He Says/She Says: Yves Saint Laurent M7

Yves Saint Laurent M7 fragrance for men

Today Marlen and I are debating the merits of M7, the fragrance launched by Yves Saint Laurent in 2002. It was the line's seventh fragrance for men, and the first under the creative direction of designer Tom Ford. M7 was created by perfumers Jacques Cavallier and Alberto Morillas, and includes notes of agarwood, Haitian vetiver, bergamot, mandarin, rosemary, amber and musk.

He says: I first tested M7 on a warm spring day in Kyoto and immediately thought, “Well this isn’t the best time of year to launch this.” The scent was heavy and rich, masculine and earthy. The most prominent feature was the centerpiece of vetiver — and I’m not a huge fan of vetiver. Having had countless chances to re-visit it, and even more chances to purchase it (I haven’t), I still come to the same conclusion: this is simply too much of a good thing. As a candle, yes. As incense, yes. But as an Eau de Toilette, it’s just too much. If there was some way the fragrance could have been lightened, sweetened, smoked, anything, it could have helped…but I wish it had a little more going on…not that any of the fragrances under Tom Ford’s direction are remarkably complex. I feel that Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Gucci Envy both suffer from similar faults: dark, heavy and missing something.

She says: I can't argue with Marlen that M7 is best enjoyed on a cool day — the weather here today is expected to hit almost 90 degrees, and yes, M7 will no doubt be too much of a good thing before the day is out. But on the right day, it is one of my very favorite fragrances for men.

As with most fragrances containing agarwood, it starts with a bit of a medicinal edge, but that fades along with the short-lived citrus top notes. After that, it is dark, warm, and dry, with a mild spiciness and deep earthy woods. To my nose, it isn't heavy in the least, but it does make a statement, and the intensity of the vetiver and agarwood are not likely to suit you unless you like both notes.

It is rare that I find a scent too masculine to wear, but M7 probably qualifies on that score. I do wear it, but I rarely wear it out of the house. On a man, it is one of the sexiest fragrances I can think of.

Yves Saint Laurent released a lighter version, M7 Fresh, in 2004. I have never tried it but do comment if you have. The regular M7 can be found most anywhere; parfum1 has a 50 ml bottle of the Eau de Toilette for $25.95.

Note: the image shows one of the two original ads for M7, and is via Images de Parfums. Both ads feature tae kwon do champion Samuel de Cubber; the other version (which you can also find at Images de Parfums) showcases his glory a bit more fully and was rejected by several magazines as too controversial.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    His “glory” — ah, is that what you're calling it these days?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just had to go to Images de Parfums and look at the controversial ad. Showing “his glory a bit more fully” is right! I wonder if this ad is acceptable in Europe?

  3. Anonymous says:

    LOL! Please feel free to provide a better euphemism ;-)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I, I don't know, but here is a quote from Women's Wear Daily:

    “Several magazines, including Interview, GQ and Out, rejected the ad that shows model Samuel de Cubber lounging au naturale. only V, Flaunt, Index and Art Forum accepted the nude ad. It will appear in V and Index's November/December issues, and Flaunt and Art Forum's December issues.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    What GLORIous post :-) Seriously though, I haven't tried M7 but have a strong feeling that my feelings for it would me more like Robin's. Vetiver, agarwood? Sounds good to me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This used to be one of my favorite winter fragrances (before I discovered LV Uomo and Vetiver Extraordinaire). Like Marlen said, it has some flaws: it's as loud as granpa without his hearing aid, and the drydown isn't the most refined thing out there… but with those warm woody notes and that dark, angular bottle, what else does an old macho man really need?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Marlen, enjoy your posts and your own site, but aren't you a little hard on poor Tom Ford? Rush is not exactly a simple fragrance (hideous packing, though, I admit).

    As for the ad… my word!

  8. Anonymous says:

    M, I think you would like it. Not sure you'd wear it — it really is very masculine — but I do think you'd like it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Yes, it is loud, although I still won't go for “heavy”. All the same I also find it very relaxing, and although I adore VE it isn't the same sort of thing. Can't remember the LV…

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ah Tigs…Mr. ford isn't all tht bad…he'll completely redeem himself after HE poses naked in his next fragrance ad!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Heehee! Yes, I look forward to that…

  12. Anonymous says:

    M7 would turn any frog to a prince..

  13. Anonymous says:

    Indeed, VE and Uomo are completely different from M7. But all three are good winter fragrances, IMO.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Robin, of course I had to run right over and look at the photo! I believe Marlen has the full frontal posted on his blog …. my, makes me feel all flushed and 17 years old again….

    Oh … yeah … where were we? The fragrance. Agarwood: oui. Vetiver: non, sadly. Ruining, what, 70% of the men's product out there? (on me, that is.)

  15. Anonymous says:


  16. Anonymous says:

    LOL — it makes the Unforgivable ad look rather dull in comparison!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I'm intrigued by this one. I'll have to sample it this weekend. And I love the He Said/She Said format – great! Can you do this more, please?? :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hope you will love it, since I do ;-)

    We used to do the HS/SS more often, but I am always behind on coordinating…we'll try to get back on track!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Oh my! Well, this is certainly a fragrance that brings up all sorts of imagery and is impossible to ignore! It is super masculine; many of today's scents can “swing both ways”, if you will, but not this one. It does have that a strongly medicinal, menthol-type opening, but once you get past that initial blast, the different phases of the drydown are quite intriguing. Ultimately, I think you need the right “look” and personality to pull this one off. It brings to mind a dark, brooding, man with a commanding presence and an overt sexuality…maybe he's even a bit dangerous. Very tough to wear this well if you're more sedate and conservative – could seem like you're trying too hard. I just finished watching the movie Wuthering Heights with Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliffe – now THAT is the kind of man who could wear M7 well! My 17 year old son loves the bodywash, but he said, “I think I need to wait a few years to wear the cologne!” LOL! Savvy young man… ;-)

    Bottom line is…worn by the *right* man under the *right* circumstances, this could be the ticket to olfactory paradise.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Glad you got a chance to try it! Yes, dark & brooding sounds right. Have been meaning to watch that version of Wuthering Heights, although I have a hard time picturing RF as Heathcliff…

  21. Anonymous says:

    I had a hard time picturing him in that role, too, but he was great (though I admit my bias as I have a huge crush on him)! Ralph Fiennes wearing M7…hmm…deadly combo. ;-)

  22. Anonymous says:

    I like him too…will have to watch it, although as much as I like him he just doesn't seem Heathcliff-ish.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Agree, and this could turn ME [on] from a honey-bunny into a carnivorous animal with teeth ready to bite some beloved flesh… I usually don't like perfumes to interfere in my intimate life, I prefer the smell of body, but this one makes an exception. Really. Love potion squared J

  24. Anonymous says:

    OK This is my first posting. So please be gentle with me!

    I'm a true fragrance junkie and I keep changing colognes.

    I read Kevin, Robin and Marlen's reviews “religiously” but I'm no pro when it comes to describing fragrance notes…

    M7 is one of my favorite scents though and I wear it a lot albeit occasionally and especially in cold weather. When I do wear it, the day never goes by without someone commenting favorably. Ladies usually are in awe over it and I get stopped by stangers in elevators for example. Recently there was that Japanese cute “techno” couple who looked like they were made of money, shopping at Saks while I was there. They were walking behind me and started making weird sounds…When I noticed they were trying to get my attention, I turned around and SHE decided to overcome her shyness and ask me what I was wearing so her BF could buy it! I said YSL M7 but you won't find it HERE!

    Gee I keep wonder why M7 did not become a best seller! It is perfect in evet sense, scent, bottle packaginf!

    Could it have been Tom Ford's “jinxed” aura and his parting with Gucci/YSL at that time? How unfortunate!

    Kevin please comment if you can.

    I first discovered M7 in the fall of 2002 while doing some shopping at Holt Renfrew in Toronto on a business trip. I immediately fell in love with the “mediciney” scent. I walked around a little bit then went back to that lady and bought it.

    I decided to post this TODAY comment simply because I just got back in from yet another business trip…To DUBAI this time.

    While at the airport and heading to my departure gate, I went into the Duty Free store for asecond and saw the M7 section.

    It was the first time I saw M7 Fresh…I sprayed it on my hand.

    My flight was boarding and I was in a hurry to get back so I rushed through the second security check. Once I sat in my 1A seat, I sniffed my arm where I had sprayed M7 Fresh and FELL IN LOVE…Again!

    There are no words to describe M7 fresh except that it's awesome! It's like the classic M7 but with added Citrus, grapefruit and Lemoney headnotes to balance the dry Vetiver and woods out. I could almost detect some ginger as well which wasa also very nice.

    Darn I wish I had bought it but missed out on it so stupidly. M7 Fresh is almost impossible to find. I looked everywhere for it in the US and could not locate a single bottle.

    If I'm lucky enough to spot some one day in Duty Free or outside the US, I will make sure to stock on it! Simply Delicious!


  25. Anonymous says:

    Eric: only the perfume gods, advertisers and just plain FATE decide which scents catch on and which ones fade away. I've never smelled M7 Fresh but you can buy a bottle at http://www.imaginationperfumery.com. I don't believe I've ever seen it on perfume shelves ANYwhere…perhaps it's a limited edition or simply has limited distribution. Certainly the Middle East is a perfect place for it because the “medicine-like” note you mention in M7 formulas is aoud/oudh…an ingredient in the most precious perfumes from that part of the world. Many believe the oudh is the reason M7 never caught on with 'mainstream' audiences in the U.S. (And thanks for writing in…we are ALWAYS gentle with commenters!) Kevin

  26. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, thank you so much! You ARE one of MY Perfume Gods!

    I truly enjoy reading your reviews. Your review of Hermes Bel Ami was awesome and your review of Old Spice was actually a masterpiece!

    I will send you LUI by Rochas and can't wait to see what you think of it.

    (And what about Hermes Equipage, Chanel Pour Monsieur and uber-cult-seller Chanel Antaeus??? hint hint)



  27. Anonymous says:

    M7 Fresh is very, very, very similar to Ormonde Jayne Man.

    It is ever so slightly more dense, and lasts a bit longer, while the OJM is slightly better composed. But, truly, if you have one you don't really need the other.

    Compared to the regular M7, M7 Fresh is less aggressive, and in some ways a little less interesting as a result.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much, I have still haven't tried it.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I think I must be very lucky with this.
    I've read some comments either here or on Basenotes about how the drydown is a bit spiky with M7, that can only be a skintype issue. On my skin M7 is like a creamy caramel, rich, smooth and slightly sweet. The initial cough medicine oud (or however it's spelt) disappears in 5-10 minutes as the fragrance snuggles down on my skin and makes itself at home, waving contentedly at admiring passers by.
    A lot of people seem to thing this is not a warm weather scent, but I would wear this quite happily in warmer weather, much as I do Terre D'Hermes, another warm and rich scent.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like it works well on you, congrats.

  31. sue says:

    Has it been reformulated???

  32. oneweb says:

    I am looking for a bottle of the regular M7 or Fresh. Not sure where to go and not have to worry if it’s genuine.

  33. Owen says:

    I smelled this for the first time yestersday, I was in Debenhams with my mum and we were walking past the YSL counter, the new little square bottles caught my eye (I remembered seeing them on here) so I began sniffing them. the sales assistant (she was one of the rare sale assistant that actually knew what she was talking about and knew a lot about the company) came over and started telling us all about the different scents, how they came about and things.

    M7 is one of the fragrances that is now available in the new little square bottles. so they have the old packaging on sale.

    I’m not sure if I like M7 or not :S the sales assistant sprayed it on a tester strip. I liked the bold opening (and my mum didn’t) then we got home and it quietened down a little bit and something else came to front, is that the vetiver? because that’s the bit I’m unsure about (my mum likes that bit), we have such different tastes in perfume they’re nearly opposite!

    so I need to test this on skin a couple of times to be sure if I’ll like it/ buy it. and for a limited time, you can get a free YSL charm bracelet with fragrance purchases.

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