We have had black, white, various blue, and even brown editions of Montblanc Legend (2011), some sharing DNA with the original entry and some not, so it was only a matter of time before we received a red one. Lucikly, Montblanc Legend Red (2022) is pretty damn good if you’re a fan of the original, and even carries noticeable callbacks to the original’s design by Olivier Pescheux. Here we see Ann Flipo and Nicholas Beaulieu take up the mantle for the latest entry, after the previous year delivered Montblanc Legend Eau de Parfum (2020); a stronger version of the original that really isn’t stronger and that nobody asked for, thus nobody bought. Red not only adds something new to the line, but feels like a proper flanker to the original, which we haven’t seen since the 2012 limited edition and the abandoned Montblanc Legend Intense (2013). Yeah, there is a bit of referencing regarding other popular fragrances going on here; but seriously folks, when hasn’t Montblanc done a little bit of homework-copying? This is especially true since what wholly-original fragrances they have tried to make get copied by better-financed rivals or just outright fail.
What Montblanc Legend Red seems resolving to do is go up against and tackle both Maison Francis Kurkdjian Amyris Homme (2012) and Polo Red by Ralph Lauren (2013). Honestly, I think it succeeds in doing this because there was a lot to like about Polo Red except for the way it dried down, and Amyris is every bit a gorgeous epitome of fashionable modernity just out of reach for those who would likely otherwise wear it most. If I could have lived in Polo Red’s juicy cranberry and grapefruit over saffron forever, I’d have bought it; but instead it plunges into irritating norlimbanol and amber overdoses disguised as coffee and cedar. Legend Red simply switches out that base for the one from the original Legend sans some of the synth oakmoss, crossed with a bit of the toasted coconut tonka lifted by ambroxan that makes Amyris Homme so wonderful. In short, juicy cranberry and grapefruit with a twist of blood orange, leading into clary sage, jumiper, lavender, and geranium, followed by tonka, cedar, and a soft ambroxan with patchouli touches and whisps of OG Legend. Fantastic! Wear time is on par with the original and Montblanc Legend Spirit (2016), plus is dumb-reach good.
Regardless of what people want to say about Montblanc as a house, one thing that can never be taken away from them is their uncanny ability to seemingly take well-worn ideas and give them a shiny new coat of wax like an automotive detailer, making something old feel welcome again, if not exactly new. This is of course regardless of the perfumer at hand, as we have seen Pierre Bourdon make a more-wearable take on Joop! Homme (1989) with Montblanc Individuel (2003), then Pescheux take every 90’s upscale fresh fougère trope and inject some 2000’s Axe spray populism into them to make the OG Legend, before Aurelian Guichard made Creed Aventus (2010) feel blue-collar relaxed by plucking out the fussy fruity smoky bits with Montblanc Explorer (2019). Legend Red is simply a better Polo Red or a more-accessible Amyris Homme case closed. Either way, there isn’t much to complain about here unless you’re one of those “perfume died in 1990” types; and if that is the case, why on earth are you even reading this review??? Montblanc Legend Red knows its place in the universe, so judge it accordingly. Thumbs up