Givenchy (1986)

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Xeryus by Givenchy

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About Xeryus by Givenchy

People & Companies

Fragrance House
Pierre Dinand
Packaging / Bottle Design

The male partner to Givenchy's Ysatis. It is a woody fragrance containing notes of Artemisiam, Cypress and Amber. The packaging is the exact opposite of Xeryus Rouge.
It was originally to be called Keryus, until YSL objected that the name was too similar to its Kouros scent.

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

Where to buy Xeryus

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Reviews of Xeryus by Givenchy

There are 57 reviews of Xeryus by Givenchy.

(The notes listed above are truly only a small part of the story, there are far more unlisted notes - check Fragrantica).

The original, in the black bottle as pictured here, was the very first cologne I bought for myself as a teenager. At the time (in the 1980's), Drakkar Noir had just hit, and suddenly all my male classmates were literally dousing themselves in that cologne. It was a fine scent, but when you're surrounded by boys you could literally smell from across the room or from down the hall, I was inspired to go a different direction. That's how I blind bought Xeryus. I rocked that scent for a good 10 years before I fell off the fragrance bandwagon.

Fast-foward to today, I'm in my 50's, and I see that this cologne is still for sale, so I buy it.


First, the bottle has changed. It's a nice, heavy frosted glass bottle with a 'gemstone' cap - fine, but it's certainly not as cool or dramatic as the original 'black castle' bottle.

Next, the fragrance has obviously been reformulated, definitely watered-down. What once-upon-a-time started as a bright citrus blast of grapefruit and cypress that softened into a woody, spicy green fougere/chypre combo, and finally dried down to a rich, ambery base - it seems they have kept most of the top and mid notes intact, but the base has really fallen off. So you're left with the woody, slightly leathery mix of fougere and chypre mids and not much else, after the citrus opening. It's still nice, it's just not on the level of what it once was. The base of old was so rich and ambery and mysterious - it was an incredible place for all those other notes to eventually land. If you can get a hold of the original black bottle, grab it, because that's where the magic lives.

As for the reformulation - eh, it's fine. It smells clean. It still has dozens of notes that your nose will have fun trying to differentiate, it interestingly straddles a fence between fougere and chypre - but it's not as intoxicating and addictive as the original. The thing that made it special was something in the base, something that sat on your skin and drew people in and was truly rich and mysterious. That's gone.

To add insult to injury, where I once got so many compliments on this fragrance as a young man, the only comment I've heard while wearing the reformulated version is one of my students saying "someone smells like a grandma in here" when he walked into the classroom. It's a shame. If it smelled like it used to, I'd probably make it my signature scent once again, 30+ years later. Alas, this full-circle is not meant to be completed.

Master parfumer Alberto Morillas did this back in the days, we find several bottles of xeryus in his work office🤘

Givenchy Xeryus (1986) is the men's counterpart to Givenchy Ysatis (1984) by a young Dominique Ropion, and was originally intended to be called "Keryus" until Yves Saint Laurent squawked about it sounding too similar to their then-hit Kouros (1981). Like Kouros, Xeryus is a powerhouse fougère, but unlike Kouros you won't find animalics or anything particularly confrontational about the stuff (despite the domineering art deco bottle), and that's because Givenchy played it safe. A lot of people who were around then and fell in love with Xeryus have strong and defensive opinions about it and rightly so, as anything creating a positive emotional reaction or developing good memory associations is worthy of some defense, but people who weren't really "there" or wore other things then tend see Xeryus as pleasant but redundant alongside similar 80's fougères. This makes Xeryus something of a "me too" scent of the 80's in the same way may Avons of the time were, or something that could be seen as the 80's version of the myriad designers borrowing "Invictus DNA" or "Aventus DNA" from Paco Rabanne Invictus (2013) or Creed Aventus (2010) respectively. Like all things with quality components but derivative design, that can sometimes make Xeryus feel a bit forgettable, albeit unintentionally. It's also worth mentioning that the flanker Xeryus Rouge (1995) would ultimately overshadow this in regards to hype within the fragrance community, and it would see reformulation then placement in a Les Parfums Mythiques bottle.

The opening of Xeryus is very familiar to wearers of everything from Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir (1982) through to scents like Gucci Nobile (1988), and in fact sits somewhere between those two extremes of soapiness and aromatics. Scents like Alain Delon Plus/AD Plus by Alain Delon (1987) also spring to mind, and even the massive bergamot and lemon verbena wash of Houbigant Duc de Vervins (1985) or the discount entry Lomani pour Homme (1987), with Xeryus sitting in the crux between all that. lavender, lemon, artemisia, bergamot, and a half dozen other citrus and floral notes are all listed, but you won't get half of them. The heart is also the typical clean aromatic fougère treatment, full of juniper berry, geranium, carnation, jasmine hedione, cyclamen, cinnamon, and tarragon among others. Again, a dozen things are listed, and you'll smell maybe three of them. The base is where things pull closer to something like Nobile or AD Plus and away from Drakkar or Duc de Vervins, with balsam fir, amber, vetiver, cedar, olibanum, plus tonka and oakmoss playing a particularly dominant role in the finish. The soapy citrus dimetol combination and the clean hedione florals remain of course, but that piney mossy aromatic finish will be the thing that finally sets Xeryus just a bit apart from its peers. Is it enough? Probably not, but you'll like it if you enjoy the style. Wear time is 10 hours, with good projection and sillage, plus soapy clean aromatics like this can be worn whenever or wherever; a true 80's versatile generalist.

Clean, mature, a bit floral, a bit sweet, and very much "in the pocket" is the smell of Givenchy Xeryus. a fresh aromatic fougère created in image after the genre-defining entries much the same way new takes of the aforementioned Invictus still hit shelves. This tells me that the overly-romanticized belief from vintage snobs that men's fragrances were infinitely more unique and varied in the "golden era" of the 1980's is really just more of the usual online fragrance community hubris that itself stinks up forums or social media, preventing people from trying new things, compromising, or even getting along. It's neither here nor there because the usual elitist gatekeeper types will find something to separate themselves from "us" if not for era of fragrance, then ingredients, price point, compliment factor, whether it's discontinued, et al. I do agree that a lot better naturals were available then and perfumers working for designers had bigger budgets and more control over the creative process, but Xeryus is proof that history is really just repeating in regards to designers following trends if they can't create them. The bottom line is Xeryus will appeal to fans of classic mature office-friendly fougères the likes of which niche houses try to upcharge for these days (a real hoot that one), but will come across to the well-versed collector as a B-side in the style rather than a prime cut (unless it's an old love as mentioned above), and is still at least worth the trouble to try for posterity before it gets axed like the rest of Givenchy's back catalog. Thumbs up.

If Xeryus had a star sign I'm sure it would be Aquarius: eccentric, friendly but cool and detached; a non-conformist.

CafeAstrology.com says any attempt to box-in Aquarius will most likely fail; and likewise, Xeryus is a difficult scent to get a handle on. It's a gluey, pale green hybrid of fougère, amber and chypre; and - as you'd expect from a scent with thirty notes[!] - it has plenty of decoratives: lemon, pale tree-fruits, evergreen resin, green notes, woody notes, nutmeg, amber, leather and moss...

Sadly it doesn't work on me, but as 'equality and fairness' are hallmarks of Aquarius, I'll give Xeryus the benefit of the doubt - and put it down to Bad Chemistry.

I'm sorry for being so short with my comments. I like the scent very much. In the 80s I wore Patou pour Homme. Terrific stuff! Of course that went away and was replaced in 2013. I didn't bother to try it. But Xeryus, to me, has a very similar smell. That's it.

Xeryus is a solid, quality, 80's aromatic fougere. It won't break any vintage lover's top 10 but is very pleasant nevertheless. It sits squarely with the Drakkar Noir, Smalto, Nobile, Tsar, Duc, etc...

Nose clearing, bracing opening blast of artemisia and grapefruit toning progressively toward a really classy dark soapy dry down which is my favourite part.
For those maybe familiar with the genre, not as dark and smoky as Smalto but much darker than Nobile, much less sweet and floral than Tsar, closest maybe to vintage Drakkar.

However good Xeryus and all of those are, one can only lament the pretty much truly extinct and perfect Nobile.

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