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Yohji Homme – The meaning of the dog – October 26, 2012 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Yohji Yamamoto print ad for Yohji Homme, 1999

I love this ad for Yohji Homme. It’s from 1999 when this men’s frag was launched by Yohji Yamamoto, the avant-garde fashion designer who’s now 69 years old, and still very much in the fashion game - have a look at his Fall 2012 Y’s line here.

Considered to be one of the most creative minds in the fashion industry, Yamamoto has been praised by the fashion world and honoured by governments for his trend-setting designs since his debut in the late 70’s. His signature oversized silhouettes, perfectly tailored in unusual black fabrics and often with oddly angled or draped details, blurred the lines between masculine and feminine, challenged Western notions of beauty/sex in clothing and influenced many designers who followed in his wake. Women's Wear Daily in November 2000 commented, "Do designers have to shout to be heard? Not always. Yohji Yamamoto certainly doesn't." He’s still not shouting, and he’s still setting trends.

Back to the ad….what’s the dog there for? Is it Yohji’s dog, or just a dog that wandered on the set? Is he marking his territory? Hunting ? – that long cylindrical glass bottle could be what he’s after. Does it mean Yohji Homme smells like an old dog? - it IS a man’s fragrance, after all. Who knows? Like his designs, the ad’s oddness challenges traditional images associated with perfumes, and I, for one, find it very funny – it makes me laugh. I really want to get a sniff of this frag after seeing this dog! However, the ad apparently didn’t do a great job of selling Yohji Homme to the masses, because the frag was discontinued after a few years, and is now almost impossible to find anywhere, at any price less than a small mortgage.

Yohji Homme is almost a gourmand, but not; almost a fougère, but not. Fragrantica lists it as woody spicy fragrance with an anise note. Created by Jean-Michel Duriez, the note list includes coriander, lavender, anise, carnation, cinnamon, licorice, Brazilian rosewood, geranium, leather, sandalwood, tonka bean, coffee, rum, cedar. That’s a fully-packed note list, but the scent is mostly about about anise, coffee and cocoa. This aromatic combo reminds me of Lolita Lempicka and Bond No. 9 New Haarlem, but in Yohji Homme this dominant accord is much more refined and understated than in either of those two excellent scents. In the dry-down when the anise has receded into the background, it’s closer to Luten’s Borneo 1834, minus the patchouli, but much lighter and airier.

I smell the anise note right up front, but it’s not an in-your-face, annoyingly sweet licorice. Mixed with coriander, cinnamon and lavender, it completely bypasses the "foody" gourmand effect, and becomes a perfectly balanced herbaceous accord with a slightly bitter twist. It doesn’t become what my brain expects, and I like that.

The heart is almost floral, spicy from carnation and rosewood and softly edged with green galbanum. The dry-down is rich from creamy sandalwood (the good stuff), as well as the powdery notes of cocoa from tonka, and coffee beans, which are dark, dry and sensual. Rum adds a crème brulée sweetness and when mixed with leather, resinous cedar, and anise, makes the dry-down of Yohji Homme an intoxicating olfactory experience that you don’t want to miss. The boozy earthy accord also has a bitter twist from the burnt sugar, and it smells subtle, mysterious, chic, expensive and sexy all at the same time. I can’t stop sniffing it, and it smells like genius to me.

In an interview in WWD September 29, 2012, Yamamoto says that he thinks only about 2%-3% of people in an audience will “get” the creative message in his dark textured designs – the other 97% won’t get it, and he doesn’t care. Yohji Homme, the fragrance, has Yamamoto’s signature dark design. Inspired by the same inky black colour as his clothing fabrics, he uses black licorice, layered with dark cocoa, coffee, rum, to build a scent that initially presents itself as very reserved, almost somber, but which in its heart of hearts, is filled with colour. Floral notes of purple, green, pink, make Yohji Homme come alive as it unfolds . And the way it unfolds into the sensual base notes - there’s a creative vision at work which makes this frag really unique. But, and here’s the big BUT - you can only know this by sniffing and experiencing it, and if you can’t get past the black colour, past the anise, then..…you’ll be in the 97%.

Back to the Yohji Homme ad…I think I know the meaning of the dog. Here’s the formula:    1 dog nose= 15 human noses. So sniff, sniff like a dog, and you’ll “get” the creative message in Yohji Homme. I also think that the launch of Yohji Homme was the one time that Yohji Yamamoto should have shouted, because this quiet, exceptionally beautiful fragrance was way ahead of its time, and needed a big voice behind it, and now it’s gone.

Today, we’re adding Yohji Homme to our decant listing. Decants are $6.00. It is equally fabulous on male or female skin.