Back in the late Nineties, I, like a lot of people I know became faintly obsessed by Helmut Lang (I still have a few choice pieces of his clothing that I lovingly looked after and can still – sort of – fit into. The elegant simplicity, austere colour palette and sheer wearability of the Austrian designer’s clothes dovetailed beautifully with my own personal aesthetic at the time. And I can still remember the excitement I felt when his first fragrances launched at the turn of the millennium. I wore both the Eau De Cologne (to work most days when I was Deputy Editor of Men’s Health magazine) and the sexier, leathery, suedey Cuiron, which came along a couple of years later, in the evenings. People always commented on them positively and the fragrances themselves were almost universally praised by the press and by perfume lovers. Then, one day in 2005, those two fragrances – along with another scent, Helmut Lang Eau de Parfum – were discontinued and people who still had bottles guarded them jealously while others scoured the internet for remaining stock, often paying ridiculous prices just to secure a bottle of their favourite. But now, a decade later, production has started again. I meant to write about these fragrances just before Christmas but only now have I had the chance to review them properly.
So have they changed? To my nose (and I’m having to go by memory here since it’s been a long time since caught a whiff of them) the Cologne – a powdery but musky mix of rosemary, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla and patchouli – smells soapier than I remember while Cuiron – still deliciously leathery, woody and peppery – is as smooth and sexy as ever and seems faithful to the original, even if it may not be quite so punchy. Of the three, however, it’s the soft, musky Eau de Parfum, with its floral heart, sensual base notes and hint of Germolene (yes, really), that stands out for me this time around. It has a wonderfully lazy, nuzzly sensuality to it. The packaging, of course, remains as impossibly chic now as it was back in the Noughties though the bottle design has been standardised for these relaunches (Eau de Parfum had a slightly different bottle back in the day).
I must say, I’ve greeted these returning fragrances like old friends and I’m overjoyed that someone, somewhere finally saw fit to bring them back to life after a decade of being in what amounts to an olfactory coma. Now, if I can only squeeze into that lovely black Helmut Lang shirt I kept everything would be right with the world…
Helmut Lang’s Eau de Cologne, Curion and Eau de Parfum are available from Liberty priced £130 each.