L’Homme Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent (2022) is the first flanker in a while that actually seems to make sense, despite there being so many which come and quickly go, to the point of not even being worth looking into before they’re already gone and scalped on eBay. Between L’Homme Parfum Intense by Yves Saint Laurent (2013) and L’Homme Le Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent (2020), one gets the notion that the heads at L’Oréal didn’t really know what to do with an “intense” variation of the best-selling but venerable L’Homme by Yves Saint Laurent (2006) DNA. The first option was a bit of a challenging piece in the spirit of old Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrances (all discontinued) that mixed in orange blossom and animalic musks (in this case davana) to make a contrast you either loved or loathed. Since L’Oréal is in the heartless game of squeezing every last drop of blood money out of its owned fragrance marquees, that wasn’t going to last. They tried again in 2020 with the blue-tinged Le Parfum, a less-divisive scent to be sure and having a callback to the 10th Anniversary flanker and fan favorite (but sadly-discontinued) L’Homme Ultime by Yves Saint Laurent (2016). That scent seemed a bit too boring and indistinct, so it too was chopped.
Now we see L’Homme Eau de Parfum, with a note pyramid and juice color not entirely unlike that of the original Parfum Intense, but with orange blossom swapped for bitter orange (bigarade), and boozy notes replacing the musky/leathery davana. I think the “Goldilocks approach” of being somewhere between distinctive and mass-appealing is where L’Oréal is trying to tread with this one, and it works probably the best out of all them so far. Now I don’t know who worked on this, because L’Oréal seems unbothered to even list perfumers anymore if they’re even using real ones and not AIs with Human proofreaders, but it feels like Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo, and the late Pierre Wargnye at least had their work studied if they didn’t participate. This flanker grafts the apple and ginger notes onto the bitter orange and lavender/geranium core of the original L’Homme, and even has its ethyl maltol sweetness, ambroxan lift, and tonka. Boozy cognac notes and boosted woodiness with some nondescript amber fuzz warm up and beef up the base, making this a richer wear. Performance is longer, heavier, more ambery, but not necessarily louder. I’d like to think L’Homme Eau de Parfum makes a better cold weather option than the OG, but otherwise is cut from the same cloth.
If this had been released back in 2013 instead of Parfum Intense, it might still be on the market, or then again, it might not because L’Oréal is so cruelly fickle about its market direction with brands for which it produces fragrance. If you don’t sell a mile-a-minute without slowing down, and don’t clear out inventory within the season you are introduced, you are brutally cancelled like a Netflix show by the brand, destined to be some overzealous FragBro’s new unicorn obsession. So it goes with many a L’Homme and La Nuit de L’Homme by Yves Saint Laurent (2009) flanker, and with over 20 of them now, you could almost complete an entire wardrobe with them. Still, by rights this should have been and should remain the more-intense and step-up option in the L’Homme range, as it feels right, smells balanced, and doesn’t come across contrived or gimmicky. Is L’Homme Eau de Parfum a must-buy? Certainly not; but neither is the original L’Homme to be fair, as someone could just as easily wear Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss (1998) or Chanel Allure Homme (1999) and get a similar effect, meaning L’Homme wasn’t even super revolutionary when new. L’Homme Eau de Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent is the intense flanker we probably didn’t know we wanted all along, arriving a decade late. Thumbs up