Caron Yuzu Man

[Note: This post resurrected from the WayBack Machine, here.]


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Caron Yuzu Man

And now for something completely different….

Well, maybe not completely different.  But for the house of Caron – home to masculines such as Pour un HommeYatagan, and Le Troisième Homme (Third Man), this scent is a bit of a change-up.  People who were expecting Caron to keep on doing the same old thing are going to be very surprised by this scent.  On the other hand, if they give it a chance, they may learn to love it.

Yuzu Man is light, cool, and refreshing.  It has much of the feel of traditional eaux de cologne, but it has other characteristics – notably longevity and development – that put it fully in the camp of modern EDTs.  It even has some pretty decent sillage after an hour or two – something that is essentially never true for simple colognes.  Yuzu Man never shouts, but it does maintain a low hum that can be smelled across the room at first, and in the area near you after it dies down.  Yet, most likely, people aren’t going to be looking around to see who the “cologne guy” is.  Yuzu Man is subtle.   Very buzzy, but very subtle.

If I had to compare Yuzu Man to something, that something would be the original L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme, by Issey Miyake.  There is a certain similarity of overall feel that is very apparent.  However, Yuzu Man is much less overtly aquatic, while being even more fresh.  It is also substantially more subtle.

There is a difference between subtle and weak.  Yuzu Man is not weak.  It is very low-key, but it is persistent, tenacious, and noticeable.  The exact longevity is difficult to state – I’ve gotten markedly different performance depending upon where I apply it.  In my case, it hangs around for 3-12 hours on skin, and 12-24 hours on clothing.  Not only is it fairly tenacious for a citrus scent – it is also rather penetrating.  In that respect, Yuzu Man is much like the venerable Timbuktu.  I was surprised that, almost immediately after opening the package (thanks again to kind Basenoter Griff), I was getting package sillage about 15 feet away, at the other end of the room.  And yet – weirdly – you can barely smell it.  It’s like some kind of vague freshness that you almost can’t place.

Let’s talk about the scent itself.  If nothing else, I think people are going to have to admit that Yuzu Man starts well.  Personally, I give my highest marks to the topnotes and the beginning of the heart.  I’m not sure if I was subliminally influenced by the advertising, but with my initial sniffs, I was thoroughly captured not just by the beauty of the opening, but also by the balance.  There is actually a lot going on.  Much more than just yuzu.  But all of this stuff is working together very nicely.

Which is not to say that yuzu isn’t the star of the show.  The familiar yuzu citrus is clearly there, and for reference you might consider the opening notes of L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme, Diptyque’s Oyedo, or even (yes!  believe it!) Le Troisième Homme for comparison.  The smell of yuzu is basically something like lemon, but with a very pleasant twist.  Yuzu is frequently used as a functional fragrance and confectionary flavoring agent in Japan, and it’s not hard to see why.  It just plain smells good.

However, Yuzu Man has some interesting depth at the beginning, which clearly takes it out of the realm of “smells good”, and into fine fragrance.  In addition to those expected “clean” and “fresh” notes, there are some soft musks and oakmoss.  Well, the label says treemoss, but whatever.  This adds needed complexity to the opening.  The overall package seems to moderate the yuzu as well, making it less funky and more “perfumey”.  There are some other notes that give the scent a barely detectable spicy aspect, but my nose isn’t really good enough to distinguish them beyond that.  There are supposedly cedar and sandalwood notes in Yuzu Man.  Perhaps, but I’m not getting them as such.  Certainly there are no really obvious woody notes in the opening, as there are for L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme.  During the drydown, I can almost get the high end of cedar, but it’s submerged in residual freshness.

The important thing is what is advertised – BALANCE.  L’Equilibre.  It’s hard for me to describe what that is, but I can say this – the opening has truckloads of it.  Perfumer Richard Fraysse presumably spent a lot of time tweaking the heck out of things, and in my opinion it paid off.  Unlike L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme, which shows a definite synthetic streak if applied just a touch too strongly, or after you’ve smelled it for too long, Yuzu Man seems to come across very natural and fresh at all times, and even if over-applied.  In that respect, it also seems to invite comparison with another similar fragrance – Acqua di Gio Pour Homme.  The pervasive aquatic cool of Acqua di Gio is not only matched by the pervasive fresh citrus of Yuzu Man – the latter actually seems poised to do it better, since it manages to both undercut Acqua di Gio in terms of subtlety, and beat it in terms of naturalness.  A roomful of Yuzu Man seems like a much more attractive proposition than the usual roomful of AdG.

The drydown of Yuzu Man is nice, but with some of the initial complexity gone – or at least less obvious – what’s left isn’t as impressive as the opening.  There is a lot of the initial clean, fresh and cool going on.  It seems very natural at all times, and is quite enjoyable.  Still, it just doesn’t rock like the opening.  I will say this about the drydown.  On skin, the development is faster and more complex during the middle and end.  This more complex drydown would be one reason to forego the better longevity on clothing.

Which brings me to how well the scent holds up on clothing.  We normally expect a scent to have improved longevity when sprayed on clothing, but we also expect that it will “smear out” a bit, sometimes leading to unacceptable distortion of the scent and its development relative to skin.  This isn’t quite as true of Yuzu Man.  On clothing, the lovely balance of the opening hangs on for a very long time before it segues into indeterminate freshness.  Thus, I have no hesitation recommending use of additional sprays on clothing, or the notoriously mainstream “mist and walk through” technique.  Both will add some value to your skin application of this fragrance.

All in all, I think that Yuzu Man takes a respectable place next to similar – and very classic scents – such as Acqua di Gio Pour Homme and L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme.  Clearly, this one is aimed fully at the same mainstream market.  Lots of guys will probably be getting this one as a Christmas present.  However, there are very hot summer days when even the critics are tempted by clean, cool, citrus and water-reminiscent scents.  Yuzu Man is one of the least synthetic-smelling offerings in this area.

Bottom line?  If Yuzu Man shows up in my Christmas stocking this year (cough, cough), I will definitely hang onto it for the summer of 2012.

PS:  Great video!

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