Italian designer brand Costume National is known for its eccentric couture and stellar fragrances. Releases like Cyber Garden, Scent Intense, 21, and Soul have all been lauded by fragrance lovers for their quality and originality.
Costume National Homme, released in 2009 and composed by master perfumer Dominique Ropion, is no exception, having grown into a cult classic over the years. Costume National Homme Parfum, a 2020 edition, is advertised as a deeper, richer, and more refined variation on the original.
But how does it stack up?
Costume National Homme Parfum is a rich, woody, and spicy fragrance that is ideal for autumn and winter wear. With powerful performance, simple but elegant presentation, and great value for money, it’s a top pick for men looking for a cold weather fragrance.
Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at Costume National Homme Parfum.
Top Notes: cardamom, grapefruit, bergamot
Middle Notes: cinnamon, patchouli, vetiver
Base Notes: sandalwood, labdanum, musk
Costume National Homme Parfum is a spice bomb of epic proportions. I will caution you: if you don’t like spicy fragrances, STAY AWAY.
However, if you are a lover of spices like myself, Costume National Homme Parfum might just be heaven for you.
The fragrance opens up with a blast of grapefruit and the distinctive, licoricey twang of green cardamom pods.
While I’m not a big fan of cardamom in food other than as an accent note (it always makes my tongue dry out), I absolutely love the smell of cardamom. This has one of the most realistic and zingy cardamom notes I’ve encountered so far, and so I was in love from first spray.
Soon, a massive wave of red-hot cinnamon rolls in, accompanied by a brace of earthy vetiver and patchouli. As the fragrance dries down, a distinct note of creamy sandalwood begins to emerge, adding a lush, smooth texture to the fragrance and rounding out the harsh edges. There’s also an irissy tone almost reminiscent of the drydown of Dior Homme Parfum, though it’s faint, only serving to give the fragrance a lustrous lacquer.
Finally, after hours and hours of wear, you’re left with a combination of buttery sandalwood, patchouli, musk, and labdanum flecked with spices.
The scent profile of this fragrance is absolutely wonderful. At once it reminds me of Christmas potpourri, ambery fragrances from the 70s, and the souks of Morocco, but smoothed over, modernized, and tastefully packaged.
I vastly prefer this over the original eau de parfum, which I tried a number of times but never could convince myself to enjoy. If you’re wondering what the difference is between an eau de parfum and a parfum, by the way, feel free to check out this article for further details.
The eau de parfum and Costume National Homme Parfum are quite similar in terms of scent, but the differences all come down to the levels of certain ingredients.
The original was similarly spicy, but absolutely dominated by cloves. Cloves and I have a difficult relationship; I do enjoy some fragrances with cloves in them, such as Portrait of a Lady and Musc Ravageur, both by Frederic Malle, but on the whole I really don’t particularly enjoy cloves, either in fragrance or in food. The original also had a funky, herbal thyme note which clashed with the other notes in an unappealing manner, in my opinion.
The parfum significantly tones down on the cloves. While cloves are still present in the mix, they are no longer the star of the show. Cardamom and cinnamon fill in for them instead. Additionally, the thyme note has been entirely removed, the greenness it brought having been replaced with vetiver and the anisic bite of the cardamom.
These changes, in my view, dramatically improve upon the original fragrance. The materials here also seem much higher quality, particularly the sandalwood, giving the parfum a roundness, smoothness, and balance which I did not find in the original.
When I wear this fragrance, I envision a well-groomed man in his late 20s or early 30s, perhaps wearing a dark olive green suit. He is well traveled, worldly, and balanced, completely in his element. I think that it would be the perfect fragrance for a poet, philosopher, writer, scholar, or artsy types.
In a few words, Costume National Homme Parfum is: rich, smooth, spicy, creamy, woody, dark green, exotic, and festive.
The packaging for Costume National Homme Parfum is simple but elegant.
I have a tester bottle of Costume National Homme Parfum, and so my bottle came in a simple, white, unlabeled box.
However, owning two other Costume National fragrances as I do, I can speak to the box presentation. The fragrance comes in a dark grey box with the name of the brand and the fragrance written in silver lettering. There’s little in the way of additional accoutrements inside the box, just the bottle. Still, it’s perfectly in line with Costume National’s Italian minimalist aesthetic.
The bottle, like the box, is simple but very well done.
The bottle is vaguely rectangular, widening out more at the base. It’s also kind of indented (I don’t know if that’s the technical term for it), sloping in and down. All of the Costume National bottles are like this; I’ll attach some photos so you get an idea of what I mean. The bottle feels very nice in the hand and is obviously high quality.
The bottle color is deep, dark green, not quite “bottle green” because of a yellowish, ambery tint to it. The color matches perfectly with the scent of the fragrance and looks beautiful, especially when you pass light through it.
Since I have a test bottle, I don’t have a cap, but the cap is like other Costume National fragrances, meaning that it fits very closely on the sprayer and kind of makes you wonder if there’s even any room for the sprayer underneath. I’ll attach a picture of my bottle of Scent Intense for reference. The sprayer itself is your average run-of-the-mill atomizer, nothing fancy but nothing shabby either.
Overall, the presentation for Costume National Homme Parfum is minimalistic but very well done.
The performance for Costume National Homme Parfum is excellent, well above average.
The longevity of Costume National Homme Parfum is absolutely fantastic.
Two to three sprays gives me twelve to fourteen hours of longevity on my perfume eating skin.
That is way more than enough for me. This is one of the few fragrances I have that I can still smell on my skin the next day when I wake up. It often survives two showers. On fabric, this can easily last for weeks or months. That is a sign that this is a quality piece of work.
If you want greater performance, you could always amp up the sprays, but I would recommend going easy on the trigger for this one, because…
Projection & Sillage
…the projection and sillage of this fragrance is enormous.
Two to three sprays gives me five to six hours of polite, but consistent projection and arm’s length sillage.
This is definitely a beast mode fragrance. It easily penetrates my mask and can be smelt constantly, even when I’m driving my motorcycle.
That means this one here is an absolute bomb. DISCRETION IS ADVISED. I would recommend no more than three sprays for this fragrance, and that only if you’re going to be outdoors. For normal use, I limit myself to two sprays, and if I wear this to work, a single spray. It’s that strong.
It’s a very pleasant fragrance, but the spices might not be to everyone’s taste, so spray with caution.
Value For Money
Costume National Homme Parfum has excellent value for money in my view.
A 3.4 oz (100ml) bottle retails for €120, or $136.03. That’s $1.36/ml, a little bit higher than most designer scents.
However, this price is offset by a number of different factors.
One is that this is a very high quality, high performance, designer fragrance with a niche character.
Don’t know what a “niche” perfume is? You can check out this article for more information.
It’s clear to me that a lot of raw materials have been used in this formulation. According to the brand, the fragrance utilizes several extracts from Laboratoire Monique Remy in Grasse, which specializes in the production of premium raw materials. It is also concentrated at 25%, which is quite a lot for a designer perfume. All this is to say that Costume National Homme Parfum is a very high quality product, and that is reflected in the price.
Another factor to consider is the fact that the fragrance is readily available on legitimate online discount websites such as FragranceX and FragranceNet. At the time of this writing, Costume National Homme Parfum is available for $98.52 on FragranceX, a damn good deal if you ask me. I myself purchased my tester bottle from a certified retailer on Ebay for €63, or $71.41 USD.
So, taking the quality of the scent, presentation, and performance into account, Costume National Homme Parfum has great value for money, and would be worth the price even at full retail. At discounted rates online, it’s even more worth the asking price.
Who Would Like It
This is going to appeal to only a certain subset of people. I don’t mean that it’s an unattractive fragrance, because it’s not in the least. However, it is definitely very far away from your Dior Sauvage or Bleu de Chanel types which dominate the men’s perfume scene today.
In my view, this will be a great choice for people who are in their mid-late 20s and above who are a bit more settled in life. There’s a high probability that the person who likes this will have an interest in art, literature, film, music, etc. They probably go to art galleries and concerts, read books, and keep their finger on the pulse of world events.
Okay, that all sounds terribly pretentious, and Costume National Homme Parfum is not really a pretentious scent; rather the opposite. There is no whiff of postmodernist, hipster abstraction here. Instead, it smells warm, secure, comforting, and centered. Still, when I smell it, I imagine a person with “refined tastes” wearing it.
People who are into spicy scents will likely also fall in love with this scent. If you like the smell of cardamom, cinnamon, sandalwood, and (ugh) cloves, check this one out. If you prefer sweet, fruity, or shower gel-esque scents, this is not the fragrance for you.
I think that it could be unisex, but it errs much more on the masculine side of the spectrum if you ask me. Still, ladies, by all means, take this one out for a spin and see if it works for you.
When To Wear It
Costume National Homme Parfum is very clearly a cold weather fragrance. The dry woodiness of the fragrances makes it a top pick for the autumn, while the spices and festive vibe make it great for the holiday season.
It is a pretty versatile fragrance which will do you good at the office (so long as you go easy on the trigger), semi-formal and formal occasions, casual hangouts, and maybe even romantic encounters, though I wouldn’t recommend it for a first date due to the polarizing nature of the spices.
There are a lot of similar fragrances to Costume National Homme Parfum out there, but few equals.
First on the list would be the original Costume National Homme EDP. It’s still readily available, but usually goes for at or around the same price as the parfum on online discounters. So unless you really love the original (and some do indeed prefer it to the parfum), I personally would opt for the parfum instead.
Dolce di Giorno by Italian niche brand Bois 1920 has often been called a “niche” version of Costume National Homme with a heavy dose of plum. Not having smelt that fragrance myself, I can’t really comment on that, but the parfum already smells “niche” to my nose, so I won’t be seeking it out.
Finally, Bvlgari’s Man In Black, Viktor&Rolf’s Spicebomb Extreme, and Chopard’s Oud Malaki will all give you a similar experience, being spicy, woody, and slightly mature scents.
Pros & Cons
- Beautiful and high quality spicy/woody fragrance
- Powerhouse performance
- Excellent value for money
- Might be considered polarizing due to its dominant spiciness
- Might be considered “too strong” by some
- More expensive than other designer fragrances, which might dissuade potential buyers despite opportunities for purchase at a discount
The Final Word
Costume National Homme Parfum is a scent I’ve fallen in love with ever since I bought it, and I’ve been wearing it almost constantly.
While it might not be to everyone’s tastes, I adore the melange of spices, the greenness of the cardamom and vetiver, the grapefruit blast which adds some freshness despite the heavy profile, and the rich, creamy depth of the sandalwood, patchouli, and labdanum in the base.
When I wear Costume National Homme Parfum I feel calm, sophisticated, centered, and like a hot, spicy hunk of man. And who doesn’t wanna smell like that?
That’s not to mention its beastly performance, simple but refined presentation, and excellent value for money. In my view, Costume National Homme Parfum is one of if not the best masculine releases of 2020 and one of the best cold weather picks for a slightly more mature man on the market today.
★★★★★ 5 stars out of 5