The Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance is 30 years old this year, so don’t complain about how popular it was in your high school years or we’ll all start calculating your age. Polo Modern Reserve, a new, ‘updated’ edition of the 1978 Polo fragrance, was created to: 1) celebrate Polo’s birthday (it is an accomplishment to make it to age 30 in the crazy, fickle world of perfume) and 2) appeal to original Polo wearers’ male offspring — men between the ages of 25-30. Polo is still one of the top 15 men’s fragrances in the U.S.* so WHY imply it’s “dated” and for ‘old’ guys?
Polo contains artemisia, basil, bergamot, chamomile, cumin, juniper berry, geranium, carnation, jasmine, ‘pine needle,’ rose, thyme, tobacco, amber, cedar, leather, musk, moss, patchouli and frankincense. That list of WHAM! BAM! POW! ingredients does not read (or smell) “old” to me; Polo is vibrant and interesting and blows most mainstream, and niche, male fragrances out of the eau (de Toilette).
Polo Modern Reserve takes Polo’s formula, erases the tingly, bursting-with-life green notes, replaces chamomile with cardamom, tobacco with vetiver-leather, juniper berries with pimento berries, and frankincense with myrrh incense. (Other listed notes for Polo Modern Reserve are basil, liquid jasmine, humidor wood, patchouli and ‘sueded’ leather.) Like Polo, Polo Modern Reserve was developed by perfumer Carlos Benaïm.
Judging from Polo Modern Reserve, Ralph Lauren believes the Sons of Polo are more subdued than their fathers. Polo Modern Reserve has a quiet opening, a mix of bergamot with a hint of flower (the liquid jasmine?) One does smell some “reserved” cardamom too. As Polo Modern Reserve races through its development I detect seconds of pimento, and a few minutes of myrrh and leather/suede-vetiver. Polo has been “lobotomized” to create Polo Modern Reserve and Polo Modern Reserve presents a blurred, chalky ghost of its ancestor. Give me “Old” Polo any day of the week and keep the ludicrous comments about the ‘aging effects’ of tobacco and chamomile notes in perfumes to yourselves! As Polo Modern Reserve enters its final stage of development, it strongly resembles Polo: I smell soft woods, patchouli and sweet musk; The End is the best part of Polo Modern Reserve.
Leslie Marino, general manager of L’Oréal Designer Fragrance Division, said Polo Modern Reserve is “…a little stronger and more masculine” and uses “purer raw materials” than Polo. On me, Polo Modern Reserve is no stronger than Polo and since the pricing is identical for both fragrances, I doubt the raw materials are any purer (Polo Modern Reserve may have fewer ingredients than Polo).
Overall, Polo Modern Reserve is a bland fragrance and to sell it for $200 in a deluxe edition is like putting a mule in a horse’s harness; the deluxe packaging should be for Polo — the birthday boy. Polo Modern Reserve Eau de Toilette is available in two sizes: 120 ml. for $62.50 and a $200 limited edition 240 ml Eau de Toilette in a numbered leather box with 24-karat-gold details on the box and bottle. It can be found at major department stores.
* Women's Wear Daily, 10-10-08.