Yves Saint Laurent (2002)


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M7 by Yves Saint Laurent

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About M7 by Yves Saint Laurent

People & Companies

Yves Saint Laurent
Fragrance House
Tom Ford
Packaging / Bottle Design
Doug Lloyd
Packaging / Bottle Design
Tom Ford
Creative Director

The first male scent from YSL since Tom Ford took the helm, is packaged in a deep brown bottle with a silver band at the top. The fragrance contains notes of Agarwood and is a fresh and woody sensual scent. Created by Alberto Morillas (Tommy, cK One, Angel...) and Jacques Cavalier (Issey, Ultraviolet..). The fragrance is so called as it is the seventh mens YSL brand.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of M7 by Yves Saint Laurent

There are 293 reviews of M7 by Yves Saint Laurent.

Dry woods with a darker background. A lot of people compare to Oud 7 Absolu, but this is much better. Kind of has that Gucci Pour Homme vibe. Not too overbearing and projects very well. If I could find a bottle for a reasonable price, I would pick it up without a doubt. 8/10

An iconic fragrance such as the 2002 M7 deserves to be tried, and I was fortunate to find a bottle of the original juice and gladly added to my collection. Naturally, I have scoured the reviews, all of them, good, bad and neutral, and now would like to add my humble opinion.
The bergamot and mandarin opening is like a rush of fruity goodness. Do I get the cherry cough syrup? No, but I can see how some noses might interpret it as such. I get more of an Italian vermouth vibe, specifically, Carpano Antica. The middle notes of Vetiver and Agarwood begin almost immediately to tame the fruit, but not eliminate it. But it's the Musk and Amber that are the stars. Longevity is at least 12 hours, but if you spray it on your clothes, you can expect a much longer duration. There was some discussion of comparing this to a much more inexpensive Avon product, Premiere Luxe Oud. I have both and last evening I sprayed the back of each hand with each. One spray only. The openings of both definitely share a DNA chain, but it's the dry down that catapults the YSL to stardom. The Avon dries down to a pencil shaving scent, while the YSL keeps that Amber and Musk shining, long into the night. In the morning, I still smelled the YSL, while the Avon was just a memory.
Now, one could argue that the price difference more than makes up for the lack of longevity and eventual dry down smell, however, one could also make an argument that a VW gets you to your destination as well as a Mercedes. Indeed, that's what we're comparing here, a luxury vehicle vs a Yugo.
I am glad I have both, but I am so very pleased to have the original YSL M7 in my collection. It's a masterpiece of perfumery.
Next comparison will be against the M7 Oud Absolu (Black label).

You could hardly call this Oud. There's that medicinal note, but it's dressed with herbs and cherry syrup; and when that fades, it goes to a creamy brown amber.

M7 is well made, but as an Oud it's pretty tame. On the other hand it was the first Western Oud, and as such it broke new ground - even if that ground was pretty soft.

It's a creamy-smooth mix of gourmand, amber and oud - which is not really oud at all but synthetic Ood.

There's a disinfectant syrup, and then the profile fades through amber to finish on a white woody - and slightly cheesy note.

The much talked about Ood is only one part of M7, and not even the main one. The core is amber with some odd things going on to each side of it, so I see this as a strange amber, and not really an Oud at all.

It's a good novelty now and again, but I soon get tired of it.

I'm not sure why M7 a cult-like following. At best and worst, it's "fine," a synthetic, dark green-woody thing that feels a little anonymous in 2020.

Just magnificent! A decadently rich composition with a beautiful note of what I smell as cherry flavored pipe tobacco. I always loved it when someone nearby was smoking cherry tobacco, a lovely smell that I associate with childhood. It angers me no end that someone decided to end both M7 and M7 fresh-- two scents that every frag lover should own or at least try.

Tom Ford made a number of drastic changes during his time at PPR, particularly with his no-nonsense fashions and perfumes that deliberately fell back on traditional genre tropes like the chypre, oriental, or the fougère. These post-modern efforts helped revitalize Gucci from entry-level designer embraced by the poverty line to the brand of choice for it's champions, namely the hip-hop community, becoming something of an urban equivalent to the rock and roll darling Versace had become. By 1999, Tom was also handed the reigns of YSL, much to the chagrin of Yves Saint Laurent himself, who wasn't happy with Ford's post-modernist direction and once remarked "the man does what he can". The first male-marketed effort from YSL under Ford was quite a stunner for this reason, as literally nobody saw it coming. Yves Saint Laurent M7 (2002) was neither the green aromatic revisted like Gucci Envy Pour Homme (1998) nor an aquatic, ozonic, or fresh fougère like much of the competition, but rather a woodsy oriental built around the theme of agarwood. It's hard to fathom just how crazy this was to Western buyers, particularly Americans, who had zero experience with agarwood or oud/aoud/oudh as it's also known. Balenciaga dabbled with it in Balenciaga Pour Homme (1990), but it was just a flirtation nobody noticed buried in other powerhouse notes that constituted the scent's virile base. In M7, the agarwood was obviously a synthetic composite with only a little of the actual ingredient due to expense, but the smell regardless was divisive to the point of controversial (something YSL hadn't been in years), representing a catalyst for one of the first big lock-ups Tom Ford would have with LVMH upper-managment, eventually leading to his departure in 2004 to form his own house. Needless to say oud would in time become an acquired taste in the West (particularly for men), which is why M7 was re-orchestrated and re-launched as M7 Oud Absolu (2011) almost a decade later, but M7 in its original form was an unmitigated financial disaster for YSL, compounded by a scandalous ad campaign to boot (mirroring 1977's Opium). M7 only lasted on the market for a few years before being discontinued and entering the discounter circuit until somebody got a bug up their ass that it should be the next rare, expensive, idolized miracle of under-appreciated perfume art, with prices in the aftermarket skyrocketing accordingly. A lighter, more-conventional M7 Fresh (2004) came out as capitulation after Tom Ford took his toys and left LVMH, but that too is also a venerated vintage-hunter's trophy because it didn't sell well, being discontinued just in time for Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme (2006) to replace it.

The smell of M7 in retrospect isn't bizarre or jarring so many years removed from release as it may have seemed in 2002, and the oud note itself is really just an earlier, milder form of the medicinal "Comet cleanser" oud note Tom Ford likes to use in his own creations, like Oud Wood (2007), which is rather more polarizing in my opinion than this stuff. M7 opens with a typical bergamot rosemary tandem that lasts only a brief few introductory moments before giving into the heart of that medicinal composite oud. The oud note and indeed the whole perfume was a collaboration between Alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavallier, the latter of whom is no stranger to YSL and returned for both the retro-revival Rive Gauche Pour Homme (2003) and the aforementioned apology that is M7 Fresh, while the former is the darling perfumer behind so many beloved mainstream freshies and seems a bad fit as co-composer. It's actually hard to fathom that the modern-minded Morillas was paired with Cavallier intentionally, but perhaps that was the point to their collaboration, to merge contrasting viewpoints. The oud compound used here feels like it might have been taken by Ford as he left PPR, which would explain why it smells so much like the Tom Ford oud accords we see, whilst the M7 Oud Absolu accord is an entirely different animal with different notes. Regardless, those who've smelled any of the Tom Ford Private Blend oud creations already know the heart of M7; it's scratchy "wonder-agar" is flanked by mandarin orange and vetiver, which honestly hides the "Comet" facets that become a deal breaker for me in the TF lines and draws the comparisons to Cherry Coke some reviewers make. The base of M7 is a nice rounded musky amber accord, which Tom Ford likely borrowed in part for Gucci Pour Homme (2003) the following year, here adding in the strange, esoteric note of mandrake root in M7 to make it feel more exotic, as if he was making a magic potion to cure petrification and not a fragrance. Hoodoo or not, I don't know nor can tell what mandrake is supposed to smell like in M7 but its use feels more for show than olfactory effect. M7 isn't a bomb of an oud perfume as you might be led to think by its worshippers, as it has no rose, and lacks any of the "barnyard" skank we've come to expect from the genre now that we have developed noses for the stuff, and M7 has moderate sillage with longevity just above average. The dry down of M7 is woodsy, bittersweet, a touch creamy, and only infers slight hints of that synthetic oud in it's mildly-peppery and rich demeanor, making it a passable example of an oud for the office if it was still available. Now the next part is something a lot of you won't like reading, but there's a caveat so bear with me.

I'm known for approaching the much-worshipped "unicorns" of the vintage perfume community with skepticism, but that's because I try to hew away hype and get to the experience of wearing the scent itself, which often doesn't match its stature. M7 was a shocker in 2002 because it not only was different from anything else in its designer segment, but also a departure/return to form from the safe direction YSL masculines had taken since Jazz (1988), and a completely new concept to the vast majority of male Western perfume buyers, the kind of guys that still confuse "musky" with aromatic, and aromatic with "spicy". We like our white bread and mayonnaise in the US, so anything with real flavor spooks us. Now, with that having been said, pioneers are often misunderstood and often unappreciated in their lifetime, and that is exactly what happened to M7. The cult of believers which formed around the scent likely still hunt the overpriced survivors on eBay, as do anyone else convinced by this vocal minority of M7's greatness, but the truth is time has not been kind to M7, and its plastic oud construction feels like a pale ghost compared to what's available now. M7 smells gimmicky even when stood next to the brash Montale/Mancera ouds out there, and with every Western house pumping out their own oud hot take finding varying degrees of success, M7 comes across as an old state road existing in the shadow of a massive modern freeway. I think M7 could be a pleasant, piquant, and a fair-quality first oud for the timid if it wasn't priced in Creed territory, but since you can get a nearly-identical accord as this with actually more oud bite for one-tenth the cost from Avon Premiere Luxe Oud (2016), the only reason you'd fork out for this now is bragging rights. On the other side of the M7 fence, M7 Oud Absolu tries in vain to come across as a learned and more authentic Western oud, but that story will be left for another review. M7 gets props for helping bring agarwood to the Western perfume market, even if it took a bullet in the process, but I just can't rate it any higher than neutral because its quality is nowhere close to the mythic status it enjoys in the collector's community. Some legends are indeed deserved of their status, and some legends are just the result of people in influential positions passing out rose-tinted glasses for those who'll listen, and that is the case with M7 (thanks YouTube reviewers). If you're a huge fan of this, no disrespect meant, as I do believe M7 is worth a sniff even if just for history's sake as one of the earliest Western oud fragrances, but its place in the collection of any male colognoisseur at this point is purely ornamental, much like other Gucci and YSL things from the Tom Ford era of PPR which have similarly been discontinued and given their own chapels of reverence.

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