I thought it would be a worthwhile endeavor to create a series of posts about my experiences and perceptions involving the sampling of different formulations (or apparently different formulation). Unlike most other posts about reformulations, with this series I’ll focus on one at a time do side by side comparisons whenever possible (in some cases I no longer possess the bottle with the reformulated scent). The result will supply readers with ideas about different ways scents seem to be getting reformulated. I may cite some online opinions that seem to be relevant. And I won’t always quote statements with which I agree, but instead try to use them to furnish the most complete understanding possible. For example, with some scents many people seem to have difficulty detecting the notes, and they talk about a “creamy” effect (I’ve certainly done this myself), so I think such perceptions are worth noting in some cases.
There has been quite a bit of talk about Dolce & Gabbana Pour Homme on Basenotes.net and Fragrantica.com recently. It was released in 1994 and was made in Italy. Those who seem to have studied this scent claim that a reformulation first occurred around 2000, but that it was just as good or nearly as good as the original (the bottles still said “Made in Italy” on them). Then came a German made formulation, and finally (to date) a United Kingdom one. I haven’t tried the UK formulation, so I can’t even speak to whether it is different from the German one, but there has been so much negative comments made about (or claims that it is “good” but generic) that this is another one of those cases that I’m not going to waste my time or money worrying about it, and you’ll have to take the word of others, if you are seeking advice. As is the case with a few other “vintage greats,” I have enough of this to last a lifetime at this point.
Over at Fragrantica, there is the following statement about the new or newest formulation:
…In 2012, the designers have decided to “return to the roots” and to re-launch the two fragrances.
“It’s not so much a reedition as it is a fine-tuning,” said Gabbana to wwd magazine. “We altered the bottles a bit.…There has been an evolution [of the brand] since the Nineties, Domenico and I were much younger then — we’ve really matured a lot.”
As one reviewer noted, this sounds almost like an apology! And since when did maturity equal generic and uninspiring? The bottles have been altered very slightly, with the “major” change being letters painted on the bottle replacing a paper label. Before I go further, I think it’s important to mention here that there seem to be more than a few fakes of the original one (with the sticker on the front). From what I’ve read (I was fortunate never to accidentally buy one), the cap is flimsy and there are small embossed lines on the bottom, whereas the real ones are smooth. Also, if you feel the sticker, the silver part should be smooth while the black part has texture to it, with a slight sand paper type of quality. If I were to try and purchase a bottle on ebay, I would ask the seller to take good photos of the bottom of the bottle and the label on the front of the bottle.
Back to this notion of “fine-tuning” now. My German formulation, if that is the one that was “fine-tuned,” smells an awful lot like the original, at least at first. Not being a “top notes person” I can say how the first few minutes of each compare, but after a fairly short period of time I begin to notice that the German one doesn’t smell as rich or complex, nor possess the depth, and there’s a hint of what one Basenotes’ member has called an “onion-like off note” (or something similar). Now I want to be clear here; this is a reformulation that I think few would notice, unless the top notes come across as distinct. Essentially, I see this as a significant accomplishment, that is, they cheapened the formula significantly while retaining the overall scent to a large degree. No, I’m not suggesting it will be just fine with most vintage fans (I certainly want to sell or swap my German bottle), but it’s not really “synthetic” or weak, and this is one case where I wouldn’t suggest getting a dollar store version (if there is one) instead.
So, I don’t see this German one as being more “modern,” other than if one thinks olfactory modernity means making it with lower quality ingredients and/or more synthetics, but it may be a bit “brighter” (citrus) and less tobacco oriented, as others have suggested. It does seem like there was a major trend, perhaps around 2008 (due to new IFRA guidelines?), which featured this kind of “fine-tuning,” if not major changes, and D&G may have fought hard to not allow their first “masculine” scent to be turned into “chemical dreck,” but this is another case where I would say that if I had no other choices, and could only buy such “fine-tuned” reformulations, I would try to create my own scents instead, mainly because I at least want naturalness, richness, and depth, and so I will compromise and surrender complexity if I have no alternative. Fortunately, I don’t ‘think that day will occur in my lifetime, but if it does, you’ll be able to read about it here !
Lastly, you might be interested in this youtube review, which addresses all three formulations (note that some have claimed there are two Made in Italy formulations, but that those two are nearly identical in every way). Italian, German, and the latest, U.K. one: