Puckrik on Perfume

Katie Puckrik ON Dec 18, 2009 AT 1:38 pm

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Yves Saint Laurent Kouros
By Katie Puckrik

A few months ago, I was invited by the UK edition of Cosmopolitan magazine to be a judge in their first-ever fragrance awards. The contenders were a grab bag of recent mainstream releases of varying distinction, along with an eclectic mix of favourites in the men and women’s “classic” categories.

It was entertaining and educational to plow through evaluations of 50+ bottles of perfume. There’s nothing an inveterate “checker” like me relishes more than comparing and contrasting, making notes and assigning ratings.

During the process, I enjoyed getting to know some previously unsnorted men’s scents, like Donna Karan Fuel for Men (intensely desiccated fruit and ashy leather) and Lalique White Pour Homme (bergamot and peppery cedar wood on a cushion of amber).

But there was one masculine offering that completely blew my fume fuse box: Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent. On my low-to-high, one-to-ten chart, Kouros was an instant “ten”, and my favourite fragrance in the entire selection. Right out of the matte white ceramic bottle – a futuristic Greek column circa Shatner-era “Star Trek” – this 1981 warhorse stood and delivered.

This eau de toilette is a fiercely billowy incense, with camphoraceous notes and a dollop of raunch. It shoots out of the canon with a salvo of spicesclove gives it an emphatic snap. Then almost immediately, it envelops you in an animalic, powdery cloud.

Yves Saint Laurent Kouros

Yves Saint Laurent Kouros

Kouros fills the air like steam from a gushing hot water tap in a fancy old European hotel bathroom. An unfamiliar bathroom fogged with ghosts of all the other guests who’ve used it before you. And here’s where Kouros really starts to throb – with vigour and borderline TMI.

The powdery cloud becomes mossy, physical – some say brutishly masculine. On my skin, Kouros pulses with humanity. The composition of spicy florals, citrus, resins and musk smells elegant, but distinctly lived-in. The vibration between civet and honey evokes the smell of a sudsed-up inner thigh. Oh, missus!

And Kouros does strike me as specifically “European”. It’s unaffectedly louche and aspirationally “foreign”. Or at the very least, not “American”: factory-sealed, sanitized for your sterile pleasure.

The genie in this bottle is muscular and scenery chewing. Many who’ve tried Kouros – particularly younger guys accustomed to today’s ozonic, sweet, or fruity colognes – find its ripeness repulsive. It doesn’t smell literally of sweat, or piss, or…um…”night soil”, but there truly is something of the essence of a human being inside every bottle of Kouros.

People who are yakked out by Kouros are putting too much on. It’s like the colour red: wear it head to toe and you’ll look like a walking wiener. (Wear too much Kouros, and you’ll smell like one.) But wear just a dash, and it will add life to your whole gig.

Go easy on the trigger finger, though, because a little Kouros will live on your skin forever. Even with my modest application, I can still smell it eight hours later – musky but oxymoronically fresh!

With Kouros, perfumer Pierre Bourdon created a remarkable tug of war between good hygiene and bad behaviour. It’s a lion and a lamb: a pervading bitterness, a slight sweetness. It’s “dirty”, but also “soapy”. Kouros plays tricks on my head – and takes my body on an enjoyably rough ride.

Kouros info and stockists: http://www.yslbeautyus.com

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