Perfume Reviews

Reviews by gimmegreen

Total Reviews: 1128

Pourpre d'Automne by Violet

A lipstick perfume done right – all the chalky, waxy, soft sweetness in a light and easy to wear creation. For me there are three main elements to Pourpre d’Automne held in elegant harmony – a softly powdered and gently diffusive violet at the forefront, backed by smooth and fatty iris to tease out that olfactory memory of lipsticks of a bygone age, and a judicious does of red rose in the heart giving a little something more until it fades out again. There are many perfumes in this vein by now – and they usually feature iris and/or violet. And while Pourpre makes a better stab at it than most in the early stages, by the drydown it gets denser and somewhat rooty, losing its advantage.
02nd December, 2019

Musk by Lorenzo Villoresi

Silken rose, expressed in a downy, powdery style with the added warmth and comfort of cardamom, sandal and vanilla. A classic floral oriental in many ways but without the heavy hips. I find the overall effect extremely soothing, an invitation to doze and dream. At first, musk, clean or otherwise, is not what this perfume seems to be about, but after a few hours a close-to-the skin muskiness begins to cloud it over, moving it in a decidedly more grown up, sensual direction.
02nd December, 2019

Join The Club : More Than Words by Xerjoff

Could a Montale perfumer be moonlighting for Xerjoff on this one? It’s a big, brash synthetic oud drenched in sour woody and syrupy rose-like floral notes pulled out of the bottom drawer. Underneath is a musky much of a muchness; I think an ambergris effect was being aimed at. More Than Words seems like an apt name – one does feel rendered a bit speechless by the gall. Subsides into a sweet ambery oud-type perfume of dull familiarity.
02nd December, 2019
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Lumière de Venise by Chabaud Maison de Parfum

Too many Chabaud perfumes have an odd fuzzy haze around them – and this is one of them. It smells like a cross between knitting wool, a hot steam iron and scalp skin, and does nothing for the compositions. What is left of Lumière de Venise beyond this olfactory distraction is a bit of transparent rose and peach that may have been nice enough had they not been obscured by the woolly intruder. Eventually the whole thing slumps into a nondescript and frowzy fruity sweetness.
02nd December, 2019

I Love My Man by Dear Rose

A fusty rose perfume that is bound to attract a certain kind of wearer’s attention. If you like your roses smelling of lipstick and powder compacts, spiked by the trad spiciness of carnation and backed by an entirely expected woody resinous base, this one’s for you. For me, it’s a ‘could have been’, a decent composition betrayed by the nagging impression of thinness regarding ingredient quality that I get, rightly or wrongly, from all the offerings I’ve tried from this line. And then there’s the small matter of its utter pusillanimity once it has settled…
02nd December, 2019

Oud Fleur by Tom Ford

‘Highly spiced sweet muck’ was my initial impression. Oud Fleur seemed to be taking the most obvious elements of the Arabic style of perfumery and doing them no justice. The floral elements were reduced to syrup, the spices – chili, ginger, cinnamon, cumin to the fore – seemed thrown at the composition; this seemed to have ‘cheap’ (in the sense of lacking all refinement) written all over it. About the only redeeming feature seemed to be a mentholated feel to it – like a breeze blowing through the elements.
Perhaps this accounts for the much better cloud that this perfume releases – its presence in a room is of a warm and buxom oriental with much of the harshness smelt close up on skin smoothed out. Alas, my hooter is firmly attached to my body and not a couple of feet distant to catch the trail.
Settles and becomes more polite in the drydown, with a spiced wood feel emerging (more sandalwood thus treated rather than oud), but by this point it’s difficult for me to budge from feeling underwhelmed.

18th November, 2019

Rivages Noirs by Pierre Guillaume

Pierre Guillaume’s Black Shores seem plagued by an identikit aquatic pong common to so many ‘masculines’ aimed at youngsters. Bilious and nose-flooding synthetic watery and melon-like tones (the kind of thing that was fun once, a very long time ago), backed with equally artificial ‘fresh’ coniferous notes of the floor cleaner variety and a grizzling vague spiciness that registers at the back of the throat. The nose feel is a bit like being slowly gassed or that moment when your nostrils flood when you first go underwater in a swimming pool. But such perfumes do enjoy a certain popularity – it’s the kind of trail the students who live across from me in my building leave in the stairwell when heading out for a night on the town. If that’s now shorthand for man juice, we’re in trouble.
18th November, 2019

Opus XI by Amouage

After Interlude Man, I regard any Amouage offering in a blue bottle as suspect. That was a perfume that insisted on wearing me and I gave up on it completely after sitting through its insistence for a few tries. Now here comes Opus XI – with marjoram instead of oregano, but with predictions of ‘beast mode’, big, butch leather, and little evolution. It’s no wonder I’ve had my sample in a drawer for months, looking at it from time to time and ultimately deciding to try something else instead.
But no more dithering – time to take the leap.
And I’m relieved to report that sometimes I can be a silly scaredy cat. Amouage somewhat spuriously claim that Opus XI ‘illustrates the inimitable dynamics of Oud’. Instead, what is on offer is a rather remarkable woody leather, lightly handled, invigoratingly fresh in feel (like a splice taken from the barbershop gene) with gorgeous clean smoke and a suggestion of the fragrant wood that that smoke arose from which slowly becomes more prominent as the wear progresses. It could have been a heavy, knuckle-dragging mess but is instead lively and bracing – a go-out-and-face-the-day kind of perfume with a diffuse but far from overbearing sillage.
Slowly one’s perception of it broadens and sweetish half-green-half-floral notes emerge in the mix and the wood behind the smoke becomes more evident – slightly peppery, but also with a smoothness that is the right side of dreamy. It has that pleasing quality of being both layered and simple at once and the blend seems like perfection itself.
A few hours into the wear I was thinking: ‘This is a remarkable, sophisticated, polished thing that may even win around those who don’t care for ouds or leathers. I haven’t felt so excited by an Amouage since Dia Man.’
But then Opus XI truly settled and it underwent a contraction – it became denser, a much more standard smoky woody with most of the freshness gone, and correspondingly it sat closer to the skin. Still good, but no sale. Staying power is 24 hours (and probably longer, but I shower every day).

07th November, 2019

O/E by Bogue Profumo

Limber and brash citrus bustling with herbal and wood sap accents – bracing stuff executed in a lumberjack style, deliberately rough around the edges and unashamedly upfront about it. There’s good use of a wet earth accord in the mix, which seems to move in an out of peatiness, grounding the entire composition, as do the array of woody and resinous tones in the background. There are some sweet rosy florals too, cleverly folded in, so they’re there in the middle of the thing but adding a supporting voice rather than detracting from the outdoorsy citrus theme.
O/E registers as heavy on the naturals, thus can come across as being of the ‘stir the essential oils’ school of indie perfumery. But overall it’s far more skillful than that, with all the materials on song and never slumping into the brown shade that can creep over ‘natural’ perfumes. Despite the complex orchestration of its various elements, the abiding impression is one of directness – in that it is full of life. A treasure.
07th November, 2019

Lait et Chocolat by Chabaud Maison de Parfum

First a disclaimer: I declare that my prejudice against gourmands is officially dead. I have come across so many ‘change my mind’ ones that my mind is now pretty much permanently changed.
Now to this offering from Chabaud, supposedly an exploration of milk and chocolate, but in reality after an opening of lovely milk chocolate handled in a light, foamy manner, it soon changes to the baked flour smell of fresh biscuits combined with Nutella. There is definitely a roasted nuttiness about it, perhaps the influence of the woody notes. Eventually this becomes pure cookie crumb – roasted flour, malty and buttery – but the chocolate vanishes pretty much. Avoids sugariness but also sits pretty close to the skin. If you like your gourmands soft, this may be to your taste.

07th November, 2019

Cuir Velours by Naomi Goodsir

Revisiting Naomi Goodsir now that her ‘flavour of the month’ moment in perfume fora has long passed feels a bit strange. The Goodsir perfumes I tried then all had their flashes of interest, but failed to attract me enough to part with cash for a bottle. Cuir Velours was the one that I was least drawn to because leathers that hold me beyond a couple of hours are few and far between.
It’s a solidly made thing – perhaps a bit too solidly made, for it cannot help but remind one of some gentlemen’s warhorses of the 1980s, with the exception of the hulky, smoky backing, which is very much of our own time.
At first the combined impression of the main players here – leather, sweet but meaty immortelle, cured tobacco and booze –was, oddly enough, that of a ‘pine’ perfume. And once that had lodged, the notes kept separating and then recombining in my perception to suggest this: pine needles and sap but in a concentrated, somewhat honeyed mode.
I’m all for dry green, almost herbal interpretations of leather but here it comes at the expense of definition – some have referred to suede and new leather but neither of those are apparent to my nose, this Cuir remains in the background.
For all the ambition of the Goodsir line, I can’t help but think that here we have ended up with something that is a bit too reminiscent of tobacco and pine ‘man colognes’ of days gone by, but now with added smoke.
07th November, 2019

Arpège by Lanvin

I have a small dab bottle of early 1990s vintage – so the aldehydic top has lost its solar sparkle and undergone megawarp. But the rest has matured beautifully and remains splendid.
Arpège is a creation of such confidence it requires almost none on the wearer’s part. Its mixed floral bouquet shines as if through amber-coloured stained glass with accents of candied orange peel and peach, a light, natural booziness around the edges and a reassuring silky soft base of sandal and vanilla (among other things). Once it has settled, the creaminess of its expression is what catches my attention most. Yes, here is a classic thousand-flowers composition with all the scaffolding of woods, resins and balsams holding it in place, but it has the grace of a swan floating down a calm expanse of water at sunset.
It’s ‘perfumey’ in what has become an old-fashioned sense – unapologetic, happy to stand naked before strangers and be admired. And that is perhaps a reason why its popularity has waned; we think we’ve had all this stuff before. But contrarily, when considering today’s perfume fashions, it provides the shock of the new.
The deep drydown is marked by a quarter-turn away from the florals and towards the base which resembles more and more something from the Caron stable – this is perhaps the beige Luca Turin was referring to in his review in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.
I can’t talk about its current incarnation, but can note that it’s available at a very tempting price.
07th November, 2019

Naïviris by Huitième Art

Here Pierre Guillaume’s usual reticence spoils what could have been a go-to iris for me. Safe, gentle and comforting, reminiscent of baby powder and lipstick with a light undertow of suede, this is an iris pretty much on its own. Some white musk highlights its essential pallor and marshmallowy sweetness. Cuddly, uncomplicated, ‘angelic’ stuff – but, oh, does it whisper, leaving one wishing it would speak up a bit.

23rd October, 2019
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Bottega Veneta L'Absolu by Bottega Veneta

This is a straightahead kind of thing – the perfume equivalent of a new leather clutch handbag. I haven’t smelled the original Bottega Veneta so am in no position to do comparisons; L’Absolu to my nose is a nice, smooth, bitter leather of the factory fresh variety, backed by some powdery floral sweetness (indistinct – anyone getting a clear whiff of jasmine has a better nose than mine), and rounded off by the usual musk and ambrox broad brush strokes that fill up so much of perfumery’s canvases these days. It was one of those ‘tried that, was ok’ perfumes that I move on from without ever considering revisiting.

23rd October, 2019

Experimentum Crucis by Etat Libre d'Orange

Loved the tipsy-dipsy opening, with beautiful bright, sweet tones pierced with a sharp-as-razor note of cumin – this is essence of cumin: dry, pungent but not sweaty or dirty. The opening effulgence of light, watery, fruity rose notes mingling with an equally sun-dappled and non-cloying honey effect is genius. It would have been easy to have done this kind of pairing with oriental sturm und drang, instead we get a sparkling realization of the colour-as-light theme intended.
Experimentum is like being under a fantasy waterfall, each droplet sparkling in the sun and bursting with fragrance. There are nods to oud-y Middle Eastern roses here, and to woody patchoulied roses in the niche fashion, but the difference is in the dancing quality of the expression, a firefly delight far removed from ponderousness. These are old ideas (particularly the rose-cumin juxtaposition) but appearing in novel raiment.
Such exciting surface movement cannot be maintained for long and the drydown is a somewhat more traditional woody rose, but even here the cool, dewy quality of the rose impression makes it just that little bit different.
23rd October, 2019

Étoile de Lune by Chabaud Maison de Parfum

Initial impressions were that this was dull, generic pap pretending to be a musky rose. It seemed like one of those uber-vague sweet scents that could emanate from a number of low-cost personal grooming products – hairspray, shampoo, soap, baby oil – the only slight difference being a half-decent suggestion of the ‘body’ that ambergris brings to perfumes. As time went on this latter note seemed to swell up – waxy, smelling of skin-musk and wet mushrooms – and the undistinguished sweetness dialled down. But did it help? Nope. I’m passing all the same.
23rd October, 2019

Community by The Zoo

Is Laudamiel trying to give aquatics a good name? With Community he uses watery inflections as a bleary, pale, almost romantic wash over a light citrus theme. Bright lemon is at the heart but with gentle floral and herbal touches – at times giving an impression of brushing up against lemon verbena. As refreshing as cucumber slices on tired eyelids.
The later stages have a factory-fresh feel – less natural, more treated, like a just off the production line roll of carpet or, as in Dane’s review below, ‘new running shoe’. Strangely, this doesn’t detract from its appeal. The projection though, after the initial half hour or so, is timid.
23rd October, 2019

Little Song by Meo Fusciuni

Dark chypric rose, gutsy and mysterious, like velvet, but with iron in its soul. Initially, this brooding Little Song has all the things my heart desires in a perfume – immediate rapture and novelty – making it quite simply addictive. It even uses coffee – a note I usually despair of – with such precision, that I can’t complain; adding to the shadow this creation lives in but without any stridency. The rose at its heart is in ferment – being turned one way, then another by an array of woody, dusty, even malted, notes. There are suggestions of rye-bread and of long-unopened sarcophagi.
This enclosed feeling persists even though the rose fades in the later stages to be replaced by a plummy, sweetish, cured tobacco with a hint of patchouli, infused with dry, peppery smoke. This is a perfume for the driven soul in the attic intent on writing the next Wuthering Heights.
I would be remiss not to point out a significant drawback – this is a perfume that performs just fine while one is taking it easy but seems prone to flight upon exertion, even if slight.
10th October, 2019 (last edited: 23rd October, 2019)

Such A Misfit by Sixteen92

I once visited a festival of desserts. It was hosted, appropriately, in a recently built faux castle (such events demand ‘romantic’ trappings) and within, among the masses of tall-candles and liveried waiting staff, were long tables laid out with serried rows of mega-froufroued individual desserts – garnished, glazed, food coloured to perfection, and oozing all the dairy fats (whisked, whipped, reduced) that any self-respecting glutton could desire. It seemed like a good idea at the time to spend an evening gorging on bavaroix and gateaux à volonté, but the aftermath was decidedly queasy.
No such queasiness about Sixteen92’s delightful Such a Misfit which is a gourmand bomb with a difference. It goes light where others go heavy and its cascade of sweets has surprising depths, floury and malty tones to the fore rather than syrup. And it actually smells of real-life referents rather than just a heavy hand with the ole ethyl maltol. So from its wonderfully textured opening of just-baked coconut-topped biscuits and hot, buttered popcorn, with fruity candied accents darting about in between, to its dreamycreamy drydown which is a combination of the comforting smells of pan-roasted flour, butter extract and the finest drizzle of vanilla sugar, it doesn’t put a step wrong. Projection remains within your personal space rather than being broadcast wider. Just a shame it was a limited edition that came and went

10th October, 2019

Vintage by Chabaud Maison de Parfum

I did wonder whether Vintage would live up to its name what with declared notes of caramel and honey in the mix – a gooey tendency that just did not exist, or at least not in the foody manner that has got so wearying of late, back to whenever is being recalled here as ‘the day’. But the proof being in the trying out, I can relay that such calorific distractions are kept safely in check and the perfume moves along a fairly classic trajectory, from a bit of fizz at the start – tangy oranges and an aldehydic lightness, to its floriental core. This is a nectarous floral bouquet with judicious spikes of spice (the carnation), powder, some dried greens and a base with almond to the fore, but with a skin-like muskiness à la ambrette. The drydown is a union of sweetish body lotion with lipstick.
Pleasant stuff, but the flaw is in the realization – the materials used plop down into a kind of sweet vagueness, and seem both unexciting and unexceptional. This late in the day, that’s like bolting on a fifth wheel – inessential.

10th October, 2019

Fareb by Huitième Art

Curried leather with a slick of syrup, Fareb seems to be trying hard to offer bottled staleness. It immediately made me feel not-quite-awake and unwashed, a state I don’t actively seek out. While there’s a bold use of the sweet and meaty immortelle here, an equally bold dose of cumin is a misjudgement in my book – instead of making some kind of artistic power statement, it just feels pushy and consequently unwanted. This is a shame as Fareb’s presence in a room is quite different – an almost foamy barbershop sweetness with just a trace of spice that immediately perked me up. But on skin it can’t seem to rise above being tired and tiresome. Became more resinous in the drydown but the general impression remained curryhouse carpet with some freshening product applied to it in vain.
10th October, 2019

Ambre Céruléen by Huitième Art

Yup, this is pretty squarely an ambuhhhh, no getting around it, it’s lying bang in the middle of that ambuhhhh road. Strong on the resins and mildly spiced but also drowned in syrup which it then attempts to blot with mounds of powder. Maybe I’m being unfair, but sometimes such unfairness is provoked – this is excess without challenge and that I don’t care for. The main positive is the burnished opoponax, the main note in the mix, all honey and candied oranges, and warm as a radiator in a cubbyhole. With plenty of backing from vanilla and tonka. Once I stopped paying attention to it and went about my business I found I had turned into an ambulant powder puff for a while, until a few hours in when the sweetness subsided (as did the projection) and it turned into an actually quite well-rounded, ambery skin scent. In my book that’s too long to wait for too little payoff.
10th October, 2019

Ta'if Elixir by Ormonde Jayne

I have worn Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if for years now – it is often the perfume I reach for when I’m not sure what to wear. It has a soft centring presence that lasts all day and seems designed to give me my own space no matter how busy things get. By now it is an old friend.
This meant I got mega-excited by the news of this ‘Elixir’ release which reinterprets the gently gourmand oriental original with the addition of Cambodian oud. I expected old faithful, but now with more depth and richness – and of course the hypnotic push-pull of oud.
The first encounter was a bit of a shock – the oud had clearly settled over the composition like a thick blanket and had I tested it blind I wouldn’t have known this was a variation of the perfume I love. Apart from the brush of pink pepper and the subtle zing of saffron Ta’if Elixir’s opening is all about the oud – ripe, a bit fermented, animalic but not overbearingly so, with clean leather undertones. The house signature remains: at no point does the composition seem loud or heavy, so those who like their ouds to come with warehouse-filling power be warned.
But then, by degrees, the familiar form and sweetness of the original appears, the faintest apparition at first which gains enough body to eventually confidently take up the dance with the oud. Ta’if Elixir, thus requires some patience from the wearer but the result is, once again, deeply comforting, just a bit more indulgent, playing off furred, bitter tones against the roses, gathering up the wearer in dark, eddying swirls of fragrance.
Sadly, this is just a long heart phase – beautiful, for sure – but it passes after a few hours to reveal the woody leather at the base of this composition which underwhelms after the pleasures that have gone before.
10th October, 2019

Manguier Métisse by Huitième Art

I’m surprised by how much I have warmed to this – maybe it’s the pleasure of experiencing a simple idea skilfully realized. In the case of Manguier Métisse, one has to ignore the mango and fruity suggestions made by the house in the notes list – the nose gets nary a whiff of any such. What it does get is a typical narcotic tropical floral, here centred on the creamy and overripe frangipani, under a downpour of vanilla sugar. And that’s pretty much it, apart from the soft powders that become evident in the drydown.
I enjoy the bravado inherent in going down this route, pouring syrup over syrup. But of course, this is Pierre Guillaume whose perfumes are characterized by a modesty of presence – and that really is the making of Manguier Métisse. Any louder and it would probably have been unbearable; instead its conversational tone makes it a pleasure to be with.

09th September, 2019

Innocente Fragilité by Chabaud Maison de Parfum

When I was growing up , my siblings used to disdainfully refer to someone a bit precious and too soft for their own good as being a ‘delicate darling’. The name of this perfume, Innocente Fragilité, made this long-slumbering phrase immediately pop back into my head. Chabaud’s promo copy goes on about ‘armfuls of delicate white flowers’, their purity which links to ‘the fragility of innocence’. Yeah. Maybe they’d got just a wee bit carried away, for white flowers, delicate though they may appear, are notoriously loud in announcing their presence.
So all virginal white clichés aside, let’s inspect the thing itself, which turns out to be a bold enough jasmine, creamy and a touch green, wallowing on a cloud of cleansing laundry musks. The latter are responsible for snipping out much of the jasmine’s natural sultriness and the overall olfactory impression gets a bit rubbery. Okay, but not pushing any envelope as far as white florals go.
09th September, 2019

Entre Ciel et Mer by Pierre Guillaume

Between the sky and sea, based on this offering, lurks insubstantiality. Here be a ozoned out fig and blond woods job that smells like the remnants of perfume, as though Pierre Guillaume was attempting an exercise in subtraction and erasure. A trace of a thing that makes no claims on my interest.
09th September, 2019

Ellenisia by Penhaligon's

Elegant and breezy white floral, with a cool and diffuse jasmine in the lead, touched with green and a little streak of narcotic grease but without them heavy indoles. It has a ‘misty morning English garden in springtime’ feel to it – even the tuberose note embedded within floats rather than drags. Morphs a bit from time to time as if on a freaky auto-tune setting, going a bit ozonic and almost vegetal, before returning to its cultivated coo. If you like uncomplicated, out-and-out florals without the faff of read-my-strata bases, then Ellenisia is for you.
09th September, 2019

The Decay of the Angel by Edition Perfumes

Ah, the burden of expectation. Timothy Han /Edition load up the work required of their offerings by announcing their literary inspirations on the label. In this case, it is The Decay of the Angel, Yukio Mishima’s decidedly strange concluding novel to his Sea of Fertility tetralogy, which deals with the theme of reincarnation and much else besides. In the novel there is a discussion of how angels, while being superior to humans, still haven’t achieved immortality, which chimes with the narrative arc where the abiding spirit of the other three books finally gets debased in its supposed last incarnation as the willful and malevolent young Toru. Mishima cites the five signs of an angel’s presumed decay three times in rapid succession from various Buddhist texts, before summarizing them thus once more himself: ‘the once-immaculate robes are soiled, the flowers in the flowery crown fade and fall, sweat pours from the armpits, a fetid stench envelops the body, the angel is no longer happy in its proper place’.
I’m pleased to report that there’s no pouring sweat or fetor suggested by this perfume – instead there is a sense of heady decay of white flowers, jasmine and neroli in this instance, as the petals start to grow brown at the edges. The floral scent remains strong but it warps in a direction at once somewhat fruity and vegetal – anyone who has smelled it knows it. This, and the merest touch of smoke and leather in the background, is what’s on offer here. Unusual no doubt, but a trick this wearer eventually grew increasingly tired of.

23rd August, 2019

Royal Aoud by Montale

There’s a properly musky, leather-n-cheese oud hiding in here, but warped by strange fruity citric notes of the kind found in hard-boiled sweets. I’m not a fan of the latter which – praise be – die down after an hour or two. But the oud construct here is a cut above Montale’s usual – from an initial barnyard shock, it mellows to reveal an enticing, purring and gently floral muskiness, a layered thing that teases the nose. Of late, we’ve had high-end blinders in this vein from the likes of Xerjoff and Auphorie, and Montale’s version is admittedly the poor cousin. Nonetheless, it’s fulfilment on a more modest budget and gets dreamier as the day goes on.
23rd August, 2019

Hermann à Mes Côtés Me Paraissait une Ombre by Etat Libre d'Orange

Of late EldO has been trading in gentle weirdness – and this Quentin Bisch creation slots right in. Playing with synthetics that have a mineral, ‘purified nature’ aspect – the ozonic melon of calypsone and the salty abstraction of ambroxan – as well as the fruity-peony petalia, it teases the wearer with an almost pvc-like shimmer. But breaking up the synth-pop melody played here are some ‘real’ instrumental jabs (or are they?): blackcurrant bud tartness, paint-box red roses and the old familiar fog-piercer pairing of pepper and incense. It’s a fun real/fake mash-up, which would definitely be much more interesting had it been given a bit more body – it wears like a cool eau de toilette of the kind that threatens a disappearing act within minutes.
It hangs around longer of course, but the drydown is a grey mess – dry soil, pepper and resins ground and served up in an ozonic haze. And *that* makes it sound much more interesting than what the nose actually encounters.
23rd August, 2019