giovedì 9 gennaio 2014

KOUROS: The Scent of Gods (1/2)

This article is divided in two parts: this is the first one.
Here you will find:
- Introduction.
- YSL and Kouros: a brief overview.
- Kouros (1981-2017).
- Ratings.
- Pictures.

In the part nr. 2 you will find:
-Kouros Launch Party in Paris (February 20th, 1981)
-Flankers (1986-2014).
-Body Line.
-Special Bottles.
-Gift Sets
you can find the part nr.2 HERE


Actually, Kouros has no need of introduction: put simply, it's the most famous "love it, or hate it" perfume.
Nothing as Kouros - and I mean absolutely nothing - has been able since its apparition to to split the audience so radically: on a side there are the fanatic lovers, exalting it beyond any description ("The scent of Gods," it's the usual definition of Kouros ). 
On the other side,  people fiercely hating it: "Kouros smells like sweat plus other disgusting body odors", it's commonly said.
But what causes this heating discussion? It's the fact that Kouros tries to imitate the natural scent of human skin, "fresh and clean". As supporters say, it is an extraordinary perfume of  "a pure Man". 
On the contrary, detractors change it in: "a dirty Man".
Anyway, Kouros is certainly one of the scents that made ​​the History of Perfumery.

In production without interruptions since 1981, a blockbuster that made Yves Saint Laurent's fortune, this scent survived through decades, but unfortunately, suffered heavy reformulations. Now more than 30 years after it's quite different from early years. Early versions are now considered by many experts as "the best", using the finest ingredients. During a press conference in 1981, Kouros was described by a spokesman: "the most expensive male perfume on the market now".  

"Living Gods have their own scent: Kouros"

in order to understand many of the things outlined in this article, you should go 
read the story of the mother house Yves Saint Laurent, the five historical periods, and its perfume division (here)

Year: 1981
Top notes: Artemisia, Aldehydes, Clary Sage, Bergamot, Coriander
Middle notes: Orris root, Carnation, Vetiver, Geranium, Jasmine, Cinnamon Patchouli.
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Civet, Honey, Vanilla, Musk, Leather, Amber, TonkaBean. 
Scent created by: Pierre Bourdon. 
Bottle designed by: Alain de Mourgues. 

Yves Saint Laurent and KOUROS: a brief overview.

1963-1986: This is the first period of YSL perfumes, or "Charles of the Ritz" Era. Kouros was created in 1980, and launched in 1981. The early years are dominated by the "Paris-type" (or "Charles-of-the-Ritz" type) bottle and box. In these years, Kouros is at its maximum power brilliance. 

At the end of 1986 the American stint (or "Parfums Corp." Era) starts; it will last until 1993
Kouros bottles and boxes sport slightly different labels.
It is said that a first reformulation took place during year 1986, with slight attenuation of its animalic scent, in order to get a favourable opinion from international audience. However, this is an highly debated argument ("the Ghost Reformulation", since many people claimed no reformulation occurred). 
First flanker was launched in 1986: Kouros "Eau de Sport", lately renamed "Sport" (discontinued in 1993). 
During these years, two different body lines appeared, named "Kouros Formule Sport" (1986) and "Formule Soin" (1987).
During 1991 a third body line was launched: "Kouros En Plein Air".

1993: The so-called "Sanofi Era" begins; it will will last until 1999. Kouros bottle remained the same, the box underwent other minor changes. The scent is, approximately, the same than the previous "American" period. 
Another flanker was launched in 1993: Kouros "Eau Fraicheur" (two different packagings; discontinued in 2001). 
At the end of this period, traditional Kouros box underwent a significant change, losing the typical "twin white stripes".

1999: The "PPR-Gucci Era" begins. Although slightly reformulated, Kouros still maintains its particular quality. Another major change in packaging occurred in 2003
Although it is commonly believed that Yves Saint Laurent dicontinued "splash bottles" (i.e. "non-spray" bottles) at the end of the Nineties, however, Kouros "splash" bottles were produced until 2003 at least.
Since 2002, there were lots of flankers launched, almost every year ("Eau d'Ete", "Cologne Sport" "Summer Fragrance"...). 
During 2002, a limited "Traveller Edition" twin-bottle appeared.
After 2004, the mandatory list of ingredients on the box (i.e.  the so-called "allergens list") was adopted.
According to many people, during years 2004-2005 a major reformulation happened, watering-down the scent.

since 2008: These were "L'Oreal" years. Again, there were heavy reformulations during this period. Many perfume lovers claimed these reformulations as "disappointing". In 2011 Kouros appeared to be a quite different scent than the one launched exactly 30 years before. 
Since 2011, the bottle doesn't sport its typical "metallic base and shoulders" anymore.

One of the biggest problem in dating perfumes is the discrepancy between batch-codes and labels on the box/bottle. This happens because many producers continued to use old, out-of-date boxes, until end of stocks. So you can easily see modern batch-codes on ancient boxes, and find it confusing. In these situations you should trust the batch code more than the box.


First Period 
("Charles of the Ritz",1981-1986)

The "Paris" bottle (above and below)
the first one and the rarest.(1981-1986)
Notice difference in color under artificial (above)
and natural light (below), since it's the same box

The "Paris bottle derives its name 
from the "Paris" word, on the corner of the box

During 1981 and 1982 there was no Estimated Sign on the boxes,
although already used in other YSL perfumes.

During 1983-1985/86, the Estimated Sign appears on the boxes.
Important to say, there are no differences in scent.
No symbol on the upper side of the box (silver-mirror)
No differences on the back side of the boxes

The bottom of the box, 
with the typical "Charles of the Ritz" labelling

The Twin (Double) White Stripes: Details
The Twin (Double) White Stripes: Details

Bottom side of boxes ,years 1981-1986

Content: Perfume,
blue protective cardboard,
blue brochure

year 1981 Brochure:
presentation of a "New YSL products: Kouros."

The Cap with the YSL "carved" logo

The typical silver-metal bottom of the bottle, with the YSL lettering.
IMPORTANT: during first years (1981-1985)
the batch code could be "painted"

this batch code is 20781 = beginning of 1982

Another silver base of the bottle, probably year 1981.
There are even bases without any inscription.

Another view of the base of the bottle.

"Paris" bottles produced during 1983-1986 
can sport  the batch code on the bottom or
 on  the front side (below)
("Paris" bottles, 1983-1986)
this batch number is 61701 = year 1986

Batch number 53301 = year 1985

An old tester, with the batch code
(51421 =year 1985)
painted on the bottom
(thanks to Bourbon108, Basenotes)

IMPORTANT: all "Paris" bottles sport 
the word KOUROS roughly in the middle 
of the height of the bottle

There are a few (very) rare bottles sporting both the word "Paris" and "New York"
on a typical First Era box. These bottles are presumably produced for US market
(thanks to Michal from Poland)

another picture of a vintage KOUROS trio, labelled "Paris-New York",
thanks to Cytherian

and here is a bottle batched year 1984 by Jon Wilson


a few bottles produced with flat metal base without any inscription
(thanks to Mariusz, Poland)


"Parfums Corp." (1986-1993)

Still debated if a reformulation occurred, weakening the animalic notes.
Perfume still at full force.
Minor differences in both box and bottle.

In 1986 the American Years began, and there are a few changes:
1 the word Paris disappears.
2 the Twin White Stripes tighten.
3-a short list of ingredients appears
4- the word KOUROS appears on the back of the box, too.
5 -both box and bottle sport the word KOUROS 
on the upper part, not in the middle
6 - word Parfums Corp. appears on the bottom of the bottle
YSL logo appears on the upper side of the box.

Differences between Paris bottle (1981-1986) on LEFT,
and Parfums Corp bottle (1986-1993) on RIGHT
The word "Paris" disappears (above and bottom)

Twin White Stripes tightens,
and ingredients appear.

White protective cardboard with white brochure

Bottom of the box with the label "Parfums Corp"

IMPORTANT: during the Second Period (1986-1993)
the word KOUROS  moves on the upper part of the bottle

Paris bottle (left)
ParfumsCorp bottle (right)

Bottom of the bottle

YSL logo on the upper side of the box

"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)
"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)
"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)

Paris box (left)
ParfumsCorp box (right)
"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)

"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)

"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)

Back of the boxes: 
stripes tighten and word "Kouros" appears.

"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)

"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)
Back sides

"Paris" box (on left) - "Parfums Corp" box (on right)
the old-type thin barcode could appear on Parfums Corp. boxes

 "Parfums Corp" box (upper box)
"Paris" box (lower box)

YSL logo on the cap is initially CARVED;
later it will be EMBOSSED

Batch number still on the front side of the bottle
here batch  nr.02901 = year 1990.

 "Paris" bottle (left) and "Parfum Corp" (right)

Differences between bottles.
Brochure presenting the flanker "Eau de Sport" (1986)

in a few cases reported, batch number 
is written inside the box. In this case 0290 = year 1990

batch nr. 91081 = year 1989

50ml and 100ml "Parfums Corp"

50ml and 100ml "Parfums Corp"


50ml and 100ml "Parfums Corp" bases

Indication of  %vol.  will disappear during next period 
WARNING: "The Ghost Reformulation"
It seems during 1986 Kouros underwent a first reformulation in order to smoother the "animalic" notes and make it more "acceptable" to a wider audience. This is an highly debated question. Some people affirm there are notable, significant differences, since the civet appears "toned down"; personally, I didn't found so many differences between first and second version. Both appeared magnificent, and Kouros still irradiates in its full force. 



"Sanofi" (1993-1999)

This is a complicate period, bottle and box underwent changes 
and the only way to determine date is checking the batch number.
The silver, metallic base continues to sport the old "ParfumsCorp." labelling.
Scent still appears excellent.

"Parfums Corp" on left
"Sanofi", on right

During Sanofi period (1993-1999), 
all quantity indications are "dark on dark"

Many Sanofi bases have the old "ParfumCorp" label. 
In many cases, the word 80% disappears.
To determine date and period,
you must check the batch number

"Sanofi" (left, with Greendot and Barcode) - "Parfum Corp" (right)

Sanofi (upper)
ParfumsCorp (lower)

In many Sanofi bottles,
the  80% VOL indication disappears

ParfumsCorp and Sanofi bottles are pretty identical 
Some very slight differences in height 
due to spray/splash

Parfums Corp (upper, white "quantity" lettering)
Sanofi (lower, dark "quantity" lettering)

 during "Sanofi" period, the batch number 
is written on the back of the bottle.
batch 42141 = year 1994

ParfumsCorp, on left
Sanofi, on right

ParfumsCorp, on left
Sanofi, on right

Sanofi box, bottom side
Note the barcode and the Greendot.

ParfumsCorp (upper)
Sanofi (lower)

"ParfumsCorp" 1.6fl.oz in white
"Sanofi", 1.6 fl. oz, in dark blue

BACK SIDES (Parfums Corp on left - Sanofi on right)
Sanofi boxes: ingredients are listed on the back
NOTE: the back-side of the Sanofi box is DIFFERENT

not twisting stripes , but linear ones.

LATERAL SIDES (Parfums Corp on left - Sanofi on right)
NO ingredients on the side of the "Sanofi" box
("Sanofi" bottles have ingredients on the back side only)

(ParfumsCorp on left - Sanofi on right)
(ParfumsCorp on left - Sanofi on right)

Sanofi bottle batch nr. 83481 = year 1998 

ParfumsCorp (upper)
Sanofi (lower)

(from Ebay)  this is a "transition" bottle between 
"Sanofi" and following "PPR-GUCCI" period.
 the TWIN WHITE STRIPES on the box
 disappear, only one stripe remains; bottles are identical 

during year 1999/2000 splash bottles bacame rarer and rarer. 
Late "Sanofi" boxes and early "PPR-Gucci" ones 
are almost identical, except for labelling


"PPR-GUCCI Era" (1999-2007)

since 2000, splash bottles became rarer.
The last splash bottle appeared reportedly in 2003.
There are TWO different types of box: early box
 (with a short list of ingredients),and late box (long list of ingredients)
some scent reformulation occurred.

PPR-GUCCI early box , year 2003
(almost identical to late "Sanofi" one)

PPR-GUCCI late box, year 2007

late PPR-GUCCI typical bottle:
note the word "eau de Toilette" on the bottom.

New  laberlling: "YSL Parfums", NEUILLY CEDEX

Early (2003) and late (2007) PPR-GUCCI bottles
you can see the differences

Parfums Corp  ( on left )
late PPR-Gucci (on right)
NOTE the line "Eau de Toilette" moved on bottom

PPR-GUCCI early box (2003)
with the short list of ingredients

Late PPR-GUCCI box since 2005 , 
introducing the "long list of ingredients"

PPR-GUCCI label, note the wording "YSL Parfums"

back of late  PPR GUCCI bottle
with the long list of ingredients

(note the last ingredient: 2YF02-2. During next L'Oreal period
 it will became 2YF02-3, then disappear)

on the back of the bottle
batch 7JAA = year 2007

The bottom of the bottle, with the address "Neuilly Cedex France"
both early and late bottles have identical bottoms.

Bottom of PPR-GUCCI bottle, note the address "NEUILLY"

Sanofi box (above)
PPR-Gucci box (bottom)
Late PPR-Gucci box (left)
Sanofi box (right)

Late PPR Gucci (left)
SANOFI (right)

Late PPR-Gucci box (left)
ParfumsCorp box (right).

Paris bottle (left)
late PPR-Gucci bottle(right)
Paris bottle (left)
late PPR-Gucci (right)
WARNING: "plastic" bottles.
Some PPR-Gucci bottles are made of plastic instead of "enamel".
Although Kouros is a counterfeited scent, these bottles are genuine.
Always check for the mandatory batch-number,
 on the back of the bottle


Fifth Period: 
"L'Oreal Era" (2008)

significant consecutive reformulations occurred. The scent appears progressively toned-down and "flattened".
There are changes in boxes and bottles. Label "B.R.I." (L'Oreal Labs) and YSL Beautè appear.

L'Oreal style box and bottle since 2011:
notice the missing silver base and shoulder
you can read "BRI Neuilly"and "YSL Beaute"

year 2008-2010 bottles: , note the "2YF02-3" ingredient,
a bit weaker than previous "2YF02-2". 

Since 2011, without the "2YF02-3" ingredient.
This is an even weaker version than previous ones.

year 2012 L'Oreal box (front and back side)
note the new YSL BEAUTE label

Early  PPR-Gucci (on left)
year 2012 L'Oreal  (on right)

Early PPR-Gucci box (left)
Year 2012 L'Oreal box  (right)

Typical bottom, without the silver, metallic plate.

YEAR 2015 and beyond....
during year 2015, l'Oreal launched a new packaging.

Comparison between year 2011 box (on left)
and three "new" ones, year 2015 (on right) 

The F.I.L. (Fragrance Ingredients List)
reported on the boxes since 2005:
2006-2008 : "2YF02-2"
2009-2011: "2YF02-3"
2012-2015: "B45376-1"
since 2015: "165825-2"

-First Period ("Paris" bottles, 1981-1986): 10/10 cum laude
-Second Period ("ParfumsCorp." bottles , 1986-1993, including the "Ghost reformulation", still debated) : 10/10
-Third Period ("Sanofi" bottles, 1993-1999): 10/10
-Fourth Period ("PPR-GUCCI" bottles) : 
Early Gucci Bottles (1999-2004) : 9/10 
Late Gucci bottles: (2005-2008): 8/10
-Fifth period ("L'Oreal" bottles) since year 2008 : 7/10   
after year 2010: 6/10

It is commonly said that KOUROS retains its peculiarities until 2004-2005. 
If you like KOUROS I strongly suggest you to search bottles produced before 2004-2005.
However, if you like the "animalic" qualities of this scent I strongly recommend you to search, roughly said, the oldest you can find. In this case the motto "the older, the better" is really poignant.


Kouros is a really strong perfume; all versions last for at least 7 hours on skin. there is no significant difference in performances between skin and fabric. 
High sillage.
Suitable for both winter and summer.


Artwork by Damien Blottière

(all pics provided by Cytherian,
from, year 2015)

A rare "Parfums Corp." bottle signed Paris-NewYork,
and "Made in USA" (above and bottom)

Early bottles: different bottoms

Early bottles: different fronts


E' il più celebre dei profumi "Osiamaosiodia".
Nessun profumo come Kouros è stato capace fin dal 1981 di spaccare a metà il mondo degli appassionati tra coloro che lo esaltano oltre ogni descrizione ("Il profumo degli Dei", come è stato definito nel corso degli anni), e quelli che lo aborriscono al di là di ogni immaginazione.
Ma a cosa è dovuta questa spaccatura? E' dovuta al fatto che Kouros si ispira al profumo naturale della pelle umana.
Come dicono i sostenitori, è uno straordinario profumo di maschio "fresco e pulito". Come controbattono i detrattori, ha un aroma di "persona che non si lava da giorni". Sembra incredibile che lo stesso profumo possa suscitare opinioni così discordanti.
Comunque lo si guardi, Kouros è certamente uno dei profumi che ha fatto la storia della profumeria. In produzione ininterrottamente dal 1981, un successo di vendite che ha contribuito a fare la fortuna di Yves Saint Laurent, questo profumo è passato attraverso tutte le vicissitudini della casa madre, e oggi purtroppo è assai diverso della versione iniziale, pesantemente riformulato a causa della legislazione vigente. La versione attuale, secondo la maggior parte dei conoscitori, non riflette più quello che era lo spirito originale di Kouros.
Le versioni iniziali sono tutte ottime, e il profumo è rimasto inalterato almeno fino al 2000. Successivamente ci sono state piccole modifiche graduali, che hanno snaturato sempre più il profumo, fino ad arrivare alla versione attuale.

Continue on Part nr 2 (HERE)

19 commenti:

  1. perfetto,

    molto grazie ,

    saluti from Poland

  2. Absolutely great analyze of Kouros history. Many thanks.

  3. Many many thanks Andre for these GREAT informations.....

  4. I love this blog site!
    Fabulous work and so informative.
    I love learning about all this vintage classics.

  5. Many many thanks Andre for these GREAT informations of kouros my all time favrt.

  6. Many many thanks Andre for these GREAT informations of kouros .this is my all time favrt perfume. il oved it. can u share the detail of 10 ml kouros {mini)..

  7. meilleur parfum de monde ne est une .que est Kouros .kouros et Kouros ,,
    Super parfum millésime Kouros classiques 5ml , 10ml , 15ml , 50ml , 100ml .
    Merci de partager cette merveilleuse Détail .

  8. meilleur parfum de monde ne est une .que est Kouros .kouros et Kouros ,,
    Super parfum millésime Kouros classiques 5ml , 10ml , 15ml , 50ml , 100ml .
    Merci de partager cette merveilleuse Détail .

  9. I have three different bottles of Kouros. A small splash bottle from 1986, a 50ml spray bottle from 1996 and a 100ml spray bottle from 2004. The 2004 version smells the best and the most complete because it retains its aldehydes. The older versions just lay on the skin. They are more of a skin scent and are certainly not the1980s beast written about in this article. Spending a lot of money on the older versions is simply not worth it in my opinion. Eventually all scent has a sell by date.

  10. Ciao! Ho confrontato l'INCI di una confezione del periodo 2011-2014 con quello della nuova confezione "2015", che vedo anche qui in foto, ed ho notato che è cambiata la posizione di alcuni allergeni nell'elenco, mentre due o tre sono assenti. Deduco che quindi Kouros abbia subito una nuova riformulazione, ma non essendoci un nuovo tester non saprei dirlo con certezza. Avevo meditato l'acquisto di Kouros, ma a questo punto non so più se prenderne uno del periodo 2011-2014, che ho provato spesso grazie ad un campione, o se invece fare un salto nel buio con l'ultima versione (con la speranza di un miglioramento, anche piccolo, come nel caso dell'Opium del 2013)!

    1. ciao Lorenzo, scusa il ritardo nella risposta. Qui nessuno ancora ha provato il nuovo Kouros con la scritta argentata, ma difficilmente sarà come quello antico dei primi tempi. Il mio consiglio è quello di aspettare che qualcuno lo utilizzi come tester per poterlo provare, oppure andare per negozi in cerca di vecchi flaconi. Mi sembra che ancora parecchi negozianti abbiano sugli scaffali quello di 5-10 anni fa.
      A presto, Laura.

    2. Ciao Laura, alla fine ho osato e ora possiedo il "nuovo" Kouros del 2015. L'ho confrontato con il campione della versione 2011-2014: non sono lontani, ma la variante di quest'anno mi è apparsa meno fresca e saponosa, e più opulenta e dolce. Nel campione avverto molta lavanda, che nel fondo si stempera tra note dolci ed un sentore animalesco indistinto. Nel Kouros "2015" solo l'apertura mi appare fresca, con una dose inferiore di lavanda e un bel chiodo di garofano, poi già nel cuore comincio ad avvertire un sentore dolce, latteo e cremoso, prima mescolato a fiori (forse gelsomino), poi a note animalesche (che associo all'odore del pelo di cavalli e capre) e a note pungenti di miele. La nuova versione mi ha ricordato un po' il Kouros contenuto nella bottiglia con le "spalle" e la base metalliche, che però ho sentito solo tre volte in profumerie che avevano il vecchio tester ma nuove bottiglie.
      Ovviamente non sono un esperto recensore ed inoltre penso che confrontare un profumo che vaporizzi dalla bottiglia con uno che applichi con lo stick della fialetta non sia proprio l'ideale, però mi faceva piacere condividere queste mie impressioni.
      Se vuoi posso fare delle foto alla confezione ed alla bottiglia (che ha perso la scritta "Eau de toilette") e mandarle tramite mail.
      A presto,

  11. Każdy Kouros od 2000 roku to popłuczyny po prawdziwym Królu. W 2015 roku zmienił się flakonik (czcionka, brak napisu eau de toilette) oraz opakowanie. Podobno zaszła kolejna reformulacja, tym razem na plus. Zróbcie porównanie partii od lat 80 do 2015 roku. Translate this comment in :)

  12. When did they stop making 1.7 oz bottles?

    1. Hi Brian, I'm pretty sure 1.7 oz bottles were on production still in 2012-2013.
      And the new Kouros Silver (2015) was launched both in 1.7 and 3.3 oz. sizes.

    2. UPDATE August 31th 2015: just found a new-packaging classic KOUROS 50 ml (1.7oz) bottle, batch 38Lxxx . So we can assume it's still on shelves....

  13. I have vintage Kouros new in boxes some unopened, anyone interested in purchasing?

  14. Hi, Andre. Do you have any experience with this new 2015 Kouros? In some places I've saw people saying it's closer to the vintage than any other formulation from L'Oreal era. Do you know if FragranceX is already carrying them? Thanks!


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