I'm wearing Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne every single day and I'm close to declaring it my favorite eau de cologne. The problem is I'm mindful of the appeal of the rare (TAOTR), that because this stuff is no longer made and sells for increasingly high prices on eBay, I get excited before I even spray it on. How much does this excitement influence my opinion of Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne? I say not at all, but then I'm not a fair judge. And yet I am a fair judge because I'm mindful, or at least I say I'm mindful, but who really knows the truth? We humans are so good at justifying ourselves, we're sometimes difficult to read. I boast about my mindfulness all the time in therapy, but some days I feel like I'm most mindful of my deceptiveness. Which is a start, I suppose.
|The perfect fragrance for your therapy session.|
These are the things I'm certain are true about Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne: it's uncommonly warm and rich for a cologne, almost creamy, no spiky citrus opening, just smooth and strong, a real Cary Grant cologne. Except I'm sure Creed insists Grant only wore one of its colognes. (When did Creed claim all the good celebrities? Sometime in the 1990s, right?)
|Helmut Lang EDC: smooth and strong, just like this man.|
It smells like Maurice Roucel taking a few small but crucial steps back from his typical 100-piece-orchestra compositions. Eau de Cologne is a 20-piece orchestra, and it's rare and selling for a whole lot on eBay and if I could manage to get that out of my head for five minutes, I'd trust my opinion more.
You like this one, don't you? And you're not affected by the marketplace in the ways I am. Would you say it's one of the greatest discontinued fragrances of recent years? One of the greatest men's fragrances of recent years? Be mindful, don't get carried away, but tell me what you think.
With as much mindfulness as I can muster, I will pronounce Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne one of the greatest discontinued men's fragrances in recent years. But I'm nervous about declaring it one the the greatest men's fragrances, because declaring such a thing sounds so....declaratory.
Without getting carried away, I can say that I love smelling HM EDC. It's one of those soft, fresh musks like Mugler Cologne and Prada Amber pour Homme and Gendarme and Le Labo Musc 25 (though the last two fall in the "Killing Me Softly" category of bombastic laundry musks). I love that it's on the subsonic side -- with no sillage to speak of -- and brews subtly on the body to form a brand new "factory setting" smell. As I said to you before, it makes your skin smell worn-in, very day-after-the-shower -- a smell that I find suggests a delicious intimacy.
Hmm. I'm sort of talking myself into thinking it's one of the greatest men's fragrances of recent years.
But wait -- I thought Roger & Gallet Bois d'Orange was your favorite cologne ever....
Bois d'Orange is spikier and spicier, more of what you might expect from a cologne, and while I won't discount points for predictability when something is good (and Bois d'Orange is good), I will give extra credit for surprise, and Helmut Lang EDC surprises. And, yes, it's the softness. It's soft and warm and billowy.
|Helmut Lang EDC creator Maurice Roucel: he's soft, warm and billowy.|
I sort of see the comparison with Mugler Cologne but I remember that one being pitched higher. (I also remember not liking it as much as most people seem to like it.) The Helmut Lang is quiet but it's also full. Although it doesn't project, it somehow encompasses. If it were a song, it would be Love's "Alone Again Or." It's quietly majestic.
I won't address the Prada comparison, though, because it was Prada that killed off Helmut Lang EDC when it acquired the brand. A pox on the house of Prada!
Catch up on the Perfume Pen Pals' first go-round with Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne here and here.