When I am asked to name a mainstream perfume brand I admire one of my answers for the last couple of years has been John Varvatos. There are a couple of very good reasons for this. One of these is consistency. Since the very first release of John Varvatos in 2004 every perfume has been composed by the same perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. That kind of long-term relationship is common in the niche sector but far less likely to happen in the mainstream perfume market. It is why flankers are usually so bland compared to their original. From the first John Varvatos straight through to the newest, and twelfth, release Dark Rebel this has been a brand which has thrived on being an outlier in the department store.
John Varvatos (Photo: Richard Phibbs)
In reading eleven years of press notes, as I receive each release, it is evident that Mr. Varvatos is not an absentee creative director. As a result I think it allows for Sr. Flores-Roux to develop a deeper understanding of what a John Varvatos fragrance should smell like. Many of these press releases of the past have mentioned rock and roll; Dark Rebel is no different. What is different is this one is the closest to capturing that experience of wearing my leather jacket to hear a band at my favorite club. Sr. Flores-Roux captures the bar, the leather jacket, and the cigarettes as I wait for the music to begin.
Sr. Flores-Roux opens with a very boozy rum sweetened with sugarcane. It has a bit of a kinship to a daiquiri. The spices which come next keep it from being overly sweet. Cardamom and clary sage, especially the latter, add a real edge to this rum cocktail. More spices continue this direction as black pepper and a beautiful nutmeg provide the transition to the leather accord at the heart. Every black leather jacket I have owned has had the same smell; animalic with a bit of oiliness. Sr. Flores-Roux captures this perfectly with fir and styrax providing the enhancement to the excellent leather accord. The base opens on a lovely golden tobacco which is roughened up with cade wood. The foundation is the new Akigalawood which is the biologically obtained fraction of patchouli which has stripped away the earthiness leaving the herbal and spicy facets. In Dark Rebel it closes the loop from the spices earlier to the leather in the heart. I think we are going to see a lot of Akigalawood especially in men’s designer releases over the next year.
Dark Rebel has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
From a line I have liked a lot over the past ten years Dark Rebel is easily my favorite as it finally gets the rock and roll vibe right. Both days I wore this I was channeling my inner Billy Idol curling my lip and singing “With a Rebel Yell more, more, more”. Please Mr. Varvatos and Sr. Flores-Roux; more, more more.
Disclosure: This review was based on a press sample provided by John Varvatos.