How many memories, how many emotions. In the era of the transition from the 80s to the 90s, Kenzo Pour Homme suddenly appeared, a woody-aquatic going against the grain and, despite having been dimmed by his predecessors as Davidoff Cool Water, a more fougère-aquatic, it still offered a comparable but freakish experience. And it is one of the few aquatic fragrances for men that have survived since the early 90s. Kenzo pour Homme takes me back in time, it was a late winter evening, and with some buddies, we were having fun in a club. When the waiter brought the order, he approached me, and a fresh, airy, watery, herbaceous and floral cloud enveloped me. I remember that for a moment, I was stunned by that sensation hitherto unknown, and when I recovered my senses, I asked the waiter what perfume he wore. "Kenzo Pour Homme, do you like it?" And the next day I ran to the perfumery to buy it.
Kenzo Pour Homme is so wildly different that I love it though. It's distant, abstract, desolate at times. It alternates between a precise representation of the sea, sand, seaweed, seawater, and everything else in between, and the curve towards the wild abstract. Just close your eyes and imagine a wood on the seashore. Kenzo Pour Homme captures the ocean in all of its murky, saline glory, kind of like a stormy night on the beach.
Since I don't have the most recent version, my review bases on memories of the original, which are still vivid if I imagine smelling the bottle cap. The opening is challenging. If you like l'Eau d'Issey Miyake, another Asian inspired scent, you'll be fine here, not because they have a similar smell. Rather the opening is profoundly disrupting, and both are androgynous. More, this is nothing like Bvlgari Aqva, a pure ocean with amber seaweed, nor CH Chic, a more melon aquatic calone. Don't think of a tropical beach but one on the cold baltic. Kenzo Pour Homme is no salty, fishy seaweed smell, sometimes rank, but a marine smell akin to human skin that has been heated by the sun and coated by salt water from the ocean. You'll detect the green bamboo leaves blending with soft bergamot, not too much lemon and a tad of aromatic sage. A few people say it smells like a mix of medicinal balm for muscle pain, brine, rubber and fleeting petroleum perhaps, a strangely real plastic bucket filled with seawater, like the kind in which a child would have kept her toys on the beach. If you are familiar with Mauboussin brand and ever had a chance to smell Pour Lui Time Out limited edition, that's it, the same vibe with the oceanic smell.
The fragrance then dextrously switches into a burst of flowers which destroys the stereotypes of the scent nicely. Opulent notes of jasmine support the creamy nature of the lily-of-the-valley. There is a very soft rose, and carnation petals that blend with the odour of iodine, a bit earthy, and rubber sneaks in the background along with a certain salty tinge, allegedly the ozone accord. I feel a lot of the juniper and the carnation. The latter has a peculiar dark green, bronze-like, metallic aroma. Instead, I did not catch the iris.
While the dry-down advances, a solid base enters the fray, with musk and moss leading the charge. The smutty oceanic notes are still present, along with the flowers, and now it has a musky power that dries. It's deep, is rich, earthy. There are notes of wood but very soft, the sandal is creamy and delicate, as well as cedar. The floral notes never go away. Neither does the iodine, phenolic and salty air note. The original version was amber based, and as far as I remember it was not an ambroxan bomb à la Dior Sauvage.
The performance was superb, I was about all day into the scent, and it was still chugging along strong. Maybe too much for the office since the sillage and projection were enormous, it suited better casual days. A cold season gem, during warm Spring and hot Summer nights out, it was terrific, and even when it was raining. Moisture intensifies the scent even more.
I think it has reason to stay on the shelves for a long time. A historic perfume but it is not yet time to retire in my opinion! It has to be one of the boldest and most creative scents out on the market. Sorry kiddies, this one isn't for you. You have to have an open mind and understand the art of perfumery to appreciate it. I think I wore it long ago, too long, and maybe it's time to repurchase it, after nearly 30 years.
Stay well; stay healthy.