Wednesday, March 4, 2009

HM for Men - Refined, Playful, Complex, Yummy!

Hanae Mori’s HM for Men is an understated fragrance that is just generally pleasant. It’s chocolately without being overly-sweet, and flowery without being too feminine. This is the smell of refinement, but with a touch of playfulness. If HM for Men were a person, it would be a good-looking older gay man in an expensive – but not flashy – suit, who collects Asian antiques.

At first sniff, I thought that – just as the Azzaro Pour Homme was a touch too macho for me – HM for Men was a little too dainty. My partner, M, certainly thought so, too. She had trouble believing, at first, that it was meant to be a men's fragrance, though she came around later.

The first time I tried it, the HM didn’t smell terribly sweet to me, and I was amazed that so many reviews I’d read went on and on about its chocolate notes. There was definitely chocolate, but it mingled with the floral notes in a nice way that seemed satisfyingly sophisticated. The second time, though, the chocolate dominated for a good 20 minutes, to the point that it smelled exactly like I would imagine a chocolate factory smells. It was almost overpowering, and certainly, I thought, too sweet for me … but I couldn’t make myself stop sniffing it. It was so yummy! Not at all like a bad chocolate scented candle or a Bath & Body Works scent. Rather, it was rich and alluring, like an expensive bar of dark chocolate. Then, about a half an hour in, the chocolate faded a notch to allow those floral notes I remembered to come through. It was still sweet, but in a way that was so layered it smelled almost musky. As there is no musk in it, I think it must be the lavender and/or moss I smell.

I disagree with M’s initial opinion that it’s too feminine. HM for Men is definitely masculine, but in a light, unobtrusive way. After the first few days of wearing the sample, I got my hands on some more, and have been wearing it every so often, in a rotation with a couple of others I enjoy. Interestingly, the strong chocolate tones of my second encounter with it have never returned in full force. Instead, subsequent wearings have brought out some warm, bright, sparkling notes that tickle my nose like champagne. No matter how often I wear it, I never quite get to the bottom of this fragrance. It’s deceptively complex. There’s so much going on in it, yet it never comes across as noisy or muddy. I suspect this may be a favorite for years to come.

I haven't tried HM for Men in the EDP concentration, but I hear it's a completely different sense experience than the EDT. I look forward to trying it.

UPDATE: I have now tried the eau de parfum concentration. Interestingly, I suspect my first encounter with HM may have actually been the EDP, not the eau de toilette, as I'd originally thought. I have two spray samples of the EDT that I've been using for several weeks, and I've been enjoying this fragrance less and less over time. What once smelled smooth and artistic and complex began to strike me as harsh and discordant. The EDP, on the other hand, is wonderful. It smells just as I remembered my first experience with this fragrance. I would advise anyone who wants to try HM to stick with the EDP and avoid the EDT.

Image note: HM for Men makes me think of the cherry blossoms of Tokyo, and not just because Hanae Mori is a Japanese designer. Like the cherry blossoms, this fragrance is both earthy and elegant, bright and restrained. Its balance also reminds me of the way the light, airy pink petals at the top of this photo offset the dark, deep brown trunks at the bottom.


Julie H. Rose said...

What a fantastic review. A joy to read.

And you know, I'm dying to try the scent. I had HM Butterfly for almost a year before trying it. Snob that I am, since I had received the sample at Macy's, I assumed it was not good.

It the floral vanilla to the men's floral chocolate. And like the HM for Men, this one is elusive. At first I was uninspired. But with each subsequent wearing, its richness was so enjoyable that I finally bought a bottle. I'm wearing it now.

Again, you are a natural at perfume reviewing. I look forward to your next review (no pressure, no pressure).

jmcleod76 said...

Aw shucks! You're good for my ego, Julie. Or bad for it, depending on how you look at it.

And I've got an HM sample here with your name on it.