This is an exquisite lime-based eau de cologne housed in an exquisite bottle that fades depressingly quickly. I spray this on hard (12-15 times on skin and clothes) and the scent might last two hours. Because of the terrible longevity, I cannot recommend Eau de Cologne Imperiale over comparable (in price and style) scents that last longer or otherwise perform better. Said another way, Eau de Cologne Imperiale does not hold a candle to Eau de Guerlain, which can be obtained at the same price point, packaged in a similar bottle, and lasts 8-10 hours with 3-6 sprays. Nor can Imperiale compete with Santa Maria Novella's signature scent or Aqua di Sicilia, both of which are EDCs like Imperiale, but which last leagues better.
After a few wearings, I think Imperiale's best use may be as a fragrance to layer with others. I've used it to brighten Smell Bent's Dark Green Citrus (a Frankensmellie) and Santa Maria Novella's Verbena (the combination smells quite a bit like Eau de Guerlain), and I've enjoyed these combinations better than I enjoy Imperiale by itself.
Big thumbs up for this bracing offering from my favorite house, Santa Maria Novella. The other reviewer is right - the opening is very sharp, but that's exactly the reason I love it. I splash this on in the morning and instantly feel alert, awake, alive, and happy.
As far as the scent, I find SMN's Verbena an equal parts amalgam of soap, citrus, and dirt. Conceptually, it's what I imagine a lemon rind might smell like after a soapy waxy coating was applied, then the rind dragged on the ground.
For an Eau de Cologne, I get exceptional longevity - 8-10 hours. I don't notice much development in the fragrance, but that's okay by me.
Another reason I love this fragrance is that it layers exceptionally well with other fragrance in my wardrobe, including Diptyque's Virgilio, Guerlain and Mirato's Vetivers, Santa Maria Novella's Aqua di Siciliia, several Juniper Ridge fragrances, Smell Bent's Green (and Frankensmellies Dark Green Citrus and Green Patchouli), Slumberhouse's Norne, Jo Malone's Lime Mandarin and Basil, and really most of my citrus- or herbal/green-based fragrances. Don't get me wrong, SMN Verbena capably stands on its own, but its ability to layer well with others adds to its versatility and value in my wardrobe.
I am a big fan of the Smell Bent line and so was happy to give this seasonal release a whirl (I tested the perfume oil). The licorice/anise note was super strong in my vial but quite mellow on my skin, even from the get go. After an hour or so, the anise was all but gone and "One" remained. One is another Smell Bent fragrance and smells of dusty paper, vanilla, and musk. I adore One and so enjoyed this "without anise" phase of Dead of Winter. The dust/vanilla/musk phase remained the same scent but decreased in strength from hour one to ten. To my nose, the scent did not really evolve or change much.
Respectfully, I part company a bit with silentrich in that I do not smell anything particularly sweet (could be the oil vs EDT/EDP experience). I also question whether I would reach for Dead of Winter if I wanted an anise fix. I don't think it would, as the anise is fairly fleeting on my skin. Rather, since I already own One and Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin (in which the anise remains for several hours), I would probably choose to layer the two to achieve a longer-lasting anise experience than found in Dead of Winter. However, if you don't own One or LLAM, and you enjoy anise, musk, vanilla, and "dust" (apparently from the cedar and heliotrope), I strongly recommend you give Dead of Winter a try.
To my nose (concededly less trained than many that post reviews on this site), Kenneth Cole Vintage Black is a a decent but uninspiring fragrance, an mixture without form or character that remains such (merely a mixture) throughout its mediocre lifespan. It teases with interesting notes (as well as an overall notes pyramid) but delivers something shapeless and generic.