Black Candy


– a review of Yohji Yamamoto’s ‘Yohji Homme’

It’s not exactly a state secret I’m a big fan of some masculines, or those who are officially dubbed ‘unisex’ but can be worn by either gender. I wore Eau Sauvage. I wore Guerlain’s Vetiver long before that was the fashionable thing to do, and even longer before Guerlain came out with ‘Vetiver pour Elle’. I adore Dior Homme in both the ordinary and Intense versions, I love Yves Saint Laurent’s M7, and if you push me hard enough, I will admit to a secret admiration for Gaultier’s ‘Fleur du Mâle’.

Wear what you love, never mind the label.

In the great gender-divide category, there is one that towers over them all, the one I never hope to be without, the one that blew my nose to smithereens and threw me to the floor because it was the most unusual perfume I had ever met at that time, and even today, there is nothing remotely like…Serge Lutens’ ‘Chêne’. Chêne is one of my invisible armor scents, one I wear when I want to make sure I can handle whatever the day might throw my way and I’m not in any particular girlie frame of mind. I adore it so, I wrote it into the storyline of my book, which means even the Devil had only good things to say about it. It’s green and sappy – never a bad thing in my book. It contains a suspicious amount of smoke and booze, a rum note, I think, but it’s not sweet, as rummy scents so often are, or if it is, it’s just enough to sand down the wood so you don’t get splinters up your nose when you inhale, and inhale, you certainly will. Not frilly, not feminine, nor even especially butch. Just the entire tree and the rum that soaked into the barrel that tree made and a touch of smoke from the pitch resin used to seal it tight. It’s great on me, and I can only imagine how it would work for a man.

There is nothing quite like it. So I thought, and polished my halo.

Some time ago, I received a care package from the devious Dee of Beauty on the Outside, and there were several things that rearranged my synapses in more ways than one. And one I simply couldn’t leave alone, it was so strange and so compelling and so perfectly weird and weirdly…perfect. I wore it to bed one night and dreamed of it. I’d tell you the rest of the dream, but this is a perfume blog.

Licorice as a note usually makes me scream and run for cover. (Although I do like to eat it on occasion, just not the US version. Twizzlers need not apply.) If I continue that line of thought and add coffee, lavender, coriander, cinnamon and rum, it all adds up to one of the finer WTF moments in my perfumed history. No. No way. Never. Not if Hell freezes, which it won’t. The entire combination screams wrong, wrong, wrong in the direst of basso profundos.

Unless it’s the now sadly discontinued Yohji Homme by Yohji Yamamoto, which is so wrong, it’s perfect. Just like Chêne, there really isn’t anything else remotely like it.

You know this will end in tears, right? Because Yohji Homme is the closest thing to bottled rock’n’roll and so-bad-it’s-awesome I have yet to encounter.

I’ve met a few bad-boy perfumes in my day. There was the Aramis my first-ever boyfriend wore, some years later followed by Drakkar Noir. Don’t get me started on Kouros. Tuscany for Men. Cool Water. Caron’s Le 3. Homme, which worked very well for a certain man. A rather sexy former father-in-law who swore by Mouchoir de Monsieur.

I’m reminded of a passage I wrote in ‘Quantum Demonology’, describing certain musical Primeval Forces of the Universe. There’s cool. Cool is worthy of interest, but no cigar. All the way up to the ones who loom so large and powerful, that only the description Primeval Force will do.

Here it is in a bottle, a Primeval Force of Fumes. Fougère but not, licorice/anise, but so much more, cinnamon and rum and it should all be a spectacular, greenish black, very profane mess. If the reviews on Basenotes are anything to go by, there are a quite a few people who think it is.

Let ‘em. I’m in the mood to throw all caution to the wind and tie myself to these railroad tracks. Oh, baby…bring it on! The sweet and the bitter, the bracing green of lavender and the sweet-bitter rummy-yummy utter alien strangeness grabs me by the nose and does not take no for an answer.

Black candy, the kind that kills you for anything less dangerous forever, the kind you can’t forget. So wrong it’s right, so strange it’s perfect, such a total, heartbreaking rotter of a scent, and I am. Helpless. To. Resist, caught in its midnight black glare.

We shall love truly and madly and forever and a spray, and then…not even the finest linen Mouchoir of any Monsieur will provide comfort for my broken heart.

Like so many rock’n’rollers, Yohji Homme, alas, is…no more. I did a bit of research and discovered the going rate for the few bottles that are left. Pass the smelling salts of every single insipid man-scent created ever since, and just leave me to my misery already.

Black candy of a very dangerous kind, black candy that died on the vine…and then departed, leaving me to soak my entire box of Kleenex.

Sniff. I still have Chêne. I should count my blessings.

Notes according to Fragrantica: Coriander, lavender, bergamot, anise, cinnamon, licorice, leather, rum.
Image: Licorice Candy Twist

Thanks to Dee The Devious for sending it to me. Or maybe not…;)

8 thoughts on “Black Candy

  1. As I've already mentioned to you, T., when I first sniffed this fragrance, I instantly thought of you (and then I thought of James Dean). I'm glad I wasn't off! … Although I am sorry to have created a lemming that cannot be satisfied…

    YH is pretty bad-ass, and I loved reading your take on it, so thank YOU. 😉

  2. Who knew that Black Candy would be so hard to find? Oh yeah, He did. 🙂

    Let me mention right off that I used to wear Kouros when I was about 15. I was experimental with fragrance, but I'm not sure what exactly I liked about it. I can't tolerate it now. And, too many scummy metalheads I've dated have worn Drakkar Noir, so I can't tolerate that either anymore.

    Anyway, I will keep my eye open for any possibility of snagging a bottle of this. Where there's a will, there's a way, Primeval Forces and mere mortals alike.

  3. Good lord, woman! I feel like I need to take a cold shower after reading this. Especially since it sounds like I might as well cool my jets since it's in such limited supply and at such a misery-inducing price tag. I'm going to go do a search for it anyway. A girl can hope!

  4. Dee, I really can't thank you enough for this one, because you thought dead right. I can understand the James Dean completely.

    Glad you liked my take on this, even if it was…a tad unorthodox. It seemed to fit the 'fume, ya know? 🙂

  5. Carrie, if anyone would get my little joke in synaesthesia, I knew it would be you!

    (And yes, he did! 🙂 )

    I can't abide Kouros now, ever since a colleague bought – and used – every single permutation thereof every single day… I've heard of overkill, but that was practically ritual murder…;) My sister used to adore Obsession for Men (miles better than the women's version, I always thought), so I can understand.

    You wonder what it is with sleaze and scummy metalheads that goes so well with Drakkar Noir. Is it that the scent itself is as loud and noxious as they are? Ya think?

    I'll tell you and all of you in the US, since they don't do these things over here. Should you ever locate a bottle of Yohji Homme in some 'undiscovered treasure' location for a song or close enough, let me know. We'll split! or decant. Or something. This IS…a Primeval Force, after all…;)

  6. B – you're so, so right, as always. Better to have loved and lost…or loved and sniffed! – than never to have loved at all. But darn it! Why do they have to discontinue all the GOOD stuff, while Hugo Boss anything lives forever?

    Don't tell me. Life isn't fair. I know…:)

  7. Suzanne, if I've accidentally induced a heat flash by words alone, then I do apologize! 😉 It's just not every day I encounter a Primeval Force of 'Fumes! This is very much – so say a few on both Basenotes and Fragrantica – a love it or hate it. So now, your curiosity is killing you, right? 🙂

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