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quinta-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2016

Gender Bender: L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme (1994)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

This is another in a series of fragrance reviews that asks, “How does fragrance transcend gender?” Leave a comment below for your chance to receive a 5ml decant of the current L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme, shipped anywhere in the world, free!
Hello and welcome to “Gender Bender (click me to read others in this series)”, an exploration of aroma, gender and scented freedom. Though by no means do I personally prescribe to fragrance having a gender, sociocultural stereotypes about masculinity and femininity often prevail at the fragrance counters and are viewed as important distinctions for many fragrance fans. Join me as I explore some of my favorite 20th century masterpieces of perfumery in my quest to challenge marketing rhetoric and address the question, “How does fragrance transcend gender?”
Summary: A floral citrus, L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme represents a variation on the classic, unisex Eau de Cologne theme but updated and referencing Japanese culture with a zesty yuzu note and a bouquet of green herbs and cypress.
PerfumerJacques Cavallier
Try this if you like: Fresh, citrus aromas such as those with "eau" or "fraiche" in their titles; grapefruit or yuzu aromas; aquatic or marine fragrances; scents like HermésPamplemousse Rose or O de Lancôme.
Reminds me of: Porsche Design The Essence (which is to say that Porsche smells a lot like L'Eau d'Issey),  1709 Original Eau de Cologne by Farina, Elizabeth ArdenGreen Tea Lotus, Pacifica Lotus Garden, Caron Yuzu Man, Milton Lloyd Success, almost any of the summer flankers of L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme, Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, Yves Rocher Cypres et Pamplemousse.
Still from L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme commercial.
Pros & Cons: "Lemonade and flowers with a musky backbone," as one Fragrantica reviewer put it. If that sounds enticing to you, L'Eau d'Issey will undoubtedly be a hit.
Now in its 22nd year on the market, L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme has been discovered, praised, and relegated by many to the "been there, done that" shelf of similar aquatics like Acqua di Gio by Armani (released a full two years after L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme).
However, if you've only paid attention to the original L'Eau d'Issey (pour femme), also a Cavallier creation, you'll likely detect a similar overall vibe but minus the canteloupe note that so many seem to question and with a woodier base. If you're a lotus or lily of the valley lover, you'll also enjoy the masterful employment of these flowers, blooming behind the citrus and herbs.
As to the whether this scent is found to be masculine or feminine by Fragrantica members, one reviewer noted: "I honestly don't understand what males would see in this one. After all the great reviews, I was shocked when I tried this for a couple of weeks only to find that, each time, it reminded me of my mother and her bathroom full of bath and shower products. A floral, feminine scent on my skin. Not awful but certainly not something I want to smell like as a man." Likewise, one of our female reviewers offered, "I am a woman and I wear this too on a regular day at work. There is a slight sour breeze in the middle for me, but overall, it is very well-made."
Questions about reformulation and decrease in longevity abound in current reviews. Having recently tested a bottle in Sephora, I find the longevity and sillage to both be above average.
'The feeling of freshness and strength of a mountain waterfall.'
Notes: Verbena, Tangerine, Cypress, Yuzu Zest, Coriander, Clary Sage, Geranium Bourbon, Blue Water Lily, Nutmeg, Saffron, Cinnamon Bark from Ceylon, Amber Tobacco, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Musk.
Designer’s Description: “'The feeling of freshness and strength of a mountain waterfall.' L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme has made a name for itself as a unique and elegant reference in the world of men's fragrances. With its power and delicate balance, this wonderful scent goes straight to the essentials."
Number of times tested: 100+ over the last 20 years.
Number of sprays applied for this review: 2 sprays to the back of my hand from an EDT bottle I sampled at Sephora (2016).
Fragrance strength: Eau de Toilette
Development: (Linear / Average / Complex): I've always found L'Eau D'Issey pour Homme to be a linear fragrance with the middle and basenotes a foundation for the herbal citrus topnotes. What I smell at the opening is exactly what I smell at the drydown.
Longevity: (Short / Average / Long-lasting) I was surprised to discover pour Homme lasting as long as it did, considering it is primarily a citrus aroma, with only two sprays on my hand - I sampled it around 12pm and could easily detect the aroma later that day around 5pm.
Sillage: (A Little / Average / A Lot) L'Eau d'Issey is detectable during its first hour but after that I have to press my nose to my skin. After a rather liberal application this morning, my companion said she couldn't smell it at all. This one is likely office safe.
Note about the packaging: The minimalist frosted glass bottle in the shape of a curved rectangle and accompanied by a similarly shaped metallic gray cap is housed in a simple silver and white paper box. The streamlined aesthetics call to mind that of Chanel's fragrances.
Where can I buy it? Find it online for as little as $35-45 USD for a 75ml spray.
Issey Miyake Men's Collection 2012,
The Bottom Line: London, Autumn, 1994 - I was working my way counter by counter through the Harrods' men's fragrance department when I spied a basket of white fragrance spray samples. The thought of any kind of free fragrance gets my heart racing so I immediately went over to the basket, asked the sales person if I might take one, and surely let out a squeal of excitement when I was given permission.
"Whoa! What is THAT?" was my first response. My nose was met with a bright, glittering citrus note that was both fresh and somewhat bitter. The overall effect of the aroma strongly recalled numerous other aquatic scents of the time but there was something very pleasant and unusual about this rendition, and not as sweet. When I noticed the name on the sample, I immediately thought "Escape!" No, not as in "run away", but as in Calvin Klein. I had only recently been introduced to the women's L'Eau d'Issey which I discounted as a sniffalike of Escape for women with its melon, flowers and woods. Ironically, I think I had been wearing Escape for Men the day I tested L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme.
Original sketch by Miyake for his Pleats Please collection, from
My friend, Paul, was also browsing with me and had an equally positive response to pour Homme. We were told we could take a few samples, and we happily complied and made our way over to the next counter where we were introduced to Nicole Miller for Men and Wings for Men by Giorgio of Beverly Hills, both of which also continue to be favorites of mine.
Within weeks, pour Homme was all over London and after a few months could be smelled at bars and nightclubs around the city. Two years later I purchased my first big bottle but happily gave it to a female friend who fell deeply in love with the aroma, a common occurrence throughout my fragrance history.
Jacques Cavallier
Issey Miyake
So what is the secret to the success of pour Homme? In my mind it is the reference to the classic Eau de Colognes of yesteryear with their time-proven allure of freshness and vitality. Moreover, the florals in pour Homme present a subdued femininity in comparison with brasher, more direct interpretations of popular blooms that might otherwise come across to some as matronly. Many reviewers point to pour Homme being adored by women on men perhaps because of this distinction and a few women enjoying the fragrance for themselves because of the fragrance's successful citrus.
Nowadays, reviews tend towards complaints that the scent is too simple, too fleeting or too floral. Others note the pungency of vetiver that grounds the top and middle notes. Despite the complex composition of herbs and woods, no one seems to distinguish them from the crowning glory of the aroma - yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that is often described as a hybrid of lemon and grapefruit. Having spent most of my 30's in Japan, I can attest not only to the accuracy of this aroma in pour Homme but also to the presence of Japanese Cypress or Hinoki that, in my mind, is the true grounding element of pour Homme. In this regard, pour Homme is a perfect emblem of Japanese nature. In fact, once when at a Japanese spa or onsen, I kept detecting a familiar scent wafting throught the lobby and hallways; my companion inquired about the scent and was informed it was a traditional blend of yuzu and hinoki oils that were considered to be both soothing and beneficial. Hmmm, perhaps this speaks to pour Homme's success?
Leave a comment below for your chance to receive a 5ml decant of the current L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme, shipped anywhere in the world, free!

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