John Varvatos by John Varvatos was launched in 2003-2004 and created by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux (Clinique Happy, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Hilary Duff With Love, Bagdley Mishka Fleurs de Nuit....). This was the debut fragrance by the men's fashion brand and was followed in 2006 by John Varvatos Vintage by the same nose. John Varvatos is described as a woody oriental and reportedly includes notes that, at the time, had never been used in a man's scent such as Tamarind tree leaves, medjool dates, eaglewood "including Auramber, a secret potion exclusive to Quest". The scent is remarkable for the restrained intensity it offers, its palpable masculine character, and the showcasing of dark, resinous, and peaty notes reminiscent of Islay whiskeys. Its character remains classic, even traditionalist, with a hint of seductive wildness and an erotic appeal.........
The cologne starts with a fresh aromatic opening that soon fades into a complex amber-y sensation with a faint edge of sugar-coated licorice (Car-En-Sac) and aniseed. Taking a step back one sees that the general impression is that of dark fruits - dates - on a rummy, leathery, tobacco, malted, yeasty, slightly smoky background. It conveys a very masculine ambiance of woods, leather, liqueur, humus, and fermented apples.
The scent unfurls with a certain intensity but controlled; the notes are never high. The texture feels also very tightly woven. The sweetness is resinous with nuances of strawberry. It is a bit reminiscent of Josef Statkus but without being incensey and without evoking the same images. The cologne after an initial sense of dynamic development tends to leave a linear impression and a skin-scent level of diffusion. The dry-down subtly interweaves nuances of tobacco, smoky vanilla, animalic leather betraying a hint of cow-hide, and a breath of alcohol. It soon feels like a scent lingering on someone's clothes rather than a perfume.
John Varvatos is like an ideal compendium of masculine aromas that succeeds in coming across as familiar. It evokes the atmosphere of a Scottish village inn by the sea in the colder season and evokes the picture of a virile man relaxing at a table nursing a glass of whiskey between his hands (uses hand-cream only in the most extreme circumstances -- only when they are cracked and bleeding) while the fireplace crackles and the mist of the sea brings its own tonality to the sensations at hand.
Top notes are West Indian tamarind tree leaves, date and Mediterranean herbs; heart notes are coriander seed, clary sage flower, tobacco, Indian ajowan, sage and thyme; base notes are balsam, amber, leather notes, sandalwood and vanilla.
It retails for $50 and $68 at Saks
(Sources: Daily News Record, Obliquity)