Where to start? Part 9 (10 classic/modern designers)

10 modern/classic designer fragrances well worth their salt and staples in many a wardrobe.


Notes: Sicilian tangerine, Brazilian rosewood, coriander, Damask rose, sandalwood, vanilla, ambrette seed

What Antaeus was to the 80’s, Egoïste was to the 90’s. The last great main stream/line release from the house of Chanel and a staple in my personal wardrobe. Rich sandalwood, candied fruit accords with a sprinkle of Chanel’s magic signature on the top notes. Rich, powerful, assertive, masculine and extremely versatile, this is one of those rare fragrances which ticks all the right boxes. Immensely satisfying and should be your first stop at the Chanel counter. (Bonus: if you can find the discontinued version which is called Cologne Concentree )*

Rating: 9/10

Yves Saint Laurent- Kouros

Notes: aldehydes, artemisia, coriander, clary sage and bergamot, carnation, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, jasmine, vetiver and geranium, honey, leather, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, oakmoss, vanilla

Launched in 1981 by YSL King Kouros remains to this day one of the top selling men’s releases on the planet for a reason. Simply put this is masculinity personified in a fragrance, iconic and symbolic of the 80′s this polarizing powerhouse has since been neutered a little since its inception. Still it remains a contender to be the defining men’s fragrance of all time.

Rating: 9/10

Pascal Morabito- Or Black

Notes: bergamot, pepper, leather, sage, benzoin, cistus, vetiver, amber, tonkinian musk, oakmoss

A classic 80′s leather chypre, which was once discontinued but is now available in a very expensive limited edition and numbered silver-plated bottle (or a basic 100ml re-charge bottle). A wonderful fragrance, which is extremely complex and multifaceted exuding warmth, bitterness, leather, resins, booze, greens.

Dense, masculine and unapologetically 80′s, yet still just as relevant today as it was then. Recommended.

Rating: 8.5/10

Dior- Fahrenheit

Notes: hawthorn, honeysuckle, sandalwood, lesntitcus, benzoin

Fahrenheit is another iconic fragrance of the 80’s/early 90’s and one which narrowly missed out on my past list of top 10 masculine classics. Undoubtedly masculine, classic, rugged and unique in which nothing else smells quite like it. A rich leathery blend of dirty florals, gasoline, blended with the must and grease of a mechanics garage, mesmerizing! Unfortunately reformulation has had its grubby mitts on this one a time or two, so the scent has suffered marginally.

Rating: 8/10

Dior- Eau Sauvage

Notes: lemon, rosemary, petitgrain, basil, vetiver

This is a fresh perfume which can be easily recognized among other fresh fragrances. The clear and fresh scent of lemon and bitter-fresh rosemary are combined perfectly with masculine, woody nuances. The perfume was introduced in 1966 and created in cooperation with perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. The creator made the perfume legendary and characteristic for its fresh, citrusy notes, composed with spicy lavender on a masculine woody base. Rumor has it this one was a favourite of John Lennon.

Rating: 8/10

Chanel- Pour Monsieur

Notes: neroli, petitgrain, lemon, cardamon, cedarwood, oakmoss, vetitver

A classic since its release in 1955, Pour Monsieur is an eternal classic. The perfume has an ‘intelligent’ essence through its composition created by Henri Robert, which opens gradually and leads a long and beautiful play out on the skin. A very refined fragrance, for an elegant and intelligent man.

Rating: 8/10

Chanel- Antaeus

Notes: clary sage, myrtle, patchouli, sandalwood, labdanum, beeswax absolute

Antaeus is the name of ancient Greek demigod. Strong, like a god, and gentle as a man, Antaeus belongs to those perfumes of expressed individuality and strong character which emphasize masculinity, what was a trend in 1980-ies. Myrtle and sage, lime and thyme have united to give the fragrance a special freshness and masculine character.

The fragrance is warming up and becomes intensive at the end due to patchouli, sandal and labdanum in the base. Sharp animalistic nuance is brought in by the notes of castoreum and leather. This could arguably be THE scent iconic of the 80′s (along with Kouros of course), symbolizing Gordon Gekko, Wall street and blow in all its loud, big brash ostentatious glory!

Rating: 8/10

Geoffrey Beene- Grey Flannel

Notes: violet, orange, lemon, oakmoss, sandalwood

Originally released in 1975, Grey Flannel is a very dated, yet classy understated classic which your dad probably used to wear. The fresh smell of dew of leaves, during a crisp early autumn morning. Quite polarizing, yet worth sampling simply for its contribution to the history of perfumery.

Rating: 7.5/10

Dior- Homme

Notes: lavender, sage, bergamot, iris, amber, cocoa, cardamon, patchouli, leather, Tahitian vetiver

Homme is quite simply a whimsical, elegant and daring scent. This one has Dior’s trademark metro sexual chic handwriting all over it and one which could just as easily been called Femme. Olivier Polge uses traditionally feminine notes of iris (smells like lipstick/make up to many) and cocoa, juxtaposed against a masculine notes of leather, patchouli and vetiver. Elegant, suave, stylish and delicious. Definitely worth sampling (you may need to sample it multiple times to “get it”).

Rating: 8.5./10

Comme des Garcons- EDP (original)

Notes: cardamon oil, coriander oil, geranium oil, nutmeg oil, cinnamon bark oil, clovebud, labdanum essense, styrax, cedarwood, cut hay, olibanium essense, black pepper, sandalwood, rose, honey

The original and where it all began for the house of Comme des Garcons. Mark Buxton’s legendary eau de parfum was originally released in 1994 and is considered by most CdG fans to be their finest. Eau de parfum is hailed as a fragrance that “works like a medicine, behaves like a drug”. A sparkling array of spices awaken the senses, with notes of cinnamon, rose and clove. Like a balm, the scent invades the body–woody and resin work in concert with harmonies of honey and cedarwood. Full of softness and warmth…the complexity subsides.

Rating: 8.5/10


More of a tease than a bonus, these are two modern classics gone before their time. Criminally discontinued, but well worth hunting down a bottle or two if you can find them.

Helmut Lang- Cuiron

Notes: plum, “fluid” leather, fresh notes, “sensual” leather, suede notes, “noble” leather

Read full review here.

Rating: 8/10

Yohji Yamamoto- Yohji Homme

Notes: liquorice, rum, coffee, cinnamon, leather

Like Cuiron, Yohji Homme is another one painfully discontinued before its time. A conservative and restrained take on the gourmand genre, taking rich sweet bitter notes and morphing them into something quite simply stunning. Sorely missed and worth tracking down.

Rating: 8.5/10


Review: Helmut Lang Cuiron

Notes: plum, “fluid” leather, fresh notes, “sensual” leather, suede notes, “noble” leather.

A revered cult-classic, one which is rightfully mourned throughout the fragrance community and one rightfully deserving of its accolades. Personally I have to admit, I’m rather late to the Cuiron party, haphazardly sampling it recently, knowing full well of its sacristy due to its almost criminal discontinuation (not to mention exuberant prices). Opening with a near translucent and opaque designer suede note on top of crisp effervescent citrus top notes (plum and mandarin). Simple, supple and captivating, I’m hooked already.

A reference leather in its own right, but far be it from the territory of bold classical icons such as Cuir de Russie, Knize Ten and Bandit. But rather pertaining to the realms of stark modern minimalism, made up on bone dry structures (whilst maintaining an air of class and luxury). More notably with all the edges rounded off to maintain a seamless, clean, minimalistic and plush composition, akin to a modern art-deco piece of furniture.

Sprinkles of pepper and some minor hints of a very subtle tobacco add some feint counterpoints, to what would be after the dispersion of the top-notes, a quite stark and nondescript suede/leather. Despite the supposed inclusion of a variety of different leather accords, I find the contrast between them rather unremarkable to comment on any real notable differences. Evolution is minimal, if not entirely linear, with a slightly powdery and squeaky clean musk adding some depth and support to the base.

At the best of times, it can be sometimes difficult to wax lyrical about a particular fragrance, when it’s portrayed with an understated minimalistic elegance. Yet on the other hand, it’s sometimes best to just revere in what can not be said.

Rating: 8/10
Longevity: 7/10
Projection: 7/10
Occasion: Casual, Semi-formal