Let’s look at a unisex family favourite, Cartier‘s Le Baiser du Dragon, a chypre-ambery scent created by master perfumer Alberto Morillas and filled with amaretto and fresh almonds, lushly creamy gardenia, lovely vetiver, rose, ambery resins, and so much more.
Rich, bold, powerhouse fragrances for a bargain price, what could be better? There is a definite advantage in going vintage, and Giorgio For Men is a perfect example of why: addictive patchouli is layered with loads of genuine oakmoss, Cuir de Russie-style birch leather, and gales of spices and amber, then lashed with honey, iris-orris butter, sandalwood, citruses, dry cedar, chocolate, vanilla, and silky cream. It’s all presented in a seamless, complex, long-lasting and audaciously intense concoction with parallels to both vintage legends and modern niche, except Giorgio costs a pittance of the price of most fragrances in those categories and it also contains high levels of raw materials now limited or banned in perfumery.
For a mere $30, I purchased a large, 95% full, 120 ml or 4 oz bottle whose scent bore echoes of fragrances which came both long before it and long after it: legends like vintage Givenchy Gentleman and popular modern creations like Serge Lutens’ Borneo 1834, Chanel‘s Coromandel, and Guerlain‘s LIDGE. Throughout its long lifespan, Giorgio’s character changed from the ruggedly polished but elegant 1980s alpha male to the unisex, modern, and addictively, delectably cuddly. While there are a handful of small issues with the fragrance, mostly if one sprays a lot of it, they’re minor in the overall scheme of things and the low price makes them easy to ignore. In short, this is a scent well worth looking up.
Today, we’ll continue to explore vintage Parfum d’Hermes, looking at its scent over the 1980s and 1990s. I managed to make the comparative analysis much shorter than I had anticipated, so I’ve included the technical bottle, packaging, and dating analysis here, thereby avoiding the need for an additional Part III. Let’s get straight to it.
A shape-shifting chameleon, a night rider traversing through a verdant chypre valley to lay claim to a rubied rose atop a pile of oriental treasure, and an unabashedly 1980s-style “take no prisoners” floriental-chypre hybrid, Parfum d’Hermes is many things but always, in my opinion, an under-appreciated classic masterpiece in its earliest formulations.
Age is key. Depending on the year of the bottle you try, it might exude such a naturalistic, heady, and complex 3D rose that it feels as though bucketfuls of beefy Ta’if flowers had been drenched with rich Nombre Noir-style damascones — a rose so grandiose, riveting, and naturalistic that it brings a rose hater like myself to my knees with awe. Then again, with another bottle, it might simply be a green-red damascena rose wafting a crisp, cool hauteur. In both versions, though, it gradually turns gothic and dusky, withered with frankincense and myrrh before being sheathed in a masculine gauntlet of smoke and leathered resins. Well, that is unless you have a bottle from the end of the 1990s, in which case things go in yet another direction still….