I know what's cruel here. The price.
Cruel Gardenia opens with tonka bean and a hint of dry celery-like notes. Luckily the vanilly elements soften the celery notes considerably and Cruel Gardenia doesn't bring to mind the same thing AG Gardenia Passion does: stock cubes.
After a while the tonka notes have grown even stronger and the perfume seems to have two layers, the one with tonka and the other with faint dry wood/fougere notes. Tonka projects further away from the skin whereas the dry notes stay in the background with minimal sillage. There's a very edible honey note too.
At first I disliked the perfume because of the name -- I'm still unable to detect any gardenia notes. However, the character of the scent is similar to the smell of gardenia, if that makes any sense. It fills the air with its sweetness but is not cloying.
Plain disgusting. Overly synthetic and definitely nothing edible. Nauseous. Represents well the new millenium of perfumes -- this couldn't have been done before. A heavy cloud of synthetic nightmare. I can detect what people call "green" or "sweet" but it is represented in a way that I hate. Dolce & Gabbana pour femme (the new one) comes in Magnetism's footsteps, and YSL Manifesto. Yuck!
Lovely. Utterly flowery, but not in that terrible, overly synthetic way most florals are nowadays. Ofrésia has surprising sillage and depth considering how light it seems at first. Dewy is a really good word to describe this. The opening is rather green with lilac-like floral tones.
Coco Noir is somewhat interesting at first but soon turns into a synthetic, nauseous sillage monster. I could smell it from my wrist when walking home on a chilly day with a winter coat on, and my nose doesn't even work in the cold. I tried to pick out individual notes but during the first two hours I only got something disgustingly sweet and fruity. Definitely a scrubber. The shirt I was wearing went almost straight to the washing machine, because tossing it to the laundry basket quickly made the whole bathroom stink.
The initial notes of Iris Ganache are balmy and sweet. The balminess actually reminds me of some SL fragrances, e.g. La Myrrhe. The scent isn't similar but its "texture" is.
The smell of iris is pronounced but surprisingly it does not have a powdery feeling to it. Instead it's perfectly entwined with the balmy notes. There's also something that creates a slightly plastic-like atmosphere and pulls the top notes away from the gourmand area. A few hours later the these notes have fainted away and the smell is now more edible. It definitely resembles white chocolate.
I feel very comfortable wearing IG but I'm also afraid of getting too attached. What an ill-fated love story! It breaks my heart to know it's discontinued. Oh Guerlain, what have you done!
Une Voix Noire opens with sweet bubblegum notes that have been toned down with the same "celery" scent that appears in several other gardenia fragrances. Within minutes the sweetness gets over its highest peak, the notes merge and the fragrance starts to smell a bit more flowery. However, VN is somewhat confusing. It gives some plastic vibes but it's not too synthetic.
During the following hours the fragance keeps on softening and fading but remains sweet. It doesn't come out as something classy or high-minded. The longevity is around 12 hours but at the end of the day there is very little sillage. The base notes are pretty much the same as the heart notes.
When I first tried VN I got a strange nostalgic feeling but couldn't figure out what it reminded me of. The next day I sampled it again, more generously this time, and realized it smells exactly like the incense sticks I bought from a department store in Dubai when I was on holiday with my family as a teenager. They had this very pungent, sweet smell when they weren't burning but when lit, they just smoked. I never used most of them and the scent remained in my cupboard for years. Once I got this association I can't get rid of it. I don't think I would be able to wear this fragrance.
One drop of this perfume is enough to reveal its nature. The sillage is huge. The opening is filled with spices and is both sharply bitter and sweet. Too much of it would give me a headache in minutes. Though, when smelled from a further distance, it has surprising softness, possibly thanks to ylang-ylang. A coconut note is often mentioned but I'm not really able to detect it myself.
Spices (clove, cardamom) and vanilla are the most prominent notes after an hour. When smelled close up, the fragrance does not soften too much with time but it keeps the pungent smell of spices. I can't wear l'Elephant often but it does have something addictive to make me keep on returning to it time after time.
(Golden rim version)
Vanilla strikes immediately. I can't detect any fruitiness or bitter almond, but the caraway note is distinct. HP has an interesting character but it is on the heavy side and on the verge of giving me a headache. I like the warm wood note (apparently sandalwood) at the base, it kind of reminds the smell of a sauna.
The opening is flowery in a slightly bitter way. Vanilla is the dominant note almost from the beginning and combined with sandalwood and tonka, the overall impression is very warm. The drydown is soft and somewhat similar to Hypnotic Poison but lighter and more pleasant to my nose. There's also something in the combination of floral notes and vanilla that reminds me of 5.40 pm in Madagascar by Kenzo.
The 2012 reformulation is different but even with a side-by-side comparison it's difficult for me to describe how exactly. It seems somewhat more stingy. However, in both versions the scent of the sillage is stingier than what can be smelled when pressing the nose directly on the skin.
At first I was pleasantly surprised about Addict but after sampling it several times I don't find it appealing anymore.
At first the scent reminded me of Bulgari pour Femme, which I used to like but ended up finding it too powdery and overwhelming and gave my bottle away some years ago. I can't really pick out any individual floral notes from Love, Chloé. It seems it's not just about iris but an overall impression of the smell of cosmetics. These notes might work in creating a feminine aura for someone who enjoys wearing makeup.
Later I noticed that the scent had remained in my gloves and I found it quite pleasant in them. It seems more suitable for leather items than my skin.
Pi tries to be different from other men's perfumes and ends up smelling like any cheap cologne mixed with a teenage girls' vanilla fragrance.
This is a rather pleasant, very dry fragrance with lots of vanilla. After a few hours it's quite hard to detect other notes. SPI L'Eau seems nice enough to be worn in almost any occasion. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing for me. I like having a certain perfume for a certain mood or weather and this one is difficult to place on such a scale.
My boyfriend thinks SPI L'Eau smells just like a generic perfume, nothing special. But comparing to other mass market releases I think it's too well made and elegant for such a judgement.
On me this smells like a perfume-y perfume made of pencil shavings. I suppose it's some cedar note. Teardrop mentioned pencil shavings too in her review and I share her feelings. The woodsy smell is too strong to go unnoticed. It covers all the notes of flowers and vanilla. I know they're there but can't smell them properly because of the pencil shavings. Not very nice!
I am quite stunned after sampling La Myrrhe. It really wasn't what I expected.
The opening smells exactly like Vitalis, a Finnish balm* often used on children's face to protect skin from winter air. My grandmother rarely let me out without it during wintertime. I'm finding it really hard to pick up separate notes because the association with Vitalis is so strong.
After a few hours La Myrrhe got a sweeter tone, quite similar to a specific hard fruit candy filled with liquorice-salmiak powder.
*It's a mix of oils and waxes with e.g. coumarin, citronellol, geraniol, linalool and isoeugenol making up the scent.
21st March, 2012 (last edited: 18th May, 2014)