Avon Uomo by Avon (2000)

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The term “Uomo” is usually reserved for Italian fashion or fragrance houses, as the Italianate nomenclature usually denotes some authenticity of culture, so seeing Avon co-op it in this day and age may be construed as cultural appropriation. However, we had barely left the 20th century when they delivered Avon Uomo (2000) to the doorsteps of the Avon faithful in the US, and I don’t think this was released anywhere else in the world; so most people just took it in stride without doing any sort of double-takes about if Avon should be doing it since the brand is not from Italy. The scent of Avon Uomo itself delivered the prospects of something old married to something new, and presented itself as a green masculine chypre with ambery bits that took more than a bit of inspiration from Guerlain Coriolan (1998). Avon probably didn’t realize that Coriolan would be seen as behind the times and would become a loss leader for Guerlain when they copied Jean-Paul’s homework and gave it the usual left-of-center Avon twist, but ultimately I think better of Avon Uomo and reach for it more, so I guess it worked out. Avon has always been about iterative design anyway, whether they are riffing off their own past work or someone else’s, with each new take on a theme creating something that seems like progress if not for the fact they usually continue with themes decades out of vogue in what I can only guess is an attempt to appease their old instilled customer base along with new ones. In this instance, I’m talking about men’s aromatic chypres, all but dead by the 21st century, outside of the Avon catalog.

Avon Uomo storms out of the gate with a similar opening to Coriolan, itself meant to be a lighter and fresher sequel to Guerlain Derby (1985), a legendary doomed masculine leather with fanatical fans and ridiculous aftermarket prices. If Coriolan was a fresher and greener kid brother to Derby, then Avon Uomo was a soapier, and more ambery cousin of Coriolan disowned from the family. I guess that last bit should earn it co-ownership from Nicholai Parfumeur Createur, but I digress. Juniper, bergamot, and basil come forth in the first moments of Avon Uomo, with galbanum, geranium, cedar, and patchouli entering a heart with a savon feel similar to Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955), likely from some aromachemicals. Avon Uomo asserts its leather with isobutyl quinoline in a sour way, mixed with labdanum, oakmoss, a “cypress” note that feels like a woody material like Iso E Super, and Avon’s patent amber accord. The kind of amber here is not super musky, but more on the earthy side, while the musk is handled by the labdanum, some cashmeran, and feels sheer. Coriolan is much lighter on its feet and devoted to the Guerlinade floating in the ether of its own chypre base, while Avon Uomo goes for the ambery musky warmth underpinning the leathery soapy effluvium that ends up defining the experience. In 2000, there were scents similar in tone to this like Carven Homme (1999), and Gucci Envy for Men (1998), that Avon Uomo didn’t feel entirely outdated, but it was a relic with that heavy leather soap and ambery bottom end, at least until Tom Ford made it cool again. Best use is as a signature, in most seasons save summer.

Avon Uomo is nothing if not versatile and agreeable, perhaps in every situation both play time and work time, save maybe the dead heat of summer when something lighter is better. Style-wise, this isn’t going to be of much interest to anyone outside of those who have a taste for those late 90’s through early 2000’s revival of green smells that acted as a last hurrah before the blue juices once again lay their death grips on the market (of which they still have yet to let go). Most of the alumni surrounding Avon Uomo is long discontinued and costs exorbitant amounts on eBay (including Coriolan), so I guess just as Avon was then, Avon Uomo nowadays may be seen as a poor man’s alternative to pricier treasures out of reach. Once again, I think Avon Uomo is better than that, as it feels heavier and more substantial than most things still trying to toy with green aromatic leather or woody-musky accords at that time. Avon Uomo has better performance than most things I named above except maybe Envy, and I actually prefer it to Coriolan because the amber and leather patchouli base is tuned in a way I find more satisfying, although it is nowhere near as sophisticated. I’m sure you don’t need to be told that Avon is typically about as refined as your average Bogart fragrance, as in it’s not. Still, there is a lot to love here, and although prices on this one also continue to climb, it is at the much smaller ratio to original cost that discontinued Avons usually increase because again, this is Avon. Nobody wants this stuff outside of house fans, and there are few of those in the online fragrance community. Definitely worth a sniff! Thumbs up

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