Reviews by gimmegreen

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    gimmegreen
    Netherlands Netherlands

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    Woody Intense by Arabian Oud

    A first sniff led to a ‘I must have one of those’ moments in the shop – this perfume seemed like the synthesis of the warm, inviting, refined perfumes I have encountered in passing on people from the Middle East, archetypal almost.
    Woody Intense is in essence a sweet wood accord borne aloft by billowing clouds of synthetics (clean musks included), which makes the deeper wood notes fresh and light but also highly diffusive. On closer inspection, the oud reconstruction is pretty thin, the musk smells like hairspray, the saffron is a cousin many times removed. It’s like one of those Stock, Aitken and Waterman pop hits from the 1980s with the treble maxed out to hook the broadest spectrum of listeners, but fortunately nowhere near as annoying. For, truth be told, cheap and tacky it may be in the heart phase, but it still gives me a lift.
    The surprise is a few hours in, when suddenly I am reminded of that all-seasons lavender and oud charmer – Xerjoff’s Fars.

    18th December, 2014

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    Nuit De Longchamp by Lubin

    Nuit de Longchamp in its latest incarnation remains a lovely traditional mixed floral (y’know jasmine, ylang, rose – the usual suspects) with an oakmoss accent laid on a base of powders and resins. It’s a composition the nose recognizes immediately as vintage; perfumes these days eschew in the main such complexity and subtlety. Of course, the danger is that Nuit de Longchamp won’t strike you as particularly original – the ghosts of many a Caron seem to haunt this territory. And perhaps it will also suffer due to its politeness, when compared to the more assertive creations in this category. No doubt, that will be a recommendation for others who were searching for something a bit lower key but with the requisite persistence. Ultimately, while this is a fine enough offering, it doesn’t stand out enough from other perfumes in this style.

    18th December, 2014

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    Aoud Musk by Montale

    Woohoo this is so turbo, one could knock oneself senseless with a spray too many. It’s the Kaa of Montale ouds, going ‘Trust in meee, jussst in meee...’; it could swallow you whole.
    But, hey, live a little dangerously and you’ll have quite a ride.
    The first hurrah is a volley of air freshener musks paired with quite a sweet yet peaty oud, it has an almost choking humidity about it, like true wood rot. This rests on a haystack of intense synthetic saffron, which bears some slight resemblance to the natural product but can’t quite achieve its warmth or bitter-sweet sophistication. The combination is utterly chemical but also hypnotic and disorientating.
    Musk Aoud is loud and brash, and yet it works. Maybe not quite as well as some of my favourite Montales, but it’s well worth a visit if, for you, excess is a thrill.

    18th December, 2014

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    Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums

    Noir Patchouli has a funereal cast: dust to dust to dust.
    The main protagonist is a spice-tinged patchouli (the spices giving it a slightly sweaty cast) combined with an aged leather and sprinkled with talcum powder florals. Its predominant mood is of old, unopened things; all the notes rising like a cloud of perfumed dust. So far so Morticia Addams, though there is a promising chypric structure underpinning it all that never fully emerges from the shadows.
    Undoubtedly executed with finesse and a keen sense of proportion, for me it lacks immediacy. I’m rarely in the mood for something so lost in its own reverie.

    18th December, 2014

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    Korrigan by Lubin

    A pretty out there offering from Lubin – a perfume that is silky smooth and elusive, dense as dulce de leche but at the same time coming across as spare and even a bit reticent. Perhaps the main trick is the cloak of ambrette Korrigan wears, a scent that is close to human skin that allows other elements to sparkle in the mysterious way that the colours of an opal twinkle through the milky haze of the stone.
    The opening is slightly boozy with a touch of rancid butter about it – one almost expects carny fairground music to strike up at any moment. But with time some of the other elements emerge through the silken fog, there’s a vetiver-cedar pairing uttering its parched call, a fresh and juicy lavender bringing echoes of more traditional compositions. However, none of these elements strike a defining note, they’re glimpses in its white buttery swirl.
    Original and beguiling it sure is, whether it is also delicious I’m not at all sure despite the ramping up of the sweetness during its evolution.

    18th December, 2014

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 2 Red: Harissa by Comme des Garçons

    So refreshing and light, this would make a dreamy shower gel.
    The notes would lead one to expect a heavy, spicy gourmand, but the composition is quite abstract with a plump and juicy fantasy fruit vibe. My nose can identify the cardamom, angelica, chili pepper, nutmeg, blood orange (though not really the tomato, or to be more accurate anything that’s close to a real tomato) – and yet listing the notes will give you little idea of how this thing actually smells. I would locate it out of doors – what a memory of a dew-laden spring garden of mixed flowers, weeds and vegetables might call up, oh with a handy outdoor shower in the middle of it all. In the later stages the red chilli and a clove-like note become more prominent, and yet, this is no spice drawer perfume.
    Fun-filled and energizing, it’s a shame the projection is not better.

    18th December, 2014

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    1 Million by Paco Rabanne

    Was this the scent that launched a million young jocks? Is this what ‘fresh, spicy, leathers’ have come to?
    The overriding impression of this car crash is ‘Look at me, I can scream louder, I got the bling and I think grabbing my crotch in public is the height of dudeness.’ A trying-too-hard dancefloor pretender. That isn’t a police siren tearing up the music, that’s someone doused in 1 Million coming through.
    Starts with a polite (but seen in 1 million other ‘masculines’) array of airbrushed fougere notes, a bit minty, but mostly vaguely herbal-spicy. However, these are soon overwhelmed by a post-Aventus sweet frooty gloop with lingering edges of disinfectant and urinal cake that has somehow in this curious age come to typify the smell of a lad about town on a Saturday night looking for a leg over. It blares when it could just be. Dies back to a nondescript sweetness that lingers.

    03rd December, 2014

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    Fleurs de Glace by Olympic Orchids

    A watery, aloof scent that is miles removed from the conventional notion of aquatics. Everything one experiences – from the sharp green snap of galbanum and brisk sprinkle of pepper at the start to the dusty, almost drowned in pesticides scent of cyclamen at its heart – is mediated through the wavering watercolour rendition: it’s cool, distant, synthetic, and completely original. The vanilla in the base is devoid of warmth, a sprinkle of artificial sweetener.
    One of those perfumes that you will either ‘get’ or be left wondering what anyone could ever see in it. I greatly enjoy its oddness, and like wearing it on cold days when its bloodless heart seems to quicken into beguiling alien life. Sadly after a few hours one must be prepared to smell like a marshmallow, as all that’s left is that sugary synthetic vanilla.

    03rd December, 2014

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    Oeillet Bengale by Aedes de Venustas

    When a melange of floral notes is so imbued with cloves, it cannot but recall classic evocations of carnation – Oeillet Bengale is no exception. However, it is also thoroughly modern in the sense of being light and airy despite the serious spicing (the turmeric particularly is a lovely earthing touch), and that makes it easy to wear as opposed to its more overbearing cousins.
    There are lovely hints of green and berry fruit peeking out and enlivening the central spiced floral accord, but also an underlying lipsticky note that at times reads like iris and at others like plastic. Ultimately, what matters is that the whole hangs together with ease and without pretension, but some may long for a bit more ambition. Gets considerably duller and one-dimensional a few hours in.

    03rd December, 2014

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    Aoud Melody by Montale

    Mmm, this melody makes me want to do the dance of the seven veils, it’s one of Montale’s best in recent years. Soft, seductive and diffusing like puffs of sparkly powder, it’s reminiscent of some vintage classics – an oud-inflected Parfum Sacre (now that would be a treat!) comes to my mind.
    In my opinion this is how spices should be done in perfumery – gently, with floral support, in the manner of the silkiest foundation to be applied on the skin. There’s a strong dose of cloves in Aoud Melody, but handled skilfully, mediated by elemi (which also has a spiciness in its odour profile but offers the restraining balsamic hand), and with the breath of a thousand flowers humming from behind. I’m surprised by how well the oud (not as much to the fore as in most Montale ouds) pairs with the cloves and myrrh-like notes, one of those ‘meant to be’ combinations. The only aspect that’s a bit off is the inclusion of a default amber construct which strikes a slightly plasticky note, but I find it easy to ignore. Overall this is a shimmy-shimmy melody – now where did I put my sequinned waistband?

    03rd December, 2014

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 2 Red: Rose by Comme des Garçons

    A flighty rose, this one goes ‘Hopla hey hey!’ and lives for the moment – truly a scent for the happy shopper.
    A juicy rose, somewhat woozy and watery, mixed with berry pulp (the notes claim raspberry, but to my nose it’s the red fruit of certain jellies) and a dab of sweet geranium, this trips out of the bottle with a big smile on its face. There’s a hint of something vegetal and wine dregs in there but nothing pulls down the lightness of this composition, not even the somewhat synthetic feel of it, which actually seems to enhance the moving spirit here rather than detract. ‘Don’t take me too seriously!’, ‘What about some fun, spoilsport?’, this seems to be saying.

    14th November, 2014

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    Ambre Loup by Rania J

    Ambre Loup is clearly the frontrunner of Rania J’s first set of releases, a grown up amber that is warm, friendly and instantly put me at my ease. This is amber how I like it, strong on the resins, minus the syrup, with the depth that vanilla and woods can give, and a lovely evocation of just-out-of-the-shop-new leather. A suggestion of oud in the mix at the start is another inviting touch but by no means the main event.
    The medium projection is a plus, avoiding the suffocating tendency some ambers develop. A knock your socks off masterpiece this ain’t, but then those don’t come by too often.

    14th November, 2014

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    Daphne by Daphne Guinness

    Daphne is a millefiori creation, bursting with colour, warmth, light, crammed with notes but still crisp and sure of purpose, not a blurry mess. It surely belongs among the classic Carons rather than CdG’s line-up – I suppose one could read its impeccable ‘golden age’ construction as an ironic avant gesture by this house. Whatever... with a perfume this ravishing who is bothered?
    Daphne’s rich bitter orange and resins opening salvo is to die for, I find myself dabbing on more and more to relive its beauty. But at its heart is a tuberose that conquers even my usual phobic reaction to this bloom – it’s buttery, nectary, embracing, with a silky sultriness that invites rather than overpowers. What one would normally consider as the base is shimmery, powdery, wood-inflected (I could swear there’s some sandal in there, even if it’s not in the note list), making its presence felt right from the start and bringing to my mind the Caron connotation.
    So why is it not better known? Perhaps it’s because the tuberose asserts its dominance after a few hours, banishing complexity and leaving this pretty much in soliflore territory.

    14th November, 2014

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    Oud Velvet Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Another penetrating oud from MFK – velvet? this thing’s clothed in the olfactory equivalent of chainmail. A dark, dry and well-spiced offering that holds you in its sleepless red-rimmed gaze; one dare not turn one’s back on it for fear it would strike. Intensely woody with the spices and smoky tones cut into the mix in such a manner that they seem more like sympathetic frequencies of its rich, dense wood of ages rather than notes in their own right. Seriously butch, and probably has daddy issues, but fans of creations like Montale’s Dark Aoud will likely find much to love.
    It’s a sledgehammer. So even though I can appreciate the blending and how it actually smells (though wildly original it ain’t, there are similar ouds around), I doubt I would find many occasions to wear it.

    14th November, 2014

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    Madly by Maria Lux

    An old school powdery white floral butched up with resins, this has an ambrette-like skin musk note lurking in its depths. A pleasing, dry composition even if it wears a bit light and close to the skin. The key effect here is how the resins (and woods) are balanced somewhat equally against the floral elements. So instead of the heady, sometimes overwhelming impact of the white flowers, we get something that is a bit more measured (and they called it Madly – go figure!) with a touch of mysteriousness about it.
    If Madly were a person, they’d be the kind who could go into a clothes shop and hone in immediately on the one outfit that suited them perfectly without having to try on everything on the racks. At least, that’s the impression of the first few hours. Madly suffers from an undifferentiated and dull base, with the florals having done a flit.

    14th November, 2014

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    Le Vetiver Itasca by Lubin

    Barbershop in a bottle. Reminds me of my teenage years when all I could afford were ‘after shaves’ – they smelled of a mixture of conifers, citruses, spices and were inevitably sweet and salubrious. Well, Itasca is at the apex of that genre, perfectly pitched and balanced, with the added benefit of not being gone in a flash, bringing that sense of freshly shaven well-being. A perfect gift for trad man.
    It’s a perfume style I’ve outgrown, but I can admire this iteration nonetheless – the smooth vetiver base, the sweet and juicy tonka-geranium combo peeking through the fir trees, the restrained but discernible spicing. Itasca is a lithe young thing in a white towelling bathrobe.

    14th November, 2014

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    Tralala by Penhaligon's

    I sought out Tralala for its dream ranking of notes, but got a bit of a warning when the salesperson liberally sprayed a sheet of paper with it and added it to my bag – a dry, sweet, ambery and not particularly attractive odour drifted up. It got so that I had to throw away the paper. Thus it has taken me a while to get round to sampling it on my skin.
    Well, there’s no doubt Tralala inhabits a twisted, tipsy little world quite of its own but it isn’t exactly fascinating. Whereas there’s enough space in my perfume landscape for a rich and abstract perfume pitched a bit wonkily, the power trio at Tralala’s heart is firmly traditional – a heavy tropical floral pairing of tuberose and ylang anchored by rooty sweet patchouli. Around this dance the boozy notes and the lovely skin tones of ambrette, but the balance tilts too far – for my taste – towards the sweet and unctuous. While not quite the generic sugary disaster it appeared to be on paper, I still won’t be holding up a torch for this drama queen.

    14th November, 2014

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    Comme des Garçons 2 by Comme des Garçons

    I’m reminded of a style of drawing where loose strokes, unconnected to each other, fall into place and form the image. CdG 2 has that kind of space and surety of purpose: elements will move in and out of focus depending on mood or perception on any particular day but the whole will still please. A light and billowy herbal rose, glimpses of a metallic sheen contrasted against skin tones, some smoke weaving through, CdG plays with abstraction but oh so stylishly, in a manner that is open, uncrowded and eminently wearable. The base is woody-musky in a manner that has become almost traditional now.
    Avant garde it may have been in its time but one cannot imagine the intention ever having being other than to please.

    22nd October, 2014

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    Aoud Night by Montale

    This one’s a jam jar full of somewhat discordant notes at the start. The oud/woody one is the aggressive variety used in creations like Dark Aoud, there’s a nimbus of hyperactive musks, a Tocade-like hairspray rose, and, most perversely, fruitsick. This last is when fruity notes, usually reacting badly with something else in the mix (here I suspect the patchouli and leather), end up smelling like vomit. I find people tend to blow things up when discussing ouds, due to their sheer power – but in this case hints of something faecal and of vomit are present at the start for me, no question.
    But wait, this is not to suggest Aoud Night is a write off, it just needs time to settle as it is a more complex offering than usual from this house. For one the oud that more or less saws your nose off in Dark Aoud is used here in a much more restrained manner, and with time the rose comes into its own, getting a juicy, berried quality that is unlike the usual Montale rose notes. This is the main accord – and yes, it is rose and oud yet again, but it still manages to be unusual – which gets some strong support from decent sandalwood. I don’t get the amber from the base which is entirely a good thing, as I feel it would have tipped Aoud Night from Jackson Pollock to shootout at the paintgun party. The main problematic element is the whiff of hairspray that hangs around Aoud Night for many hours – at times it feels fine, at others it seems to be too upfront in displaying its imagined charms.
    Aoud Night has a long, slow evolution towards an attractive strawberry-rose attar-like scent with the woods, especially the once-strident oud, going up and down in volume. And then, around the ten-twelve hour mark all else falls away, and there is only the dull, earthed throb of the oud, like a message from prehistory.

    22nd October, 2014

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    Ambrarem by Histoires de Parfums

    Damp, rich and inky soil, full of crumbling mulched wood, shot through with lipstick iris and a no-holds-barred-sweet amber – this is the striking statement of Ambrarem and I am so glad it exists to make it. I can imagine it is the kind of thing that will be considered unwearable by many. Me, I feel like saying, ‘Where have you been all my life?’
    I am naturally drawn to earthy tones and smoke, to wood notes that are so deep they sing of violence rather than the usual harmonies of fragrant wood types. And I love thick nectarous rose perfumes and florals of that nature. Here the shades of these things successfully intermingle to produce magic; granted there are no floral notes listed, but the surge of ambery sweetness gives Ambrarem that aspect.
    I feel grateful that Histoire de Parfums can offer something so out of the ordinary and unusual that still, like the best perfumes, reaches out to some secret recess of the wearer’s mental makeup. A perfume of communion.
    Softens considerably over the course of the wear and snuggles up just fine.

    22nd October, 2014

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    Stephen Jones by Stephen Jones

    I missed all the meteorite/magma hype surrounding this release and was able to approach it with an innocent nose.
    A strip lit violet explosion (the flower more in evidence than the leaf), this is a soapy, aldehydic blast, that will bathe you in a cool mauve light. Curious, as the main counterpoint here is clove, a note that typifies warmth, but the experience of this perfume is of being in a chilly temperature-controlled black-lined room with that mauve light playing. At times almost grapey (as in grape flavour soda or sweets), it’s calculatedly dotty. A bit of heliotrope skulking in the corners, adds a trace of knowing mournfulness.
    I find such sweet, soapy creations easy to wear, perhaps a little too easy to truly love them. And, indeed, with subsequent wears, as my nose grew familiar with it, the excitement level flatlined.

    22nd October, 2014

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    Oud Silk Mood by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Kurkdjian’s Oud Moods are arc lights, blinding in their strength. To make any kind of sense of them a light hand in application is required, otherwise one is cowed into submission by their knuckledustered punch.
    Oud Silk Mood resolutely refused to work for me – the overriding impression was of an acetone/glass cleaner blend with oud, curiously not displeasing but hardly worth tracking down and parting with hard earned cash for.
    Whereas some have got an intensely rosy potion from Oud Silk Mood, I don’t. For me the vegetal tones of the camomile and papyrus listed are the most natural aspect of this perfume, providing a bitter undertow that works well with Kurkdjian’s aerosol oud. I kept thinking of a quinine pill crushed into marzipan for some reason. It’s the solvent-like haze that hangs over this one that I can’t reconcile to, glimpses of soft rose silk notwithstanding, making this a rather soulless affair.

    22nd October, 2014

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    Oil Fiction by Juliette Has a Gun

    As a mild iris forms the frontage of Oil Fiction, I find myself over-applying, trying to get the perfume to amp up. Once the scent unfolds, the volume shoots up, but it is a curious creation, pitched somewhere between hair lacquer and agarbattis. The note list sounds a dream: amber, iris, saffron, ylang, labdanum, vanilla are among the goodies. But for those yearning to find out what a saffron-iris-ylang combo may smell like (me, me!), Oil Fiction sadly doesn’t have the answer. The saffron is so subdued, I can barely smell it. The ylang appears a little while in, but it is curiously modulated (possibly by the bergamot) coming across as a cross between an overripe banana and a pineapple.
    Once we reach the drydown the whole thing has a monochord feel – thick, sweet, but not terribly distinguished apart from the iris that stays true through the course of the perfume. Lasts endlessly.

    22nd October, 2014

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    parfums*PARFUMS Series 3 Incense: Kyoto by Comme des Garçons

    Kyoto confroms to a stripped down Japanese aesthetic, where purity of purpose and expression must speak for itself. It opens like a thin, wavering line of smoke from an incense stick crossing a backdrop of green trees – dry, transparent, diffusive. This is a perfume that is more state of mind than of body, meditative rather than earthbound, likely more suited for special contemplative days rather than the usual mundane business of being human. As the green backdrop fades, there’s an emphatic line of syrup under the clean smoke, also pretty Japanese.
    The main drawback for me is how the synthetics in the mix remain so resolutely synthetic. There are limits to honesty.

    03rd October, 2014

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    Aedes de Venustas (new) by Aedes de Venustas

    Ahhhh, fantasy hedgerow where the leaves and twigs smell just right (no nasty bitters or bugs), floating on a cloud of typical discretely sweet, discretely light Duchaufour lactones. Gently, the fruity notes emerge, crisp rather than candied, enfolded in tomato leaf and the angel breath of honeysuckle. This is perfume that is aiming for the quality of light on a lovely spring day or the breeze across a meadow – everything feels unforced and in harmony. It’s no wonder there was a lemming-like rush to claim it, when it was released.
    However, there are two structural flaws. One, that a liberal application is needed to get a decent reading on the olfactometer – this should not be the case for an eau de parfum. Two, that the later stages, though cute and cuddly, revert to little more than the lactonic kisses Duchaufour is fond of bestowing – a habit that is turning into a bit of a rut. But the ultimate let down (especially at this price point) has to be the short lifespan of a few hours.

    03rd October, 2014

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    L'Eau Neuve Figaro by Lubin

    A notes list can provide strong nudges to auto-suggestion which I often have to resist in order to smell the perfume as is rather than how it may have been intended. In Figaro’s case, however, it is worthwhile to consider the ‘marine pine’ mentioned – both aspects of that descriptor are present. For me Figaro’s opening salvo is mainly a brisk pine combined with vetiver, a touch of citrus and sandal, something resinous – so far so conventional, but quite appealing nonetheless. There’s a fruit pulp sweetness to it that may suggest apple but doesn’t quite stretch to fig for me. And hovering above it all is that ‘marine’ note, providing a fleck of contrast to begin with but getting increasingly screechy during the heart phase. Eventually one is left with a perfume that will stand up in a crowded room and declaim: ‘Hello, my name is Woody Fresh, and my crime is ubiquity.’

    03rd October, 2014

    rating


    Black Oud by LM Parfums

    About as run of the mill as they come – a spicy, dry and stale oud done in a manner that would suggest that the perfumer was in a hurry to get to the next job. May please floral haters as this is mainly a woods, incense and spice job, but the materials used just sink into a brown muddle. Pretty curious that, as many of the notes (particularly the nutmeg, cumin and frankincense) are easily identifiable, yet the overall feel remains listless. There’s none of the lift off here that one expects from a well-executed oud perfume, instead I felt like I had been coated in a layer of perfumed dust. Doesn’t even have the benefit of exaggeration which sometimes can tip a poor oud into ‘so bad it’s good’ territory; this one sits pretty quietly but persistently (passive-aggressive or what!) on the skin.
    Some hours in the blend does improve and lets some air in, but a perfume would need to then really blow my socks off to justify such delayed gratification – this doesn’t.

    03rd October, 2014

    rating


    Rêve d'Ossian (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    Oh boy, the shock of the old! This adorable creation is like a secret unearthed, the fragrance of lotions from one’s grandparents’ time, elegant, balanced, different, not to mention mesmerizing.
    A full-on balsamic experience with an aldehydic pine dominating that just swept me off my feet and provoked a dream state that made it fully live up to its name. It has a certain metallic sheen and coolness, but instead of jetting off into a slick techsolved future, Rêve d’Ossian comes dressed in period costume and makes memory bloom.
    I must observe how exquisitely blended the pine is here – not the cheap and strident note found in many high street ‘masculines’, nor the brutalist death-by-resins-and-the-great-unwashed approximation favoured by some niche purveyors. This is a more abstract pine, with aldehydic sparkle, tanginess from the elemi, and a light touch of smoke behind it. There’s also a sweet clove-like note lurking in the mix. Gorgeous.
    Projection is moderate.

    03rd October, 2014

    rating


    Oud Save The King by Atkinsons

    What a neat trick – in Oud Save the King, the perfumer takes the tried-and-tested winning suede and orris accord (see ELdO’s Tom of Finland for example) which is known to nuzzle the daylights out of the wearer and added a subtle oud accent. That’s about it, but the combination is like a chef’s slight twist on a traditional recipe that has the diners queuing up for more. Oud Save the King is a crowd pleaser, no doubt about it – but in this case I’ll happily join that crowd. Goes in a sweet woody direction in the deep drydown, but remains warm and indulgent.

    03rd October, 2014

    rating


    Lavande 44 by Rania J

    You won’t find Lavande 44 among the more trodden paths followed by lavender perfumes – 1 ‘fresh’ with bracing greens for the ‘gentleman’, 2 ‘fresh’ and sugared, 3 plastic and unending (I still carry the scars of one EldO offering in this mode). Instead this is a dry and salty entry, lavender stored in a wooden box.
    Lavender is a note that can’t help but chirp, it’s a sunny disposition on uppers. Here it is checked somewhat by a vetiver that is dry, salty and woody with a touch of dirt about it. There’s also something sourish and puckered in the mix. Gets airier and, yes, fresher in the later stages – maybe a laundry musk making its presence known.
    The result, despite the occasional hint of naphthalene balls, is a well-realized lavender with a difference.

    03rd October, 2014

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