Perfume Pen Pals: Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne and Eau de Parfum Part Two


I've been alternately wearing Helmut Lang Eau De Cologne and Eau De Parfum for several days now and I finally have something to say. Of course, at this stage of my emails, I always think I have something to say and I'm frequently wrong. But I won't let that discourage me.

My response to both was one of surprise, in that they're more opulent than I'd expect from Helmut Lang, and yet more restrained than I'd expect from Maurice Roucel. They smell like Maurice Roucel fragrances art-directed by Helmut Lang. Which I guess shouldn't be surprising at all. (I told you I might have nothing to say.)

You can smell any one of several Roucel perfumes and understand precisely his nature: he's a willful, uncompromising dude with a big aromatic appetite. Hell, you can tell that just from looking at his picture. (That is not the mustache of a man with discrete tastes.)
Maurice patiently awaits further instructions from his moustache.

And on the occasion when his full powers aren't on display -- Kenzo Air, for example -- I assume it's because of budget. Air smells like a slightly cheaper Rochas Man, which in turn smells like a slightly cheaper New Haarlem, which, of those three, is the one I most obviously associate with Roucel and his mustache. New Haarlem is so rich, it could've nourished the Donner Party right through the winter.

But these Helmut Langs are neither cheap-smelling nor excessive. Instead, they both seem like the product of compromise, in the best possible sense.

Eau De Cologne isn't quite a typical eau de cologne, in that it's mostly missing the bright citrus opening and instead almost smells mid-evolution from the moment it's sprayed. It's smooth and green and slightly soapy, not unlike my father's old shaving cream. Masculine but not overly so, it's like one of those old-fashioned scents that expected its wearers to bring their own manliness to the table and not rely on their colognes to do all the work.

The Eau De Parfum is sweeter than the Cologne, more floral and powdery but again, subtly so, a soft, pretty scent that leans in the direction of Roucel's Le Labo Labdanum 18, but only in the same way Reese Witherspoon leans in the direction of Scarlett Johansson: both are lovely but Reese's beauty is somehow less purposeful. I'm certain she'd prefer the Helmut Lang. You know famous people. Is there any way you could confirm this for me?

Purposeful beauty: 88% Scarlett, 5% jaunty chapeau, 7% mysterious veil.

It's possible the relative subtlety of these Helmut Langs is also a matter of budget and not some careful collaboration between a minimalist design house and maximalist perfumer, but I like them, more than I like Kenzo Air, and so until Maurice Roucel lets me know one way or the other, I'm going to believe what I believe. You know perfume people. Is there any way you could confirm this, too? Y'know, after you call Reese.


Read Part One of Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne and Eau de Parfum here.

Looking for a fragrance recommendation? Visit Fume Finder: the Katie Puckrik Smells fragrance app.


  1. I think it wildfull to.
    nice post!

  2. Speaking of Roucel,I admire his derring-do, but no matter how many times I smell Iris Silver Mist, I just can't (or don't know how to) love it.

    Wasn't exactly blown away by L'Instant de Guerlain either.

    Maybe his upper lip hair tones down his compositions in his own nose so much that he has to amp them up for himself so much that we interpret them as bold & uncompromising?

    Just a theory...

  3. DomPerrier - hahaha! LOVE that theory.

    בשמים - thanks indeed!