Kouros is one of those powerhouse perfumes of the 80’s that seem to divide people and rarely gets a lukewarm reaction. The only exception is my brother: all he’s got to say about it was “it’s nice”. Perhaps the fact that he likes dosing in limitless amounts of Old Spice on a daily basis might explain a thing or two.
Kouros is unmistakably sexual and it’s impossible for me to see it in any other way. Without smelling literally of sex (as in “Magnificent Secretions”), it is dead-on rough, raw, dirty outdoor sex smell.
I first tried Kouros over a year ago and found it too potent for the time so I stayed away from it for a while. Today, coming back to it to continue my tribute week to YSL I immediately remembered what Katie of Scentzilla said about Poison and the word “humping” kept popping into my mind uncontrollably. Another thing that I couldn’t help thinking about was the orgy scene of Pan in Jitterbug Perfume. Kouros doesn’t just dry-hump your leg, it goes all the way even if uninvited, half animal and half human, it gets all messy and is not in the least apologetic about it either.
The notes are not easy to isolate in my mind and there is not much literature about it on the internet either. The most comprehensive list of notes can be found on Bois de Jasmin (and I don’t know what’s the source for it, neither can I pin point all of these notes either). So I’ll offer you as usual my attempt at describing the evolution of the fragrance as objectively as possible (if it ever is).
Kouros opens with an expansive array of notes that are at once herbaceous, spicy and sharp (and might be perceived as “fresh” by some). There is a sense of familiarity at first, resemblence to perhaps another masculine perfume (it could be either English Leather or Tabac Original – I could not find my references as some of my perfumes had to be temporarily stored away, so will have to check later) but at the same time it is nearly unbearably potent as well as awkward. Something about it makes me think of the original Chypre compositions, those made in the island of Cyprus from a mix of dried herbs and a paste of oakmoss and labdanum and resins. The notes are all very well blended as they have coupled with each other and have lost their distinct identities. I can sense the presence of familiar Mediterranean mountain herbs such as sage and perhaps bay leaf or rosemary, lavender and wormwood. The spices I cannot make out but one note is distinctively present – the intensely animalic fragrance of honey combs of dark, rich honey from wild thorny flowers with the scent of propolis still lingering in. It is almost sickeningly sweet and medicinal at the same time. Another note that stands out is that of labdanum, a resinous, ambery oleoresin from the rockrose bushes (also grown on the Mediterranean mountains and hillsides) and a pulsating undercurrent of costus, with its musky goat-like horns that is perhaps the reason why Pan jumps into the picture. As the perfume settles on the skin, the honey and labdanum get rounder and warmer, and the spices and herbs calm down and let go of their sharpness. Indolic notes take the stage with jasmine and civet being the most prominent and only hingts or rose-geranium that give it a more complex, perfumey bouquet. There is also a hint of dryness at the base, though still animalic, from what I believe to be a tobacco note. The drydown is mostly honeyed-ambery yet with the animalic aspect still in place and some dryness of oakmoss and tobacco. Overall, Kouros is sunny, heavy, spicy Chypre reminiscent of blood and sweat.
Top notes: Sage, Bay Leaf, Wormwood, Lavender
Heart notes: Honey, Jasmine, Rose Geranium
Base notes: Labdanum, Costus, Musk, Civet, Tobacco, Patchouli