Perfume Reviews

Reviews by bokaba

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Total Reviews: 243
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Cuir de Russie by Creed

Perfect Russian Leather

Cuir de Russie is one of finest Russian leathers out there. The opening is a dark citrus zest that quickly gives way to the star of the show: the birch tar and leather.

Neither the tar nor the leather are particularly strong, but just enough to make their point. Creed's interpretation of Russian leather is poignant and extremely well-balanced. Cuir de Russie would not be out of place with Victorian Era Russian aristocrats.

It is clear that Creed spared no expense in its ingredient use. I would put Cuir de Russie (along with Bois de Santal) in the same class as the vaunted vintage Tabarome.
02nd December, 2016
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Opus VI by Amouage

Type: Sweet Rosy Amber

Opus VI displays much different character than I have come to expect from the House of Amouage as of late. Most are woods, dry incense, leather, and spice. VI opens with a subdued blast of rose (possibly Moroccan rose) and sweet yet slightly powdery amber. There is little development throughout and the fragrance dries down to a skin scent of slightly vanillic amber.

I am convinced Opus VI must contain some amount of natural labdanum as it smells much like my natural samples though it is not as powdery. One of the main problem with amber attar type fragrances is that rose overpowers the amber, which is the case here, especially in the opening. I would recommend this fragrance unless more competitively priced similar offerings are available. Staunchly unisex.
29th November, 2016
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Epic Man by Amouage

Type: dry spicy/woods

I approached Epic Man with high expectations since Amouage billed it as a fragrance that embodied travels across the Silk Road--spices, leathers, rare woods, incense, and balms of antiquity--rich and unctuous worthy of kings, emperors, and forgotten gods.

Alas, Epic Man falls terribly short of this expectation though it is not an entirely terrible fragrance. There is a brief herbal opening spiked with cumin that gives a super brief animalic, sweaty component. After that, Epic Man gives way to synthetic oud and incense.

Decent, but nothing great. Certainly over-priced. I would look to Jubilation XXV or l'Air Desert du Marocain for your Silk Road fix.
29th November, 2016
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17/17 Richwood by Xerjoff

Type: Sweet Amber

Richwood is a sweet amber fragrance. The materials are excellent, but it doesn't go much beyond a sweet ambery accord. Given the name, I would have expected more sandalwood and even oud, cedar, etc.

25th November, 2016
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Dzing! by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Type: Gourmand Leather

Dzing is a gourmand/leather type fragrance. It is a good effort, but the fragrance has little development and is only two-faceted.

First, there is an initial blast of a rather animalic musk/civet/castoreum that sadly has a rather harsh, synthetic edge. This is coupled with cedar, hay, and a gourmand caramel type note that is a bit to "foody" for me.

After about 45 minutes, the animalics wear off leaving only a faint sweet gourmand candy that quickly fades away.

This fragrance was originally called Desir du Cirque I believe (Desire of the Circus?). It supposedly captures the hay, concessions, performers, and animals that are part of the circus. I think it captures this a bit but for the synthetic edge.

Many complain Dzing smells of cardboard, but this a good sign that some amount of natural castoreum is being used because castoereum is preserved in a chemical that smells like wet cardboard.
12th November, 2016
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Dia Man by Amouage

Type: citrus/incense

Dia Man is an interesting fragrance no doubt. I enjoy light, airy eau de colognes, but Dia Man (in its current forum) is even too light and airy for me. The fragrance is very linear with little to no development.

The whole fragrance is nice citrus cologne with a smattering of fruit and frankincense that last perhaps 30 minutes. Very nice, but not worth the $$$.
11th November, 2016
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Interlude Man by Amouage

Type: woody incense

Interlude Man is a woody incense fragrance. The opening and heart are a powerful whack of smokey incense that is extremely dry. It nearly clears the sinuses like horse radish.

There is very little development until the base is reached. The base is woods, musk, and touch of powder.

Strength, sillage, and longevity are quite remarkable in my opinion. Not worth $300+ though.
11th November, 2016
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Néroli by Annick Goutal

Summary: brilliant, crisp orange blossom

Note this review is of the newer EDC concentration in the rectangular bottle, not the older EDT in the ribbed bottle (ribbed bottle is a different fragrance by the same name).

Goutal's recent Neroli EDC (part of the Les Colognes series) is a brilliant, bright, and crisp orange blossom fragrance.

It is really only two-faceted. The brief opening is a fresh burst of the romantic orange groves of southern Spain and Italy. This opening is succinct an to the point. The neroli oil used is of the highest quality. If the fragrance stopped here, it would be perfect.

The drydown, while brief, is a very light white floral musk, which would usual be a buzz kill for me, but here is light enough that it essentially compliments that neroli and helps it last more than the few minutes it would on its own.

Overall, I feel Neroli is nearly a perfect fragrance that is highly unisex. Lovers of orange blossom and neroli unite! Goutal's neroli reminds me of what Penhaligon's Castile should have been--beautiful neroli without the synthetic musky/soapy vibe.

Goutal's neroli is truly the meeting an 18th Century eau de cologne (say Farina Gegenuber) meets early 20th Century cologne (say Acqua di Parma). Anyone who loves traditional colognes owes it themselves to try this.
07th November, 2016
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Hermessence Iris Ukiyoé by Hermès

White floral

Iris Ukiyoe is merely a lighty, transparent white floral fragrance with no detectable iris and a bit of powder and violet. I don't see the connection to the Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) art genre popular in Japan in the 18th Century that depicted beautiful artisans, Kabuki actors, and the like.
06th November, 2016
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Aventus by Creed

Summary: Musky Floral Fruity

I finally got around to sampling the fabled Aventus. Unfortunately, Aventus is part of the decaying recent trend of the House of Creed.

Aventus opens with a fairly pleasant pine-pineapple accord. The heart is a white floral and the base is a detergent-type musk.
06th November, 2016
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Iris 39 by Le Labo

Standard white floral thing. Nothing else. No iris.
27th October, 2016
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Arsène Lupin Dandy by Guerlain

Funky Iris Leather

Aresene Lupin Dandy's opening reminds me of the leather/patchouli opening of Aramis, but quickly evolves into a light leather/iris accord that dominates throughout most of the progression similar perhaps to Dior Homme and MPG Iris Bleu Gris. It does last for several hours.

Arsene Lupin Dandy is a nice fragrance in its own right, but the $250 price tag for such a concoction is a bit off-putting when similar fragrances can be had for much less.
27th October, 2016
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Lyric Man by Amouage

Spiced Incense Woody Rose

Lyric Man is a decent albeit expensive masculine rose if you were to only have one. The opening is a spice rose with incense gums and herbs showing up soon. The heart is a rosy/incense interplay with a a woody base. Lyric does not have a whole lot of development. The materials are top notch as are most Amouage fragrances.

I feel Lyric was trying to play into the masculine rose trend at the time of its release rather than staying true to its Arabian roots (XXV as an example).

All in all not a bad fragrance and certainly sample worthy. I would suggest other masculine roses as Hammam Bouquet (vintage of course), CS no. 88, Washington Tremlett Black Tie, etc.
25th October, 2016
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Le Fruit Défendu by Les Parfums de Rosine

Top notes: aldehydes, apple, peach, plum, coconut

Middle notes: heliotrope, cinnamon, ylang ylang, tuberose, honey

Base notes: almond, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood, ambergris


I was lucky enough to sample a blotter recreation of this fragrance from the Osmotheque a couple of years ago. Le Fruit Defendu is a very basic, but beautiful feminine fragrance from yesteryear.

The fragrance exhibits periscol, the peach aldehyde of preference of the 1920s. The main gist of Le Fruit Defendu is a peach/apricot/almond fragrance with a slightly waxing base. That's about it.
19th October, 2016
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Musc Nomade by Annick Goutal

Grassy Patchouli

I was hoping Musc Nomade would be a truly Oriental musk reminiscent of Arabie, the steppes of Central Asia, or the Western Lands of the Silk Road.

The opening is a boozy citrus. The heart and base emerge quickly and dominate. The whole fragrance is overpowered by grassy patchouli and vetiver. Whatever musk there is is mute and largely undetectable.

Sadly, Musc Nomade is little more than a grassy patchouli "head shop" type fragrance that might have been popular in the 1960s. At this price, I would recommend the much more affordable Molinard Musc, which is nearly identical and 1/4 the price.
16th October, 2016
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Gold Man by Amouage

I certainly respect the Amouage line and its focus on high quality ingredients in the tradition of oriental perfumery. Gold has likely been reformulated for the worse in recent years (though I have not smelled the original). Gold opens with a light citric blast followed by white flowers, a pink rose accord (perhaps Turkish or Rose de Mai), followed by a light civiet/powdery base. The white florals are too strong and make the fragrance to feminine overall especially in the opening and heart. The drydown is much more pleasant.

At this price, one could do better with Rose d'Homme, Creed Fleur de Bulgarie, No. 88, etc. The rose note, which here is fabled by Amouage, is not the dark, brooding Bulgarian Rose absolute it is made out to be.

Amouage Gold is probably better than 95% of current perfumes, but still doesn't excite me.
14th October, 2016
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Musc Tonkin by Parfum d'Empire

Review of the EdP

I was initially intrigued by a fragrance so daring as to be named after one of the most sought-after ingredients in all of perfumery--tonqin musk--from the Tibetan Musk Deer. The opening was a brief citric blast followed by a persistent somewhat clean musk with a tinge of Scotch tape. I get the "wet dog" note they were going for, but this fragrance falls short of my expectation of natural musk. There is little to no development throughout the course of the fragrance. I'd stick with Musc Koublai Khan.
05th April, 2015
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Epicéa by Creed

A grand fragrance indeed! Epicea reminds me of something the 17th Century Russian aristocracy would have worn (along with their fur kaftans and leather boots before Peter the Great forced them to adopt silk shoes, bows, knickers, silk stockings, and powdered wigs) around a fire in an ancient pine forest perhaps roasting a wild boar. The pine, smoke, and birch tar are founded in powdery, slightly sour ambergris and slightly sweet, but still robust musk.
07th March, 2015
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Irisia by Creed

Good quality juice--a heady, white floral aroma. Unfortunately, no iris in sight. No much different that your standard fare 1970s women's white florals.
07th March, 2015
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Musc by Molinard

Not really a musk fragrance--more of a strong, sweet, powdery patchouli and amber scent. Nice, natural feel, but far from the musk I was expecting.
07th March, 2015
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Windsor by Creed

I initially hoped I would like Windsor a great bit, but was unfortunately disappointed. The brief citric/eucalyptus opening was nice with an almost bracing cola scent, but on my skin it quickly dried down to an exceedingly feminine floral concoction and stayed that way during the duration of the scent.

Windsor is dominated by a little rose with large quantities of tuberose, lily of the valley, jasmine, lilac, magnolia, and other flowers. This could have been an excellent women's perfume, but Creed chose to market it to men because Creed's consumer base is almost elusively male--and I enjoy floral fragrances, but this is just too much.

You would do better to approximate an Edwardian fragrance with Acqua di Parma Colonia or even Hammam Bouquet (vintage of course).
15th January, 2015
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Cyprès-Musc by Creed

I was at first uneasy about this scent. It struck me as odd for the Creed lineup, but it has grown on me recently for a number of reasons. CM is a fairly straightforward scent that is the same from when you spray all the way through the drydown. It is an intense, dusky cypress with a little citrus, musk, and light amber. It is soapy and mossy at the same time. This reminds me of country part of town and country fragrance pairs popular in the 19th Century. Mossy, dewy country roads in the heart of Arles or even Normandy with Van Gogh's cypresses blowing in the wind beneath the starlight.
12th January, 2015
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Extra Vieille No. 444 by Berdoues

A masterpiece of days long since passed. No. 444 opens with a blast of bitter, yet rich orange (much like Crown Imperial) that softens into a beautiful dark neroli heart that is soft and comforting. The slightly sweet musk base melds with the soft, muted neroli and adds a little longevity. Pure, dark, soft neroli at its finest. This perfume certainly would not be out of place at the finest perfumeries at the end of the 18th Century.
06th January, 2015
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Park Royal by Anglia Perfumery

Review of old Crown version, not Anglia

Park Royal is a near copy of Trumper's Eucris (or Eucris copied Park Royal since it used to be a light lily-scented toilet water). Park royal is spicy, dry, earthy, and musky all at the same time. The opening is citric yet dark with bergamot and lemon rind that gives way to a heart of spicy mace, nutmeg, and clove. The base appears shortly, which is a dry and earthy oakmoss with resinous patchouli and cedar. Park Royal is overall a very unusual scent that does not fit well into the modern world, but is darned good for what it is. I prefer it over Eucris as it is richer, sweeter, and less dry (I don't normally like sweet scents, but Eucris is bone-chillingly dry).
05th January, 2015
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Iris Bleu Gris by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

Interesting cold, dry, herbal iris root opening. The opening, while fleeting, is probably the best part. The middle and base are dominated by a generalized "aftershave" style chypre feel with a bit of the doughy iris persisting. IBG has a good iris opening and is more rounded scent than say Iris Silver Mist, but not nearly as interesting.
10th December, 2014
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Eau de Quinine by Pinaud

While Pinaud's Eau de Quinine is marketed as a hair tonic, it can be used as an aftershave or cologne as well. EdQ was one of the better surprises I've had lately with cheapo fragrances. EdQ cannot compete with Crown's now discontinued venerable Quinine, but Pinaud's gets the job done. There is certainly a whack of medicinal quinine bark in the mix, but there is also a good deal of musk, must, fust, and Victoriana. Pinaud EdQ reminds me of the original Shulton Old Spice with a good coating of 19th Century flair. Not bad for under $10.
09th July, 2014
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Nuit de Chine by Les Parfums de Rosine

Upon first smell, I noticed much of the top is no longer with us, but that was to be expected from an 80+ year old perfume. At first blush, I would categorize Nuit de Chine as an oriental fougere and its similarity to Mouchoir de Monsieur is uncanny though not unusual as they were released within eight years of each other and probably of popular style at the time.

The opening is dull and unexciting, but the coumarin/tonka accord so cherished from MdM comes to the fore except that Nuit de Chine uses real—yes, that’s right—real civet and deer musk in the composition. I have smelled these tinctures before and can say with much certainty that this is so. The longer it sits on my skin the fecal yet floral nutty aspect of the civet becomes greater.

Nuit de Chine is also known for its resplendent sandalwood note—natural Mysore, of course. It is restrained and adds a light buttery texture and slight hints of Chinese incense.

I am not sure why Rosine chose to name their fragrance “Chinese Night”—perhaps it was to inspire visions of the Orient. Nuit de Chine was also a popular French song in the 1920s, though it was released after the perfume. Poiret had originally named his fragrance Nuit d’Orient as he favored Oriental perfumes.

It is difficult to give a note construction for such a long lost perfume that is so disconnected from what we know as fragrance today. I would guess that it contains an opening lavender-coumarin accord for the basic fougere effect inherited from Parquet’s not so distant Fougere Royale in addition to some florals and spices perhaps jasmine, tuberose, cinnamon, orris, and rose. The base is a coumarin haze augmented by civet, musk, sandalwood, and vanilla. There may also be traces of vetiver and cedar here.

Overall, if one has smelled Mouchoir de Monsieur, especially a vintage formulation, one is not missing much in Nuit de Chine. However, if artistry and the best ingredients available are important, Nuit de Chine is not to be missed (also note that Turn of the Century perfumers likely had easy access to the best perfume ingredients ever available). Unfortunately, Nuit de Chine and Poiret’s other masterpiece, Le Fruit Defendu, are probably the things of which perfume dreams are made—far outside our grasp.
05th November, 2013
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Blue Carnation by Roger & Gallet

Perfect Carnation

After several months of research and sampling, I came to the conclusion that Blue Carnation by Roger and Gallet was the best there ever was. It came down to two finalists, the second be the much vaunted Floris Malmaison. Unfortunately, most carnation fragrances on the market today do the flower little justice: they represent it as fiery, peppery, and over the top clove-laden or as a syrupy and sweet floral; neither of which could be any farther from the truth.
There are some small independent perfumers who still use carnation absolute, but it is very expensive and the better the quality, the more expensive it gets. Most have a tendency to use it in symbolic quantities in the same manner as the mainstream. Even the cheap, readily available carnation substitute, iso-eugenol, is heavily regulated by IFRA and it is difficult to use enough to achieve the desired effect.
Now, onto the scent itself: Blue Carnation was released as a feminine fragrance in 1927 and discontinued around 1973 for a variety of reasons. I believe it was phased out because of the unjustifiably high price of the raw materials and general "unfashionableness" of the genre in the first decade of contemporary perfumery. Others claim Roger and Gallet intentionally took it off the market so that it could be worn exclusively by the Queen of England. I’ve never seen any verification of this claim in writing or from Roger and Gallet themselves. I think R and G was transitioning themselves from a glorious house of yore that perfumed the aristocracy of the XIXth Century to the budget brand (albeit one of the best) they are to today (thank heavens they’ve preserved, at least in part, the flagship Extra Vieille).
Blue Carnation is the carnation to end all carnation. This is the essence of the flower itself. Carnation plays the leading role in the opening and drydown. Nowhere else, save partially in Malmaison, have I ever smelled such a fragrance. The carnation absolute, of the highest quality, sits masterfully over a bed of cinnamon, tonka bean, clove, musk, oakmoss, and bit of vanilla. BC is mildly spicy unlike the spice bomb Caron Poivre or is it over the top floral. It is just right, decent, and above all else, luxurious, not luxurious as in a jet-set DUI-accumulating starlet of today, but luxurious in the sense of old moneyed aristocrats who are not in need of attention. The overall feel is velvety and plush with a dash spice inside the very carnation flower itself.

My bottle is the ribbed rectangular splash from the late 1950s or early 1960s. The juice is a grassy green, which I surmise is the proper color. I’ve smelled similar bottles with dark yellow juice and while still superb, the carnation is not would it should be. BC was available in EdT, EdC, and Parfum concentrations. This review is for the Eau de Toilette.

14th September, 2013
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Derby by Guerlain

Gentlemanly Masterpiece

Derby was originally launched in 1983 as the second masterpiece of the now disgraced Jean Paul Guerlain (his first being Habit Rouge). He released numerous feminine scents, but like the Guerlains who preceded him, his real talent was creating gentlemanly perfumes.

Derby came to the fore in time when the last vestiges of classical (by classical, I mean Victorian/Edwardian/Belle Epoch, etc.) perfumery had come to end in the 1960s. Derby likely took much inspiration from another timeless and brilliant scent that was introduced a few years earlier—the irreproachable Patou pour Homme designed by the mainstream fragrance industry’s final farewell hero, Jean Kerleo.
Derby is a leathery woody fragrance for men, most suitable for autumn or winter evening wear. The opening is a brisk bergamot and green herbs followed by a soft floral heart of Spanish jasmine and Bulgarian rose with aromatic spices such as nutmeg. The base is built strongly with a good portion of real oakmoss, patchouli, and sandalwood.
The overall feel of Derby is dark, but never brooding or overpowering. It is an 80s powerhouse style fragrance if you will, but retains more than enough good breeding under the watchful eye of Mr. Guerlain himself.
The juice itself has darkened to almost dark brown at this point (purchased and shipped from Italy recently), but I feel nothing has suffered the passing of time save maybe the citrus because Derby contains mostly elements that improve over time if stored properly like a 1963 vintage Bordeaux wine. My bottle is the first edition "eagle" bottle that is supposed to look like an eagle with its wings outstretched. It was horribly unpopular and Guerlain quickly changed to the standard rectangular bottle.
14th September, 2013
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Iris Gris by Jacques Fath

Queen Iris

Smelling the legendary Iris Gris, after long last, is one of the highlights of my fragrance career. I immediately noticed upon first unwrapping the wax paper that it is soft, smooth, and light—three things we don’t often see with today’s iris fragrances beating you over the head either with synthetic iris (the perfumer thinks you don’t know what iris smells like) or beating you over the head with the real thing—naked, exposed, and bare (the perfumer wants to show you how much natural iris he has used without regard to fragrance itself). I, of course, prefer the latter approach as in Iris Silver Mist.

Iris Gris has large quantities of orris butter and orris CO2 extract, but is it smooth and well integrated with the rest of the scent. Give my experience is strictly from a blotter and not from skin, it will probably vary slightly. I understand the Osmotheque does not allow skin contact with their scents because they do not conform to IFRA standards and they do not want to be liable if someone were to go blind or die because oakmoss touched their skin for a moment.
There is peach, the peach aldehyde C-14 just as I suspected. C-14 is quite potent (my whole house still smells like peach after storing a small blotter of the stuff) so I presume it is light and just enough to diffuse the rough, rooty edge of the orris. I further believe that the orris is smoothed out with a little violet leaf (this is confirmed by Jean Kerleo himself who presumably designed it in a French language interview mentioned in an earlier post). The overall feel of the orris is peachy and rich with a little powder and a slight metallic/cold edge though it remains warm and velvety throughout.
The heart is a white floral bouquet, typical of the time period, using top quality floral ingredients. There is something quite indolic though it never becomes fecal. I suspect this is jasmine grandiflorium, also known as Spanish Jasmine coupled with a conservative dose of tuberose. I never much care for tuberose, but it adds depth and indole in small doses. There is also lilac, muguet, and heliotrope. The heliotrope was the most noticeable of the flowers after the jasmine and tuberose.
The base is more difficult to discern. It is somewhere between a classic chypre and a musky, slightly soapy wood. I would suspect Atlas cedar for depth and a bit of that cigar box smell, a light vetiver accord for a hay-like grassiness, oakmoss, Mysore sandalwood for a rich creamy and buttery texture, a top quality vegetal musk—perhaps ambrette seed or angelica root, perhaps a little cassie oil to give a sweet oily density, a light carnation note for a little spice, and finally, dare I say—Peru balsam to add a velvety texture.
So for a note structure, we have: peach, orris (Florentine presumably), violet leaf, Spanish jasmine, tuberose, lilac, muguet, heliotrope, cedar, vetiver, oakmoss, musk, sandalwood, cassie, carnation, Peru balsam.
To be certain, Iris Gris is great fragrance, perhaps one of the greatest of all time. It was originally released for women, but it could be worn by any gender, so long as the wearer is sophisticated with a sense of tradition and historicity. It does not, by any means, smell old-fashioned or out of date—it smells timeless, sophisticated, and simple. I think a fragrance like this would be popular today even as long as it could be sold alongside other living legends like Shalimar, Jicky, and the like.
Smelling this blotter was the culmination of several months of research into the orris root. Further, a renowned perfume historian recently revealed to me that Iris Gris contained an extraordinarily expensive orris base made a Swiss perfume company. I take that to be either Givaudan or Firmenich. Firmenich makes an expensive base called Iris Rhizome Resinoid of Florentine Orris—perhaps this is it.
14th September, 2013