Perfume Reviews

Reviews by thatbrownelf

Total Reviews: 17

Spark for Women by Liz Claiborne

For a perfume I found at Goodwill for $3, this isn't that bad. It's -strong-, so not for the faint of nose. While the boozy, spicy vanilla-musk that flares out of the bottle can be quite strident and slightly plasticky, with measured (read: LIGHT) application Spark can be quite cozy and comforting. I prefer the smell of it on clothing/linens and as a room spray over the smell of it on my skin, though. If Chanel Coromandel is cozy like a favorite cashmere sweater, then Spark is cozy like an old over-sized t-shirt lifted from an old lover.
27th August, 2011 (last edited: 05th September, 2011)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Fresh

Having bought the 75ml when it first came out, I abandoned it in my closet for the longest time as my interest in perfumes waned. As I've become re-interested in perfumery I pulled this, the oldest of my owned scents, out to see if I still liked her and if anything had changed over the years.

First off, luckily Memoirs of a Geisha hasn't turned in any way, maintaining the same powdery-peachy note I remember from when I wore it constantly. At first spritz the citrus notes are acidic and ashy, but it always does that on my skin. Thankfully that phase is fleeting as the peach and kumquat come roaring to the surface, and the two fruits together somehow smell of yuzu. The combination of iris, sandalwood, and fruits gives the blend an overall powdery-peachiness evocative of a geisha at play at a biwa, but it's much too strong and cloying as a spray and would've been (and was) much better as an actual scented powder. Not for me, and hopefully there are others who love this scent more so I can swap my long-ignored bottle to a loving home.
27th August, 2011

Tuscan Leather by Tom Ford

A reviewer on Fragrantica called Tuscan Leather Beauty and the Beast, Heaven and Hell rolled into one, and I couldn't agree more. TL opens with smoky, gritty leather reminiscent of perhaps a biker jacket after a night of riding and carousing in smoke-hazed dives. Then the raspberry and vanilla slip in, giving TL a surprisingly sweet edge, but rather than shunting aside the leather the sweet notes blend with it. Saffron and olibanum add a spicy kick, reminding you with all the sweetness that the wolf still lurks beneath, but don't worry, it won't bite. The scent remains dark and spicy overall, but the sweetness just beneath the surface keeps TL from going too rough. Sillage is strong but not cloying, and since you need so little, TL is so well-blended, and the longevity is so superb, the high price tag is justified in my mind.

I can't help but envision the lead singer of a death metal band who, despite their scary exterior, writes their SO sonnets and sings them ballads when the couple is alone. Since this pretty much describes my husband (who wears TL as well as me and is the only scent he's specifically asked to put on him),a decanter bottle may soon be in my possession.
27th August, 2011
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Noir de Noir by Tom Ford

Gypsy parfumista on Fragrantica put it best in her review below that Noir de Noir is "the queen of her darkest aspect". This is ROSE, but a dark, brooding, foreboding rose with no hint of romance whatsoever. Vanilla and saffron swirl beneath the surface and restrain NdN from going despairingly dark, but the patchouli and oakmoss keep the blend in its entirety thick, rich, and with only a pinprick of light. This is not Cinderella, this is her evil stepmother: cruel, haughty, and without remorse or regret. The sweet and innocent best keep away. Noir de Noir layers quite well with Tuscan Leather if you wish to make it more masculine (NdN is too feminine on its own to sit well on a man) and/or you wish to quash that last remnant of light and make it completely dark.
27th August, 2011

Calèche Eau de Toilette by Hermès

Starts off with a juicy citrus aldehydic burst, then softens to powdery floral with touches of rose, ylang ylang and iris. A musky, leathery, animalic note lingers in the background and grows more apparent as Caleche dries, keeping the florals from going too powdery or sharp. Warm mossy dry woods round out the scent, and I can't help thinking this is one of the truest chypres I've smelled thus far. Feminine and classy with a hint of masculinity to give pause. I can understand the references to Chanel No.5, but Caleche seems more like a second cousin rather than a direct relative.
27th August, 2011

Shalimar Parfum Initial by Guerlain

As someone who cannot wear normal Shalimar (I amp the incense note), and has never smelled any other flanker and probably never will, I present a completely unbiased review. I'm aware that Parfum Initial has received a lashing online reviews-wise, but I believe most are due to being unable to judge this on its own merits. Though I will admit, the choice of pink for the juice is silly if not a bit demeaning.

In any case, Shalimar Parfum Initial begins with a creamy yet powdery vanilla/iris/lemon/tonka combo with just a hint of juiciness which I believe is from the vetiver. It's soft, sweet, and classic in feel--I wonder how this is supposed to appeal to the modern fruitchouli girl. On my skin the powderiness and vanilla/lemon remains all throughout the dry down, but it's a clean just-showered powderiness rather than the cries of "old lady!" often screamed by those who catch even a whiff of powder. Sillage is strong without being cloying, but this is definitely a spray-once-sparingly-in-the-cleavage kind of scent. Longevity is amazingly tenacious, lasting a good 4-6 hours.

If Shalimar is a grand dame coming down a spiral staircase at a grand ball, Parfum Initial is her daughter at her cotillion. I can see this becoming *my* Shalimar, having respect for the original but being unable to handle it. Comparing Parfum Initial to the original would be like expecting some famous person's child or relative to be exactly like him or her; an unfair comparison, and to stay out of the famous person's shadow they need to be judged as their own person.
27th August, 2011

Sycomore Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Sycomore is all juicy dark greens and lush woods, like walking through a deep dense forest after a storm. I'm delighted to finally sniff a blend where vetiver is front and center, and not just an afterthought. In Sycomore it is lush and wet, like biting into a bitter under ripe fruit. To my nose it's a bit citrusy also, like the calamansi juice I've loved since childhood but minus all the sugar typically thrown into it. As I normally can't smell citrus on my skin as the notes turn to ash on my skin, I'm delighted. The sandalwood and tobacco prop up and support the vetiver, and overall I'm reminded of hot summer evenings in Florida chatting around my aunt's wood table as her numerous lime and lemon trees sway in the humid breeze.

I 'll buy a bottle of Sycomore one day, should/when I run out of my decant. I think I've already established in my reviews I like a masculine slant to my scents, and Sycomore is no exception--no florals whatsoever here. This is what I wanted No.19 to be, but 19's sharpness pushed me away. I'll be using this when I take on the boardroom.
27th August, 2011

Chergui by Serge Lutens

This is one of those few scents that on first sniff you go "OH!". Strangely enough, Chergui is what I had hoped Boxeuses would be like.

Chergui starts with a deep spicy honey-tobacco with the spectre of something dark in the background. I found amusing that the reviewer before me mentioned Chergui coming off more leathery on men, and as apparently I have a more masculine skin chemistry despite my girly bits that's what I get--leather. The leather is sweet though, but it's still a bit of a dirty wild child, like Cuir de Russie's raven-haired little sister in a dark purple fitted biker jacket rather than CdR's prim leather gloves. The honey is sweet without being cloying, the tobacco also sweet and with a mild spiciness I've yet to experience in another perfume. The rose is dark and voluptuous, and with the musk, sandalwood and spices rounding everything out Chergui is sweet, spicy, yet foreboding.

I can't help but think but think of the aforementioned biker-leather wearer rocking out to some Joan Jett or Halestorm before going off to hunt some male prey. Definitely a scent to go kick ass and take names--the innocent and pure need not apply.
27th August, 2011

Boxeuses by Serge Lutens

I truly wanted to love Boxeuses, and the notes are typically good ones, but unfortunately it was a dud. Leather and plum, two of my favorite notes, are utterly absent on my skin. In trying to decipher what exactly was the screaming ashy-sour-peppery-sagey-caraway-but-not note, I checked other reviews online and many remarked smelling labdanum. Looks like I found a new doom note as this resin utterly dominates Boxeuses and pummels the other notes into oblivion even throughout the long dry down. I smell like someone doused in Axe cooking curry. *sigh* Glad I was patient and only bought a decant rather than going through the trouble of trying to obtain this Europe-only blend.
27th August, 2011

A Taste of Heaven by By Kilian

Oh man, I'm in love. *swoon*

First off, I'm not sure why this is marketed merely as a men's fragrance as it's quite sweet.Yes, it does start with a shaving cream-esque scent, but after about half an hour or so more of the vanilla and tonka peek through. I can definitely tell there's more than one kind of lavender in here as it's not the flat clean body-wash lavender one tends to get but a plush, complex lavender. The spikes of wormwood, oakmoss, and geranium add an intermittent sharpness that keep this Taste of Heaven from being too sickeningly sweet. The patchouli here is thick and languid, far from the hippy-shop funk or boring clean-patchouli one tends to get in more mainstream scents. While A Taste of Heaven lacks the anisic notes of actual absinthe, I believe it conveys the *idea* of absinthe perfectly. Sillage is strong without being cloying, and three hours after application it's pretty much the same strength and scent as when it first started drying down.

Taking all notes into consideration I truly feel the inspiration behind this, the gloomy Victorian poet in thick absinthe-stained velvet furiously scrabbling words with knotted brow and ink-stained fingers. A Taste of Heaven is definitely unisex, but despite the sweetness I wouldn't dare call it comforting; it's the scent a dastardly man leaves on your pillow long after he's left the next morning, of the dangerous woman who boldly parades around in your shirts that she posseses as fully as she does you. Familiar, but with a throb of anguish and passion fitting for any Byronic hero.
27th August, 2011

Bois des Îles Parfum by Chanel

Bois de Iles is warm, fuzzy, woody oriental with an opening splash of Chanel aldehydes. The Guide stated that Bois de Iles was like the brunette sister of No.5, and I totally agree: it has the same deep murky fuzzy wood notes but Bois de Iles is lighter, perhaps a little more laid back. I would even say Bois de Iles was like the brunette little sister, and is a better "fresher" version of No. 5 than Eau Premiere (which was ash on my skin). Perfect for those early fall days when you want something a little deeper but not too strong, a nice light blazer rather than a heavy peacoat.

Would I buy Bois de Iles? Someday, but it's low on my priority list. Inez by BPAL is pretty similar, like a scent cousin, and significantly cheaper though it comes in only 5ml bottles. If you like Bois de Iles but don't want to spend $110, Inez is a fine substitute; likewise if you like Inez and want more than 5ml, Bois de Iles is where to go. When I finally run out of my bottle of Inez I'll buy Bois de Iles, but not till then.
27th August, 2011

31 rue Cambon Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Bergamot (and citrus in general) and I tend to not be friends, and 31 Rue Cambon confirmed it. All I get is ashy-burned-medicinal citrus--in other words, floor cleaner. No. 5 Eau Premiere and No.19 did the same exact thing to me, so I'm not surprised, just disappointed.
27th August, 2011

Coromandel Eau de Toilette by Chanel

Coromandel is my go-to comfort scent. I would classify it as a milky-oriental, with its creamy vanilla-chocolate notes, soft spice, and warm woods. It's like curling up wrapped in a golden-brown cashmere wrap on an antique velvet mahogany couch, sipping a creamy spicy chai while watching your favorite movie.
27th August, 2011
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Musc for Her by Narciso Rodriguez

The perfect, clean-woman scent. If you're trying to make a statement and/or have your scent announce your presence before you walk in the door, this is not the scent for you. However if you want a subtle, gentle, my-skin-but-better scent, this is it! You have to try it on skin, smelling it on paper doesn't do it any justice.

The florals are restrained and subtle, the musk clean and non-animalic. I don't get the fake/metallic note I got in the normal NR For Her EDT, thankfully, as that was the only bit about the scent that prevented me from loving it. Sillage is very close, but this is an aura scent, not a nose-grabber. I actually don't spray this in the traditional wrist/inner elbow/cleavage areas, but just a quick small spritz under the arms (I use odorless deodorant). The heat from your armpits warms the scent and makes it more of a clean natural scent rather than "oh HAI I'm wearing perfume!". Would be perfect for corporate environments where typical perfumes are frowned upon.
27th August, 2011

Cuir de Russie Parfum by Chanel

As much as leather is one of my favorite scents, of the (limited, I admit)leather-featured scents I've tried most have gone into plasticky-PVC-bondage leather rather than butter-soft leather gloves passed down from a chic female relative. Cuir de Russie, however, was love at first sniff. It opens with a dirty animalic note that's borderline fecal, but the soft, creamy, spicy florals seep in and smooth out this animal's shaggy fur until Cuir de Russie becomes this heart-achingly beautiful blend with an undercurrent of barely-bridled danger; a lady in leather and lace, a sleek panther at repose in a meadow. I feared the bergamot and mandarin might ruin CdR as citrus is my skin's nemesis, but the two are either nonexistent here or (more than likely) thankfully so well interwoven with the other notes that I can't make out their presence.

I have the current Exclusifs EDT, and so cannot compare to past formulations or the parfum, but I can imagine those are as beautiful if not more so. For an EDT sillage and longevity are quite long, and I only regret buying the smaller EDT. Ah well, more wiggle room in my budget to save for the parfum!
27th August, 2011

Elixir des Merveilles by Hermès

At the risk of seeming to parrot others' reviews, Elixir de Merveilles is truly a unique fragrance, and should be at least sniffed. I normally can't wear citrus in the least bit--it immediately turns to floor cleaner upon hitting my skin. Needless to say when my fave SA (*waves to Jabel*) suggested I try this, I was leery.

My fears were for naught though, as the orange peel in EdM is less being hosed with orange juice but more taking a bite into a bittersweet chocolate-dipped orange confection. The orange is prominent and at first blast a little sweet, but it immediately scales back as the dark chocolate note melds with it. As the scent dries down the chocolate disappears and is replaced with salty caramel with a backdrop of bitter, dry woods. A dash of vanilla and tonka adds a hint of sweetness to what has become a nearly masculine fragrance. Intriguing.

All in all I find Elixir de Merveilles a bit mercurial, and borderline bipolar as it straddles the line between sweet-gourmand and austere-masculine. Being a stereotypical Gemini this is perfectly fine. I've received many compliments on EdM, and it will remain at the forefront of my scent rotation despite my heavy oriental leanings.
27th August, 2011

Contradiction by Calvin Klein

I wore this extensively throughout high school, and remembered it as being soft and warm with a kick of spice. When I found a mini at my local perfume shop, I quickly snatched it up and applied to wrist immediately upon getting home.

*sigh* Either my memory of this scent is off, or this mini is off, as the eucalyptus dominates all the way through the long dry down. It's medicinal, sharp, and not to my liking. I get hints of the scent I remembered in the background, but the eucalyptus kicks it backstage, not wanting it to steal its spotlight.

I suppose the usage of sharp and sweet might've been the point of Contradiction, and as high school was over 10 years ago my skin chemistry is more than likely just different. I'm glad to have a mini for the nostalgia but I have no need to get a full bottle.
27th August, 2011