This is some sexy juice here. It's different, but not something I have never smelled. It honestly reminds me of Magnetism by Escada, only a day time version. Performance is excellent. The dry down is a sweet vanilla/tonka/amber like aroma. The mid reminds me distinctively of YSL L'homme Parfum Intense, and its counterpart Diesel Fuel for Life Spirit. Both containe this orange blossom heavy note mixed with iris and/or violet. It's distinctive, and a bit aldehydic, but if you know what I'm referring to, you've smelled this in other scents too. It's not common, but it's not super rare either. It's different enough to own, and I would even go as far as calling this one a masterpiece. Paul smith is one of the best designer men's fragrance houses, along with Escada, they have both sadly discontinued most of their fragrances for men.
Aside from the sublime first twenty minutes of Paul Smith Story, this is a brand that has failed to inspire me with any of its offerings. There is often a high level of creativity and invention in their releases, but as yet I have detected little evidence of a fragrance which maintains a consistently high quality throughout.
The opening twenty minutes of Portrait for Men does little to dispel my pessimism. There is an interesting piquancy in the top notes, brisk and warming, but it is underscored by a powdery yet strangely cloying presence. This is akin to inhaling the contents of a very old make-up bag with the souls of redundant cosmetic items spiralling up into my brain.
The slightly peppery and oriental feel is maintained through the first few hours, but it is enhanced by a geranium note that is easy to detect and adds depth to a rather simple idea. Sadly, the continued presence of the greasepaint that I detected in the opening is continued well into the heart notes, and it mars what could have been an interesting idea.
It is a very simple finish, dry wood and musk, lightly spiced and this final phase has the advantage of considerable longevity. It is no surprise that once Portrait has dispensed with the antiquated cosmetics vibe, that it does blossom and display some real quality.
Many have alluded to its similarity to Gucci II, and this may very well be true, but when my nose needs to do battle with such a gloopy backdrop, it all seems rather academic. This is another swing and miss from Paul Smith. It is not without merit, and it is quite unusual, but the first few hours are wretched.