Burberry Brit Rhythm ~ fragrance review

Burberry Brit Rhythm, ad & bottle

Burberry just released Burberry Brit Rhythm for (young) men; it’s a flanker to Brit for Men (2004) and marks the beginning of Burberry’s in-house perfume development (adieu InterParfums). Though InterParfums is gone, silliness remains: Brit Rhythm was “inspired by the music in the brand’s DNA” — huh? what’s so musical about a trench coat? (I own a Burberry trench and have probably done some singing while wearing it…though I don’t think I was inspired by my coat to burst into song.) Burberry also produced an unmusical Brit Rhythm video that looks more like a lead-up to a fashion show than a rock concert. Do young guys still aspire, by the millions, to rock-singer status? You’d think so judging by mainstream perfume advertising.

It took three perfumers to come up with Burberry Brit Rhythm: Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo and Olivier Polge. Brit Rhythm’s listed fragrance notes include basil, verbena, cardamom, juniper berries, black leather, patchouli, styrax, cedar, incense and tonka bean. Sounded promising….

Brit Rhythm does not have a competent opening act; upon application it smells like every generic scent strip you’ll find in GQ or Details: damn bland. I sniff artificial cardamom, flat citrus and something “Fresh” and “Clean.” As the fragrance heads straight to its cold-blooded heart, I detect a split second of “leather.” If ever a leather was not “black” it’s this one! This be pleather or Vynelle™. If you bought a sofa or jacket that smelled like this “leather,” you’d fling open the windows or only wear it outside. Brit Rhythm ends up with some bleached patchouli, engineered "wood" and reject tonka beans (the strongest note and a note apparently beloved by young men). Incense? HAHAHAHAHA!

Burberry never made smashing, or really high-quality men’s fragrances, but as far as I remember they never put out anything as bad as Calvin Klein does on a regular basis for men…until now. 

Burberry Brit Rhythm is available in 30 ($49), 50 ($60) and 90 ml ($79) Eau de Toilette. The fragrance is also available in aftershave balm and shower gel.

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  1. peter says:

    Great review Kevin. I smelled rhythm and it was like any Polo, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein…yawwwwnnnn…. fragrance at the Macy’s counter. The only Burberry fragranced that has appealed to me is Burberry London (which smelled like a watered, freshed-up version of their original (80’s) Burberry fragrance. And what is this cliched obsession with Rock-n-Roll???People in their 20’s already know they are NOT going to be rock stars so why try and appeal to them with all those silly fantasies? I’m looking at you John Varvatos!

    • Kevin says:

      Peter, maybe a lot of these designers want to be rock stars themselves!

  2. Bejoux says:

    It is hard to believe that those three worked on this! Burberry have made a big deal here about this one being the first fragrance that they have total control over – so it’s rather unfortunate that it is so disappointing and very dull. And yes – Incense notably absent!

    • Kevin says:

      Bejoux: maybe a bad decision to bring this decision-making in-house! But guess we’ll have to see how it sells.

  3. Dilana says:

    While not a rock star by any means, Gene Kelly is certainly the mascot of “singing in the rain.” He was not wearing a rain coat during his famous scene. At the end of the movie, he (and co-stars Reynolds and O’Conner) do wear a rain coat, but big plastic yellow ones, not trenches and certainly not Burberries.

    To me Burberry is the brand of rugged upper class, unshowy Brittishness, Surely, there are men, including young men out there who would love to fit that image.

    • Kevin says:

      Dilana: look at the latest Burberry fashion shows online (I think you can do this from the Burberry site)..I don’t see that “rugged” uber-British sensibility any more

      • Dilana says:

        Yes, I know. They have traded their unique heritage to function like (and compete with) every other luxury brand out there.

  4. gpier says:

    Great review and I totally agree it’s such a humdrum fragrance for such a grand release. Apparently this is Christopher Bailey’s new direction for the Burberry brand, they made a great deal about the live music at all the fashion shows as an inspiration for the fragrance. Apparently the blotter cards have a QR code that takes you to the Burberry music site, where the bands signed to the line’s labeled are showcased. But back to the fragrance, the leather is bland, and I get a strong note of juniper berries which is one of the notes. Plus to me it smells almost the same as Brit but less fun. And apparently it’s selling quite well which is even sadder given the dumbing down of men’s fragrances.

    • Kevin says:

      Gpier: well, I always think the first selling numbers are blind-buys due to the ads and those people who just want what’s NEW. Wonder if the fragrance will KEEP selling after the ads fade away.

  5. sayitisntso says:

    We all know what a talented trio the perfumers are – and what they’re capable of. There are probably a litany of things that attributed to this being such a hot mess: It was focus-grouped to death and every note that was even remotely interesting was edited out and more likely: they weren’t given an adequate formula budget. Either way, no loss for me…the brand and its fragrances never appealed to me anyway.

    • Kevin says:

      sayitisntso: the budget must have been miniscule judging from the way this smells…maybe one after the other of the perfumers left the project in a huff? HA! Brit Rhythm hasn’t even a second of anything distinctive about it.

      • sayitisntso says:

        What’s the point really of offering a new scent if you’ve got nothing new to say. It’s almost like these launches are put together bass ackwards…they put together the famous brief, design the bottle, hire the models, photographers, etc…and then they realize, almost as an afterthought “Oh darn, we need something to put INSIDE the pretty bottle, don’t we? Let’s see what unused mod we have in the Jersey warehouse.”

        • Kevin says:

          sayitisntso: sometimes I think there are many tankers FULL of one, cheap, dull men’s scent and every lazy, unimaginative brand uses that same juice in different bottles. Truly…I’ve smelled this a thousand times.

        • annemarie says:

          But it’s not about saying something new, is it? It’s about making money. Burberry believes, rightly it seems, that there is more money to be made by saying something old than something new. Perfume would be just a cash cow to finance the rest of the company’s activities.

          • Kevin says:

            Anne: true, but in the ‘old days’ those cash cow perfumes were so much nicer.

  6. FragrantWitch says:

    ‘Reject tonka beans’ – love it!
    The notes did sound promising but it definitely sounds as if it fell far short of the mark. Burberry is definitely moving away from the ‘old-money’ unshowy solidity and into trendy, ‘new-money’. Barbour is the solid reliable expensive classic. Wonder what a fragrance from them would smell like? Worn coat leather, pipe smoke, peat, faintly animalic, scotch, and a faint whiff of the classic fougere is on yesterday’s jumper. Lets hope!

    • Kevin says:

      FragrantWitch: I’d probably buy that scent!

    • Dilana says:

      A Barbour store just opened in my town, and you’re right , they are definately seeking to take up the mantle (well, lined waterproof trench) that Burberry cast down.

      I imagine this guy smelling like a heather infused, old fashioned after shave. (though I am not really sure what heather smells like) .

      • Kevin says:

        Dilana: hey, heather’s fine…but we can’t leave out the scent of wet dog! It goes well with the scents of the great outdoors…tobacco…booze

  7. chandler_b says:

    Christopher Bailey has really turned Burberry around, it had already lost the old money Barbour crowd due to the popularity of the Burberry check to chavs before he was put in charge, but to the scent I’m not really surprised it was bad, like you said Burberry has never really made a great scent, and I was definitely not holding my breathe for this release.

    • Kevin says:

      Chandler: so glad I rarely see that plaid anymore! I like the Burberry’s men’s line (clothes), but the scents never make the grade.

  8. hajusuuri says:

    “This be pleather or Vynelle™”

    I love it when you’re naughty ;-) This reminds me of an ad I saw a long time ago for “Genuine Faux Pearls”.

    I have never smelled Burberry Brit Rhythm and I don’t think I ever will. In my pre-perfumista days, I wore Burberry Brit Sheer a lot. I couldn’t get myself to let go of my unopened back-up bottle thinking that sometime down the road, I’ll open it and waft in its fruity floral goodness.

    • Kevin says:

      Hajusuuri: that’s one I’ve never heard of (don’t let that bottle go to waste…no need to “save” stuff!)

  9. Dusan says:

    Hear hear! Especially the HAHAHAHA bit. If this is the future of mainstream perfumery (and it must be), I’m switching to Axe.

    • Kevin says:

      Dusan: me too…or The Body Shop…or (gulp) fragrance oils! HA

  10. TheSnailsPajamas says:

    The model in the ad is actually the lead singer of some British indie type band – I think the ad is probably him (didn’t watch it) with his band or singing solo – and in the past they have used rock star progeny (Brian Ferry’s sons make an appearance a lot) or musicians (more of the Brit indie scene) for their models in the clothes line too. So I think Burberry under Bailey has been going for the aristo-rock- London moneyed boho/hipster type with everyone cast in their ads, I would imagine in trying to reach for the polar opposite of what Burberry was around 2000, which was ripoff patterns found in every UK street market, or the real thing only really worn by Asian tourists (which I can attest as my Japanese relations used to gift me a lot of Burberry scarves) or your lower tier footballer’s WAG. So I can’t blame them, and I do like the look of the ads – they sort of remind me of free spirited popular young thing snapshots of the 60’s with Stamp and Shrimpton et al, but it’s a shame the scents sort of suck.

    • Kevin says:

      TheSnailsPJs: one ad that really made me feel icky was the one featuring the little Beckham boy! Weird indeed. (And there wasn’t any singing in the new video…or “music” for that matter)

  11. cath says:

    Thank you for a great review. You made my day.
    I had a good laugh and that is just what I needed after a tiring day at work. Images of Gene Kelly singing in the rain are floating in my mind and I’m pretty sure he was wearing a classy cologne when jumping in all those puddles, definitely not some pleather smelling scented water.
    Loved it. I’m looking forward to the next critical review.

    • Kevin says:

      cath: you’re welcome…I smelled Gene Kelly once at my doctor’s office in Beverly Hills! If I remember correctly he smelled very “old school”…lots of sweet woods.

  12. platinum14 says:

    I don’t understand why brands like Burberry are focusing so much of their time and effort on the 18-30 set. At that age, Burberry was nowhere on my fashion radar.
    Now, at nearly 50 and with a well paid job, I can affort some Burberry items, but their image is way too young. Burberry is becomming like Hollister for the rich set. And their fragrances smell about just as “rich” as the Hollister ones.

    • Kevin says:

      plat14: good comparison! (And 50 is the new 30, so you’re good to go!)

  13. AnnE says:

    platinum14, you nailed it: “Hollister for the rich set.” Perfect.

  14. smartylicious says:

    That’s a shame. I liked the original Brit fragrances, both men’s and women’s, they were/still are nice mainstream scents.

    • Kevin says:

      Smartylicious: I’m assuming they won’t fiddle with the old formulas, but who knows?

  15. eminere says:

    Are Burberry and Calvin Klein simply incapable of putting out decent fragrances?

  16. Subhuman says:

    I must sheepishly admit that I smelled this via a department store sample foisted upon me by a holiday-spurred SA…and actually LIKED it. Then I read this review…lol. Yes, the opening is totally generic, but there’s something coumarin/soapy/barbershoppy in the drydown that actually appeals to me. It’s no Burberry London (their best scent, IMO), nor do I predict it will be at all memorable by the time January rolls around, but I’ve certainly smelled worse.

    *goes back to huffing his pre-reformulation Chanel 19 parfum to regain a bit of perfumista cred*

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