Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Cook.bot

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Total Reviews: 27

Encre Noire à l'Extrême by Lalique

I've always taken personal offense when people compared Encre Noir to my beloved Sycomore, as if somebody was insulting my own boyfriend. I found original EN harsh, thin, and bad-tempered. But this Extreme version is a whole different animal: a smoky vetiver heart decorated with softer woody resins and incense, well-mannered, even sophisticated. I even like the handsome chunky bottle. And what a bargain -- I see 100ml bottles going for $30-40.  And there's shower gel, too.

It's not dank and damp, like the original. Much drier, much more incensey. I never liked that inky aspect of the original EN. It's just now at the drydown stage on me (5 hours) and it's lovely, soft and grassy/smokey. No evidence of those everlasting woody aromachemicals so common to mass-market men's scent these days.                

It's way too butch for me (a woman) to wear, but I would love to smell this on any man. I may have to buy a bottle and just arbitrarily spritz it on male passers-by. They'll thank me later, right? 
09th September, 2019

Black Gold by Ormonde Jayne

Ormonde Jayne Black Gold

An opulent scent of the type I associate with wealthy women who want the cost of their perfume to be as much on display as its smell. Somewhat rosey, somewhat woody, with a central floral mass from which I can't distinguish a single flower.

Prior to this, my only Ormonde Jayne experiences were Tiare and Ormonde Woman, both of which misled me into thinking this house specialized in multi-textured foresty greens. I can see the comparisons to Jubilation XXV, but I find the Amouage a more interesting, complex scent than this one (except for its tortuous WoodyAromaChemical drydown). The only aspect of Black Gold that captured my attention was its pepper note. The rest of it I'll happily leave to the matrons of Park Avenue and Knightsbridge.
18th May, 2019

Vol de Nuit Extrait by Guerlain

Vol de Nuit parfum (1984/94)

I had samples of both the vintage extrait and the modern EDT to compare side-by-side.

I think I might be trying to will myself to like this, just because it's admired by so many Basenoters who I in turn admire. But I'm not having to try very hard -- a citrussy green galbanum opening is a favorite of mine in almost any fragrance. I have to do a little forgiving with the narcissus, but it's not overwhelming enough to annoy me, and the iris is soft and quietly appealing. And that soft greenness carries right through to the classic custardy Guerlain ending.

The modern EDT, by comparison, is just sharper in every angle: much more moss, much less powder, and much more sweetness in the base. Again, not bad, but very lacking in that Guerlain "haze" that makes the parfum seem like you're smelling it through a silk veil.

I don't think I'm ever going to be a fanatic about Guerlain feminines -- that classic Guerlainade base is just not a selling point for me -- but if I were ever to splurge on a full bottle of one, the vintage Vol de Nuit might be the one. Not to mention that its square Deco bottle might be my favorite bottle in all of perfumery.
18th May, 2019
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Habit Rouge Eau de Cologne by Guerlain

As luck would have it, my samples of the vintage EDC and the current EDP arrived almost simultaneously, so I have a modern version to compare with this 1987 cologne edition.

The first word that leapt to mind smelling the vintage was "suave". That lightly sweetened citrus and powder: Mmm, a Fred Astaire of a scent. In a tuxedo. But my favorite part might be the moss, which to me is a clear green, without the mustiness that often comes with moss. I didn't pick up much floralcy in it (fine with me!), but the light spice (nutmeg? clove?) and vanilla in the base, along with the woods, carried that suave feeling right through to the end.

By comparison, the modern EDP is denser in every department, as if the whole scent had gone from a tenor to a baritone. Everything's darker, especially the moss and spice. It's not bad, but if the EDC was tapdancing on my skin, the EDP is clogging in wooden shoes. (I'm mixing my singer and dancer metaphors, but hopefully you get my drift.)

Now the sad part: as admirable and pretty as the vintage EDC is, it isn't really something I would want to smell on a man. Unless, possibly, that man was Fred Astaire. It's almost too lovely; I think I prefer my masculine scents to be a little more.... spiky?


18th May, 2019

Safari by Ralph Lauren

Did you ever wish your Givenchy III had a more floral heart and warmer base?

I didn't, but I wound up loving Safari anyway.

I'm congenitally opposed to big white florals and opulent scents in general, but somehow that overlay of green galbanum and aldehydes moves Safari into the more-ish column for me. Flowers with their green leaves and stems still attached. Autumnal, but not melancholy, and so well blended.

Just read Oviatt's review; totally accurate, and witty.

The rather kitschy bottle with its elaborately cut glass is a somewhat guilty pleasure for me, too. My 1989 vintage EDC bottle (4 ounces) has an unusual feature: a crystal stopper in its neck, like a parfum bottle. The only other EDT bottle I have with that feature is an old Dior Dune.
12th October, 2018

Vetiver Insolent by Miller Harris

Loved this straight out of the gate. Huge pepper and cardamom on me, so peppery it almost made my nose itch, and I'd have been pleased if this stage had lasted for hours. I was less pleased when the resin started to overpower the cardamom, but fortunately a pretty big dose of iris helped me over that hump. I guess the name made me think the vetiver was going to be rootier/earthier than it was, but it was light enough that it seemed to be duking it out with the resin for the top rung. I'd have been happier if all that resin had been a smoke or tobacco note instead, but even so I thoroughly enjoyed the whole smell experience. Had surprisingly strong sillage (I could smell it when I re-entered the room), but weak persistence, maybe 3 hours. Definitely reads as masculine to me.
05th July, 2018

La Fumée Intense by Miller Harris

This is very, very beautiful, but is actually more resinous incense than I can comfortably handle. The incense almost overpowers the warm spices (which makes me feel deprived) and I can't detect florals in the heart at all. I do sense something grassy, which is probably just my nose misinterpreting the chamomile, and I like that very much. The first part of the base was difficult, as I really disliked the oud following on the heels of the incese, but the late drydown was so beautiful that it was worth the trouble. Had pretty astonishing projection, too. I would LOVE to smell this on a man; too bad you can't fast-forward a perfume straight to the base. Makes me eager to smell La Fumee Maroc, too.
05th July, 2018

Vetiver by Etro

Dang. I thought I had a strong appetite for big, bold vetivers. After all, I wrestled MPG's Route du Vetiver to the ground and enjoyed the battle. But Etro's Vetiver laughed at my confidence, grabbed me by the lapels and slammed me against the wall.

This is the biggest, boldest, driest, dustiest vetiver I've encountered. And the only other note I can smell is sage, which is just as dusty.

Still, I have to admire its unapologetic bravado and chutzpah. I can't bring myself to give it less than a thumb's up... although that might just be out of fear.
06th May, 2018

Galop d'Hermès by Hermès

When Galop was released, I was very excited about a new nose at my favorite of the big houses, and I got two carded house samples of it. I was shocked when I found it absolutely repulsive. Not just mediocre, but truly repellent, in that pesticide kind of way. They were screechy, nose-burning, super-synthetic. When the leather emerged, it was nothing like the usual Hermes leather or suede, but like the chemicals that would be used for tanning leather.

I really thought my samples must have gone bad. I couldn't imagine Hermes producing something this dismal. Then I got a chance to try Galop again in a Basenotes sample pass. I'm testing this one simultaneously on paper and skin, just in case something in me is reacting badly with Galop.

The opening is still a bit harsh, but not searing -- on skin it goes straight into a bright rose that I wouldn't really call fruity. And the leather is almost immediate, when I didn't expect it til later in the development. It's a soft leather, very Hermes-like, very lightly decorated with saffron.

On paper it's quite different: all rose and fruit, no leather in sight. I don't think I know what quince smells like, but this fruit is soft, pale, maybe like an Asian pear; not like a stone fruit, and certainly not at all over-ripe or rotten. Quite fresh, in fact.

I didn't get much development beyond that over the course of 3 hours, and three generous sprays had completely disappeared from my skin at the end of those three hours.

Even if I was a big fan of rose and saffron (which I'm not), Galop would unfortunately still be a no-go for me due to its poor longevity, undistinguished blending, and a thin, frail texture. Still, I'm glad to know it isn't as atrocious as those bad samples I had, which can now go immediately into the rubbish bin.
03rd May, 2018

Theorema by Fendi

Very nice orange and spice opening, just barely sweet.

I have to concur with the "mulled wine" description; there's something acidic (wine-like) mingling with the spices and dried fruits to give that impression. You know those "mixed fruits" that people put in Christmas fruitcakes, a mixture of glaceed fruits with raisins and currants? This smells like you stirred those together with spices and some fortified wine, a port or sauternes. The texture is surprisingly light for a scent of that description, though.

It's pleasant, but I'm getting only "macerated dried fruit", not the "decayed fruit" I'd hoped for. Despite the overall spiciness, I can't single out any individual spice, except possibly pepper.

I keep sniffing for the osmanthus, as it's a favorite of mine, and I have to strain to detect it. There's jasmine, but quite restrained. I keep thinking I'm sensing something like mint, or menthol, in the background. I had to Google "Thai shamouti" to see if that was culprit, but it turns out shamouti is a seedless sweet orange from Israel. Maybe that provides some of the acidic quality?

About an hour into it, Theorema turned quite creamy on my skin, with incense, soft rosewood (very nice), and vanillic patchouli, and remained like that til the end, four hours later. I kept expecting lots of amber, in keeping with the oriental theme, but that didn't happen. Despite all the exotic elements, the overall feel remained very "soie" and light throughout, which seems like quite a testament to the perfumer's talent.

I hate to keep using such a cliched term as "pleasant", but Theorema just didn't wow me in the way I expected. I can see how it would be a big hit with lovers of spicy orientals, however; it seems like it would be right at home in the Serge Lutens stable of scents. And it would certainly make a perfectly wonderful Christmas fragrance.

This is a borderline thumbs-up from me; although it's not to my taste, there's no denying that it's beautifully structured and blended.

+++++++++++++++

I must add a coda here: I thought Theorema had disappeared after four hours, but to my surprise it made a strong comeback and started projecting like crazy six hours after I applied it, and is still going full force 9 hours after application. It's the Rocky Balboa of perfumes!
03rd May, 2018

Archives 69 by Etat Libre d'Orange

Have you ever sniffed a freshly-opened jar of olives packed in olive oil that had a lot of dried Mediterranean herbs in it? Add just a little fruity sweetness to that aroma and that's what Archives 69's first minutes smelled like to me. Such a great opening, it almost made me laugh out loud.

Just a few minutes in, I'm getting some berries, not too sweet, balanced with some truly delicious moldy plums and nearly-rotten citrus. (You know how if you leave citrus sitting out in a bowl it devlops that pale grey mold on it? That's what this smells like to me, and it's wonderful, with a faint whiff of metallic twang.) This stage is so fabulous I want it to last forever.

After about an hour, a little more sweetness develops, but fortunately not at the expense of the overripe plums and citrus, which are still enchanting me. The late stage of resinous patchouli kicked in at about the 90-minute mark, and is so well blended that the overripe fruits sort of float above those heavier elements.

This is a heavenly scent experience, and by far the best ELdO I've encountered. I've liked a few (Fat Electrician, Like This), but never enough to go for a FB. Archives 69 manages to be edgy, avant-garde, and wearable all at once, and is the first ELdO that made me say "I want a full bottle and I want it NOW."
26th April, 2018

Eau Fraîche by Christian Dior

For the vintage version, with the wicker-printed cap, label, and box:

These topnotes are heartbreakingly lovely. And surprisingly intact, for a 40+ year old cologne concentration. The opening is just like crushing both the leaves and the fruit from a citrus tree in your hands, and then burying your face in them. I don't get a specific citrus, neither lemon nor lime, and there's no herbaceous quality like Eau Sauvage.

But heartbreaking they are -- gone in 30 minutes. After that, I get just the faintest whiff of a little mossy animalic, and the whole thing has disappeared in just under an hour.

Isn't that odd, that the topnotes would survive but the base be gone? Is that an effect of the hedione? You can sure see that this was a stop on Roudnitska's path from Eau d'Hermes to Eau Sauvage/Diorella. But I get no hint of the rotten fruit that's in Diorella and Femme.

JTD's review mentions it being a long-lasting cologne, but everyone else I've heard discuss it seems to get the same brief lifespan that I did.

It's a frail, fleeting thing, but while it lasts it's pure Roudnitska magic.

Edit: a fresh coat on top of the previous allows me to detect a bit more of the mossy animalic underneath all that juicy citrus. Even more beautiful.
09th April, 2018

La Vie est Belle by Lancôme

La Vie Est Belle

The candy is abundant. (The maturity, redundant.)
The fruits are glacée. (The passers-by will surely pay.)
The flowers are limp. (The meek demeanour of a wimp.)
The width is a mile. (The people request exile.)
The depth is a micron. (The classic perfumery is gone.)
The patchouli is... where? (The hippies say a prayer.)
The sillage is choking. (The perfumistas are all balking.)
The persistence is relentless. (The wearers, all repentless.)

The Julia Roberts is smiling. (The sheep are single filing.)
The cash registers are ringing. (The fat cats are all singing.)

The life may be beautiful.
The fragrance is a bore.

Credits:
Original review by Cook.bot
Greek chorus by Suspended
22nd January, 2018 (last edited: 24th January, 2018)
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Sycomore Eau de Toilette by Chanel

EDT version only:

A list of my top five Desert Island Perfumes would vary depending on the month, week, even hour that I listed them, but one thing that would never change about the group is that it would always include Sycomore. Like Eau d'Hermes, it inspires such unmitigated devotion from me that I find it difficult to talk about. I just hope to never be without either of them until the day I die.

Devoid of florals, it's unlike any other Chanel I ever smelled. Elegant and velvety, it's unlike any other vetiver I ever smelled. Damp, mossy and smoky, it should be bleak but instead elevates my mood at any time of day and in any weather.

I don't get the comparison people make to Encre Noir, which I find harsh and bitter, nor do I sense the marijuana smell that others ascribe to it. To me Sycomore is a walk on the moss-covered ground of a cypress forest on a crisp, grey day, with the woodsmoke from a distant campfire occasionally wafting across your path. And its perfection could not be better summarized than in Turin's assessment: "If putting it on does not make you shiver with pleasure, see a doctor."
10th January, 2018

Vaporocindro by January Scent Project

Like its three house siblings, Vaporocindro is utterly unlike anything else I've ever smelled. Each stage of development is so pronounced, and so different from its predecessor, that it makes for quite a rollercoaster of a ride.

The lilac and green apple are prominent co-stars, but only in the opening 20 minutes. You'd think that would make for a juicy start, but it's surprisingly dry, and I liked it a lot. I was scared about the narcissus in the heart because that's a headachey floral for me, but between the turmeric and black pepper, that stage is more about the spice than the daffodil, and has a more herbal/medicinal effect than floral. (It smells more of raw turmeric tubers than of the dry powdered spice.) And by 'medicinal' I don't mean anything negative, but more like something soothing that would smell 'good for you', in the way that chamomile or horehound does.

It takes about two hours for the drydown to kick in, and it's a far gentler affair than those bold listed notes would imply. The cumin and coffee make a surprisingly pleasant, almost cozy combination (nothing armpitty here), and personally I don't detect oud. It's woody, yes, but nothing like those Everlasting Gobstopper Woody Aromachemicals that are so ubiquitous nowadays, and it has the good grace to just gently fade away after 7 or 8 hours instead of staggering on forever like the norlimbanol/ambroxan monsters.

Like all the January scents I've tried, it's very creative and interesting in its development. I'm still deciding whether it's wearable for me, and I do think I might prefer to smell it on a male.

One other thing: I usually detest market-speak like "flower vapor", but in this case that phrase seems apt. The florals here (lilac, narcissus) actually are vaporous, the way that a bouquet might scent a steamy room as opposed to mashing your nose into the the heart of a flower. A result, I suspect, of masterful blending.
22nd December, 2017

Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent

In the early '80s I was a dedicated wearer of YSL's "Y", but one sniff of Rive Gauche and I remember how prominent it was at the perfume counters and on my friends. And this is in that same green citrusy rose family as YSL's "Y", but with a much bigger rose. This is the scent that Don Draper's second wife would have worn, with her French-Bohemian chic and her batwing Pucci dresses.

I'm getting a Parisian-soap sense from this, and finding it captivating, even though I usually dislike soapiness. There's something so retro about this soap lifted by aldehydes, kind of like original Ivoire. This is also making me recall Rabanne's "Calandre", another great favorite of mine in this era, with its soap-and-metal accord. It's interesting that so many reviewers can't detect the rose here; to me it's large, and I sense none of the other florals some describe. There's nothing sweet about the floral aspect, in fact it's rather spiky. I can picture this fitting right in with the Le Smoking era of androgynous Saint Laurent fashions, even though I'd only ever associated "Y" with those images at the time. In fact, this current version would make a great casual office scent for a man today.

What I'm sniffing is a contemporary version, and Turin gives pretty high marks to the 2003 renovation of this scent, which I presume this is, but I'd still like to experience that resinous quality that he says gave the older stuff a darker background. And other accounts note that there was a sizeable plonk of sandalwood in the vintage aluminum can version.

Sadly, the two sprays I applied had almost vanished after 90 minutes. I'm going to reapply just to experience that green citrus/rose again and to see if I can find any oakmoss in the drydown. But I already know I'm going to add this to my vintage hunting list, and I regret not giving this scent more attention in its heyday.
20th November, 2017

S.T. Dupont Homme by S.T. Dupont

This is what Cartier Declaration looks like if you take off your 3-D glasses: blurry, with less of everything that made the original distinctive.
28th October, 2017

Up the Apples & Pears by 4160 Tuesdays

The saloon doors burst open with a Bang! and in marches a great big beer, trailing all its fizzy bubbles. Malty and yeasty, but fresh too -- nothing sour or stale here. Within ten minutes, fresh fruits sidle up to join him at the bar: the pear is ordering a gin&tonic, while the apple's only having a glass of seltzer.

At about 40 minutes some of 4160's house raspberry note tries to elbow its way in: No, no, no, you're not needed here, go sit over there in that booth by yourself. Ah, that's better; now there's some room for rose to join the conversation.

As the malty beer note recedes, the yeastiness remains but somehow transforms into the soft yeast of bread dough. The fruits diminish and rose overtakes the beer as group leader. A yeasty rose: who would have thought that would work together? But it absolutely does.

After an hour, some woodiness appears. Not the common cedar aromachemical, more like a polished oak scent, quite refined among such a rowdy crew. And when full drydown is achieved, at about 3 hours, the boozy note darts in and out again, along with some light, fresh tobacco. I feared the return of the raspberry, but that didn't happen on my skin.

The gin note here is brief but brilliant, and lifts the whole concoction up about three levels, like the clear liquor does in Chanel No. 18.

Up the Apples & Pears is one of those fragrances that raises the old question of wearability -vs- work of art. Do I want to wear it? I'm not at all sure. Do I want to smell it? Oh HELL yes. I'm sure many people will find it too gimmicky by half, but for me all these disparate elements worked together to create olfactory magic. It's unlike anything in my scent memory.

I'm mystified by the spell this scent has cast on me. I actually dislike the smell of beer, and I'm by no means a rose fanatic. Personally, I think it's witchcraft.

Longevity: A solid 7 hours.
05th October, 2017

Tart's Knicker Drawer by 4160 Tuesdays

Whoa, blast of berries opening! No mistaking the bergamot either, and the peppercorns add a little sharpness to the sweet fruit. This is powdered raspberry drink territory for sure, or maybe Skittles.

As it heads toward the heart at about the 20-minute mark, florals emerge: I can pick out the violet and rose, but not the jasmine and thankfully not any tuberose either.

I'm waiting for this to grow up a little with the appearance of some sandalwood and tobacco, but it has trundled along that raspberry & violets path for a good 90 minutes or so, trailing some pretty powerful sillage along behind it. (After about 3 hours, I did perceive some quite nice soft tobacco, but it was having an awful tussle with that raspberry to fight its way to the spotlight.)

Where are the Knickers? And for that matter, where is the Tart? I'd actually settle for the inside of the Tart's handbag at this point, especially if she had some iris-y lipstick in there. As it stands, I think a more appropriate name for it would be Debutante's BonBon Box.

Another scent for which I am not the target audience, but I could imagine this being very popular with a teenage or pre-teen crowd.

Longevity: I gave up at 3 hours, long before the fragrance did.

05th October, 2017

The Vintage Cities: Paris 1948 by 4160 Tuesdays

The fruity opening blast was a bit shocking, and not a pure peach to my nose, at least not as I think of peach in Mitsouko terms; more like a stone fruit mixture, peach/plum perhaps. I couldn't detect the listed grapefruit, but there is a charming touch of yuzu that joins and lightens the fruit effect. As the heart opens up about 30 minutes in, the fruit yields much of the stage to a very woody rose (rosewood?), and the whole concoction takes on a very warm tone and dense texture, super-creamy and waxy, almost like it should be a lotion. Extremely retro-1940s in feel, like Lana Turner in a bottle. As the drydown approaches, a mossy hay and musk join in, but the woody rose is still going strong pretty much right up to the end.

Although it's not a scent for me, I do admire the concept and it's easy to see how this could steal the heart of a rose lover, with its va-va-voom curves and velvet peignoir feel.

Longevity: Vivid for 4 hours, skin scent for at least 2 more.
05th October, 2017

Colony (original) by Jean Patou

Like so many things that you await for years with rising expectations, my long-desired sample of vintage Colony brought me a mixture of both pleasure and disappointment. My hopes had been accelerated by the review from VintageVogue, who said:

"This is like an Agatha Christie novel set in French governed tropics. On the surface it seems to be all sunshine and light, but you quickly discover that there are some decidedly dark and dangerous undercurrents here, and they will not be ignored."

Since dark & dangerous is exactly how I like my perfumes, my movies, and my men, I was understandably eager. However, my tropical guide through Colony turned out to be much less Jarvier Bardem and more Ricky Martin.

I tested it simultaneously on skin and paper. On my skin, it wasted no time in going straight to the pineapple, not especially sweet, and lifted by some sparkly aldehydes. I got no citruses on top, probably due to its age. Ylang rose quickly to join the fruit, for a very tropical ambiance. It stayed in that exact mode for about 25 minutes, by which time I was tapping my foot and looking for the iris and vetiver, but none appeared. The frustrated fruitfly in me detected no rot in the pineapple, which stayed fresh and ripe. The basenotes queued up at about 45 minutes, yielding a very light leather, and at the one-hour mark some oakmossy decoration joined the light leather and then -- ahhh, the pineapple began to turn a bit overripe and darker.

The paper test was quite a different story; it was much less sparkly in the opening, and the ylang was flatter, but still no citrus there either. The heart was more detectable --- some vetiver, a tiny bit of iris. The base didn't appear until 90 minutes in, and was much, much lighter on the leather. The whole scent remained brighter and cooler on paper, quite light and airy.

Longevity: the whole concoction had gently faded off my skin by three hours, but remained quite bright on paper for at least four hours.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Colony, would happily own a bottle if I ever found one, and yes I would wear it. I like a good vintage fruit chypre, and I can see why people make comparisons to Diorella (though much less to Rochas Femme, which truly is dark and dangerous fruit). If I were smelling this blind though, I'd probably be more inclined to categorize it as a fruity floral than a chypre, since the ylang is so prominent and the pillars of chypre construction are so faint. And I do think this was probably a far more complex creature when it was young and fresh. I'll bet it was quite a novelty in its day.
01st October, 2017

J'Adore by Christian Dior

A Snuggle dryer sheet that's been used to wipe down a potted faux rosebush with an anonymous white musk shampoo.

J'Adios.

20th September, 2017

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

What kind of "terre" could this be? Perhaps a parched, uninhabited island: some dusty rocks, dry sandy soil, a few juiceless laurel shrubs blown by a hot wind. A stunted orange tree. A few spent gun cartridges lying in the dirt under a burning sun. No living creatures to be found -- at least nothing with blood in its veins. Pristine.
15th September, 2017

Eau des Minimes by Le Couvent des Minimes

Just a point of clarification: I believe the review by "Buysblind" is meant to refer to Eau des Missions (purple label) by Le Couvent des Minnimes, which actually does have an entry here in the directory.

The bottle referenced here is named "Eau des Minimes" (white label) and is a citrus cologne, not a vanilla. And I am still looking for reviews of it. (My thumb direction is meaningless, as I haven't sniffed it, but couldn't submit this note without a rating.)

24th July, 2017

Memoirs of a Trespasser by Imaginary Authors

I am almost always 99% in sync with the estimable ClaireV's opinions -- and 100% entertained by her witty writing.

And in the case of this scent, she is absolutely accurate in every description of its components and effects. But in a Bizarro World twist, every element of it that she finds objectionable I find utterly enchanting. Opening of "musky raw woods and candied grapefruit rind"? Check. Midpoint of "skanky moment...grappa...wood solvent"? Check. Ending of "woodsy or boise vanilla"? Check. And I love every second of it.

Vive la difference! Or perhaps: One woman's meat is another woman's poison?

I do seem to be getting a much greater smoky effect and much less sweetness than other wearers. In fact, the very rough vanilla is to me much more like a burning vanilla-ish pipe tobacco than a foody vanilla. And the sweetness, rather than candy, smells to me more like the smoke that wafts up from burning sugar, which I think does bear some resemblance to the sweet/bitter bite of candied grapefruit peel. Rough, harsh, and cozy, all at the same time. Plus: a staggering 18 hours of longevity. Straight to the top of my FBW list.
19th January, 2017

Montecristo by Masque

Now we're talking! Right up top, a leather that's both smooth and rough at the same time -- how is that possible? Smokey and mossy... is there such a thing as burning moss? Booze, tobacco, and a bit of the delicious scent of very old paper -- vanillic lignin? About an hour in, the leather morphs into mostly smoke. And then, right where you want it, a blanket of spice and cedar that feels like I'm lying on a pile of wood chips underneath a deliciously sweaty man. (Like teardrop, I too detect cumin here even though it's not listed as an ingredient; possibly a combined effect from ambrette seed and the fossilized rodent poop.) Deadidol's review gives a very thorough dissection of all the elements and effects at work here.

May all the gods rain blessings on the lovely DuNezDeBuzier for introducing me to this delight.

Sillage: Moderate but definitely noticeable
Longevity: 10-12 hours

Note: Several blogs and BN reviews mention that, although not listed in the pyramid here, Montecristo contains hyraceum. This is, as far as I know, my first experience of that material. For any other newcomers to it, here's the rundown:
Hyraceum is the petrified and rock-like excrement composed of both urine and feces excreted by the Cape Hyrax/Rock Hyrax, (Procavia capensis), commonly referred to as the Dassie. After aging and petrifying over hundreds if not thousands of years, it is a sought-after material that has been used in both traditional South African medicine and perfumery....(also referred to as "Africa Stone") that contains compounds giving it an animal, deeply complex fermented scent that combines the elements of musk, castoreum, civet, tobacco and agarwood. The material is harvested without disturbing the animals by digging strata of the brittle, resinous, irregular, blackish-brown stone; because animals are not harmed in its harvesting, it is often an ethical substitute for deer musk and civet, which require killing or inflicting pain on the animal. [Wikipedia]
04th November, 2016

Al Oudh by L'Artisan Parfumeur

I own a decant of this thanks to the kindness of DuNezDeBuzier, who completely understands my love of rough, leathery, woodsy, sweaty cumin scents. And this one promised everything I crave: cardamom, leather, woods, pepper, moss, castoreum, et al. And yet... I'm baffled by it.

Am I the only person to whom this smells exactly like the amyl nitrate poppers that were popular as club drugs and sex enhancers in the '80s? So much so, in fact, that seconds after applying it my heart began to pound and my face started flushing. (And not in a good way!) I felt as though an anesthesiologist was prepping me for surgery.

But since Bavard also found the top "punishing", I tried to tough it out for the promised carnal base. And two hours later I did get a bit of the hoped-for sweaty skin scent -- just nowhere near enough of it to justify the torture that preceded it.
04th November, 2016