If ever there was a perfect example of the essence of Monsieur Saint Laurent, the Saint Laurent La Collection of milestone fragrances would be it. Clean, dark & moody, minimalist – it’s a sublime and simplistic tribute to a range of fragrances that transport the man from avant-garde and provocative to disruption and sensual tension.
POUR HOMME (1971)
A pop of citrus with a controlled sweetness of mint vibrates on a grounded base of oak moss. It’s an aromatic experience that hardly requires much effort and expects extreme levels of enjoyment. The first of its kind from Yves Saint Laurent, POUR HOMME was designed and created to unveil a quest for desire and desirability by a man who lives for the beauty of being. In part, the beginning of a new chapter in the brand’s life, what with the controversial advertising that accompanied it – Yves Saint Laurent photographed nude by Jeanloup Sieff – POUR HOMME was set to leave no otherworldly questions unasked.
Picture a man with minute materialistic intentions living a life of grandeur. A man with such immense power all exerted through a slimly defined figure. He is poised and in control, vulnerable as he bears his soul without a fear of judgement. Such is the POUR HOMME man. A man envisioned by Saint Laurent and brought to life today through this deeply masculine and sophisticated fragrance of elegance – YSL POUR HOMME.
You’re about four beats into the song; you realize your snaps are a beat ahead of your feet’s tapping and a bit behind your heart’s beat. You don’t stop. The actions seem out of sync but the rhythm is still on point. Just over a minute and a half into it all and this moment takes a turn in the opposite direction. What you’re experiencing can only be cited as JAZZ – the House of Yves Saint Laurent Fragrance’s second amalgamation of creativity and life. Only this time in 1988, YSL’s follow-up fragrance to POUR HOMME takes on a much more musical personality.
JAZZ by House of YSL Fragrances arrives as a paradox. A twisted composition of simple notes that make up a complex emotion of smell for a man who sometimes battles self in the eternal quest for masculinity in a world that continually grants femininity full access. Much like many true great jazz numbers, the underlying virility is pungent and well carried by the note of coriander. The scent makes swirl or sweep perhaps, into a deeper scope of floral with the inclusion of geranium. The fragrance’s singular and most consistent note is the patchouli, much somber and mysterious, it illustrates a sense of inner wealth in a scent made rich in culture and multi-ethnicity of the time it was originally born of.
M7 OUD ABSOLU (2002)
In the early 2000s fashion had seen a quiet storm around sexuality and man’s identity come to the fore. With men dressing to their best and facing a new era of being known as metrosexuals; the House of Yves Saint Laurent Fragrances was brewing their own war. Or maybe we should call it a victory. Donned as the company’s ‘climax to man’s liberation in his relationship with the body and sexuality’, House of YSL Fragrances’ most direct and expressive scent for men was born – M7 OUD ABSOLU.
The third step in the brand’s ladder of decadent smells comes as a package of bottled excess. Rich in character, body and style it packs a range of premium ingredients that create an alluring deep unambiguous presence. Held together in its core by the 2010 restyled oud wood which gives off an enriched and brilliant mineral freshness, M7 OUD ABSOLU hints roots of spicy amber and balm with a quirky and tenacious top opening of mandarin. Evidently, the M7 OUD ABSOLU man has raw virility and sensuality that makes him equally desirable and dangerous.
RIVE GAUCHE POUR HOMME (2003)
“Everything a man can dream of being, everything a partner may expect from their man.”
– House of Yves Saint Laurent Fragrances
In 2003 when the House of Yves Saint Laurent Fragrances developed RIVE GAUCHE POUR HOMME little did anyone know their fourth would be an icon of a man past taboos. Stepping into the world showing gentleness through strength he reinforces the scents of patchouli and deep and sensual Gaiac wood through his sense of power in a silent display of control over all matters – male or female. His unquestionable elegance is only rivalled by the infusions of lavender and oak moss in the fragrance’s top notes. What implodes in this moment is a dual battle between sweet surrenders and carnal sensualities. RIVE GAUCHE POUR HOMME almost takes on the role of the woman and exalts masculine pride through a semblance of reassuring but unbridled strength.
This collection is one of those items I covet, knowing very well I will not be disappointed. The four cult fragrances: POUR HOMME, JAZZ, M7 OUD ABSOLU, and RIVE GAUCHE POUR HOMME embody extreme elegance, traces of power and a strong stamp of virility.