“Getting a handle” on a scent: Animale Animale for Men (1994).

You may have read a review in which the author says something to this effect, and I may have written such a review myself at some point! But while it seems undeniable that one’s impressions can change over time, there are also some “objective” points that can be made, such as that a scent contains more iso e super or dihydromyrcenol than just about any other mass-marketed one. When I first bought a bottle of Animale Animale for Men, in 2008 I believe, my initial thought was that it was a very pleasant gourmand, and definitely worth the $15 or so I paid for the 100 ml bottle. When I became sensitive to lavender, I swapped off some of my scents that seemed to have too strong of a lavender note, one of them being AAfM.

I did keep a small decant, though, and I’ve gone back to it now and then over the years. A few days ago, I made up a sample of it for someone, and decided to try it again. This time, I felt I had a strong handle on the scent. It is rather complex for a “cheapo.” The strong florals at first surprised me, as did the strong pineapple (with some other fruits). The lavender was fairly well-behaved, but the aroma chemicals were quite strong. It’s a bit sweet though I don’t think those who enjoy gourmands would say it is too sweet. Overall, I would classify this as unisex. Fragrantica.com has the following note list for it:

…nutmeg, honey, pineapple, lime, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, lavender, musk, galbanum, vanilla, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, cedar, tobacco, rose and lemon.

I didn’t get strong patchouli, tobacco, or cedar. The aroma chemicals are very strong for perhaps two to three hours, and then then it seemed to be rather generic, from what I could smell (projection dropped off considerably). There was really nothing pleasant about it, and in my Fragrantica review I pointed out that:

These days, ones has so many choices in this range, many of them even less expensive than this “cheapo,” so I’m not sure that I’d ever want to wear it. If you want more of a tobacco-ish scent like this, for example, there’s Bogart Pour Homme. Then there’s Yacht Man Chocolate, which simply needs to be applied more liberally than just about any other scent I’ve tried. Another “cheapo” that I prefer is Enrico Sebastiano Fine Cologne. Jacomo for Men has strong pineapple, along with a coffee note, and is a more “masculine” and intelligent composition, IMO. Even Spark for Men is a better gourmand composition, by a wide margin (to me). And then there are more expensive ones, like Pure Havane and others of the A*Men line. In short, I don’t understand the appeal of Animale Animale, other than among those who haven’t done much sampling.

I used to think of AAfM as an irritating “blob” scent but my guess is that this is due to the large number of notes included in the composition. Now I get more of a fuzzy and cluttered quality, with many of the listed notes now detectable. Most people seem to view it as a substitute for A*Men (for those on a tight budget in particular), but I think it’s rather unique (in my experience, of course). Quite a few years later, Jacomo released Jacomo for Men, which seems like the closest scent to AAfM. There’s no strong mint and of course no tar note in AAfM, but A*Men doesn’t possess the pineapple or strong florals of AAfM (other than lavender, which is true of perhaps a majority of “masculines”). To me, AAfM is another scent that possesses a really nasty note clash (like Cool Water for Men), one that lasts at least a couple hours, but of course in many cases one person’s note clash is another’s olfactory heaven.

Over the years, I’ve seen this scent on an awful lot of swap lists. Apparently, many think they are going to get A*Men for $15 or thereabouts. Though not similar in construction, I’d compare it to Spark for Men, in that there are obvious aroma chemicals in both and these are both complex, with gourmand qualities. So why do I like Spark but dislike AAfM? The notes in Spark seem to work well together – they don’t feel cluttered or muddled. In fact, the aroma chemicals seem to function as pleasant contrast in Spark, if used judiciously, of course. With AAfM, it just seems like the perfumer threw a bunch of things together without any thought, hoping that it would somehow work. I don’t think I’ve read any review that is consistent with my latest wearing, but that just makes this “hobby” all the more interesting !

UPDATE: The FromPyrgos author just wrote up a post about this scent and accused me of giving it a negative review because I don’t like Jeffrey Dame. First of all, I had no idea Mr. Dame was associated with this scent in any way. Moreover, I don’t blame perfumers unless they have total control over the process, mainly because it seems that many companies ask their perfumers to work with a ridiculously tight budget, but even then, since I don’t know for sure how much was spent I can only guess (and when I guess I make that clear), and unlike the FromPyrgos author, I don’t try to read peoples’ minds. Next, I can understand the appeal of AAfM (especially for the first couple of hours), but it’s not for me (perhaps more tobacco and less of the obvious aroma chemicals would have made it enjoyable). to be sure, it’s quite popular, and it also may have been reformulated (the base notes seem awfully weak for a 1994 release); I can give the perfumer credit here for his creative effort, but as I said, it does seem like a bunch of things were thrown together – perhaps Mr. Dame would like to tell the FromPyrgos author about what led him to create such a “masculine.” I’d surely be interested in hearing what he had to say!

Also, I could have mentioned my first review, which was written up for the Basenotes.net directory in 2008 (I then revised it in 2011). I think I originally gave it a “neutral,” but in any case this was my opinion in 2008:

This is solid, and I’d say Foetidus’ review is right on the money. However, AA is not only linear, but it stays at the same level of intensity for hours, which some may like and some may not. I like A*Men better, because it is more intense at the start, then in about two hours you get nice, gentle wafts (assuming you only use one or two sprays, as I do). This is important for me because the chocolate smell can become irritating after a while if it’s too strong. It may be that AA gets a bit weaker too with the chocolate after a while, but because you don’t get the A*Men blast at the beginning, you don’t notice the drop off in strength as much as you do with A*Men. Still, AA can usually be found at about half the price (if not better), so if you don’t mind this difference that I described (or prefer the smoother ride of AA), I’d say go for AA instead.

By 2011, it came across as an irritating “blob,” and a few weeks ago I was able to detect most or all of the notes, as well as to get a sense of the strength of some of the aroma chemicals used. The FromPyrgos author claims that I changed my review when I supposedly discovered Dame was responsible for it, but that is demonstrably false (and contrary to what this blogger may think, I pride myself on trying to be as “objective” as one can be with something as subjective as scent assessment and appreciation). I forgot about my BN reviews, actually, or else I would have included these in the original post, because the point of this post is to show how difficult it can be to understand some scents, and this one was a bit of a puzzle for me, though I only enjoyed it for a couple of wearings (at most) as a newbie back in early 2008. I’m glad the FromPyrgos author didn’t look to see if I had written a BN review (or two, as is the case) as a newbie, because his statements make it clear that he is the one who appears to have “ulterior motives.” I have no doubt he will refrain from apologizing!

One possible ulterior motive involves “hyping” AAfM for his “friend,” Dame (who might just be “using” the FromPyrgos author, for all I know). On Fragrantica.com, for example, this is what he has to say about Dame’s AAfM:

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that a smoother gourmand exists for under $25, because to put it plainly, this is as good as it gets in that cost bracket…

Why would this be the case? How is it “better” than Jacomo for Men or Spark for Men or Enrico Sebastiano Fine Cologne or The Secret or even Apparition Intense? I like all of those and dislike AAfM, but I don’t even think of it as much of a gourmand, as many others do. It’s more of a chemical/pineapple/floral, at least for a couple of hours, but that’s what I’m getting now, though if I were sensitive to a note or chemical I’d certainly disclose that fact. For example, I used to like Lolita Lempicka au Masculin (a least for a while), but the last time I wore it the strong musk and/or wood aroma chemicals soon became very irritating. Then there is the “super cheapo,” Yacht Man Chocolate. I have to spray more than usual, and it has a bit of a “laundry musk” quality, but it is pleasant whereas AAfM is not, and I’m sure quite a few people would place it in the same genre as AAfM, whether they should or not.

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