With autumn fast approaching, I was inspired to pick this one up as a daily-use alternative to my ever-waning partial of Gucci Pour Homme. True, I never expected it to be a carbon copy of Almairac’s original creation, but the fact that it’s received so many accolades since its release certainly coloured my optimism. In the end, I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.
Immediately from the first spray, I get a creamy cedar and sandalwood – a bit muted if I’m honest – but it only takes about 15 seconds for the ginger and frankincense to appear in full force. Compared with GPH, the cedar note is virtually identical – dry, arid, almost powdery and certainly not the sappy, piney kind you might find at a lumber yard, nor the rum-soaked pet-store variety dominating the majority of Bentley For Men Intense. Within a few minutes, the combination of incense and papyrus begin to form the same cumin-esque accord I also get from GPH on my skin. To the untrained nose, the effect is somewhat analogous to mild body odour, yet not exactly unappealing, nor very potent.
In fact, beyond the settling of the incense, ginger and creamy woods into an almost-sweet amber in the drydown, there isn’t much development to the fragrance at all. Within 30 minutes, it’s basically a skin scent and I don’t get any of the pink pepper, oud or moss. From top to bottom, the whole thing feels like it sits incredibly close to the skin (standard for a base-heavy composition) and most of the spiciness, including the quasi-cumin accord aren’t in the sillage at all. Yet, despite the 7-8 hours of longevity, the projection remains the most wonderfully peculiar and unpredictable aspect of the fragrance.
Sometimes, it seems like BFMA stops projecting at the 1 hour mark. At others, I’ll suddenly get a generous waft of that wonderfully creamy, incensed wood from 2 feet at the 3 hour mark. Several minutes later, another hint of an unexpectedly simple, yet sexy skin-like woody amber. As I go in for a close sniff, it's clear that the entire fragrance in its full, spicy splendor is still there; yet, in the projection and sillage, random assortments of notes seem to present themselves at will, varying with skin temperature and atmospheric humidity.
It’s a peculiarity for sure, yet it certainly doesn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the stuff. There’s just something incredibly attractive about its humility, its discreet aptitude – a modest portrait of the strong and silent type. If PdM's Galloway is the smell of a sawblade burning through wood, BFMA is the carpenter's workshop - a dense, full bodied aroma of freshly made furniture. No, it’s not nearly as complex as GPH, nor as potent, but therein lies its relaxing and simplistic charm. I can absolutely understand why some people would consider it an introvert’s muse – a fragrance for personal reflection, not ostentation.
Nevertheless, I can also imagine that for others, the overall experience of BFMA might be rather underwhelming. Composed of almost exclusively mid and base notes, the effect is more like a woody secretion produced naturally by the skin rather than an outright perfume that announces one's arrival. It’s understated; basic; perhaps even leaning synthetic in the drydown; and despite being a very decent representation of GPH up close, the projection can be weak, lacking resolution and bafflingly inconsistent.
But the fact is that I love it to bits. To me, it’s a fragrance to wear when I don’t feel like wearing a fragrance - you know, those days when less is more, when intimacy reigns, and silence is golden. Would I recommend it? Yes I wood. Pun intended. Especially now, with the average life-span of formulations approaching 2 years, sooner is always better than later once demand settles at discounters. And for the steadfast GPH fan, who knows when the next decent smell-alike will ever appear? Almairac? Parle moi.
Batch: 104526G19 (Tester)