I know what you’re thinking, L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme was pretty fresh to begin with, so how and more importantly, why, have they released an even fresher version? Well, the answers to those questions shall be revealed later on in this review, but first a little bit of background. Issey Miyake launched L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme in 1994, two years after its incredibly successful feminine predecessor. The fragrance was created by legendary perfumer Jacques Cavallier, who has fashioned iconic fragrances such as; Jean Paul Gaultier’s Classique, Stella by Stella McCartney and Rive Gauche Pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent. In line with its feminine counterpart, L’Eau d’Issey the masculine came onto the scene as a sanitised air of ozonic woods that presented freshness, freshness and more freshness, serving as an antidote to the olfactory excesses of the 1980s. It quite rightly became a legend amongst men.
My feelings towards L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme have always sat in the admiration camp rather than the love camp. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fragrance and growing up in the ‘90s and ‘00s smelling it was a regular occurrence because just about every guy I knew rocked it at some point, but I was always more of a Le Mâle guy and my loyalties at that time weren’t quite as prolific as they are now. So yes, I like Issey Miyake Pour Homme very much and I find its minimalist style but maximalist volume to be very Issey Miyake. It’s a fragrance that is completely impressive in every way and is deservedly one of the icons of modern masculine perfumery. Luckily for admirers and wearers alike, we have a new version of this legend to appreciate: L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Fraîche Eau de Toilette.
L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Fraîche Eau de Toilette has been created to provide an invigorating and revitalising experience. The brand describe it as “a rush of pure, natural adrenalin” and smelling the fragrance I can completely see what they mean. This Fraîche version showcases two ingredients that provide bracing energy, specifically grapefruit and white patchouli. All together the fragrance intends to reawaken the senses by approaching the ever-familiar and ever-pleasing tones of L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme from an entirely new angle – a view point that celebrates the intensity of freshness.
Top: Grapefruit, Bergamot, Rosemary and Mint
Heart: Mate, May Rose and Pink Pepper
Base: Patchouli and Musk
How Does it Smell?
So how do they make it fresher? Well, the answer is simple: grapefruit. In Fraîche, perfumer Christophe Raynaud has taken the familiar signature of L’Eau d’Issey and injected it with a generous dose of bitter, acerbic grapefruit. This gives the fragrance one heck of a punch to begin with, almost if one is being whacked in the face by a rather large piece of fruit, albeit in a less painful and wholly more pleasant manner. In the opening stages the fragrance fizzes with tart fruit dew, cool breaths of ozone and a gorgeously revitalising fresh mint accord, that really does make you want to breathe it in. So yes, Fraîche definitely is fresher!
Much of the fragrance remains similar to the original however, the iconic aquatic and ozonic tones of L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme have been dialled down to a subtle hum which remains in the background, always reminding you of the family from which this scent comes from however, these hums never take over. This version feels as if it has been painted with bolder colours than the original, with warmer tones of yellow, orange and brown, rather than the pale palette of whites, creams and blues one usually associates with the Miyake fragrances. These colours come in the form of a bold rose note that adds a touch of clove-y spice and plays nicely into the sharpness of the grapefruit, allowing for a multi-faceted experience.
In the base, L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Fraîche Eau de Toilette dries down to a blend of woods, patchouli and musks. Like the original it isn’t smooth at all and it celebrates the roughness of these incredibly nuanced textures. Patchouli adds a fuzzy, sour feel, whilst the woods provide a solid foundation that carries the spicier facets through to the base, and the musk just gives the whole thing a sense of elevation and expanse. The other good thing is that the lasting power which, matched with its impressive volume, does not disappoint. If you like your refreshing scents big, and I mean BIG, then this Fraîche interpretation of Issey Miyake’s premier masculine fragrance will be right up your street.
L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homme Fraîche is an enjoyable fragrance that provides refreshment in hot weather and a complimentary iciness in colder times. It manages to be instantly recognisable in line with the original whilst adding a new twist to stand out from its forbearer however, that said, loyal wearers of L’Eau d’Issey may not find it different enough to warrant splashing out (pun intended) seeing as the original wears fairly comfortably in summer anyway. Personally, Fraîche stands out as a masculine summer fragrance that utilises good quality citrus ingredients rather than trying to fall into the sports-style scent trap that more often than not results in something that smells like a locker room, rather than a pleasant spritz of sun. Actually, that’s quite a good description for this one: a pleasant dose of sunshine served in Issey Miyake’s inimitable style. Yes, that fits quite nicely indeed!