Reviews by gimmegreen

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    gimmegreen
    Netherlands Netherlands

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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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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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    Deeply by Maria Lux

    The splitting of a vanilla pod distilled as perfume. As the skin is cut open the pod reveals a sticky pulp full of tiny seeds that smell of the dark. Deeply recreates that effect – boozy, woozily fruity, moist. This is stuff that sticks its wet tongue up your nose. Pair that with a well-rounded amber (no jagged edges, a little sweet) and you’ve got a winning combination. It doesn’t get much deeper than that but that’s far enough.
    Although quite heavy, it can’t seem to be encouraged to project; I find I end up wearing too much. The vanilla recedes in the late drydown which is a shame; one is left with dried fruits steeped in something ambery.

    19th September, 2014

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    Galaad by Lubin

    Galaad’s delights are short-lived – and, no, I’m not talking about its longevity. I’m on about the custardy spice phase that follows the fleeting green herbals of the opening, making this for a brief while one of those perfumes that feel dense and light at the same time. However, Galaad soon turns into one of those dry smoky wood fumes with a dusting of spice which reminds me of too many other recent offerings. If the beginning was mainly cardamom and nutmeg, the later stage has a hefty dose of cypriol – but the composition is so inert, unwashed and clichéd at this point, that I give up.

    19th September, 2014

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    Royal Oeillet by Oriza L. Legrand

    A clove centred perfume that’s also soft as a baby’s skin, with a sweet rosy-myrrh aura and occasional glimpses of orange. No doubt there will be body lotion comparisons from some quarters, but they would serve to highlight just how unusually the essential spiciness of Royal Oiellet is treated. Everything is in the texture and feel of this scent – it’s light, it’s silky, even airy, and can be easily warn in warm weather. That’s something of a feat for the notes concerned.
    Not as substantial as some of the other fragrances in the Oriza line up but a fine addition nonetheless.

    19th September, 2014

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    Bois de Gayac by Antonio Visconti

    Notes from Antonio Visconti’s website;
    Top: Mandarin, orange fruit, pink pepper, nutmeg
    Heart: cistus absolute, saffron, sandalwood Mysore
    Base: guaiacwood, agarwood, black pepper, frankincense, myrrh

    After a pasted on candied orange and myrrh opening a la Imperial Opoponax, Bois de Gayac turned claggy and a bit impenetrable on me. Wet leather, earth tones, perhaps a touch of something ripe like davana – that’s the wearing experience. Where did all those glorious components of the note breakdown go? The radiant woods are in there, but buried by a homogenizing density. Alas, density is not the same thing as complexity, and Bois de Gayac could have benefitted enormously from a bit more ambition and edge.
    When the final destination of dry, sweet-and-salty wood tones comes into sight, things improve markedly, but this is still a middling offering with fairly timid projection.

    19th September, 2014

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    Black Jade by Lubin

    A joyous rose – gossamer like a fairy’s wing, I feel a wash of pale pink descend. The citrus in the opening is so juicy and yet with something of a lollipop quality, it set my salivary glands working: if there had been a ‘pause’ button to preserve its magic, my finger would have been on it. A green note (galbanum’s in the note list, but its characteristic bitterness is not evident here) to pay the rose gentle compliments and whisper reassurance, and the magic is complete.
    The spices are low in the mix and I for one don’t miss them. No idea why they called it Black Jade, maybe Open Air Rose didn’t have quite the same ring.
    The deep drydown waves an olfactory chiffon scarf – you know, powders, balsam, tres chic in the classic French style of, say, a house like Divine.

    19th September, 2014

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    Levantium by Penhaligon's

    I won’t hear an unkind word said against Levantium; it wears beautifully. ‘Wear’ is the operative word as the overall feel is of something one would expect to waft from some exotic potion that will pamper and smooth the skin and gloss hair. It makes itself completely at home on my body.
    Those searching for an oud that is not quite so dominantly an oud will find it in Levantium, as right from the opening it is modulated with other woods, a fatty, creamy sandal, a touch of cedar, some sweet guaiac. The interplay provides a harmony which is further enhanced by the spices and balsams – I was struck by how close the clove, cardamom and myrhh notes are to the wood tones, how lovingly they combine. The other notes provide a little herbal uplift and unctuous fullness and moisture to the main ‘woods and spice’ theme – this is no dried out, bristly ruffian; it hearkens back to healing oils and hammams.
    Perhaps the sweet ‘amber’ in the base will not be to everyone’s liking, perhaps the oud merges a bit too quickly with everything else, perhaps the projection could have been better. Nevertheless, it’s a winner for me.

    19th September, 2014

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    Akkad by Lubin

    A gently spiced amber complete with ancient Mesopotamian name – how exotic. Well, actually not, as this is the kind of thing – though done well enough in this instance – that is instantly familiar. Some gesture towards novelty would have helped greatly.
    After a rapid transition from the hespiridic top through a cardamom modulated incense we arrive at the dry amber base – not too sweet, not too loud, a bit powdery and antique. There is something reminiscent of nutmeg which reminds me of the contemporaneous Casbah (Piguet). Easy wearing but it does little to quicken my pulse.

    28th August, 2014

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    Pétroleum by Histoires de Parfums

    I needn’t have approached Petroleum with trepidation as I did – this one’s a pussycat. Sure, it is strange, but as the sillage is quite modest it doesn’t really unsettle.
    It transitions rapidly in the opening seconds from a balmy, ambery and invitingly rosy air towards dry leather and baby powder on to its ultimate destination on my skin – cigarette ash ringed with a light, musky, rosy glow.
    It remains polite throughout, and I was about to write it off as one of those perfumes that are of interest from the point of view of their novel effects and juxtapositions but do not really have the volume to inspire true love or hatred.
    However, in the later stages (a few hours in) this ashtray rose achieved an extrait-quality tenderness of expression that made it much more appealing, so one must not be too quick to judge.

    28th August, 2014

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    Oud Save The Queen by Atkinsons

    A jasmine in the Alien Essence Absolue mould, with a bit of fresh orange blossom to lift it, backed by subtle oud (now there’s a contradiction in terms) and woods. I’m surprised at how much I like it.
    In the mid-phase it is confectionary sweet with the oud more or less disappearing, and reads more like a gourmand than a floral, but the smoothness of the execution lifts it well above the run of the mill.
    The best is saved for last, as the whole experience ratchets up several notches in the deep drydown. The feel is now creamy, silken, the oud returns, deepening this Queen’s voice a little and a hint of cloves raises the temperature by a few degrees.

    28th August, 2014

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    Fleur de Nuit by Antonio Visconti

    Notes from the Antonio Visconti website
    Top: Chilli pepper leaf and fruit, nutmeg, mandarin, bergamot
    Heart: Indian jasmine absolute, Turkish rose absolute, tuberose, carnation, anise
    Base: Agarwood, sandalwood Mysore, benzoin Siam, vanilla, honey, musk Tonkin, patchouli, vetiver Giava, ambergris

    Spray and stand back – this is one of those perfumes where one must inhale the aura rather than sniffing close to the skin. The latter will offer an off-puttingly sweaty (something cumin-like and salty to the fore) jasmine. But let the perfume waft up to you, and a daring but quite classic composition is revealed.
    The initial surge of chilli pepper greens with jasmine and some wild animal popping by to visit is quite something else. However, the evolution within about 15 minutes is towards a full-bodied jasmine supported by tuberose (reader, insert favourite ‘carnal’ cliché at this point), hints of honeyed rose tones, sitting on a hugely complex base of spice, sweat, resins and woods. That base harks back to perfumes that have now vanished from the shelves and, for me, takes some getting used to. It makes the experience of this perfume opulent but also upfront, pushy almost, like a horndog who won’t take no for an answer.
    I imagine Fleur de Nuit will be instant love for a certain kind of perfume aficionado. I can admire the way it is put together but can’t warm to it. And when the florals blow away after three or four hours but that base is still going hell for leather, the whole experience feels like being forced to wear the same underpants for days in a row. Smell it on another person, however, and one mainly gets the most soft and smoochy floral invitation – go figure!

    28th August, 2014

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    Noontide Petals by Tauer

    If aldehydes add fizz, sparkle and a dusting of glamour to perfumes, they also impart a foamy aspect – like whipped cream without the fat if that were possible. They are funhouse mirrors, bending other more nature-inclined notes into surprising shapes.
    These qualities are all present and correct in Noontide Petals, a sunny, quicksilver creation that plays with the nose. The opening is a gust of aldehydes through which the richer floral and woody-resinous elements are perceived singing with vocodered voices. What does it smell like? Initially a bit like those Indian agarbattis (incense sticks) which depart from the traditional themes like rose or sandalwood and go for a fantasy feel with a range of aromatics crammed into one.
    The tartness evident in much of the perfume’s evolution is worth remarking on – a lemony aspect to the aldehydes that modulates everything else. It took me a while to get used to and to decide whether I like it or not (I do). Through these lemon shades Tauer’s sweet florals (roses and jasmine among them) and resins take on curious hues, not quite themselves, but intriguing nonetheless. It’s only in the late stages when the aldehydes are losing their power that sweeter, calming tones like vanilla start making things a bit rounder, a little less edgy.
    It goes without saying that Noontide Petals evokes aldehydic perfumes of the past, but that may be a response triggered by aldehydes per se (a bit like the bell to Pavlov’s dog). I’m hard pressed to find a specific firm point of comparison with particular perfumes – Noontide Petals is pretty much itself.

    28th August, 2014

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    Rose Suprême by Antonio Visconti

    Notes
    Top: Bulgarian Rose, Bergamot, Iris
    Heart: Violet, Vetiver
    Base: Rose, Jasmine, Vanilla, Heliotrope
    Another addition to the ranks of powder compact rose perfumes. This smells old in the sense of something emerging from a long-lost make up box but also in the sense of being in the fashion of perfumes from yesteryear. As such, I think it will polarize opinions.
    The composition itself is powerful if not exactly original. In the opening stages all the notes (bar the vanilla and vetiver which just don’t register to my nose throughout) jump up and down somewhat – sweet rose backed by candied violets, the tang of bergamot, powder and marzipan courtesy iris and heliotrope, and a pretty feral jasmine elbowing the others sharply in the ribs. Finally, one is left mainly with a heavy rose-jasmine pairing caked with powder and immensely sweet. I think it’s a strong enough entry in this genre, but I still wouldn’t make it my first port of call when I felt like a dense, old world rose.

    20th August, 2014

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    Osafume by Olympic Orchids

    Sometimes a chamber ensemble can play the pants off an orchestra. Osafume reminds me of the better Guerlain Acqua Allegorias, beautiful, unencumbered perfumes where the central theme is straightforward yet expressed with grace and perfect balance.
    Osafume is the spirit of a summer idyll with tall shrubs of wild anise bursting into bloom, turning passers-by into dozy bees with their subtle yet insistent scent. Many designer fougeres have completely disgraced anisic notes, going for the kind of highly chemical thrust that brings on headaches. Osafume’s anise is natural, light and airy, paired with the sighing almond-tinged breath of heliotrope and a whispery vanilla. Heliotrope and vanilla are great natural allies and they help render the overall white feel of this perfume, not snow white but fluffy meringue white (though not sugary). There’s a hint of warmth in the composition, star anise perhaps, that rounds it off without weighing down its dreamy, floating mood. A winner.

    20th August, 2014

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    Shooting Stars: Kobe by Xerjoff

    A fine offering based on a neroli and petitgrain pairing, crisp and lucid. Whereas when the focus is firmly on neroli it can get a bit high-pitched and shrill, petitgrain brings a range of citrusy, woody and faintly green tones, providing body without compromising on the freshness. Of course there is discreet support from citruses and balmy resins in the background, and a bit of tonka softness in the drydown.
    An elegant, sprightly thing, but the fact remains that, despite its excellent longevity, olfactorily this is in cologne territory. Xerjoff’s pricing is not.

    20th August, 2014

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    Gin Fizz by Lubin

    Sorely tempting light citrus which would have had me dashing to buy were it not for its too-quiet presence. Opens with sparkling lime and lemon notes in the manner of a fizzy drink, though the gin (juniper) is minuscule. No matter, this is a lively, heel-kicking thing that sings of summer and invites you to drink deep and be refreshed. Right from the start there is a hint of airy orange blossom which morphs over time into a soapy floral bouquet. The citruses fade back a bit and the balance between them and the soapiness gets about even, before reaching the eventual clean musk destination of such progressions.
    Sadly Gin Fizz projects pretty poorly despite lasting quite well, with all the throw of a cologne splash – perhaps due to the lightness of the composition itself. The brightness of execution for the first hour or so is a thing of joy – I haven’t come across such a delicious citrus in ages.

    20th August, 2014

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    17/17 Richwood by Xerjoff

    Intriguing swirling opening of pissy grapefruit with blackcurrent and hypnotic C&S 88 rose and sandal. There’s a hint of something here that the nose interprets as poisonous (like bitter almond odours), which is quite addictive. Settles into a patchoulied sweetwood in the mid phase with a hint of grape soda hanging over it. The deep drydown is mainly a sweet sandal. What disappoints ultimately is the muddiness of this creation (bar the top) that slathers all the fine ingredients that Xerjoff claims to be using. Sniff the drydown of Richwood blind and you’d be hard pressed to associate it with a brand that represents the ultimate in nicheosity.

    20th August, 2014

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    Black Tourmaline by Olivier Durbano

    A green-accented bitter frankincense that is the ancestor of Memoir Man. However, it lacks the latter’s radiance and thrilling immediacy, and after the first bewitching fanfare tends to get quite subdued. Likely a radical creation at the time, but now appears part of the niche scenery where the smoky gothic vibe as shorthand for mystery has got well-established. For me, it could have done with a bit more aggression and a bit less sugar in the deep drydown.

    20th August, 2014

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    Anima Dulcis by Arquiste

    Anima Dulcis could be an honorary member of Serge Lutens’ range – at least the section that is located in a Moroccan bazaar. The listed notes are unhelpful – the prominent vibe is of dried fruit and spice, underlaid with polite sweat (immortelle? cumin?). Sure one can smell the cocoa and chili if one really tries but what’s the point of really trying with a perfume...?
    Like most of the Arquiste line-up it is a restrained thing, never quite bursting into full-throated song, placing its somewhat challenging ingredients neatly within a small compass like a child laying out the miniature pots and pans of their toy kitchen.

    07th August, 2014

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    Costume National 21 by Costume National

    When a perfume is this hazy and fuzzy, talking about the notes conveys little of its experience. To call it milky is to say that it is blurred, a chemical whiteout teeming with notes most of them indistinct, but yet warm, powdery, vaporous and comforting. And here the craft is evident – this combination is so far removed from nature or anything one usually smells and yet it is immediately appreciated by my nose.
    21 is like that sweetened glass of milk with a shot of something indistinct but potent lurking within that warms and gives a bit of a kick. For my money it is the incense operating below the radar, but others may equally point at woody or spice accents.
    Thoroughly enjoyable for about 3 hours, but the deep drydown is disconcertingly flat.

    07th August, 2014

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    Lumière Noire pour Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Lumiere Noire initially promises something rich and sumptuous in the Amouage mode which is a new place for Kurkdjian to be going – his perfumes are, if nothing else, sleek as whippets. It’s the central theme of a rose ripened by patchouli paired with the greasy fullness of a quite natural smelling narcissus. Rose and narcissus aren’t blooms that pair particularly well if both are quite strong in the mix, and here it’s that central oddness of their attempted union that is beguiling. At times the juxtaposition inflects the scent towards a ripe berry smell.
    However, with a little time the initial sumptuousness thins out considerably. If one were to unfairly compare the setting of the narcissus here to the many layered bed it is lain upon in a creation such as Chamade, it’s a bit like a flickering candle beside a blazing sun. Underlying the florals, is the familiar skin-like odour that is a Kurkdjian signature along with a modest sprinkle of cumin.
    Ultimately, while Lumiere Noire pour homme plays up its rose-on-aldehydic-roller-skates central theme to divine effect, Lumiere Noir pour femme dwindles somewhat in the wear after a bold opening fanfare. It’s still a pleasing perfume, just not Lumiere Noir pour homme’s equal.

    07th August, 2014

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    Jasmin Kâma by Rania J

    Jasmin jam! Well, at least JK doesn’t go down the done-a-zillion-times light green jasmine route. However, the combination of a potent bergamot with a pretty rich jasmine extraction provides a cloying, somewhat oily, fruity aspect which reminds me of jasmine-scented agarbattis found on the Indian market. I am gaining a new respect for the latter as a result.
    This curious creation exerts an inexplicable pull – I can’t rate it highly in terms of artistic achievement (it’s a bit short on sophistication and depth), but wearing it is a pleasure nonetheless.
    Active life of about three hours, after which I require reapplication.

    07th August, 2014

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    Foin Fraîchement Coupé (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    When I was a teenager in the not-quite-distant-enough 1980s, souvenir shops in England sold cakes of soap with an image of a floral bouquet sprayed on. These were cheap gifts that a foreign visitor battered by a punishing exchange rate might consider as an acceptable slab of Englishness to take home to expectant relatives. Except the soap was stony and took forever to lather, and smelled generically sweet and powdery, quite unlike any particular flower.
    This is where FFC pitches up although it promises freshly mown hay. This abstract aldehydic powder blast is loaded up with clean musk and veers after a short interval of a soapy lemon verbena to the aforementioned tablets of stone. Something pleasant for a hot day, hardly memorable as a perfume.
    The first dud in Oriza’s otherwise sparkling line-up.

    07th August, 2014

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