Put em up! It’s the men’s scents knock out roustabout!

LAYdeez and GENulMEN! Roll up! Roll up! It’s take down time! Who’s gonna be the winnaah of the department store dust up? Which scent’s got the cojones to KO the other fumes with a quick one-two of the ole atomiser? Which of these here puppies’ll be loving you long time, and if you’re lucky, stick around to see the dawn in widya? Sit back, get comfortable and we’ll begin.

Kenzo Tokyo vs. Diesel Fuel for Life. Who cares, right? Call that a fight? More like a friggin’ ballet dance. Diesel limps thru on his ‘smelled it all before’ legs.

Creed Bois de Portugal (standing in as Epicea was unavailable) vs. Armani Code. The boardroom bruiser bounces the flouncy newcomer out of the ring in ten seconds. It’s all over; the fat lady’s doin’ her number.

Comme des Garcons 2 Man vs. Comme des Garcons 2. A curious pair this one. The plain 2 tries to use the sheen of his bottle to outfox the canny 2 Man. To no avail folks. Smoky vetiver campfire craziness eventually wins through.

Marc Jacobs for Men vs. Bulgari Aqua. These two summer beauties would prefer to parade in their speedos than slug it out in the ring, but no matter. It’s the synthetic fig and coconut ladyboy against the best of the flipperfooted marine men. Aqua makes some good moves towards the end of the round, even suggesting a Fahrenheit finale, but, in spite of exhausting his initial beauty early on, Marc Jacobs wins the judge’s verdict in a close-fought match.

Paul Smith Story vs. Lalique Encre Noire. The Lalique’s might and beauty’s been talked up by the cognoscenti; how the hell will lightboy vetiver match up? You know, surprisingly well. Encre Noire’s menacing moves are no match for the fleet-footed fancydance of Story, who tells a tale or two, but not the one you’d imagine (this match is also known as the ‘I don’t do dark vetiver’ revelation dust-up).

Eau de Cartier vs. Must de Cartier. Must is too smooth to fight. He doesn’t want his spiced ambery goodness ruffled by a punch-up with an asexual green-around-the-gills (but oh so lovely) lightweight. Santos would’ve kicked the pair of em in the knackers, dusted down his tux, and had done with it.

Gaultier Fleurs du Male vs. Fahrenheit 32. I ain’t watchin’ this one;the thought of these two duking it out with their manbags has me reaching for my sicksack. Whoever wins, they’ll only make it through to the next round anyway. No use crying over spilled milk and orange flower.

Prada Amber pour Homme vs. Gucci II pour Homme. Though the terrific tea opening moves of Gucci makes him seem like a winner, he rapidly descends into a watered down version of his daddy’s schtick – woodlite ™ – and who wants to see that done badly? Prada may be a little barbershop and lacking in his eponymous characteristics, but style and quality win out in the end…

You know, I’ve got the quarter- and semi-finals mapped out, and know the the final outcome, but I’m thinking I’ll cut to the chase, if that’s okay. I’m not sure I can force you lovely people to sit through 8 more matches…

The surprise winner was Paul Smith Story. There was plenty I loved in many of the others (though hardly anything in a handful), but for me, this one came tops for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s one I overlooked for my usual snobbish reasons. Blinking Paul Smith, lame-ass narrative – ha! – that has no link to product, und so weiter… Resniffing it several months later has allowed me to reassess it, sans blinkers (you’ll notice the language play here – please forgive my pretensions). Second, it really is darn good. It’s one of those easy to wear, crisp summer scents that whilst not hugely innovative, does do something quite different with vetiver. Yes, it’s initially citric, but from the midnotes onwards it develops a wonderfully savoury, smoky aspect that puts it up there with my other favourite in this category, the Different Company’s Sel de Vetiver. Third, you can get it for pennies (well, nearly) unlike the aforementioned spendy number, which makes it as close to must have as anything. Buy it.
Quick aside on candles, seeing as it seems the season. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no beating Patricia de Nicolai. I’m sitting here, a candle unlit on the other side of the room, and the scent has filled this high-ceilinged space. Resine de Pin, seeing as you’re asking. Too early for this one, I know, but I just thought I’d test it out.

Next week: a review of the seventh Hermessence, Un Brin de Reglisse.

Who do you think should’ve won the dust ’em up, and why?

  • nathi and canny says:

    i love the musical.:):):):):)

  • Rob says:

    :d:d LEE! My hands are clutching my head the way these contenders are matched up! LOL! My manbag is at the Dior shop for repairs, but you should see the condition of the other guy’s Gaultier kilt!

    I think Story ought to stick around too, excuse the pun, but it has great staying power for a fresh scent and the vetiver isn’t bitter at all.

    Hope Tokyo stays around for a little while, but at this point I’m feeling cedar is playing itself out in my arsenal and hope to come around to it again one day. Smells very incensy for the most part, but I’m catching a lot of cedar in this one.

    • Rob says:

      Oops! Forgot to add that Fuel For Life is the “safe” alternative to Fahrenheit 32…for the guy who doesn’t stray too far outside of his boundaries. :)>-

  • BitterGrace says:

    Prada Amber pour Homme a “little barbershop,” you say? That actually sounds good to me. I would love to have something a little barbershop for the resident male. I bet he’d like it, too.

    This post is a hoot, Lee. Not that I approve of violence…

    • Lee says:

      Try it – beautiful bottle and pretty darn good, actually.

      I was going to include pics of sexy boxers in fake blood, but ruled them out for two reasons:

      1) It’s wrong to find violence sexy (unfortunately – head/heart conflict… Or should that be conscience/groin?)
      2) It’s a little Tom Ford…

  • Robin says:

    Go PS Story!

  • Louise says:

    I only know a few of the contenders, but my overall winner would be the currently popular CdG 2 Man. I like it a bunch on me, but more so on my son. He had a friend visiting with him here last week, and I decided to do a comparison spray. First I put a puff on my boy’s arm, and let that sit. Next I went to his buddy, a beautiful mahogany-skinned lad. To my great surprise the spray had an instant back-flame effect, similar to the dumb trick of adding lighter fluid to an already-lit grill. Immediately the room filled with a stunningly warm wood smell, while my son’s skin let off a little gentle incense. We had a great laugh at the lesson in differences in skin chem.

  • JenniferR says:

    Late to reply, and only marginally on topic. So what’s new? I’ll probably e-mail, too — WHERE CAN I FIND THAT PDN CANDLE? Tried beautyhabit, luckyscent, new london pharmacy. no go. PdN web site, sure, but if I understand correctly they ship not to the U.S. (In the meantime, I’m lusting after other candle scents, but this one, and your hypnotic description of sitting with it, have me hooked, Lee!)

  • Solander says:

    Yay! I’ve tried to tell you (not YOU Lee, but perfume people in general) that Story is an overlooked little gem of a scent! I was biased for rather than against it because of the bottle concept and all, but I really like its leafy greenness. On me it doesn’t get smoky or anything, it stays on the bright, citrusy side but that’s really fine with me because it’s doing it well. I actually find it HARD to find good green scents, though they’re supposedly so common… Scents called green are usually too herbal (that is, not fresh, more weirdly aromatic, sometimes even musty) or too citrusy (that’s not green either, that’s yellow) or too single-note-something (vetiver, fig, cut grass, genres of their own…) for my taste. But Story is budding-birch-leaves-green. The only scent as green that I can think of is CdG 3, which I was trying to recommend to you in a comment on your last post, but my comment vamoosed.
    I’ve sprayed on Gph 2 in stores a couple of times and the first time I really liked it and the second time not so much. But today I went to Boots to get the Gph deodorant (yum yum peppery/woody goodness!) and got a sample of the “new” 2 thrown in, so now I can try it properly. Then the SA pointedly asked me if I wanted some samples for ME as well. And I was doing the “British-male-academic-geek” tweed outfit bigtime, but still, getting a MALE deodorant for ME? Unthinkable!
    I got Fuel for life pour femme which I actually rather like, a nice warm cosy mandarin/patchouli. Also got Christina Aguilera which is so generic I could fall asleep if the slight nausea didn’t keep me awake…

    • Solander says:

      (I’ve seen Fuel for life compared to Angel, but it reminds me more of the orange citrusy Le Feu d’Issey, which I haven’t smelled for years but which made a strong impression upon me, so strong it was one of the first perfumes I put on my wishlist. Since my family don’t approve of such frivolities as literally spraying your money away I never got it.)

      • Lee says:

        You think your family’s weird? My niece and her mother (aka my sister) both want Christina Aguilera for Christmas….:o

    • Lee says:

      I shoulda shoulda listened.

      The SA probably journeyed into does not compute territory. You’ve probably done her a service

      Oh, and p.s. I have a strange penchant for women in British male academic tweed geek chic. Watch yourself! My bi- says hi!

      Oh, and p.p.s. – nest time you’re in London it’s into SMN and all those other places we (that’s right, I’m meeting you there) go. No need to ever feel like you don’t belong in em. You should see the sorry ole state of me!

      • Solander says:

        Aww you watch yourself now! I have a fetish for British accents (not so much the Northern one though, I prefer it posh)… :”>
        There are pictures of the more-or-less geeky me in my blog, my other blog, the non-perfumey one I’m linking to now… You know the kind of arm-length narcissistic ones.
        I’d love to be escorted by you into the scary little shops! My girlfriend wasn’t much help, she’s neither interested in perfume nor confident in, well, any shop. No matter what I look like I still don’t feel I have the “right” to be there though, since I never buy anything… But I’ve run out of CdG 3 so I might dare to venture into the Temple of Dover Street Market to get a bottle and sneak a sniff of the new CdG Luxe Patchouli. And I’d love to visit PdN, SMN, Miller Harris (it seems they don’t sell sample sets online anymore, and I was just about to get one!), Diptyque…
        Next time I’m in London will be exactly 1pm-9pm on 20 November. :d

  • March says:

    I am laughing very hard at your MJ and Gaultier matchups, respectively. And what do you think the Cowardly Lion should wear? How about Let Me Play the Lion?:p

    • Lee says:

      I like the idea of boxers in speedos for some reason. Wonder why…:-? and I wish I could like something about those two orange flower nancyboy frags… anything. They just don’t work for me.

      Definitely the LesNez. I used my sample of that up, this time last year, in Bergen Norway of all places. It rained a lot; the scent made me think of drier locations. like a pond. A lake. The sea. You get the picture.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    This comment is for all te bloggers and not for this specific column but I thought it was time to thank all of you for having the stamina of a boxer and giving us your great blog day after day, month after month. You guys rock.

  • tmp00 says:

    I liked the original Paul Smith in the green bottle. I like Story as well; I don’t really think if it as a dept store brand though, since he has his own stand-alone store in West Hollywood and doesn’t sell at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s (that I know of).

    Story in an interesting one, and I loved the hot-nerd guy they used in the ads for it. :”>

    • Lee says:

      Paul Smith is obviously fancier over there than here. sure, he has his own boutiques, but those frags can be had by the hoi-polloi left, right and centre. I mean, in the low brand supermarkets, even.

      Robin at nowsmellthis was soo right about Story. And I’m with you on the hot nerd front. Always.

  • Marina says:

    Fahrenheit (NOT 32!) could kick bottoms of any and all of these ones. Just sayin’ ūüôā So could Egoiste. If he would deign to fight. b-)

  • Patty says:

    Paul Smith, really? I haven’t ever sniffed it, and cearly my education is lacking there. I know I’ve had samples in my hands, but didn’t get further than looking at them.

    so… the new Hermessence, I’m gone next Wed, give me a sneak peak!!!

  • sybil says:

    Who should have won? I confess total ignorance on mens frags, since my DH hates to wear anything scented. But anything that makes me laugh this much is good, and anything that compares well to Sel de Vetiver is also fine by me!

  • I would never in a million years have guessed Paul Smith. I remember trying one of the femme ones in a can (was it Floral?) and being so unimpressed that I never got around to Story.

    Is it a male thing to do showdowns/elimination rounds? Because my husband does this. I get him to try something and he’ll want to put a previous “winner” on the other wrist to see which one “wins.” I suppose it’s just ingrained in the male brain after years of playoffs, brackets, elimination matches and so on.

    • Lee says:

      Yep, most of the PSs are too meh for words. Hence my surprise too.

      I don’t know if it is a male thing. I was just thinking of a daft way to cover more than a dozen scents, and there it was…

  • Dusan says:

    If Acqua and Jacobs are wearing speedos, which one(s) is sporting singlets? ūüėÄ
    Seeing as I haven’t tried Story, I was rooting for Prada’s classy number. So glad the characterless Code got kicked out early on.
    Hey, are you a secret agent or something? What does one have to be/do to get first dibs on the new Hermessence?
    Thanks for the cheer-up on this bleak Wednesday, my man! And do try DKNY Men!

    • Dusan says:

      Would just like to add, after another gulp of coffee, that j’adore Eau de Cartier. Strange how I don’t have either that one or the Prada.Stranger even is I have Santos (samps) in most of its variations!

    • Lee says:

      Not a secret agent (though I do watch ‘Spooks’, if that’s a qualification…), Un Brin is in every Hermes store here, surprisingly… DKNY – will try!

  • Judith says:

    Great matches! I tried the PS some time ago, and it didn’t work well on me–might be the citrus. But you are moving me to try it again! Still like Encre Noire (which I had to spray to console it for losing) and both CdGs!

    • Lee says:

      Well, those two were my favourite first round matches. Maybe the grapfruitiness turned you off – that’s the main citrus note.

  • Anne says:

    Lee, I am only slightly familiar w/four of the above mentioned scrappers. Doesn’t matter though, what a great post. Didn’t think anything could make me LOL on a Wednesday morning with 3 hours sleep behind me. Great way to start the day. Thank you!

  • Elle says:

    My immediate response was that Must would be my pick for the winner because I so adored it years ago and have such fantastic memories attached to it. Consequently, I rushed off to find my bottle (which took some doing as I haven’t worn it in eons and had it hidden away) and put some on for today. Gulp…I think I have *too* many memories attached and I’m actually not as fond of time travel as I sometimes think I am and, objectively, it simply doesn’t thrill me that much as a scent. It’s lovely, but too well mannered, almost smug.
    My choice now is going to be CdG 2 Man. Just love it. Makes me happy, keeps me interested. CdG 2 is surprisingly bland for a CdG. Definitely am going to have to try the Paul Smith.
    Haven’t tried PdN candles. How is that possible? I *adore* PdN and am a candle sl*t. Must remedy this.
    Can’t wait for the Brin de Reglisse review!!

    • Lee says:

      I’m sniffin the Brin tomorrow…

      Yep – get those candles sorted!

      Must – it is a smooth operator for sure.

  • Maria says:

    Lee, I don’t know any of these scents. I just can’t see a picture of the Cowardly Lion without thinking of the times Kurt drapes his red fleece jacket around Norbu’s shoulders and sings “If I were king of the forest…” Bert Lahr style (pretending Norbu is singing it, of course). Dogs give us so many opportunities for fun.