|picture swiped from internet.|
Devin is somewhat tame. Typically, it is best to avoid reading comments at Fragrantica before buying something to facilitate forming my own opinion. Overwhelmingly, the comments complained of how strong it is, and how impossible it would be to wear something like Devin today. Perhaps I've got a better-than-most tolerance for oakmoss, but I wouldn't call Devin strong. If anything, it could benefit from a bit more projection.
Like so many people stuck at home during the pandemic, I've been taking walks around my neighbourhood and doing a bit of gardening to get some outdoor activities. Our neighbourhood stinks. There, I've said it. There's only so much you can attribute to geosmin in the environment, and I'm sure it is a combination of rotting mulch, ongoing sewer/infrastructure work, and shrubbery that smells like a wet dog. It seems to cling to synthetic fabrics worse than cotton, but for at least an hour after coming indoors I can smell it strongly. I'm bothered by it more than my family, but I've also found it is worst in summer, on hot days and that sweet fragrances just make the overall effect more nauseating. As a result, I save the sweeter, floral fragrances for the cold weather, and go for the herbal/leathery/animalics in summer. It sounds counter intuitive ,but it works. Devin holds up nicely to my neighbourhood's "Dog in the rain" scent profile.
I didn’t know anyone that wore Devin in the 70s, and that’s probably for the best as there aren’t any associations interfering with my enjoyment of it. It doesn’t feel dated, but it also doesn’t smell terribly original. Perhaps in 1977 combining leather and galbanum would have felt more daring than it does today. Really, it is overwhelmingly oakmoss, leather, and pine notes with some amber and musk to keep it from going wild. There’s caraway, cinnamon, and carnations there as well for some spice, but the spices feel restrained.
The reviews on Fragantica are rather focused on the animalic notes in Devin but to my nose they weren’t overwhelming. Keep in mind that I rather like fragrances like Kouros, so I might not be the best person to judge if animalic notes are overwhelming.
There have been comparisons of Devin with Halston Z 14. I live with someone that wears Z14 in all the various formulations and I cannot see even the slightest similarity. Z14 has to be the most boring men’s fragrance ever made. It's true. Sorry. I don’t even dislike it because there’s nothing there to find offensive. If you splash on some Devin it might not be enough to clear a room but it is at least noticeable. Z14 is a fragrance for men that want to perform the act of aftershave so they can be like their male role models, without committing to smelling like anything. So no, Devin does not smell like Z14. For the record, it is my fault he's so devoted to the stuff as I gave him half a bottle I bought at Goodwill and didn't like. I didn't expect to start my husband on a pursuit of vintage bottles of the world's least exciting fragrance. I mean,wearing Z-14 is like buying one of those pre-packaged cheap dress shirts with the matching tie they used to sell at Sears. It gets the job done, but without much imagination.
Devin would be a good, "starter leather" fragrance for someone that isn't sure how they feel about the note. If someone who had always worn fougeres took Devin out for a spin, even if they didn't necessarily enjoy the fragrance, it likely wouldn't send anyone racing to the sink to scrub it off. Devin occupies that space somewhere between being dusted with talc at the barbershop, and handing out towels at the bathouse😁.
So what's in Devin?
Pine, galbanum, aldehydes, oakmoss, carnation, cinnamon, artemisia, labdanum, jasmine, patchouli, caraway, musk, bergamot, amber, lemon, orange, cedar, lavender.
Devin is classified as a chypre which feels wrong to me, though I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe the lack of vetiver? Too much aldehyde? No civet? It isn't one of those, "Absolutely not" reactions, just more a sense that chypre isn't quite right, though in all honesty I don't know what would be a better way to classify it. Kinda green, kinda woody, with an animal that runs through said woods but so quickly you barely catch a glimpse-and then you have some Earl Grey tea? Yes, most of the elements are there, but perhaps I just want it to be stronger.
Is Devin any good? Well that's an impossible question as taste factors into reviews, but overall it is a quality fragrance. There's nothing bad about Devin unless you're a white musk sort of person and then anything beyond fabric softener is going to seem challenging. I do wish the green notes were a bit stronger, and perhaps that the woods didn't wait until an hour in to start showing up. The top citrus notes are quite pleasant, but they're awfully short lived. The aldehydes are mild in Devin, rather than the caustic hairspray type that I associate with mid-70s fragrances.
Of the fragrances in the Aramis line that I've smelled in their vintage formulations, I'd have to say Devin is the most wearable. The original Aramis, which I adore is going to be difficult for most people to feel comfortable with in 2020. Now that we're all isolating, or wearing masks when out (and if you're not, shame on you) I feel free to wear it whenever, but under ordinary circumstances I probably wouldn't. Devin is different, and although the Fragrantica comments are filled with people arguing the contrary, I do think it is wearable with respect to modern tastes. I recently tried a vintage bottle of Aramis Tuscany and well...that will be another review. Two words by way of preview-Not. Good.
Devin was marketed as a "country" fragrance. OK, I think perhaps that's more of an idealised "country" than the smell of manure, hay that is going mouldy after a week of heat and rain, or sulfurous well water. I spent 12 years on a farm, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to smell like it. But in the idealised pastoral, the bucolic sense maybe Devin evokes something. Perhaps wealthy Harris Tweed wearing hobbyist farmers rather that someone in Carhart overalls artificially inseminating a cow. Or castrating a bull with one of these...
That's not the Devin vibe at all.
More like Constable, I think.
Yeah, that's Devin.
The good news (for us, not the cattle) is that Devin is easily found all over the internet for very little money. I haven't tried the new formulation, but that is widely available as well. Sometimes it can be nice to wear something that just smells good. Is it the high point of Chant's career as a nose? Absolutely not, but it does remain consistent with the style of his better creations (by "Better" I mean the ones that aren't Aliage). While it is doubtful anyone will stop you in the street wanting to know what you're wearing, it probably won't send anyone scurrying away either-unless you're closer than 6ft, which you shouldn't be...and that's no bull.