Perfume Reviews

Reviews by MonkeyBars

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Total Reviews: 41

Rochas Lui by Rochas

This is a capable balsamic-woody eau de cologne composed by the veteran Michel Almairac, creator of at least a dozen timeless classics, and you can tell.

First off, I don't get anything burnt, or any spices as some other reviewers have commented. Also, the only things really connecting Lui to Habit Rouge and Terre d'Hermes are the cedar and citrus, and that's a pretty tenuous connection at best. Not very useful.

Nor is this a chypre as some have indicated. There's definitely no oakmoss to my nose, and if any bergamot & labdanum only accents. Nevertheless the vanillic cologne vibe is definitely a descendent of famed chypre Chanel Pour Monsieur.

I am thinking the citrus in my sample may be a bit degraded; this fragrance is discontinued and quite expensive so the vial might be pretty old and not properly stored. I do get hints of lemon and orange along with the dominant wood of cedar. Is there real sycamore wood essential oil in this? Maybe, but it's hard to recognize.

The composition is tightly structured and the main feel is certainly VERY well integrated – there are no sharp edges or accords sticking out. For those seeking thrills, it's easy to overlook the subtle skill at work in Rochas Lui.

To me, this fragrance has an overall balasamic eau de cologne style, but can also be understood as a bottom-up (linear) extension of a fresh, crisp musk. In this sense, it's like a designer variation on the great niche frag Invasion Barbare.

In fact, IB is so much more interesting and higher quality that you might as well spring for that, as it's overall a superior fragrance whose cardamom pushes it into a much more interesting place while retaining that same genteel, masculine aura of vanilla cologne tempered by woods.

The dominant vanilla gives a mild oriental feel, with a subtle touch of patchouli to keep it from being cloying or edible – rather more fresh. The neroli forms the primary accord of the heart, with bison grass – famous from the delicious flavored Polish vodka zhubrovka – lending an unusual herbal hay tone. This is probably the standout ingredient that defines Lui's real DNA, and if this particular accord grows on me I might even consider this composition bottle-worthy.

Performance seems average for a modern fragrance, with pretty good longevity – possibly due to a hefty dose of Iso E Super (sharp cedar). The drydown is arguably the most interesting phase, in which the woods, vanilla, musk, and bison grass glisten against each other.

Rochas Lui is a worthwhile, versatile, and likable designer fragrance, if a touch safe and conservative.
02nd August, 2018

Maestro by Simon Chang

This is a superb 90s fragrance in the line of direct descendency from Halston Z-14 (70s) and Givenchy's Xeryus (80s). A bit more crisp and green than these two, it stands the test of time despite lacking a little in originality. Another scent in the same vein from the same era is Valentino's Vendetta per Uomo, which is more cinnamic and musky. All in all, I wish I had more than my small bottle as I would wear it more. It's a better everyday scent than those other three.
26th October, 2015

Basala / Basara by Shiseido

Notes from Fragrantica, much more detailed:

Top: rosemary, artemisia, lavender, green notes, fruity notes, clary sage, basil, neroli and bergamot
middle: carnation, fir, cinnamon, jasmine, caraway and rose
base: labdanum, leather, amber, patchouli, musk, coconut, oakmoss and cedar

An extremely unique fragrance, very much of its era (mid-90s), when perfumers experimented with the accords of the past in totally new ways (as well as with new synthetics in starring roles, which is not the case here), Basala shines with quality and performance. I do perceive the warmth and Japanese aesthetic to this composition mentioned by other reviewers here.

Artemisia (wormwood) provides the bitterness in the opening, with wonderfully bracing herbs, citrus, and other green notes. The fruit here is of the red berry variety (damascones/damascenones), one of the rare occasions where it works without being crass. As mentioned in other reviews, the gorgeous deep red bottle is a perfect match to the scent.

Lavender provides the bridge to a spicy-floral heart dominated by rose (fleshed out by the damascones) and carnation. Unlike other reviewers, I find a distinct sweetness in Basala after the opening, though it doesn't dominate.

The rich base is where the chypre accord's oakmoss and labdanum provides a scaffold for the woods and amber. Certainly sandalwood and vetiver can be added from Basenotes' pyramid, though I don't necessarily agree that the sandalwood accord comes off very natural. Musk and coconut add heft and richness, a pleasant detail slightly reminiscent of their treatment in VC&F's Tsar.

Most unique of all, the "leather" accord, which to me doesn't register as smoky at all (no birch tar to my nose), envelops the scent in a very animalic cocoon of woody warmth and intensity -- the unmistakeable presence of castoreum. In fact, among my collection Basala ranks second only to Yatagan in its castoreum overdose.

Chagrin at the rarity of Basala nowadays can be mitigated slightly by the existence of Michel Germain's Sexual Sugar Daddy*, which takes Basala's damascone theme and replaces the beautiful dry woods with a rather sweet, synthetic praline musk. Unfortunately it's more expensive than it smells, but Basala fans certainly owe it a sniff.

*Surely the #1 worst fragrance name of all time.
10th February, 2015
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Capricci by Nina Ricci

I was excited to try this classic floral chypre, so I picked up a small bottle of vintage EdT. Unfortunately the florals are obscured by an overdose of soapy aldehydes. I don't like aldehydes much, certainly not as a dominant accord, so my experience was ruined. Not my thing at all.
03rd February, 2015

Spark for Men by Liz Claiborne

It's understandable that Fremont combined fig leaf, cinnamon, rum, cardamom, and amber, but Claiborne's copper-penny budget obviously didn't allow him to achieve anything extraordinary. This is a common, sweet, cheap-smelling non-entity especially marred by inexpensive woody materials (maybe norlimbanol and javanol) present in much other cheap, crappy aughty men's juice.

Don't bother.
29th January, 2015

Sublime by Jean Patou

Notes according to Fragrantica:
Top: Coriander, Mandarin, Green Notes, Bergamot, Orange
Middle: Carnation, Lily, Orris Root, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose, Orange Blossom
Base: Sandalwood, Tonka, Amber, Musk, Civet, Vanilla, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Cedar, Styrax

Notes regarding some other reviews here:

- I never detected any patchouli, and certainly no pineapple (esters) in Sublime. Nor nutmeg either to my nose, while the beautiful styrax resin is probably to blame for any cinnamon effect noted.
- The dissonance some others may be experiencing in the top notes is likely due to the fresh citrus and herbs having degraded over the years. The top accord in the new juice is gorgeous and will also only remain so for a limited time.
- I do get a slight aldehyde effect shimmering into the heart. I normally dislike aldehydes but in this composition it works brilliantly.
- The range of reviews is probably due to reformulation.

(Vintage EdT) This is an absolutely stunning woody chypre-floriental in the grand tradition, very potent and longlasting. Jean Kerleo was at his peak in creating such a beautiful balance between dry cedar, oakmoss, civet and coriander on one side, and rich rose, ylang ylang, jasmine, carnation, amber, and musk on the other. A wonderful mandarin-orange accord lends brightness to the opening, while the roots of vetiver and orris give backbone, and vanilla, tonka, and styrax provide rich depth. The orris is not a soapy "iris" at all, but earthy and rooty (obviously a high-quality butter), reducing the edibility of the vanilla. Sandalwood (probably Mysore) and civet adhere the many contrasting facets together. Vintage Sublime EdT is a huge and heady adventure of many beautiful phases, with subtle shading in coolness and warmth in its long development. My favorite part may actually be the glowing yet dry finish of sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, and musk. I especially appreciate the chypre accord as it eschews the typical powdery peach (undecalactone) of the classic chypres, while retaining a wicked smack of oakmoss. The sweetness of the florals, sandalwood, and amber are very balanced by dry resins and animalics, yet Sublime is still feminine in character. I can see why the box is yellow and gold -- Sublime is like an exquisitely, intricately embroidered golden pillow. Don't overapply -- the composition blooms hugely after the beautiful bright top notes burn off.

(2000s EdT) A shadow of its former self. Thumbs decidedly down on this cheap, flat, overly sweet floriental with an unpleasant petroleum/plastic accord in the drydown, probably some synthetic sandalwood replacement P&G tried to pass off. Shameful.

(2013 EdP) Patou's new perfumer has claimed to return to the original formula for this bottling, with the maitre himself Jean Kerleo assisting in finding replacements for the rare and precious ingredients used in the 90s original. Far more a dry, animalic chypre than the vintage EdT, the civet in this juice pops from the very outset. (The citrus is of course far fresher and more vibrant than any vintage juice, truly beautiful.) I'm assuming the bitter, strident accord running through the overall composition is a combination of vetiver and Evernyl, the newish atropine-free oakmoss material. It's an interesting and bold experience, reminiscent of several expensive niche fragrances currently on the market, but utterly lacks the grandeur and scale of the vintage EdT. I think it might be completely missing the sandalwood (S. album), as there is a certain creamy sweetness binding the vintage juice together that is totally lacking here, while an unwelcome, anemic driftwood effect typical of Australian sandalwood (S. spicatum) takes its place. The florals are more muted as well; I'm missing the sweet, pure glints off the panes of synthetics like what was probably hydroxycitronellal, along with the jasmine at al. Not sure how much can be attributed to 20 years of masceration and how much to differing ingredient sourcing, but to my nose this is a very different perfume than my bottle and mini of vintage EdT.

Can't wait to try the vintage EdP! I've never seen the extrait.

I heard a rumor that Jean Kerleo had the name of a Greek goddess or something as the working title of the perfume, but Patou's marketing department didn't bite. As sublime as it is, I do find the name a bit vague for a composition so breathtaking and epic. Wearing Sublime is like reading a great, absorbing novel filled with an ensemble of colorful, multifaceted characters and with a plot that still delivers suprises and satisfaction alike upon multiple readings. Vintage Sublime (I've only tried the EdT) is by all means one of the great perfumes of the 20th century. Thank you so very much Mssr. Kerleo!
17th December, 2014 (last edited: 31st December, 2014)

Axe Peace / Lynx Peace by Axe / Lynx

Eau de Fahrenheit. A more synthetic & cheap, but carefully composed, lighter copy of the Dior classic. In fact, I prefer this to the newer formulations of Fahrenheit, which suffer from a lack of good floral oils. (Not, however, to vintage Fahrenheit, which is far richer and better.) Peace does not have the petroleum vibe of new Fahrenheit, featuring a light woody-musk drydown instead of the intense leather of the Dior. Worthwhile.
17th November, 2014

Xpec Original by Xpec

I do get the tuberose for sure, but it's dosed moderately. The fennel is an interesting touch, and I get something quite animalic, most likely civet, although it could just be indoles rounding out the tuberose accord. Tons of depth in this rich, aromatic floral for men, but wearable by women too. The thyme adds just the right bitterness and coolness. A bit pricey, but smells very natural and has good longevity. Related to some classic floral bouquet feminines like Toujours Moi but bitterer and with modern touches like the ginger and pepper. I find it very well-balanced, which means I can overspray and it doesn't grate. It does have a somewhat formal vibe, but also bold which is a great combination.
10th April, 2013

Witness by Jacques Bogart

Famed low-budget / high-concept masculine perfume house Bogart continues its tradition with a classic from the transition period of men's perfumery -- post 80s-powerhouse and pre 90s-aquatic -- that manages a difficult balancing act. Witness rests on a crux of styrax and patchouli. The smooth richness and spiky funk are extended by carnation, musk, aldehydes and urinous honey. Atop this, pineapple is clashed by bitter wormwood. Witness may be the only fragrance I've ever smelled with a pungent accord -- in this case chive (garlic leaf), used a fixative in the base. I've noticed this sulfurous presence helps extend and deepen the animalic honey. If it sounds like nothing you've tried, it is. Sweet, aromatic, dense, spicy, and musky -- moderation is key. The density and tenacity threaten to overwhelm, but are just kept from exploding. Witness is like an classic old rollercoaster: cheap thrills but it keeps you coming back for more.
18th January, 2013

Encounter by Calvin Klein

One thing's for sure: it smells extremely cheap, and synthetic, though not redolent of disgusting metallic/toxic/aquatic molecules at least. It's due to that I almost gave this a neutral -- but not quite. In my opinion, Encounter is an attempt to make a bland version of Zirh Ikon. Ikon's cheapness is sort of charming, and the construction is very bold with big spicy patchouli. Encounter takes the cinnamon, patchouli, cedar, and cardamom of Ikon, and adds a thin, synthetic medicinal "oud" (not terrible but certainly not impressive) and a sweet floral-fruity accord (truly vile). Double Ikon's musk and voila, another marketing executive concept meeting / focus-grouped bathroom deodorant.
14th December, 2012

Escentric 01 by Escentric Molecules

I don't get a resemblance to Fahrenheit at all.

I do agree there is a somewhat citric character, and certainly pepper, possibly hot pepper in the opening. I get a rose-frankincense character in the heart and agree with the "blond woods" idea as well. Also I do get a touch of ambroxan, which gives depth. The whole structure has an interesting dissonance and vibration to it that keeps me sniffing. To me, it's like a stripped-down Balenciaga pour Homme, with all the elements of that dense, extreme incense-animalic composition turned down to a moderate volume. Excellent longevity (of course). Not sure I'm going to rush out to get a bottle, but it smells good.
21st August, 2012

Zino Davidoff by Davidoff

Upon sampling this traditional classic for the first time, I was immediately struck by the resemblance to Guerlain's Jicky. Heritage is much sweeter with its powdery vanilla. Jicky eschews Zino's rose and would therefore never be confused with it, but I do believe they share an important conceptual underpinning: a CIVET overdose. Notice all the references to strange, dark, feral musk, rotting garbage, sexual trysts, and horseyards in the reviews below. Zino and Jicky share the classic civet-lavender-vanilla accord, where the honeylike aspects of civet and lavender mesh with, and the crisp herbaceousness of lavender and stonking animalic fur of civet temper, the sweetness of the vanilla.

Zino's experienced perfumers decided to flank this central accord with a "pinker" rosey floral bouquet than Mssr. Guerlain, while amping up the patchouli, rich sandal, and cedar to balance their sweetness and maintain a structured masculinity. Also notable from the outset through the heart is a distinct clary sage presence, an accord which many find challenging with its vegetal intensity and almost sweaty overtones.

The many perfectly-balanced ingredients are showcased in a different way depending on the time of day and other circumstances of a wearing; this is another intriguing quality of Zino. One day, it's dark spiky patchouli; next time, lovely blushing rose; after that, rich sandalwood and lean cedar; but next time it's warm, funky civet and sweet vanilla; next spray brings herbal lavender and clary sage, and so on.

Jicky and Zino both feature a lemon-bergamot citrus accord and an array of light herbs at the opening, which is lovely, deep, beguiling, strange, and old-fashioned simultaneously.

I really enjoy the olfactory profile of Zino, but wearing it is even more conflicting for me than wearing Jicky. It's old-fashioned -- I agree it's very 80s, but 1880s -- and really reminds me of an elderly gentleman. I'm not elderly so there's a bit of a mismatch. I can understand certain wearers wanting to go a bit more formal at Zino's inherent stuffiness.

At the same time I am enthralled by the gutsy fragrance angle of an animalic overdose tempered by carefully chosen accords to mask the feral onslaught (cf. Jicky, Ungaro II, Baie de Genievre, Yatagan, Balenciaga pH) and truly enjoy every moment of this complex, moderately dense, and finely balanced creation. Certainly a thumbs-up, but wearability may not be its strong point.

I understand the composition was hollowed out and cheapened a bit in reformulation (block letters rather than cursive on the bottle), but I have only tried the vintage. It certainly does not smell as inexpensive as it was.

In the 90s, Ungaro II and Jaguar Mark II explored similar concepts further with a spared-down lavender-civet and a woodsier non-floral approach, respectively.
19th August, 2012 (last edited: 09th December, 2012)

Obsession for Men by Calvin Klein

An herbaceous woody oriental based around the balsamic-sweet yet resinous character of an overdose of benzoin. Powdery fragrance lovers must rejoice. The rest of us get the concept, but feel fairly browbeaten after 18 hours of potent unctuous sillage. Handle with care.
14th August, 2012
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Eau Illuminée by Delrae

This delicate green composition is marred by an overdose of a sweet, resinous green heart accord consisting primarily of whatever synthetics are also used in Tauer Perfumes' Verdant. That makes the first three hours distinctly unpleasant for me. I don't get a lot of the listed accords during this time. The drydown consists of cinnamon, coumarin and amber to my nose. Pleasant, but too little too late.
09th August, 2012

Dolce & Gabbana pour Homme by Dolce & Gabbana

Very much a product of its time, the height of synthetics as the main theme of compositions. Even the lavender feels synthetic to my nose. None of the notes in the pyramid really strike me as present in this juice. Instead, I get a very petroleum-synthetic apple impression. Very reminiscent of industrial cleaning products in an unpleasant and crude way.
06th August, 2012

The Natural by Gap

A pleasant and surprisingly long-lasting grapefruit cologne. I agree with the comparison to Jo Malone Lime Basil Mandarin, though this is less complex. Has a good balance of sweet and tart -- I would say it's "off-dry" in Turin's turn of phrase. Easily worth the bargain-basement prices mentioned here.
02nd August, 2012

G-11 by Il Profumo

Notes from Il Profumo:

Top: Green & Hesperidic notes
Heart: Tobacco Flower, Neroli, Rosewood, English Lavender
Base: White musk, vetiver, sandalwood, cypress, patchouli, oakmoss

A traditional 60s-70s style masculine. It does feel balanced, but the unlisted heavy, smoky birch tar "leather" ruins the ride for me -- I hate birch tar.
07th July, 2012

Crown Fougère by Crown Perfumery

A pleasant, natural and balanced composition. Geranium and tonka are the stars of the show, but the herbs, lavender, and woods provide good support. Those two stars are not my favorite ingredients but here their rosy and powdery facets are effectively mitigated by green accords so that I do find it wearable.
05th July, 2012

Trésor (new) by Lancôme

Truly vile peachy concoction drowning in nauseating waxy aldehydes. Synthetic, extreme, and quite literally headache-inducing.
25th June, 2012

Apparition Cobalt by Ungaro

Another "blue" fragrance with citrus, cedar, mild spices (nutmeg & cardamom). This one features a good dose of synthetic/metallic floral aromachemicals straight out of some industrial cleaners. It reminds me of a sweeter and more transparent version of Barishnykov Sport somewhat, but much less successfully blended. Pretty awful. Cool bottle though.
05th June, 2012

Dia Man by Amouage

A lovely aromatic oriental. It smells like a forgotten scent from the 1970s -- forgotten because it was too subtle for the era. In the top, bigarade lends a natural green herbal sharpness. The transition to the florals, where I get a bit of a carnation impression, is when Dia Man harkens most back to drugstore classic masculines. The florals in the heart are not as fruity as I had been expecting based on the other reviews here. Nor are they as dry as I usually like them in a masculine. The iris/orris is way in the background. I detect a lovely civet-musk animalic accord that brings the incense alive in the base.

As with most incense based frags, longevity is excellent, although projection is polite here. In fact, this is the most polite Amouage I've come across. Not sure it's worth the price they're asking, but it's a pleasant experience from start to end.
05th June, 2012

Gli Odori by Odori

A promising aromatic opening of kitchen spices in Gli Odori is followed by some delightful spices. There is a VERY strong dose of cumin seed as odysseusm points out, which I don't necessarily have a problem with per se. However, the cumin is marred by the unnecessarily sweetness of nutmeg and sandalwood, and probably an anonymous sweet floral like hydroxycitronellol. I wanted to like this fragrance, but cumin plus sweet is just hard to pull off. It doesn't quite work here.
02nd June, 2012

Brut by Fabergé

One thing Brut has going for it is its gratifyingly accurate name, which translates as "crass." The crisp green aromatic top notes are the only enjoyable part of this cloying, thick stinker. The vanilla and sweet florals ruin the ride for me. There is a definite impression of sweaty hairy men -- a similar sweat note as is present in Eau Sauvage (a much lighter composition), perhaps basil and sage? I wouldn't mind smelling like my childhood friends' uncles if they had smelled good. But they didn't.

(Review of "Brut Classic" in the glass bottle)
02nd June, 2012

Limes by Floris

I agree that this is related to Eau de Guerlain, which apparently came later. Lovely crisp unsweetened herbal lime opening, followed by maybe an hour of mild floral musk. There are long-lasting citrus fragrances, so I don't see much of a point in traditional EdC's like this, pleasant as it is.
01st June, 2012

D&G Masculine by Dolce & Gabbana

Synthetic, thin neroli, industrial cleaning aromachemicals, and blasting soapy laundry musks combine into a singularly blaring cacophany of late-twentieth-century sanitized chemical warfare. Naturally (pun intended), it projects like a monster and lasts easily 18 hours on the skin . . . if you can keep in on that long without wanting to burn your skin off with hydrochloric acid.
26th May, 2012

Vetiver de Java by Il Profumo

Notes listed by Luckscent: lavender, vetyver, birch, encense, red rose, Cashmere cypress, guayac wood, oak moss.

I get a lot of masculine herbs in the opening along with the lavender. Unfortunately my interest drops off after that with the advent of what I pick up as a distinct violet accord. This may just be a result of the cypress mixing with other elements, but it comes off as soapy ionones to my nose. I generally don't like ionones and I'm not a fan of that effect here. The drydown is very quiet with a whisper of vetiver and warm musk -- too little, too late.
25th May, 2012

Everlast Original 1910 by Everlast

The opening is somewhat interesting with its herbs and bright dissonant citrus, and Everlast's longevity is good. But I get a fruity aspect and metallic, synthetic florals in the heart that scream "cheap." The soft amber and musk in the drydown keep this one from being a total write-off, but I don't enjoy it.
16th May, 2012

Shadow by JAR

I definitely get the pickle spices impression, but I think lizzie_j is imagining the vinegar. A pleasant, balanced concoction of clove leaf, carnation, Australian sandalwood, and a touch of amber, dill, and perhaps bay leaf. Not sure why they want so much money for it though.
10th May, 2012

Victor by Victor

I seem to be the first actually reviewing the "Original Cologne" version of this apparent classic. (Victor V Club is a completely different fragrance.) Starts out with a sweet citrus accord with a touch of lavender and spice. The heart comes quick with some more mild sweet spices, an anonymous floral (hydroxycitronellol?) to sweeten it up, and a good dash of coumarin. Musk peaks through and finishes the show at typical cologne longevity, which is to say it's completely gone from the skin in five hours. Natural and pleasant, but unremarkable. Something to walk to the farmer's market wreathed in, with your little daughter holding your hand, asking you why eggplants are purple.
19th April, 2012

Captain Molyneux by Molyneux

Review of the vintage formulation:

A very pleasant lavender-herbal oakmoss opening with a touch of geranium followed by an extremely subtle musk and coumarin drydown. Neutral rating because the longevity is simply not up to snuff for an EdT. Triple the base accord dose and this would be a real winner, a true classic aromatic fougere.
05th April, 2012