Yves Saint Laurent’s YSL Pour Homme Haute Concentration is, as the name suggests a more concentrated version of the 1971 release, YSL Pour Homme. This flanker was launched in 1983, over ten years on from the initial launch. Yves Saint Laurent’s fragrance collection is as revolutionary as his couture designs. Fragrances like Opium and Rive Gauche are often talked about. His men’s collection often goes quietly unnoticed, however it contains some beautiful classics that create a moment of nostalgia for men of all ages. The original YSL Pour Homme was the first fragrance I ever purchased. At the time (1992) I was torn between the two versions, unsure of which version I should buy. In hindsight I am glad I chose the original. I can still picture in my mind the scent of citrus that clung to the woolen fibers of my school uniform. Unfortunately youth comes with inexperience and I now pity my English teacher who had to endure the generous amount of eau de toilette I used to apply after gym class! I feel like today, the brand is ready for another milestone. Many of their competitors have pushed forward in the market yet YSL has sat quietly back observing. The 2006 launch of YSL Homme to be honest was lack luster unlike the 2002 launch of M7 accompanied by an ad campaign featuring martial artist Samuel de Cubber in full frontal nudity (thanks Tom Ford). For prêt a porter, YSL Creative Director, Stefano Pilati has done a fantastic job of staying current. His men’s ready to wear collections are compared to those of Lanvin and Balenciaga, classic brands that have maintained their tradition of craftsmanship yet with an injection of forward thinking fresh design. Revived brands such as Dior are leading the way in creating fragrance that mirrors their new lease on life. Here’s hoping YSL and Lanvin soon follow suit.
The trouble with intense or concentrated versions of citrus perfumes and colognes is that simply adding more citrus turns a beautifully light, sparkling citrus note into a dense and raspy fragrant equivalent of dishwashing liquid. Perfumers must therefore carefully select the elements of the fragrance they want to intensify without loosing the initial identity of the perfume. In the case of this flanker, all of the citrus elements contained in the original are employed, petitgrain and lemon in the form of all the key synthetic citrus notes of the 1980s such as citronellal, geranyl nitrile and dihydro myrcenol (Drakaar Noir). The herbal element is where the main extension takes place, lasting all day long. Lavender and other popular herbs of this era, sage and marjoram are used. The floral element is a green floral paired with carnation adding a hint of spice. The base is an abstract accord that does not distract the wearer from the citrus and herbs. It is this illusionary feat that makes the wearer believe they are wearing a concentrated version of a cologne that is more or less the same fragrance as the original, with heightened herbal elements that falls away to a bed of musk, wood and resin. If there is a fragrance equivalent to the culinary saying ‘my eyes were bigger than my stomach’ these higher concentration versions were designed in the 1980s for a customer who was greedy for more.
For me this is a personal fragrance. When I am wearing it, I am quite happy if no one else but me can smell it. It is a scent I like to wear on rainy winter days, under a sweater and scarf, allowing the candied citrus scent to peak out from under my woolens, registering with my nose when I least expect it. YSL Pour Homme has become a bit of a fossil. I still come across the scent of Kouros across a subway train, or walking down a street, but Pour Homme is not so common. Perhaps a shame, or perhaps others share my sentiment that this is a fragrance they wear quietly, undetectable to the passing observer.
Yves Saint Laurent YSL Pour Homme, Acqua di Parma Colonia, Creed Neroli Sauvage, Christian Dior Eau Sauvage Extreme.