Xmas is just around the corner and Jesus may be the reason for the season, but so are massive purchases made on alcohol and men’s colognes. Next to Father’s Day no other time of the year inspires more panicky runs to the men’s cologne counter at the department store. As a result, this time of year there are more cologne testers in magazines and department store mailers than ever, so it’s time to review the prime candidates vying for your attention. In other words, welcome to the 4th Annual Edition of Smell Check. Let’s get started:Guess Seductive: Touting itself as “an alluring oriental woody fougere”, the first thing I want to ask is what’s a “fougere”? And can a fougere have the capacity to be alluring? At any rate, it didn’t smell very woody to me, but rather talcum-like and too faint to leave a lingering, let alone alluring memory. So, fougere to all that! I Am King (Sean John): I’m confused, does this cologne aspire to make me worship Puffy Combs and say, “Yes, your Highness, yea verily, you are King” for making this cologne, or is the cologne supposed to make me say, “Yes, I AM KING!” for wearing this swill that smells like dried grape soda. Quelle ghetto. Eau De Lacoste (Lacoste): Yes, the polo shirt kings have entered the fragrance fray with three different tones: Pure, Powerful and Relaxed (sounds like me). Pure was okay but had a generic drug store scent to it, Powerful smelled a little sportier, and Relaxed smelled kind of woodsy. At least none of them smelled like an old alligator. 1 Million (Paco Rabanne): Designed like a bar of gold, this came with high hopes because Paco always makes great colognes. This tester made me go back over and over again with its insane conglomeration of bubblegum meets musky sex odors. Whoah! I’m losing my mind, we have a winner here. John Varvatos USA: Nice bottle, shaped like a chemistry test tube for all you “Breaking Bad” fans out there. Usually Varvatos doesn’t disappoint but this one just smelled very citrus-like with no real standout olfactory pleasures. Back to the old chemistry set for you. Armani Code Sport (Giorgio Armani): The ad for this cologne shows a naked guy in a swimming pool standing before a rich woman wearing a backless formal. That might be the only interesting thing about this scent. On a separate note, I used to enjoy wearing Armani Code until I found out the surly janitor in my building wore Code, too. Thanks for nothing. Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens): You’ll never catch Lutens hawking testers in Esquire Magazine, and it’s just as well. He’s way too cool. Ambre Sultan is an explosive symphony of coriander, amber, oregano, bay leaf, myrtle, angelica root, sandalwood, patchouli, benzoin, and the ubiquitous stench of vanilla. Lutens’ publicity team describe it as “a trip to a Bedouin tent in a desert far away, thick incense burning on coal with spices filling the air, mysterious eyes flashing and pierced female slaves succumbing to your BLAH BLAH BLAH”. For once the scent is actually better than the Yul Brynner hype. Etcetera, etcetera. One thing to bear in mind when you buy a cologne is what makes one special and what doesn't? A men's cologne is a lot like a night club. One year it's pretty cool, but once the d-bags know about it and use it the coolness factor's long gone. A scent like Acqua Di Gio or YSL Homme had a coolness factor when it first hit the scene, but now it's the kind of slobber your aunt buys you for Xmas or the swill you smell on some oily hip-hop bastard. That's when you go for the more private clubs in town, like Serge Lutens or the more exotic Rabanne stuff. Happy buying!
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