Saturday, June 5, 2010

Polo Party! reviewing Ralph Lauren’s men’s fragrance line

First, a reminder to enter my Tauer perfume set giveaway HERE!


Well, Fathers Day is nearly upon, us, and my mind turns to mens’ scents…coincidence, maybe. Today, I’m thinking about Ralph Lauren’s ubiquitous Polo line.

I have to start this series of reviews of the entire of polo colognes by conceding that it does boast some of the most gorgeous ad copy in the universe. Especially now that the beautiful Nacho Figueras, the player for the Black Watch polo team, is the poster boy.


Now if that doesn’t make you want to wear all RL, I don’t know what will…

rl home That, and the fact that the RL franchise is one of the most adept at presenting a coherent narrative of images and impressions that somehow convey that most elusive of things, ‘the good life.’ Be they explorers, cowboys, new england ivy league types, or African snow queens, the lovely creatures that populate the Ralph Lauren universe all seem to possess something, some life, some ease, that the rest of us earthbound mortals can only dream about—or buy fragrances to emulate it in our imaginative mindspaces, where we are all moneyed aristocrats with a cabin in the Adirondacks or Colorado, a place in the Bahamas or Saint Tropez, a pied-a-terre in a fashionable metropolitan city, and a nice country estate with horses somewhere respectable.

The problem is that the Polo fragrance line itself is spotty. It’s relatively great in some places (Polo original, Polo explorer), bad, and even monstrous in others (Polo Black, Polo Blue). Let’s take a tour, shall we? We’ll start with the Bad:

polo black: hamptons nacho

this is a schizoid mango and metallic fougere. It ‘boasts’ disturbingly feminine topnotes over the modern ‘masculine’ standard. The ever-scathing Turin (I don;t always agree with him, but here I do) says ‘another sclarene-based lavender-on-steroids affair”, and he’s right. The lavender note is huge, weird, and will not go away. It’s like a tropical fruit drink spliced onto some sort of bastardized idea of what a  classic men’s cologne should smell like. I wonder RL doesn’t know better; this stands as a testament that  good copy can sell anything. There’s nothing classic about this, and certainly nothing black about it except my mood. That image of Nacho deserves better.

ralph-lauren-polo-blue polo blue:

a spiced up version of D & G light blue, but less pleasant. A nothing smell. I want it to be more marine, as the ad copy hints at that: “the energy of the open waters”….  but I get no salty brininess here. I guess the mainstream audience would pick that up as too sweaty. Too bad it’s too bad.

Now for the Meh:

Polo Explorer:

Although the name of this offering makes me recoil in fear that this may be one of those weird metallic ‘sport’ colognes that everyone wears nowadays, my repeated testings of this one have made me reconsider my snap prejudgement of this one as fundamentally bad in its very nature. Polo_game

In reality, it does evoke the outdoors it so agressively suggests in its manly bottle shape and color scheme. A bit of pine and resin and bay and well-chosen lemon, and woods, all things I like very much indeed. A little of that sweetish-metallic ‘sport’ smell, but not enough to turn me off entirely. Plus a decent dose of Pathcouli, and there you have it. A well-constructed outdoorsy man-thing. Nice enough, I guess, but nothing to write home about.

Now for the good:

polo modern reserve:

This has a distinct ‘green’ grassiness to it, which is quite nice in fact, mixed with a bit of lemon and dirt. It is certainly the most reminiscent of the actual experience of a polo match, if that is ever what these fragrances were aiming at. It has a disturbing round muskiness to the profile that pushes it out of the squeaky-clean ‘I have no sweaty man bits’ category so many of the other polos reside in. Almost a ‘zoo’ smell. By far the most interesting.

the topnote of cardamom and lemony pimento is very interesting. The patchouli'-leather-grass-pine accord gives it a ver intriguing, seductive roundness.  Although the lauren menofficial notes say ‘leather’ all over the place, that is one of the least- developed aspects of this profile. the resinous aspect doesn’t really kick in too much for me until an hour or so in. This is one of the few mainstream modern masculines I can stomach, and that’s saying something.

Original Polo (green):

I actually love this one, as I imagine generations have. It is a lovely, classic, piney, masculine, resinous affair, positively dripping with class. I think it captures the Ralph Lauren aesthetic the most completely, since it is retro—and was, I think, even when it came out—in a way that conjures a long-gone age of Evelyn Waugh types lounging about between meals at an estate somewhere.


SO, if you’re gonna go Polo this year for Dad, a good rule of thumb would be to stick with anything in a green bottle, and avoid the rest like the plague. 



Nacho w/prince harry:; interior courtesy of: ttp://; Ad for Polo Blue courtesy of:; boys on horses courtesy of lauren boys courtesy of p://


  1. I'm afraid my knowledge of masculines is severely limited, but I like the sound of the Modern reserve - as soon as I read grass, I'm sold. :) I LOVE grassy smells. I have to try that one (for me I mean).

  2. well, I imagine it isn't hard to find, even in Croatia :-) I love grassy smells as well!

  3. LBV,

    Great post. I like the freedom of your mind and the way you express yourself.
    Have a great Sunday.

  4. thanks Tavarua. Same back to you. Yours, LBV

  5. The blog is very complete and very helpful the pictures you used to understand, really amused me much, but not so much how to use Generic Viagra than that if it's fun, but if I really like your blog!


what thinkest thou?


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