Signature pour Homme by Zaharoff (2018) is a fairly impressive effort in men’s fragrance from George Zaharoff, a self-styled men’s fashion impresario from the US who has never really gone global with his brand like Tom Ford or Calvin Klein, but has nonetheless garnered a cult of loyal customers. Following in the footsteps of his mother Mariana Zaharoff, one-time tailor to the stars who made many one-off couture pieces under the “MZ Zaharoff” label, George Zaharoff keeps his creations a little more numerous than one-of-one, but still relatively low-volume. He initially sold only out of Nordstrom, then his own Chicago boutique (taking over the Marilyn Miglin space there in 2012), until the COVID-19 pandemic killed off his only self-branded physical retail footprint in the States, going back to Nordstrom and a few licensed resellers globally. His fragrances have had roller-coaster fortunes as well, since Signature pour Homme is a reconstruction and modification of his original fragrance, Zaharoff pour Homme (1999), itself lasting only two years on the market initially. Brought back once in 2008, then gone again when fortunes once again turned southward, the original Claud Dir formula of Zaharoff pour Homme was allegedly created to replace Escada pour Homme (1993), but was lost by the perfumer, giving opportunity to use chromatography to analyze (then alter the formula) of surviving bottles George possessed. From this exercise, we get Signature pour Homme.
So the thing about this fragrance is, it smells like a lot of different things to a lot of different people, because love it or hate it, Signature pour Homme is a complex multi-headed chimera born of an alteration to formula based on a GCMS scan of a lost fragrance meant to emulate the original vintage formula of another lost fragrance. Confused yet? So here we have soapy and creamy late 80’s/early 90’s semi-oriental fougère grafted onto a base of modern leather and synthetic oud nuances, with “blue fragrance” top and heart notes dispersed throughout, yielding a scent that smells fresh and modern in fits and starts, but also traditionally masculine, before finally settling on slightly-smoky aromatics with incense under it all. As an intended signature fragrance from someone who seems to have a refined palate and the money to commission people like Claude Dir to make their fragrances, Signature pour Homme is indeed sophisticated, unerringly masculine, versatile, and feels right at home in most situations or seasons. This is said to be a wet-shaver’s favorite, no doubt because Zaharoff has on-again-off-again sold wet shaving accessories scented like this stuff too, and it doesn’t seem out of place alongside things like Azzaro pour Homme (1978) and Rive Gauche pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent (2003). Performance is pretty good and will last the day, and the stuff sticks to a shirt collar virtually forever, so I think you get your money’s worth in that regard despite the fairly high price per ounce for the fragrance; you won’t find discounts due to the ultra-tight distribution either.
On the down side, the usual alpha-male douche-bros that confuse their bank account and dead-lift amounts with having a personality have flocked to this fragrance, like they basically do anything promising the smell of success and superiority to the “beta cucks” they imagine shoving into high school gym lockers or giving hanging wedgies to as if they stopped mentally maturing at 16; so you have to waft through an inordinate amount of shallow self-centered garbage to get any real honest opinions on this one from other people, particularly if YouTube and Facebook are your preferred haunts. Additionally, people owning things like Maison Francis Kurkdjian masculin Pluriel (2014) may find something like Signature pour Homme a bit redundant, as it goes in a similar lavender over leathery-incense and clean patchouli vibe. Most folks I know only want one high-priced blazer-and-tie kind of scent like this, and although the price-per-milliliter is in favor of the Zaharoff over the MFK, the shaky limited distribution is not. Some folks might not want to be worried about replacing their Zaharoff Signature pour Homme in the same way George was forced to replace his Escada. That said, this is a solid, eminently-wearable effort; and although I find George’s courting of influencers and the “cool kids club” spectacle it creates to be embarrassing, I can’t in good conscience say he doesn’t know what he’s doing where the creative direction on his main line is concerned. Get a sample before blind-buying at these prices, but otherwise be optimistic about this one. Thumbs up