You know those news stories of deep-sea fishermen pulling up their nets and being stunned to find they've caught an otherworldly fish that had supposedly gone extinct millions of years ago? That's Lauder for Men.
And you have to salute Estee Lauder (while also shaking your head), that they are still making this, and other frags from the Aramis line--Aramis, Tuscany, Havana, etc. Who wears these anymore other than dinosaurs like me and the young at heart? Definitely not the young. Anyway, Lauder for Men has to stand as one of the greatest of the 80s powerhouse fragrances, and maybe one of the greatest men's scents of all time, in a bottle that could have graced my grandmother's dressing table. It could easily be a woman's fragrance, but it works so well as a man's. And what is that musk--some hidden civet? It's like the polished gentleman with a wink who still can wield that walking stick as a cudgel in a pinch, and who has a mysterious past. Even my wife, who usually looks upon my cologne collection with bemusement, remarks about this fragrance each time I wear it, saying it's amazing and wear that one more. Enough said and amen to that.
I have a bottle of the first original Eighties version with the all gold cap. Also I've managed to get the second vintage from I believe the mid Nineties, the one with the green cap and gold top. I've been comparing them and it's really interesting how they develop on the skin.
The Original Eighties version opens up green but softer with great note separation. It's aromatic and develops slowly in the air around you, very beautiful. It also has a ton of oakmoss which other notes slowly show themselves from.
The second vintage version is more fresher, focused and piercing. The oakmoss though is still there though has been greatly reduced. Both are fantastic with top quality ingredients but have a different character.
The original develops like a flower opening it's petals and scent goes wide. Very aromatic, but wow. The 2nd vintage is more vibrant and intense and tightly woven. Pleased with both, blows away most fragrances on the shelves today. Wow!
Lauder for Men (1985) is such a beautiful and massive rule-breaker that I'm surprised it survives, and am furthermore surprised that more folks don't realize what they actually have in this bottle. For starters, just a Lauder-branded masculine was a huge no-no because Estée Lauder Group had the Aramis line specifically for men and the sister line Clinique for the more spa-oriented of their feminine lines. Secondly, this fragrance is for all intents and purposes, a feminine green floral chypre of the kind Estée Lauder had been making for over a decade at that point, but just barely tweaked into a masculine composition. Seriously, anyone who's smelled Clinique Aromatics Elixir (1971), Revlon Charlie (1973), Avon Emprise (1976), or Jacomo Silences (1978) already knows how this smells, and it's astonishing how close to those aforementioned feminines it is! I guess strait guys in the 80's never sniffed their mother's, sister's, girlfriend's or wife's perfumes and literally had no clue! Then again, with genderbending in music from acts like Dead or Alive, Culture Club, Prince and the Revolution, or any number of hair metal acts surfing MTV, it was likely en vogue. Lastly, this stuff is so uncompromisingly sharp and strong that it's designation as "cologne" is another huge spit in the face, making it the first true successor to Estée Lauder's eponymous house-launching Aramis (1965) cologne, despite a league of Aramis-branded scents released in that erstwhile fragrance's wake. I'm really impressed with Lauder for Men, but likely not for the reasons everyone else is who appreciates this stuff. Lauder for Men is so over-the-top yet so under-the-radar at the same time. It's a 70's woman's chypre pefume packaged as a loud 80's powerhouse cologne for men, sold at most Lauder counters but rarely displayed, and neither confirms nor denyies anything about itself, making it simply sublime.
Lauder for Men opens like many green feminine chypres, with a healthy dose of bergamot, aldehydes, galbanum, backed up with lemon, mandarin orange, marigold, anise, clary sage, and juniper. There really is absolutely zilch about Lauder for Men that is masculine in this opening, especially when compared to the castoreum, styrax, and civet-fueled heteronormative standards of the day. In reality, we all know pefume has no gender at all, and this is really just expectation shaped by society's perception at the time. Further into Lauder for Men's dry down comes the expected florals of this variety of chypre. A very prominent jasmine and muguet are balanced with rose, carnation, cardamom, coriander, and a slight vetiver touch. I never really smell the spices or vetiver in this, so chances are that they're just here to mute the florals and keep them from being dusty in the mix. Halfway down the transition, Lauder reveals it's lineage to Aramis with a "golden" glow of those sharp florals, aldehydes and the oakmoss base mixing together into something you either love or hate about both fragrances, but Lauder does it with more class and poise as it doesn't have the hoary leather note to "alpha it up" like Aramis. The base is pretty dialed-in as a chypre should be, with oakmoss as the key fixative, and a duet of sandalwood alongside cedar to keep it aromatic; the latter wood is the only real nod to masculinity in the whole thing, as the remaining patchouli, musk and slight vanilla can go either way. Lauder for Men is simply the green floral chypre presented to men with little fanfare or adjustment, and comes across like what the Aramis line would have rolled out next in the early 70's if they weren't dead-set on presenting Aramis 900 (1973) as a rosy and herbal answer to Christian Dior's Eau Sauvage (1966). Better late than never I say!
Wearing Lauder for Men really does feel like wearing a "man's perfume" when out and about despite it's cologne labelling, due to the amount of class going into both the orchestration of the scent and the monolithic gilded column of a bottle, reminiscent of Art Deco style channeled through an 80's penchant for sharp geometry. Boucheron Pour Homme (1991) would come really close to the same level of sharp golden florals and woods, but favored rose in the composition above Lauder's featured jasmine and muguet. For men who love stuff like Aromatics Elixir but don't have the guts to wear it in public, this might be the answer, and most older guys who were around when Lauder for Men dropped are well-aware of how heady and opulent it is, especially in summer when it wears best. I'd dare say this gives most niche masculines in this vein a good run for their money, and I had a guy on the streets of Seattle wearing Amouage Jubilation XXV (2007) actually ask me what I'm wearing right before I sat down to write this, so I know what I'm talking about! Don't let the year of release or the name of the house fool you: Lauder for Men is sheer distinction in a bottle not to be taken lightly. If it wasn't, why else would Donald Trump steal it's bottle design (which somehow Lauder permissed) for his own dubious eponymous masculine? Maybe Lauder sales associates hide it because they don't want the secret out, since even the perfumer for this is unknown! In any case, if you love florals and fresh green notes on a real chypre base regadless of sex, you can't go wrong for the price. Best for formal occasions, work, or even a hot day in good duds, Lauder for Men is a timeless and resplendent classic!
I received a supposedly-vintage bottle of Lauder for Men after shave, with a completely gold top. The glass bottle is heavy, 3.3 oz, made in the USA, and when I opened it part of the plunger broke off into the neck of the bottle (making me believe this hasn't been opened in a long time and therefore is legit stuff).
Scent-wise, it does resemble the notes and potency that reviewers have commented on that vintage batches have. Obviously, after shave will not be in the same realm as an EDC from 1985, but even this stuff lasts and has some range! I have not tried the newer version, so I can't compare on that.
There is definite justification to label this a toned down quasi-80's powerhouse, and also the "older/refined gentleman" vibe that goes with it. It is a wonderful scent: subtle initial citrus, woods, some oakmoss, rich musk, and a lasting barbershop powder. After first application, I also hearkened to the days of my grandfather, splashing this on before work in the 1940's and smelling like a dignified, tip of the cap kind of man. It has a dated quality, literally smelling a bit aged but confident. There is nothing modern, sleek, aquatic or slight about this scent. It isn't a smash your nostrils scent like Polo green or Halston Z-14 either (both of which I like). This is a calmer powerhouse, something that folks would wear who didn't need as much attention as those who wore more popular 80's powerhouses.
I like that this is much more wearable by folks with good taste, complete assurance of themselves, and a guy's guy. You really can't pull this off if you're young and looking to impress the crowd; I can see lots of people pulling away as it doesn't smell like Issey Miyaki. This is the part that you may love: it's very unique, clean, not pretentious, completely wearable in cold or warm environs, and makes a statement for a man who enjoys smelling classically good and goes home to the family at the end of the day. I would highly recommend getting your hands on this, whether it's the vintage or newer release, and whether it's an after shave strength or EDC.