I’m pretty sure we’ve covered gourmand fragrances before and what they mean, but basically the direct definition is that it’s an ‘olfactory dessert’. Although I think the strictest definition is ‘someone who likes to eat a lot’ so…don’t want to confuse anybody here but…you cannot in fact EAT the fragrance. But, if there ever was a zombie apocalypse, you would definitely smell like dessert and would indeed be screwed.
The base DNA of Stronger With You from Emporio Armani that gives it that gourmand scent is vanilla, chestnut, and cinnamon. There’s also some cardamom, pink pepper and other florals that help cut through that clawing sweetness to round out a perfectly balanced scent profile that is obviously good since there were six flankers that followed. In this post I’ll cover all seven of these fragrances and briefly touch on my experiences with them and at the end I’ll highlight my top three out of the bunch. Let’s get started, shall we?
This is where it all started back in 2017. This fall fragrance monster envelops the starting point of its DNA with a bevy of warm notes, sweetness, and a touch of spice. While it smells amazing, there are a few aspects of the EDT that suffer – mainly longevity and projection. The opening is muted but as it dries down that warm spiciness starts to develop and I would say projection was ok, not anything that I could smell distinctly from a distance. For me, this only really lasted about 4 to 5 hours before I could barely smell it on my skin anymore. In my opinion, I’d say this is going to be great for those cold nights out when you need to spray yourself just before going on a date or a night on the town. It should last you all night and should project nicely if you spray about 6 to 8 times, including your clothes. Overall, a decent start!
Intensely was released in 2019 and is an EDP concentration. This one takes that initial Stronger With You DNA and cranks it to 100. It’s warm, it’s spicy and it’s a beast mode all-day banger that can last from 6am to 10pm if you spray it right. In my testing I sprayed it on at 6am and by 6pm I still had people asking what I was wearing. It’s not overly sweet and the violet and suede really come out in this one to come up with a perfect balance. This one is definitely one that you should have in your collection without question.
Released in 2020, this fragrance is a direct competitor to Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather. I don’t think there’s any other contender in this space for the price range that smells similar. Now, while Ombre Leather is more of a “one-note” fragrance with the leather being dominant, Stronger With You Leather is a perfect marriage of the original DNA with a nice warm leather-wrapped hug at the end of it. Vanilla, leather, woody notes are dominant here and with an EDP concentration, longevity is all day with this one. In my testing, as it’s getting cooler here up north, I could smell this coming off my skin on a cool, windy afternoon just as strong as it had smelled earlier that day. This is one of two bottles in the collection that Armani chose to make gold versus transparent which is a head-scratcher since leather…isn’t gold. A darker brown or even a leather-wrapped bottle would have been stellar. Instead, it would go perfectly with my Tom Ford gold bottles instead.
Also released in 2020, Freeze is the fourth fragrance to be released and the only fragrance that has the original DNA more in the background than in the forefront. This fragrance is more of a fresh take on the original and has more of a shower gel feel but still holds all those soft woody and vanilla qualities. Ginger, citrus and geranium is added to this fragrance to make it lean more on the green side and while you may seem puzzled by how this sounds, surprisingly it really works. The opening is a blast of ginger and it’s actually cool on the skin thanks to that EDT concentration. Once it dries down it becomes warmer and projects less off of my skin, but after 8 hours or so I can still smell it. This one is a great addition to this lineup and shouldn’t be slept on.
Released in 2021, Absolutely is undeniably the MOST concentrated out of them all. This flanker is also the sweetest of the bunch replacing the standard vanilla note with Madagascar Vanilla. Not 100% sure what makes Madagascar Vanilla more vanilla-y than vanilla but in Absolutely it’s ever so present through the opening all the way to the dry down. This fragrance is also the first one to introduce rum as one of the notes and adds a richness to the fragrance in the opening to the mid. I would say out of all of these flankers so far, this one is one of the ones I personally don’t like simply because it’s just too sweet. Think of the movie Elf for a second. Remember when Buddy is making breakfast? He has spaghetti and on top of it he puts maple syrup, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, chocolate sauce and chocolate fudge pop tarts. Yeah…it’s that level sweet.
Released in 2022, Only is an EDT concentration that has similarities to both the original as well as Freeze. There’s a bit of citrus freshness in this one as well as that chestnut/vanilla DNA but it’s a bit more muted than Freeze. I found that the opening was very mild in intensity, even for an EDT. The dry down is where the brightness started to come out and settled in nicely. It’s a breath of fresh air after the overbearing sweetness of Absolutely. My biggest issues here are the same issues I had with the original - longevity and projection. It’s just not that big of a fragrance to try and wear all day. You’d have to re-spray yourself halfway through the day if you’re going to pull a double at work or go out with your friends after leaving the office. If you wanted a fresher take on the Stronger With You DNA, stick to Freeze.
Also released this year, Oud is the second fragrance in the line to use a colored, non-transparent bottle. Armani chose a dark, black bottle with gold accents this time and because it’s an oud fragrance, it makes sense. Leather? Still scratching my head on that one. Stronger With You Oud is right up there with Tom Ford’s Oud Wood and Versace Oud Noir as a really strong competitor. If I were to rank these top to bottom it would be Tom Ford up top, Stronger With You Oud and then Versace. Stronger With You Oud isn’t as oud-forward as Tom Ford but keeps more of that vanilla from the original. Longevity is a beast with Oud and will last you 8 to 10 hours easily. It’s also the first fragrance in the lineup to only have three notes: lavender, vanilla, and oud. This is one that I kept coming back to over and over again and really liked. This one is a solid addition to anyone’s collection.
Ok. There’s a LOT of ground covered here but here are my key takeaways. First, I have to say this is refreshing to see a lineup so vast in expanse and not have any of these fragrances really smell super similar to one another. There are just enough note differentiations to notice the differences between each of them and that’s hard to say with fragrances today having concentrations smelling so similar that it’s easy to recommend one over the other. So good job on Armani’s part. What’s harder for you, the consumer, is you now have to try all seven of these like I did and decide if you want one, three, or all. Maybe I can help you with my top three.
Starting with number three the fragrance I chose is Freeze. I was pleasantly surprised with this one and with that freshness so bold on top of an already amazing DNA I can’t stop spraying this one. My number two is a tie between Oud and Leather. Both are stellar contenders facing a monster in Tom Ford with their own versions that are truly different yet fantastic fragrances. And my number one Stronger With You fragrance is…Intensely. This fragrance is the perfect balance of sweetness with the addition of amber and lavender along with notes of pink pepper and juniper. It’s strong yet warm, sweet yet woody. To me, it’s the absolute best one in the line and one that’s already in my collection!
Which one is your favorite? Have you tried all seven yet? If you haven’t all are available right here at Decant House. Order one, my top three or all seven and try them for yourself. Let me know in the comments how your results came out and I’ll see you in the next one!