L’Homme Prada is a fragrance of pairs, of doubles, of juxtapositions and layers. The classic codes of the male Fougère are all present in Neroli, Geranium and Patchouli. Yet the interchangeable male/female Prada signatures are present, too, in the shape of Iris and Amber, the principal elements. It is a mix that is both airy and yet purposefully, highly sensual.1
So, I didn't hate La Femme Prada, but I didn't exactly adore it either. I get another chance with L'Homme Prada, also from perfumer Daniela Andrier, and hey, take a look at the brand's description above. Doesn't that sound an awful lot like Prada Amber Pour Homme, maybe with a smidgen of Prada Infusion d'Iris (or Infusion d'Homme) thrown in for good measure? Such a thing would suit me fine: I liked Amber Pour Homme,2 and so did an awful lot of other women.
The opening of L'Homme Prada was a quick corrective. It's loud, for a Prada, that is — the very soft shaving cream fougère accord of Amber Pour Homme is magnified and sharpened, presumably for a decent showing on a department store blotter. There is citrus and there is lavender; somehow, the whole smells spiky even though the lavender itself smells an awful lot like a molecular fraction. It does calm itself quickly, but what you get then is more of what you'd expect from something that hopes to do well in a mid-tier department store in 2016: generic fresh woody musk / man smell plus a bit of powdery iris from Infusion d'Iris, or more likely, from good old Dior Homme, to which it has been widely compared.3
Verdict: Like La Femme Prada, L'Homme Prada is wearable, and well-done, and reasonably sophisticated. It's better than any number of recent masculine fragrances. What it is not is distinctive. La Femme Prada made me wonder if Prada was perhaps extra anxious to move some product in mid-tier department stores this year; L'Homme Prada confirmed that suspicion.4 To be sure, they're both decent fragrances, and I would not be ashamed to wear either of them, nor would I mind smelling them on other people. But they are not the sort of fragrances that made me think of Prada as a reliable perfume house. I may just skip the flankers entirely.
The quick poll: name three mainstream fragrance houses that you think are reliable, in the sense that you feel it is worth your time to try whatever they make.
L'Homme Prada is available in 50 ($78), 100 ($98) and 150 ml Eau de Toilette and in matching grooming products.
1. Via the Prada website.
2. It's one of many fragrances that have been lingering on my "to buy" list for years — luckily, I have a decent collection of samples and so won't run out of it for ages.
3. If you're a fan of Dior Homme and you're interested in the Prada for that reason, be warned that it is lighter, fresher and not nearly as sweet. You might be happier with the gourmand Valentino Uomo.
4. Of course my suspicions are based on nothing much more than smelling these two fragrances (ok, plus the silly flankers to Prada Candy) and my own old-school perfumista prejudices. And they're extra unfounded and uninformed since I have smelled very little of Prada's recent output. I have not smelled a single one of the new Infusions or a single one of the Prada Olfactories. I did not smell the flankers to Luna Rossa either (and for that matter, Luna Rossa itself was fine but hardly genius).