digging (into) vintage: Yves Saint Laurent Kouros, 1981

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Perfumer Pierre Bourdon

I’ve worn Kouros on and (mostly) off since its release. I’ve never found it skanky or off-putting in the least. Categorically, I find it a musky, spicy-floral fougère. I’ll admit the musks give it a bit of a mammalian undertone, but the clove, botany’s super antimicrobial, more than holds the unwashed at bay. I tend to find the musks that others find raunchy, dirty or displeasing merely skin-sweet and appealing. I find Muscs Koublai Khan adorable and actually a bit quaint.

So here’s my scorecard on the judgments leveled on Kouros:

Musky? —Yes. Sweet like the skin at the nape of someone’s neck.

Clovelike? —Yes, cool to the touch.

Indolic? — Yes. Orange blossom.

Urinous? — No. Skin, not piss. The overlapping skin musks give Kouros a locker-room intimacy.

Poopy? — No. Simply, no.

Powerhouse? Compared to an eau de cologne for instance, yes. Otherwise, if worn at a moderate dose, it works like any other perfume—you know, you’re supposed to be able to smell it.

All I knew on my own skin before Kouros was the original Chanel’s Antaeus. It was dark and brooding and had huge projection and sillage. I wasn’t sparing in applying Antaeus and while it left a wake a mile wide, I believe it often actually preceded me into a room as well. By comparison, Kouros was a sweet pussycat.


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