Duc de Vervins (Houbigant)

"Elegance distinguishes a men," reads the sample card copy. "A distinguished an long lastin fragrance, this warm, yet fresh scent is truly for a man with innate and exceptional taste."

But no spellcheck, evidently. Worse yet, imagine the above speech coming at you through a vocoder set to maximum robotic creepiness.  That's what you get with Duc de Vervins:  a fragrance for the man who requires a pool of shadow in which to be interviewed on Dateline.

Labeled by Luca Turin "the worst fougère of all time" (at least until Coty Avatar came along), Duc de Vervins occupies the same 'bullyboy' category of fragrance as Drakkar Noir. Being that I believe that DN has been flogged to death, you'd think I'd be happy for something to take its place.  I'm just not convinced that Duc de Vervins is the lesser of two evils.  True, it isn't nearly as egregious as DN; its basil-leaf top note offers appealing freshness without the brutality of calone, and it behaves itself by staying far closer to the skin.  But this very civility is what makes me nervous-- because Duc de Vervins is still awful.  Its good points coerce you into trying it on, and then its migraine-inducing bad points appear like magic.

If Drakkar Noir is the obnoxious, boastful alpha-male who sinks fourteen tequilas and starts pinching women's asses, Duc de Vervins is the viper-quiet charmer who watches the party all night from a carefully-chosen strategic corner.  He certainly appears more clean-cut and WASPy than his gold-chain-wearing counterpart, but therein lies the danger.  Duc de Vervins is all handsomeness and no heart.   Underneath that crisp, yuppie exterior, he's a sneaky, persuasive bastard on the hunt for your weak spots.  You'll only notice his flat affect and cold eyes when it's much, much too late.

Luckily, you'll smell anyone wearing Duc de Vervins from so far away that avoidance should be a snap. If you catch a whiff of him on the breeze, sister, don't take any chances. Run. Run like the wind and never look back.

Scent Elements: Basil, cinnamon, hesperides, citronella, coumarin, clove, oakmoss (Evernia prunastri), treemoss (Evernia furfuracea), rose geranium, lily-of-the-valley, and a tanker truck full of trouble.