Paco Rabanne Invictus is easily summed up: not a bad cologne, and not brilliant either. More exciting is the advertising campaign, but we'll look at that later... Let's get the review of this fragrance out of the way first, eh?

The Invictus we sampled seems to have left us with a very different impression from other people's experiences:  

So for us, the top notes were 'greenery', that smell of foliage after a sudden summer downpour.  That quickly gave way to what we like to call 'generic supermarket-own-brand shower gel'.  We have to say that it was very much like Gucci Guilty Black Pour Homme, sadly, but considerably milder, and to our surprise, that factor allowed Invictus to get away with it.  Disaster averted.

 Yep, it's definitely green foliage...

Yep, it's definitely green foliage...

So what you're left with is a fresh, somewhat mild cologne - nothing wrong with it, and its relatively low projection turns out to be a strength as the slightly synthetic middle notes are not a scent you want to force up people's nostrils.

The Paco Rabanne website tell us it's got mandarin, patchouli, 'notes of the sea' and bay leaf notes.  We're guessing the greenery we found is the bay leaf, but we detected none of the musty, earthy, hippy smell of patchouli in there - this fragrance didn't seem complicated enough for that to our noses. As for the mandarin and the sea notes, no Acqua di Giò cloning going on here, in all fairness.  So in short, we largely missed the notes that Invictus is said to contain: it's a fairly straightforward, 'green' and fresh cologne to us.  It's fine, it's inoffensive, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Advertising Campaign with Nick Youngquest

Much more interesting is the advertising campaign, starring Australian rugby player Nick Youngquest, a man blessed with a surname like something straight out of Game of Thrones.  We say 'interesting' because the vid mixes a dollop of men's cologne promotional ad clichés with some other, more subtle stuff that rewards a closer look.

So, the standard content: wearing Paco Rabanne Invictus (Latin for 'unconquered', as all you classically educated readers will know... conquered, conquest, Youngquest, you get the idea...) apparently gives you the ability to turn the lights on with a flick of the wrist (à la Mat Gordon in the Paco Rabanne 1 Million video), destroy stuff with sheer mental force (rugby-playing cyborgs apparently made of plaster of Paris in Nick's case, a bank of red headlights in Jared Leto's case), and seduce a roomful of honies just by walking through the door (who disrobe automatically, much like Bree Hemingway in the 1 Million video).  So: wear this stuff and you'll be invincible, unconquered, omnipotent, super-strong - hey, maybe you readers will have noticed Ser Nick's muscled physique, in case all the other imagery hadn't conveyed the message properly. Anyway, we get it, we get it...

And so that must be why the backing track for this vid is 'Power' by Kanye West from his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  See? Power, strength, impregnable, wrecking stuff with your mind... so the echo between Invictus and 'Power' makes sense, right?  But there's an added layer of interest in that there are some layers of overlap in the imagery of the two videos: isn't the Invictus ad a sort of parody of Kanye's video? 

Love him or hate him, Kanye's 'Power' music video is pretty rich in (at times, disturbingly occult) meaning.  We can't do it justice here, so just check out the Wikipedia entry about it.  But we would point out some similarities in the way both videos involve a persistent central focus on the male lead as the camera pulls away and retreats, and the blatant classical echoes in both  - such as the Ionic columns in Kanye's video, a couple of Poseidon-like figures in the Invictus advert, both videos echoing each other with flanking mythical figures hammering the ground with staffs... not to mention, last but not least, those smoking hot nymphettes in their diaphanous clothing that seems to slip off at the merest breath of wind before Nick's very eyes (the whole 'panty-dropper' fantasy of the world of men's colognes), dressed just like the sinister, Egyptian/ancient Greek hybrid, horned (or do we mean horny?) lasses in Kanye's piece.

In fairness to Paco Rabanne and Nick Youngquest, the Invictus advert takes itself far less seriously, which is why it ends up looking like an ironic parody of the 'Power' video: just look at the way Nick wipes his snotty nose at the start of the video (8 seconds in - hardly a sophisticated look, but he's probably struggling with the cologne he's just doused himself with), or the way he looks self-consciously foolish carrying that naff, cheapo sports trophy on his shoulder, and finally his cheeky teenage-boy grin when he finds five gorgeous, barely-dressed girls in his changing room.  Not too much irony or humour in the pharaonic, mythological farrago of Kanye's somewhat pretentious world, by contrast.

Speaking of contrasts... would it be bad manners to suggest that some sort of deliberate black-white racial opposition is being set up here?  The reason we got thinking about this is because when someone says 'Invictus' and 'rugby player', we immediately think of the Oscar-nominated Morgan Freeman / Matt Damon movie Invictus... which must be just some ironic coincidence because that's all about racial harmony, and overcoming racial opposition, and not the tension between the Kanye (black) and the Invictus (white) videos that we are seeing here.  Strange but no doubt purely coincidental echoes, then...

subutteo trophies

Final word on the flask styling: it's just so ugly - it looks like one of those plastic replica trophies you used to get with a Subbuteo tabletop football set in the 1980s.  The Invictus bottle must be the one of the only trophies in the world where you pick it up and feel like a loser.


Overall rating: Not really a winner - it's a out of 10.

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