Helmut Lang's perfumes (originally issued in the early 2000s) are often described as "cult" fragrances. I never tried the perfumes when they made their debuts so my reviews will tackle today's re-release formulas.
Françoise Caron, perfumer | 2002 (bergamot, tangerine, pink pepper, cassia, carrot seed, olibanum, labdanum, cedar, ambrette, suede)
Cuiron is a sheer leather fragrance, a combination of muskiness and salty/aquatic leather — imitation ambergris? Though Cuiron feels light, it has good tenacity and casts a wide net upon initial application. What Cuiron delivers at first spritz is basically what you get till the fade-out: 'watery' leather, musk, light amber. At the end of its development there's a hint of amber powder mixing with a skunk-y musk. To say this is one of my least-liked leather perfumes is an understatement; I felt uncomfortable wearing it and wanted to wash it off (but didn't...I wore it two days in a row for this review).
Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne
Maurice Roucel, perfumer | 2000 (lavender, rosemary, artemisia, orange tree notes, rose, jasmine, heliotrope lily of the valley, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, patchouli, skin ccord, musk, amber)
When I read Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne's list of notes I braced myself for a BIG "Whoa!"...unfortunately all I uttered when I sprayed it on was a wan "Whaaaa?" Ignore the energetic-sounding (supposed) notes and prepare yourself for an exhausted lie-down, not a wild ride. Eau de Cologne starts with an aroma I'll describe as "candy meets medicine" (it brought to mind a natural remedy...maybe for a sore throat). Eau de Cologne is sheer as can be and disappears on skin before an hour is up. I detect 'wasted' petitgrain, anemic artemisia and some bushed rosemary — a single rosemary leaf you pinch in the garden or kitchen packs more of a punch than a good dose of Eau de Cologne. As for the skin accord, I think I smell it in the base notes — this is the smell of skin bathed in pre-surgery antiseptic.
At $185, Eau de Cologne is a steal...but NOT in a good way!
Helmut Lang Eau de Parfum
Maurice Roucel, perfumer | 2000 (same listed notes as Eau de Cologne)
I'm happy to write that Eau de Parfum, same notes as Eau de Cologne, has recovered from its "cologne" malady and been restored to health; it's had a heart (note) transplant. Upon application, I smell buoyant orange leaf, rich artemisia and jasmine. Eau de Parfum has a barbershop vibe, but a neat barbershop vibe (think of a retro barbershop in Cuba). As Eau de Parfum develops, a cheery heliotrope note appears and is joined by a wood-y accord; the extreme dry-down presents sweet citrus-infused talc.
Eau de Parfum has four times the staying power of Eau de Cologne (it lasts about 4 hours when liberally applied); sillage is close to the body.
VERDICT (as Robin here at NST(TM) often says): I only like one of the three Helmut Lang re-issues, and even the one I like does not tempt me to purchase. If anyone out there wore the original Helmut Lang scents when they were first released and has tried the new versions, please comment.
Helmut Lang Cuiron Eau de Parfum ($165), Helmut Lang Eau de Cologne ($185) and Helmut Lang Eau de Parfum ($185) are available in 100 ml.