An homage to the great designer Oscar de la Renta, whose favorite game was dominoes, Gentleman encapsulates all that he loved in life which was, by all accounts, a life well played.
Born Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo, Oscar del la Renta (1932 – 2014), was the Dominican-born American fashion designer who was the darling of the society set. Trained by Balenciaga and Castillo, he worked for Balmain and Lanvin before launching his own design house. The only thing more elegant than his fashions was the man himself—suave and charming, he understood women and made them look and feel fabulous.
His fragrance line was launched with the phenomenally successful woman’s perfume Oscar (1977) which has led to numerous other feminine offerings. The masculine scents were few and far between; he launched Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui in 1981 (said to be his personal signature scent) and followed it with Oscar for Men in 2000. Pour Lui is an exceptional powerhouse fragrance, a leathery chypre that was perfectly in line with the time of its launch. Oscar for Men, which is a citrusy fragrance, with dry woods and spices was also perfectly in sync with its time. Fans have commented that it was right to stop there—two great scents, the alpha and omega, bookends to a brilliant man’s legacy.
Two years after his death, however, the house has released Gentleman, which sits squarely between its two predecessors. Its opening of bergamot and grapefruit recall the citrus notes of Oscar for Men while its base of amber and “rich labdanum-infused Leatherwood” reminds us of the dark power of Pour Lui. Like its two brothers, Gentleman is also perfectly in tune with the times—its citrus/spice/wood construct is at the background of many modern masculine launches today. The heart notes contain rosemary, geranium and black tea notes and remind some of Gucci Pour Homme I & II. What strikes me most about this scent is how well blended and harmonious this scent is—all of the notes sing together in one chorus and create a year round scent. The citrus lightens it enough for wear in the warmth and the woods and amber in the dry down give it the oomph to stand up to cooler weather. For a designer scent, the quality of the ingredients comes through strongly, whether real or perceived. Quite simply, Gentleman is a beautifully done modern man’s fragrance that truly is a gentlemanly as Sr. de la Renta.
Speaking of whom…. We are told that Oscar’s favorite game was dominoes which, when played well is an engrossing and addictive game (“dynamic” is what the ad copy says.). Creating a bottle for Gentleman that is a huge domino is either a stroke of genius or an act of kitsch—either way, it directly ties the scent to its inspiration and is the most memorable bottle of 2016. Love it or hate it, you will remember it! Personally, seeing the big, outsized domino tile makes me smile—and reach for the scent to wear.