There's a reason certain fragrances become classics. Everyone, including their father and my father, has owned Ralph Lauren Polo in the green bottle at some point between 1978 and now. The only surprising thing about this ultimate designer scent is how good it actually is.
The bottle I'm reviewing here is an aftershave splash from 1995 or 1996. It's incredibly strong, full and round for this concentration (basically an even more diluted eau de cologne), but the monstrous sillage and volatile opening calm down within five minutes leaving you (and me) with the core scent which is not as loud as its reputation. I no longer remember how or why my husband got Polo, and I ended up hiding it years ago, mostly because it's a cologne I associate with my dad who wore it excessively throughout the 80s and also later as a default scent every time he couldn't find anything he liked better.
Polo is a very green chypre and is much more elegant and sophisticated than I remembered. My scent memory was all about the pine and lavender, but now I also smell the other greens and a very distinct non-stinky smoky cumin note. There's a touch of a spice rack, but it's more a spice rub than a curry and the almost foody phase is so well blended with the green parts and the wood that it doesn't bother me too much, even if as a vegetarian something there is a bit too meaty for me e for a moment or two.
There's also quite a bit of smoky incense that I absolutely love, a strong-boned and very masculine wood-patchouli base, something a bit honeyed that doesn't take away from the general feel of dryness, and so much glorious oakmoss it makes post-IFRA perfumes and colognes hide their faces in shame.
And that's when it hits you. Once upon a time you could go to Bloomingdale's or to your local perfume store on Main Street and buy beautiful, sophisticated fragrances at a reasonable price. Some came from big names, other from smaller ones, but none of them assumed their customer was an idiot.
If I can have a choice I'd always pick the man wearing Polo out of a crowd of guys wearing Eau de Rinse Cycle Sport Light. And I'd ask to share his bottle.
Polo by Ralph Lauren is available everywhere under the sun in various sizes, concentrations and prices usually under $50. I'd bet good money that whatever is being manufactured these days has been heavily reformulated and is not quite as good as it used to be. My advice is to go into your dad's medicine cabinet and see if he still has some from before 2005. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Vintage Polo ads (I especially love the one from 1979 where Ralph Lauren himself is the face of his creation): couleurparfum.com and vintageadbrowser.com