Bel Ami was launched in 1986 by Hermès. The fragrance was originally created by Jean-Louis Sieuzac. The scent was updated by Jean-Claude Ellena in recent years.

The company say:

Irresistibly charming and masculine. An audacious mix of cardamom, amber, patchouli and leather

Bel Ami fragrance notes

  • Head

    • lemon
  • Heart

    • ylang-ylang, iris, cardamom, amber
  • Base

    • vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, leather

Where to buy

Latest Reviews of Bel Ami

In my very late teens and early twenties I worked in the warehouse, order picking, it was a small operation and they allowed you to tootle about as fast as you wanted on these motorised pallet order picker (Linde N20, if you are going to Google what they are). I was in my little element. I could switch off and go about my day. Got so good they offered me a part time post that I could do between college. As I said it was a small company and they had about 15 of us doing this in shifts and we became quite close, as I was the youngest, I became coffee and tea boy (not a problem everyone apart from me drank ‘builders tea’). There was one older man (I wouldn’t now say he was ‘old as he was just in his 50s) there who we all called ‘Prof’ because of the way he spoke (well and on the cusp of RP) - thing about Prof was he was a massive metal fan he loved all the heaviest shit (this was before Black/Dark Metal had taken off it was a very little underground thing that was meagrely mentioned in Kerrrang! and Metal Hammer.

Apart from Metal music Prof had an air about him that leant toward fastidiousness and a certain gentleman's poise and presentation. A Gentleman and that in way is how I see this scent.

This is a scent for Gentlemen, not men, not a masculine, not a boy’s scent. Like Terre d’Hermes or Chanel Egoiste this is a Gentleman’s scent.

The man who wears this would not be able to name a single Instagram model, no idea what a Kardashian is, has a favourite novelist, a presentation to shame the devil has a vinyl collection of different surprising musical genres; a small library of books both fiction and non-fiction on display and a refined taste in tailoring, personal grooming and kinky sex

Drives a pristine car with enough power to escape the city but smooth and quiet enough not to wake the neighbours.

I really like this and will have a bottle of this soon enough, and when I’m say five years older will wear this with aplomb.
13th February 2023
I found a mini vintage, presumably from the 80s or so... Leather perfume, the successor of Equipage (the first Hermes for men), opens with citrus, cardamom and sage but the base made up of leather and a combination of patchouli and resins (styrax, I don't know...). Once the initial phase has passed, the citrus fruits have vanished, the spice of the cardamom tends to persist and to be accompanied by a woody and floral smell which can perhaps be traced back, according to the pyramid, to the heart of cedar-carnation-jasmine-basil. It is useless, in my opinion, to try to break down the perfume into individual notes, it doesn't make much sense. The result is still a nice scent, definitely masculine but not aggressive or cheeky, nor flashy or metrosexual. Bel Amie is an elegant and very elegant perfume, well balanced because you don't hear a single jarring note in the olfactory symphony, no note dominates the others but they all remain more or less perceptible during the course of its evolution. However, his being so polite makes me think that I would like to hear it on a woman, perhaps precisely because I don't feel it is extreme at all... In any case, as already mentioned, at least today it doesn't make me crazy or want to own one or more bottles, it's nice but it didn't strike me, not like Equipage did some time ago and with which it was love at first sniff (certainly thanks to the fact that it was my father's perfume when I was a child)...
31st January 2023

A neutered, slightly effeminate version of Aramis with a weird food like olfactory illusion for the entire duration. Leather? I certainly don’t smell any leather here. Maybe there’s an impression of suede but certainly no leather. Far more styrax blended with vanilla and coconut is the outcome on my skin. Kinda sweet and kinda femme. Do not like it. It’s an overtly blended and lazy ass cologne that was designed to play it far too safe for the sake of snowflake’s and Karen’s noses. This review is based off of an original formula.
19th January 2023
I've recently been hung up with all the fuss of reformulations, easily persuaded by the opinions of those who decry current formulations of multitudinous classics, to the point where I thought I'd never really get to experience the authentic spirit of these icons.

However, I decided to give in to the current reform of Bel Ami as the vintage is prohibitively expensive, and I was really pleased; I am sure that if I smelled a vintage I'd be floored and I'd understand the difference, but even in its current incarnation, it really is impressive, mesmerizing even, to my nose. It is opulent, yet wistful; robust, yet mildly sweet. The leather starts off as raw, animalic and rugged, but smolders into a tender and refined entity, genteel yet still of solid constitution. The supporting notes of vetiver, orris and carnation do add interest to the experience, imparting texture and leverage to the leather. Overall, this is really a moving wear for me.

One day I am sure I will experience the vintage and really understand what others claim, but I know what I like, and what I have now surely is a keeper to my nose. 9/10
5th March 2022
Maybe I am just used to masculine powerhouses, but this newer tester of Bel Ami is rather short lived and feminine. It does have an okay citrus opening, if you like Lemon Heads candy, but becomes a skin scent in less than one hour. The dry down is faint, richly-scented groomers pet shampoo, (maybe that is the amber?) accompanied by a sharp, fleeting, spicy cinnamon and then finally fades to cosmetic lipstick(leather?) and feminine body powder. No leather, no cedar, woods, oakmoss, no vetiver.

Longevity 1.5/10,
Projection 1/10.

I wore Z-14 & Polo in the 80's and that is what men smelled like. This Bel Ami smells like my Mom on a Saturday night---Wind Song and lipstick when she would come home and pay the babysitter.🥱
12th February 2022
It isn’t leather in the modern or dense aromachem niche sense. It has an air of, in my mind, a fine tan leather; lightly spiced, fresh and balanced with some clean vetiver. Slightly soapy with just the slightest hint of cumin, muted lemon and a rounded cardamom note. The blending is top drawer thanks to none other than JC Ellena. Every note plays its part perfectly, contributing to but never taking away from the composition.

The original is a denser animal although still refined and has a more oily petrochemical and oakmoss foundation.

An excellent manly classic.

15th January 2022
Bel Ami is Vito Corleone!this is a powerful fragrance that demands respect and oozes quality;it falls in the same class as Cartier Santos, Chanel Antaeus every man over the age of thirty should have one of those greats in his collection. one of the first fragrances i fell in love with at eighteen.this scent is sophisticated testosterone in a bottle that will bully all your other fragrances. it is a leathery chypre such as Bandit, is like warm sexy skin,sexy in a warm,clean and classy way.a true gem for everyone who can appreciate a strong masculine scent.

The perfume starts off with a burst of citrus like a classy chypre - lemon,bergamot,sage and then moves to a classic floral heart as it begins settling with notes of basil, jasmine,and carnation,and finally settles into a leathery woody chypre base comprised of patchouli,leather and oakmoss.the key attribute to Bel Ami is the great compositional balance,where a styrax driven leather accord rests harmoniously on a chypre foundation laced with a deft blend of herbs and florals. sometimes it's more spicy, sometimes more herbal.this certainly isn't for little boys,it's a perfume with strong character.absolutely awesome fragrance.Double thumbs up!
7th September 2021
Bel Ami is one of the better leathers. Its radiance is supple and sweet but its got a woody and bitter core.
Leather is a power scent, but unlike the biker jacket with its black toughness, Bel Ami is more sedate. It’s a soft brown leather which feels rather complacent, all monogrammed slippers and dressing gown.
If you compare Bel Ami to Fahrenheit (which the same perfumer wrote two years later) you can see how staid this is. Bel Ami: the boon companion of rich old white men.
(This is the vintage, not the new version.)

8th February 2021
This is so much like Creed Royal English Leather, just not as dirty. But side by side Id have a hard time guessing which was which. Maybe more oak and less orange in the Bel Ami. But its an old broken in dirty leather smell I get. Good staying power, and just right amount of projection and sillage. I love it and use it now that my Creed REL is gone and discontinued by creed. This will replace it.
26th January 2021
I wanted to like this, I really did. The glowing reviews, the poetry of those descriptions! And my sample was briefly lovely. Then (like Terre d'Hermès) it rapidly disappeared beyond my nose's reach. But you know what? I'm going to keep trying, I'm going to learn to enjoy more delicate scents.
24th June 2019
Hermès Bel Ami (1986) is one of the single highest-praised leather fragrances for men in the fragrance community, if not the single most-praised in all creation. The fragrance received an IFRA-required update by Jean-Claude Ellena to address the quantities of some of the items in the fragrance (like oakmoss), which changed some of the tone as a result, but the resultant reformulation is still excellent, even if not on the level of depth or potency vintage die-hards came to love about the original version penned by Jean-Louis Sieuzac. With that kind of incalculable hype powering the insane aftermarket prices on the original "shaker bottle" production runs and subsequent square-shouldered "second edition", the scent is one of the few examples of a "unicorn" that is ironically still in production, because every "vintage guy" getting into the game wants to prove their worth by having a bottle too, since the old pillars within the hobby sing a near-siren song of praise about it. Is this stuff really that freaking good in vintage? Well, yes and no, depending on one's tastes. The cold hard truth is you just plain have to enjoy this kind of masculine "petrol leather" creation, the result of the isobutyl quinoline "leather note" found in older leather scents like Knize Ten (1924) English Leather by MEM (1949), Aramis by Estée Lauder (1965), and Avon Clint (1976), applied to a chypre base. Bel Ami simply was one of the deepest, spiciest, and most potent of it's ilk when it released, the peak of the genre if power is your desire, and even the Jean-Claude Ellena reformulation is no laughing matter in that department. My guess is Équipage (1970) was a really tough act to follow, so Sieuzac just chose to a different take on leather altogether, resulting in one of his most-iconic contributions, outside his involvement with the creation of the "barrel note" in Dior Fahrenheit (1988) two years later.

Bel Ami opens familiarly to those acquainted with the tannery leather vibe: harsh bergamot, bright lemon, aldehydes, and clary sage bring all our eyes forward to the oncoming storm. Bel Ami diverges from past leathers in this genre by not getting mucked down by dandy florals like Knize Ten, English Leather, or Aramis, nor does it become particularly woodsy like our bargain friend Avon Clint, but instead goes into cardamom, a spice Hermès has played with since the first Eau d'Hermès (1951) by Edmond Roudnitska, and still played with all the way as recently as Hermèssence Cardamusc (2018). Patchouli and vetiver make a bit of a show in the middle with a twang of Iris to round things, but that deep, rich, abyss of leather shows up not long after the hammer drops and that sets the tone of the scent, and what drives all the vintage guys crazy. Pure unadulterated isobutyl quinoline tannery leather over animalic styrax and amber become the par for the course, resting on an academic chypre base of sandalwood, oakmoss and labdanum. There is a touch of vanilla to keep things from getting hairy, but it doesn't jump out to me, with the whole affair being immaculate in blending. Sillage is apocalyptic and longevity is until the end of days, making Bel Ami a winter weather warrior. If you do get a vintage bottle, it will probably outlive you unless you use it every single day. Some of its more hardcore fans with cash to burn actually do this, increasing scarcity and driving up the price even more, making that unicorn horn on the forehead of vintage Bel Ami look more like the leaning tower of Pisa by the minute. Bottom line here is this is a spicy, ultra-masculine, and ultra-mature leather scent that is the holy grail of many Generation X guys who used this when it was new, or just guys in the over-30 crowd that discovered recent production at their nearest Nordstrom. The hype is deserved here, as Bel Ami is a benchmark in the masculine leather genre, even enjoyed by a few particularly daring women who love animalic scents with self-control. A flanker penned by Jean-Claude Ellena also exists in the form of Bel Ami Vetiver (2013), which is a greener, but also more animalic take since it adds civet to the mix.

If all of this sounds too daunting for a colognoisseur of more modest means, fear not, for the modern interpretation merely dials down the depth of the chypre base within regulated tolerances, but otherwise retains the basic leather, spice, and citrus character of Bel Ami. Many older vintage guys have what may seem to be an unhealthy fixation to the onlooker with the presence of oakmoss in their scents, preferring as much of the thick, woodsy, slightly sweet, and pasty (in large enough quantities) odorant as possible in their favorite creations. Tastes are subjective and often the result of acquisition through years of exposure (like beer), but if you don't fall into this category of person, my recommendation would be to try the newest form first then work your way backward to older formulas when convenient to sample. Moschino Pour Homme (1990) is often compared to Bel Ami, but goes in a slightly brighter, more dandy, and more lewd direction with lavender, mace, jasmine indole, rose, and carnation on top a nearly-identical base, and used to be considered a cheaper alternative to Bel Ami until it was discontinued. Honestly, modern Bel Ami still compares favorably to it, and perfumer Roja Dove in particular has paid homage not once, but twice to this scent with two of his own super-ridiculous "haute parfum" creations in the form of Puredistance M (2010) and Roja Dove Fetish Pour Homme (2012). If you like leather scents already, this is one rare example where I actually encourage a blind buy, and although I do still roll my eyes some at the hysteria over the vintage productions of this, I understand their madness. If you had to get bent out of shape over any fragrance, Bel Ami would not be a bad choice, and is not only the best leather scent Hermès has ever created, but is in the top of the crop. Bel Ami isn't the end-all be-all Hermès fragrance, but another example of why the house has such a fervent fan following in fragrance hobbyist circles.
20th January 2019
Modern version... This has bright notes of citrus, vetiver, sage, and basil on top. Nice and crisp, in fact. Second phase going into the middle I get styrax, patchouli, amber, and carnation. Then, the leather smacks me in the face. Kind of that new pair of gloves or winter coat smell. Oddly, as that begins to mellow I get something of a reminder of fine lipstick. Way later I am treated to a skin-base of vanilla and coconut. I give this three and a half stars. One of the better masculine 'fumes that works on my old lady skin.
15th July 2018