Released in April 2016, Mr. Burberry is not just another addition to the company's fragrance roster. According to WWD, Mr. Burberry is the icing on the cake of the company's strategy to bring in-house its beauty and fragrance business.
WWD reports that two years ago Burberry acquired back from Inter Parfums the licenses to produce and distribute the beauty products carrying its brand name.
Mr. Burberry is the culmination of these restructuring efforts. It is also an attempt to revive the company's presence on the men's fragrance counter. The cologne is the only recent release by the designer house that is not a flanker.
Is Burberry's move bold and new? Not really. The new Mr. Burberry cologne comes out amid non-flanker releases from other designers. In 2015 Dior released Sauvage in a bid to capture an audience hungry for pointless citrus-aquatics. In 2014 Valentino got some attention with the release of Valentino Uomo - a sweet, chocolate infused leather fragrance.
Even though in the past several years Burberry has been busy releasing flankers, these are not breakthrough fragrances. Since they rarely offer anything new, consumers often dismiss them as variations of the stuff from 15 years ago.
The Mr. Burberry cologne is intended to be something new. It's a break from the past and a fresh start for the company now that they are in full control of their fragrant creations.
Burberry's website describes the fragrance as
"[a] fragrance for men, inspired by both the iconic black trench coat and by London – a city of great contrasts. Traditional yet irreverent, elegant without being pristine."
If you have already smelled Mr. Burberry, this descriptions will leave you puzzled. For one, if London is a city of great contrasts, the fragrance it has allegedly inspired has nothing great about it, let alone contrasts. Throughout its life it sticks to the same tune with slight variations.
Mr. Burberry is not traditional either. London is the birthplace of the best British fragrance houses. Floris and Panhaligon's have been making traditional British perfumes for over 100 years. All you need is to smell a few of their creations to know how far off Mr. Burberry is from being traditional.
As for the irreverent part - I'm not sure how, to what or to whom the cologne is irreverent. Truly, I don't think it matters. It appears the marketing team here was just throwing words together because they sounded good.
What Mr. Burberry Smells Like
I wore Mr. Burberry on two separate occasions. Both times I applied two sprays on my neck and one one on my hand. Here's what I got out of these two full-day wears.
Mr. Burberry smells clean. I mean this in the literal sense. It opens with some unidentifiable citrus (allegedly grapefruit), which has an undertone of synthetics.
From the very beginning I pick out some warm creamy-spiciness. I suspect it is cardamom or maybe some resins.
"It almost feels like Francis Kurkdjian made this on his lunch break" - FragBoy Stewie, a YouTube Fragrance Reviewer
Slowly, the citrus dissipates and Mr. Burberry turns woody. To me, the fragrance appears to have a certain presence of wetness. It smells like a city after rain. You can still feel the moisture in the air mixed with the smell of smoke and grime from the street.
20 minutes in, Mr. Burberry turns very soapy. It reminds me of shaving cream. The soap smell makes Mr. Burberry an excellent choice for camping trips with limited access to a shower.
Mr. Burberry lasts on me full eight hours, even though it is barely detectable after four hours.
The dry-down is a combination of resins and woods. It stays transparent and slightly sweet. There is a slight synthetic tinge to it.
Overall, Mr. Burberry is professionally composed. It transitions smoothly from one stage to the next. Where it falls short is the lack of originality and the poor quality of the ingredients.
Where to Rock It
Versatility is in the DNA of Mr. Burberry. The company wanted to create a fragrance that one could wear anywhere, anytime. It's the equivalent of the white shirt - it works for any occasion, any age, and any weather.
Because of its light character, Mr. Burberry works best in the spring and summer. The woods and resins in it could give it some legs in a cold weather but it's not a great choice.
If you are stumbling on your way to the closest burger joint after a night of binge-drinking, Mr. Burberry may be a decent choice.
It's not that it is particularly fitting for hangovers. What makes it appropriate for the occasion is its unassuming smell. In instances like this, Mr. Burberry might be your saving grace. At least people may say "Well, he looks completely sloshed but at least he had the decency to freshen up."
The other place where Mr. Burberry would do reasonably well is the place that hates perfume. Most offices in North America will welcome the cologne's generic vibe. In many cases, it will fit right in with the corporate culture.
Mr. Burberry will work for any age. Part of the reason is that it lacks any character. On the positive side, Mr. Burberry is the type of fragrance you ca gift to anyone without any trepidation whether they'll like it or not. It certainly won't offend even the most sensible.
What The Other Frag Heads Say about Mr. Burberry
Sebastian from Looking, Feeling, Smelling Great says he gets a citrusy, minty opening. He believes it comes from the tarragon in the composition.
I get the same creamy minty feel, which I attribute to the combo of cardamom and tarragon. As for the grapefruit note - I don't get much of it. Instead, I get just a generic citrus aromachemical.
When it comes to my overall experience with Mr. Burberry, I must agree with Sebastian - the beginning was not too impressive, but the development was well done.
FragBoy Stewie is also not impressed with Mr. Burberry. He sees the release of this Burberry cologne as the company's answer to Dior's Sauvage and Chanel's Bleu de Chanel.
"Quite honestly, guys, if you think Bleu de Chanel and Sauvage have that typical "cologney" type of a vibe to them, smell this [Mr. Burberry]. Because after you smell this, those two are going to appear so much higher than where this is." - FragBoy Stewie
FragBoy Stewie finds Mr. Burberry to be overly generic, similar to Calvin Klein. Ultimately, he recommends "not to waste your time" with this fragrance.
I fully agree. There are tons of other great fragrances you could be wearing.
In his review, Steven from Redolessence also compares Mr. Burberry to Dior Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel. He thinks Mr. Burberry is closer to Bleu de Chanel than Sauvage is.
If I were Burberry, however, I wouldn't take such a comparison as a compliment. For me, perfumery, just like any art, is about expressiveness or originality. Therefore, being told I've done a great job imitating another artist is hardly a compliment.
Steven calls Mr. Burberry the most versatile scent in his collection. I agree, that on versatility, it is hard to beat it.
Overall, Steven finds Mr. Burberry to be a pleasant fragrance. Even though he doesn't think it is particularly original, he generously gives it a rating of seven out of ten.
Jessica Punter, a GQ Style & Grooming Editor, opens her article on Mr. Burberry by asking a tough question: "how do you create a timeless scent?". The answer comes from Francis Kurkdjian. He says timelessness is "a reference to the past". Therefore, Jessica explains, Kurkdjian approached the creation of Mr. Burberry by referencing Houbigant's Fougere Royale.
What I find incredulous is that Mr. Burberry has nothing in common with Fougere Royale or with the Fougere as a fragrance genre. It is so far removed that it takes a huge leap of imagination to connect Mr. Burberry with fougere.
To be fair, Jessica doesn't review the fragrance itself. She just reports on it and its marketing campaign. As the grooming expert at GQ, I suspect she has a pretty good idea where Mr. Burberry falls on the totem pole of men's colognes.
They both agree the cologne is best suited for the office or casual events. Manny goes further and says Mr. Burberry reminds him of the Axe or Adidas body sprays. He qualifies his statement by saying that Mr. Burberry smells good but it doesn't smell like a designer cologne.
Dave says that to him the Burberry fragrances in general have always been the "B team". Some are decent, others are not.
To Dave, Mr. Burberry comes from the "clone land". It tries to imitate Dior Sauvage and Bleu de Chanel but it "falls flat".
Both Dave and Manny consider Mr. Burberry to be a pleasant cologne but they find it unmemorable and too generic. Manny says this Burberry cologne is targeted to the guy who wants one type of scent for all occasions.
Dave likes the development of the fragrance. He is not pleased with the citrus opening but he likes that the composition changes into something more resinous/woody. What he doesn't like is where the fragrance is going. To him, Mr. Burberry takes the wrong direction and turns into something an old man would wear.
What's wrong and what's right with Mr. Burberry comes down to two things:
- From a creative point of view, Burberry couldn't have played it safer. Mr. Burberry falls right in the middle of the men's fragrance trend of the past two or three years.
If you were to line up the latest releases from Dior (Sauvage), Chanel (Bleu de Chanel) and Prada (Luna Rosa), Mr. Burberry falls smack in the middle. Its character, structure and presentation are virtually the same. Therefore, Burberry gets no points for creativity.
- Mr. Burberry was built on the cheap. The cost skimping is evident in the synthetic, chemical undertones of the fragrance. This is especially evident in the opening. If you spray the perfume on paper, the chemical nuances become even more pronounced.
The official notes include grapefruit in the opening - something I just don't pick up at all. If done right and with more expensive ingredients, the grapefruit notes could be mesmerizing, mouth-watering tangy deliciousness. For a reference of a grapefruit note done right check out Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermes.
Despite its many drawbacks, I think Mr. Burberry will do well in the mass market. It doesn't have the characteristics of an iconic fragrance (e.g. Dior Homme), but it will do what it is supposed to do - help boost the second quarter earnings.
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The Bottom Line
Regardless of its market performance, it all comes down to the following three questions:
- Would you buy Mr. Burberry?
My answer is no. There are just too many other fragrances on the market that do a much better job.
- Would I get compliments wearing Mr. Burberry?
You probably will - it's a crowd-pleaser and will likely get you something like "you smell clean" or "someone showered today". Getting the latter should be a clear sign you should reconsider your hygiene habits. I'm not sure if it will count as a compliment.
- What rating would you give Mr. Burberry?
I think it is a solid 2-star perfume. It is not a total disaster, but it is nothing special either.
Grapefruit, Cardamom, Taragon, Mint
Birch Leaf, Nutmeg, Cedar, Lavender
Sandalwood, Guaiac Wood, Vetiver, Benzoin, Oakmoss