As I have learned, Yves Saint Laurent Kouros, created by Pierre Bourdon in 1981, is a controversial fragrance, with opinions ranging from absolute devotion to utter repulsion. A few encounters revealed why it might be the case. The opening notes tingle with camphorous eucalyptus and tart bergamot, spreading out in cool waves on the skin. The rich fougère composition is ornamented by mace, bay leaf and sage, which lend a spicy edge. Soapy quality becomes more pronounced the longer the fragrance remains on the skin, calling to mind Blue Irish Spring soap. Between the top and the base, the composition is sustained as fresh and almost marine, layered with soapy notes.
When you are completely lulled into thinking that it is a gentle, unoffensive fragrance that might work on both men and women, then curious and disconcerting transformations begin to take place. First, it is just a whiff of something sweet and plastic redolent. Sweet and soapy note later, the composition evolves slowly, but after about an hour, the smell of civet starts to emerge. Have you ever smelled civet full strength? Without using more colorful terminology, I would describe it as extremely fecal. The same note comprises the base of Kouros, and while it is not exactly dominant, its animalic breath suffuses the composition fully. Combined with the fact that it is extremely sweet on me, the drydown is not exactly appealing.
The end result is odd, which is why I wore Kouros in the privacy of my home on more than one occasion trying to decide whether I am repulsive or amused by it. Even though I cross olfactory gender boundaries often, I decided to sample Kouros on a man to determine whether it might register differently. This little experiment led to the fact that my thus far compliant test subject rebelled and protested against any further fragrance tests on him. In other words, despite its unique and brazen structure, I would rather admire Kouros’ unconventionality from a distance. However, I would love to hear opinions of those who wear and love this fragrance, because as I understand it has quite a following.
Notes: Aldehydes, Artemesia, Bergamot oil, Clary Sage oil, Coriander, Laurel, Carnation, Cinnamon, Geranium, Jasmin, Orris, Patchouli, Vetiver, Amber, Civet, Honey, Leather, Moss, Musk, Tonka, Vanilla.