Perfume critic Persolaise pulls no punches when it comes to this year’s sport-themed men’s fragrances
The concept of men’s “sport” fragrances has always been one fraught with contradictions. After all, it’s pretty strange that a scent should be designed to go with an activity in which either the participants couldn’t care less about how everyone else smells or the fact that sweat, grass, mud and various other elements completely drown out the odour of any sartorial efforts anyone may have made.
In addition to being mislabelled, many of these fragrances completely avoid the factors that have compelled people to indulge in sporting activities since the days when primitive humans devised the offside rule. At the heart of almost all sports – no matter how good-natured they may be – lies competitiveness. Their whole point is to measure who is better, who’s got the edge and who’s exceptional? The same can’t be said of sport scents – hardly any of them seem even remotely interested in standing out from their rivals. In fact, most appear wilfully determined to blend into the background as much as possible. Not the attitude you’d associate with going for gold.
Speaking of shiny metals, there’s a certain sporting contest taking place in London later this year, and sure enough, the major perfume houses have responded with a clutch of athletically-themed releases. Sadly, few of them are likely to break any records or go down in the history books.
Thierry Mugler have given us A*Men Pure Shot which, they say, evokes the sensation of adrenaline coursing through the body. In reality, its invigorating pepper note lasts less than a few seconds, after which it is dominated by an antarctically glacial mint and a strident medicinal accord. Dolce & Gabbana’s The One Sport is a generic, woody mix of the sort you’ve smelt several times before. And Issey Miyake’s L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme Sport is merely a lighter, more translucent version of the original, with a stronger emphasis on grapefruit. All three are competent pieces of work… but you need more than competence to cross the finishing line before everyone else.
Not to be outdone, Team Chanel have taken 2004’s Allure Homme Sport, added a strong, musky-woody base and called the result Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme. Like almost all scents bearing the double-C logo, it’s well put-together, but in its attempt to be hard-hitting and tenacious, it diminishes the vitality of what was a perfectly decent, cologne-style original.
Thankfully, we have Dior Homme Sport. When it was released in 2008, it provided much-needed proof that it is possible to make a fresh masculine fragrance without resorting to all the usual clichés of spices and cheap aftershave. DHS took the original floral accord of Dior Homme and coloured it a shade of bright, Côte d’Azure yellow by adding ginger and vibrant citrus fruit. The result was an irrepressible burst of energy which, for once, justified the GT-style trimmings that seem to be obligatory on all bottles of sport scents.
Dior have just tweaked its formula – the iris component is now somewhat more prominent – but they haven’t altered the scent’s core, which means it can once again take to the podium as the undisputed winner ... although, frankly, no-one’s really given it a run for its money.
Chanel Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme is £46 for 50ml, available at Selfridges; Dior Homme Sport is £41 for 50ml, Dolce & Gabbana The One Sport is £42 for 50ml, both available at Escentual.com; Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Shot is £48 for 100ml, available in June from Escentual.com; Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme Sport is £38.50 for 50ml available on April 16th at Debenhams.
Persolaise is a Jasmine Award-winning writer and fragrance critic. He is currently working on a perfume book, due to be published later this year. For more of his writing, please visit www.persolaise.com.