Perfume Reviews

Reviews by rodent

Total Reviews: 52

Déclaration d'Un Soir by Cartier

A crystalline, chilly, dry, and slightly medicinal cardamom-rose (the rose is very prominent, and I get lots and lots of cardamom and a fair amount of nutmeg, which is what gives it the medicinal touch). This smells almost like an Indian rose sherbet! Curious that so many people are commenting on the cumin - I get very little of it. Maybe people assume that it's cumin because it's in the Declaration line? Of all the Declaration flankers, this one is the least like the original - it's really a new scent. Definitely unisex, but not particularly feminine. I find the vibe of this one quite inconsistent with the ad campaign ("... a scent that causes men to speak their minds"!) To the contrary, I think this is could be the signature scent of a distant, androgynous and inscrutable alien creature who's more emotionless than likely to speak its mind. A scent that is easy to respect... not sure yet about whether it's equally easy to like.
14th May, 2013

Nicolaï pour Homme by Nicolaï

A classic French juice, very much in the mold of Guerlain and Caron, which is to say, beautifully blended and balanced, strong on the lavender, with multiple aromatics and vanilla… while studiously avoiding the synthetic, strident fruity ambers and metallic citruses that make up most modern juices. This could easily have been put out by Guerlain a couple of decades ago. And -- as a couple of others have noted -- it is startlingly similar to Caron’s Third Man. I A/B’d both on my arm; the the PdN has a more citrusy opening, and the Caron a smokier one, but the drydowns are very, very similar. With 3rd Man running at (ahem) about a Third of the price of the PdN, it is hard to recommend it at current prices if you’re looking for something in this general vein. But still, a thumbs up for its refinement, regardless of price or the competition.
09th January, 2012

Polo Modern Reserve by Ralph Lauren

Not much to add to what's already been said. MUCH lighter on the leather and tobacco than the original. And, quite oddly, at a certain point the drydown veers off into cadamomy-cuminy territory very reminiscent of Cartier's Declaration, of all things!
11th February, 2010 (last edited: 12th February, 2010)
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Vetyver Lanvin (new) by Lanvin

Thoroughly dull sports-y fresh mall fragrance for the masses that has nothing to recommend it whatsoever other than it being one more inoffensive and blandly masculine juice in a sea of others. And nary a trace of vetiver (sorry, "vetyver") to be found. What on earth is Lanvin trying to achieve here? This marque needs help.
11th February, 2010

Nautica Classic by Nautica

Horrid window-cleaner rubbish. First bought this in the mid-90s when my nose wasn't trained at all. But even then its rubbishiness was glaringly apparent and I don't think I wore it a second time. Harsh, synthetic, generic -- no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Perhaps usable as an industrial solvent.
09th February, 2010

Fahrenheit 32 by Christian Dior

Horrid sharp, thin, artificial juice that doesn't deserve the Fahrenheit brand (and in any case, could anyone come up with a smell that has *less* in common with Fahrenheit than this?) Awful nose-hair-singeing drugstore vanilla, mint and orange blossom blend that may be acceptable on dryer sheets, but nothing more. Certainly different... but once you've moved on from the intellectual appreciation that this is unique and that it performs superbly, you're hit by the inescapable reality of how truly vile this is.

This is the Francois Demachy who created Ungaro II? Did something kill his sense of smell along the way?
02nd August, 2009

Kouros Cologne Sport by Yves Saint Laurent

Quite unique modern fresh scent. Certainly retains elements of the original Kouros, but is a much closer cousin of the more dilute, contemporary Kouros Tattoo (i.e., a minty, citrus-y, ozonic and slightly ambery take on Kouros). While this still has the faintest whisper of nasty, it's fundamentally very clean-smelling and contemporary -- the civet is totally gone, the opening weirdness its of its granddaddy is gone, and the heavier heart and base notes (honey, clove, oakmoss, etc) are seriously toned down. However, the disappearance of the civet does make the musk attack a lot more apparent; this is one seriously musky scent, with a sharp edge that its close cousin Kouros Tattoo doesn't have. Theoretically an EDC, but powerful sillage and good longevity thanks to the musk. Very clever update of the original that sneakily abandons the macho late-70s baggage of its progenitor, while retaining its spirit. A slight dial-down of the musk would have made this one perfect. Nonetheless still very good and a wonderful and very distinctive summer juice.
02nd August, 2009

Zegna Intenso by Ermenegildo Zegna

Clayton nailed it; this really is a pile of fruity-ambery nonsense - the kind of stuff that is not in itself objectionable, but that is -- as a design statement -- lamentable once you appreciate how mechanical, cynical and uninspired this school of perfumery of the last decade is. Like its other synthetic robot-clone fruity-ambery brethren (Boss Selection, I'm looking at you), its nuclear-powered fruity-ambery heart beats insistently on for hours and hours, slowly deadening your sense of smell (and possibly your brain) with waves of harsh, thin, saccharine-sweet unpleasantness. Please don't compare this chemical munitions dump to a masterpiece like Brit, which actually shows bags of thoughtfulness and character. Ugh!
24th July, 2009

Pasha by Cartier

As others have noted, this fragrance from 1992 with its soul in 1985 really is astonishingly close (practically a copy) of Van Cleef's Tsar -- perhaps a tad mintier and a tad less smoky. The similarities in the branding (Arabian royalty vs Russian royalty) make the closeness even eerier. This is as close to Tsar as the Concorde is to the Tupolev TU-144 - the same basic ingredients and design, configured ever so slightly differently. And, again, the Soviets got there first.
24th July, 2009

A*Men Pure Malt by Thierry Mugler

Hmm - quite nice but not as good as Pure Coffee. Pure Malt, by comparison, is both lighter and heavier. In theory it's lighter in both its (boozy) opening, which is certainly thinner than the somewhat opaque wall of P.C. -- as well as in its closing, which hews closer to the original A*Men (sugary) rather than the bitter, creamy, patchouli-heavy and complicated close of PC.

But I define "light" and "heavy" based not only on technical attributes but also on the situations in which I can wear the scent. And it's here that PM ends up being heavier than PC because it's sweeter. For me, this really is a cool-weather scent. And, unlike PC, the boozy opening hangs around for a long time (compared to the somewhat volatile coffee notes of PC). The booze is also almost more cognac than whiskey; it's a rich, thick, woody, caramelly cognac note with maybe a hint of rhum. This is, by a considerable degree, the booziest scent I have ever worn -- others like Burberry London pale in comparison (and if you thought Escada PH had a cognac note, wait till you smell this one). It's the only one where I'd be afraid of someone thinking I'd been going heavy on the bottle, as the other notes are relatively sheer and play a definite second fiddle to the cognac.

The warning on the box not to drink the brew within proves to be quite prophetic - this one's almost too gourmand for its own good. Still, gets a thumbs up for originality and for being a sweet scent without resorting to vanilla and amber cliches. Keep at it, Mr. Huclier.
22nd July, 2009 (last edited: 25th July, 2009)

Quorum Silver by Antonio Puig

I'm getting really tired of these 200% synthetic olfactory-terrorism concoctions powered by the same sweet obnoxious wood-amber V8 engine that's found in almost every cheap EDT since the late nineties. Here is a prime example - and a positively nose-hair-singeing rendition at that. Superficially acceptable in the same way that bad pizza's superficially acceptable (after all, how bad can pizza possibly get) -- but please do everyone a favor and avoid this. There's a reason it's priced at less than $20 for 3oz, you know.
22nd July, 2009

Versus Uomo by Versace

Versus -- in spite of having been released in 1991 - is a close cousin of other early 80s / late 70s "green", sharp coniferous brews with complicated floral hearts like Van Cleef and Oscar de la Renta PH. In other words, it espouses an aesthetic a decade earlier than its release date. Given this, is it hard to understand why it tanked? Death to synthpop - in with grunge, raves... and aquatics!
22nd July, 2009

Baby Blue Jeans by Versace

A very cheery, bright and pleasant take on the fougere genre. If you take out the strong powdery effect, you'll find that BBJ's lovely and quite heavy lavender accord isn't completely dissimilar from ancient classics like Jicky. With a touch of civet and a tad more aromatics, this could, frankly, have been released in the early part of the last century. Very nice but simply too powdery for a grown man to wear, IMO.
22nd July, 2009
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Black Walnut by Banana Republic

Very nicely done - smells classy and distinctive. However, it's essentially Gucci's Rush (trust me on this one - the dry cedar dominant note is identical) with a touch of Varvatos-style gourmand sweetness. I actually prefer this to Rush, to be honest. As others have noted, however, longevity could be better. Still very good.
16th July, 2009

Black XS by Paco Rabanne

Offensively sharp, dry and strong mutant mix of radioactive strawberries, spices and amber. Acceptable in tiny doses and that's all that's needed -- a 1.7 oz will likely last you through your last dying days, and very possibly a nuclear winter as well. Pretty unmistakeable for anything else (sort of like an Ed Wood movie's unmistakeable for anything else.) Absolutely monster sillage (and in this case, it's a liability). The crystallized antithesis of good taste. Once smelled, never forgotten. Yikes!
23rd March, 2009

YSL pour Homme by Yves Saint Laurent

Another relatively simple and classic aromatic citrus in the tradition of Monsieur de G; basically, lemon and vetiver, with a slight herbal twist. But the difference lies in the fairly strong dose of civet, which I'm surprised no one has commented on -- that salty, dirty note isn't so much the vetiver and herbs, it's our favorite butt-juice note! However, unlike Monsier de G, where it's very well-blended, here it's a bit on the strong side. And when YSL relaxes into its vetiver-heavy drydown, it combines with the civet to give it an old-person-body-odor, musty smell that isn't sexy -- it's just old and musty, similar to the effect created by Mouchoir de Monsieur. I've come to the conclusion that civet needs to be offset by punchy notes with bags of personality -- e.g., Kouros, Ungaro II -- to work. Otherwise, what you're left with is that musty, unappealing, stale smell. Better to go with something like Monsieur de Balmain, which has a richer, more sandlewood-heavy smell and no civet-induced mustiness. Oh, and like all of its cousins, YSL PH's sillage and longevity are poor... that is, unlike you like that musty old-man halo around you.
23rd March, 2009

Monsieur de Givenchy by Givenchy

A very nice and classic chypre -- stylistically, very much in keeping with Chanel Pour Monsieur. As you'd expect with old-school frags that aren't stuffed to the gills with modern, synthetic molecules, longevity and sillage are both poor by modern standards. There's a tiny touch of civet that blooms fairly early and remains discreet.
23rd March, 2009

Monsieur Balmain (new) by Pierre Balmain

Lemon, vetiver, and gauzy sandlewood. That about sums up MB. Although this is supposedly a reformulation, it still smells very retro to me -- the citrus burst is classic citrus from the 60s / 70s, i.e. in-your-face lemon rather than muted, blended bergamot (think YSL pour homme). Additionally, the vetiver heart gives this a grassy, woody, somewhat musty drydown that makes it flirt dangerously with "old man smell". If my brain cells and olfactory memory aren't failing me, I'm willing to bet MB was the inspiration behind the smell of Air France fresheners twenty years ago!

I find MB very natural-smelling and consequently very enjoyable, but it's definitely an acquired taste due to its simple structure and unabashedly retro bent (absolutely no fruity, gourmand-y, oriental, synthetic, or overly woody notes). And it doesn't last. So I tend to use this more as a post-shower summer "tonique" and when I just want to smell fresh in a natural way for a short period of time. Romantic this ain't. But if you're the type of guy who can still watch an old Hitchcock film without pining for fast-paced plots or special effects, there's a good chance you'll find something to like in MB since it's the perfume analog. Sometimes, the simple stuff's the best. A big thumbs up!
15th March, 2009

Kenzo Power by Kenzo

Simply put -- one of the ten best masculines I've smelled over the last five years. Power adroitly walks the masculine-floral tightrope with astounding subtlety and sureness of touch. It opens up with a gently spicy, rich, yet gently citrusy blast, but very quickly morphs to its floral heart. And while I can see why many people would see this as a feminine, here's the amazing thing: when you smell Power on a guy, you accept it. It seems right. There's just enough spice, edge, and darkly aquatic undertone to allow this to pass quite easily as a masculine. I'm surprised by those that find this sweet -- to my nose, this is a dry floral. Yes, it's rich, and it's floral, but it's not sweet, and it's very far away from Oriental territory. Another remarkable thing about Power: it has no sharp edges whatsoever. It's a rounded, cool, velvety blend that you could spend forever trying to pick apart. It's both strikingly original -- you will always recognize this scent; but it doesn't resort to heavy-handed, misguided one-upmanship to be original or innovative (l'Eau Bleue, Fahrenheit 32, anyone?) And while it doesn't really smell like Dior Homme, I, like others, immediately thought of DH when I smelt this -- their velvety, salty creaminess is strikingly similar, even if the details of the execution differ. The third remarkable thing about Power: it smells perpetually cool and moist, almost evoking fragrant rain. It is a wonderfully soothing and beautiful scent. And yet, in spite of being so rounded and gentle, sillage is excellent.

I find Power rich enough to work as a cold-weather scent, and fresh enough to work in warm weather, but I find that it's at its best in cool, moist weather. A slightly overcast sky... the air pregnant with cool moisture... a walk down mossy cobblestoned paths, and the wind rustling in the trees... and Power.

This is something special. Approach with an open mind and give it a chance.
10th March, 2009

Ice*Men by Thierry Mugler

Wow! Finally, a Mugler scent I can really love (still hate A*Men after having given it multiple chances, and B*Men is a tad too sharp, caramelly and spicy for me.) Ice*Men clearly preserves the soul of A*Men, but ratchets back the complexity / chaos, adds a wonderful, glacially cool front-end, and lets A*Men's unabashedly patchouli soul take center stage here. The result is a truly catchy, all-weather scent modern, that's modern, unique and very versatile - this could be both an office scent (but one that'll probably catch some attention) and a party / evening one -- and it plays well year-round. And, unlike so many "summer" remixes, it lasts! As for those that think that this is Angel with its soul sucked out -- yes, that's partially true, but many (including me) would applaud that. And finally, who'd have thunk that a juice that bears down so heavily on the patchouli could still be so contemporary? Well done, M. Huclier!
08th March, 2009

Baldessarini by Baldessarini

A fruity, admittedly well-blended juice that I find a lot less remarkable than everyone else seems to. Pleasant enough and OK, very impressive packaging, but a bit too fruity to be as formal a scent as everyone makes out. Mediocre longevity doesn't help its case. Overall, I'm not terribly impressed.
08th March, 2009

L'Instant de Guerlain pour Homme by Guerlain

L'Instant is a triumph and an absolute classic. It is a real chameleon -- its opening is fairly crisp and classic, but it progressively mutates into a soft, moist gourmand within a couple of hours. And yet, unlike so many gourmands, it isn't gimmicky. It's able to pull this off by hedging its bets across a gigantic array of beautifully-blended ingredients without over-committing to any in particular. As others have pointed out, it could easily have been marketed as a unisex -- yet it easily wears a discreet masculinity thanks to the vetiver, patchouli, and astonishingly inventive anise, all of which give it a bitter chill. I think of this as a modern Habit Rouge: different from everything else, yet timeless. At a more mundane level, it's a gourmand for people who hate the brash, somewhat vulgar examples of the genre. Everything about this juice reeks of quality -- including the stately, heavy bottle. Superb!
01st March, 2009

Antidote by Viktor & Rolf

A pleasant, rich, fresh oriental very reminiscent of Gucci's Envy and Kenzo's Jungle, with a dash of YSL's Opium PH thrown in. Nothing revolutionary and certainly not as confused as Luca Turin's over-the-top review puts it. Very polished without being amazing.
28th February, 2009

Mouchoir de Monsieur by Guerlain

Nothing much to add; smells good (not as rich as Jicky, to my nose), the civet smells less powerful than, say, that in Kouros (which for me is the benchmark), but longevity is really dreadful -- I don't even get the two hours that other reviewers seem to. Not sure if this is due to the concentration of the perfume or because it's light on synthetics? At any rate, worth a try, but don't feel devastated if you can't track this down.
22nd February, 2009

Rive Gauche pour Homme Light by Yves Saint Laurent

Wonderful-smelling but pointless flanker. Wonderful because, well, it's Rive Gauche. Pointless because it's just a slightly more dilute and less smoky version of the original -- but the differences are so slight as to be irrelevant for the most part. Still, a thumbs-up as it's RG, but there is very little reason to own this if you have access to the original.
19th February, 2009

Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme by Van Cleef & Arpels

Insanely rich, dense and complicated... a baroque juice out of place and out of time. Much has been made of JC Ellena's "First" for VC&A, and how he transitioned from a "maximalist" perfumer in the classic style (throw dozens of ingredients into a pot and make a rich stew) to a minimalist one. While this isn't a creation of JCE, it's basically the male analog - sharp, virulently powerful, and loaded to the gills with ingredients. Unlike other complicated brews like Kouros, which maintains a certain timeless freshness, this one reeks of the 70s with its insistent, pungent tendrils of sandalwood and patchouli, all held together by an evil, viscous castoreum. If there ever was a juice that was NOT made for direct spraying onto the body, this is it -- even the mist will stay with you for hours. Admirable complexity, shrieking sillage, but really so completely out of time that it's probably only appropriate for aging Greek millionaires and Arab sheikhs stuck in a time capsule.
19th February, 2009

Sander for Men by Jil Sander

Intensely sharp, minty, woody and very modern scent that is both different from anything else out there -- yet not so strikingly different that it really sticks in your memory. In spite of having just a touch of sweetness to it, Sander for Man is anything but creamy and cloying -- it is aggressively dry and has a sharpness to it that can stun your olfactory senses for a good fifteen minutes if you overspray and aren't careful. Sillage is outrageous - you can almost see the molecules radiating out and infiltrating your victims' lungs. I find it hard to place this one. Thanks to the mint it's a bit too cold for a snuggly scent (no warm, gourmand-y, or animalic vibes here) - yet a touch too spicy and powerful for office wear, although when I've used it it's mostly been for the latter purpose. Incredible value for money given the size of the bottle and the power of the juice -- but probably still a "try before you buy" scent. And don't get too trigger-happy with the spray button -- your friends will be in pain.
12th February, 2009

L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme by Issey Miyake

A really remarkable scent which -- like Acqua di Gio, another of Monsieur Cavallier's creations -- thoroughly deserves its success based purely on its own merits (OK, you can shoot me now). Consider the following:

- It is a citrus, yet it lasts forever (much like Boucheron PH). And this isn't a case of being able to last by standing on a non-citrusy drydown -- the drydown holds down its lemony anchor until its last dying breath. In warm / moderate weather it lasts upwards of 8 hours on me with a few very abbreviated sprays, and in cold weather, well north of 12 hours.

- It's a citrus that's different from all other citrii due to very distinct floral elements that make themselves known fairly quickly. So don't pay any attention to people that say that this is a citrus like any other -- it isn't. You will not confuse l'eau d'Issey for anything else. It's quirky, distinctive and imaginative. As a result, 15 years after its launch, it still smells thoroughly contemporary and sophisticated.

- The citrus smells rich and intensely natural... again, like Boucheron PH's. This is not the liquid carbon dioxide mojito that far too many modern aquatics smell like.

Smells great, smells fundamentally unlike anything else, and lasts forever. What more could one possibly want of a great scent? And why would one deprive oneself of the opportunity to wear it because "it's too popular"? Life's too short, my friends. An enduring classic -- and a classic for a reason.
19th January, 2009

Gucci pour Homme II by Gucci

Fantastically-blended, very subtle frag with slight oriental and ozonic leanings but never ends up firmly in any one camp. Fresh enough to be a warm-weather scent, and spicy enough to be a cold-weather scent -- yet adroitly avoids being a total spice bomb. As for the purported tea note -- I find it difficult to determine whether what we're smelling is truly tea, or a combination of spices that evokes tea through clever olfactory manipulation. Despite going fairly heavy on the cinammon -- an ingredient that is quite difficult to weave in without going overboard -- it never completely becomes an oriental because whatever vanilla that there is just whispers at you, and there's an interesting saltiness (probably caused by the pimento) to the mix that offsets the sweetness nicely. In fact, the entire experience is a chorus of whispers, and that's what makes it so different.

I don't get how people can dismiss this as just another mainstream frag - I can't think of anything that smells quite like this. And for the record, it is TOTALLY different from GPH 1 -- which is an admirable scent in its own right, but a bit of a one-trick pencil-shavings pony and in no way comparable to its little brother.

Having said all this, the opening is a tad bright, dry and strident -- much like Sander Man, which has a different makeup but a similar dry brightness, this juice can sizzle your nose-hairs and fry some nerve cells if you inhale too deeply. The upside is that sillage is outrageous, if that's what you are after.

BTW, you know what would make this one absolutely perfect -- a tiny dollop of meow-mix (civet). Rrrrrrrr.
24th September, 2008

Pour Un Homme by Caron

What HDS1963 said. CPH is a depressingly two-dimensional frag -- it's all about lavender and vanilla. Unlike every other lavender frag I've tried, though, this isn't a blended lavender -- it's a "jus de lavande" concentrate that comes out of the bottle with a roar, completely and unapologetically unadulterated. The lavender smells startlingly natural - if you've ever broken lavender buds fresh off the bush, this is exactly what it smells like. Sadly, this natural purity is also its downfall -- it doesn't feel like a polished EDT, like Jicky, but some kind of simplistic brew that your great-great-grandma would store in a little clear unlabelled bottle with a stopper in her Victorian boudoir. The nauseatingly heavy vanilla soon takes over, leaving you with a crude, somewhat confused juice that can't decide if it wants to be a bracing, heavy floral or a baking additive. Wear this if you're a little old lady living in a time capsule in the Provence, or spray on your clothes (again, only if you're female) -- but hard to see any man in the 21st century really wearing this. Bizarre that this is still in production, but can't argue with the facts.
24th September, 2008