When I first saw the bottle and the name "Bulgari MAN", I had a feeling it was going to be yet another typical modern woody spicy designer scent. Unfortunately I was right.
Even if it isn't the most original opening accord I've ever smelled, Bulgari MAN starts off great. The citrus and violet leaf combine to create a scent that smells watery yet dry and spicy all at once. It's a complex smell, with hints of black pepper, wood and earthy aromatic notes all in there creating a sparkling effect for a good half hour. I thought to myself, "Okay, it's not unique, but it's really well done."
What comes after that opening is by no means bad, but it follows the same hackneyed recipe used by leagues of woody spicy fragrances that have come down the pike since the release of Tommy Hilfiger's Tommy in 1994. What I mean is a middle stage that consists mainly of dry, bitter wood like vetiver and floral notes to create this transparent yet semi-sour smelling glow. I've smelled this accord in so many men's fragrances over the past 15 years or so; some do it badly (e.g., Tommy) while some do it brilliantly (e.g., Essenza di Zegna, Comme Une Evidence Homme). Bulgari MAN comes somewhere in the middle - it smells like it's made of natural materials, but it's not particularly interesting.
Though still not at all original, the drydown is a little better. Benzoin and honey are listed as ingredients here, which is unusual for such a dry scent. I like how they are discreetly added to the composition, by adding just a tiny hint of sweetness, yet maintaining the fragrance's dryness and never weighing it down. I like this additional bit of complexity and variety to such an arid fragrance like this.
In a nutshell, Bulgari MAN is a pretty good fragrance, but that's it, and it's not one I'd ever buy. My biggest problem with it is its complete lack of originality, and it's kind of boring. I already own Essenza di Zegna and Comme Une Evidence Homme (Yves Rocher), which are both similar but far superior to this, so I don't see myself finding any use for Bulgari MAN. If this were priced less, I could see reason for someone to buy it, but when you consider that there are better and less expensive alternatives, Bulgari MAN doesn't seem so alluring.
MY RATING: 6.5/10
Fragrance House: Bulgari