By on June 3, 2009

When I entered Copley Place, the last thing I ever expected to find was a TTAC review. My trip to New England already having yielded material, the trip was already a success on that front. Yet, as I roamed the halls, ignoring designer label after designer label, destiny was slowly creeping up on me. At 2:15 PM on May 29th, 2009, I flagged the Porsche Design store. More specifically, I smelled it. The combination of pistonhead intrigue and olfactory delight was too powerful, and I walked in.

“Whatever this smell is, buddy, please tell me you have it in a bottle,” I proclaimed. Witness the power of product! He wasted no time in introducing me to Porsche Design: The Essence. If first impressions are important, The Essence passed with flying colors. It struck me as a sophisticated mix of both fruity and earthy scents, a great transition from the more boyish colognes to something you could wear in a room full of mahogany and Afghan rugs.

Using my smartphone, I went on the Porsche Design: The Essence website and began researching the cologne. The site threw a bunch of marketing-speak at me that made me question the value of a race of beings that could produce such absurdity. There was only one morally correct course of action: As a single guy, and, as a pistonhead who’s always wanted his own Porsche, I had a duty. I had to test this thing in the only place it mattered: the field. After a quick text message to RF, the first ever TTAC fragrance review was under way.

I deployed The Essence in the three contexts a man of my age was most likely to use it: professionally, casually and romantically.

Professionally, I wore it at a client meeting attended by two global directors, a CIO and some internal auditors. With men, the goal was to not be offensive. The men (typically) either did not notice or said nothing anyway. This outcome is the maximum I’ve come to expect from all but the most flaming of men (yeah I said it; deal). The women noticed it as soon as I entered the room, and smiled. Unsolicited, one of them asked me, “What is that you’ve got on?”

“What do you think of it first, then I’ll tell you,” I replied coyly.

“It’s great. It’s like a cross between Pi [by Givenchy] and Aqua di Gio.” Both of which, by the way, are on my roster, along with Boss and few other secret weapons.

“You won’t believe me even if I do tell you,” I followed (Are you guys taking notes?). When I eventually did fess up, she could not believe she was going apeshit over cologne marketed by a gimmick label masquerading as an automotive design studio. Who the hell is impressed by Ferrari lunchboxes, right?

Casually, I wore the cologne to an epic birthday house party where I had absolutely zero intention of going Supernova with the Casanova. I spritzed The Essence faintly on my wrist and randomly approached women, asking them for their thoughts. Unconcerned with olfactory conflict, I spritzed my other wrist with Pi to serve as a comparison tool. What I won’t do for TTAC readers!

The first lesson I drew was that asking women to evaluate cologne was an excellent way to open them up [Ed: so to speak], but that’s a digression. More topically, I got zero negative or indifferent reviews, though I assume of some of them were just being nice. Among my admittedly statistically inadmissible sample, though, several of them became very enthusiastic about it, spewing comments like “it smells like success” and “wow, that’s so money!” (now I know who designed the website). Unanimously, the women preferred The Essence’s hybrid fruity/earthiness to Pi’s full-on earthiness.

With two out of three tests aced, I began to ponder actually adding The Essence to my roster. The cool, new-age bottle would look great on my glass shelf. I needed a good “Jack of all trades” as it were, and I was tiring of Boss, which was moving downmarket precipitously faster than Dieter Zetsche could say “B-class”.

So I hit up M with it, M in this case being a young law student of particular wit that I’d met on a terrace in the Old Port of Montreal. She came over to my place and we just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company. As for The Essence, she loved it. In a particularly tender moment, M confessed that she loved how I smelled. Two days later, I received a text message telling me her sweater still smelled like my cologne and she couldn’t stop wearing it. The cologne had served as a perfect way to anchor the good memories we had created.

Roster addition complete.

SCENT: 5/5. A great hybrid between the boyish fruitiness of some popular fragrances and the heavier stuff that 55-year-old men wear.

ENDURANCE: 4/5. Lasts the entire day, even through some heavy duty activity. Ahem.

GRAVITAS: 5/5. “It smells like success”.

APHRODISIAC EFFECT: 5/5. It might have just been me, though.

DESIRABILITY: 1/5. Seriously, most girls don’t even pronounce Porsche properly.


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17 Comments on “Review: Porsche “Essence” Fragrance...”

  • avatar


    what can i say.

    i suppose if u can’t afford the car.

    nah, nevermind.

  • avatar

    If I have to go to a Porsche Design store to buy it, I’m so out. Burberry and Boucheron work quite well for me and I can buy those at any number of places.

  • avatar

    “it smells like success” and “wow that’s so money!”
    Errrrm, that does NOT speak highly of a product at all. Fragrances are supposedly for people who have taste first, money second. Inverting that hierarchy is a sure way to look like an episode of “real Housewives”.

    Thanks for the review anyway! It must also be said that fragrance depends highly of the natural (clean!) body smell of each individual, as they combine. I.e. you need to try several to see what fits, and what works on one person does not on somebody else. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be as many brands, now would there?

  • avatar

    I’m dying from laughter. That’s actually one of the most entertaining reviews I’ve read on this site.

  • avatar

    Funny review. I’ve always been into colognes. I’ll keep an eye out for this one, if only to satisfy the curiosity that this review piqued.

  • avatar

    While I’m sure it’s a nice cologne, you must never tell anyone the brand. If they ask, just say “oh, it’s some German stuff I got a while ago, I forget the name.” Otherwise, the poseur factor will negate the scent variable.

    For “pistonhead” stuff, I stick to Dunhill. It’s classy in an understated way, and those in the know remember the motoring roots of the brand – everyone else either doesn’t know what it is, or just associates it with British haute couture. Oh, and it smells really nice without the typical “I’M A MAN, SMELL THIS!” lack of subtlety.

  • avatar
    velvet fog

    Real pistonheads don’t wear perfume.

  • avatar

    velvet fog :
    June 3rd, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Real pistonheads don’t wear perfume.

    Technically, they wear cologne or some kind of petrochemical derivative. 60% of the time, it works 100% of the time!

  • avatar

    A Porsche cologne? Car & Driver readers already know that Winifred Cutler owns the pistonhead fragrance franchise.

  • avatar

    velvet fog :
    June 3rd, 2009 at 4:03 pm
    Real pistonheads don’t wear perfume.

    Sorry, can you send me the pistonhead template? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before!

  • avatar


    This is, by far, the best product review I’ve ever read, certainly on TTAC and possibly anywhere else. Brilliant.

    I’m still not going to buy it, partially because the little hippie in me would kick at the walls of my conscious, partly because my wife hates perfume in any form, partly—mostly—because I just weep at brand whoring. Wearing a scent is the last step to toc omplete metrosexuality I can’t take.

    Besides, I’m waiting for Mini-branded eau de cologne. Just to be able to say it.

  • avatar

    Play on, playa. Also, this was hilarious. But I don’t wear cologne, especially since my girl always compliments me on my “man smell.”

    And then I ruin the moment by imitating Butthead.

  • avatar

    cool review Samir, would like to read your next review of a Porsche, a car, would you be testing its effect on the gentle kind?….

  • avatar

    Porsche “Essence” fragrance? So does it smell like gasoline and leather seats?

  • avatar

    I could use wearing this as an excuse to tell women that I own three Porsches, while strategically forgetting to mention that one of those three Porsches is a 1984-model 944 2.5.

    Yes, I approve.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @Jack Baruth: if only they could synthesize a chemical compound that elicits an audio flashback: the burble of a flat 6.

  • avatar

    Dang, I thought this was going to be about new car smell!

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