Perfume Reviews

Reviews by JackTwist


Oscar de la Renta pour Lui by Oscar de la Renta

A sharp, dry, pungent powerhouse of oak moss, patchouli, carnation and vetiver. There's sandalwood and galbanum here as well. Reminiscent of Aramis, but without the latter's sweetness. The dry down becomes redolent of strong tobacco leaves, cured for cigar smoking.

This is the vintage version I am reviewing. It is typical of so many powerhouse men's scents from the 1980s and does not really stand out from the others.

Projection is enough to kill at twenty paces. Use very sparingly, a little goes a long way.
20th August, 2015

Havana by Aramis

Havana begins with a strong green clovey/bay rhum blast that quickly calms down to a pepper and pimento middle ground. My nose does not detect any of the citrus notes or floral notes.

The base notes quickly take over, but they are a murky, harsh mixture indeed. No subtlety here and to my nose, no tobacco either. The oud here seems to just take over and let its bitter qualities smother all the rest.

A very poor scent in my opinion, despite the plethora of notes it supposedly contains.

16th July, 2015

Dachelle by Lilly Daché

Dachelle is unusual in that it is the only one of Lilly Dache's eight scents not to originate in the early 1940s.

Somehow this last gasp release came in 1963. There are no available notes, but it is quite a nice chypre. It is very warm and unisex - perhaps they were hoping for a successful cross over scent, in that the other Daches are all exceedingly feminine.

In any case, this is warm and dark. Perhaps a bit of birch tar, some civet, some sandalwood. It's a very close to the skin scent and nicely animalic.

It proliferates on Ebay as her most available scent, probably due to it being so recent in time. Worth obtaining a small bottle to sample if you are into dark animalic chypres.
07th July, 2015
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Spring and Summer Cologne by Lucien Lelong

Lelong's Spring and Summer Cologne (1950) is a direct copy of Millot's Insolent from 1947.

This is a dry, reedy, green scent, which is redolent of celery seed, warmed by sandalwood and a bit of amber.

However, it is the very green celery seed note that predominates.

As such, it is an homage to an admired and for its time, successful and original scent.

It's quite nice - the neutral rating is due to lack of originality in duplicating a successful scent of another house.
07th July, 2015

Simply Belle by Exceptional

When I first inhaled this, I immediately recognized it as an old friend. It smells identical to the original Gendarme, an iconic scent of the 80s and 90s and my youth.

I don't know what is in Simply Belle, but I recall what was in Gendarme with its mix of citrus, herbs and one floral: Lemon, Bergamot, Lime, Basil, Tarragon, Lemon Verbena, Jasmine.

It is totally refreshing and a magnet for both sexes. Thus it is really unisex, as was Gendarme. If you are young, wear either of these and you will fascinate others, who will have no idea its due to pheromones and a simple scent that brings these to the skin surface.

And most importantly, Simply Belle is very inexpensive, while Gendarme is not. You can't go wrong with this scent - best for spring and summer wear.
25th June, 2015

Styx by Coty

A great early Coty (1911) that remains a rarity and one embraced by lovers of early chypres.

Barbara Herman describes it as "moody and dark." It is that! This is one of those scents based almost entirely on base notes with just a few lighter ones to make it waft.

There is orris, vanilla and carnation here immediately perceptible, but the breakdown is as follows:

Top: Bergamot, Carnation, Ylang, Galbanum
Heart: Orris, Olibanum, Violet
Base: Amber, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Benzoin, Musk, Oakmoss

Originally marketed as "The fragrance of subtle, mysterious, haunting personalities," it is rumored that Garbo wore it. Need I say more.

Discontinued in its original formulation in 1946, reformulated in a light parfum de toilette version only in 1951. This reformulation was discontinued in 1961.

One of the great early Cotys and to be treasured.
24th June, 2015

Mon Peche / My Sin by Long Lost Perfume

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, the only perfume company that advertised on commercial television seemed to be Lanvin, with its constant ads for its two big hits, Arpege (Promise her anything, but give her Arpege!), and My Sin. You would also find these advertised heavily in newspapers and magazines of the time.

This is definitely an old school floral chypre, a complex and rich blend of florals and musk notes that define the great perfume world of the 1920s and 1930s. Unlike the sharper and over the top Arpege, My Sin is subtle and rich. Barbara Herman called it "lush, over ripe, decadent," and I'm sure she meant it in a good way.

The scent existed from 1924 to 1988, when it was discontinued after 65 years of success, reflecting the changing times and tastes no doubt, but the vintage is one of the greats. No doubt about that. Luckily, still available on Ebay.
24th June, 2015

Conflict by Blanchard

I was fortunate to find a two oz. bottle of Conflict cologne, still sealed, in an antiques store recently and am pleasantly surprised by its old-fashioned, yet beautiful, floral blend.

Immediately one gets a burst of lilac, supported by the rarely used note of wisteria. (The only other use of wisteria I am aware of is in D'Albret's Princesse.) As it develops, jasmine and neroli join these and proceed to create a sweet floral aura that invokes the post-war era with nostalgic references to earlier happier times. Base notes must be there, but they never surface to my nose. Perhaps this was always intended as just a splash and not a long-lasting perfume.

A joyous and uplifting scent that belies its name. What an odd name indeed for any scent. Perhaps it refers back to the war just ended.

Worth seeking out for the younger woman (18-28).
21st June, 2015

Fleurs de Tabac by Cherigan

Fleurs de Tabac arrived in 1929, one of a handful of scents created by the firm of Cherigan. It followed Caron's Tabac Blond by 10 years and Roger and Gallet's Cigalia by 18.

The dark scent of tobacco leaves mingle with vetiver, a touch of vanilla and amber and a light jasmine overlay.

It seems relatively simple, but the overall effect is one of great sophistication and superb blending and balance. It can stand with the rougher Cigalia (birch tar infuses this one) and the cigarette tobacco (carnation and orris blend) of Tabac Blond to hold its own as one of the three great tobacco scents of the 20th century.

Cherigan operated in both Paris and Havana between 1929 and 1949. Below are listed their ten scents, which are very hard to find, even on Ebay.



21st June, 2015

Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent

An odd green floral/wood scent that is pleasant, but unremarkable.

Turin gave it 5 stars and named it a "reference rose." The rose is very very faint and gives us the green note. It combines with peach, muguet and jasmine and floats above "dark resins," such as vetiver, sandalwood and musk.

Top notes: Peach, Bergamot
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Muguet, Geranium, Orris, Ylang
Base notes: Vetiver, Tonka, Sandalwood, Musk, Oak Moss, Amber

Certainly nice, but there are better green roses out there (Jacomo's Silences, Dior's Diorling and Laurent's own initial scent, Y, come to mind).
20th June, 2015

Givenchy III by Givenchy

Along with Beene's Grey Flannel, I find Givenchy III one of the two best green scents for men ever created. I know this one was created for and marketed to women, but it is so unisex and so superbly, confidently, quietly masculine, that I can't imagine a woman even liking it, let alone wearing it.

A green floral chypre that is round, deep and complex. Intriguing suave, assured, sophisticated.

Green citrus and fruity florals blend harmoniously and lay over a woody, powdery, slightly spicy base. The slightly mentholated dry down is light and pleasant.

Top notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Galbanum, Peach, Gardenia
Heart notes: Muguet, Hyacinth, Rose, Jasmine, Orris
Base notes: Patchouli, Oakmoss, Amber, Sandalwood

Turin gave it 5 stars and dubbed it a "great masculine." I agree.
19th June, 2015

Surrender by Ciro

From 1923 to 1961 Ciro created approximately 25 scents, presented in beautiful Baccarat bottles that are treasured today by collectors, irregardless of whether they have any content.

I have only experienced/reviewed one other Ciro - Reflexions (correct spelling) and liked it. However, Surrender is far superior and was deservedly their biggest success.

This is a spicy, warm ambergris/civet dominated chypre, beginning with a caramel effect, perhaps some patchouli. The violet and jasmine float ethereally as top notes, but this is really an in depth chypre. The generous use of orris and real ambergris give this a dry down best described as warm floral leather.

I'll be looking for a full bottle on Ebay. My sample was vintage edc.
19th June, 2015

Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene

This is a most unusual and unique masculine green scent, in that the oak moss is very subdued, not overwhelming as in most scents of the late 70s and early 80s. It is quite dry and sophisticated,
with a fresh, herbal, grassy greenness.

It has the effect of a very concentrated green tea extract, which makes it a most pleasant scent to wear in the summer months.

The dry down is powdery.

Turin gives it five stars and calls it a "sweet green." He notes it can smell crude if over-applied.

One of the great men's scents from the "powerhouse" era that deigns to be subtle, not in your face.

18th June, 2015
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24, Faubourg by Hermès

This is a gentle and restrained white floral, quite light, and a true tribute to the scent of jasmine. It has a light menthol-like dry down.

Top notes: Neroli, Jasmine Sambac
Heart notes: Iris, Vanilla
Base notes: Amber, Patchouli

Turin gives it four stars and names it a "honeyed floral."

It is recommended for the very young woman - in her early twenties.

Very nice, sophisticated, complex.
18th June, 2015

Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein

When most successful scents for women engender a "for men" derivative, the formulas bear no resemblance one to the other.

With the creamy oriental, Obsession, this is not the case. It's version for men begins just as voluptuously as a fruity floral. It is given more weight however than the version for women, by the addition of spices (Coriander, Clove, Sage), resins (Patchouli, Myrrh) and a dry lavender/sage combination.

This grounds Obsession in a slightly darker, more sober take on the fruity floral. The dry down is a warm vanilla/amber/sandalwood combo that is as masculine as it is unisex.

A very nice take on the original that still manages to be true to it.
Both Obsession and Obsession for men are highly recommended.
17th June, 2015

Reflexions by Ciro

Ciro created about 23 scents between 1923 and 1961, the three most successful being Surrender (1932), Reflexions (1933) [note that this is the correct spelling], and Danger (1938).

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery we are told. Reflexions copies the success of Dana's Tabu (1935), a scent that would go on to be imitated again in 1948 (Tuvara) and 1951 (Youth Dew).

This is a creamy oriental, very rich and voluptuous. According to Barbara Herman, it contains amber, patchouli, orris, vanilla and sandalwood. I can also detect jasmine, rose and tuberose in the make-up.

The formula in whatever of the above incarnations it appears is for me a reference oriental, whose honeyed and sensual palate is most warm and appealing.

Worth seeking out.
14th June, 2015

Amarige by Givenchy

There are two things about Amarige I find hard to reconcile. The first is that a house as refined as Givenchy created this bomb. The second is that it is still around 24 years later.

Barbara Herman correctly ascertains its synthetic-smelling sweet fruitiness and its overdose of tuberose. She notes also the sandalwood and cedar which ground it, but overall finds it to be very chemically laden and over the top. I couldn't agree more.

This reminds me of Sand & Sable, another tuberose bomb that is truly offensive. I love tuberose and I love its use in perfume, but these two are just embarrassing.

Turin gives in only one star, naming it "killer tuberose."

Plum Peach, Neroli, Violet
Ylang, Jasmine, Tuberose, Rose, Orchid, Carnation
Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Musk, Amber, Tonka, Vanilla

It's so bad, it's almost laughable.
14th June, 2015

Folie de Minuit by Lanier

Lanier created only seven scents, beginning in 1955 with his La Folie de Minuit.

Barbara Herman describes it as having a lavender, bergamot, citrus opening and drying down to a powdery, spicy, amber. The overall effect is green and leafy.

Only available on Ebay as nips, it is hard to get an idea as to the real effect of this scent with such small amounts available for sampling. I was able to secure two nips and find this description as accurate. However, it is nothing special for all that.

The other six Lanier scents, listed in the Perfume Encyclopedia are:

LA FOLIE is nothing to go out of your way for.
12th June, 2015

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche

A very green powerhouse man's scent from the 1980s. Along with Aramis, Open and Quorum, Drakkar Noir defines the green, herbaceous chypre type.

The citrus notes of lemon and mandarin mix with the herbal green notes of basil, rosemary, bergamot, mint and verbena.

The spicy heart reveals cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, juniper, angelica, wormwood and a healthy dose of lavender.

All this rests on the dark green notes of patchouli, oak mod, cedar, balsam, vetiver and pine.

It's powerful and iconic. I do believe Drakkar Noir and Aramis were the two best selling men's scent of the 1980 decade.

LaRoche only created about a dozen scents. Drakkar Noir was his most popular men's scent, while Fidji was his most popular woman's scent.

DN is still a winner after all these years.

12th June, 2015

Le Dandy by D'Orsay

A bit over the top for me with its sweet peach/plum accord and its spicy clove, cinnamon, bay leaf concentration. Very much a barbershop splash in its heyday (1925), it has that explosive quality of an Old Spice or a Bay Rhum.

You have to enter the period of time it emerged and recognize it for something that would be splashed on, invigorate you, and then have faded in half an hour. Most "toilet waters" and "colognes" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were just that, refreshers, not hours long scent applications.

An interesting period piece, and to be worn as a splash, not a personality-defining scent. Nice, but not great.
10th June, 2015

Djedi by Guerlain

One of the great leather chypres.

Others have likened this to Chanel's Cuir de Russie, which comparison I can't fault. I find it to be a pre-cursor for both Coty's A Suma and Lelong's Sirocco (both 1934). I also find a similarity to R&G's 1904 Cigalia.

Coal tar, sandalwood, vetiver, civet, ambergris, orris, oakmoss. So primarily and literally a base noter. There is a subtle soft floral combo of rose and jasmine that keep it from being totally made up of base notes.

I can't imagine a woman wearing this. It is totally masculine, very sophisticated, dark, sexy, animalic.

In a word, fabulous.
10th June, 2015

Passion by Elizabeth Taylor

One would have thought that Taylor's first scent would have been above the ordinary, a star and celebrity in and of itself, like its creator. No such luck.

This is a "safe" scent - warm and powdery, with the amber, musk and sandalwood supporting the floral melange of gardenia (tuberose actually), rose, muguet, jasmine and ylang. More of a scent your mother or grandmother might wear, even back in the late 80s, when this debuted.

Think Avon or the drugstore Coty scents - hundreds of them, cheaply and mass produced, all nice, for the most part, but none of them outstanding.

Not bad, just not particularly good.
10th June, 2015

Alpona by Caron

A most unusual combination of oak moss chypre and citrus candied sweetness. You wouldn't think at first that this could be successfully pulled off, but Caron manages to do so.

Homme de Gres and R&G's Le Jade come to mind as other successful combos of these two qualities of citrus and chypre, the first using lemon and bergamot and the second using lime.

I believe Le Jade pre-dates Alpona, so may have influenced this scent, but the Caron delivers beautifully, irregardless.

Although marketed for women, this is a perfectly fine unisex scent.

10th June, 2015

Ex''tion by Coty

A non-scent. Cheap, plastic, grape soda. Nasty thing.

Avoid at all costs.

Peach, Apricot, Bergamot
Orris, Rose, Jasmine, Heliotrope, Muguet
Cedar, Amber, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Musk Cumin

…..But you'd never know it.
08th June, 2015

Émeraude by Coty

This has been called the great grandmother of orientals, influencing Guerlain to create Shalimar. I don't see it that way. Without any spices or resins (except amber), it is more of a comfort floral mix than a striking out in a new scent direction.

This is a citrus/vanilla powdery scent that is most comforting, and in my day, worn by all our mothers and aunts. It is one of the few early Cotys that is still available after almost 100 years.

Charles of the Ritz copied it in 1935 and called it Jean Nate and it too had a great run.

Top: Orange, Bergamot, Tarragon
Middle: Jasmine, Rose, Roswood, Ylang
Base: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Amber, Opopanax, Benzoin
08th June, 2015

Aramis by Aramis

For gay men in the early 70s, this was as prevalent as Old Spice for our father and grandfathers. Every male, straight or gay, BATHED in it, so my memory of it is that is nauseatingly repulsive.

However, once my nose became educated, and I was able to disassociate the scent from experience, I find that this is a dry, tweedy, oak moss-laden, chypre, that is quite basic 101 in your face, direct OAK MOSS CHYPRE, in case anyone was interested in having a basic course in that area.

As such, it is an excellent reference scent. The re-formations are (thankfully) less powerful and more balanced, but still striking.

The pyramid:

Top: Artemesia, Bergamot, Cumin, Gardenia
Heart: Jasmine Patchouli, Orris, Vetiver, Sandalwood
Base: Oak Moss, Castoreum, Amber Musk
08th June, 2015

Polo by Ralph Lauren

I have always hated this scent - for almost 40 years.

It is a dry, green, tweedy thing with an underlying sweetness that is nauseating to me. Very unpleasant. Of course, it has been around almost 40 years because other noses love it. So, I am definitely in the minority.

One of the powerhouse scents that men must have found - and still do - wonderfully masculine and repulsive, so therefore of value.

Those with noses, sniff elsewhere.
08th June, 2015

Old Spice by Procter & Gamble

In post WW-II America, every dad and grand dad had a bottle of Old Spice in the bathroom medicine cabinet. It is probably the most popular male scent ever produced.

The original is a barbershop fantasy - the citrus, bay, clove spiciness is very strong and lasting. Bracing and the cinnamon, amber, frankincense and vanilla base warm it to a powdery softness in the dry down.

A masterful barbershop fougere.

Beware the current reformulation with its emphasis on rose, pepper and bay. It bears no relation to the original.
04th June, 2015

Woodhue for Men by Fabergé

A warm vanilla amber scent with a touch of spice.

This was my first adult scent, the iconic bottle with the wooden top.

The warm base of sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, myrhh, amber and civet support the vanilla and opoponax, allowing the floral notes of jasmine, ylang, orris, clove and violet to hover sweetly in the background.

One of the truly great unisex scents of its era and one of the great ambers of all time.
04th June, 2015

Sand & Sable by Coty

It's hard to believe this came from the house of Coty, but that's what happens when you sell out to a drug store chain.

This is a loud, harsh, cheap-smelling tuberose, that won't give up and won't wash off.

Tuberose, Gardenia, Musk, Sandalwood, Peach

Like Tuvache's Jungle Gardenia, this is the sort of stuff Sadie Thompson would have worn, cheap, vulgar and an insult to the nose.

For great tuberose scents, stick with Piguet's Fracas, Caron's Tubereuse, or By Kilian's Beyond Love.
04th June, 2015