Reviews by gimmegreen

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    gimmegreen
    Netherlands Netherlands

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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

    rating


    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

    rating


    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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    Vetiver Royal Bourbon (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    Find me some jodhpurs! The first thought that comes to mind is wide open spaces and a racing horse. Wild thyme and mint, mossy trees, leather boots, and a galloping, bracing feeling. All this framing the central, rich, vetiver, smoothed down by a touch of sandal.
    Not quite as smoky or dirty as I had expected with notes of cade, tobacco and immortelle listed in the official breakdown. I get more of a vetiver ringed with wild herbs done in a classic barbershop manner.
    Good work, although the progression is inevitably towards complete vetiver dominance – what can I say, it is such a beast. At this later stage I am left with my usual quandary: would wearing a drop of vetiver eo diluted in a carrier oil be less satisfying? I couldn’t answer ‘yes’ with any degree of certainty.
    Suitable both for the great outdoors and a starched shirt office environment.

    07th August, 2014

    rating


    Trayee by Neela Vermeire

    I was sceptical of the ‘scents of India’ spiel that accompanied the first three Neela Vermeire releases – there are so many odours that qualify (leaving aside the stenchy side of the spectrum ever-present in any Indian urban setting), would any single perfume be evocative enough? I needn’t have doubted. One sniff of Trayee and it was obvious that I was in the presence of a transporting creation.
    A quick volley of ganja smoke and the scent of wayside wood fires lifted to usher in gorgeous aromas of Indian kulfis and kheers – milky and sweet, gently wafting the promise of cardamom and saffron. Perfume critic Persolaise was right in noting that Trayee unites ‘the most refined elements of Artisan’s Traversée Du Bosphore and Safran Troublant’ which, to my mind, it artfully juxtaposes with an enticing green, smoky and woody accord, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Ormonde Man.
    It’s complex without being burdensome, rich yet not lacking in subtlety, and deserving of the hosannas of praise that greeted its arrival.
    However, I must add that I find the deep base (about the three-four hour mark) too demure, too similar to the Artisans mentioned and a bit flat, the life seems to go out of it at this stage. One has higher expectations at this price point.

    07th August, 2014

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    Ashoka by Neela Vermeire

    A common thread to the Neela Vermeire collection (with the exception of Bombay Bling) is a certain luxurious milkiness. If Mohur is the most dreamy rose milk pudding imaginable (no, believe me, you do want to smell like one where Mohur’s concerned), Ashoka extends the natural sappy quality of fig leaves into a pool of lactones. The fleeting opening flourishes of pine needles and leather (in the floral mode of Heeley’s Cuir Pleine Fleur) quickly make way for the main event – a sumptuously milky and pale green fig, a thousand-fold improvement on the gaggle of sharp fig perfumes that followed in the wake of fine, fully realized, first-wave creations like Philosykos. Sandalwood (which also has a creamy aspect) and a touch of ambergris in the base make for a perfectly calming and gentle composition.
    It’s a shame that something so beauteous is so quiet, but there you go – that’s another common thread of the Neela Vermeire range. Also, the deep base evolves into a more humdrum woody fig.

    07th August, 2014

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    Oud Assam by Rania J

    A highly civilized oud from top to bottom, and, therefore, lacking in the rocket-to-the-moon madness (and velocity) of some other oud-centric perfumes. Despite the fermented and runny cheese overtures of the beginning, Oud Assam remains composed – perhaps it’s the airiness of the composition or the moderate projection. The progression is towards greater woodiness, with some sweet notes and smoky edges – but there’s not a hair out of place.
    The aura of this fragrance is considerably different to its close-to-the-nose experience. If one relaxes and stops thinking about it, sweet citruses and fresher fougere style elements make themselves known which are not evident if one sniffs sprayed skin.
    Perhaps a good beginner’s oud as it offers a realistic iteration of a certain kind of oud and stays focussed on its main accord, all in a perfume that is unlikely to scare anyone. But I guess it depends on the type of beginner – me, I usually prefer being thrown off the deep end. Joins a select group of ouds one can safely wear around other people.

    26th July, 2014

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    Musc by Bruno Acampora

    Degree is the determining factor explaining why Bruno Acampora’s Musc is special. The immediate impression it gives is of cheap musk oils available on the Indian market which try to approximate the smell of real musk. They manage to harness some of the warmth and sweet sensuality of the real thing and thus bear a passing resemblance – like a grainy video grab of the perpetrator. This Musc takes that odour profile and elevates it into a luxurious and well-balanced invitation. World of difference.
    So apart from this being an accomplished realization of the musk note of a particular pedigree, I should also point out a touch of salty spice (cloves, but not too clovey), some dry amber and quite an earthy, woody patchouli that marries well with the musk.
    Review is for EDP.

    26th July, 2014

    rating


    Muguet Fleuri by Oriza L. Legrand

    A bright, green and sappy lily of the valley – dewy and refreshing. Some wax and plastic around the edges, much like the odour profile of the real flower. A bit not quite right in the opening moments, this settles beautifully and grows more joyful and natural by the hour. Among muguet-centric creations of the past five years, the only other contender (apart from certain stratospherically priced limited editions which we shall speak no more of) is Tauer’s Carillon, but the two are quite different. Carillon invests much more in the brute force of a power chord and considerable architectural complexity. Muguet Fleuri is more in the white floral territory (there’s a lily undercurrent), much more lilting (although it lingers beautifully) and quite single-minded. Apparently successful lily of the valley soliflores are still possible, IFRA notwithstanding.
    Try overdoing this one for the full Sensurround effect.

    26th July, 2014

    rating


    Jardins d'Armide (new) by Oriza L. Legrand

    The original composition was 1909 and this recreation has a beautifully nostalgic Roaring 20s feel about it. The Deco mirrored dressing table with a bowl of dried rose petals, traces of rose talcum powder on the floor, the orange blossom hair tonic decanter left open in a hasty moment, nail varnish tipping from a bottle fallen on its side, the musty honeyed undertone of the old powder compact, they’re all there. As are traces of the good time gal or guy who has just left this room, the scent of their sweet skin musk and oiled hair lingers in this space.
    Not for everyone I bet, but definitely for me, although I would have liked the nail varnish to have been toned down a tad. The hefty layer of settled powder, however, is right up my street – you’ve gotta say yes to another excess, as the song went.
    After a few hours the nail lacquer note recedes completely and a lot of the powder has flown, but a superb base reminiscent of many a Guerlain composition emerges from the shadows and takes things to a higher level.

    26th July, 2014

    rating


    Infanta En Flor by Arquiste

    Here’s what this perfume taught me: put orange blossom on a diet of aldehydes and soap and it gains a quite irresistible charm. Infanta en Flor is light and breezy, like a spray of orange blossom scented soap bubbles, with now and again a flash of green in the opening phases.
    It seems simple, it’s familiar, and yet, to my nose, it’s miles ahead of the pack. Immaculate, sophisticated and lovable, with well-judged projection (not too much, not too little).
    If first impressions lead you to think that this belongs in the 4711 line-up rather than a hooty-tooty brand like Arquiste – wait, try again, it’s possible you could change your mind.

    26th July, 2014

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    Cologne pour le Matin by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

    Lime accented citrus of little distinction – charming and refreshing for all of 30 seconds after which thyme in the mix gives it a curious dry skin meets medicated emollient smell. Gah! Fortunately has poor projection.

    26th July, 2014

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    Attar Al Kaaba by Haramain

    Voices through a fog at the start, where the traditional rosy attar sweetness seems to be calling in a way that is difficult to pin down. It’s a bit milky, a bit powdery, with all edges blurred. Whereas many attars aim for a major chord that disorients and transfixes by its power and thorough blending of gutsy notes, this one is much more subtle, almost too much so until one gets used to it.
    Upon further acquaintance one gets a classic sandal-inflected rose attar with a faint aura of musk, light vanillic tones, maybe a dab of saffron or cardamom that gives it that diffuse, milky quality. The rose has a slightly fruity, jammy quality, it’s a preserved thing, not garden fresh. If there’s oud in the mix, then it plays the finishing role here – a dab to complete and round out the attar rather than something one immediately picks out.
    Attar al Kaaba enfolds you gently until it becomes a sweet emanation of one’s skin. It is somewhat chaste, a calming perfume rather than a ravishing one. And while it pleases, it also feels somewhat standardized and unexceptional.

    26th July, 2014

    rating


    Le Maroc pour Elle by Tauer

    Quite unlike what I expected having being promised rose and jasmine in the heart of this perfume. Instead the bright headnotes of citrus and lavender merged immediately with a sharp cedar and what Tauer calls ‘balm of oriental woods’ (something resinous and incensy at any rate) to give a curious pickled lemon opening which went via the carpenter’s shop and the medicine cabinet into a drydown that was dry, somewhat more rounded, sweetened slightly, less pungent and urgent. It kind of fits with the ‘le Maroc’ of my imagination (I’ve never been) – dry, powerful, the smell of stalls packed together, selling leather and wooden wares, carpets, spiced concoctions and local cosmetic preparations. Much later an oily jasmine got off its fat backside and made its voluptuous appearance.
    Something of a head trip and a statement, so definitely not a casual perfume.

    03rd July, 2014

    rating


    Flor y Canto by Arquiste

    A limpid, summery tuberose-magnolia combo with a hair spray aura. Wears soft and easy, but too much of a simpleton in cheap attire.

    03rd July, 2014

    rating


    Dark Aoud by Montale

    A bit surprising that this made its appearance so late in the day in Montale’s oud series as it is quite the archetypal ‘Arabic’ masculine scent – variants of which I have encountered emanating from Arab men. Intense, focussed, going ‘Daddy!’ with full-throttle phwoaar.
    The concentration is what will first hit the wearer. This is a perfume that is pretty single minded: it makes a hell of statement with a full-on smoky, spicy, intensely woody, oud accord. Dry, with some sharp (as opposed to creamy) sandal in the base, and with great tonal variation in the overall effect, Dark Aoud is rich and thrilling. It has such an enlivening effect, it’s almost aphrodisiacal. However it does flatten quite considerably after about half a day’s wear (when in terms of volume it is still going strong), by which time a certain post-aphrodisiacal tiredness may ensue. Use sparingly for maximum enjoyment.

    03rd July, 2014

    rating


    Ylang 49 by Le Labo

    Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay Ylang 49 is that it smells as if it were created more than 40 years ago – it has nothing to do with the fruity floral dreck that has cheapened perfumery, nor does it go all aggressive in trying to claim its space. No, this is showing how it should really be done.
    This nectar-like creation (it is supremely sweet but never overbalances) is like being in the soft-bosomed clasp of some kind and beautiful creature – one feels safe and treasured. The gardenia-ylang pairing (with the softest patchouli imaginable) rises like a cloud of abstracted loveliness, like the best aldehydic offerings of yesteryear. It is substantial no doubt but it is also sprinkled with sparkles and is light on its feet. The drier chypric elements are restrained – this does not have the severity and ramrod straight backbone of classic chypres, opting for a much more supple and tender effect. I can’t get enough of this magical haze.

    02nd July, 2014

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