Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 FiFi Awards Special Part 2: Fragrance of the Year - Men's Luxe

This year's finalists for Men's Luxe FotY lean in the clean direction, but there is an obvious diversity when it comes to the classic families between woods, greens, etc., meaning that this year's award will be highly trend-conscious.

As I've said in the previous post, I have not sampled all of the finalists but I'm still willing to make predictions based on note palettes and a series of reviews, comparing them to likewise reviews of samples of I have smelled. My post on the finalists will be a bit brief in light of this as well. And one last note, my prediction for the winner doesn't necessarily mean I personally prefer it myself because I don't have all my "notes" in order, so to speak. Ha!

Here's the lineup:

2012 Finalists - Fragrance of the Year - Men's Luxe
  • Armani Code Sport
  • Gucci Guilty Pour Homme
  • John Varvatos * U.S.A.
  • L'Homme Libre, Yves Saint Laurent
  • Un Jardin Sur Le Toit, Hermes

My Take

Armani's Code Sport is the definitive sport category fragrance in the running, and its bevy of mint top notes are a testament to that. What makes Code Sport interesting are its hints of ginger and vetiver, allowing some spiciness and richness to permeate what would otherwise be a humdrum wash-aquatic sport fragrance.

Gucci Guilty Pour Homme has a certain sex appeal, and there is no doubt about it. It may not have versatility like many great fragrances, but for what it is, Guilty Pour Homme stands on its own. Having a perfumed wood cedar base decorated with more bathing style higher notes (lavender, orange flower) is a bit unorthodox for today's masculine fragrance but there is a certain bond between the notes that allows Guilty Pour Homme to be manly and wearable.

On paper John Varvatos' * (Star) U.S.A. appears to have an identity crisis with the mixing of ginger, spruce, cardamom, tonka, and others, but it has solidified itself as an original with a modest fan base. It has been likened to a spicy, leathery, wood fragrance that has a juicy underbody which fools the smeller into thinking there might be a tone of citrus.

All too often patchouli and leather notes underscore fragrances a bit too much, but the makeup of YSL's L'Homme Libre make both base notes work with the fragrance as a whole and give it an evened out, all-day sensation. This is likely attributed to the pink pepper, violet leaf, and basil, which are all bright scents and yet have a parallel smooth undertone like leather.

Un Jardin Sur Le Toit by Hermes is a masterful green scent with bursting, yet refined, fruit. Grass, magnolia, and rose give a perfumed energy to the more gourmand scents of pear and apple. The one drawback of this fragrance is that while it is labelled as unisex, it is arguably more feminine than masculine (This is an example of why I believe there should be at least one unisex category in the FiFis)

Argent's Top Three


L'Homme Libre, Yves Saint Laurent


John Varvatos * U.S.A.


Gucci Guilty Pour Homme


This year will be a tough call for the FiFi in Men's Luxe. All five finalists are refined, clean fragrances but each one is quirky and highly unconventional in its own way. The deciding factor will be captivation, and I believe my top three all have that quality. The only thing that separates 1st, 2nd, and 3rd is the degree of originality vs. versatility, and I believe that Gucci Guilty Pour Homme's lack of versatility is made up for with presence and originality. It's hard to please everybody, especially enthusiasts who prefer versatility, but that's my honest take on the finalists this year.

We'll see who ends up taking home the trophies tonight, any of the finalists deserve to win!

Good luck out there and go get 'em Jane. You may just potentially be the best FiFi host(ess) of all time!

Stay tuned for my FiFi wrap-up posts including a look at the winners in other categories, my take on the Men's Fragrance Hall of Fame winner, hopes and dreams for fragrances in the future, and a brief look at some of the fragrance that have already debuted in 2012 which may have FiFi 2013 on the horizon.

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