and smell is one of the most subliminal and effective ways to communicate your own personal cool — might as well try out some new fragrances to help you feel your best and put the finishing touches on your style.
Alain Delon of the past helps sell Dior’s new Eau Sauvage Parfum today
Before we get to the reviews, here are a few basics on terminology that will make the discussion easier.
Basic concentrations of cologne by strength:
- Eau de Cologne (EDC) — Generally a lighter grade of scent, perhaps a little stronger than aftershave but doesn’t last long and generally is not that powerful smelling, though some may start out strong/loud. Most EDC’s are sort of eye openers to start the day before graduating to something more substantial.
- Eau de Toillette (EDT) — The most common strength for most premium men’s fragrances — you & I may refer to it as “cologne” but chances are any given fragrance off the shelf with any lasting power is going to be an Eau de Toilette. Can be strong and long lasting depending on the scent but generally reasonably moderate in both departments.
- Eau de Parfum (EDP) — A stronger concentration than an EDT, an Eau de Parfum allows the perfumer to enhance the depth and lasting power of a fragrance generally speaking. While it should always smell similar to the EDP version, an EDP (often marketed as “intense” these days) can also take some liberties that essentially turn it into an entirely new scent (for example the differences between the classic Eau Sauvage by Dior and the modern EDP version). Generally powerful and long lasting and for guys who are comfortable wearing something with a lot of strength behind it. When in doubt, start with the Eau de Toilette then graduate to the Eau de Parfum.
- Parfum — Also called simply Perfume or extrait de parfum/perfume extract, this is the least diluted strength of a fragrance and therefore the most powerful. This doesn’t really come up that often for men’s scents unless you are deep into intense fragrance and are a niche fan or serious scent head. Only for the very brave, ballsy and experienced.
Important Qualities for a Fragrance:
- Longevity: Self-explanitory, this is how long a fragrance lasts. This can vary from person to person depending on skin type and other factors like the weather like temperature and relative humidity. This is not directly connected to the power of the fragrance per se, as even when your cologne is no longer making an impression on anyone more than a foot away, if you can still smell it on your skin (“skin scent”) then that still represents longevity. And more often than not, fragrances linger longer on clothing than on one’s skin.
- Sillage: A French word (pronounced see-yazh) that refers to your personal vapor trail while wearing a fragrance. It essentially defines the way your cologne wafts in the air and can be detected by others. Generally speaking, if you are wearing something pleasant and that you like, sillage is desirable in that you are making a statement with your cologne so other people should be able to detect it in a subtle but perceptible manner.
- Projection: Sometimes used interchangeably with sillage, projection is slightly different in that it refers to the sort of radius that your chosen scent throws off. Does your cologne enter the room before you do? That’s projection. If you gesture with your hands a few hours after applying your cologne and a pleasant waft of it is newly stirred up, that is more like sillage. Some people love colognes with a lot of projection and some prefer to keep it a bit closer to the body. Depends on what kind of guy you are, the social setting you’re in — maybe what you wear to a nightclub is not so appropriate for the office — and how much of a statement you want to make.