In 2004, Giorgio Armani “cracked the code” on what would become their first highly successful men’s fragrance since the incredibly popular Acqua di Gio from 1996. The thing about Acqua di Gio is, although it’s one of the most popular and iconic Armani fragrances, it’s also a bright and playful aquatic.
This post may have affiliate links, meaning we earn a small commission on purchases through the links (at no extra cost to you). This does not change our opinion but does help support the site. Thank you!
Armani needed a serious men’s fragrance. One that could be worn in the evening, with an expensive suit or a tuxedo. Something classy and elegant and that’s where Armani Code for Men fit it.
Gone was the classic hourglass shaped flare bottle that defined the Code line for almost 20 years – but was that the only change? I decided to find out by comparing my classic 2004 bottle with the new 2023 version in my Armani Code Eau de Toilette Review.
Snapshot of Armani Code for Men EDT
|Elegant, warm and inviting||May not work in a playful, casual environment|
|Exudes professionalism||May be too mature for some younger guys|
|Very comforting in evenings and cooler climate||Seems a bit heavy when wearing in high heat|
|Can be considered a unisex fragrance||Some guys may not appreciate the more gentle aspects of this scent|
|Radiates a sense of distinction and subtilty||Not a super loud attention grabbing cologne|
- Fragrance Type: Amber Woody
- Scent Potency / Appropriate For: Medium potency / very elegant, best for evenings, cooler weather, perfect for autumn and winter, cooler spring days and summer evenings. Wear to the office, high class events and date night.
- Sillage: Great – solid and refined projection.
- Longevity: Lasts 3 – 6 hours
- Price: $$
The original Armani Code for Men features citrus top notes, followed by a spicy blend of star anise and olive blossom in the heart. The base notes finish out with a warm blend of tonka bean, guaiac wood, leather and tobacco.
The new 2023 version follows the recent trend of limiting the number of scent notes in the description, but identifies “sustainably sourced Green Mandarin from Calabria, Italy” in the opening. It also has a different heart note, now listed as “sustainably sourced Lavandin from Provence.”
The other big change is in the base, where Armani now only identifies tonka bean and cedarwood. These changes may have more to do with sustainability concerns and recent trends in marketing, than in an attempt to change the essential character of Armani Code.
The reality is that although Armani may have changed their official scent notes, it has a minimal effect on how Armani Code for Men smells. The differences are subtle when compared side by side and those changes are hard to distinguish when experiencing these two versions in the air. But what about the performance?
Armani Code for Men has always been a solid performer, but the EDT has never been extremely loud. It’s a sophisticated and seductive scent, so it tends to come off bright and sparkling at first, with an energetic blast of citrus that smooths out into warmer, more seductive notes.
As you settle into the heart of the fragrance, the sillage becomes more diffusive. That’s not to say that it is weak, but rather the projection comes in waves, subtly weaving in and out as it develops.
This is the same for both the original formulation and the 2023 version. The only difference I found was that the 2023 version may have lasted slightly longer.
Who Makes It
Armani Code for Men EdT was the first fragrance in the Code line. Released in 2004 by the Italian fashion designer house of Giorgio Armani, Code for Men was created by French perfumer Antoine Lie.
The Armani Code Fragrance Collection is the largest collection in the Giorgio Armani lineup. The expansion began in 2006 with Armani Code for Women and since that time, there have been over 30 different creations for both men and women in the Code Collection.
Sadly many of those flankers were limited and have since been discontinued, so if you find one you love – make sure you buy the large bottle. In addition to the newest Code EDT which is the subject of this review, the other most recent additions to the Armani Code line include Armani Code Eau de Parfum and Armani Code Parfum.
I’m not too concerned about losing Armani Code Eau de Toilette since it’s the foundational fragrance, but I definitely would get the Men’s Armani Code Parfum 4.2 oz, since all of their previous parfum concentrations are now hard to find.
These versions have higher concentrations of fragrance oils and are deeper and richer, with some variations in the notes and scent profile. If you appreciate the Code DNA like I do, they are all definitely worth seeking out.
Who Would Like It?
Armani Code for Men has a classic DNA that has stood the test of time. It will likely appeal to sophisticated guys because it’s a bit more subtle and mature than some of the louder and sweeter colognes that have come out recently.
Something like Invictus Victory is a perfect example of that trend. Its brash, strong and sweet character might appeal more to younger guys heading out for a boisterous night out with the guys, whereas Code would fit in at a cocktail party or an evening at a classy restaurant.
So does this mean that Armani Code is for old men? Definitely not – but it does mean that the style of cologne you choose says a lot about who you are and the image you’re trying to project. Of course, that can also change depending on the circumstances.
If I’m going out to a loud club that’s going to be packed, with music blasting and plenty of dancing, I probably will wear something that is also sweet and loud and projects a ton. But if I’m going to a wedding or an evening business event, I will want something that matches my outfit. Something classy and debonair. That is where Armani Code would totally fit the bill.
The thing about the Armani Code black bottles – whether it is the EDT, EDP or the Parfum concentration – the line stays true to the Armani Code DNA. They all have this classic combination of a woody, amber, powdery iris with soft layers of vanilla and tonka. There is a sensual and beautiful elegance to this whole line that will appeal to men and women alike.
While it may appear more mature to some, in the long run, any guy can make this work. Given the right clothes and situation, Armani Code has the ability to elevate and enhance the appearance of any well dressed man.
When and Where to Wear It
Even though Armani Code for Men opens with a bright sparkling citrus, it develops into a warm, powdery woody aromatic rather quickly. This is a cool weather fragrance and really shines in autumn and winter. Although it can be worn during the day in cooler temperatures, this fragrance is a perfect fit for nighttime wear.
As soon as I spray on Armani Code, I feel a sense of calm sophistication. That’s why I think it’s a great choice for special events or occasions when I’m likely to dress in something more classy or formal. It would be perfect for a cocktail party or a business networking event.
I can also see wearing Code as a signature scent in the office. It works well in a professional environment where the temperature is regulated. The powdery, clean aura that it projects comes off sophisticated and masculine.
Additionally, Code would also make a great date fragrance. It’s subtle enough that it won’t be overly intrusive at a nice restaurant, but super comforting when we’re holding hands, or getting closer and sharing a whisper or a special moment.
Packaging and Presentation
Armani Code for Men comes in a black box with white lettering. The packaging matches the image of the fragrance itself, with an elegant, refined style. It’s simple, clean and straightforward.
The 2023 version of Armani Code for Men has changed from the previous hourglass flare bottles that were a hallmark of the original Code design.
This new refillable version sports a unique rounded off square shape that is smooth and convenient to hold. It has a smaller cap that gives the bottle a suave and classic look.
The atomizer is well constructed and gives off an ample amount of fragrance. Just one or two sprays on my pulse points provided a diffusive and even coverage.
Armani Code comes in three sizes. The smallest is 1.7 oz. Armani Code 2.5 oz is considered the large size, or you can also go for the largest which comes in at 4.2 oz. No matter which size you select, the Armani Code price is modest when compared to how well it can boost any guy’s image.
Armani Code for Men EdT has been an essential part of my fragrance collection for a few years and this latest update is a welcome addition.
What I love most about the Code line of fragrances is the consistency that they’ve maintained throughout their evolution. There is a common theme running through all of the Armani Code flankers and this fragrance is the one that set the standard.
Often when a fragrance goes through an update or reformulation, the new version may lack what the original version once displayed. That is not the case with Armani Code for Men.
The 2023 Armani Code EdT retains the lovely woody, amber aspect of the original 2004 release, with slight tweaks in the opening and the dry down, which add a bit more depth to the wearing experience. I don’t think those changes are so great as to be noticed by others around me, but it’s something that I appreciate as the cologne develops.
I fell in love with the Armani Code DNA when I first tried Armani Code Colonia in 2017. Up until that point, I had always assumed that Code was for older guys and just didn’t fit my casual style and personality.
Colonia was a bright and clean take on the Code DNA, with hints of aquatic blue notes. It worked well in the heat and came off as fun and playful, but that experience hooked me into the Code fragrance style.
I began to appreciate the unique blend of citrus and amber notes balanced with a gorgeous tonka richness that developed into a clean woody base.
That is the Code DNA which appears in most variations of the line and Armani Code for Men EdT is the blueprint for that style. It is special because although it is unmistakably classy and elegant, it can be worn as a signature scent in most situations. I never found it to be out of place.
There could have been some situations where I may have preferred to wear something a little more casual and playful, but the cologne never came off awkward or inappropriate.
The limited versatility was more about how I was feeling or the kind of image I was seeking to project in that space or moment. Overall I found that Armani Code for Men elevated my image and style. I feel dignified and polished when wearing it.
Similar Fragrances / Alternatives
Because the Armani Code line tends to retain and build upon its fragrance style within their line, the most obvious choices for alternatives are going to be the Armani Code Eau de Parfum and Armani Code Parfum concentrations.
They’re richer and deeper expressions of the Armani Code style. But what if you want to step outside of the Code universe and wear something that portrays a similar image as Code, but with a different approach? Here are some great options:
- Zenga Intenso by Ermenegildo Zenga is an aromatic spicy fragrance that contrasts a bright freshness with darker woody and ambery notes. It is an amazing classy and sensual cologne that is incredibly underrated. Available for a bargain price, this one is an easy choice for any guy looking to project a dignified image on a budget.
- Prada Luna Rossa by Prada opens with a fresh and bright citrus note then turns a bit more clean, with a slight touch of woods. Very versatile and fresh, this is a great choice for any weather and in any situation. Super clean and invigorating, you can’t go wrong with Luna Rossa.
- Dior Homme Intense by Christian Dior is not a one for one replacement for Armani Code, but it fits into the same mold and amps up the overall effect. It’s a rich powdery iris with notes of cocoa and a touch of leather. Beautiful elegance with a warm and exquisite drydown. This is a must have for any well dressed man’s collection.
Armani Code for Men is a classic men’s fragrance that exudes a timeless elegance that can elevate any man’s presence. It has an enduring sophistication that radiates poise and dignity.
The 2023 formulation is now marketed along with images of British actor Regé-Jean Page from the hit series Bridgerton, highlighting the classic, yet contemporary nature of this iconic cologne.
Although the 2023 version of Armani Code for Men changes the bottle to a refillable format, the modest changes in scent are a slight improvement over previous versions. If you already have a bottle of the classic 2004 version in the hourglass bottle, it’s not worth running out to get this update.
The differences are minimal and hardly noticeable. If you don’t have either version in your collection, then definitely check it out. Armani Code for Men is an essential cologne style for any respectable and debonair man.
Pin On Pinterest
Ron Pitt is a winemaker who developed a passion for fragrance while studying the olfactory relationship between smell and taste. After producing and marketing wines that focus on complex aromatics along with flavor, Ron altered his attention from the tasting room to the perfume lab. In addition to his passion for both wine and fragrance, Ron and his wife have been rescuing beagles for over 20 years.