Masaki Matsushima, the Japanese fashion designer, launched the Mat; line of fragrances in 2000. Mat; Very Male, a surprisingly warm and subtle fragrance from a designer known for his fresh citrus and aquatic scents, is his first oriental, and this time the star of the composition is sambuca. The notes include bergamot, aquatic freshness accord, sambuca, lotus flower, bamboo, precious woods, patchouli, liquorice wood and white cedar.
The scent opens with what I would describe as the aroma of a hot cup of coffee, the rich sambuca note (a liquer of elderberry, anise and herbs), and then merges into a light woods fragrance. This scent’s closest cousins are Yohji for Men (the original scent in the tall cylindrical bottle) and Lolita Lempicka for Men, though Mat; Very Male is lighter in all aspects, perhaps because of the inclusion of the middle floral and aquatic notes, or perhaps because the Mat; fragrances are not generally known for their longevity.
On me, I don’t really detect anything but the liquorice wood and sambuca, which is not exactly a bad thing, but with all the other notes included in the composition, I hoped for something that would develop a bit more. I’ve tried all of the Mat; fragrances now, with the exception of the new Mat; Orange, and like the rest of the line, Mat; Very Male starts off strong and then quickly fades. After about an hour, the scent had all but disappeared on my skin, with merely a breath of sambuca and a hint of cedar remaining.
The packaging is excellent — housed in the same bottle as the original Mat; Male, this time the bottle is appropriately black with a matte (pun intended?) finish. It is available now at sephora and will be in department stores later this fall.