Those who lived in the 80s cannot fail to remember the rivalry, success, and decline of the two bands that influenced those years' music scene. Many hits by the two New Romantic groups: from The Wild Boys, Save Prayer, The Reflex for Duran Duran, to I'll Fly For You, Gold, True for Spandau Ballet. You may be wondering what this introduction has to do with perfume. Let's take a step back. In those years, I was attending college with my best friend and high school rival. There was a healthy competitive rivalry between us, and we couldn't wear the same perfume; we had to stand out. I first felt it on him in the early 1980s. This stuff blew me away. Since this was his signature, I had to give up and opt for another famous icon, so I chose Cacharel pour L'Homme, which became my signature for that winter of '84, and I forgot about Drakkar. Fast forward to the last day: I saw it on promotion in perfumery and bought it. It is surprisingly fresh, bitter, aromatic, spicy, clean, and manly, and now I'm here to describe it.
I have not used or smelled Drakkar Noir for over thirty years, despite imprinting its olfactory imprint in my memory. So, I will try to describe the feelings that this newer and reformulated version gives me. In the beginning, I am greeted by the complex citrus and soapy accord characteristic of barber colognes. You can perceive the vertiginous notes of lemon and bergamot peels mixed with the more aromatic and green ones of the spikes of lavender, rosemary needles, basil leaves, and bitter artemisia. And mint, a profusion of peppery green leaves. While it's tempting to compare it to gin and tonic, the alcoholic spirit I'm thinking of here is absinthe, especially considering mugwort, which provides a slightly bitter greasiness. Being soapy doesn't mean it must smell too clean. You can sense much more exciting shades.
Despite the sparkling and invigorating opening, at the moment, no memory drawer has been opened containing the message "Hey, this is Drakkar Noir!". So I have to wait a little longer to see if I recognize something more familiar in its evolution. Yet, it is an indisputably aromatic and fougère cologne. The heart, oh yes, the heart. So dusty, spicy, balsamic, and green. It is like a table set for a large gala dinner. A tablecloth of jasmine petals adorns the table, which seats Mr. Garofano, always a bit stubborn but noble, a spicier Mr. Coriander, green as always, the dark Mr. Juniper, very balsamic, and not least the sweet Mr. Cinnamon, spiced to the right point. At the end of the dinner, a beautiful blend of lavender and moss emerges with hints of wood and suede.
Finally, the base includes an intriguing and complex mix of some resinous, woody, and herbaceous notes. One of the most distinguishable notes is spruce, which offers the freshness of pine needles. Meanwhile, earthy patchouli, moist oakmoss, and refreshing cedarwood are also featured. I am really getting the sap and the resin than the heart, which was relatively balmy. I feel all those spices and alcoholism of absinthe created this almost oozing and oily flavor that adapts perfectly to the skin—bitter herbal and aromatic fougère.
In terms of performance, this is a bitter, aromatic fougère, with a pretty decent sillage, it leaves a trace but is a bit limited. And longevity, expect half a day of performing here. You will need to refresh it right after. Drakkar Noir is a fragrance best suited for colder climates, autumn, and winter in terms of seasonality. Therefore, it probably wouldn't work very well in hot weather. I think it's too balmy, too thick, and would probably be a little stuffy if worn outside on a hot summer day. It's perhaps an evening or nighttime fragrance. Still, it could also be worn in the daytime, especially since, in terms of occasion, I believe it is very much an office fragrance, not offensive or intrusive. The modern Drakkar Noir is still a glorious and legendary fragrance, even though I'm missing the oakmoss bombshell. Yet, I am grateful that it is still around, albeit light years away from the original version.
This review bases on a 100ml (3.4 fl. oz) bottle I own since January 2021.