Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne : Fragrance Review


Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

The story of the Helmut Lang fashion house is a testament to the transience of fashion. During the minimalist phase of the mid 1990s, Helmut Lang’s severe, deconstructed pieces were among the most coveted, showered with awards and recognition. Yet, fast forward to 2000, and the future for Helmut Lang no longer looks promising—the house has been sold, the designer is losing more and more of his rights, the popularity of his designs is starting to wane. This same year, the house introduced a line of fragrances, starting with the he/she duo Eau de Cologne and Eau de Parfum created by perfumer Maurice Roucel and then offering Cuiron composed by Françoise Caron. Even though the line was discontinued shortly after Helmut Lang left his own house, Eau de Cologne and Cuiron have managed to achieved an almost cult status. By smelling them one can understand why. …

Although marketed towards men, Eau de Cologne fits perfectly into the androgynous Helmut Lang aesthetic, which is nevertheless not devoid of seductive quality. It marries the minimalist, edgy quality of Helmut Lang’s fashions with the lush and sensual fingerprint characterizing Maurice Roucel’s fragrances. The warm skin sensation conjured by the rich, plush musks is underscored with the sumptuous layer of soft vanilla and almond redolent heliotrope. The sweetness has a subtle quality—a honeyed quality of sun warmed hay, rather than a sugary rush of vanilla toffee. At the same time, the deconstructed and austere appeal of Helmut Lang is alluded to by the herbaceous notes, their fresh and assertive character cutting through the languid richness.

As a classical fougère, Eau de Cologne breaks conventions. It fashions the quintessential fougère aspects—the freshness of citrus, the herbal richness of geranium and lavender, the complexity of oakmoss and the sweetness of coumarin into an unexpectedly striking collage, which hints as much at the Belle Époque allure of Jicky as at the virile strength of classical masculine fougère. It is a fragrance that would suit a black suit as much as it would an ivory chiffon gown.

Eau de Cologne includes notes of lavender, bitter orange leaves, armoise, rosemary, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, musk, vanilla. The Helmut Lang fragrances are available from various online discounters.

Photo: Helmut Lang parfums 2000 ad campaign directed by marc atlan, from Design Boom.



  • Peter: Great to see a perfume review from you after this long hiatus! I am convinced that Maurice Roucel is a genius, and you capture his style really well in your reviews. May 7, 2007 at 10:56pm Reply

  • moon_fish: you could also mention the perfume named Velviona based on synthetic musk molecule Velvione. Also discontinued now.

    By the way, the same molecule will be used in the fourth scent of Indult by Kurkjian which will be launched in September 2007. I smelt it in Paris – almost unexisted musk scent. 🙂 May 7, 2007 at 11:31pm Reply

  • Karthik: Victoria,
    My compliments on an excellent review.
    I have been sampling a relatively obscure, though immensely enjoyable, Balenciaga scent, Ho Hang, for some time now. If you have tried it, May I request a review?
    Karthik. May 8, 2007 at 1:12am Reply

  • Judith: Well, I do like Cuiron, but I have never tried this one. It sounds as if I should. . . May 8, 2007 at 6:45am Reply

  • Laia: Yes please, lets have a review on HO HANG. I adore this scent. Laia May 8, 2007 at 7:52am Reply

  • Svetlana: Congratulations with your new job! May 8, 2007 at 8:17am Reply

  • Marina: When I tried (and like) Eau de Cologne, I did not know it was Roucel’s creation…it all makes sense to me know, of course it is Roucel! That musk…I need to get some and to re-try it. May 8, 2007 at 9:05am Reply

  • Elle: Like Judith, I love Cuiron, but haven’t tried this one. Geranium and lavender are not high on my list of loved notes, but my tastes are constantly changing and evolving and, so I really think I should give this a try. I love Roucel, I love minimalism and you mentioned sun warmed hay – something I can *never* resist. Yep, definitely must try this and, w/ any luck, I’ll find I’ve learned to love lavender too. *So* want to be able to wear Jicky! May 8, 2007 at 7:01pm Reply

  • winterwheat: This is one of my favorite musks, and I wear it a lot, especially to work, as it has a genuinely androgynous (not masculine) aura. It’s clean without being astringent, like freshly washed yet moisturized skin. I had no idea it contained lavender. I ordinarily can’t wear lavender, but it’s so expertly blended in HL that I can’t tell it’s there. DH wears Cuiron (among other things), so it’s nice to think that on some days, we blend. 🙂 May 9, 2007 at 9:47am Reply

  • Octavian: Congratulations for the IFF news.
    I read it first on a russian blog and than on P&F and after I put it also on my blog.
    I am very happy for you an hope to “smell” very soon your projects May 9, 2007 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Fragrant Funster: My Dear, just dropping a note to congratulate you on your fabulous new position with IFF! It’s a job most of us fragance maniacs can only dream of and I must admit that I’m a bit pea-green….but utterly delighted for you nonetheless. May 9, 2007 at 9:36pm Reply

  • Scott: I understood that all the Lang fragrances are no longer available. Is this not the case? If not, where can I purchase them? I would love to know. Thank-you. July 8, 2007 at 9:41am Reply

  • Jacques: Hello – I was rather getting excited about the Helmut Lang re-launch(es) – especially the Eau de Cologne – which seized being available in the UK and farther afield in the mid 2000’s. That said – I called the French and UK Helmut Lang outlets today and was told that indeed both the Eau de Cologne/Parfum as well as Cuiron will be available tail end of the month of October but both Eau de Cologne/Parfum have been “revisited” as the original formulation hosted an illegal ingredient/substance now banned from the manufacturing process of the fragrance.
    Have you heard similar stories? – Will this be affecting the original scent? Any views and/or comments? – as I have not yet laid my hands on the “goods” thus I wonder if any of you had smelt the latest edition and could possibly comment.
    Many thanks
    Jacques October 12, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

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