Reviews

Reviews by fleursdumal

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Bronze Goddess Eau Fraîche Skinscent by Estée Lauder

Beachy suntan oil scents have become something of a cliché now, with so many cheaper variations available including numerous celebrity fragrances heavy on the coconutty/vanilla vibe. It is certainly not "strikingly different" contrary to an assertion made by another reviewer. It is ubiquitous. Bronze Goddess is fine for a couple of months in the summer but that's about it; it needs warmth to smell good. Of limited use and very pricey at that. It dries down to a rather unremarkable floral/vanilla waft having lost most of his coconut beachy-ness. Its ok but there are so many other more interesting fragrances around e.g. Nobile 1942's La Danza delle Libellule. Perfect for a cool(ish) northern hemisphere summer.
25th June, 2015 (last edited: 26th June, 2015)

Misia by Chanel

Misia represents a high watermark of mediocrity in Chanel's modern offerings. Chanel have lost their nerve; this is bland, tame and anonymous; an obvious attempt to capture the younger market. Parma violets, rose, iris, tonka etc. Hardly revelatory. Why Chanel would want to create a perfume that bears more than a passing resemblance to the smell of Guerlain's meteorites is a legitimate question. Why not make it smell like Chanel lipstick instead?

If this is what we can expect from Olivier Polge (who clearly has not inherited his father's nose) then I needn't concern myself with Chanel anymore, except simply to re-purchase one of the classics but even they have lost some of their appeal thanks to the IFRA's War On Ingredients.

The final insult is the truly staggering absence of silage or longevity. There is no point in creating a fragrance - however nice it may be - if it has no substance, no body, no development and no depth but is a mere whisper which disappears barely an hour or two after spraying. One may as well buy a body spray. To price it so extortionately shows something bordering on contempt for the consumer. Spectacularly insipid and uninspired.
24th June, 2015 (last edited: 01st July, 2015)

No. 19 Poudré by Chanel

Respect to Messrs Polge and Sheldrake. An unequivocal triumph.

Still recognisably Chanel 19 but the many heads of the dewy, cold, limpid green flowers have been decapitated and in their place sits the soothing butter-powder of the stout iris rhizome which tames 19's incisive icy greenness, softening and diffusing it along the length and breadth of the perfume to create a more relaxed, girlish, expansive, less austere and uptight demeanour than the original 19. Poudre smiles warmly where 19 arches an eyebrow; in short Poudre is more wearable.

Less translucent than No 19, Poudre has heft but the obedient iris sits demurely in the shadow of the No 19 wood never shouting or attempting to upstage the No 19 master; for I have always felt that 19 had a "masculine" presence. Poudre nonetheless subdues the masculine with a quiet, vestal femininity. The iris also imparts an innocence to Poudre in contrast to No 19's aloof 'know it all' sophistication.

A kind of chaste warmth permeates the ambience - this is not the unbridled sensuality of an oriental but a wholesome and understated type. Its as if No 19 is the glade on a chilly spring day after the rain which is now suddenly warmed by the sun through the trees.

What character, grace and romantic loveliness! Perhaps I love Poudre because - as Perfumebox says - Poudre has more in common with No. 19 pure perfume than the other versions and because of that, I am reunited with my first fragrant love - Chanel No. 19 Pure Perfume, which I first met at 18 but which I have neglected for many years; too many years.

Its enough to bring a tear to your eye.
24th June, 2015
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Smoky Poppy by Body Shop

Smoky Poppy = Opium; a lighter version thereof. A rather generic oriental fragrance. Not the usual Body Shop fare.

A sharp, spicey opening evaporates in short order giving way to a very synthetic, rubbery smell after about an hour. Rather sickly. After a few hours it doesn't smell too bad but by then it has practically disappeared anyway. Very much a pale imitation of Opium. Not surprisingly, for a cheap fragrance, projection and staying power are weak.
30th May, 2015

Escale à Pondichéry by Christian Dior

The most gorgeous of the Escales IMO; the notes are among my favourites; Cardamom, Sandalwood, Jasmine and Tea combine beautifully to give a very light, fresh, luminous summer fragrance. On a really hot day it smells fantastic as the sandalwood and cardamom warm up on the skin but the tea note keeps it green. No other fragrance seems as good or as suitable on a summer's day. It is designed to be worn in the summer and has that classic Mediterranean sparkling freshness reminiscent of holidays, heat and the summer breeze. I wouldn't describe it as citrusy; the dry down is light woody and tea-green. It is not a flimsy insubstantial concentration - projection is good and it lasts very well - Dior quality. In a similar vein to O De Lancôme but without the heavy powdery dry down. Definitely unisex. Elegant, classy and delicious. Another impressive fragrance from Francois Demachy.
29th May, 2015

Roberto Cavalli by Roberto Cavalli

This juice should've been called Torrid! or Drama! I like it but find its difficult to wear. The dry down develops a plasticky note on me (the vanilla doll-head note is very prominent) which gives me an immediate headache, sadly. Although I'm an advocate of people wearing what they want, where they want, this one might be a little too intense for the office; in short, its loud and heavy on the ambery syrup. For a born chypre/green fan like me, this definitely has major cloying potential and I wouldn't want to find myself in a confined space with someone wearing this stuff. That said, it does make a nice change from the usual anaemic/airy floral/fruit/sweet accords that dominate the perfume counters. Its an unapologetically heavy weight glamour-puss of a fragrance complete with big hair and gold bling. The Leo of womens' perfumery...

Overall, a golden, warm, vanilla/tonka bean floriental that is not too heavy on the spice or incense but is definitely a head turner. Wearable by a woman of just about any age (provided she loves the dollhead smell). Plus, its usually available at a bargain price.
27th May, 2015

Mille et Une Roses / 2000 Et Une Rose by Lancôme

Lancome missed a trick by withdrawing this shortly after its release in 2000 and thereby allowed Stella to steal its thunder in 2003 since Stella smells like Mille or, to put it more accurately and less charitably, Stella is a shameless ripoff of Mille - the dominant notes - rose, amber, orange are the same. Mille is hands-down the superior fragrance. More complex, complete and well rounded - the musk note conferring a modern edge that ensures that it doesn't stray into old lady territory. Mille is sharper, brighter, less muddy and cleaner than Stella. However, the difference is barely discernible to the average nose and I am not entirely convinced that its 90 bucks worth of better. Longevity and silage are somewhat under par for a frag this pricey.
15th May, 2015 (last edited: 27th May, 2015)

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez

A soft creamy blonde wood expertly co-mingled with gardenia and a touch of greenness. Gentle, restrained, demure and decidedly feminine with enough woodiness in the dry down to balance the intensity of the gardenia and ensure it remains warm and soothing not sharp and overwhelming. I adore gardenia but rarely does a perfume do it justice; so often it winds up playing the part of the old lady. Here, gardenia is restored to her rightful place as a youthful beauty.

I have liked all of NR's perfumes but this is the best Narciso yet. Bravo Monsieur Guichard. Stunning. I may even buy a 90ml bottle - something I haven't done for 30 years.
15th May, 2015 (last edited: 20th May, 2015)

Sikkim by Lancôme

If I was allowed only 10 fragrances to take to the desert island, Sikkim (the collections launch) would make the cut. A beautiful, understated chypre of a calibre all too rare nowadays. One cannot imagine a perfume of such quality and individuality being launched now in these commercially ruthless times. That is not to say that Sikkim is not eminently wearable because it is and unisex wearable at that. Soft, well-rounded, nothing spiky or sharp; a well integrated leather note produces a very smooth and enigmatic composition. Interestingly, its creator Robert Gonnon is also responsible for two other classics, Metal and Calandre for Paco Rabanne. Somewhat powdery, yes, but there is a very subtle leaf greenness and animalic edge that is common to his compositions which prevents them from getting old. The dry down after several hours is divine. Lovers of Chanel 19, Ma Griffe, Mitsouko, will almost certainly relish this beauty. Sheer class.
15th May, 2015

Armani Privé Rose d'Arabie by Giorgio Armani

Made me feel physically sick. Don't know whether it was the oud note but something in it gave me a colossal headache. Smells like an expensive pot pourri / incense stick from back in the day. Very linear, sickly and cloying. I do not understand the appeal of this genre of fragrance - you couldn't pay me to walk around smelling like a berry air freshener / room spray. Repulsive.
15th May, 2015

5th Avenue by Elizabeth Arden

A dark horse this. Easy to underestimate.

First Impression: clean, fresh, sporty, very above board...nothing dirty here ....in fact, conservative and a tad buttoned-up even - the consummate professional - but the dry down is kinda deceptively sexy (less flowery more musky to my schnozzle anyways) hence all the compliments - men definitely seem to like this one. All in all, an interesting and very wearable contradiction. I love it.

Edit: (May 2015) Recently repurchased this only to discover that, like everything else, it has been reformulated or probably just watered down. What depth it had has gone and the greenish, slightly metallic note which made it a more interesting floral has also disappeared. What you are left with is a boring, generic and flat floral which has lost all its character and the elements which distinguished it from all the others. What a shame!! I expect it will be discontinued; it has certainly disappeared from the department stores.
24th October, 2009 (last edited: 26th May, 2015)

Tiempe Passate by Antonia's Flowers

A beautiful, very understated, classy fragrance that stays close to the skin. This ticks all my boxes; warmth and sensuality together with a slightly masculine edge; yet still very feminine. You know sometimes your fragrance smells better the next morning when that blend of fragrance /skin has worked its magic? With Tiempe Passate, its there straight away - it smells like you've been wearing it overnight which is exactly what Antonia Ballenca wanted.

The lingering bergamot and rose remind me of a day on a meditarranean beach in the baking sun with the taste of the salty sea still in my hair and on my skin.....
24th October, 2009

Chloé Narcisse by Chloé

Vomit inducing.

A cacky nappy couldn't be more offensive than this.
24th October, 2009
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Elle by Yves Saint Laurent

When I first sniffed this, I nearly gagged; it is sickly synthetic; STRONG. Seriously pungent in the YSL style. I resisted spraying it on myself in the interests of good taste and the people that I was travelling on public transport with. On another visit to the department store, I decided to give it a spray and forgot about it. Later that day, I found myself strangely drawn to its warm woodiness. It is one of those fragrances that you spray on a card and leave in a pocket or a handbag for a few days and begin to wonder what the nice smell is wafting upwards..

After about an hour or so, when the worst excesses of the sickly sweetness has died off, the warm woodiness of the patchouli and vetiver begin to appear. Leave it for longer and it smells even better. But beware, only a long distance spray is required or a soupcon on your clothes otherwise you could clear a room pretty quickly. I have a little tester, but whether or not I will indulge in a full bottle remains to be seen; it has major headache potential and a weighty price tag.

Judging by the ad campaign, elle is targeted at a 20 something market. However, I think it is suitable for almost any age as long as it is sprayed sparingly...
24th October, 2007

FlowerbyKenzo by Kenzo

Originally intending to buy the EdP, I decided instead to plump for the Le Parfum satin spray after reading glowing reviews of it here. We must be smelling a different product. Yuk! What a horror. "Satin" is about all they could call the consistency since it defies description; a slightly greasy look and feel; it certainly isn't perfume proper. It could pass for a perfumed deodorant. Probably as a result of its slightly gloopy texture, it has no depth or staying power at all; if my nose is more than a couple of inches away from my wrist, I can barely smell it. It dries to almost nothing and can be wiped off the wrist. Spraying it on my clothes, it fares slightly better but not much. The smell is thin and linear; it lacks all of the body, cleanliness, warmth and complexity (such as it is) and of the EdP and instead dries to a trickle of dirty, stale vanilla fudge. Basically, I smell as if I've been baking toffee cookies including the fetidity of kitchen silage. Yuk! Avoid unless you have money to burn. It is going back on ebay!
24th October, 2007

Calandre by Paco Rabanne

With the exception of Chamade which my mother used to wear back in the early 70's, there are few fragrances that stimulate the memory for me more than Eau de Calandre (there is a similarity between the two fragrances; a kind of olfactory purity). I can still remember seeing the heavy, silver edged, masculine and expensive looking bottle shining on the shelf behind the sales assistant in a perfume shop in belgium back in 1982 and desperately coveting it; it was The One For Me; nothing girly or samey about this fragrance. Even now, the sight of that bottle brings back the same feelings of awe and mystery that I experienced as a teenager. I remember having a tantrum because my mother wouldn't buy it for me.

I was prompted to repurchase a bottle a few years ago after my mother reminded me of it and the memories of that day came flooding back.

Calandre is so unique and possesses all the elements that I love. It is what I call a masculine fragrance for a woman; uncluttered, clean and unfussy green aldehydes with Vetiver/Sandal base notes but it also has warmth and non-confirmity written all over it; it is the exact opposite of the current crop of bland and onesizefitsall frags currently littering the department stores.

There is something magical about Eau de Calandre. It is a silvery, sparkling, timeless classic.
20th October, 2007

Infusion d'Iris by Prada

Infusion d'iris is destined to become a Classic. It is simply beautiful. It seemed too floral for my taste on first whiff but I fell in love with its understated seductive charm almost immediately. Definitely a new signature scent for me.

One of the most complete fragrances I have ever smelled; nothing is missing and it could not be improved upon. There is complexity but not in an obviously structured top note, drydown manner; rather I would say it is fullsome; all of the notes are present. Fresh and clean yet warm and inviting, feminine and masculine, light and dark, youthful but wise, sophisticated but approachable and like all the best fragrances, deceptively simple and effortless. In a word CLASS. Perhaps for that reason it is very versatile and easy to wear; I can't imagine an occasion where you couldn't wear it. If you prefer something bottom heavy with a dark note, it may not be for you; I say MAY; however, I defy anyone not to love this, even the hardcore oriental and patchouli crowd. It is not moody or changeable; it stays near to the skin and is reliably consistent from first spray; it doesn't morph into something completely different that rears up unexpectedly and makes me feel unwell...

I hummed and hawed for some months about whether to purchase after much loitering and spraying in the department store; I decided I couldn't live without it. It is one of the most expensive perfumes out there but unlike many others, it is worth the heavy price tag. Sheer genius. Put it on your xmas list and expect to be complimented.

19th October, 2007

Fracas by Robert Piguet

This is one of those fragrances that I love and want to wear but its just tooo much; I was scared to go out in public wearing this stuff...I certainly never dared wear it to the office - I would've cleared the place, it is sooo strong and cloying. A perfume has to pass the acid test, namely, can I wear it, at all, anywhere?? Otherwise it sits in the box like a pair of shoes that I love and look at longingly once in while but which are just too uncomfortable to walk in. Instead I bought Michael Kors - a tuberose for a civilised environment. Ok it doesn't have the elevated, mythical status of Fracas but I can actually wear it without offending anyone. Fracas' reputation proceeds it but unless you're a real obsessive or somehow you have the skin type that can work magic on almost anything, then I wouldn't recommend a major purchase...a definite try before you buy, IMHO.
19th October, 2007

Vol de Nuit by Guerlain

Begins with a warm and complex guerlinade waft but then in fairly short order it all goes terribly flat and thin and then something horrible happens; the return of Old Lady vintage 1933. Some fragrances simply do not last the distance despite my attempts to believe in them. Try it and ask someone who isn't a perfume addict what they think...you will get an almost universal thumbs down.
19th October, 2007

Après L'ondée by Guerlain

Boring. A generic kind of powdery floral that wouldn't be out of place at Yardley. Like many a Guerlain, its starts off all promising complexity but dries flat as a pancake. Thin, watery and one dimensional, especially as it is only available in the EDT, from what I can gather. Can't imagine the sort of woman who would want to wear this - its very ageing.
19th October, 2007

Jolie Madame by Pierre Balmain

Just the words Jolie Madame get my pulse racing. If I was a poet I might just be able to do it justice but I can only give impressions, moods and images. It conjures up a dark place; a forest at night, the colour midnight blue, something earthy and velvety, with a steely metallic edge. It is austere, mysterious, all embracing and very mercurial. And leather, leather, leather. It has no beginning or end. I love the gorgeous chunky glass bottle with the simplest of labels; it needs no more. Pure Class.

Er.....yeah, several thumbs up.
19th October, 2007