Our Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar review looks at this timeless fragrance for men. Who made it, who wears it and what does it smell like??

Claire Head of Social @allbeauty Flowerbomb Review Our Van Cleef and Arpels Tsar review is by Claire, allbeauty Head of Social Media, with honorary guinea pig Peter, Head of Design.
Claire reviews Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar Eau de Toilette 100ml

Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar Review

Confession time: this fragrance has totally slipped under my radar – big thanks to Peter, our Head of Design, for pointing it out to me. Also apologies to Tsar fans out there, collectively tutting… The Tsar fragrance was launched in 1989, so it’s my guess that back in the 90s it was thought a bit too 80s, however at 18 years old I say that makes it a classic.

Created in 1989, Tsar heralds a strong and definitely unmistakable identity.
– Van Cleef & Arpels

Van Cleef & Arpels are a very high-end French jewelery company, in existence since the late 1800s. Designing pieces for royalty to the rich and famous (and combining both when they created Princess Grace of Monaco’s wedding set), they’re to be found in luxury boutiques around the world.

Inside the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique at 20 Place Vendôme, Paris.

Created by the nose of Philippe Bousseton (who has previously worked with Davidoff), the official notes of Tsar by Van Cleef & Arpels are:

  • Top Notes: Artemisia, Coriander, Lavender, Green Notes, Neroli, Bergamot, Rosemary, Cinnamon
  • Middle Notes: Carnation, Juniper Berries, Tarragon, Orris Root, Jasmine, Caraway, Lily-of-the-valley, Rose, Geranium, Pine Tree
  • Base Notes: Leather, Sandalwood, Tonka Bean, Amber, Patchouli, Musk, Coconut, Oakmoss, Cedar, Vetiver

In fragrance family terms, Tsar is a Woody Aromatic scent. The packaging? Modelled on the Art Deco period of the Twenties, it’s a weighty emerald green glass, with gold lettering. Think quiet, solid and stylish. Fans of history and architecture will totally appreciate these lines.

Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar Review

But what does it smell like? Two words spring to mind: ‘familiar’ and ‘pine’. Tsar is one of those fragrances you spray and say “oh it smells just like…..” but you can’t quite place it. For me, there are throwbacks to Paco Rabanne Pour Homme of the 90s (in a good way). Fresh, clean, forest scented, with an oaky-mossy base. For a fragrance that isn’t citrus, it’s incredibly clean. Like you’ve soaked in the bath and it’s clean sheet night. In the interests of research, we sprayed it onto Peter to get his opinion and note the dry down. On first spray there was that strong, fresh, pine scent again. However fast forward around an hour and Tsar had changed into an oaky-woody scent (though still remaining fresh). In the interests of honesty, Peter tells us he wasn’t sure about this fragrance when we first spritzed him. It was possibly a little too old and (in his words) “soapy”. But after the dry down, his opinion had done a 180 and Peter is now a fan, hurrah (or should we say huzzah…)

Who should wear this fragrance? Men who like to smell fresh and clean. Older men and those who like more traditional scents. We’re not afraid to use the words ‘retro’ and ‘old school’ here. This is a daytime scent we think, suited for straight after the shower.

If you like this then you’ll also like: Mr Burberry by Burberry

So did I like it? Yes. Would I gift it? Yes, but more likely to someone who preferred their classic old-school fragrances, or who likes to smell clean and fresh without announcing they’re wearing a particular branded scent. To put it simply, if he still hankers after Old Spice and Brut, then Tsar is the sophisticated upgrade!

More importantly, would Peter buy it? Yes, and in fact he did!

You can shop Van Cleef & Arpels Tsar at allbeauty.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Claire,
    Great review and so helpful. I would like to see more reviews like this. Keep up good work

  2. Greetings!

    i enjoyed reading your review. Having worn Tsar for well over 25 years, I thought I’d add just a few notes myself.

    The current formulation, which is the bottle you have pictured above, is very pleasant. I must say, though, that the
    original formulation of Tsar, which was available from ’89-’95, was infinitely more complex and compelling.
    Rather than just smelling fresh and clean, it smelled rich and alluring, still with the green freshness in the opening.
    The key component that made vintage Tsar sparkle was the oakmoss, which is sorely lacking (due to IFRA restrictions) in the current formulation.

    Vintage Tsar is something that James Bond could’ve worn to accent his finely woven tuxedo, along with the sexy gal
    on his arm to complete the ensemble, (wink, wink).

    Vintage Tsar was literally that elegant – no exaggeration. I received so many compliments on this scent it’s truly remarkable.
    The current juice is still enjoyable, it just lacks the magic of the original, which was a truly extraordinary scent.

    Best Wishes,
    Chris V.

  3. Ron Bradney Reply

    I really wanted to buy more but could not find it on your web site even when i did search for Van Cleef and Arpels Tsar this was not recognised

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