I talked a lot about the whole evolution of the “ambroxan bomb” along thicker, more oriental-themed lines in my review for the original Emporio Armani Stronger With You (2017), how it was the “next step” up from scents like Azzaro Wanted (2016) which introduced norlimbanol in an incense context versus being used as a “wood” like in scents such as Dior Sauvage (2015), and I was quite pleased with Armani’s results. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about this flanker, but par for the course it seems to be. All told, 2019 has seen this whole craze of ambrox-overdosed masculines reach a deafening crescendo, mostly manifesting as flanker after flanker, or even flanker of a flanker, with everything from tonka to patchouli being tossed in alongside the ambroxide-fueled madness to make even thicker, denser, and more painfully-linear fragrances that just roundhouse kick you in the face with aromachemical density. Emporio Armani Stronger With You Intensely (2019) could have ended up like any number of those, and been yet another insufferable foghorn like Jimmy Choo Urban Hero (2019), Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb Nightvision (2019), Yves Saint Laurent Y Live (2019) or Armani’s own Acqua di Giò Absolu Instinct (2019) from the Giorgio Armani line, but thankfully the bean counters at Armani had more sense than that. How much more sense than that is up to you, but I don’t think this flanker really stands up to the original nor really does anything offensive either, so it’s kind of just “there” to snag in enough sales to justify the R&D before another trend arrives to smash it into discontinuation in my opinion.
The biggest difference between this flanker and the original Emporio Armani Stronger With You is the dialing back of the ambroxan and norlimbanol to levels almost unnoticeable (a good thing), but the dialing up of sweetness to levels you can’t ignore (a bad thing), with a few key note switches that peg this less of an oriental and more of a gourmand kind of thing. Granted, if you like sweet candy gourmands with a load of spicy notes, you may appreciate this a lot, but it’s not really my bag because that style doesn’t work for me. The original Emporio Armani Stronger With You is in there underneath these changes, and the scent opens as before with pink pepper and violet leaf, but the cardamom is gone in exchange for a sweet juniper reminiscent of the L’Occitane’s Eau de Cade (2014). From there, we get the original’s sage joined by a sweet lavender, caramel toffee note, and cinnamon, establishing a gourmand accord. The base is actually more tonka than ambroxan in this one, but the sweetness never goes to that weird Kool-Aid place some others with tonka and ambrox together seem to go, but instead remains more pastry-like with vanilla, amber, and just a smidgen of suede that you’ll feel only very late in the wear. This is an eau de parfum so projection isn’t huge, but the scent will last, and is best used in winter for romantic gatherings. Any other time you wear Emporio Armani Stronger With You Intensely might make you seem like too much of a “cologne guy” or try-hard, as there is no chill with the amount of opacity here.
My opinion of Emporio Armani Stronger With You Intensely is that this comes across like the gourmand cousin to the original, but boy do you gotta love some sweet to get behind this one. As mentioned before, I like the sweet of the original because it’s modulated by more aromatic things, but here it’s just too heavy and almost like a clubber fragrance with de-fanged projection. Fans of Paco Rabanne 1 Million (2008) or niche scents like Serge Lutens Chergui (2001) might find some kinship in this as I feel like it sits between those two but with splashes of the original Emporio Armani Stronger With You DNA running throughout, making it feel like the flanker it’s supposed to be. The chemical edges are a bit smoother here too so the blending and redolence overall is an upgrade from the original pillar of this line, but the cookie shop gourmand vibe stapled onto the patent 2010’s ambrox bomb framework is the furthest thing from something I’d enjoy wearing as I was a never fan of the former to begin with, and the latter is judged case-by-case. Ultimately, this is another flanker that may just go unnoticed by the masses because on top of being more of the same with a small tweak as this style seems to go, it also isn’t heavily marketed or widely available outside Europe or Armani boutiques. Y Live by Yves Saint Laurent is another such “under the radar” kind of flanker that hasn’t gotten much push, and I am starting to wonder if these things are becoming increasingly regional in distribution, or if houses test smaller markets before optioning for global releases of flankers anymore. If you’re a fan of the first one and get a chance to sniff it, go in with an open mind, but don’t get your hopes up. Neutral.