10/6/13

Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme (VC&A)



Van Cleef and Arpels Pour Homme has been reformulated, but I'm okay with that. My new bottle smells good, and reasonably natural. I'm not going to go crazy seeking out vintage bottles, because the difference between the old and new is negligible, by most accounts. When it comes to reformulations, my position couldn't be clearer: change is a part of life, so just roll with it.

Although I've never smelled the original formula, I think this one is complex and natural enough to convince me that VC&A PH has been reformulated well. Shamu1 wrote of this scent in 2010:

"I sampled the current formulation of VC&A, and the only difference I can tell is that the top notes are a bit subdued compared to the old version. The top notes in the old version were harsh green, and they practically jumped out of the bottle at you from the get-go. The new one doesn't do that, and the top notes are softer. However, after about 20 minutes, all of the old magic comes right back. Great job reformulating this scent."

With a drop on my wrist, it seems as though there's too much laundry musk in it, but when I give it full wearings, the oakmoss, juniper berry, lavender, tobacco, and cedar coalesce into a dry, fruity complexity that is very rewarding, and laundry musk doesn't factor in. I guess it is an olfactory illusion based on brief, small-dosage samplings. I'm beginning to think that soapy fragrances can pull this olfactory trick, where many relatively natural-smelling notes are bundled together and smoothed-out, to the point where they collectively take on a specific tangential characteristic. In this case, that characteristic, due to the soapiness, may be one of laundry-muskiness. Some (myself included) have even likened VC&A PH to Dial Gold bar soap, and I definitely get the comparison, but I think the fragrance also resembles an Edwardian-era Turkish Hammam soap of some kind. There's something stodgy and "fusty" about how carnation, rose, and lavender are rendered, but it doesn't really smell dated, just old-school. It's like Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet without the sentimentality. I like it.





7 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say Hi! Enjoyed this read very much. Joined your blog thereafter. Thanks!
    Tim (Eule)

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    1. Hi Eule, welcome and thanks for reading!

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  2. Another one from my past. I worked on VC&A Pour Homme for Sanofi NYC as Marketing Manager from 1986 to 1989 or so. The brand came from our Paris parent company, so we just implemented their program in the States. I'm surprised in some ways to see it's still sold. It's distinctive but always had a tiny tiny following. Olfactively I always struggled to wear VC&A Pour Homme myself. It exuded elegance and sophistication, but when wearing it I always felt like I was walking down the street wearing a piano on my back it was so heavy. If I had it on in the car I had to hand my head out of the window to get away from myself. No Blenheim Bouquet vibes for me. We also launched VC&A Tsar at the time. Much bigger deal, although I also struggled to wear Tsar. The singularity overpowered me. And on the separate subject of lifespan - since you've expanded again on the "dreck" notation, maybe the word "dreck" was a little harsh. I was typing my response to the interview question one morning at 1:00 am and it just came out. Would it be a better turn of phrase to say that sometimes when I wear a fragrance which is older than eight years my personal response is "eeewwwww". Better?

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    1. I think VC&A masculines are exercises in "fullness," for lack of a better word. They are rich, dense, and very heady indeed. Tsar is very similar to Jazz by YSL in some ways, but it's Jazz X 100. More green notes, more woody textures, more tobacco, more musk. These have gained a cult following of old-school fragrance believers, and I'm sure they'll stay in production for many years to come.

      "Dreck" has definitely rubbed some people the wrong way, but other people agree with you (if you parse the basenotes threads carefully there are at least five members who come forward to briefly identify with your position). Whether it's "dreck," or "eeeewwwww," it's pretty much the same in the end - older fragrances are not super-desirable. Instead of the labeling, maybe the timeline could be adjusted a bit. Instead of six to eight years, maybe ten to twelve, at least for me - I know that my family has had a few fragrances in the last ten years that still smell fine. I have owned older frags that smell ok, also. But ultimately the finer point about the fidelity to the perfumer's intention is where I conclude your basic assessment is correct regarding vintage fragrances. Apparently there are some people out there that don't care what the perfumers were going for in their work. They are basically admitting that they don't really care what a perfume smells like, as long as it smells "good." That's not good enough for me, and I don't think it's good enough for you. I want to know that what I'm smelling - be it an original formula, or a more recent (and anonymous) perfumer's mod of an original - is the same as what the perfumer smelled. If it's "close enough" as in my Grey Flannel vintages, that's okay, but not ideal.

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  3. This scent is my signature. I've worn it perpetually (yes, 24 hours a day and 7 days a year) since I fell in love back in 2012. Dark, gothic, classy, and lasts forever. The scent associations are very hard to describe - think of an ancient chateau, a gothic library, a cathedral during High Mass, an abandoned asylum. Incense, smoke, a hint of musk, and an ancient rose. Think of Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft. Yeah, that's the mood this fragrance evokes in me. Just some words of caution - this stuff is potent - just two sprays (one on each side of the neck) in the morning and you're good to go all day, and well into the evening besides. Too much, and you WILL stink. This gothic beauty isn't for the youthful / extroverted crowd - it's more for introverted loners and graveyard poets.

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  4. i ordered it as blind buy. hope it comes good

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