The Laid Back Masculines – Superdry Steel Cologne and Black Cologne Perfume Reviews

Steel and Black
Steel and Black – The first two premium fragrances from “British hero brand” Superdry

First things first, massive apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so. Things have been busy in both good ways (my Perfume Lovers London talk etc) and bad ways (job hunting) and the blog has had to take a little bit of a back seat. Thank you for bearing with me and things should now run on their usual schedule!

I’m quite partial to the odd piece of clothing or accessory from British clothing brand Superdry. I currently rock a coat, couple of shirts and a rather snazzy pair of specs from their collection and I’m attracted to the brand’s laid back style which seems to be a mish-mash of Japanese graphics and vintage Americana.

As for Superdry fragrances, well up until very recently my exposure was minimal. I haven’t spent too much time with the brand’s first three scents (Dry, Double Dry and Dry Oil) but I remember them being relatively well done (one in particular was a nice take on Dior Homme) so it was with great interest that I accepted an offer to try the fragrances in Superdry’s Cologne collection.

The first two in the collection that I will be reviewing are Steel and Black. Both fragrances were released in 2011 and are designed to have “day-to-night appeal” and whilst they may not be masterpieces of modern perfumery, they easily fit the laid back, modern-with-a-retro-touch styling of the Superdry brand. Oh and they come in really cool Zippo lighter-style bottles too…

Steel Cologne
Steel Cologne

The Notes

Top: Lime and Bergamot
Heart: Cardamom and Violet Leaves
Base: Cedarwood and Moss

How Does it Smell?

Steel is the fresh one in the line and I would go as far as saying that it is the least interesting. It starts with a somewhat-typical ozonic splash, accented by hissy bergamot and grapefruit. There’s a weird metallic vibe to it that, whilst interesting, does nothing to endear me to the composition.

A large dose of violet leaf in the heart gives Steel an oily, sweet and herbaceous quality that helps drag it away from the metallic tones that annoy in the opening. What I really do like is the warm and savoury spice of cardamom that pops up after about an hour or so, it smells great and whilst there are other cardamom-centric scents that I prefer (Trayee and Voyage d’Hermes etc), Steel does a good job of showcasing an almost transparent rendition of the spice.

Steel isn’t a bad fragrance, I have smelled much worse, but it really isn’t any different to many masculines out there. The base is a very generic vanilla cedar combination that won’t offend anyone, and I think that’s the problem, it’s just not exciting. I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either and I would find it hard to recommend it when there are so many more interesting and affordable masculines out there.

Black Cologne
Black Cologne

The Notes

Top: Lime and Ripe Fruits
Heart: Lavender, Jasmine, Thyme, Coriander and Nutmeg
Base: Sandalwood, Balsam, Incense, Leather and Moss

How Does it Smell?

Now Black is a fragrance I do like. That said it’s important to highlight that it isn’t daring, exceptional or thought provoking, but it is a quietly assured masculine that I think makes a half-decent daytime/worktime/playtime/nightime fragrance. What we have with Black is a subtle rendition of the modern fougère.

Black starts with a rather subdued opening of fruit and berries, quickly followed by the fougère signature note of lavender. However in Black the lavender isn’t instantly recognisable, it sits behind a wall of herbs that curtail the note’s fresh, green and menthol qualities leaving a ton of lavender-based sugar.

All this sits on a bed of warm leather, sandalwood and vanilla. The effect is soft, comfortable and makes Black feel like a brand new hoodie or t-shirt just slipped on. As you will probably guess from my description there is nothing particularly noir about Black, but it does have a dense quality that ensures that it wears close to the skin.

Black isn’t a fragrance that I would rush out to buy and it’s unlikely to spur much interest for die hard fumenerds but it is one that I’d recommend to a guy who is looking for a versatile, everyday fragrance that simply smells good. Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised!


Both Steel and Black are available in 40ml and 75ml Cologne with prices ranging from £29.50-£39.


PR samples. Notes and quotes via press release. Image 1 via press release (cropped). Image 2 & 3 (cropped).