musings on music and life

August 17, 2015

Yves Saint Laurent Kouros

Filed under: Colognes — Tags: — sankirnam @ 11:07 am

I got this cologne as a birthday present for myself this year, and after only wearing it twice, I have fallen completely in love with it. I had sampled it previously in airports at duty-free shops, but there is nothing that compares to actually wearing a cologne – it is not just about a smell (or combination of smells), but the combined olfactory and emotional experience that wearing a cologne gives you. You simply don’t get this from sniffing swatches of paper.


Kouros is one of the early creations of the legendary perfumer Pierre Bourdon, who later achieved everlasting fame with the creation of Davidoff Cool Water in 1988. It has a very abstract, musky smell, described by Luca Turin (Perfumes: The A-Z guide) as:

[…] the tanned skin of a guy with gomina in his hair stepping out of the shower wearing a pre-WWI British dandified fragrance: citrus, flowers, musk. It has that faintly repellent clean-dirty feel of other people’s bathrooms, and manages to smell at once scrubbed and promissory of an unmade bed”.

Turin’s description is very apt – I am reminded of a bathroom when I smell this, but not in a bad way. The idea of the bathroom in this cologne is not overpowering, but it is there, and it is not the idea of a dirty bathroom either; there are no indolic notes that I can detect (which would otherwise remind one of an uncleaned bathroom). To see what I mean, apply this cologne when you are in a bathroom. The bathroom will smell absolutely fantastic! In fact, I think YSL should also consider making this same scent into a bathroom air freshener.

Roja Dove (The Essence of Perfume) states about Kouros that:

The animalic, leathery base, sweetened with Jasmine, is what gave the scent its sensuality and originality. It was launched as the first fragrance to celebrate the beauty of the naked male form, a theme that was going to be picked up by many [fragrance] houses either side of the Atlantic”.

This marketing strategy was indeed reprised in the 1988 launch of Davidoff Cool Water and a number of Calvin Klein fragrances.

But one also has to remember that this cologne was launched in 1981, and as such some people may perceive it as a bit dated. In my opinion though, it has stood the test of time. I’m not sure if it has been reformulated or not since it was launched, but either way, it is still a great cologne. For an EDT, it is very strong – it lasts over 12 hours on my skin. It is moderately priced too; a 100 mL EDT bottle costs around $40-45 on Amazon.


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