Lucky You for Men by Lucky Brand (2000) was part of a new his/hers set launched by the fast fashion mall chain in collaboration with the Claiborne Cosmetics division of Liz Claiborne. This and its sister fragrance ostensibly replaced the ill-received Lucky Brand America’s Favorite Cologne (1997) and Lucky Brand America’s Favorite Eau de Parfum (1997), both done in-house by Lucky Brand and being terribly received. Because Liz Claiborne did the fragrant legwork for Lucky Brand, this was to be sold not just within the Lucky Brand Jeans mall boutiques across the US, but also in pretty much any location where Claiborne fragrances were sold, meaning department stores like Macy’s on down to the big general merchandisers such as Kmart or Target. This cross-pollination had both positive and negative effects on how Lucky You for Women (2000) and Lucky You for Men were received. For starters, Claiborne’s smash hit Curve for Men by Liz Claiborne (1996) had rocketed the brand to the top of the designer heap in ways the women’s counterpart did not; but rather than keep cachet and price for the brand high like Giorgio Armani did for its equally-successful Armani Acqua Di Giò pour Homme (1996), Claiborne went for the fast money by allowing the scent in drugstores and discounters. This rapidly deteriorated the brand status of Claiborne; with every Tom, Dick, and Harry doused in bottles of Curve for Men by the early 2000’s, it was seen as a cheap thrill for desperate low-lifes to score some sexual attention. By being linked to the same distribution method, Lucky You for Men at very least would be perceived the same way in time, but the trade-off was people learning of the jeans brand by discovering the fragrances at their local Wal-Mart or Boscov’s. The smell of Lucky You for Men, which is the primary reason anyone even knows this stuff at all, is actually quite good and fairly memorable but with a catch: This smells like a Curve for Men flanker.
The funny thing here is Liz Claiborne seems to tap Jean-Claude Delville and a cadre of others to work and re-work his DNA in Curve for Men to reproduce the lightning in a bottle that was the original fragrance from the line, but never as proper flankers. Instead, everyone from Olivier Polge and Carlos Benaim to Pascal Guarin and Harry Freemont if not Delville himself have worked the “Curve smell” into 6 successive masculines starting from Claiborne Sport by Liz Claiborne (1997) and continuing on until Realities for Men by Realities (2004) before Claiborne stopped kidding themselves and set about just making flankers to Curve. As one such “non-flanker flanker”, Lucky You for Men has the sweet and aromatic sheer musk profile of Curve for Men, but dressed up with greener elements in the opening, and slightly sharper woody notes in the base. Jean-Claude Delville was stuck on this one and it would be his last retouching of his own work, resulting in something I think is actually a tab better than OG Curve. The thing about Lucky You for Men, was the Lucky Brand Jeans boutiques would pump this through the air ducts in the same way Abercrombie & Fitch later would with Fierce Cologne (2002), so for some, this may actually smell a bit like “Proto-Fierce” and will draw the same “mall smell” connections with its sweet muskiness. As for that muskiness, Lucky Brand claims the use of “special musk molecules” and notes like melilotus herb (sweet clover) and cascarilla. What’s really here is anyone’s guess, but I get a fresh dewy grassy start, fitted with hedione and white florals, tidbits of cashmeran and other sheer musk notes, with Iso E Super and early woody-amber notes bringing sharp pangs of woodiness that can come across like rubbing alcohol with over-spraying. Drop in the sweet fruity fresh fougère DNA of Curve and stir. Performance is good, and projection is more than enough, as the stores which used to pump this through their air ducts scented both their rented space and the next four adjacent stores in the mall.
In my opinion, Lucky You for Men is epitome of “secret weapon” cologne for late teens and early twentysomethings back home in the suburban counties of Maryland, zipping around in their beater Chevy Cavaliers or Ford Escorts, a bottle of this sitting in the center console of their car while Deftones or Stained, on their way to the Recher Theater in Townson to catch some local band, then maybe take someone home. The more urbane types or those into hip hop culture wore spicier things or muskier things often from the Avon catalog if not finding a way to flex with a designer they either snagged from a Ross or pocketed for a five-finger discount from a drugstore, because being seen shopping in a Lucky Brand, A&F, Gap, Express, or similar mall boutique was tantamount to being a total soulless tool. Luckily, the guys actually listening to Tool didn’t seem to care,. and on their way to the next alt-rock concert, they grabbed mini-bottles of Lucky You on the cheap from some end-cap display in Walmart because they knew the girls liked it. Oh boy, did the girls ever like this one too. In my cruising days when I dated across sexual and gender lines, I noticed women often had green bottles of Lucky You for Men, more than they had the pink Lucky You for Women bottles, and their response was invariably that it just smelled so good to them they wore it themselves. Lucky Brand would launch a few other things via Claiborne into the mid 2000’s but for obvious reasons, this is the one that stayed around and hilariously can still be found in their boutiques, even if it is now far too old and out-of-fashion for department stores or even the big box sellers like Target. Discounters get flooded with Lucky You for Men, so getting a bottle cheaper than ever should not be a problem even decades on, so if the greener and slightly woodier (also read: better) side of the Curve phenomenon sounds appealing to you, then lucky you… Thumbs up