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Sycomore Eau de Parfum by Chanel

EDP 2016
Chanel is using a base in this that revolves around
a sweetened Wood. While it rounds off some of the sharper bit's making it, as a couple of women, (including my Queen)easier for the Feminine to wear, IMO it loses some of the things that make it exceptional for the Masculine. Therefore it is still a very good perfume as most Chanel's are, however loses it's "ganja" sparkle.
19th September, 2018

Honor for Men by Express

Have you ever wondered what a juniper-forward and muskier Acqua di Giò (1996) might smell like? No? Well that's no surprise, and honestly neither have I, but evidently the folks at Express were pondering such a query because that's exactly what their Honor for Men (2010) ended up being when launched. I had this tossed in my lap the year of release because I thought it looked cool with it's heavy pewter cap and stamped emblematic logo right on the bottle, but it was just a fatice when I saw it, and I never got to taste this little wonder until I unwrapped it as a gift. Honor for Men isn't bad, but I admit that it's rather forgettable past the novelty of "Acqua di Junipèr" for the first hour or so. The bottle is seriously heavy, like the debt of honor owed to the person giving you this, and wearing it's powdery and musky fougère tones may also be, as it veers just left of Acqua di Giò's freshness and goes all-in on vanillic tones near the end. I see who this was made for: the guy who thinks less about his cologne than his choice of apparel (Why else would he shop at Express?), but without a listed perfumer, I'm convinced this was actually composed by a marketing executive using his Fischer-Price "My First Roudnitska" perfumer kit. I'm not saying this is bad, and you'll likely get compliments wearing it, there's just zero soul in it man, zero feeling. Honor for Men even looks like somebody wanted to marry a Creed flacon with a wiskey flask and stamp House Gryfinndor on the front as their way of covering multiple market angles. Leave no gimmick stone unturned.

Honor for Men opens with that juniper as described above, plus the watery dihydromyrcenol smell which links it back to Acqua di Giò, Cool Water (1988), and even runs shades of Creed Green Irish Tweed (1985). Peppermint is also here, as expected, giving Honor the kind of bland "mall store clean" one would expect a company like Express to foster. You could have said this came from Rue 21, The Gap, The North Face, or any such outfit and I wouldn't have been wiser. Grapefruit makes a show, as does fig and some scattered kitchen herbs, with cardamom and nutmeg browning out the middle, but when the vanilla hits, we leave behind aquatic generalist land and head toward something comparable to Penhaligon's Endymion (2003) but less subtle or balanced. Tonka, white musk, and a slight tinge of nutty Haitian vetiver make for what could have been a smooth and dry fougère base, destroyed by Newtonian quantities of vanilla. Fresh juniper citrus, then subtle dusty spice, and a vanilla tonka sledgehammer are what Honor for Men brings to the table. I wore this, begrudgingly, then dumped it as soon as I was dumped by the love interest who gave this to me. I like Acqua di Giò the same as I like Wonder Bread, and this was the thicker, heavier, store-brand version of that with crust that always falls off the first time the stuff hits the air.

I guess my gripe with this juice is the asking price combined with the Express-only distribution model. Much like Victoria Secret's elusive masculines, you have to run into a store or sign up for their online store spambot to buy Honor for Men by Express, and even then not at a price any better than most designers which are superior to it. Sure, this turns up on eBay, but you're not getting a deal there either, and the aquatic top doesn't quite mesh with the juniper anyway, nor does most of the composition with it's base, so like a jawbreaker, you go down very clear-cut layers that make where you end have zero relation to the starting point outside being part of the experience. It's okay for casual use or office wear if you spray lightly, and has good longevity and nuclear sillage, but anyone ending up with a surprise bottle of Honor for Men by Express should use it as an opportunity to branch out from it rather than keep their wardrobe stocked with it. A solid meh for me, I'll be nice and give it a neutral since it looks like the stuff is so forgettable that nobody here even reviewed it until I came along. Express has other smelly things besides this for sale, and I wouldn't hold the way this turned out against them, since this and the previous Reserve for Men (2009) were basically training wheels for their later efforts.
19th September, 2018

Sycomore Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel is purported by the house to have "dreamt" of this scent back in 1930, and the original nearly-undocumented version that has been smelled by few in modern times was described by those who had as a rather gamine vetiver and sandalwood affair made minimalistic feminine with violet leaf and soft tobacco. I'm not sure if the modern "Les Exclusifs" prestige variants of this and other antiquated scents were reinvented out of necessity due to lost formulae, or just to make them marketable to modern noses, but what passes as Sycomore (1930/2008/2016) these days is something very stripped-down, with a nutty shade of the vetiver root stretched over creamy sandalwood and ambery warmth, with an aldehydic head. The scent first relaunched in an Eau de Toilette strength, which according to those who owned that version, had more aldehydes and a smokier, more masculine vetiver not too dissimilar from Jacomo de Jacomo (1980) or Roger & Gallet Open (1985), but the Eau de Parfum version made available since 2016 has a richer base and dialed-back top/middle, letting the sandalwood do more of the talking, bringing it more in line with the modern version of Bois de Iles (1926/2008/2016), another Les Exclusifs "Zombie Eau" re-imagining. I like Sycomore, but I have the feeling this is more a release for the Chanel faithful than somebody seriously exploring their options in this category, because the Les Exclusifs range caters to women mostly in their adverts despite the unisex listing of the scents themselves, and vetiver for women is like a fougère for women, a rare and rarely-accepted lark that either soars or fails dramatically, which may also explain the fate of the original as well. Coco Chanel didn't seem to care about gender conventions much in her lifetime, which is an incredibly good thing that sets the house apart, but makes for a really odd back catalog, and convenient fodder for these ultra-luxe re-issues that aren't meant to sell by the bucket.

The opening of Sycomore is quite comforting out of the sprayer, with aldehydes and juniper carrying aloft a soft and earthy Haitian vetiver note on a bed of pink pepper, likely a carry-over from Bleu de Chanel (2010), where it's use as a carrier note was first really put to test by house perfumer Jacques Polge. Christopher Sheldrake, creative director for the cosmetics and fragrance ranges, dabbles in perfumery here too and assists Polge with the reworking, and although violet leaf from the long-gone original Sycomore survived the reformulation, the tobacco did not, being replaced instead with a synthetic cypress note that's likely just Iso E Super magic. The vetiver is conjoined to the hip with a rather nice sandalwood that recalls Égoïste (1990), another Polge hallmark for the house, with a composite amber accord finishing up the base in warm woody semi-sweet glow. There may be a peck of oakmoss here too, but likely if there is, it's within IFRA tolerances, but was likely more prominent if part of the older 20th century formula. I can only guess at this point as there is a bite of something that could be, but it's too slight to say. Sillage is moderate with an intense skin glow, like most eau de parfum concentrations, with very respectable longevity you'll need to scrub off to rid yourself of when done wearing it. Office use or day wear in fall is great, but this isn't romantic or good for hot weather, nor extreme cold, as it's just too middle-of-the-road with it's warmth and projection to do well outside room temperature. I give it a thumbs-up, but with a hard caveat which follows.

Sycomore is a great vetiver for folks who don't like the grassier or smokier elements of the plant, and follows a similar muted nutty vetiver vibe as Calvin Klein Reveal Men (2015), but without the mastic and synthetic tropical fruit adulterations that CK predictably stapled onto their vetiver. Sycomore smells rather natural for a modern perfume, and it had better for the $200-$350 price range a 2.5oz or 6.8oz bottle will cost you, which brings me to my point. The market became practically flooded with new vetivers high and low, ranging from Vetiver Extraordinaire by Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle (2002), to Lalique Encre Noire (2006), the aforementioned Calvin Klein, and most recently Terre d'Hermès Eau Intense Vétiver (2018), plus all the classics like the Jacomo or Roger & Gallet entires and even the gold-standard Guerlain or Givenchy entries still sitting on shelves. Sycomore was revived at a time where Vetiver has become the "It Girl" for men's fragrance once again, and marketed as a unisex but feminine-advertised posh prestige option few guys looking for a vetiver will notice, since even sales personnel are likely to dissuade a man from testing it. This stuff is an absolute must-sample for vetiver or sandalwood freaks, but outside that small niche-within-a-niche, Sycomore won't be a frequent reach, especially at it's premium price. A nice scent and a really pleasant experience that marries modern sensibility with old-school quality, Sycomore is expensive nicety when just plain nice is good enough, almost custom-built for the vintage perfume fan disillusioned with standard designers, assuming they can afford the price of admission. But for anyone else wanting to explore the style this runs in, there are more poignant options at friendlier prices which take precedent.
19th September, 2018
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Carpe Cafe by Gallagher Fragrances

This gourmand definitely nails the French vanilla + coffee vibe. The amber provides the warm, cozy feeling that fits perfectly. I don't get the green notes. It's all just warm, rich, sugary vanilla coffee for me.

Obviously, this is a cooler weather scent to me, maybe better at nights and casually worn.

Projection is very good during the first 3-4 hours. It starts to fade away around hours 6-7.
18th September, 2018

Y Collection by Zara

Through Flanker Darkly
Love Notes Lost of Fragrance So
Recalled (un)?Sweetly

Chasing extinctest
Vintagest formulations
Of La Nuit de L'Homme

And YSL L'Homme
Both I cornered by cashier
On twain discount racks

Camouflaged as such
The "DAY Collection", three cheap
Knock-off Zara frags.

"BWA-HA-HA" I cried
Seeing through such bad disguise.
At pennies a pop

No escape could be.
One perp, Versace Pour Homme
Also known as "A"

Purchased, you must see
For the sake of completeness.
Another one, "D"

Quickly joined the queue
YSL L'Homme, more or less.
But this one - this "Y"

Triple enigma
As soon enough before me
Truth most amazing

Not La Nuit de L'Homme
From this universe and its
Reformulations

But from another
Where dark accords were spared and
Clear fougère was not

Through coldest logic
Of Reformulationists
Looking for profffits

Or perhaps under
The excited edicts of
SNIFRA radicals.

Beloved beloved
Of vintage L'Homme fanbois here
Yet Bane of those there.

The other side of
Leafy Page in Book of Thyme
Writ wrongly yet Wright.

Knowing now this truth
This butterfly evasion
A toast is offered:

To Universe ours
With softest sweetest echos
Of those that are not:

Your truest beauty
That no beauty pleaseth all
But all pleaseth true

Whether true or not
And that in this strange beauty
We might see your own

That all may partake
Of otherworldly beauty
Clothed in that of ours

Spread out before us
In most unlikely places
Reserved for many

That greatest beauty
Lies not in beauty itself
Nor in beauty's lies

But in humble truth
That beauty greatest is found
Spread before the Least.
18th September, 2018

Sheiduna by Puredistance

Despite a far-from-glowing review in a recent perfume guide, I still find Sheiduna to be one of the most unique, mesmerizing, and other-wordly scents in the Puredistance collection. Fresh, effervescent, and luminous up top, it slowly simmers into an incense-infused warmth of smooth woods, vanilla, and musks in the base (but impressively does not lose the brighter citrus notes, so often fleeting in modern releases). It lasts all day and gets more compliments on this (male) skin than anything else in my collection. If the accused woody amber in the drydown is the reason for dislike, then bathe me in a pool of this woody amber; I likes it.
18th September, 2018

Al Rehab Pearl by Al Rehab

The poetic parallels between global fascinations with (crude) oil reserves in the Middle East and the increasing turn in perfume industries worldwide toward Middle Eastern aesthetics are fascinating and worth deeper consideration. The word is ‘attar,’ referring to powerful oil blends, often characterized with oud and rose. Al-Rehab is a prolific producer of such attar oils, based in Jeddah which has been considered by Al Bawaba news earlier this year as high among the top ten cities under massive and expensive redevelopment in Saudi Arabia. The influence of these longstanding Arabian approaches to perfumes oils have impacted contemporary offerings from most international brands in recent years.

I’ve sampled many of Al Rehab’s oils, and in all cases they’ve been warming with intense sillage and interpretations of wood notes that feel sticky with glaze. These are some of the traditions and trends that guide Al Rehab’s overall tastes. I’d guess that there are some love-it-or-leave-it thresholds in the potencies by which these attars are defined.

Rarely does packaging so affect my perception of a fragrance as Al Rehab’s Pearl Attar. The gold and red heart-shaped vial is ornamented in arabesque scrollwork and rhinestones, befitting a globe trekking adventure in Liberace stylings. I feel like I’m Sailor Moon mid-transformation, Wonder Woman with mythic artifacts by way of twentieth century camp, or the happy recipient of a genie’s lamp. All that glitters isn’t gold, but glittering in yellow foils and red fake gems it does, to fabulous effect.

Pearl is a gourmand blast so strong in caramel qualities, it’s sweetness veers into a hallucination of sour sharpness, picking up hints of roses and other floralcy. While ‘overdose’ is a popular description for modern scents crammed with one or another heavy note, Pearl is so candied it transgresses into a beyond-sweet daydream, and that’s where its interest lies. Past the rich vanilla buttercream is a blend of woods, flowers, and musk.

I don’t really know what to make of my own attraction to perfumes strong in vanilla that I think would be improved with considerably less of it (except that my father wore Joop! when I was growing up; don’t worry, regularly on the couch talking through that). But add Pearl to the growing list of vanillic scents about which my only real complaint is a lack of balanced proportion in the formulation. While Pearl is more full-bodied and complex than the average drugstore sugar bomb, it’s cloying when it could be a compositional rhapsody by playing up its more offbeat notes.

The woody base of the oil takes on nutty, toasted effects. Pearl’s agarwood plays it pretty straight, keeping things easy and pleasant; one could wish for more of the funk and some of the muddled fruit that get associated with some types of oud. The sandalwood is yummy. There’s light smoke and amber of pulsing radiance. Like it’s bottle, the attar is gilded, most appropriate for chilled days with yellow leaves blowing about. It stays all day, with formidable projection. Across hours, a lovely musk settles comfortably on skin and clothing. Pearl is liquid marron glacé, and indulging in its wearing is equivalent to the excesses of dessert courses and syrupy digestifs.
18th September, 2018

L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme Noir Ambré by Issey Miyake

Heavy, oily leather note in the beginning that gives way to a warm, delicious vanilla and tonka finish in the drydown. Refined and masculine from start to finish.

I’m really impressed with how this performs and smells.

I’d say this is probably best in cooler temps and going out at night. Not a club scent but should be very good in romantic or close interaction situations where you could be receiving hugs or having close conversations.

Projects and lasts, only spray more than 2-3 sprays if you’ll be outdoors.
18th September, 2018

No. 19 by Chanel

First minute or two I get that good old aldehydic blast from the past that , to my nose , reminds me a little of rubbing alcohol...then it shifts gears to a earth fresh green smell that reminds me a lot of Amouage Opus VII...i get smell of herbs crushed and green twigs breaking and exposing their inner greeness...a little powdery...a feminine/yin version of Macassar...faintly sweetish...smells of high class 50's and 60's to me...type of fragrance that friends of my mom smelled like when I was a kid...very exquisitely blended...a smooth ride, no bumps...as it develops it gets even more gorgeous as the delicate fragrance of different flowers flavor the greenery...the flowers are not overpowering but just blend in perfectly... just little nuances and accents...nice and smooth relaxing drydown...slightly musky and woody continuation of the middle...love it...would definitely rock this...
18th September, 2018

Youth Dew by Estée Lauder

Youth Dew (1953) helped not only establish a dynasty for Estée Lauder, but allowed more domestically-imprisioned women in the mid 20th century have a taste of the wild side, even if vicariously, than any other fragrance. Estée Lauder cleverly introduced it as a bath oil, giving it a semi-practical purpose which allowed Youth Dew to slip past hubby's draconian pragmatism with discretionary spending (outside his own Craftsman tool binges at Sears), meaning women expected to be meek and mild homemakers could indulge. The original bath oil was strong enough to be worn as fragrance, and when the eau de parfum was introduced alongside dusting powder a short time later, full suites of Youth Dew could be purchased surreptitiously, securing it's legacy. The smell of Youth Dew was a classic floriental broadstroke with lines borrowed from past risqué feminines like Tabu (1932), Schiaparelli Shocking (1937), Ma Griffe by Carven (1946), Miss Dior (1947), and other "liberated women" fragrance (once considered "fallen women" in the previous century), and added aromatics with a hefty animalic base. Youth Dew has since slid down the gender spectrum to be quite neutral and almost masculine by 21st century standards, making it quite palatable to a man's nose as well, assuming he likes animalic floriental chypres.

The opening of Youth Dew is quite a scare to the modern nose, with aldehydes, spices, sharp bergamot, and an almost sour peach. Perfumer Josephine Catapano, who would later create or co-create several Lauder scents, unleashed a commanding, almost boozy aldehydic opening laden with oriental spice that later turned into a proper floral chypre after the heart set in. Lots of indolic florals wrapped in cinnamon and cloves greet the wearer after the first five minutes, with rose, jasmine indole, orchid, and ylang-ylang leading the charge. A sweet orange creeps in before a broad-shouldered patchouli comes up, holding oakmoss and ambergris in it's burly arms. All this unapologetic power unfolds in the first hour, with benzoin and styrax adding most of the animal funk alongside musk and frankincense. Vetiver even makes a showing, which is rarely seen in a feminine, and all illusions of this being a dainty housewife toilette water die away by the time the vanilla smooths off the patchouli, moss, animalics, and incense. Youth Dew can still be worn by a woman, but she better be of hardy constitution and commanding personality. I can easily imagine this stuff being a dirty little secret, with the pretty smells of something more pedestrian like Avon being saved for dinner with the ball and chain.

Men that love powerhouse fragrances or just the idea of heady indolic florals on a bed of strong patchouli, moss, and styrax could easily wear this, saving hundreds on a comparable niche scent made almost exactly like this but marketed towards men. I could easily see something like Youth Dew coming out of a house like Diptyque, Montale, Tom Ford, or Amouage, sold as a masculine-leaning unisex fragrance, and marketed with a dark, brooding name. Instead, this 1953 wonder comes in a bottle shaped like a conservative woman's dress, with a cutesy metal bow around the waist, and sells for peanuts by comparison. Honestly, the only thing truly keeping this from being a modern niche scent is the lack of an oud note, and it's take-no-prisoners sillage definitely pegs it masculine in a modern world of synthetic shoe gazing. The name "Youth Dew" may be a misnomer, but make no mistake: this venerated "grandma's perfume" is anything but weak or timid, and will put youthful spring in your step if you enjoy it's pungency, while simultaneously putting your sister's Tommy Girl (1996) to shame. Wear with caution as it's a virile trail that Youth Dew leaves, but definitely recommended for the bold, regardless of gender.
17th September, 2018 (last edited: 18th September, 2018)

Ombré Leather by Tom Ford

This will truly test a fan of leather fragrances. Ombré Leather (2018) looks to be a retooling of Ombré Leather 16 (2016), which itself was part of the Private Blends, while this entry is not. Ombré Leather kind of sits between the Signature Collection and the Private Blends line price-wise, as denoted by it's strange bottle which is plain like the Private Blend decanters but not squared off. Ombré Leather is a rather simple and straightforward affair, being the smell of black shoe and handbag leather right up front, with little else to get in the way. I'm not sure if Sonia Constant also composed this, but like the erstwhile Ombré Leather 16, this version plays with cardamom and patchouli as support players, but unlike the previous Private Blends iteration, doesn't feel like a toned-down feminine-aimed version of Tuscan Leather (2007). The new Ombré Leather wants to hang in the same wheelhouse as Knize Ten (1924), Dior Fahrenheit (1988), Ted Lapidus Pour Homme (1978), and vintage English Leather (1949) in terms of it's sheer petroleum-tanned nakedness, but it's still not as intense in the drydown.

Ombré Leather opens with that massive black shoepolish leather front and center, playing with a drop of jasmine indole and violet leaf to keep it focused in your mind. Cardamom comes into the middle along with patchouli to round and sweeten the deal enough so that it doesn't burn the nostrils like old English Leather can, sitting right between top and middle for the first few hours. The starring leather note very slowly fades, much slower than in Ombré Leather 16, keeping greater sillage as a result, and leaning fairly unisex, even if most heteronormative ladies wouldn't wear something that screams "Dominatrix" quite like this outside the bedroom. An old-school composite amber note (not ambroxan) joins a fancy new "fractured" oakmoss note free of it's allergens, first toyed with by Theirry Wasser of Guerlain for unreleased reforms of their classics, but now in Ombré Leather to give it a mild, if surprising moss bite at the end. The moss is still dialed way down for modern tastes, so vintage heads don't get too excited, but it's here. Overall, this smells like a shoe, as I first said in the beginning of the review, Ombré Leather will test a true leather fan's constitution from beginning to end.

I think the same level of notoriety and shock value as Tom Ford Black Orchid (2006) has the same potential to arise here in time with the right marketing. The idea of smelling like a cobbler or the gear one wears to a BDSM gathering can be both frightening and oddly alluring all at once. I don't know when you might find it appropriate to wear this, because most masculine-leaning leathers are flanked with herbal or booze notes while feminine ones have floral and fruity supporting players, unless we're talking the 70's and 80's, where everything from soapy orris to a "barrel note" was added. In this situation, I don't think Tom Ford was looking to emulate a specific era of fragrance as he is often wont to do, but rather just delivered an uncompromising one-off scent, oddly based on something from another line of his but brought down into slightly more-accessible territory price-wise, which is another odd facet about it. Tom Ford quirkiness never seems to disappoint, and even if this ends up in the same pop culture trash can as Fucking Fabulous (2017), at least it's a Hell of a sight more wearable. Definitely sample first and keep this to winter use if you decide to take it home, because Ombré Leather ain't messin' around no way no how.
17th September, 2018 (last edited: 18th September, 2018)

Pure White Cologne / Original Cologne by Creed

Clean, refreshing opening with many of the notes accessible to my amateur nose like the citrus, neroli, petitgrain and musk. Turns powdery in the drydown.

Honestly, if the opening lasted into the drydown this would be a top scent for me. As it is, it's just a nice, casual summer cologne that becomes more feminine as it develops.

Projection is very good during the opening but becomes very soft as it dries down. The whole thing lasts 5-6 hours.
17th September, 2018
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Southern Gothic by Sixteen92

I'm finding I like the apple top note very much. I smell the jasmine next, but an evenly balanced, milky coconut soon appears. It doesn't make it into the land of suntan oil. The fragrance is on the lighter side, and lies somewhat close to the skin. The jasmine is sweet, without indoles, and the effect is a youthful one. It brings to mind the days of lying out for a tan--but on a beach towel in the grass of one's own back yard. It's warm without sweat, and clean without soap, and quite natural.
17th September, 2018
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L'Occitan by L'Occitane

Less is more sometimes, and L'Occitan Eau de Toilette by L'Occitan en Provence (2005) is a perfect example of this. Anyone who has ever walked past their shops found in upscale shopping malls and high streets will tell of the botanical allure wafting from the front door, which pulls you right in to have a peek. Part of that huge bouquet of "welcome" is this scent: a simple lavender, pepper, and spice fougère which smells very 19th century considering it's release date, and does little else to dress up these three key points besides render them onto an appropriate fougère base. The lavender is relaxing while the pepper is a piquant eye-opener, making the wearer do some mental gymnastics between calm and alert, creating a stillness and poise that epitomizes the gentlemanly demeanor this scent seeks to create. The overall vibe of L'Occitane itself is an old-world hand-crafted simplicity, as the company itself was founded in 1976 by Olivier Baussan as a distiller of lavender and eventually soapmaker. The name for L'Occitane refers to the women of Occitania, an region during the Middle Ages spanning southern France, north-eastern Spain and northern Italy; the Occitan dialect is still spoken as a second language in some areas of this region in modern times, and Baussan sought to tap into this historical allure. Modern L'Occitane operates much like an apothecary-themed cosmetic shop, giving competition to the likes of Aveda, The Body Shop, Bath and Body Works, Lush, Kiehl's, The Art of Shaving, and others.

L'Occitane Eau de Toilette directly links back to the house's early days as a lavender peddler in France, and opens with a very clean round French lavender like found in Pour Un Homme de Caron (1934) or Canoe by Dana (1936), just without any of the vanilla to pillow it out. Instead, the aforementioned black pepper takes L'Occitane Eau de Toilette in a direction much like a traditional men's toilet water, of the ilk that someone like ED Pinaud, or Houbigant would produce, adding in some nutmeg and cinnamon in the middle phase. The spices in the middle are subtle, and meant to give an earthy anchor to the lavender/pepper top instead of rounding it, so they play very quietly under the top notes, "browining" everything into a clearly masculine train of thought without being cloying or heavy as spice can often be. The base of tonka, musk, cedar, sandalwood, and oakmoss follows last, and makes for a "fern-like" fougère accord through-and-through, simple, efficient, and enjoyable. L'Occitane Eau de Toilette will not appeal to people who dislike prominent lavender, and the black pepper is pretty dry, giving this some similarity to Penhaligon's Blenheim Bouquet (1902) but with a one-for-one note swap between the pine of Blenheim and the lavender of L'Occitane, plus a heavier woods edge that makes L'Occitane sit closer to something like Diptyque Tam Dao (2003) at times. I'd say this is a great morning eye-opener and should be used with the accompanying body wash, but what you do with it is up to you in the end. Longevity is in the eight hour range, and sillage is respectable thanks to that assertive pepper note, so no performance issues here.

L'Occitane en Provence makes some great reasonable products for a guy looking for something a little more homespun than a major designer label, but not wanting the full obscure artisinal perfumer experience, without the awkward kitsch of niche boutiques like Lush, the uppity condescension of ultra-luxe brands like Creed or even the "steampunk chic" wet shaving establishments like The Art of Shaving, with their gilded handles that cleverly hide the fact that they use some permutation of a standard Gillette blade. There's no such thing as an "honest brand" really, but the purity of purpose and plain-spoken chemist-style presentation of L'Occitane Eau de Toilette in it's amber glass pill bottle just seems right. The smell is plain, simple, elegant lavender fougère that won't cost you a kidney to buy, and performs leagues beyond what the designers offer in the same category, giving it a niche quality without the niche price. A few other ones like Eau des Bavx (2006), and Eau de Cade (2014) also strike of this niche quality, staying fairly within the classic masculine perfumery realm, with better-than-usual ingredients, but L'Occitane Eau de Toilette just stands as the best, most versatile, and classic flagship/entrypoint for the house to my nose, and worth a sniff to anyone that really loves these old lavender beasts still roaming the wilds. All historical backdrops aside, the house did a really nice job here, and made this super easy to wear. L'Occitane Eau de Toilette is the signature scent for the guy that finds beauty in a good plain cheese pizza, simple folk tune, or cup of black coffee.
17th September, 2018

Rose 31 by Le Labo

Le Labo is strangeness for the sake of it, and puts odd quotes from Henry David Thoreau at the forefront of their "manifesto", and styles themselves in a very humorless scientific fashion, with their very name meaning "The Laboratory" in French. Furthering their artistic idiosyncrasies, they don't use any animal products but painstakingly replicate animal notes from synthetics, including their own house-made castoreum proxy, and will even make "fresh" batches of their compositions by compounding them in person at their boutiques (product sold elsewhere is ready-made), signing the name of the client on the empty lines beneath the scent title on the label of the bottle itself. Still not done, Le Labo also amusingly names their scents after a single note despite that note almost always not being the star of the composition, but rather a supporting player, making everything they sell an intentional misnomer. The "dirty yet clean" approach is on full display here with Rose 31 (2006), created by mostly-niche perfumer Daphne Bugey. Rose does indeed open Rose 31, but soon after, is overtaken by everything else in the compositon and leaves the wearer with a clean, musky, slightly animalic, clinically-pleasant fragrance that would seem just like what somebody devoid of levity in lab coat attire would create. Some of Le Labo's other scents, like Santal 33 (2011) actually go somewhere worthwhile with their avant-garde "it is but it isn't" shtick, ending up being something surprisingly enjoyable and if not worth the price, still worth consideration, but not Rose 31.

Rose 31 does a remarkable job of opening like pure rose petals, almost as if just the bud of the rose found in Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie (1980) was separated from the rest of the plant and suspended in ether for all to sniff. This opening moment only lasts literally but a moment, as arms reach up from chemical Hell to grab at that rosebud, with Iso E Super and ambrette followed by cumin and synthetic castoreum. The hay-like transition from what Le Labo calls a Centifolia rose are caused by a very dry medicinal oud/cedar mixture, vetiver, and olibanum. The base of gaiac wood and musk is where this finishes, with the dirty rolling into the clean laundry musk and soft woody notes, likely also bolstered with synthetics. Wisps of labdanum also come and go near the end, but all I get in the finish is a weak woodsy dry musk with hints of rose, like somebody yanked the Comet cleanser scratch out of Tom Ford Oud Wood (2007) and shoved some musk and rose in it before diluting to half-strength without dropping the price tag to compensate. For all the science and artistic esoterica on display at Le Labo, the performance of Rose 31 is pretty limpid, with just 4 hours of any real radiance, then skin scent for another 4 before reapplication is needed. I won't remind you that very little rose is here because as I mentioned above, Le Labo always makes a supporting player the star of the scent, maybe as some kind of joke, but overall this is probably one of the most "designer" niche scents I've smelled, which I hope is part of some intentional irony on the company's behalf or else this is an absurd ripoff. Rose 31 really is the rose perfume for somebody who wants to pretend they like rose because it seems refined, and as a cool edgy laboratory-themed bottle to show off to confirm their good taste.

I don't hate Rose 31, but there are much better scents in this vein, even ones that just flirt with being a rose and/or oud fragrance without actually committing, both at the price points this is found, and much much lower. Anything sporting rose and/or oud from the Tom Ford Private Collection or Mancera/Montale is better than this, and anything from more affordable lines like the Aramis Perfume Calligraphy series, or rose-inflected flankers of major designers like Cartier Déclaration d'un Soir (2012) and Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme Ultime (2016) will give more bang for the buck than this. Hell, even Cabaret de Grès (2003) does this better, albeit with a bit more noticeable synthetics, but at least gives performance where Rose 31 lacks. Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady (2010) would at least give people who dropped the similarly-exorbitant asking price for it a full dose of something rose and woodsy, but Le Labo Rose 31 really just sits there and tries to blow smoke rings with the tag line of "the future of luxury [...] lies in craftsmanship", tossing the aforementioned literary figure (and then some) at you while insisting that their little high school science fair presentation is something truly a cut above the norm. Well I'm not buying it, nor am I buying this fragrance. Definitely sample as your opinion may differ from mine, but the neutral rating here is a kindness considering this is one "rose" that should have stayed in the laboratory.
17th September, 2018

Aromatics Elixir by Clinique

Aromatics Elixir (1971) spearheaded a new house for Estée Lauder, the third since the company itself launched in 1946 and appeared with Youth Dew perfume in 1953, following the male-only Aramis house in 1965, created after the 1964 launch of Aramis cologne proved a smash success. The house of Clinique formed three years prior to the release of Aromatics Elixir, which itself felt like both a sequel to Estée Lauder Youth Dew and Estée Lauder Azurée (1969), which both took the floral chypre in animalic oriental and balsamic directions respectively. Aromatics Elixir was considered a non-conformist fragrance for women, with sharp green opening notes, a rosy heart, and a soapy clean finish that was miles away from the rich spicy orientals, or dusty tame florals women came to consider as the standard fare for a lot of the 20th century, pushing the art of the decidedly-French chypre category in a bold, loud, clean and "American" direction which would also help set the pace of the 70's in women's perfume design. Chanel was already to go with this new direction too, launching the leathery galbanum-lead green rose chypre called No. 19 (1971), but stateside, Aromatics Elixir was easier and a bit more affordable to come across, inspiring competitors like Revlon Charlie (1973) and Halston (1975). Estée Lauder itself would riff off of the Clinique-labelled Aromatics Elixer too, not once but twice: Private Collection (1973) would go in a much soapier and even greener direction, while the exclusively-male Aramis line would see Aromatics Elixer perfumer Bernard Chant, who was also responsible for the original Aramis, retool his own work to make Aramis 900 (1973), which is for all intents a dialed-down and more-hespiridic Aromatics Elixir "for men". Estée Lauder was infamous for retooling its successful feminines or unused feminine formulas as masculines but renaming them to sound unique all throughout the 70's into the 80's but this is where it started. Unsurprisingly, Aramis 900 and Clinique Aromatics Elixir smell pretty close side by side, and both are wearable by either sex in the 21st century, but Aromatics Elixir edges out it's "masculine" redressing in power and complexity.

The fragrance opens up with bitter bergamot, galbanum, and a soft chamomile counter-balance that screams out of the sprayer super green and citric before slamming on it's brakes. The rose is very quick to follow much like The Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose (1972), but rather than settling in with just that rose, Aromatics Elixir works in some jasmine indole, orris, muguet, and ylang-ylang, bringing to mind a lush floral white soap. Tuberose is here but not in the thermonuclear amounts that it would be in the 1980's, letting the soapy white florals mix with the green top and create a vivid clean sparkle that dances on skin for hours and hours. The oakmoss bite expectant of a chypre is here, backed by a slight tinge of animalic civet, but not enough to steer it out of clean territory, while pathcouli, vetiver, and cistus labadanum keep Aromatics Elixer in the green/gold olfactory color palette, like a soapier and rosier precursor to the much-later Lauder for Men (1985), which also had a green/gold hue to my nose. Maybe in the 1970's this was considered feminine, when compared to all the deep herbal mossy leathers and fougère accords circulating, but in the modern context, this is just a beautiful but quite serious floral green perfume with an office-safe soapiness suitable for anyone who loves a clean outdoorsy fresh trail. There's nothing particularly woodsy about Aromatics Elixir, but wood notes in feminines outside of sandalwood pretty much died out after the 60's, so having something like a cedar note mixed in would have turned this right quick into a men's fragrance from the perspective of the conventions found in the decade where this first stalked the earth. Longevity is good, and silliage is notoriously mighty, like a lot of Estée Lauder classics, so be careful with application, as a little goes longer than expected, especially when compared to it's softer-spoken brother, Aramis 900. The soapiness of this really sets Aromatics Elixir apart from many floral green chypres of the decade, as many focused on leathery finishes, spiced fruit tops, or dry pencil-shaving bases stuffed with bitter oakmoss compounds.

Aromatics Elixir really only survives today because of its cult following, and has had many limited edition repackagings reminiscent of Calvin Klein cK One (1994), and a more recently an explosion of flankers all trying to adapt a new skin over the aging framework of the stuff, since it seems more men these days are talking about Aromatics Elixir in mainstream perfume circles than women, with the latter relegating this to "grandma scent" because in the 21st century, it's very well possible that somebody's grandmother wore this. Unlike the really old stuff from the beginning of the 20th century which now rides back into the limelight on a wave of retro-chic hipsters, Aromatics Elixir is too old to be cool, and not old enough to be cool again, making it's cult of fans all the more appreciated as many others of it's generation have become endangered species or outright extinct altogether in discontinuation. Worn in the right company, anyone will definitely stand out in a crowd with the electrifying opening and fresh, clean dry down, without the fear of heavy animalics making one seem as they're trying too hard for attention or affection. I don't know if it "goes far beyond the role of perfume" as it's advertisement states, but it is a certain kind of confidence bottled up for enjoyment, not a bravado or gung-ho confidence, but like a clean suit and favorite tie. Aromatics Elixir is like a security blanket disguised as a powerhouse, because it moves in with sharp angular opening notes before becoming something comfortable and poised, with a sharp bite in the finish that never lets you forget that there's power being held back, which is saying a lot for something originally spun at the "fairer" sex, but such is the wonderful dynamic interplay that is the debut fragrance from Clinique. Simply a classic that must be tried.
17th September, 2018

Bleu de Chanel Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Disappointingly thin elevator guy type scent with no sillage and short duration.

The idea is nice (aftershave), but the execution is sub par and an insult to the price tag.

One upside is that it's less synthetic smelling than the EdT.


2/5
17th September, 2018

Rive Gauche pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

While I started out liking fougeres, I've sort of moved on from them. There are several that I've worn and liked, even loved - from the classic Azzaro, to the futuristic Jazz, the verdant Tsar and the rich Nobile. However, the one that has stayed with me the most is Rive Gauche pour Homme. Nothing else matches its admirable qualities of being modern, cosmopolitan, but yet so fundamentally wholesome and grounded in the best qualities of traditional perfumes. It is a seamless blend with a seamless transition - the vivid lavendar-geranium is spiked with the freshness of rosemary and thyme, spiced up with star anise and clove (not medicinal, not strong, but deft and subtle) on a bed of soft patchouly and creamy guaiac wood. However, notes only tell part of the story, as the end product is as elementary and essential as a tailored fine white shirt; and while being spectacular, it is also very much an 'everyday' scent, doesn't seek attention or needs to stand out, but forms a distinguished, fragrant cloud around the wearer.

Rive Gauche pour Homme has become my most-worn scent, and as a fact I'm fairly familiar with its bits and parts. It is, perhaps, not fun the way Mugler Cologne is, or it doesn't make a statement like Kouros. However, it is effortlessn, and is a genuine contender for being a part of the curated wardrobe of a discerning gent. I can mention it in the same breath as New York Intense as being examples of fine gentlemanly scents that are indeed signature worthy, always appropriate, and, unfortunately, fast disappearing.



5/5
17th September, 2018

Andy Warhol for Men by Andy Warhol

Intense, synthetic sour citrus and musk in the opening blast. After 10-15 minutes it settles down and feels much cleaner. That continues into the drydown which turns woody but retains the musk. The whole scent has this feel of straddling 80s powerhouse and 90s freshness.

Projection is big and loud in the opening but the drydown is quiet. The whole thing lasts maybe 5-6 hours.
17th September, 2018
Shycat Show all reviews
United States

Wicked by Sixteen92

What you see is what you get. The very first seconds of Wicked give up a sharply sweet patchouli in rum-- OOPS, that's just the alcohol still drying. When you wait a few seconds like a normal human, you find yourself in a lightly sweetened patchouli.

I swear my friends, there are wood shavings about.

There's an old southern thing people eat--black strap molasses with soft butter beaten into it using the table knife. It gets creamy and beige, thick and rich. One smudges it onto lightly toasted white bread, a bite's worth at a time. I hadn't thought of that in 40 years but it sprang to my mind for Wicked.

There is also a sense of extract--as in the cooking flavorings used for cookies or icings. I couldn't pin it down, so checking the notes I see almond and vanilla. It's more to me than just almond or vanilla, because it blends immediately with the ever so slightly camphorous aspect of patchouli and pulls them both into a single accord.

All this at the thirty minute mark.

At three hours it's beginning to fade, and although the extract sensation had faded earlier, it has remained a dry patchouli throughout. The almond/vanilla is always an accent to a very patchouli forward fragrance. I suspected it would hang onto my skin for quite a while at this lower amplitude, in the manner of patchouli vanillas. At four and a half hours it seems to move into a patchouli amber phase--softer, and a bit powdery, as a lingering skin scent.


For me, it's a fine and worthy fragrance, but not one I would choose over Jalaine's Patchouli, seeing as I already own that one--my first patchouli love still reigns supreme, as long as one ignores the price point.
16th September, 2018 (last edited: 17th September, 2018)

Pasha by Cartier

I've no idea what Vintage I'm nosing here, however it is similar to Jazz Prestige. This tops with a little Mint and adds a whisper of Cumin to which I find attractive.
As Epapsiou says, No Brainer.
16th September, 2018

D Collection by Zara

YSL L'Hommme-ish
VCR boxes theme-ish
DAY logo code-ish

Nuit joke I get-ish
Collection thing I see-ish
Whole thing Zara-ish

Dry-down is dry-ish
That too-sweet thing is gone-ish
Still nicely sweet-ish

Not sure it's worth-ish
Your mileage not compute-ish
Call's W-ish.
16th September, 2018

Oud Imperial Extrait de Parfum by Perris Monte Carlo

Most definitively one of the best Oud fragrance on the market. The Oud is intense accompanied by incense and cedar. This is the real deal, not an Oud accord like many others in the market. Performance is outstanding lasting all night with hints of it the next day. Used for formal occasions during winter time.
16th September, 2018
Shycat Show all reviews
United States

Dent de Lait by Serge Lutens

Mild, slightly soapy, slightly metallic, musk. That is all. It seems to be walking in L'eau d'Hiver's footsteps but with weird unpleasant boots on.
16th September, 2018
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom

Cheap and Chic I Love Love by Moschino

Grapefruit, lemon and an orangey note are at the centre of this opening phase. Fresh, but not really strongly refreshing but a touch attenuated; a pleasant start nonetheless.

The drydown emphasises fruity and floral components: redcurrant with muguet, and a touch of rose. In the base woodsy notes appear, with white musks evident towards the end. A touch of sweetness is provided by a slightly spicy cinnamon.

I get soft sillage, good projection and a limited longevity of four hours on my skin.

Quite a nice summer scent, that is, however, not performing very well. The ingredients can be a bit on the generic side at times, but it has its nice moments. It is very balanced, and the sweet side is incorporated judiciously. Overall just making it to a positive score - by the skin of its teeth. 3/5.
16th September, 2018

Agua de Colonia Concentrada by Alvarez Gomez

Do not miss out on
This exuberant citrus
At drugstore prices.
16th September, 2018
DanHD Show all reviews
United States

Equipage Géranium by Hermès

I respect this one but definitely don't like it. It has a cold feeling to me. I can see what Elena was trying to do, but it's just too green and particular, with not enough warmth. It falls in the same realm as French Lover / Bois d'Orage for me.

I have a large decant of the original Equipage, and I don't like that one either. After a few wearings it felt too heavy and "mature" for my tastes. I was hoping the Geranium version would be more wearable.
15th September, 2018

Cordovan by Banana Republic

Cordovanian
Richest of the Mall Leathers
Spanish Black Walnut

Prince of the Mall Frags
With shades of Dirty English
Hints of the Complex

Clever Concoction
At some optimal Blend of
Sheer Ecomomics

Red-colored Glass Cues
Standing out in Collection
Signaling Fragrance

Smooth barely Leather
Drying down to Clean Clothing
Via not quite Booze

Subtle and pleasant
Just a tad ordinary
Screams "You're in BR!"

Thus recommended
If you find it in Marshall's
Or in some Fine Mall.
15th September, 2018

Ryder by Abercrombie & Fitch

Clear skies, chill air, DUNES
Of warm laundry musks, cedars
Pines, and GOOD TIMES, DUDES!
15th September, 2018

Fineapple by Gallagher Fragrances

Opening is bright and clean with pineapple candy, lemon cleaner and bubble gum. Later into the drydown you definitely start to get the florals, starts to lean feminine. I like the way this smells but it might smell better on my wife.

Good projection during the opening fruity-citrus phase that lasts maybe an hour. The floral drydown is mush softer but does last for most of the workday.
14th September, 2018 (last edited: 16th September, 2018)
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