Paco Rabanne has been the green giant looming on the bath sill of many a bathroom in my country of origin in the 1970s and 1980s. This classic fougère has marked a generation, alongside best-sellers Drakkar Noir and Aramis, not to forget Azzaro pour Home; with a scent that has come to characterize maleness. In the case of Paco Rabanne pour Homme the underlying brutishness is there, but the sophisticated veneer and the hint of sweetness makes it friendlier than any of the others.
Like any classic fougère the abstractness of Paco Rabanne pour Homme tries to replicate a feeling, an impression, rather than an actual smell. The fern from which the fragrance family takes the name (in homage to the 19th century Fougère Royale fragrance by Houbigant discussed above) is more like the green tentacles of soapy leatheriness of the barbershop than anything anyone would actually meet in a forest. Ferns don't smell much after all. The fougère is a man-made smell rather than an approximation of the natural.
The soapy overlay of Paco Rabanne pour Homme makes it exceptionally attuned to that prerequisite of any masculine fragrance that aims for wide appeal: a sense of cleanliness, though not entirely ersatz thanks to the familiar recollection of lavender essence; but at the same time a man-made product for sure. It's an entirely inedible smell, alternatively cool and warm, gaining warmth in the drydown thanks to an ambery note, always forceful despite the hint of honeyed softness, the hallmark of any good representative in the fougère genre. Some things are not to be trifled with.
The newer version alas does not live up to the old one, but it's still something that needs to be visited in order to appreciate how steadfast a classic fougère can be. It's how fathers should smell like, a scent of dependency and safety.