Reviews by Symphonies

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    Symphonies
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    En Passant by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

    This is the first time I've shared a perfumer's vision of a fragrance as a representational image. En Passant really is a snapshot of lilacs next to a bakery. Imagine the scent of lilacs early in the morning so their fragrance is watery, delicate and slightly green. Supporting that is an aura of cool, dewy grass and green leaves. For me, this floral/green accord conjures a very specific time and place from my childhood in the upper midwest. This aspect of En Passant could stand on it's own as a fragrance.

    Now, having piled on all those accolades, I'm about to become something of a carping, philistine art critic: The bread is too bready.

    Yeah, I can't believe I just wrote that, either. I'm rolling my eyes, too...

    It strikes me that Olivia Giacobetti was striving for a sort of olfactory photorealism. That's great for recreating floral notes. But the other half of the equation, the bread/bakery accord, is another matter. Adhering to such a realistic aroma of bread -an accord alien to the rest of the fragrance- makes En Passant challenging to wear. As a practical matter, juxtaposing the delicate, ethereal, perfectly packaged floral accords with an opaque, yeasty boule of dough just doesn't work for me. Yes, it's wonderful art. It really is! But I believe the bread/bakery accord needs to be presented in a more idealized way so it integrates with the whole and becomes a wearable perfume.

    13 March, 2012

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    Onice by Omnia Profumo

    I received Onice as a freebie sample from LuckyScent. As everyone has mentioned, Onice starts out very green. But it isn't long -about 10 minutes- before that heady green receded and moved into... butterscotch! What? This I did not expect. When my wife smelled my wrist, her eyes lit up and she said, "Ooh, butterscotch!" She loves butterscotch. Me, I'm not a fan. Perhaps this butterscotch accord is created by some of the fruit notes combining with a vanilla rich amber? Anyway, after about 15 minutes anise and licorice took over as the dominant notes although the vanilla/amber (still slightly butterscotch) remained. At this point I would also get an occasional whiff of mint, pineapple and what seemed to be a blend of the darker florals, jasmine and rose. When the licorice really blossomed it was definitely a savory black licorice. No Twizzlers here. Eventually everything settled into a more blended and lighter overall fragrance with just a touch of woody cedar entering the picture. I say "lighter" but it was stlll rich. All this happened over the course of about an hour or so.

    Onice has a lot going on and creates an interesting journey. Unfortunately, it doesn't really suit my personality so a thumbs down for me, personally. However, trying to be more objective and realizing that others may love Onice's complexity and richness, I gave it a neutral rating.

    Oh, one last thing: the juice itself seemed quite oily on my skin and it never really lost its sheen so you may want to beware spraying on clothing.

    29 February, 2012

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    Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi by Acqua di Parma

    I love the grapefruit top note. Even after it receded from prominence, the grapefruit's pleasantly bitter/sour essence stayed in the mix balancing out the rich fig. If you're looking for a summer fragrance minus the big sweet citrus top note, this might be the ticket.
    Two caveats:
    This is a fairly light scent so don't expect big sillage.
    Fico di Amalfi is definitely a warm weather scent and I'm currently wearing it on a cool, very dry midwinter day so its longevity has been curtailed. I anticipate that the midsummer heat and humidity we experience here in the SE US will keep it alive much longer.

    26 February, 2012

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    Bulgari pour Homme Soir by Bulgari

    From the Bulgari website:
    Olfactive Family: Woody Amber
    Top Notes: Darjeeling Tea, Lifescent and Papyrus Wood
    Base: Amber and Musk

    This may be the fragrance for those of us who find the opening green/spice note of original pour Homme and pour Homme Extreme too harsh, unpleasant or, in the case of Extreme, well, too extreme. In pour Homme Soir there is just enough sweetness from tea and amber to make it more suited to my personality.

    I find it interesting that in Soir I can smell its relation to a whole range of Bulgari fragrances that goes beyond it simply being a flanker in the pour Homme line. I certainly don't have a sensitive nose but I smell characteristics of Aqua, Omnia, the The series and Jasmin perfumes. My wife routinely wears perfumes from Bulgari and -as is typical when comparing most feminine/masculine lines- they seem superior to and friendlier than the men's fragrances. I find myself wanting a bit more grace and elegance while maintaining something definable as "masculine." Also, I'm one of those who is drawn to Bulgari because they create fragrances which are subtle and restrained yet incorporate some novel combinations. Pour Homme Soir hits on all these points: it is at once subtle and slightly unique while establishing an identity common to the entire brand.

    18 February, 2012

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    Bulgari pour Homme Extreme by Bulgari

    After applying Extreme there was a particular note that struck me as vegetal, crisp and aromatic, yet harsh and unbalanced. So I decided to look through previous BN reviews to see if anyone had shared my experience. Sure enough, in one of the first reviews of Extreme posted back in 2002, chris-p mentioned that it "has an odd bitter note that reminds me of celery..." I'm guessing it's the combination of coriander and galbanum listed as top notes. However, I would have preferred an accord with much less aromatic vegetable bite and a bit of floral sweetness from the coriander. Also, that green accord is tenacious and made it's presence known and was dominant for 20-30 minutes before receding -somewhat- into the overall profile of the scent. Even then it remained distinct. Compared to the original pour Homme everything in Extreme is amplified just above Bulgari's typical subtlety. That top note, however, is cranked up to 11. It's unpleasant enough for me to give it thumbs down.

    15 February, 2012 (Last Edited: 03 March, 2012)

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    Eau Parfumée au Thé Rouge by Bulgari

    On application one is greeted with the slightly sharp yet musty, molasses sweetness of dried fig. But remember, this IS Bulgari. Their hallmark sense of restraint is at work so the fig is not overly potent and its sweetness is dark and mellow. The use of fig is also a wonderful alternative to a citrus top note which would seem the likely default pairing in tea based fragrances.
    After just a few minutes the fig recedes and takes its place under the emerging and eventually dominant scent of tea. This isn't a note laden fragrance. As others have mentioned you probably won't pick out other notes. But the fig and tea create a counterpoint that work individually and harmoniously. Each note is distinguishable yet complex enough to create something quite exotic. Also, this is a quiet scent, so one shouldn't expect to make a bold, public statement by wearing it.
    Finally, to the question other reviewers have posed: is Rouge a unisex scent or really just feminine? I actually bought Rouge on a whim for my wife assuming it was feminine. She saw it listed on BN as unisex, felt it leaned toward being masculine and suggested I try it. Rouge seems to really straddle the gender fence. On one hand, the quiet, ethereal nature of the fragrance, along with its underlying sweetness, sings in a feminine voice. However, the sweetness is not stereotypically feminine -the tea is not overtly floral and the fig is not sugary- therefore "ethereal" could easily become contemplative and its singing voice, a light baroque tenor. With that in mind, I can imagine wearing this scent for my own pleasure on a quiet day off.

    12 February, 2012

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