The Future of Valentino Uomo

In the first quarter of 2014 Valentino released Valentino Uomo.  It is not the company’s first venture into men’s fragrances but it may as well be as the company stayed out of the market for over 20 years after the release of Valentino Vendetta Uomo in 1991.

Many fragrance experts consider Valentino Uomo to be Olivier Polge‘s fresh revisit of the iconic Dior Homme.  Some experts even speculate that Valentino’s objective with this fragrance was to create a men’s scent that will emulate the success of Dior Homme.  Maybe it is no coincidence then why Valentino approach Polge to do for them what he did for Dior.


Indeed, Valention Uomo is a scent well positioned to turn into a classic: it avoids men’s fragrance cliches, which makes it appealing to the connoisseurs and at the same time, it is mainstream enough to appeal to the mass market.

The release of Valentino Uomo was backed by a solid marketing campaign and the fragrance community has largely given it thumbs-up.  Positive response from the European market has likely urged the company to speed up its release in North America.

Without having seen the sales numbers, it is likely that Valentino Uomo is doing great.  The positive sales results would likely push Valentino to broaden its distribution from high-end retailers to middle-level ones.  This tactic would be largely motivated by an attempt to capitalize on its initial success and maximize revenues.

Valentino Uomo Bottle Book

Now that Valentino has a hit fragrance on its hands, the question is what to do next.  The answer is simpler than it seems.

If you have followed the development of iconic men’s fragrances, you’ll notice that more or less, designers follow the same pattern: release an intense and sports version and then multitude of other flankers as necessary.

Take a look at what Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier did.  After the initial success of Dior Homme and Le Male, both companies went on a fragrance frenzy ( Gaultier more than Dior but that hardly matters). Dior released Dior Homme Intense, which was followed up by Dior Homme Sport and just recently released Dior Homme Eau for Men. Similarly, Gaultier went berserk and is popping Gaultier flankers twice a year.

Le Male 2014

Valentino is likely to follow the same tactic: after Uomo proves to be a hit, which I am confident it will, the company will start releasing flankers.

Valentino Uomo Intense

Valentino Uomo is a fragrance with a medium sillage and longevity.  It works well for day and night.  Therefore, the first remake would likely be an intense version.  The thinking might be that the guy who wears Uomo during the day, may need something with more presence during the night.  Voila! You have Valentino Uomo Intense.

Valentino Uomo Bottle 2

Valentino Uomo Intense would likely have stronger opening – maybe more citrus for an initial wow factor and a heavier, longer-lasting heart.  The chocolate and coffee may be turned up to give the scent more presence and make it sweeter.  For a good measure, Intense may also feature tonka bean, amber or musk in the drydown.  The leather note would probably stay in the background as its strong presence may take away from its mainstream appeal.

Valentino Uomo Sport

The sweetness of the original Valentino Uomo makes it more appealing for the colder months.  To capture the summer scent market, Valentino would likely release a lighter version of the original. It may be called either Sport or some sort of Eau or Aqua (Valentino Uomo Sport, Valentino Uomo Aqua, Aqua di Valentino Uomo, etc.).

Valentino Uomo Sport would have amped up citrus.  The bergamot note may be aided by some neroli or zesty lemon.  The myrtle may stay there but probably would be less prominent.  The chocolate and coffee would be toned down and the leather may appear a little more but in its suede form.  The drydown would likely be a predictable cedar and likely white musk to add longevity.  We may even get something with calones in it to give it a more fresh-aquatic feel.

Once these two mandatory flankers are out of the way, what Valentino would do is really up to anyone’s imagination.  They may follow Gaultier’s and Miyake’s route and pop flankers at least once a year, or they may create something new.  They would have to carefully balance the trade-off between brand image and market capitalization.  You go too wild with your flankers, over-saturate the market and your brand image plummets (Gaultier fragrances hardly hold the status the Gaultier fashion line. After all, even deep discount basement retailers sell the originals for less than $50).  You stay too restrictive with distribution and releases and you become dated and irrelevant.


Ultimately, Valentino would have to decide what role they want to play in the fragrance market.  My advice would be sell their fragrance like they sell their shoes: keep top quality and tight distribution.   After all, those bottles carry the Valentino name.

Related on the Topic

What’s Hot Right Now: Valentino Uomo

Perfume Flankers and Why They Make a Good Business Sense

What Makes Perfume a Classic?



Xerjoff Shooting Stars Nio Review


Neroli, Bergamot, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Jasmine, Vetiver, Cedar, Amber

The Short Story

Beautiful citrus with no soul.

The Long Story

nioIf you have ever been on a date with no personality, you would know what Nio is like.  It is a fragrance made with high quality ingredients blended in a masterful way.  Yet, it fails to be more than just a citrus fragrance.

Nio is an exercise in perfection where the technical skills of the perfumer are being tested. It is as if he was told to avoid any creativity and just create a citrus fragrance.

Nio opens with fresh neroli and green notes. It is sparkling, zesty, exhilarating. The lack of any depth of this opening forebodes a fairly airy development.  Indeed, Nio grows into a jasmine nuanced woody scent. It is quite pleasant but it would hardly make you curl your toes with pleasure.

Generally, I love citrus fragrances. They evoke memories of happy places – sunny countryside, breezy beaches, sun-drenched gardens. When I was testing Nio, though, I didn’t get to experience any of these places. I could definitely appreciate the quality of the scent but it was as if its soul was missing.

Nio definitely makes my list of citrus fragrances to recommend, after all, it is a technically superb citrus, but I wouldn’t wear it myself.  Unfortunately, this porcelain beauty doesn’t move me.

<a href=””>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Trussardi Uomo 2011Review


Galbanum, nutmeg, lemon, violet leaf, clary sage, patchouli, leather, oak moss

The Short Story

Failed Italianity.

The Long Story

Trussardi-Uomo-2011Trussardi Uomo 2011 is a harsh, slapped together fragrance made on the cheap. It has nothing to do with the original and even less with “Italianity” ( a term made up by the marketing team).

Trussardi is an Italian company renowned for making high quality fashion leather products. It was founded in 1911 by Dante Trussardi. Dante made it big by making very sought-after leather gloves. Banking on his glove success, Dante developed a whole range of leather products.  Today, the Trussardi Group continues to make fashion leather products and, as is customary for most designer lines, it also offers a range of fragrances.  The idea often is the fragrances to compliment the lifestyle inspired by the fashion line.

Trussardi’s fragrances have always been percolating in the fragrance space but have never been particularly popular with one exception. In 1983, the company released Trussardi Uomo.  It was a signature leather fragrance designed very much in the 80’s style.  Its raw leather vibe quickly became a symbol of masculinity and an ambassador of the brand.

trussardi-uomo Original

As the 80’s passed and the fragrance taste changed to lighted colognes, Trussardi Uomo‘s sales declined.  At some point, someone from a corner office decided to pull the plug.

In 2011, likely another or maybe the same someone decided to resurrect Uomo but in a slightly different format.  The fragrance was again to symbolize Trussardi’s Italian heritage and represent its lifestyle of rugged masculinity and non-conformism.

This time around, however, things were different. The Trussardi Group was after the money, so it had to release a scent with wide appeal. Ditching completely the original, the company released a reformulated Trussardi Uomo.  This is the one you will find on the fragrance counter nowadays.

Trussardi Uomo 2011-2

Trussardi says Uomo represents “Italianity”.  I understand Italianity as the Italian lifestyle as presented and interpreted by Trussardi. What I find interesting about the whole Italianity thing is that it looks like a desperate attempt to bank on the cache of Italy as a fashion capital.  It is not unlike Pierre Cardin, another once glorious brand on the decline, splattering the Eiffel Tower on its shirts hoping to get some nods of approval for being French.  If you can’t stand on your own merits, then you hope to stand on the merits of others by association.

Regardless of the motives behind the Italianity inspiration, the question then is, does Trussardi Uomo represent the Italian lifestyle? Well, yes, maybe some form of it.  The form you find on the flee markets in some countries where gypsies sell cheap replicas of Italian soccer jerseys, designer bags with misspelled names, and of course, knock-off fragrances. The sweetly cheap smell of Uomo reminds me of these places.  If this is the Italianity Trussardi had in mind, then Uomo does a great job.  If it tries to represent, impeccable style, rich culture and heritage, then it fails miserably.

Overall, Trussardi Uomo is a failed attempt to have a second go at a past glory.  A word of advice to the Trussardi folks: ditch the imitation and bring back the original.  We all loved it.

Fueguia 1833 Ballena de la Pampa Review


Musks, Hay, Ambergris

The Short Story

A moment of bliss.

The Long Story

Ballena_de_la_pampaI’m lying in the dry grass, the scorching sun kissing my face.  The light breeze is caressing my body and the dry grass is tickling my arms and legs.  The sweet aroma of hay and parched meadow flowers is wafting through the air.

Tranquility is all I am feeling at the moment.  I am in a state of bliss, thousands of miles away from the hectic pace of this world.  I don’t have a thought of worry in my head.  It is just me in the field enwrapped by sheer serenity.

I can lie here forever; absorbing the sun, the smells and the sensations of everything around me.  I lose track of time. The past and the future do not exist.  All that matter right now is the present: me lying here in the dry field surrounded by the warm sweet aroma in the hot air.


I keep my eyes closed and inhale deeply.  The smell of warm sea is coming from somewhere.  The shore must be near but I don’t hear the waves.  I breathe in again trying to figure out where the sea breeze is coming from.  It is everywhere around me, mixed with the sweet smell of dry hay.  Where it comes from doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I am here now and that nothing can take me away from here.

I imagine I am a whale.  I am lying here in the dry pampas and the smell of sea is coming from me.  Even though I am a whale, I don’t gasp and I breathe the dry air deeply.  It relaxes me.  Somewhere in the distance I hear the gentle buzzing of bumble bees and the chirping of crickets.  The sounds around me keep a rhythm.  It is the same as the beat of my heart, even though I am pretty sure, they don’t even know I am lying here listening to them.

Time passes by but I am unaware of it.  When I open my eyes I may be greeted by the falling dusk over the expansive field.  I keep them closed.  I hold on to the moment.  I am one with nature, one with this time of bliss.

I open my eyes and exhale. I remove my wrist from my nose and open my eyes.  I am sitting on my couch in my living room, my laptop pressing on my thighs.  I exit my trance.  I bring my wrist back up to my nose and Ballena de la Pampa brings me back into the endless fields of Argentina.

Creed Aventus Review


Bergamot, Black Currant, Pineapple, Birch, Ambergris, Musk, Oakmoss, Amber, Vanilla

The Short Story

The scent of mean corporate lawyers and back-stabbing careerists.

The Long Story

creed-aventus-men-fragrance1Creed’s Aventus is the scent of the aspiring climbers of the corporate ladder.  If their boss in the corner office wears Green Irish Tweed, the yuppie with the skinny tie fetching him the Starbucks wears Aventus.

Aventus and the aspiring junior are perfect for each other. The latter is enchanted by the prospects of power, success and wealth and the former was created to celebrate power, vision and success.

Proximity to power creates arrogance.  It creates the illusion that just because you enjoy the favour of those in charge, you are one of them. In this sense, Aventus is also the fragrance of mean corporate lawyers and back-stabbing careerists.


To their benefit, however, Aventus is a good fragrance.  It opens with fresh bergamot and tarty black currant and pineapple.  Usually, the latter two notes are used to add sweetness to a composition. Not here, however. They play very well with the citrus notes and contribute some gravitas and heftiness to the light and fleeting nature of the bergamot.


The fresh opening transitions into a smoky/bitter birch and patchouli combo. It still maintains its freshness but at this stage things become interesting.  Incense is not on the ingredient list, even though a smoky note is clearly present. I believe the birch and patchouli  are responsible for this.  For me, the tarty pineapple and smoke  define the fragrance.

The somewhat sharp middle notes are tempered down by a sweet musky base.  Musk, amber and vanilla add some sweetness and shave off some of the harsh edges of the woody middle.


Even though Aventus would probably work anywhere, I see it working best in the office, preferably around people with influence.  The crisp, yet, serious vibe that it gives out would definitely give the impression that you are a modern man who values quality and means business.  If this is you, or at least aspire to be one of those men, then run and get two bottles.  Your promotion may depend on it.

John Varvatos Artisan Acqua Review


Orange, Pomelo, Toscanol,Palmarosa, Musk, Lavender, Fir Resin

The Short Story

Teenage hormone cover-up.

The Long Story

john-varvatos-artisan-acquaMargaret Thatcher has a famous saying about power: “Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”  The same is true for being an artist – if you have to tell people you are, you most likely aren’t.

The ad campaign of John Varvatos’s latest release, Artisan Acqua, goes above and beyond to tell everyone that would listen that Artisan Acqua was made the artisan way.  By that understand a fragrance made by hand, with the best quality ingredients and in small batches.

It takes only a whiff to figure out that these are just nice words that have nothing to do with the reality.

Artisan Acqua Model

Artisan Acqua is a pleasant fragrance but has nothing with being artisan.  Arguably, some creativity went into making it, but it’s by far the least creative work of Rodrigo Flores-Roux.  After all, you can be only so creative with a boring brief and a tight budget.  Hence, the result is a generic summery-fresh scent that is guaranteed to not offend even the most sensitive noses.

Artisan Acqua opens predictably with citrus (orange and pomelo). We’ve got a decent dose of Toscanol (very artisan-like) to give the mix some light green sweetness and some lavender for a more masculine vibe.

The white musk and fir balsam do their job to add some longevity. In my case this is unwelcome because Artisan Acqua becomes quickly very boring despite its polite pleasantness.

Artisan Acqua doesn’t add anything new to the market.  As is the practice of many designers, Artisan Acqua was released for the sole purpose to keep Varvatos relevant on the counter.

Despite achieving nothing from a creative and “artisan” point of view, Artisan Acqua might be a decent cologne for your teenage son.  It won’t help him get girls or boys but at least it will cover up the smell of some of those raging teenage hormones.

Prada Luna Rossa Extreme Review


Lavender, Bergamot, Pepper, Labdanum, Juniper, Amber, Vanilla

The Short Story

Soapy, spicy lavender.

The Long Story

1-paris-gallery-prada-65082338It’s refreshing once in a while to find on the fragrance counter something that smells slightly different than the run-of-the-mill fresh/citrus or spicy oriental offerings for men.  Prada’s Luna Rossa Extreme is by no means earth-shattering with its originality but it defeinitely stands out among the many reiterations of Armani Code and YSL L’Homme.

I suppose Luna Rossa Extreme was meant to be a stronger version of the original Luna Rossa.  Maybe something you can wear in the evening after a day of sailing in the Mediterranean.  Not that anything in the juice itself suggests such a lifestyle.  The advertising campaign, however, is built around competitive sailing.

Luna Rossa Extreme is for the men who do not want to be ambiguous about their masculinity or whether they have hair on their back. Soapy lavender and spicy peppery accords make sure that you don’t even dare question the wearer about either one of these things.

Magnum PI

Luna Rossa Extreme is how Thomas Magnum (from Magnum PI) smells like: strong, rugged and, above all, trustworthy.

From the top I get hit with lavender and pepper.  The soapy aspect of the lavender is present from the start and doesn’t go away until the very last detectable notes.  Luna Rossa Extreme doesn’t follow the classic male scent composition and doesn’t open with fresh top notes.  Bergamot is on the list of notes but I do not detect it.  As we go into the heart of the fragrance, the pepper becomes more prominent but it is softened by lavender and labdanum and amber. The transition to the dry-down is relatively smooth.  Luna Rossa Extreme‘s ending is spicy.  It’s not unpleasant but fairly predictable.

Preparations for the Launch

Compared to the Infusion line offered by Prada,  Luna Rossa Extreme is definitely more rugged.  I suspect this is intentional as it is meant to represent a more active/rugged lifestyle.

Overall, it is not a bad but then when it comes to rugged ultra-masculine fragrances, there are much better options on the market.

P.S. Luna Rossa is in fact the name of the yacht of Patrizio Bertelli.  He is the husband of the Miucia Prada and also an avid sailor.  I guess the inspiration for both Luna Rossa fragrances come from his passion for sailing.

Bond No 9 Coney Island Review


Melon, Guava, Margarita, Lime, Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Sandal Wood, Musk, Vanilla, Cedar

The Short Story

Coney Island. The smell of fun. Oh,if only!

The Long Story

coney-island_photo_largePart of the creative process in creating a fragrance is to experience the ambiance the scent is trying to depict.  Naturally, if you are creating a perfume depicting Coney Island, you would go there and soak in the sun, breeze and the fun abound there.

Apparently, Michel Almairac, Coney Island`s creator, skipped that step and just stayed sequestered in the lab.  Therefore, the results are not surprising.  Coney Island smells nothing like the place of the name it bears.

Off the top, Coney Island opens with a synthetic smelling lime.  Luckily, a fresh lemon note come to the rescue.  This is the part of the fragrance I enjoy.  For a brief moment I get optimistic about this. Maybe things get better from there.  The melon makes me feel like I am at a fun place in the summer, enjoying a cold drink on the beach.  Now I can`t wait for the caramel and dark chocolate to come out and make Coney Island even more fun.  I`m even forgiving to the synthetic lime.  After all, perfection is hard to attain and such a minor slip-up in the beginning is a prelude to something truly great.


My happiness soon evaporates when I get to the heart notes.  I am still waiting for my caramel and dark chocolate.  Nothing. I get some musk, possibly sandal wood.  Not too bad but definitely not what I expected.  I`m still hopeful. Maybe it`s worth the wait.

Nothing….I feel like I am in Waiting for Godot.  I keep getting hit with fresh white musk. There is some fresh sweetness to it but it`s mostly musk, which slowly turns sharp and synthetic.  Maybe Michel skipped the heart notes.

I go on Bond`s website and I watch their Coney Island promo video.  It`s fun, sunny, cool and fresh.  I get where the idea to include melon, margarita, chocolate and caramel came from.  These notes would really depict the feeling of seaside fun at an amusement park.  I would even throw in a marine note to recreate the sea breeze.

Instead, I just get musk that turns sharper by the minute with the help of dry cedar.

I get it.  It`s a joke!  The joke is on me though and is not that funny.  The only one laughing is Laurice Rahme, founder of Bond No 9, with my $265 I paid for a 100 ml bottle on her way to the bank.

Now, don`t get me wrong.  Coney Island is a decent enough fragrance to wear at an amusement park.  It is very easy to wear and may even get you a random complement here and there.  But then, if the idea is to wear a decent enough fragrance, there are many doing the job much better coming at one third of the price.

What Coney Island fails at is recreating the spirit of the eponymous place.  I smell it and I don`t think of a fun place.  I think of halitosis and a brutal hangover after a night of drinking an absurd number of margaritas.

If you are looking for a great fragrance to wear on a trip to Coney Island, pass this one by and look elsewhere.  There are much better choices on the market.

Burberry Brit Rhythm Review


Cardamom, juniper berries, basil, verbena, leather, incense, tonka beans

The Short Story

A fragrance with no reason for existence.

The Long Story

burberry brit rhythm smokeCertain fragrances are made just to keep their companies relevant. If you are Burberry, for example, and Dior, Gucci and Cavalli put a new scent on the market, you have to keep up and release a new one too. This is the case with Burberry Brit Rhythm. It is a fragrance that has no other reason to exist except to keep Burberry’s name relevant on the fragrance counters. Speed to market, tight budgets and risk aversion have shaped Brit Rhythm into what it is: an unmemorable flanker speeding on the highway to oblivion.

Brit Rhythm was conceived as a fragrance inspired by live music.  When I watched the commercial I got the idea that this would probably be a leather centered fragrance with some incense to it.  The rock band, leather jacket, smoke all suggest of something raw, masculine and interesting. I almost expected a scent similar to LM’s Hard Leather or Michaleff’s Royal Vintage or at least a harder version Creed’s Aventus – all excellent fragrances featuring leather and incense. I got nothing of the sort. I didn’t register a leather note at all and the incense was totally muffled by the sweet styrax and tonka notes. Instead of a hard, raunchy, unapologetic scent, I got a generic middle-of-the-road cologne that tries too hard to be something it is not.  Totally uncool.

There are two good reasons why Brit Rhythm is so generic and why it fails to be a good leather-incense fragrance. First, it has to appeal to the masses. The mass appeal means more sales and, after all, this is why Brit Rhythm was released in the first place.


Second, making a good leather-incense fragrance that is mass appeal is very hard.  Leather and incense can smell great but they are not universally liked. The best leather fragrances on the market are mostly liked by fragrance connoisseurs and often hated by the general public. Take Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, for example. It has a fantastic leather note in it, however, most people would turn pale when they smell it.  Even the most popular leather fragrances (e.g. Tuscan Leather) are seen as too raw and raunchy for the mass market. This is especially true for the tween market, which Brit Rhythm seems to target with the live music idea. Imagine a 22-year old college student rocking Tuscan Leather or Cuir Venenum. You have to have real big balls and a I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude to do this.


The average guy neither has the balls, nor the attitude and Burberry knows that. Therefore, it delivers an average fragrance – something fresh on top with a sweet drydown, something that would get you noticed in the bar and safe enough to wear in the office on a casual Friday.

As expected, Brit Rhythm opens with slightly fresh with verbena and juniper berries. They’ve also thrown in some cardamom to give it a roundness and a masculine edge. It’s what you call a textbook structure.  The verbena is almost non-existent and the berries get smothered into the cardamom.  I get them for half a second trying to balance the warm cardamom with their coolness.

From that point on, the tonka bean is king.  You get the typical sweet-spicy smell balanced with some synthetic cedar towards the dry-down.  I can’t help but shrug my shoulders and go to the bathroom to wash off the scent.

Zegna Uomo Review


Bergamot, Violet Leaf, Cedar, Vetiver

The Short Story

A signature scent for men bored with life.

The Long Story

Herber_SmithHerbert Smith’s favourite colour was light beige.  His favourite food was lightly seasoned chicken breast with steamed peas.  He believed in restraint.  Herbert applied this principle in everything he did. He wore light beige shirts and pants, not too big and not too small, always combed his blondish hair the same way and barely spoke to people unless he really had to.  Herbert was a structural engineer and therefore he led a lift with rigid structure.  He got up in the morning at 7:00 AM sharp, took a shower, shaved and brushed his teeth in exactly the same order using exactly the same calculated movements. After that he would eat a plain toast with black coffee and would put on his light beige clothes, which all looked identical.

At work, Herbert would work diligently and found peace in his precisely arranged pencils and paper stacks.  At 5:00 PM sharp, he would leave work and go straight home to have his daily chicken breast and steamed peas.  After that Herbert would a book from a Russian classic and promptly go to bed at 9:00 PM.

To the surprise of the few who paid any attention to Herbert, he wore a cologne.  Not that they could smell it on him often but once in a while they got a whiff of it.  He applied two sprays on each side of his neck and one on the chest.  Not a drop more.

Herbet’s cologne was Zegna Uomo.  


Herbert is the personage I imagine when I smell Zegna’s latest creation.  It is restrained, polite and unnoticeable. It is perfect for accountants, structural engineers, and tax lawyers.

Uomo is an exercise in moderation: citrus, violet leaf, and cedar. The latter two very synthetic at that.  You spray Uomo on and you get a restrained blast of citrus.  Don’t get too excited though.  It quickly dies out and a restrained synthetic violet leaf comes on.  If you are patient enough to wear it for 4 hours, you will also get the synthetic cedar.

In relation to this fragrance Zegna apparently said “You buy a fragrance, you buy a dream.”  I don’t know what kind of dreams Zegna wanted to sell with Uomo but I get a nightmare.  The nightmare of boredom.


Uomo makes me want to sit in a white room and stare at a point in the wall.  It comes from a world where the most exciting thing is finding lint in your pocket.

Zegna Uomo makes me cry. I cry of boredom.  The tears are not coming down my face because they are bored.  I am bored of writing about boring things.  Therefore, this post ends here.

The Art of Smelling Good


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 322 other followers

%d bloggers like this: