Bvlgari Man - cologne review

- Bergamot gives way to sophisticated honey and wood tones
- A cologne for the mature, sophisticated man - this isn't kids' stuff
- Highly rated on Amazon with 4.5 stars
- One of our favourites
- Check the price on Scentbird here

From Alberto Morillas, the man who brought you Acqua di Gio, here we have Bvlgari Man.  But don't be fooled: Senor Morillas is no one-trick pony, and Bvlgari Man couldn't be more different from that famous Armani aquatic.

It took the Best Cologne for Men team a few tries before we really understood this excellent fragrance.  The first few times, our reaction was: 'OK, decent citrus-y opening - that'll be the bergamot, we guess, nothing very new here - then a few woody notes later on to make it a little richer and more sophisticated.  Perfectly nice frag overall, but very redolent of others on the market.'

bergamot honey

But actually, this cologne is very interesting once you start picking out the layers that are there.

Yes, you do start with bergamot notes: we won't deny it, and initially your nose's reaction will be that Bvlgari Man is just one of the common herd.

But let the topnotes die down a little - it will only take a few minutes - and you get the woody notes coming through, particularly sandalwood.  We're a sucker for woody notes here, and we love the way these quickly reveal themselves and complement the bergamot.  To be honest, we even caught a distant, fruity whiff of an incense-stick undercurrent, the soporific, contemplative odour of a Buddhist temple - perhaps appropriate for an oriental fragrance like Bvlgari Man.

incense sticks Buddhist

Finally, you are left with what is, to our noses, the strongest basenote: honey.  The bergamot dissipates to a mere murmur as the comforting but not sickly sweetness of honey becomes paramount, side by side with those lingering wood notes.  Truly superb.

We ought to say that, as always, the manufacturers allege that there are notes in there that we simply couldn't pick up: none of the vanilla scent of tonka bean that Bvlgari lay claim to, for example.

And, as people who love the scent of pears, regrettably we were unable to detect the 'white' pear topnotes in there.  Possibly too subtle to live with the other, dominating scents.  Frankly, you're better off with a lady's perfume like Jo Malone's English Pear and Freesia if you want the thin but delicious fragrance of pear to win out: find out more about that here.


But no matter: sometimes the notes can get too crowded, and in this case Bvlgari Man is none the worse for the missing notes.  Well worth pointing out that this isn't really a cologne that young guys would wear: as so often, the thickness of the woods and honey, the delicious and complex tones... these aren't what you slap on after a swim or a workout just to freshen up.

Advertising Campaign with Clive Owen

The advertising campaign for Bvlgari Man is utterly appropriate to the nature of the fragrance itself - check it out for yourself right here:

The video stars British actor Clive Owen, a man who arguably got famous somewhat late in his career compared to many other actors (starring in the film Gosford Park).  He has the mature look that matches the concept of Bvlgari Man so well - although of course there is a brief, zoomed-in snatch of Clive's muscular upper-body, bare male bodies being almost obligatory in men's fragrance adverts, of course, but normally featuring the younger guys.  

But that flask of bare skin is one of the few concessions to the genre made by the Bvlgari Man campaign.  Owen's strength isn't brute-force muscle here: it is the quiet, assured strength that comes with maturity and total self-confidence.  

Just look at his pose: he is horizontal for most of the video, showing his utter relaxation.  Indeed, he is so in control, he stares into the middle distance, lost in thought: no displays of chest-beating alpha male nonsense for Clive.  

With his crisp, clean whites like a naval academy graduate (or maybe just a rich guy on a yacht), he is all about civilized sophistication.  He oozes class and, strangely, affluence in his sun-drenched milieu, apparently unmoved by the phases of the sun as the day passes him by, the bottles of Bvlgari Man looking like so many gin & tonics...

The music matches the tone too: it is 'This is How We Walk on the Moon' from genius cellist Arthur Russell's album, Another Thought.  Subtle, understated, quiet - it suits the whimsical attitude of Owen's character in the video.  Once again, it underscores civilized subtlety and thoughtfulness, entirely in keeping with the fragrance itself.  

Overall rating: One of the best - it's a 9.5 out of 10.

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