Should you be envious of those who own Envy for Men?

I’ve written about Gucci’s Envy for Men in the past, pointing out how it became a kind of template for several other scents, though one could argue that it’s a tweaking of early 1970s scents like Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur or Ho Hang, and ones that came later, such as Guerlain’s Heritage. There’s no way to say for sure how close one scent is to another because not everyone perceives scents the same way. Some might be a lot more sensitive to patchouli notes, for example. I was never a big fan of the Envy type of scent, but over the last couple of years I’ve been able to enjoy these (which include Devotion for Men, ST Dupont’s Signature Pour Homme. and Floris’ Santal, supposedly, as I’ve yet to try that last one). To be sure, though, I think I prefer ones that are bit different, such as Carven Homme and Micallef #31.

When an opportunity arose to obtain a partial bottle at a non-outrageous price, I decided to go ahead, because I thought I would be able to swap it for something I would like, if I wanted to rid my collection of it. Before I discuss the scent I’ll just point out that there may be two formulations that are distinct, at least to some people. Claims have been made that the liquid color is brighter in the newer formulation, and that it is inferior, though I think at least one person said he preferred the most recent one. I had owned two bottles before this latest one, and while it seemed like one was superior to the other, I don’t remember whether the colors were different or which one I preferred. I also had major sensitivity issues at the time, so I’m not sure my opinion would have been that useful to those who like these kinds of compositions.

Lately, my sensitivity has been low, so I think it’s the right time to reassess it. My bottle is 50 ml and the batch code is 30788. The color does not seem as bright and intense as some I’ve seen online, looking roughly like the picture above, but of course it could be the case that the colors in some online photos are exaggerated due to lighting effects. I decided to go with a light application for this first wearing after several years, using perhaps half a spray (at most). I could detect quite a bit of ginger at first, as well a whole lot of sweetness. For these first few minutes, I was thinking that this might be a bit unique, relative to the others I mentioned (excluding Floris’ Santal, obviously), but things soon changed.

After the ginger mostly dissipated, at least in terms of quantity, I perceived a very similar effect that one can get in Devotion and the Dupont in particular. There is some soft lavender, a syrupy ambery quality, spice, and a bit of patchouli and wood. The key point here is that it comes across as an accord, and this accord is very, very similar. By contrast, there is Pi by Givenchy, which is similar in some significant ways but is clearly a different kind of scent, with a nice cedar note emerging after an hour or so. And it’s not just that the Envy type scents possess patchouli and lavender, unlike some others (at least in fairly strong amounts), but that these also have some sort of “fresh” quality that is difficult for me to assess because it is blended into the major accord. Could it be a mixture of several synthetics used to convey “freshness?” I don’t think it is dihydromyrcenol by itself, for instance.

More than a couple hours in, and the wood note is clear, though not strong, and not as textured (nor as interesting) as the wood note in Pi. I was hoping that I would perceive Envy as unique and something that I could not sell or swap, as is the case for more than a few, such as Les Copains Homme, but I don’t find the drydown to be unique enough. I would suggest that anyone who is envious of those who own a bottle simply buy a bottle of Devotion for Men, which is now selling for low prices on major sites. Now as I mentioned above, it may be that the original was much better and that I have a bad reformulation. However, considering the history of “masculine” orientals that are at least remotely similar, as well as what was being done in “masculine perfumery” back in 1998, I can’t imagine that any formulation of it, assuming there was more than one, would lead me to think that it is worth the prices it usually sells for on ebay.

NOTE: If I were to write up posts with only self-interest in mind (when conflicts of interest existed), I would tell everyone that this is a great, unique scent, and hope that the prices rise further. I certainly wouldn’t point out that I think you could get what I view as nearly the same drydown for about $15 per 50 ml (the current total price for that size bottle of Devotion for men on ebay at the moment). As to Devotion, I have only a 1 ounce bottle and intend to keep it, unless of course prices shoot through the roof (to levels I simply can’t imagine at this point). I value my integrity very highly, and I only wish that my sensitivities didn’t change, so that when I write something about these concoctions I would be confident that I would never change my mind !

UPDATE: I acquired another bottle, and the color of the liquid is considerably brighter/richer. The batch code is four numbers and one of the check sites claims that it is from September of 2006. I have yet to wear it so I’ll update this post again when I do. I intend to do that within the next few weeks.

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