I’ll spare you the hand-wringing and damp eyes that often accompany discussions of the original 1999 version of Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme — there'll be little talk of the dreaded, but inevitable, reformulation, and no repetition of the glowing reviews of yore. As they say: what’s done is done…what’s gone is gone. Anyway, I don’t think I ever smelled the original version of Yohji Homme; if I did, I probably dismissed it immediately (fourteen years ago, I was not a lover of spicy fragrances).
Perfumer Jean-Michel Duriez developed Yohji Homme; perfumer Olivier Pescheux was assigned the task of updating the defunct Yohji Yamamoto perfume line for re-release. I wonder if Pescheux was nervous, given the widespread love of original Yohji Homme?
Yohji Yamamoto said of Yohji Homme: "The scent follows the funny off-track and avant-garde image of my fashion.” Quirkiness was certainly present in one of my favorite Yohji Homme ads — an old dog hiding behind a slender tree. Unbelievably, Yohji Homme lives up to Yamamoto’s statement; it IS off-track and avant-garde — like some of the more abstract fragrances created at Comme des Garçons (where Yamamoto’s ex-girlfriend Rei Kawakubo presides).
Yohji Homme* begins with a burst of bergamot-juniper berry that segues quickly into a “meaty” sage note (not “green” and crisp but more “celadon” and tough in character). The heart of Yohji Homme presents percolating coffee, and this brew was made with beans charred on a bed of peat; the coffee has a slightly smoky, leathery aroma. Oh, and there are bitter chocolate and “burning-popcorn” moments as well.
That’s what happened on Yohji Homme Test Day No. 1.
On the second day I wore Yohji Homme, the fragrance started off with a burnt brown-sugar scent, with added notes of pine-cedar and licorice. Coffee was present...but waaaaaaaay in the background. Yohji Homme, on day number two, was a sweet, spicy/talcy wood perfume: handsome and comfortable.
On the third day I wore Yohji Homme, I smelled of liquor-y cardamom and licorice with vibrant cedar, sage-y musk, and patchouli. Again: enjoyable.
Either Yohji Homme is 1. unstable; 2. reacting to my skin in a weird way; or 3. designed to provide a variety of "presentations" (maybe that’s what is off-kilter and avant-garde about the perfume — it shifts and sways and surprises like the many layers, apparent and obscure, in Yamamoto’s fashions).
I liked all the permutations of Yohji Homme; it’s an ephemeral perfume, lasting about four hours before becoming so faint I have to put nose to skin to detect it. While it lasts, Yohji Homme has good sillage
As I said, I have no idea how today’s Yohji Homme stacks up against the original version; do comment if you’ve worn both fragrances.
Buyer Beware: now that Yohji Homme has been reissued in the same bottle design as the original, be careful when buying online; what you THINK is the older version of Yohji Homme may be the reformulated fragrance.
Yohji Yamamoto Yohji Homme is currently available in the U.K. at Selfridges & Co.: in 30 ml (£35), 50 ml (£45) and 100 ml (£65) Eau de Toilette.
*listed fragrance notes of bergamot, juniper berry, sage, cardamom, licorice, geranium, rum, mocha coffee, cedar, leather, patchouli and musk.