Dsquared2 knows where its perfume customers are — Europe. Except for its first fragrances (He Wood and She Wood), DSquared2 perfumes just don’t show up here in the U.S. (or in Canada, if the Vancouver, B.C., Sephora is any indication). Perfume launches are expensive, so why spend money on the U.S. when it doesn’t generate a huge amount of revenue? I’ve gotten used to this situation and can eventually find almost all Europe-only perfume launches I’m interested in at online U.S. discounters (even Amazon.com) or on eBay.
DSquared2’s fragrance aesthetic, for men at least, is usually centered around woods — warm and pungent (He Wood Rocky Mountain Wood, He Wood Silver Wind Wood) or cool and aquatic (He Wood, He Wood Ocean Wet Wood). Potion for Men* falls into the first category; it goes on smelling like a cinnamon cookie, its spiciness enlivened with a drop of mint oil (and perhaps a squirt of angelica). This “cookie” is not too sweet because its aroma is layered with toasty, incense-y, cedar wood. Discreet iris/gentian mingles with all the notes, adding softness to the overall feel of the fragrance. A talc-y, semi-sweet amber accord develops during the dry down.
Potion for Men is a nicely composed, simple/streamlined perfume. When I dab on the fragrance, the cinnamon note appears first; when I spray Potion for Men on skin, the incense-wood accord dominates and is followed by the cinnamon “cookie” scent. (So if you sample the perfume on a card, keep this in mind). Potion for Men has good lasting power and close-to-the-body sillage. I’d reach for this fragrance in cool weather; it’s a perfect autumn perfume.
Potion Blue Cadet** is, well, blue (usually a bad sign in fragrance, signifying the “dumbest-of-the-dumb” on the men’s perfume counter). And a cadet is almost always young…and active. I expected Potion Blue Cadet to be a sport fragrance, and I was correct. I was also expecting to hate it…but I don’t.
I first wore Potion Blue Cadet the day after I tested Calvin Klein Dark Obsession. Almost any fragrance is better than Dark Obsession so I was happy with Potion Blue Cadet, but I worried it scored unfair points simply because I was comparing it to Dark Obsession. I wore Potion Blue Cadet two days to make sure I really liked it.
We’re all familiar with “formulas” and “classic” combinations. A peanut-butter-and-grape-jelly sandwich made with white bread is a classic formula. Tweak this sandwich by using toasted sweet potato bread, cashew butter and apricot jam flavored with a drop or two of orange blossom essence. It’s still bread, ground nuts and jam, but livelier, more interesting. Using the classic formula of a sport fragrance — citrus, some bracing/menthol-like element and light musk — DSquared2 "exchanged" some of the ingredients, replacing standard sport-fragrance bergamot with strong “pink” grapefruit (sweet not “sweaty”), using blue hemlock (with a pleasant green-pine aroma) instead of eucalyptus or “sea spray”/ambergris or Calone, and adding a diffuse, almost-talcy “white” cedar/tonka accord in place of a blatantly synthetic wood-musk mixture.
Potion Blue Cadet is perky, fresh and clean, but not banal or drab; best of all, it doesn’t smell like a laundry room redolent of scented detergent, fabric softeners and/or dryer sheets. This is one of the nicer sport fragrances I’ve smelled and worn, and not one person who knows me said: “That smells cheap.” (as they often do when I test sport or marine perfumes…one must have a tough skin when wearing a new perfume each day and encouraging comments!) If you like sport fragrances, give Potion Blue Cadet a try (it has all-day lasting power and just-right sillage).
DSquared2 does a nice job on its men’s line of fragrances: these are not challenging or unusual perfumes, but they are well-made fragrances…with a “youthful” vibe. No doubt, DSquared2’s aim is to sell lots of “units,” but the perfumes aren’t foolish or slap-dash — they smell good.
DSquared2 Potion Blue Cadet Eau de Toilette is available for £33 (30 ml), £40 (50 ml) and £54 (100 ml); and DSquared2 Potion for Men Eau de Parfum is £36 (30 ml), £46 (50 ml) and £61 (100 ml) at the DSquared2 online shop or at Escentual.
*Potion for Men (2011): perfumer Annick Menardo; mint, angelica, thyme, gentian, cinnamon, cashmere wood, patchouli, amber, musk
**Potion Blue Cadet (2013): perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui; bergamot, pink grapefruit, mandarin, blue hemlock, balsam fir, white cedar, tonka bean, musk