Ralph Lauren Big Pony Fragrance Collection ~ fragrance reviews

I’ve never had much luck with Ralph Lauren fragrances. I like Polo and used to wear Monogram (discontinued long ago), but no other Ralph Lauren cologne has excited me. The new Big Pony Fragrance Collection, aimed at 18-30-year-old men, isn’t cutting-edge, but all four fragrances are well-made and perfectly formulated for their target audience: young men who — from what I see and hear in the shops and smell on the streets — don’t want “weird” perfumes, but prefer familiar-smelling, not-too-complex, clean/fresh fragrances.

Big Pony No. 1 (the “sporty” offering of the collection, in the blue bottle) is one of my Big Pony favorites; it lists only notes of lime and grapefruit, but I detect strong lemon peel-bergamot during its opening. After the lemon-bergamot burns off, I smell an aromatic lime-grapefruit accord that reminds me of a drink made of one part spicy ginger ale to one part Fresca (lime wedge squeezed on top). Big Pony No. 1 is “fizzy,” crisp, refreshing and clean with only the tiniest driblet of light musk in the extreme dry-down.

Big Pony No. 2 (red bottle, described as “seductive/sexy”) contains dark chocolate and musk (and a touch of vetiver?) Chocolate (think “candy bar” not unsweetened cocoa), enlivened by some warm citrus in the opening, leads to a pleasant, creamy musk and sugary talc accord in the base. The chocolate note in Big Pony No. 2 is not too strong for hot weather and is “prom-night” special. Big Pony No. 2 seems like a young man’s idea of a “sexy” and dressy fragrance with its ‘edible’/foody notes mixed with light, non-confrontational musk.

Big Pony No. 3 comes in a bright green bottle and it presents “adventurous” mint and ginger root. Aromatic ginger and lemony-bergamot notes make up the greater part of this fragrance; there’s also a hint of sweatiness in the opening notes that I associate with dried mint leaves. (Big Pony No. 3 does not contain a bright, “mouthwash” mint aroma.) Big Pony No. 3 has a dry-down of sweet, citrus-y woods and is tied with Big Pony No. 1 as my favorite of the collection.

Finally, “stylish” Big Pony No. 4 (orange bottle, containing mandarin and kyara wood) starts with generic spices and faux mandarin. Big Pony No. 4 has the strangest mid-development aroma I’ve encountered in awhile — a “chilled luncheon meat” and floral accord. This “baloney-peony” accord fades fast and must be a result of a clash between citrus, “kyara wood” and musk. When its “deli” phase is over, Big Pony No. 4 is a standard-issue citrus-woody-musk fragrance (and to my nose, the dud of the collection).

The Ralph Lauren Big Pony Fragrance Collection for Men is part of the larger Ralph Lauren Big Pony polo clothing line for men, women, children…and dogs! Each of the four Big Pony Eaux de Toilette has good lasting power and sillage and comes in two sizes: 75 ml for $50 and 125 ml for $65. A coffret of all four fragrances in 15 ml bottles is available for $45.

Note: top image of Whistlejacket by George Stubbs [cropped & altered] via Wikimedia Commons.

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66 Comments

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  1. Rictor07 says:

    I thought 1, 3 and 4 were all the same scent, but that could be due in part to the fact that i only bothered to smell any of them on paper. 2 was pretty spicy and woody for me for a while, and then the cocoa revealed itself. In any case, I wouldnt wear any of them.

    • Kevin says:

      Rictor: “paper-smelling” is really useless I think…when a sales associate hands me a card I refuse it, HA!

      • Rictor07 says:

        but sometimes my skin real estate has been all used up.

        • Kevin says:

          R: that’s when you DEMAND samples and go home!

  2. Nina says:

    These all seemed like things I’d smelled before a dozen times, so it’s interesting to learn that they’re targeted at chaps who want more-of-the-same. I didn’t skin-test any of them, but I didn’t think I’d want them on a man near me! I also wasn’t wild about the garish colours on the bottles, which didn’t seem to match the Sloaney image suggested by the ads. Love the cute dog, though!

    • Kevin says:

      Nina: I like the colored bottles, but they don’t go with the filmed ad very well, do they? And I could have done without the HUGE numbers on the bottles.

  3. Dzingnut says:

    “Baloney-peony” and “deli accord” HA! Those are excellent, Kevin.
    Big Pony (much as I love horses) sounds too close to Big Phoney … but I love the little polo shirt on the doggie! I would buy one for my fatcat Falco in a second (if it was on clearance). He would look adorable with his furry rolls of chub peeking out.
    And thanks for the Stubbs image – my favorite painter!

    • Kevin says:

      Dzingnut: the dog polos are on SALE right now online I believe.

  4. I tried these last week, and pretty much hated them all. Thanks for your take on them Kev.

    • Kevin says:

      C: you’re welcome…I don’t think they’re going to get much LOVE from the perfumistos out there.

  5. teri says:

    I think Rockne, my Irish Setter pup, requires one of those dog tees. He’s definitely a sporty type of fella.

    • ggperfume says:

      Rockne– great name.

    • Kevin says:

      Teri: an Irish setter and a RL polo would go well together…purple? dark green?

  6. Dixie says:

    “Tiniest driblet”! I love your reviews! They are so entertaining. I never heard of these and will not seek them out (except for #1 to see if I can smell the tiniest driblet of light musk-giggle)!

    • Kevin says:

      Dixie: I’m keeping them in mind for everyone who asks me “what kind of cologne can I get for my teen nephew…?”

  7. Daisy says:

    Big Phoney (good job Dzingnut…I think you’ve added to NST-speak) #1 sounds ok, except I am always nervous about grapefruit, although, the addition of a lime slice improves most everything. #3 sounded the best with ginger and lemony-bergamot . #2 with it’s chocolate bar note is making me feel a little nauseated and #4, well, the very idea of a baloney-peony note pretty much finished me off… gah …blechh…good to know to give these babies a wide berth if I see them, don’t worry, I’ll try not to make eye contact….

    • Daisy says:

      Oh, I completely forgot to blast the bottles….godawful. While it’s nice to know that finger paint colors are still alive and well in the world the polo pony logo on the bottle just (further) cheapens the look AND then the giant numbers on the other side…. really, was it too difficult to think up names? oh, just stick a number on it, who cares!?

      I’ll temper all this vitriol with the admission that years ago (in college) I wore Ralph by Ralph Lauren in that lovely dark ruby glass bottle…and received many compliments on it. I don’t really remember clearly what it smelled like…only that people often noticed and commented.

      • Rictor07 says:

        I think the numbers are supposed to be representative of the big numbers the horses and jockeys wear during a race that correspond to which gate they came out of.

        • Daisy says:

          I’m sure you are completely correct—however, I think it makes for an unpleasant and somewhat juvenile looking bottle.

          • Kevin says:

            Daisy: are you LISTENING ot ME? “Juvenile” is the key word!

          • Daisy says:

            oh so sorry Kevin, I must have been distracted by the blood pounding in my ears and the waves of nausea roiling through my entire body….I’m telling ya’ —this morning chocolate/baloney was just TOO much. ( I’m actually only half kidding–I really did have to step outside and breathe some fresh air after reading that—I don’t know why but it really made me feel ill)

    • Kevin says:

      Daisy: they are BRIGHT on the counter…you can’t miss ‘em!

      • Daisy says:

        as I said : W I D E B E R T H

  8. Karin says:

    Am I the only one who thinks the naming “Big Pony” is awful? I get that it refers to the RL logo, but still…

    • wondermelmo says:

      I’ve been attempting to not allow my voice to drop when introducing to “big pony” (no, dear, speak up, capital letters!) I understand it, but I don’t love it.

      • wondermelmo says:

        Of course I meant ‘introducing customers to’. Ugh. Time for a cup of black tea.

        • miss kitty v. says:

          I think you should run with it. Sidle up to customers, purring, “Heyyyy, big pony! Would you like to try some Big Pony?”

          • Daisy says:

            possible outcomes: increased sales or being arrested……

    • Kevin says:

      Karin: I think it’s fun! Compared to all the Noir, Bleu, Black, Rouge names out there.

    • Pimpinett says:

      Nope, wlthough it strikes me as more comical than awful. These fragrances all sound like a big, expensive joke.

  9. sarahbeth says:

    Yes, admittedly Ralph was one of my faves in high school (along with Anais Anais), but according to Turin/Sanchez it has undergone the dreaded vampiresque reformulation and is nothing of what it was back then. These do not interest me in the least NOW (‘Big Pony” and the primary color selection, plus uber large logo, seems more designed for preschoolers, frankly), but if I was still in high school with the accompanying high school age mentality, who’s to say I would not be dousing myself, or my boyfriend, in them?

    • Daisy says:

      Agree, 18 to 30 ? More like 15 to 22 I would think is the group that is really going to respond to these.
      Those big block numbers on the brightly colored bottles remind me of the fun building blocks my daughter had when she was a toddler and just learning numbers….fond memories for moms, but not for perfumes!

      • Morgan says:

        I’m always surprised by the juvenile tastes of 30 year old men

        • Daisy says:

          my dear, you make a valid point. All male persons in this blog excluded of course. (you show good taste just by being here)

  10. miss kitty v. says:

    I am still slightly sedated from a morning medical test, but the #1 and #3 were sounding pretty good to me. I’ll have to sniff them the next time I’m frantically trying to get in and out of the mall in ten minutes.

    • Kevin says:

      Miss K: now, you are a true perfumista…giving them a chance! HA! Nos. 1 and 3 are the way to go on these.

  11. rickbr says:

    I wasn’t planning to give them a try so soon – after all, i never liked any ralph lauren fragrances, always had an impression that all of their fragrances, excluding polo, where awful. But, if you liked them Kevin, and considering that you’re very exigent, i’ll try them when I find testers here.

    • Kevin says:

      RBR: wonder if they’ll be a smash south of you, in Argentina? Do RL clothes, etc., sell well in Brazil?

      • kaos.geo says:

        Dear Kevin, you are right on.
        The polo brand sells like hotcakes here.
        I tried them all and i like #3 best.
        But as i said on my mini-review post…
        I’d only use it if i get it as a gift…or in a 30ml or less bottle.

  12. CynthiaW says:

    The Big Pony polo shirts are already available in the Ralph Lauren outlet at Katy Mills Mall – they are even uglier in person.

    I didn’t check to see if they carried the fragrance – but I don’t think that they ever carry fragrance at the outlet.

    • Kevin says:

      Cynthia: doubt they’d carry a new line anyway. I’ve never seen a Big Pony polo on a person…perhaps a bit too “loud” for the Northwest!

      • CynthiaW says:

        Probably not – although I thought that the Big Pony shirts were pretty new and they have those at the outlet. I’ve never actually seen them on a person – just a mannequin.

        • Kevin says:

          Cynthia: the shirts have been around for years…and the collection seems to have grown…at first they only offered the big logos on basic polos.

          • CynthiaW says:

            Hmmm… well then, they don’t seem to be selling well around here because I’ve never seen anyone wearing one. And I think that I would have noticed.

        • Tiara says:

          Not too long ago I saw the senior picture of a boy who was wearing the big pony logo shirt–took over the entire photo! Black shirt, white logo. Had to make an effort to STOP looking at the logo and concentrate on his face. Definitely NOT a good look for a senior picture!

          • Kevin says:

            Tiara: no! that was a bad choice

  13. Joe says:

    Kevin: I may very well be missing out, but I do believe I’ll skip these altogether… though if an uber-niche house marketed something with a “cold cuts and flowers” note, I’m sure I’d want a sample.

    And you know, something like “Peonia da Bologna” sounds much, much more posh.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: indeed it does! Also, I know these will NOT appeal to you. Yes, I KNOW it.

    • CynthiaW says:

      Hey! But the first one has grapefruit… and limes … and you like both of those things, right?

      • Joe says:

        I surely do. It might not be bad at all… I’m mostly performing triage in this situation. ;)

  14. brylaney says:

    I like these fragrances for what they are nothing special but they good unorginal scents although i think #2 is a really good evening fragrance i enjoy wearing it.

  15. nozknoz says:

    Kevin, I totally admire how you always manage to keep an open mind/nose in the face of the myriad, so unlikely to be good scents and always come up with an insightful, charming and beautifully illustrated review, no matter how obvious it is that you put more thought into the review than the company put into the fragrance.

    Nonetheless, I am always rooting for you to get to review something that is either so wonderful that you can write a fabulous essay or so bad that you can trash it with witty abandon. ;-) It’s not fair that men’s scents tend to be just dull!

    • Kevin says:

      nozknoz: thanks so much…that’s such a kind thing to say. And you may get your wish for a love/hate review VERY SOON.

    • Owen says:

      I totally agree with that, and that’s why I only like a few men’s frangrances.

  16. Morgan says:

    I tried these on paper today. Sprayed on 3 and 4, which were the two that appealed most. Missed the luncheon sausage and flowers thing, might have to try it again! I thought both of them were ok, safe to wear and I found 4 to be the more pleasant of the two.
    I can see its appeal to my demographic.

    • Kevin says:

      Morgan: give yourself a GOOD spray-down of No. 4 before buying!

  17. Dzingnut says:

    Nozkoz: read Kevin’s review for “Monsieur Balmain” : hysterical AND truly informative! It’s destined to become a classic.

    • nozknoz says:

      Thanks for the tip, Dzingnut! I’ve been working my way back through the archives and felt that quite a few of Kevin’s reviews were classics. Will set aside some time to savor the Balmain review.

  18. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Thanks for the review, Kevin. I wasn’t even interested in the frags because I thought the name was such a meh choice. But I wouldn’t mind picking up the coffret and giving these a shot as they sound wearable for the most part, even if the last one sounds a bit strange.

  19. NinaraPoll says:

    Based on the description of #2, I’m wondering if it, or possibly all of these, are supposed to be “upmarket” (i.e., pricier) competitors for Axe body sprays?

    • Kevin says:

      Ninarapoll: even with their simple structure…these Ponies are much more complex than AXE body sprays…though I can see guys who like one liking the other just fine.

      • seid0090 says:

        At the risk of ridicule, I have a question for you. Out of these 4, I liked #3 the best (at least I’m on the right track right?). Given the general concensous that these are made for teens, and that i dont want to smell like I’m in highschool, what would you suggest that may be similar to #3 but that a 23 guy could wear? My roomate has Terre D’hermes and it’s not my favorite. I clearly dont have the vocab that you do to describe what i dont like about it. Any direction from you (or anybody else) would be great. Recap: I liked #3, dont like Terre D’hermes, and am 23. Thanks a ton.

  20. Owen says:

    I smelled these by the bottle, not on skin. when multiple fragrances launch in one go, like harajuku lovers, I just can’t be bothered to smell them, at least on skin.

    I only liked one of these, it was either No1sporty or No4stylish can’t remember now. two of them I didn’t like and one of them I hated.

    and I think dogs are cute in clothes like jumpers and coats when it’s cold. I didn’t know about clothes for dogs until I came across Juicy Couture and by then my dog was like 4years old (he’s now 7) so too old to start dressing him. you need to start when they’re puppys.

    but the polo shirts there just look hideous on the dog.
    as if you’d dress your dog in POLO SHIRT anyway :/

  21. Thanks for your review of these newly released scents. I’ve read nothing but not so great reviews and it seems to continue. I think these are really something that can be easily beat. Especially when you’re paying Ralph Lauren prices.

    The dog in a polo is funny however! :)

    Justin
    [link removed, please see comment policy]

  22. halimeade says:

    Late to the party, but my Macy’s had their annual “Fragrance Fair” tonight, and I got to sniff at three of these. I took out sample cards for my boyfriend, and he also liked #1 and #3 the best. (He also, oddly enough, liked Marc Jaobs Bang, which I also found surprisingly nice!) The price is right, so he might be getting a bottle of one of these for Christmas.

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