Perfume Reviews

Reviews by kingofengland

Total Reviews: 154

Eau du Fier by Annick Goutal

From the days when Annick Goutal would boldly go where no-one had gone before, comes this trailbazing fragrance. At first I took the name to mean fire water, but I think it actually means something to be proud of.

But fire is very much to the point. The aroma is of the famous smoky tea, lapsang souchong, magnified by about 1,000. But then delightfully tamed by the bitter orange and other complex notes with the wonderful results that others have remarked on.

Like the reviewer below I have an almost full bottle, and it is likely to stay that way for a fair time, as a few drops go a long way.

Given that the product is thoroughly politically incorrect by modern standards, is there any olfactory experience that comes close, other than ordering a ton of fresh tarmac? Well you could try Duel, another characterful Goutal creation from the days of yore, or perhaps Zagorsk from Comme des Garcons, which is an original and very civilised offering with a slight smokiness. Or then again, try to track down some good old fashioned coal tar soap, before that disappears off the shelves too.

But nothing really comes close to Eau du Fier. It is indeed a masterpiece without equal.
21st May, 2020

Green Water by Jacques Fath

Big disappointment for those who remember the old formula in the dark green bottle. This is a very light cologne, with a significant chunk of neroli in the new rendition. But it's an insipid cologne: thin, banal, insubstantial and does no justice to its heritage.

Not surprising that the old formula is now fetching premium prices on ebay.
21st May, 2020

Etoile d'Une Nuit by Annick Goutal

Obvious question, is this just a renamed version of their classic perfume, Nuit Etoilee?

Evidently not, as Etoile d'une nuit appears to be a modern gourmandish affair in the style of Chopard's original Casmir. But they don't make it clear, that there is no relation.

Can't help feeling that Maison Goutal has lost its way, what with the boring new bottles and vastly reduced range. Still, if they follow the star...

21st May, 2020
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Mademoiselle Ricci by Nina Ricci

Having acquired a bottle out of curiosity, and making allowances for a slight degree of oxidation over time, I agree with the report below that the scent is almost identical or totally identical to Signorrici 1. Zut!

Maybe the Italian Signorinas were appropriating their boyfriend's bottles so Nina Ricci decided they should get some of their own. The juice could be identical and the declared ingredients different, depending on what is declared and what isn't.
20th May, 2020

Signoricci (Original) by Nina Ricci

I remember been transfixed by the freshness of this fragrance when it first came out. To me it has a distinctive bitter green quality reminiscent of nasturtium (capucine) though I have never seen this aspect listed in the declared ingredients nor mentioned by anyone else. The galbanum I can certainly relate to.
04th May, 2020 (last edited: 16th May, 2020)

Métal by Paco Rabanne

In reply to Jack Twist, I believe the name came from the designer dress covered in metal sequin, that the perfume was supposed to match. I think it is held in high regard by perfumers today.
04th May, 2020

Hermessence Iris Ukiyoé by Hermès

Pleasant scent with some resemblance to Hermes Epice Marine, was my first impression. Then I thought, orangeflower, it's very much in the orangeflower area. That was before I read the declared ingredients so it's probably significant.
31st March, 2020

Incense Extrême by Tauer

Insofar as I perceive anything much at all it is a very light, "thin" odour. I am reminded somewhat of the Givaudan specialty Cetonal, which is classed as in the orris spectrum, and perhaps Cantryl (Symrise) which has a thuja wood-like note. The fragrance does however improve with time, giving an attractive dry, orris-cedar-ambergris basenote.
29th March, 2020 (last edited: 24th May, 2020)

L'Air des Alpes Suisses by Tauer

I liked this straight away, the freshness and the spiciness. The particular type of lavandacious freshness recalls a mens classic from 40 years ago, Shulton's Blue Stratos, which is still obtainable. The ad line was "captures the freshness and freedom of the windswept sky".

It also reminds me of Speick, a classic German toilet soap again loosely based on lavender.

I suppose it could even be compared to a fresher and greener version of Tabac Original, another classic German mens fragrance from the 1950's.

Whilst on the subject of comparisons, the holy grail alpine fragrance for me will always be Roger and Gallet's Verlande, (the name being an anagram of lavender). This was another mens line, discontinued 40 or 50 years ago, which mixed fine lavender with high altitude alpine aromas, to very good effect.

I would be interested to know to what extent Tauer was aiming for a genuine reconstruction of alpine flower notes (which could be done by headspace) and to what extent it is a fantasy concept.
11th March, 2020 (last edited: 28th April, 2020)

Elephant by Zoologist Perfumes

When I first tried this one, I thought oh, coconut, I don’t much like coconut, and set it on one side. That just shows you how perceptions can change over time, as your nose educates itself to any new fragrance presented to it.

If you thought this would be a heavy, lumbering composition, you are in for a big surprise. It is light and airy, almost delicate. There is a green, sappy background. Maybe fig, I thought to myself, and I don’t like fig. But I do like this one, so maybe it isn’t fig. No point in speculating, because with any well blended perfume you can’t pick out the component elements, it is a total gestalt.

Probably my perception of coconut was conditioned by the over-sweet processed variety in confectionery bars. Drinking the milk from a freshly cracked fruit is totally different, and that refreshing milky quality is nearer to what you get here, alongside the lush greenery which is definitely not fig.

The elephant is a lovely animal, which has suffered terribly at the hands of humans, so a tribute to it is long overdue. And Chris Bartlett’s creation does the ancient species proud, as well as educating me that I do like coconut after all. At least, this leafy green variety. Elephant is a masterpiece, which richly deserves its place at the top of the art and olfaction awards
05th February, 2020

Hummingbird by Zoologist Perfumes

A close cousin to Zoologist Bee, sharing a similar sweet nectar note.

The image of a hovering hummingbird drinking from a flower symbolises what perfumery is all about, and it is no accident that it was adopted by one of the most famous European supply houses, still appearing on their logo.

Underlying the honey and nectar is a floriental aspect bringing it into the territory, in mass market terms, of perfumes such as Amarige. I apologise to you Hummingbird for that comparison, but it means that this fragrance will be well liked by nearly everyone, whilst retaining it own unique charm.

Hummingbird is somewhat lighter than Bee but equally complex and intriguing. It is a totally delightful scent which very few will dislike.
05th February, 2020

Bee by Zoologist Perfumes

Smelling Zoologist Bee gives you a taste of what it must be like to be a small insect sampling the nectar from a wild flower. Pure pleasure and you immediately want to drink in more of it. Well we are stuck with being humans so we can’t directly have that experience, however the fragrance does remind me – a very personal association - of the aroma of Heineken lager. Which is no surprise when you think about it for bees can access parts of a flower that other insects cannot reach.

Joking apart, the nectar and lagerbeer notes are merely the hors d’oeuvre here. The main course which follows is creamy and floral, a longlasting accord in which broom plays a leading role. A faint hint of smoking incense in the background adds to the enjoyable atmosphere. This is an excellent original fragrance and the ideal gift for your daughter if she happens to be a beekeeper, like mine.
05th February, 2020

Hyrax by Zoologist Perfumes

A strange and wonderful perfume this one. Smelling it, I think of a woodworking workshop, the polishes and varnishes, and a pot of old fashioned bone glue steaming away on the stove.

This is not a run-of-the-mill fragrance, it is very different and distinctive.
In a strange way it takes me back to the 1960’s, and a 50 year old fragrance in my wardrobe called Lacoste Eau de Sport with a wonderful dry-woody odour, from the days when the Lacoste brand was still highly exclusive and before the IFRA regulations took hold.

Hyrax proves to us that some things get better with time. Connoisseurs of malt whisky already know that, and so do perfumers where materials like ambergris are concerned, but African stone is rather less well known. When I smell this fragrance, I think of aged patchouli oil – patchouli a l’ancien - emblematic of the 1960’s and flower power. I think too of Ambre Antique, a famous perfume of the past that you can smell at the osmotheque perfume museum in Versailles. Hyrax too is an antique, with all the unique character that antiques have.
03rd February, 2020
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Tyrannosaurus Rex by Zoologist Perfumes

This king of beasts, which ruled the earth for millions of years, now finds expression in a fragrance. And what a king of fragrances this is, arresting and distinctive, you could not possibly mistake it for anything else.

The nearest approach might be Spiritus Land 2, from Miller and Bertaux. This is another favourite fragrance of mine which, like T. Rex, lets everyone know who is boss. T.Rex might be described as a full Technicolor version of the M&B creation, with an additional metallic edge.

There is a definite Russian Leather aspect and the smoky cade oil is clearly perceptible, but the fragrance is full bodied and clean smelling. In fact it is not so much a scent as a total sensation, as it enters your nose like a predator in search of a prey. All it finds in my case is some very appreciative olfactory receptors, signalling a positive experience to my humble human brain.

Definitely a fragrance which has grown on me and one which should stand the test of time.
03rd February, 2020

Cala by Bravanariz

Bravanariz is Juniper Ridge on steroids, a super-hyped Spanish version of the American brand. Not so much perfumery as communing with nature, proudly going beyond the industry’s regulations to bring you the real ale of the fragrance world.

You know the pitch: forsaking all petrochemicals and horrid synthetics, we don our hiking boots and head for the wild mountains with a couple of jam jars, a few tin cans and a bit of lab glassware to make it look convincing, returning with the very essence of mother nature, all without harming a single microbe.

Except Bravanariz outshines even Juniper Ridge with their passion and inspiration. “Our bottles not only contain the essence of a place but all the experiences lived in it”, they explain. How amazing, and it’s all put together by honest folk who hate technology but love plants. It sounds so appealing that you want to buy everything straight away. But hang on, what does their stuff actually smell like? ….

Well that’s a different story. Judging by this particular product they probably smell like the amateur concoctions they are. Cala is rather a crude fennel odour which does improve with time, but that’s probably because it disappears with time.

However, don’t dismiss this brand out of hand. A few of their rarer offerings are excellent, original scents. Made for them, possibly, by a firm that knows what it’s doing. Stil never mind that, if you find one you like just enjoy it alongside the advertising and take no notice of cynical people like me.

Of their wild, IFRA-noncompliant "Olfactory Digressions", I would single out FUM, a very interesting and compelling scent recalling old wooden boats and railway stations during the steam era. There is also Pi, a pine variant suggestive of machine rooms with electric motors and a touch of WD40 in the air. Pi is an ultra volatile topnote which is gone almost as soon as it hits the smelling strip.

My above reservations aside, I take my hat off to any firm with the guts to market such singular fragrances.
21st January, 2020 (last edited: 05th February, 2020)

Cape Heartache by Imaginary Authors

Very smooth natural smell evocative of forests. Fir balsam and certainly pine needle absolute do have a fruity aspect, which has been skilfully brought out in this perfume.

Slumberhouse has done the same thing with Sadanne, with a pronounced strawberry nuance, but compared to Cape Heartache, Sadanne is a heavy handed composition.

There is an earthiness suggestive of forest floor which accentuates the naturalness.

Regarding the declared ingredients, mountain fog is a great one, I wonder if they distil it on the spot?

But vanilla leaf, which I looked up, could have some basis. it seems to be in a similar category to woodruff, melilot and deertongue, where natural extracts are occasionally available, so we'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

One of my top favourites in the Imaginary Authors lineup.

21st January, 2020

Liquo by Angela Ciampagna

A box of tonka beans having been my first introduction to the joys of perfumery some 60 years ago, I have remained enamoured of coumarinic scents ever since. This one is rich, nutty, suggestive of hay and tobacco flavours, and generally delightful.
30th November, 2019

Ignes by Angela Ciampagna

Somewhat disappointed after reading the glowing description from the marketers, all about the wonderful sandalwood and rich tobacco etc. It seems to be a fairly conventional oriental fragrance in the manner of Calvin Klein's Obsession.
28th November, 2019

Aer by Angela Ciampagna

Very different from my expectations after reading the ingredients list and the hype on the Sniff etc. It puts me in mind slightly of Eau Hadrien and Bois de Hadrien from Goutal and I also got a hint of a very familiar flavour, though I can't think what. Any suggestions? Pistachio ice cream maybe, or some type of liqueur.
I suppose there is a certain airy freshness, (I was briefly reminded of floralozone) but in general I find this fragrance a vague and nondescript affair. And the juniperberries? Not a trace anywhere, or anything remotely like them, I'm afraid.
27th November, 2019 (last edited: 30th November, 2019)

Rosarium by Angela Ciampagna

A waxy-woody type of note which reminds me of aldehyde MNA, and puts it in the territory of Study 23 by Miller and Bertaux (see my review).
27th November, 2019

Flash Back by Olfactive Studio

Nice topnotes - Fresh dry citrus, grapefruit with a peppery edge, bergamot. Linalyl acetate etc
23rd November, 2019

Nox by Angela Ciampagna

First impression was a freshness in the direction of lilac (terpineol). I can also relate to Luca Turin's association to a church crypt, but it's not the usual incense, something different and I agree with Turin when he says it's "lovely stuff".

On the negative side, I see it contains the usual dose of salt, along with practically every other perfume on the market. Salt has no odour so won't interfere with the fragrance; all the same, I can't believe all this salt is doing us any good.

In summary a great perfume, but keep an eye on your blood pressure.
23rd November, 2019

Panda (original) by Zoologist Perfumes

The outstanding feature here in my view is the contrast between the fruity green body and the earthy undertone. The sweet fruitiness resembles not so much apple as pineapple, there might even be a nod to Frederick Malle's Music for a While, which is also famous for its pineapple note.

The earthiness, representing the forest floor, is the same as I included in my wedding perfume for my daughter - very difficult to get the dosage exactly right, but the balance is nicely achieved. A successful marriage of fruity-green, floral and earthy: surely a recipe for happiness.
19th November, 2019

The Soft Lawn by Imaginary Authors

Pleasant, green floral fragrance with linden blossom as a principal component - the honey and beeswax type of character like you find in D'Orsay's Tilleul is less pronounced and in its place is a fresh aldehydic peach similar to that in "Falling into the Sea".

Overall however it could be said to suggest a soft lawn, though the tennis balls are almost certainly added by the marketers, rather than the perfumers.

And talking of marketing, the backstory of an enterprising young man called Josh Meyer with no prior experience putting the successful perfumes together on his kitchen table fits nicely with 'the American dream' but is, I suspect, a lot of old baloney. If I claimed to have built a fighter jet in my backyard from old tin cans, nobody would believe me, but you can get away with almost anything in the fantasy land of perfumery.
18th November, 2019 (last edited: 13th January, 2020)

Every Storm a Serenade by Imaginary Authors

I get nothing from this apart from a vague and totally nondescript odour with no relation to what others are perceiving. Either it is a total con or my nose is blind to the odorants. Presumably the latter and I only report on it in case others have the same problem.
18th November, 2019

Rake & Ruin by Beaufort London

I am in general agreement with FumeHood's entertaining review below. My first impression of the fragrance was something very original, savory, burnt or roasted. The savory aspect which can certainly be compared to celery is also very like the herb lovage, a common ingredient of soups. It could come also from angelica roots which is listed among the ingredients, and is a characteristic component of gin of course, which is in keeping with the backstory.

You could end up smelling like a soup kitchen but somehow the perfumer pulls if off and just makes a fascinating and creative blend, very avant garde and different from anything else on the market, that I'm aware of.

The dominant effect for me of this excellent fragrance in summary is savory and herbal. It is earthy and rooty. I don't think it is at all animalic and any association with sweat, prostitution and debauchery is ridiculous. However, most reviewers on Fragrantica and elsewhere seem preoccupied by that perception after reading the advertising story.
16th November, 2019 (last edited: 25th February, 2020)

Autoportrait by Olfactive Studio

Back in the 1970's I recall an Italian mens line called vidal which had this fresh woody note. It belonged among the coniferous fragrances in the H&R genealogy if I remember right, alongside Pino Sylvestre and all that group. A dry, very acceptable masculine scent, fresh cedar, I quite like it.

The declared ingredients could be quite misleading here though I can believe there is elemi and bergamot, but as the official description comments:

"Autoportrait is a good example of how frankincense can be used in a modern way for its fresh coniferous value, without going into a churchy or oriental interpretation."

Very likely it will be sweetened by synthetic components such as coniferan, plicatone etc.

Sure, the marketing story trying to link perfume and photography is contrived and unconvincing but the fragrance itself is attractive, as is the bottle. I think the some of the dismissive judgments below are a bit hasty to be honest.
16th November, 2019 (last edited: 18th November, 2019)

Grand Amour by Annick Goutal

I sent for a sample of this out of curiosity in view of the review by Ayala below comparing it to the scent of mastic (lentisque). Mastic has a bitter green-woody odour akin to galbanum.

It shows how subjective is the sense of smell in that what my own nostrils picked up was a floral bouquet in the style of L'air du Temps, plus some hint of indole. A pleasant and very traditional perfume, from this respected brand.

I will have to look elsewhere for the green and woody notes I tend to go for.
09th November, 2019

Squid by Zoologist Perfumes

I must admit that the squid is a creature which occasions me a little trepidation, ever since I saw the film 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, featuring an epic life and death battle with a giant squid.

The fragrance however is not at all alarming but a very civilised affair. The marine aspect is quite different from the usual, hinting at a sumptuous meal of 'fruits de la mer' served in the elegant surroundings of the Nautilus by the gracious host, Captain Nemo.

Somehow the atmosphere aboard that tastefully furnished vessel is conjured up in this highly original fragrance, a refreshing change from the usual ocean breeze and tropical flower compositions. The avant garde elements seem to be concentrated in the topnotes, where they can be best appreciated by the wearer as they apply the fragrance.

The main body of the perfume bears a distant resemblance to Bulgari Black, which is perhaps where the reference to black ink comes in. There is a black tar and oily aspect, nothing so crude as cod liver oil though that idea did come briefly to mind, but it's more like a pleasant effluvium from the deep sea equipment.

As Elena Knezhevich of Fragrantica puts it "Zoologist Squid sings a song of the sea, a melancholy tale told through tangy brine... all united by the moody aroma of ambergris..."
07th November, 2019 (last edited: 31st January, 2020)

Falling into the Sea by Imaginary Authors

Great name for a perfume! It's not really a marine smell, despite the name and the warm sand ingredient, whatever that is. It's more of a fresh flowershop vibe with a strong fruity shading in the direction of peach. OK I might be persuaded it's lychee but it smells more like peach to me.
A related type of fragrance is Miller and Bertaux number 17. Both very refreshing.
02nd November, 2019